On Thursday 15th June Richard led the ICC Group in tasting wines from Domaine La Tour Vieille, comprising Apellation Collioure Controlée wines and a Bunyuls. My reports from this tasting were all excellent, both in regard to the quality of wine and about Richard’s presentation. I am very grateful to him for conducting the tasting, and for the notes below:


These are high quality wines and were all ready for drinking now although they will keep for many years. An underlying theme of all the wines was a reflection from their growth area; subtle undertones  of minerality, salinity and garrigue. The balance of fruit and acidity made the wines smooth, elegant and complex . This gave a voluminous quality in the mouth.

Les Canadells 2014    14.5%   (Yapp Bros £17.30   Grower €14.42)
70% grey and white Grenache, 10% Macabeu, 10% Verminto, 10% Rousanne.
Yeast, almonds, mineral, flinty and tropical. Good to drink on its own but will go well with food.

Rosé Des  Roches 2015     14%  (Grower €9.27)
50% black Grenache 50% Syrah
Salty, strawberry, candy floss, tropical, melon strawberry jam, redcurrant. Good on its own or with food.

La Pinede 2014     14.5%    (Grower €12.36   Yapp Bros £16.20)
75% black Grenache  and 25% Mourvedre and Carignan
Nose of leather, rubber, caramel. Taste of brambles (blackberry) cinnamon liquorice, aniseed, black cherry, spicy and tinned tomatoes. Again, good on its own or with typical food of the area.

Puig Oriol 2015      14%    (Grower €14.42   Yapp Bros £17.30)
70% Syrah and 30% black Grenache
Black cherry, spice box, seaweed, chalk, mineral, pencil, cloves, stewed plums, frankincense. Very smooth, rich and velvety without being overbearing.

Puig Ambeille 2014   14.5%    (Grower €14.42)
80% Mourvedre  20% black Grenache
Tobacco nose. Blackberry fruits, herby, spice, rounded and smooth. Forest floor, black cherry and ripe berries. Well balanced.

Banyuls Reserva Vin  Doux Naturel     16.5%     (Yapp Bros. £20.90 Grower €16.48)
90% black Grenache and 10% Carignan.
Plum, prunes, coffee, fig, dried cherry, raisin, toffee, chocolate and sweet spice. Lighter than port but goes well with chocolate, chocolate dishes and with cheese. Lovely sweet taste with lots of flavours again without being too intense.

So – very many thanks to Richard for collecting and showing these wines, I really would have loved to attend. Other tasters have told me of the overall salinity (does that reflect the sea-side location), balance and poise in the wines. This confirms my impressions over time about wines of Roussillon – that the better end is cheaper, fresher and more complex than comparable Languedoc wines, despite (?) being further South. Perhaps the reason is more small artisan growers, or the easier affordability of the wines (meaning we can drink higher up the scale), or the sea… or the good offices of people like Richard who brought us these wines… At any event a great success – thanks again Richard…

À Bientôt…

This month, the ICC Tasting will be of wines from Collioure, in the very capable hands of Richard.

Collioure AC (AOP) is a small wine area in the very South-Eastern corner of Roussillon – and indeed France.  Centred upon the old fishing village of the same name, the area also produces  produces Vin Doux  within the identical geographical boundaries, which is always labelled Banyuls.  Collioure is the name reserved for normal strength, dry wines.

Collioure/Banyuls is a small area, producing about 4% of all wine in the Roussillon area. Similar amounts of each are made, depending on the harvest. Collioure is untypical in that 20% of the planting is white (the average over all Roussillon is 3%!) – so about a third of white Roussillon AOC (now AOP) is from Collioure. Which is interesting now since AOC white was only permitted in Collioure from 2003.


Collioure AOC red is always a blend which must contain at least a 60% of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre with no individual grape permitted to exceed 90% of the total blend. Cinsault and Carignan and allowed to up to a maximum of 30%. Today the AOC white blend must contain a minimum of 70% blend of Grenache blanc and Grenache gris with Macabeo, Malvoisie, Marsanne, Roussanne and Vermentino (Rolle) permitted to round out the remaining portion of the blend – though each of those grape varieties can not individually exceed 15%.


