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Friday, 31 August 2012

Domaine Daniel Dugois Vin Jaune 2005 Arbois Jura

Domaine Daniel Dugois Vin Jaune 2005 from Arbois in the Jura is stocked by the Caves de Pyrene and is a semi organic wine. It is a wine that is matured in a barrel under the same type of yeast called 'Flor' that is used in Jerez for sherry production. Vin Jaune means 'yellow wine' and is only made in the Jura region of France, due to its maturation it has a similar aroma to a dry fino sherry - but the big difference is that it is not fortified the alcohol level is 12.5%.
It is made from the Savagnin grape which is grown in the Jura, and is 'late harvested', harvested in October. The grapes started off by  being fermented slowly, kept in small old oak casks which hold 228 liters (60 gallons) and which were not topped up, evaporation leads to an air gap appearing above the wine. . A film of yeast grows over the wine, partially protecting it  from any oxidation but allows evaporation. In Jura, this film, called a voile or veil  is similar to a flor in Sherry production and has many similar properties but thrives better in a lower alcohol environment and so develops less heavily and thickly than "flor" does. This wine was aged for at least 6 years in this way (by law) The aromas and flavours associated with sherries is here.
This gold liquid has an oxidated colour ( yellowing) and has a yeasty, spicy aroma with an orange citric twist, encapsulated with a nuttiness. On tasting it - it is dry, fresh and the alcohol is well integrated. This light bodied 'white' wine has freshening acidity and some tannin - low but still obvious. Flavours of nuts, citric skin and yeast are apparent, and the length is long and nutty and rich with a bitter marmalade finish. Drink in the same way as you would a sherry,  with cheese and nuts, and in the Jura it will often accompany a dish that it has been used as one of the ingredients!

Domaine de la Tournelle Uva Arbosiana 2010 Jura

Domaine de la Tournelle Uva Arbosiana 2010  is a red wine from the Jura and is made from the Poulsard grape. It is made in a very natural way, it is unfined or filtered and has no sulphur added.
On the nose the pale ruby ( I would have gone as far as to say Rose....) wine has a spicy, savoury note and only a little red fruit, and an over-riding vegetal aroma which adds to the savouriness and invites you in.
A slight spritz initially is the first sensation, this disappears immediately and is followed by red fruit ( raspberry, strawberry and red plum) and enrobed with vegetal flavours, the acidity is cleansing keeping the fruit clean and fresh and the alcohol not obvious. The tannins were ripe and low, the body of the wine felt in balance and a hovering minerality shows a good quality level. The length was good with a sweet spice and red fruit finish.
This felt like a light acidic take on Pinot Noir, with similar vegetal notes on nose and palate, it would be great with pigeon or ham hock, a lovely fresh simple wine from the Jura!

Stephane Tissot Arbois Traminer 2007 Jura

Stephane Tissot Arbois Traminer 2007 Jura is a wine that is made in fact from Savagnin grape which is grown throughout the Jura, here it is grown biodynamically (started in 2004), it is most often used for vin Jaune. To call it by its Traminer name is more of an International statement.  It is a lovely gold colour that invites you in, the aromas of white stone fruits and creamy / cheese ( implies lees contact) also make you want to go further! It is dry, lemon, apple and spice are the first flavours that hit you, then waves of oak and cheese, the length is good with an apple mineral finish

Arbois Chardonnay 2010 Fruitiere Vinicole d'Arbois Jura

Arbois Chardonnay 2010  made by Fruitiere Vinicole d'Arbois (cooperative ) in Arbois - Jura.  This gold coloured wine has a creamy apple aromas on the nose mixed with white stone fruits, on the palate it is dry with good acidity and the lemon, apple skin flavours are initially simple but develop a more complex character in the mouth , there is some minerality apparent on the nose after tasting it and the moderate length finish is clean and angular. This is a good quality wine with a lovely mineral finish and a fresh, clean, crisp appeal.

Domaine de L'Idylle Cepage Mondeuse 2010 Savoie

Cepage Mondeuse 2010 by Domaine de L'Idylle and supplied by Yapp brothers is a red wine made from 100% Mondeuse which is a grape that is said to be related to Syrah or Refosco (from Fruili), but may be related to neither.
On the nose it had an aroma of baked red fruits ( as in - fruit ripened in a hot climate), it is youthful and has savoury aromas with a juicy twist. On tasting it there is good palate cleansing acidity and also a warmth due to the alcohol content - though this was only 12% it felt higher. The chalky dry tannins had a silky edge, and the pepper on the palate added a savoury quality to the wine. The red fruits were sweet and juicy and had plenty of character, the spice evident but not dominant, and a fruity finish with a slight bitter cherry finish. Overall this wine is a light fresh wine that could be served chilled and  would compliment cold meats or even a roast!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Domaine des Ardoisieres Rouge, L'Argile, IGP Allobrogie 2010Savoie

A Savoie Red wine made from 80% Gamay and 20% Persan and Mondeuse from Domaine des Ardoisieres, IGP Allobrogie  Rouge, L'Argile. This is a bright red wine and has fast forming legs when the glass is swirled, on the nose there are red fruits and spice with some vegetal notes. On tasting it there are again red fruits, spice and a little minerality with a svoury streak, the acidity is freshning and the low ripe tannins are tasty and slightly chalky in texture.The length is good with an acidic fruity finish.

Domaine Gilles Berlioz Chignon Vin de Savoie 2010

Chignon Vin de Savoie 2010 is a Biodynamically made blended wine from the Jacquere grape along with Chardonnay and Mondeuse ( a very important Savoie Red variety) in the Savoie region of Eastern France made by Domaine Gilles Berlioz. This is not a particularly aromatic wine but there were slight aromas of apple, pear and stone fruits, on the palate flavours of apple, lemon and baked fruits, good acidity and simple, single dimension flavour array and the alcohol does not interrupt this wines character ( 11.5%), the length was short and had a crisp lemon finish. Overall my feelings on this wine are that it is a simple, clean, crisp aperitif wine that has alot of the Savoie in it - cool region wines that have not been tampered with. This wine is supplied by the Wine Society - £10.95

Domaine de L'Idylle Emile Cepage Roussette 2010 from Savoie

 Domaine de L'Idylle Emile Cepage Roussette 2010 is a white wine made from Roussette grapes which are also known as Altesse, this is a high quality grape found in the Savoie and is thought to have alot in common with Hungary's Furmint grape. Pale lemon and with floral and lemon pith aromas it also has a pear drop tinge on the nose. Tasting it reveals good acidity, low alcohol and medium body - balanced and in tune with where it originated. It has minerality layered with green apple and lemon and a slight pithy finish and later its profile also included biscuity notes and made me think this had seen some skin and lees contact. This was crispness with a wrapping!
Yapp brothers stock this wine and the cost is just over £12.

La Goutte D'Or Crepy 2009 Savoie

La Goutte D'Or Crepy 2009 is a white wine made using the Chasselas grape.
Crepy is a named cru of the  Vin de Savoie appellation, covering three communes immediately north-east of Geneva in the Savoie region of eastern  France. Crepy wines are white and are made predominantly from the Chasselas grape . 1948 until 2009 Crepy had its own appelation, but then its growers collectively agreed that their wines were best marketed under the Vin de Savoie title. Their main argument was that Crepy lacked a geographical context, as it was not named after a village or area.
This is a pale lemon in colour with floral aromas along with pear drop and pastry mixed in, on tasting it it had freshning acidity, low alcohol and minerality streaks on top of green apple and citrus.
A light wine that could support food happily due to its clean dry freshness.
It is worth comparing to the Alsace Chasselas that was further down the blog Pierre Frick 2009. You will see that it was much more stone fruits but still floral with a touch of melon - this of course is due to the warmer region.

Vin de Savoie-Ayse Gringet 'Les Alpes' 2010

Domaine Belluard produces Vin de Savoie-Ayse Gringet 'Les Alpes' 2010 in Ayes using the grape Gringet ( which is an unusual grape to use in a varietal still wine ) in the beautiful Savoie region of France, he converted to Biodynamics in 2001and after trying wooden barrels and steel tanks and being disappointed with the results, he switched (at a considerable cost) to concrete eggs, because he felt that the controlled aeration they allowed yielded the best results. The actual vineyard 'Les Alpes' is a south-facing vineyard at 450 meters with glacial moraine, limestone and clay soils which have some iron content.

Shown here are the Egg fermenters used by Belluard , these are also used in Sancerre and Chablis.

The wine itself is quite deep lemon / gold, its fresh young aromas are of stone fruit and apple, there is minerality hovering in the background. On tasting it - fresh, clean, meyer lemon and a zesty finish. The acidity keeps the fruit wrapped in freshness and there is a steeliness to this wine that feels taut with energy and briskness. A great aperitif!
Supplied by Caves de Pyrene at a cost of £18.49

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Chateau Cantenac Brown 1978

Chateau Cantenac Brown 1978 is in Margaux,  Bordeaux, and is  a 3rd growth  from the 1855 classification in the Medoc. The vineyard itself comprises of 35+ year old vines that are of a 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. The vineyards are carefully managed with sustainability in mind, pruning, removal of buds, leaves and secondary shoots,thinning out so yields are perfectly controlled. Alot of the grapes are picked by hand then screened at the winery to maintain only high quality fruit is used in the wine. Stainless steel vinification tanks and they remain here for 10-15 days followed by malolactic fermentation in barrels , this is where the harsh malic acid is converted to lactic acid so smoothing off the taste of the wine. Following ageing for 12-15 months in 50% new oak ( so allowing for careful air contact ), with 3 monthly racking, it is fined and stabilised traditionally by the use of egg whites and then bottled, all this is overseen by the chief winemaker Jose Sanfins.

We opened 2 bottles of this wine as the tasting group was large enough - and that in itself was interesting as they had come from 2 diffeent cellars, and one had not weathered the course so well, it was 'dry and dusty', no fruit remained and it had died an elegant death, whereas the remaining one was elegant with more spice than fruits but well structured if soft and approachable, it had a long length and a cedar finish. A charming wine but needs to be drunk soon ( the other - sadly that date had well and truly passed ).

Chateau Leoville Barton 1989

Chateau Leoville Barton 1989 is the first wine from Leoville Barton based in St Julien in Bordeaux Left bank, and has been in bottle for 20+ years - one would expect it to lack fruit and have low tannins, but on the nose it is still has red and black fruit notes, along with sweet cigar box aromas, this is echoed on the palate and here it shows elegance and balance, minerality is mixed up in the multi - layers as are tobacco and herbal flavours . It is beautifully structured, has a long sweet finish with black fruits playing its part. An elegant and structured delight.

Chateau La Pointe 1996 in Pomerol, Bordeaux

Chateau La Pointe 1996 in Pomerol, Bordeaux is pale with garnet streaks, on the nose it beacons you in with red and black fruits, sweet spice and cigar box aromas, it is complex and multifaceted. On the palate it is all that you would expect, black fruit dominates followed by sweet spices, smokey tobacco and a little in the way of dried fruit, the length is long with a sweet black fruit finish. Good acidity, alcohol enrobing and good ripe, savoury, tasty tannins make this superbly structured wine a delight, it has a predominance of merlot ( Merlot, 75% in fact, with 10% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon )and this gives it a rich fleshiness which coats the mouth leaving you wanting more! Coming it at £40'ish - this elegant wine seems a steal.

Chateau Garraud 1996 Lalande de Pomerol

Chateau Garraud 1996 from Lalande de Pomerol on the right bank in Bordeaux is a property owned by Michel Rolland. It is a blend of  80% Merlot, and then Cabernet Sauvignon and  Cabernet Franc with vines average 25+ years of age. The wine is aged for 12-18 months in forty percent new oak. This wine is pale garnet, aromas of spice and some red fruits and black fruit to back it up, this follows through to the palate and is a well structured wine with complexity, balanced in acidity and alcohol with the tannins fading but still with a savoury note. The finish has length and is dry. This is a wine that is losing its fruit and does not have the tannins or fruit to allow it to remain in bottle and improve - so drink now while it still has a fading charm.

Chateau Lascombes 1997 Medoc, Margaux, Bordeaux

Chateau Lascombes 1997 is a Chateau based in Margaux in the Medoc and is a second growth under the 1855 clssification. The pale garnet wine had aromas of cigar box, spice and a hint of wet straw, but only a little fruit ( rhubarb). The acidity, body and alcohol  are all in balance though the later is slightly warm, the texture silky and the tannins low and ripe. The 1997 vintage was poor and hence the issues this wine has - it lacks fruit, the hint of wet straw on the nose, all due to underripe fruit at picking and the dilution is due to a wet vintage. The cost of this wine is around £35.

Chateau Lafon-Rochet 2003 St Estephe Bordeaux

Chateau Lafon-Rochet 2003 a fourth growth from the 1855 classification of the the Medoc in Bordeaux is from St Estephe  with the vines planted at Chateau Lafon-Rochet are 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, this should mean that this is the percantage in the wine itself - but this could be weather dependant. It is a Claret which had good depth of colour especially considering its age, a garnet narrow rim indicates it.
2003 was a very, very hot year, St Estephe is not as hot as other areas in Bordeaux, and due to a bad year the yield was low ( so promises great concentration of flavours in some cases). The pick was early - about 1 month early, in August and the resulting wine had firm acidity and enrobing alcohol, warming but well integrated. The tannins are obvious, grainy and drying - I would also say savoury. The rich fruit flavours on nose and palate are concentrated, of black fruits predominantly and cedar box  all parcelled up with a sweet spices and encompassed by a lovely velvety texture. This is a juicy fruit driven wine ( and 9 years old!) which still has alot of time that it could remain improving in bottle due to the obvious tannins, freshening acidty and concentrated fruits and amazing structure given by these 3 elements.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Chateau la Reserve de Leoville Barton 2000

Chateau la Reserve de Leoville Barton is the second growth ( one of 15 second growths from the 1855 classification in Bordeaux) of Chateau Leoville Barton in the  good vintage of 2000 and from a good estate, the vineyard is in St Julien in the Medoc which is left bank Bordeaux. Second wines are often made from younger vines or those that are deemd lacking the quality that are required for the Grand Vin. The Barton family have had a prescence in Bordeaux since the 1720's.
The wine was quite pale ruby with some garnet tints, fruit and spice aromas are rich with a licquorice edge.In the mouth there are both red and black fruits , good acidity and medium tannins and warming but well integrated alcohol. It is well structured and has a silky texture through the good long length. Quite delightful at a cost of about £25.