Richard has chosen to show wines based on one of the top 5 producers – if not the best – Domaine La Tour Vieille. They produce 70,00 bottles a year of Banyuls and Collioure, by manual harvesting 10 ha of red and 2.5 ha of white. They practice Lutte Raisonnée viticulture. The grapes are all grown on schist soils and are composed of – Reds: (5%), (15%), (65%), (15%); Whites:  (10%), (10%), (50%), (20%), (10%). So a very typical mix from the area. The grapes range in age from 20 years old (some of the whites) to 70!

All grapes are harvested by hand and nothing is mechanized at all (no tractors) and all wines are fermented traditionally with wild yeasts. They make a white, a Rosé and several Banyuls and late harvest wines, as well as several prestigous Reds….

The white Collioure, “Les Canadells” is vinified in the following way:  the Grenache Gris is pressed immediately after harvest; Grenache Blanc, Macabeo, Vermentino, Roussanne undergo a short skin maceration; then percentage of the wine is fermented in oak barrels with a regular stirring of the lees and bottled 6 months after harvest.

All the Collioure reds undergo pump-overs and all punch-downs are by foot, the wine is bottled 10 to 18 months after fermentation.

A very attractive tasting, I think… I wish I was there but I am actually avoiding the 31°C sun in the Loire….  With Richard’s (and other attendees’) assistance the notes should be with you early next week (although I face a crashingly busy weekend before then)…..

À Bientôt…

On Monday 5th June the WING met for a Tutored Tasting of wines from Dão, led by Ralph.

Dão is quite a small wine area situated pretty well bang in the centre of the Northern half of Portugal – between Douro and Bairrada. It produces 4% or 5% of all Portuguese wine. It is encircled by mountains giving it a sheltered temperate climate, where grapes are mainly grown on sandy soil covering a granite base. Most famously it is known for red wines (80% of the production is red) from Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Jaen, and Alfrocheiro grapes, and whites from Encruzado. Mainly seen in the UK as cheap, supermarket, generic blends (Dão DOC blends have to have at least 20% Touriga Nacional) the area is capable of very good wine if you can track it down…

For this tasting Ralph chose a highly regarded, modern producer called Quinta de Lemos. This winery is located in the Silgueiros sub-region (1 of 7 in Dão), and is reputed to have a “French feel”….

If you want maps and graphs, and thoughts, about Portuguese wine in general, please refer to the February 15th 2017 post below>>>

All the wines at this tasting were from Quinta de Lemos, and sourced from drinkportuguesewine.co.uk, where they retail around £25 (the Roriz is £50!). At the moment they are all on sale at around £16 ( and the Roriz for £35!), with mixed cases available….

I myself was in France – actually driving to the Loire Valley – on the day of the tasting, so all the information and notes below are courtesy of Ralph and Kim,  thanks to them:


DONA PAULETTE   ENCRUZADO 2012    (13%)  -countries top white grape.
This grape, the country’s top white, has high reputation as ‘burgundy beater’ similarities to chardonnay as shows off wine-making technique. We were looking for complexity and minerality; well integrated acidity; good structure and medium body; and aromas and flavours of resinous plants, eucalyptus and mint with notes of hazelnut and tamarillo. Kim felt his example was pale golden with citrus notes on nose. Limes and minerality + resinous notes seeming more like a Semillon to me (Kim), a bit wet wool. Good length and complexity.  High acid – good food wine. Kim’s favourite on the night.

ALFROCHEIRO 2009   (14.5%)
[This wine achieved 89 Parker (P) points and  92 @ Wine Enthusiast (WE)]. Looking for aromas and flavours of blackcurrant and concentrated black fruits. The ripe and integrated tannins without being green or aggressive. Kim found a brown brick rim., looking older than other reds. Ripe fruit flavours cherries plums and tinned toms (Kim). Sweet fruit and nice acidity. Spicy and warming – high alcohol.  Some dark chocolate.  Good but not elegant or complex.

JAEN 2009   (14.5%)
[89 P, 93 WE] Jaen is the same grape as Mencia so we were thinking of structure with red fruits, vegetal and resinous notes. Fresh medium body. Young with long, lingering finale. Kim got a wine that was dense dark red. Very concentrated. Fusty, musty nose (not a fault).  Black berries and dried leaf on nose with some tobacco? Dried fruit and raisin.  Big and soft and not enough grip for my liking. Seems simpler later.

TINTA RORIZ 2009   (14.5%)
[90 P, 93 WE] Tinta Roriz is the Northern Portuguese name for Tempranillo – so expecting a concentrated color with ripe fruit and spices present in the aroma. Complex and spicy body with a good structure and great longevity. In vino veritas: A deep purple hue (not “Smoke on the Water”!)  Bit herby on the nose then smokey bacon. Softer plummy palate. Very smooth modern style. Lower in acid than the previous 2 reds.  I found it bit blousy but quite a few liked it best so far.

TOURIGA NACIONAL 2009   (14.5%)
[92 P, 90 WE] Originally from Dão, this grape is long associated with Duoro for vintage port and latterly big table wines. This is a multiple medal-winning wine, and prefigures a deep ruby colour. Aromas and flavours of ripe blackcurrant and fresh crushed wild berries with notes of Bergamot and Pine. Kim found very inky red. Pungent but less fruit driven. Big and concentrated Savoury and spicey, dates and chocolate later.  High tannins very powerful wine.  The “Bordeaux grape” of Portugal. Favourite red of the night for most.

DONA SANTANA 2009   (14.5%)
This is an indigenous Dão blend of 60% Tourga Nacional, 20% Tinta Roriz, 10% Jaen, 10% Alfrocheiro. [90 P, 91 WE]. Another wine with many medals, we were looking for lots of fruit (strawberry, cherry, blackcurrant, rhubarb are mentioned in citations) floral notes, full body and tannins
Kim found a purple/ black hue. The blend disguises the individual grape characteristics: slightly stalky nose; big black fruit. Very rich, dry at end of palate. Thought bit bland by comparison with others….

So, a very enjoyable evening according to several of my informants. Thanks so much Ralph for conducting it and the info above – and to Kim, and other contributors, for compiling the notes.

A theme piece on Collioure in about 4 days… until then….

On Thursday 18th May 2017 the ICC group tasted 3 Alto-Adige varietal wines (Riesling, Pinot Grigio and Gewürztraminer) against “reference” equivalents from Alsace. The idea being to see if the “lighter, drier, cleaner” reputation for the former was justified – and/or if it implied a “less characterful” other side to that coin? I chose mature Alsace wines to emphasise this, and to ponder if the Alto-Adige wines would ever develop to a similar degree.

The wines were served in pairs, so the notes below will contain both-way comparative comments. However only the first pair were served blind as I thought the relative ages of the wines would make the other pairs too obvious anyway.


Here are my notes:

KAEFFERKOPF RIESLING 2008 (Schaetzel)      –   13%     –     Grower €17  (Approx £25 in UK)
Only showing a slight hint of diesel, despite its age – floral hints and an apple blossom note in a more aromatic wine. Palate is rounder and richer with a long warm acidic line supporting a fruit phase reminiscent of dried apricots. Rather satisfying and still quite young.
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  15/20

PACHERHOF RIESLING  2012 (Valle Iscaro)   –   13%     –     £15 Le Langhe
The nose has a light but more evolved diesel element, but is quite quiet overall with a hint of citrus. The palate is actually less dry than the Alsace wine, clean with warm acidity and a pear hint – but a mineral, slightly bitter, line grows through the wine, supporting the middle but somewhat unbalancing the finish.
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  15/20

It seemed the older wine was on a much longer evolution, and had more depth and interest. However I felt the A-A was not shamed by comparison, and would work as well or better in some contexts.