Chateau Brown 2004 in Bordeaux

2004 was the first vintage overseen by Yvon Mau at Chateau Brown  in Pessac Leognan in Bordeaux and is made up of Cabernet Sauvignon 55%, Merlot 43%, Petit Verdot 2%. The deep ruby is fading to garnet and invites you in, the aromas were of sweet spices fading into cedar cigar box aromas and one can only say 'perfumed'. On the palate there are red and black fruits good preserving acidity and well integrated alcohol, the tannins are ripe and obvious and all this gives a good length with a slightly bitter finish. This comes in at about £25

Domaine Paul Blanck Pinot Noir 2009 in Alsace France

Domaine Paul Blanck Pinot Noir 2009 is a wine from Alsace in Eastern France, where white grapes account for 90% of the grapes grown, and this as alot of you will know is a Black grape - Pinot Noir. It is a thin skinned variety that is difficult to grow anywhere, here it is dry and warm so should have less of the problems associated with the marginal area Burgundy where it is the typical black grape grown that is the only one that can be used to make red Burgundy.  Domaine Paul Blanck is situated in Kientzheim, a beautiful, mediaeval village in Alsace and the family have owned vineyards here for generations. This wine is supplied by Waitrose at a price of £14.24.
This wine is medium intense ruby with black tints, this is denser than I expected, the rim is wide - a hint that this may be a young wine. Subtle aromas of ripe baked fruit along with a slight vegetal edge evolve, but I would not recognise this as Pinot Noir by the nose, but this was a hot year...... maybe the fruit was very ripe and has so got a baked character.
In the mouth it lacks structure and character, it feels thin, the baked character of the wine repeats itself on the palate and very little else, low ripe tannins with a slight chalkiness and the length though average, has a bitter finish, the fruit is restrained and a touch nervy whereas the acidity is tight and underwrites this wines longevity..
For me this is a wine best served very slightly chilled with a meal.

Domaines Schlumberger Grand Cru Kessler Gewurztraminer 2005 in Alsace France

Domaines Schlumberger Grand Cru Kessler Gewurztraminer 2005 is from a single Grand Cru vineyard in Guebwiller in Alsace which is in Eastern France near the border of Germany. This wine came from Slurp and cost £18.35 and as is more common in Alsace due to its weather ( warm autumns and low rainfall due to the vosges mountains) the vineyard is run biodynamically and Domaines Schlumberger is one of the largest vineayard owners  in Alsace. This wine has won awards and indeed in Decanter November 2009  it was a 5star Decanter Award Winner and also a silver award in the 100+ Alsace Grand Cru wines tested.
This wine has a characteristic deepish gold colour - the grape Gewurztraminer often has quite a deep gold colour. Floral, deeply perfumed aromas of elderflower and roses promise what is to come, aromatics  also include grape and lychee. Once tasted the aromas are carried through to the palate with additional white stone fruits, the acidity is no higher than medium, again normal for this grape variety, the alcohol is warming but balanced. The wine feels silky in the mouth and the length is good, spicy to the end with roses, citric waves and stone fruits layered and complex with a lovely bitter, dry finish.
This is a wine is full and lush with amazing vivacity considering its age - but the pedigree says it all.

Riesling Kappelweg Vendange Tardive 2000 by Rolly Gassmann

Riesling Kappelweg Vendange Tardive 2000 by Rolly Gassmann is supplied by The Wine Society priced at £35, it is a late harvest wine ( denoted by the Vendange Tardive) and can only be one of Alsace's 'nobel grape varieties' by their wine laws, these are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat. The grapes are only harvested when they have fully ripened and more - and have started to dehydrate and shrivel on the vines so concentrating the flavours within the grape and so in the resultant wine. The grape has a high percentage of sugar and so the wine is often sweet as it cannot convert all the contained sugar to alcohol because the yeast cannot operate effectively at high sugar concentrations. This whole process is called 'passerillage' and was first introduced in France by the Alsace region and was first described as Vendange Tardive by Hugel in 1976. There is another higher sugar concentrated wine called Selecion de Grains Nobles and this has to have been infected by Botrytis ( the same nobel rot that affects grapes used to make Sauternes in Bordeaux and Trockenbeerenauslese in Germany ). The basic rule declares what minimium sugar level is needed in the grapes at harvest to reach these 2 levels of sweetness, it is higher for Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris than for Riesling and Muscat.
This wine has more colour than most rieslings due to its increased age and also the concentration of flavours and sugars it contains, the legs are slow to form and then fat - this tells me that the wine has increased viscosity, due to either alchol or sugar. On the nose we are treated to aromas of baked apples and pears, yeasty tertiary notes and a little mushroom, it also has a streak of minerality running around it.
On the mouth - Wow, silky texture, great acidity balancing the succulent sweetness backed up by baked stone fruits, sugary apple, all concentrated and honeyed. The length is good and clean, with a baked apple finish, and yes there is minerality, great structure and lots of clever fruit sugars, but the acidity, the freshness of this wine comes through - and it is at this point 12 years old - beautiful!

Alsace Riesling 2011 M&S Cave de Turkheim

Alsace Riesling 2011 made for  M&S by the Cave de Turkheim is a very well priced wine at £8.99, and on tasting it I was a little let down by its quality, it feels a little flat or lacking in concentration of flavours, it is dry with medium acidity, flavours of lemon, apple and a little minerality are apparent,  echoed from the aromas which again are not intense. The length is not long and has a dry finish.  Overall I feel deflated, this could have been a concentrated riesling with zing and polish, but maybe due to high yields or poor vineyard care or even lack of care in the making - this comes over as a generic wine with little to offer - what a shame. It is young - but will it gain in complexity - we will have to wait and see, maybe this could be its saviour.

Grand Cru Brand Pinot Gris Cave de Turkheim Alsace France 2008

Grand Cru Brand Pinot Gris 2008 is a wine made by Cave de Turkheim using the Pinot Gris grape which as expected is situated in Turkheim, a lovely village with some great restaurants and friendly people. We visited the Turkheim in October 2009 when they were just finishing the harvest and the smell of fermentation filled the air in many of the villages of the region.
Michel Lihrmann has been their senior winemaker for over 25 years and produces some high quality wines which are exported all over the world and have a good reputation. Grand Cru defines the vineyard (by local regualtion and is strictly defined and registered by law allied to production methods of the highest standards ) as having a very special “terroir” and the resulting wine should reflect the finest attributes of the grape variety Brand is such a vineyard.
The wine is pale gold and with quite intense aromas of cooked pears, caramel and honey with  overriding floral notes - it invites you to sip!
There is some sweetness to the wine, residual fruit sugar which implies honey but overall it is off dry, good acidic backbone balancing the alcohol which is well integrated ( 13.5%) and flavours of pear, cooked apple, tropical fruits with some sweet spice mixed in. The length is good, with a dry, clean finish.  Overall my thoughts on this wine are that it is a well made rich, crisp wine with a silky texture that works with many dishes from Thai, chicken and fruit puddings - Enjoy!
Supplied by Slurp at a price of £16.60, not bad value for such a beautiful wine.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Zind by Domaine Zind-Humbrecht 2008 in Alsace, France

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht 2008 makes Zind which is a blend of 2/3rds Chardonnay and then a mix of Auxerrois and  Pinot Blanc with the grapes coming from the Windsbuhl which is a terraced limestone and clay site, it is partially fermented and aged in a large new oak cask (82hl).
Clean apple aromas are restrained and had a slight smokey mushroom edge. On the mouth there was an initial spritz which disappeared quickly, the dry concentrated elegant but high acidity frames the fruit which is zesty apple and citric pithyness, the body is medium but enlivened by the zippy acidity. The overall texture is quite rich and solid - not a light fresh wine - this has structure and definition and has an international prescence. The oak plays its part in the formation of this wines character.
Supplied by Waitose at a price of £16.14.

Charles Schleret Muscat d'Alsace 2004 from Alsace in France

Charles Schleret  is based in the delightful village of Turckheim just west of Colmar on the river Fecht  and the Muscat d'Alsace 2004 is pale gold and has grapey aromas underpinned by elderflower and floral notes, on the mouth this is a dry wine with lively acidity which supports the fruit after a yeasty start, the fruit moves from apricot to ripe red apples and grape flavours interwoven, the finish is dry and stays soft, fresh and fruity to the end - which in a wine that is 8 years old was not expected! With age, a wine like this can take on waxy character and lose its fruit expression.
The wine is made from hand harvested grapes, picked when fully ripe, destemmed, pressed and vinified in an inert fermentation tank ( does not pick up any flavour or character from this), then filtered and bottled the following spring.
Yapp brothers £14.25

Domaine Josmeyer Pinot Blanc 2009 Alsace, France

Domaine Josmeyer was founded in 1854 by Aloyse Meyer, whose grandson Jean Meyer now manages the domaine. Situated in the village of Wintzenheim, just west of Colmar, the domaine has 25 hectares of vineyards scattered across nearby villages. Pinot Blanc is often thought of as the Alsace workhorse, but if the yields are restricted and the winemaking careful - can produce a full bodied concentrated wine.
Alsace is a dry region of France due to its location and protection from the Vosges mountains, it also often has long warm autumns, these two factors mean that cultivating without the use of many chemicals is not as difficult as in some marginal regions of France where there is a higher rainfall and less late-season sun! Biodynamic production is also very popular here, and this is grown under these conditions, they respect the earth and have visibly watched their vineyard health improve by eliminating agrochemicals.
This wine has a good depth of colour - gold/lemon with aromatics are of apricot through to gala apples with a hint of pear drops and yeast. The first taste indicates some residual fruit sugar and a slight spritz - but the finish is dry, the frisky acidity balances the sweet start and the flavours of ripe red apples and apricots has a crushed apple finish that is crisp, clean and dry to the end.
Suppliers of this wine are Berry Bros and Rudd at a price of £14.95.

Leon Beyer Sylvaner 2010 from Alsace, France

Leon Beyer Sylvaner 2010 from Eguisheim in Alsace  is a wine that is once more varietally labelled coming from Alsace, the grape Sylvaner is not one of the Alsace 'noble' grapes - which are Riesling, Muscat, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris - but if treated properly can be perfumed, and fresh. The Beyer family have been making wine in Eguisheim since 1580. They pick the grapes  fully ripe,  ferment at high temperatures often in large oak foudres to dryness .
This has less on the nose than the Chasselas which was tasted previous to this, but aromas of apricots, yeast and a streak of minerality hint at a crisp clean wine. On tasting it the noticeable acidity freshens the fruit which is green apple, apricot and a yeasty finish with lashings of minerality - wet stone flavours!
The finish is dry - again what is expected of an Alsation wine, and it is clean, crisp and fresh throughout - maybe a little linear in its appeal.
Supplied by the Wine Society at a good price of £7.95, a great fresh and zippy wine at the price!

Domaine Pierre Frick Chasselas 2009, Alsace France

Domaine Pierre Frick Chasselas 2009 a wine from Alsace in France and unlike many French wines it shows the grape variety - this is quite typical in this region of east France. The wine wass supplied by Caves de Pyrene at a cost of £10.50. This Cave supplies alot of Natural wines and called Vin Naturel which are often organic. Alsace is a dry region of France due to its location and protection from the Vosges mountains, it also often has long warm autumns, these two factors mean that cultivating without the use of many chemicals is not as difficult as in some marginal regions of France where ther is higher rainfall and less late season sun! Biodynamic production is also very popular here, and this is grown under these conditions, in addition no sulphur is used.
Generally alot of the terminology used in Alsace is Germanic, and when examining the history of the region you can see at various points Alsace has been under German rule, and even now the wines are considered to be German with a French twist, or put another way - sweet with a dry finish! 90% of the grapes are white grapes and produce 90% white wine of which about 70% is still white, and the remaining 20% is sparking Cremant.
Chasselas ( pronounced Chass -la) is a grape that is believed to be Swiss in origin but now also grown in France ( Alsace and Loire) as well as Portugal, New Zealand, Germany and Hungary.
The wine is medium gold in colour and when swirled no legs are apparent. Wow is it aromatic - volatile grape and apricot aromas as well as florality, touch of galia melon and slightly cidery appley - and it draws you in.
This is a fresh wine with keen acidity and great fruit expression including green and ripe red apples and apricots followed by a yeasty finish, It is vivacious and fresh - a lovely wine to have as an aperitif! The highly reputable Caves de Pyrene are the suppliers of this wine at £10.50.

Le Chateau Barrail 2009 Medoc, Bordeaux France

Le Chateau Barrail 2009 Medoc, Bordeaux France is from the 'Tescos Finest'  wine range we bought it online after tasting it at one of their wine fairs - and it is a nice easy drinking Bordeaux Red Wine - so what may be termed by many as a Claret, and the price is good too, it sells at about £8 per bottle but after discounts we got it for £4.20, it was a good buy at £8 - so it was a stunning buy!
It has had favourable reviews from many wine writers, see notes at the end of this review.
The producer is Olivier Compagnet - the vineyard has been in this families ownership for 3 generations.
2009 was a year that produced early maturing wines , soft and approachable.
This wine showed its youth in its ruby colour, and the fresh black and red fruit aromas, but also toast and cedar box so showing that the winemaker, Antoine Médeville, has used oak contact. On the palate red and black fruit dominates, interlaced with spice and coffee. The acidity is freshening, framing the fruit but not out of balance and the alcohol at 13%, well integrated and added weight to the texture which was silky. The tannins were ripe, soft and approachable but still drying and would allow time for the wine to age and improve. The finish was quite long with waves of cedar box and fruit, layered cleverly.
This is a wine that is easy drinking and pairs well with many meat and vegetarian dishes, and at the price a steal!

If you want a tried and trusted inexpensive supermarket claret, look for the negociant house of Yvon Mau at the bottom of the label. Made from 20-year old vines, this lively, juicy, herby, cabernet sauvignon-dominant claret punches well above its weight.
Jane MacQuitty’s - The Times Magazine 20/11/2010
Amazingly good value, this shows light, plummy cherry fruit with a bit of gravelly grip on the finish. Nice clean fruit with a savoury edge makes this excellent with food.
Jamie Goode - Sunday Express 12/12/2010
…lively, juicy, herby, cabernet sauvignon-dominant…
Jane MacQuitty - The Times 15/01/2011

Monday, 20 August 2012

Simonnet – Febver Sauvignon de Saint Bris 2010

Sauvignon de Saint Bris 2010 Simonnet – Febver Burgundy France

When one thinks of Burgundy white wine, the grape that springs to mind is Chardonnay with maybe Aligote coming into play as a secondary option, but this wine comes from a special appellation in Chablis, Burgundy, the winery was started in 1840 by Jean Febvre and is the only place that can grow Sauvignon grapes in the whole of Burgundy with the Loire only 30 miles away. It is bottled in a Burgundy shaped bottle ( as are most New and Old World Sauvignons). The grapes come from vineyards which average 25 years age and are on clay and limestone soils as would be expected in this location Burgundy/Loire.