BRAND GRAND CRU PINOT GRIS 2005 (Turckheim)         13½%    –      £19 Noel Young
Instantly recognizable Alsace PG, much darker than the Alto Adige but still fresh. Hints of flowers (roses?) and ginger with smoky notes. The palate only a little off-dry with an integrated fruit-acid line (passion fruit, quince, mango) held well together for a long time. Long and complex – a lovely wine…
Ratings:        Quality:  17/20   Value:  17/20

ERSTE + NEUE PINOT GRIGIO 2015    –  14%   –      £15 Noel Young / Highbury Vintners
This has a some PG character but only about a third as intense as the Alsace. Similar profile to the AA Riesling: clean; warm acidity; fruit (peachy in this case); mineral at the end… not all that interesting and certainly nor compared to the Alsace PG.
Ratings:        Quality:  14/20   Value:  14/20

This was even more telling a comparison than I imagined. With ten years between the wines, I wondered that the Alsace might be too old… Far from it – it positively shined with flavour and complexity and supported its slight sweetness well. The A-A certainly paled by comparison, although not a bad wine – I thought it had more interest than most Grigio, but here the least interesting of the A-A wines anyway…

HEIMBERGER “SOL GRANITIQUE” GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2007 (Beblenheim)     –    13%    –      Grower €12
No lychees on this nose but ginger and (surprisingly) pear. Palate is rich and viscous with some sweetness and a gingery spicy warmth and a “granitique” mineral line. Long warmth and a food-demanding grip.
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  15.5/20

ELENA WALCH GEWÜRZTRAMINER 2015   –   14%      –    £16 Bottle Apostle
Slightly nutty nose with a slightly bitter herb notes. Palate has citrus and peach, with a hot spice line giving structure and a chalky (tending to creamy) mouthfeel. As long but cleaner than the Alsace and equally food-demanding…
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  15/20

This seemed the closest comparison – both had clear Gewürztraminer characteristics – focusing on the ginger and floral more than the stereotype lychee. The A-A was a hotter wine, both in the foregrounding of its ginger flavours and its alcoholic weight. Also the mineral character was different: the A-A chalky, whereas the Alsace had drying salinity that held up the relatively low acidity.

Overall an interesting comparison in which the reputation of the Alto-Adige wines is justified: vibrant, leaner with a mineral frame. They are good wines with preference a matter of taste for most of the pairs we tasted. However the Alsace Pinot Gris was a long way ahead of the A-A Grigio (IMO) – maybe one needs to go up a notch to find a really characterful example… Also I can’t imagine any of the  Alto-Adige wines have as long a development time in them as the Alsace, so – personally – in most cases I’d rather buy Alsace and wait a while…

Until soon!

Most wine enthusiasts will be familiar with Alsace Wines. We have explored the area often and become familiar with their main grapes: Riesling; Pinot Gris; Gewürztraminer (of course)… but also Pinot Blanc; Sylvaner; Auxxerois; Muscat and Pinot Noir… Many fewer wine lovers will be as acquainted with Alto Adige, however.

Alto Adige is actually only the northern third of the full Italian region: Trentino-Alto Adige. That itself is the northernmost Italian region, comprising two areas with very different personalities: the Germanic Alto Adige (or Südtirol), which borders and once belonged to Austria, and right below it the more Italian but still very Alpine Trentino. The region’s capital and largest city is Trento, followed closely by the Südtirol provincial capital: Bozen (Bolzano). The breathtaking valley of the Adige River is renowned in the wine world for varietal labeled cool-climate wines, mainly white. It has no DOCGs, eight DOCs and four IGPs.

In fact the full region, Trentino–Alto Adige, is a similar size to Alsace in terms of area under vine and volume of wine production. In 2015, Trentino–Alto Adige produced about 2.5% of Italian Wine (13.7 million cases),  but Alto-Adige has less than a third of the Regions vineyards – mostly small growers unlike large co-operatives and producers further South – and it’s contribution is about 0.7% (3.9 million cases).

The Alto-Adige area is Y-shaped: Valle Iscaro is the right arm,  following the Iscaro river from nearer Austria until it meeets the Adige River near Bolzano. The Adige above Bolzano constitutes the left arm from the Valle Venosta, flowing though Terlano. Below Bolzano, going  due South towards Trento and the “tail” of the Y, fuller versions of Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanco Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürtraminer are more common.

Terlano focuses more on international varieties Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and the Pinots.  Valle Iscaro majors on the Germanic grapes: Riesling; Müller Thurgau; Sylvaner; Kerner; and Grüner Veltliner.

Overall white grapes varieties occupy about 60% of Alto Adige’s wine-growing area and are vinified into the best wines. There are 20 varieties common: Pinot Grigio; Gewürtraminer; Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay lead the way, but Sauvignon Blanc; Müller Thurgau; Sylvaner; Kerner; Riesling and Grüner Veltliner are also significant in Alto Adige.