It is pale lemon, clear and sparkling, with high notes of nettle, grass, green apple and pea shoots. It is dry, crisp and fresh with a silky texture. The finish is green apple with a citric twist and has a little florality wandering through it. The acidity is as expected – keeping the expected fruit expression fresh and the alcohol is well integrated (12.5%). There is no minerality on nose or palate, but the wine is a typical French Sauvignon, pure green fruits which are robustly expressive. At under £10, this feels like a gentle aperitif – enjoy!

Concha Y Toro Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Chile

This is a Late Harvest from Chile is made by Conch Y Toro and we have been lucky enough to taste this at the vineyard near Santiago, and it is a real sweetie – and at the price £5.95 for the half bottle, a lovely finish to any meal, and we often keep a bottle in the fridge to have a small glass as an aperitif, a lovely start to an evening and the alcohol is only 12%, so not too taxing.
It is made from some noble rotted, botrytis affected grapes (about 40% are affected) and grown in the Lourdes Vineyard, Maule valley – Chile, with low yields as expected due to the careful picking regime required. They are picked late in May just as they start to shrivel so concentrating their flavour. The winemaker is Hector Urzú.

On the nose this Sauvignon Blanc is immediately identified as not a typical dry Sauvignon as there are aromas of tropical fruit primarily pineapple as well as honeyed pear which are typical aromas associated with Botritic wines. It is full bodied and offers flavours of pineapple, marmalade and pear which all bounce around the mouth and it is generous on the palate, the fresh well integrated acidity keeps the fruit fresh and the sweetness clean and uncloying – in fact it is rich, delicious and enticing.  Great with a fruit pudding or milk ice cream – a delight!

La Bourgeoise Sancerre 2009 from the Loire, France

La Bourgeoise Sancerre 2009 from the Loire, France

The Bourgeois family have been making wine in Sancerre for ten generations  and is now run by Jean-Marie Bourgeois – having  grown from 2 to 65 hectares in the last 50 years, the domaine provides about half of the firm's needs, the rest purchased from local growers.

Henri Bourgeois produces a range of Sancerre and other appellations, principally Pouilly-Fumé and not to be forgotten the family's venture in New Zealand producing Clos Henri. La Bourgeoise, made from fifty year old vines grown on flinty soils on the southwest facing slopes of St Satur sells at about £22 and is vinified in stainless steel with some oak maturation. Less intense  aromas when compared to its New Zealand contemporary ( Clos Henri), but the grassy minerality exhibiting its terroir, It has a perfumed floral edge and  the lemon / green apple aromas are indicative of both area and grape variety.

Tasting it shows fresh acidity which keeps this wine fresh, the fruit ranges from lemon to greengager with a leafy grass and a flinty edge, the medium body and alcohol has a silky texture and is creamy on the mouth. A citric finish with a kick at the end has good length. This is a well knitted wine – enjoy!

Clos Henri Marlborough New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Clos Henri Marlborough New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2010, this Sauvignon Blanc is made with grape vines ( S.Blanc) from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé in the Loire, France. The makers are 10th generation wine makers – the Henry Bourgeois family in the Loire, who decided in 2000 to plant grapes in the Wairau Valley in Marlborough and harvested them for the first time in 2000, and since then have gained a reputation. They have used both French and new world viticultural and winemaking techniques to capture the essence of Marlborough varietal character and reveal the identity of the Clos Henri Terroir. There are 3 distinct soil types which offer diversity in flavour for the grapes grown.

The wine itself was pale lemon in colour – sparkly and clear. Herbal, grass notes exceed the tropical notes one normally expects from Marlborough Sauvignons. There was also a twinge of sweat and florality, but not  as unpleasant as it sounds.

On the mouth green flavours, grass, greengage and herbs come through, again low tropical fruit notes and a hint of minerality, the high acidity keeping all fresh and the well integrated ( I cannot believe it is 14%) alcohol supports the structure of the wine, creaminess indicates lees contact – and this adds to the complexity in the mouth.

The Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc 2010 won the Special Trophy Award – Best Sauvignon Blanc in the World - at the Mondial du Sauvignon Competition which took place in Bordeaux earlier this year. The winemaker is Damien Yvon. And the 2011 won a silver medal in the Decanter Wine Awards

Makutu Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Marlborough/ New Zealand .

Makutu Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Marlborough/ New Zealand . This vineyard is a privately owned operation (Tamra Washington the wine maker, and winery owner Peter Yealands ), it is large and in the very windy Awatere Valley. The berries resulting from the harsh conditions (low rainfall, high sunshine, cool nights and strong winds) are low yielding and small and thick skinned, so the relative skin:pulp ratio is high – hence the concentrated flavours and aromas. And yes it delivers again, lots of juicy fruit, tropical lychee and passionfruit, elderflower and sweet greengagers. The acidity is high, the alcohol medium but well integrated, the cirtic finish is fresh and zippy to the end. This wine feels well balanced and fruit driven – youthful fresh and fruity. It is a wine that should not be kept but drunk now – and at £9.50….. who can resist!

Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Margaret River Australia

Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc 2011 is  from Margaret River in Australia has a similar climate and to a certain extent soil distribution to Bordeaux, and like Bordeaux this wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon ( low percentage). The grapes are harvested at night to preserve the fruity acidity and this comes through in the wine.  It is very pale with slight green tinge, has floral aromas along with tropical fruits – tinned guava as well as greengager and streaked with minerality, this is a New World Sauvignon Blanc done in a French way.

The acidity is is the right place, zingy and fresh and the alcohol is well integrated and supports the wine helping to give a silky mouth feel which also enhanced by the oiliness of  Semillon. The length is good and has a citric finish after a tropical fruit start. Oak has been used in its maturation but does not overpower the fresh fruit driven flavours, not does the 4 month maturation on its lees.

At a price of £13 this is a nice Sauvignon Blanc,there are some on the market better value, it has a similar profile to the fresh and fruity Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand but with a French twist, and these are often at this price bracket or less though this is more elegant and care has been taken in its making.

The Outlier from Jordan in South Africa 2009

The Outlier from Jordan in South Africa 2009

This is a wine that delivered, with true Sauvignon Blanc flavours and aromas and fresh acidity. Some french oak had been used – but only slightly fills out the clean fresh flavours. There was minerality obvious on both nose and palate, and gooseberry and kiwi continue from one to the other with  the oak adding structure and a smoky creaminess. The acidity for me seems slightly out of kilter – jumping and spiky, but not so much that the wine was spoilt. The alcohol was well integrated and provided some bulk to the body and the structure of this wine felt good and balanced.