So Alto-Adige has many grapes of Germanic origin: Riesling; Gewürztraminer; Sylvaner; Kerner; Müller-Thurgau and Grüner Veltliner. The first three are shared with Alsace too – as are the Pinot Family – so comparison seems attractive.

It may be said that the most obvious comparison: Pinot Gris/Grigio is actually the most complicated. First of all there may be clonal or selectional differences in the grape plantings although they are the same variety. Secondly the “target” style is different: richer complex wines in Alsace and fresher lighter wines in Italy. Finally,  yields are often much higher in Italy resulting in a neutral “quaffing” wine. That’s being generous,  a lot of the Italian version – possibly two thirds – could be called Pinot (e)Gregious, wines that are often thin, inoffensive occupants of the early parts of Restaurant wine lists, where they offer (I would say) characterless wines for people who don’t like wine…

Actually some of the better examples, though of a radically different style, do come from Alto-Adige – and I think the comparison is one we are going to have to try.

So the varieties I have chosen to show in comparison of the two areas end up being the Alsace big three: Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer. The Alsace wines will act as a style reference to see what we think of Alto Adige versions. I think the next time I approach a tasting focusing on Alsace I’ll make sure basic versions of those three grapes are entirely omitted and concentrate on all the other styles and varieties .

The wines will be in pairs to aid comparison, although it’ll be immediately obvious which is which – not least because the Alsace example will have more age. So only the most similar pair – the Rieslings – will be tasted blind… We’ll see how these – vaguely Germanic – wine areas deal with those grapes.

Notes will follow in 3 or 4 days…

Until then….

On Monday 8th May WING met to taste the Wines of Ampelidæ. Led by John and Ann.

This story starts with the long-time appreciation by several of the group of the Bourgueil wines of Pierre-Jacques Druet from Benais. I first visited the estate in 1995 and regularly, every couple of years until – I think – 2007. Druet’s wines have featured in Nottingham tastings regularly and won some admirers and regular buyers – often en primeur – in the WING group.

Several of us became aware of Ampelidæ about 9 months ago, when we were written to as “fidèles clients des vins de Bourgueil et Chinon de M. PJ Druet…” by the Director of Ampelidæ, Frédéric Brochet.

Ampelidæ had then taken over the equipment and stocks of Druet’s wine business (possibly the vineyards too?) when Pierre-Jacques’ EARL (an agricultural limited responsibility company isolating the wine business assets from the farmer’s personal assets) had become bankrupt. So en primeur Druet wines had transferred (without obligation) to Ampelidæ.

Brochet agreed to honour these en primeur holdings, although not obliged to, providing interested parties also purchased a proportion of Ampelidæ’s own wines. Accordingly several cases of the last Druet wines and some Ampelidæ wines found their way – elaborately and eventually – back to Nottingham. John and Ann decided to show a selection to the group.

Ampelidæ is actually in the Vienne department, about 50 miles South of Bourgueil, and only 15 miles North of Poitiers. The Domaine is the passion of Frédéric Brochet, who became entranced by winemaking at an early age, and in 1995 during the first year of his PhD in “Oenology and Ampelology” started the Domaine based on inherited family vines. His aim is to marry organic and very modern techniques in a little known wine area. To create “contemporary wine … always concerned by the protection of nature and to reach an ideal of purity and intensity.”

Does he pull it off?

Here are my notes:

AMPELIDÆ “Le S” 2014
This is pungent, with toasted nutty elements, this gives way to a gooseberry and redcurrant nose. Very typical and the palate echoes this in a slightly new world intense way… this “faint praise” description is saved by a rather cool clean citric acid line. Correct rather than inspiring IMO.

AMPELIDÆ “Le C” 2014
Citrus and a slightly buttery nose, hints of sweet soft fruits. Palate is very lean, with a saline minerality, melon fruit and a creamy texture growing against a citrus backbone giving good length and some elegant interest.

AMPELIDÆ “PN 1328” 2014
Pinot nose, very fruit driven with herby and mineral accents. Palate is a little thin, sweet fruit but the length is increasingly composed of slightly bitter mineral tones. The least successful wine IMO.