The vines that provide the grapes for this wine vary in age from 9 to 27 and are grown on granite and loamy soils. After harvesting, the grapes were destemmed before approximately 6 hours skin contact to improve the flavor and texture of the resulting wine. Gentle pressing in a pneumatic “tank” press, then cold settled for 2 days before being racked and inoculated with selected yeasts. All the vineyard blocks were kept separate and fermentation took place between 12-16°C.

This wine has won lots of awards (received 4 Stars in the 2010 Platter’s South African Wine Guide, scored 89 points in the Wine Enthusiast Editor’s Choice Award and received Top Stellenbosch District Terroir Award at the 2010 SA Terroir Wine Awards), and the oak content ensures that this is most definitly a food wine and can also  be enjoyed as an aperitif! The selling cost for this is around £11.50 – enjoy!

Umbrele Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from Romania

Umbrele Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from Romania

This wine from Romania is the first Sauvignon Blanc from here that I have tasted, and at the price (£5.99) I can only say that it is good value. A spritzy start where the acidity is quite high so the wine fruitiness was fresh and zesty, the alcohol was a little higher than expected but felt only a little warm and quite well integrated. The aromas of the wine lay in the area of pear drops and galia melon, and these followed through to the taste, but in addition banana flavours and a very sweet start which had reminiscencse of boiled sweets, led to a pear drop finish which was short. The wine is produced at the Cramele Recas and uses state of the art technology to produce wines (the winery has been fully fitted out with stainless steel , automatic temperature controlled tanks for fermenting and storing the wine, best possible equipment for  crushing, destemming, pressing the grapes etc ) and in the last 10 years, both the vineyard and winery have been completely, and exhaustively modernised in order to be able to fully control the production process using the latest methods, this means alot of the vines that are grown are under 10 years old with over 600 hectares have been re-planted already using the vine stock from France and Italy. The winemakers are Hartley Smithers from Australia, and Nora Iriate from Spain

Cousino Macul Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from the Central Valley in Chile

Cousino Macul Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from the Central Valley in Chile

 This is a wine I have tasted in Chile at Cousino Macul – a different vintage, but similar in style, this again is a wine that would benefit from cooler climes to preserve both the acidity and fruit aromas/flavours. It is pale lemon and crystal clear as expected with aromas of melon, green apple and grass over-tones.It also has some biscuit nuance – which was unexpected.

The acidity was merely medium not enough to keep the fruit fresh and clean, and the body felt quite heavy and clunky.  Flavours of grass, citric flavours which include lime and grapefruit, have a medium to long finish which stays reasonably fresh until the end.

My overall thoughts on this wine are – fresh and fruity but could have been fresher and fruitier if the grapes had come from a cooler area.

Soul Tree Sauvignon Blanc 2011 India

Soul Tree Sauvignon Blanc 2011 India
This is a Sauvignon Blanc from India grown at an altitude of 1870ft on a plateau near India’s West Coast, and although it does have a lot of Sauvignon character, it seems heavy and clunky. The clean pale lemon core promised much, when you popped your nose in the glass the Pear Drop aromas together with characteristic Elderflower were quite intense, and again I was hopeful, but the wine in the mouth was heavy and angular and what started as grassy with some gooseberry and kiwi  had a medium, long citric bite at the end. The acidity was lower than I expected but the alcohol felt in balance. Overall this is wine that is good while on holiday in India, but back home one has better choices at the price ( £8.50+). This wine originates east of the city of Nasik ,  4 hour drive or a more sedate 3 hour train journey from Mumbai and the winery is modern producing over 80% of the Indian wine produced in the country, it is up in the hills that which helps to preserve some of the fruit flavours, but in this case not enough to maintain fresh acidity.  

Monday, 13 August 2012

GSM Rosemount 2003 McLaren Vale South Australia

GSM Rosemount 2003 from McLaren Vale South Australia was Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2007 and on tasting it you can see why. There is 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mouvedre, Rhone grapes and a blend associated with the Southern Rhone traditionally.

This wine has some age - 9 years, and has a deep garnet core with a narrow garnet rim with fast forming but then slow legs, when swirled.
Pop your nose near the glass and you get hit by a real fruit punch, black berry fruits, spice, chocolate and coffee and even a touch of dried fruits ( dates raisins...) and this is all wrapped up in smokey tabacco aromas.
The mouth feel is what you would expect from a high alcohol wine ( 15%), silky and smooth, but the alcohol is well integrated and does not feel out of kilter.
The acidity keeps this fruit bomb fresh, but too a certain extent it feels a little unreal, not in balance with the wine. The tannins are low and ripe, have lost some of their grip with age but still offer some structure to this wine. Flavours abound, dark fruits, licquorice, coffee, chocolate, but all are encapsulated and to a certain extent dominated by the chunky oak. The fruit flavour is starting to fade - aged - and so this wine needs drinking soon, and this could partly explain its imbalance, it needs the fruit content to knit with the oak and the acidity.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2006 A Passioni

Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2006  A Passioni DOCG is a wine from San Gimignano in Tuscany and sold by Majestic for about £8. It has a pale golden core and aromas of apricot with a citric edge and a slight yeasty twang. The fresh citric, apply, apricot flavours with a streak of spiciness on the mouth has a refreshing acidity and balanced by the medium body and alcohol. The length is good with a spicy start and a citric zesty finish and a pleasant bitter twist at the end.
This is a wine that has some weight and structure ( though by no means heavy )and the acidity maintains its freshness, all enveloped with warmth of the ripe fruits. This wine would be good with or without food.

Moulin a Vent 2007 Fleurilege Burgundy France

Moulin a Vent 2007 Fleurilege is a wine we bought while visiting Burgundy and Beaujolais, it came from the cave in Fleurie - great place with nice wines to try and the person who helped us had great wine knowledge though her English was better than our French - we did not understand all that was said.
This wine we understood was a Beaujolais that could be aged ( 5-10 years max) and the Gamay in it could take on a Pinot character, so we were interested to try it this weekend - having had 5 years age.
The core was ruby and there were glints of garnet at the wide rim. On the nose this wine had an uplifting perfume of fresh red fruits and sweet spices ( vanilla with a hint of ginger) and a hint of vegetal herbaceousness that was pleasant and beckoned you in. It had a nervy elegance on the nose that one would not associate with Gamay ( which normally has banana and bubbly gum aromas due to the carbonic maceration it has undergone) and tasting it reinforced this impression.
The silky texture, the zippy fresh tight red fruits were well srtuctured and kept fresh by the keen acidity, and intertwinned in the fruits were spice and a feint meatiness. The low ripe and sleek tannins had some grippiness and the medium body supported by the medium-high alcohol felt in balance and gave a good length with a spicy fresh fruit finish. This wine has definetly got some of the Pinot character that one associates with Burgundy - and one feels that this is due to the grapes being treated with the same reverence that the Pinot grapes receive, good viticulture in the vineyard, clever wine making in the winery and then careful and intuitive oak ageing.
At this point we wish we had bought more than 6 bottles - but hey ho - another trip is needed.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Tesco's Finest Douro DOC 2010 Portugal