BROCHET CABERNET FRANC “LA FUYE ” 2014
This has very typical green vegetal / pepper nose. Palate has a sweet raspberry edge, good acidity and a green (herby green not youthful green) tint. Slightly grainy supple tannin, quite long and correct and more Champigny than Bourgueil…

AMPELIDÆ “Le K” 2014
This is 75% Cabernet Franc; 20% Cabernet Sauvignon & 5% Merlot. A smoother nose than the previous wine – darker, black fruit, warmth and a hint of oak. The palate is rich with a quite sharp black fruit that hints in the direction of blackcurrant. The wine is integrated (perhaps helped by breathing) and further advanced than La Fuye, gestures towards an open claret (I had drunk a 2005 Graves [½ CS, ½ M] 2 days before and, although that had layers of complexity that this hadn’t [yet?], the structure and weight were very similar). Quite satisfying.

BROCHET QUARTS-DE-CHAUME 2014
Wow. This has a strong nose of stewed plum and apple, butterscotch caramel notes, mango, a hint of botrytis marmalade. The palate has luscious sweetness but has dashing acidity and immense length – fruit flavours abound in the apricot, apple quince spectrum. Very good but even this speaks of its modernity in being quite forward… Who cares about that – I would go for passion fruit, crème brûlée with this… now!

Overall the wines are all very typical, clean and well made. I found myself thinking many times they were “correct”. Which is praise, in the sense that they were enjoyable, recognisable and faultless – and may certainly be achieving the stated aims of the Domaine. However, the term can carry a slight implicit criticism of lack of character, or in this case not expressing something specific about Vienne wines, and I think that applies in a couple of cases…

I certainly exempt the Quarts from that caveat, by virtue of being better than correct, and – to a less pronounced extent – “Le K”… Other than that I enjoyed the Chardonnay more than the Sauvignon; the La Fuye better than the Pinot. The wines are all around €20 at the cellar door, except for the La Fuye (only €12) and the Quarts (€29)… and strangely enough I’d rate those two exceptions the best value…

Thanks to John and Ann for an extremely interesting tasting.

Until next time…

 

On Thursday April 20th Janine led a the ICC Tasting on Wines Of Uruguay. I am very grateful to her for organising and conducting the tasting,  and for the excellent notes she has provided.

The Tasting focused on two leading producers Juanicó/Familia Deicas and Vinedo de los Vientos. Lets start with some information about them:

Juanicó is Uruguay’s largest wine company, owning about 240 hectares of vineyards. The modern company is run by the Deicas family who founded it in 1979. The company is now run by Fernando Deicas who is the son of the founder. Fernando trained as a chemical engineer, is familiar with all the latest technical knowledge and equipment, and is a very good taster. Fernando brought French specialists to Juanicó, and he traveled throughout France and Italy on a study tour before planting grapes in the early 1980s. Most of their vineyards surround the property in Canelones, situated about 40 minutes north-west of the capital Montevideo. Their main challenge is dealing with the high humidity in Uruguay. Well drained soils like the clay-limestone around the property help, as do open vine canopies such as the lyre system (where vines are grown on a flat plane, for example against a wall. About 12 grape varieties are grown. Red grapes include Tannat, Cabernet Sauignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Marselan (a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache Noir). White grapes include Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The entry and medium level wines are labelled as Juanicó, while Familia Deicas is used for the top wines. Their premium wine Gran Bodegón shows the potential of Uruguay to make fine wine.

Vinedo de los Vientos is located east of Montevideo on the coast. Vinedo de los Vientos means “Vineyard of the Winds”, and sits where the River Plate estuary meets the Atlantic Ocean. With 17ha under vine, the family practices sustainable farming. Owner Pablo Fallabrino says “It’s really wild,” and “we don’t like an overworked vineyard.” Pablo grew up in a family of winemakers. His grandfather moved to Uruguay from Piedmont in Italy in 1920, and in the 1930’s he started two wineries with five different vineyards. Eventually, Pablo’s father Alejandro took over and became one of the key players in the Uruguayan wine industry, until he died in 1991. After his death, Pablo took over one of the vineyards – Vinedo de los Vientos – and in 1997, he started his own winery. Then in 2000, Pablo decided to do something different and he began blending and experimenting with winemaking techniques. For example, the dry wine tasted here (Estival) is a blend, but is fermented all together. He also experiments with different techniques for Tannat wines and is now planting Italian varietals. And with the acquisition of 10ha of vineyards at 500 meters above sea level, Vinedo de los Vientos now has the highest vineyard in Uruguay. The vineyard is two to three degrees cooler than his other vineyard and it’s steep, so he’ll have to make terraces. Using no insecticide and no-till farming, Vinedo de los Vientos does not filter their wines, and only fine with egg whites if necessary.