Tesco's Finest Douro DOC 2010 is a wine that we bought after a Tesco wine tasting in London, I had failed to get round to tasting it there, and ordered a case from them because I quite fancied a slurp...... it was only after I ordered that I realised that it had been discounted and then got another discount from the tasting..... so ended up only paying £3.02 a bottle (instead of around £7 per bottle), I will try to stop this clouding my judgement slightly!
Anyway, to get to the wine itself, it is deep ruby and has black glints at the rim which is wide. On the nose it has a jammy black fruit character wrapped in warm spices, not unpleasant but warning that this is a young wine from a hot area I felt. When I tasted it the influence of the jamminess continues on the palate, cherry and blackcurrants in abundance and chunky oak spiciness, the fresh acidity supplys a happy lift to the wine and the alcohol does not feel over warm. The tannins are quite green and chalky, drying on the mouth. Overall I did not find the wine unenjoyable, but it felt a little disjointed, chunky oak, jammy fruit and a slightly hollow mid palate, but at this price - who am I to complain! Maybe it will improve with time - if I let it......
The wine maker is Antonia Barbosa and this is a wine that has won quite a few awards, IWSC and Decanter so go forth and enjoy.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Le Terraces Brancott Estate Pinot Noir 2009

Le Terraces 'T' Brancott Estate Marlborough, New Zealand Pinot Noir 2009 has a pale ruby core and a very minor hint of garnet on the rim. Aromas of plum, strawberry spice and brewed tea are elegant and have an air of minerality, on top of which is a toasty spice. Plum, cherry and other red fruits continue on the palate joined with white pepper and savoury tasty ripe tannins, the prescence of oak is undeniable, but it supports the flavours and keen acidity which keeps the fruit clean and fresh. The length is good, savoury, fruity and layered with minerality, balanced all the way through to the finish. This wine is a level above the standard Brancott Estate Pinot and is in the letter series which is their premier varietal range ( this being 'T' ). It has a fine elegance that shows in the layered complexity, fresh fruit enrobed with the tasty tanins.

After harvest the grapes were destemmed then underwent a 5 day cold soak before fermentation in open topped fermenters, plunging to increase the extraction gently. Fermentation took place at 32C max and then a post fermentation maceration once more to help the tannin formation and integration. The finished wine was matured in French Oak barrels for about 10 months ( 42% in new oak and the rest in 1 or 2 year old).  A wine that has been thought about and well made with care - and you can tell both on the nose and when you taste it.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Loredona Pinot Noir 2007 USA

Loredona, Monterey Pinot Noir 2007 made by the Delicato family - they have been in the business of making wine for 80+ years now in their 3rd generation of wine making and  committed to environmentally sensitive and sustainable agricultural farming practices, and this wine was amazing at the price ( we paid £7 for it, no idea where we got it from, but online no doubt). They were U.S. Winery of the Year in 2006, 2002 and 2001- International Wine & Spirit Competition, so they have pedigree and understand their pinots.
The wine had more colour than some Pinot Noirs I have tasted, but the ruby core had a slight browning to the rim, showing a little age. The fruit forward aromas of cherry and ripe plums had a good mix of sweet spices as well as a hint at licquorice and smokey tobacco, it invited you in for your first taste.
Sweet red and black fruits enrobed by tobacco and sweet spices are supported by well integrated (13.5%) alcohol and kept fresh by the swish acidity, the tannins are velvet smooth and ripe - tasty, lovely textural wine in the mouth. The length was long, sweet spices and liquorice dominate - but good to the end! The alcohol on the finish is slightly warm, but adds structure - a lovely wine even at double the money - thanks to the Dedicato family!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Valdivieso Pinot Noir 2011

Valdivieso Pinot Noir Casablanca Valley, Chile 2011

Having ploughed our way through the Pinot's of the world ( well somebody has to do it..... we sacrifice ourselves), we decided to go back to one of our every day drinking Pinots - in the affordable bracket of £9.00'ish. It has a pale ruby core with purple tints in the wide rim - hinting at its youthfulness. Then comes plenty of uplifting fruit notes on the nose, cherry, strawberry and ripe plums intermingled with vegetal spices and tea for me..... my husband thought slightly medicinal ( I thought ......that was my kind of medicine ! ). On the mouth was an abundance of ripe red fruits mixed with sweet spices and a definite vegetal note all kept fresh by the clean acidity. The tannins were low, silky and ripe and the alcohol, though tasting a little warm, was enrobing and a building block of this wine that has its own stylistic character, this is a benchmark new world Pinot Noir, smooth and silky with a touch of warmth. The finish was quite long and had a slightly herbal end intermingled with the sweet red fruits. Overall it stood up well to the previous set - at the price, we often buy this from Waitrose when there is an offer, bringing it down to under £7 - an absolute steal!
Brett Jackson the winemaker - a Kiwi - is based in Lontue though these 7 year old vines are planted in the Casablanca valley to the north of Santiago  (Chiles wine capital), what is termed as a 'cool area' with cold breezes coming in off the coast due to the Humbolt current which flows from Antartica. This keeps the fruit fresh and the acidity relatively high.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Finca Flichman Malbec 2002 Argentina

Finca Flichman Caballero de la Cepa Malbec 2002

Finca Flichman under the So Grape canapy ( Port wine makers and also the makers of Mateus Rose) is an Argentinian brand producing wines often seen in the 'on trade' ie Restaurants, though with a production of 24 million litres - it must be seen in alot of places.
This 10 year old ruby red wine has a garnet rim, which shows its age. The rich aromas of black berry fruits, kirsch, spice escape the glass in abundance. Tasting it reinforces the fruit driven Malbec, Argentinas for most grape, black fruits, smokey spices and kirsch. The acidity is more than medium and the alcohol is high - out of balance with the fruit, it more than supports it, it is a dominant factor. The tannins are structural and chalky and add substance to this full bodied  wine.
The finish is long and spicy with good structure throughout. The wood feels slightly chunky and overpowering, maybe this is due to the fading power of the fruit due to the wines age......
A lovely wine but maybe fading now - so if you have this on your rack - drink quick.

Pinots of the World

I went to a Pinot Noir tasting recently, it was 8 Pinots of the world compared, really interesting especially when you look at the quality and the prices ( Connollys Wine Merchants ). Different styles due to varying climates, soils, viticulture as well as the way the wine is made, matured and aged.....

Calusari Pinot Noir 2011 from Romania £6.95
A modern wine from an old world country, Phillip Cox bought land after the fall of the regime and then set about ensuring the deeds to the land were bonafide before planting vines 12 years ago, under the Calusari heading for the Cramele Recas winery in Western Romania. The winery itself uses Stainless steel, and cold soak before fermentation to help extract as much flavour and colour from the grapes ( also may help the longevity of the wine as well as improve the structure ). It produces a classic style of Pinot with no oak ageing used, this is a clean fresh Pinot at a great price.
The pale ruby core with some purple tints indicated that this was a young wine, the fresh red fruits on the nose have a slightly baked - ripe quality and some florality. On tasting it the red fruits are the dominant factor in the wine, the texture has a silkiness to it and the acidity keeps it fresh. The alcohol at 13.5% seems well integrated and
helps bolster the body of this wine, but at the end of the longish sweet finish one is left feeling that the wine lacks what it takes to make a lasting impression, at the price though - a bargain, great for a party....... and drinking at home in the summer! I would try it slightly chilled with a cold chicken salad or fish - great little wine.

Indomita Duette Pinot Noir 2010 Chilean  £10.00
This Pinot Noir follows many others grown in the Casablanca Valley north of Santiago, but this one won an award at the Decanter WWA. The lovely pale ruby wine with wide rim, has a cherry,  strawberry and earthy aromas with a touch of spicey smokey oak, complimented by herbal, vegetal notes. On tasting it the high, 14% alcohol is well integrated and adds broadness to the body and enables the texture to have a silkiness that a lesser wine may not have. The acidity keeps the  sweet red fruits ( cherry and strawberry) fresh and the tannins are soft and ripe. The finish is a little short but  pleasant. The wine has good structure from the added 12 months maturity in used French oak barrels and vibrancy which combines the ripe fruits with the elegantly used oak. A good wine at the price ( but so are many of the Chilean Casablanca Valley Pinots and some at a better price ). Enjoy!

Esk Valley Pinot Noir 2010 Marlborough New Zealand £14.49
This is a Pinot Noir from the Wairau and Awatere Valleys in Marlborough ( The Hawkes bay - Esk Valley Estate winery.) and has good quality fruit in it, this adds to its structure and finish. The fresh ripe fruity aromas are like concentrated raspberries with a touch of smokey spice, the nose is intensely perfumed. On the mouth one is rewarded with balanced fruits which include cherries and soft red fruits complimented by spices and a certain vegetal quality. The well structured fruit driven wine has soft, ripe tannins and a silky texture, both of these supported by the 14% alcohol. This is a well made wine with supple oak ageing, hand picked  followed by a cold soak before fermentation. The wine has won a Gold Medal in the IWSC, for me the end palate failed to build on the imposing sweet fruit start.

Palisser Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir 2009 £15.59
This wine is from Martinborough (south end of North Island) - across the bay from Marlborough, this bay has its own microclimate and produces a riper fruit, fuller bodied wines result.
This wine although only 1 year older than its Marlborough cousins, has a slight garnet tint at the rim of the ruby core and also has a greater depth of colour. The uplifting red and black fruit aromas (especially black cherries) have a  rounded quality and a restrained floral edge, they promise of what is to come. On tasting it the fruits give much and are kept fresh by the quite high acidity, the body in balanced and the tannins are structural but soft and tasty! The gentle subtle spices are due to the 12 months in used french barriques and adds greatly to the overall character of the wine.There is a streak of minerality that runs through the wine which adds pedigree to it as does the vegetal quality obvious on the palate, the only aspect of the wine that I feel is not in balance is the alcohol, it stands at 14.5% but does not feel well integrated, it has an over warm finish which with the fresh acidity seems out of kilter.  This is not indicative of this wine as we have tasted this before with no issues..... so maybe this was a hot year? The winemaker Allan Johnson does aim for a "ripe, full and rich" Pinot Noir and maybe this is where the higher alcohol than expected comes from.

Three Choirs England Pinot Noir 2009 £21
Ruby core with darker tints, this wines subtle aromas are of sweet red fruits over-ridden by medicinal elastoplaster and a streak on minerality, not altogether pleasant. On tasting it the red fruits are echoed, the acidity is quite high and the alcohol low resulting in a light bodied wine with a slightly acidic feel. The tannins are soft and silky and the length is short with an acidic,licquorice finish..... again this wine leaves one feeling that at these prices you would want so much more, yes it does have some structure and mineratliy showing it has pedigree..... but.....

Gsellmann and Hans Austria Pinot Noir 2009 £17.99
This is an Austrian wine, and one made naturally south of Vienna in Burgenland near the Hungarian border by the family of Gsellmann and Hans. The 20 year old vines are on south facing slopes and  picked early after a warm autumn to retain the acidity, then is subject to cold soak before fermentation then maturation in used french oak barriques.
The wine is pale ruby with a wide rim, indicating lack of age, restrained aromas of red and black fruits with a slight medicinal slant rule this wine. On the mouth the fruit element is echeod and balanced by the nervy acidity, but has a slightly baked quality, in addition there are  medium supple tannins with flavours of cigar box spices all supported by good strutural minerality, which is layered with fruits. This is not a punchy wine, but one that has sweet fruity spices and a good finish.

Volnay Domaine Michel Lafarge 2003 £29.99
2003 was a very very hot year in mainland Europe and Volnay in Burgundy was no exception, temperatures of 49+ were recorded and people in Paris collapsed and died with the heat - and the wines to a certain extent bear witness to this. Pick time was critical, getting the grapes to be physiologically ripe, retain acidity and have good balance was difficult and many wines resultingly had quality issues and generally they were earlier drinking wines - not for the keeping! Many winemakers had to acidify this year - Frédéric Lafarge says he did not - that the wine will always find the right level. Biodynamic production is at the core of their principles, maybe this made the difference.
A garnet core indicates the age of this wine, repressed aromas of licquorice, spices, red fruits and a sweet smokiness are followed by silky texture on the mouth, cigar box spiciness and low level dulling black and red fruits. Tannins which are ripe and silky underpinned good acidity and well integrated alcohol shows how this wine must have been before the fruit life dulled, still a lovely wine - but was it even lovelier? It is well structured, has minerality that hints at its heritage and well integrated oak spice flavours due to typically aging for 15 to 20 months in used oak barrels, but there is still the issue of what might have been!

Volnay Domaine Michel Lafarge 2004
As the 2003 did not have the life we thought it should have done - a bottle of the 2004 was opened to compare with it. The garnet ruby core  gave way to cigar box aromas and sweet red more obvious fruits, on the mouth the silky texture, silky berry fruits were supported by the acidity which underwrites its longevity, this wine still has spring in its step! Medium body was enrobed by the balanced and well integrated alcohol, the ripe natural tannins add to the whole wine - joining up the dots. There were sensible firm, structural tannins from the supple fruit extraction and the sweet oak well integrated, minerality played it part in this wines character and points to the quality of the terroir. This wine is at an enjoyable stage of its maturity - drink in the next few years.

Morey St Denis 1er cru La Riotte Domaine Perrot-Minot 2003 £57.25
This winemaker Christoff Perrot-Minot makes Red Burgundy in a modern style, riper grapes, higher degree of extraction, all in all what has been termed as a New World style! The vinyard, La Riotte in the Cote de Nuits, Morey St Denis appellation a 1.3+ acre site,  is top quality, it is Premier Cru, near the top of its tree, and is next to Clos la Roche. Natural viticulture is practiced wherever possible and some of the vines are over 100 years old, hence the quality of the wines produced. Careful selection in the vineyard, destemming, cold soak for 1 week and natural yeasts, then gentle pumping over rather than pigeage followed by settling for 48 hours after fermentation has finished, further 12-15 months maturation in oak barrels (40% new oak for Premier Cru's).
The wine is immediately seen to be different to all the other Pinot Noirs that have been sampled here, it is much darker, has a deeper ruby core with black tints, and a garnet edge to the rim. Aromas of dark fruits ( cherry, blackberry and Kirsch ) and spice, vanilla, minerality all layered to form this complex carcophany of aromas which are both elegant and abundant. On tasting it, one finds that all that was expected from the first sniff, is paid in abundance on the mouth, the succulent dark fruits are supported  by the medium well integrated alcohol and kept fresh and underpinned by the acidity which has, and will continue to ensure this wines longevity. The texture is silky and rich, the tannins are ripe being polished by age, the black fruit and licquorice, sweet spices continue right through the long layered finish - this is a wonderfully structured, complex wine - Buy, Buy, Buy.