Here are Janine’s Notes:

CASTELAR EXTRA BRUT (FAMILIA DEICAS)   –   12%   –    £13, Wines of Uruguay
90% Chardonnay and 10% Viognier
This wine was a surprise, as I was expecting a light, frothy Prosecco-style sparkler, but it was quite a deep golden colour and had rich flavours of ripe lemons and tropical fruits with a touch of stem ginger spice. Quite sharp acidity and a slight bitterness on the finish, along with some minerality. The downside was that the bubbles weren’t very persistant and the wine fell flat quite quickly. Given the deep colour and richness, perhaps it had been aged for too long before release?

ESTIVAL 2015 (VINEDO DE LOS VIENTOS)   –   12.5%   –   £13, Wines of Uruguay
60% Gewürz, 30% Chardonnay, 10% Moscato Bianco
Pale golden colour. A mix of tropical fruits and a hint of lychees and rose petals from the Gewürz. Fairly light bodied, but with a touch of oilyness on the palate. Quite rich flavours and a nicely balancing acidity. A nice summery wine, refreshing but with some interest and depth.

BODEGONES DEL SUR VIOGNIER 2015 (JUANICO)   –   13.5%   –   £12, Wines of Uruguay
100% Viognier, 5% of which was fermented in new American oak barrels for 6 months.
Medium gold colour. Peaches and apricots and a honeysuckle-type floral aroma. Dry, rich and full-bodied, with refreshing acidity and reasonably good length. Felt like more of a serious wine than the previous white.

ATLANTICO SUR TANNAT 2011 (FAMILIA DEICAS)   –   13.8%   –   £12.95, Wine Society
100% Tannat.
Deep purple colour. First impression was of quite a strong vanilla aroma, but this faded and blackberries emerged, along with a touch of spice and herbs. Medium bodied, fruity and soft, with ripe tannins and a refreshing level of acidity. A surprising (in a good way) introduction to Tannat from Uruguay; was expecting something tougher / more tannic!

GRAN BODEGON 2011 (FAMILIA DEICAS)   –   13.5%   –   £22, Wine Society
40% Tannat, 29% Cabernet Franc, 19% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Marselan. Matured in oak barriques for 27 months.
Deep ruby colour. Aroma of damsons and garrigue. Full-bodied, rich sweet fruit, with smooth tannins and nicely balancing acidity. Complex and really lovely. A step up from the previous red, but then it should be given the difference in price…

ALCYONE TANNAT DESSERT WINE (VINEDO DE LOS VIENTOS)   –   16%   –   £21 (50cl), Wines of Uruguay
100% Tannat, made in the style of Barolo Chinato. A fortified wine infused with herbs and spices that originated in the Barolo area of Italy. Ingredients often used include coriander, citrus peel, clove, ginger, vanilla, cardamom seed, rhubarb root, gentian, sugar and the bark of the Cinchona plant, which is where the drink gets its name. It was once used for medicinal purposes, but is now drunk after dinner in a similar way to Port. Once the base wine is made, it is aged for several years in old French oak
Deep crimson with a mahogany rim. Aromas of vanilla and spice and a touch medicinal. Sweet and full-bodied, with a slightly syrupy texture. Vanilla, spice, cassis and milk chocolate on the palate. Great acidity, makes it feel balanced, despite the syrupy texture. A hint of soft tannins on the finish. This was an unusual wine (not surprising, given the production method). I had read that it went well with chocolate, so we tried that out and agreed!

I got the impression that the group’s favourites were the final two wines. Overall I was pleasantly surprised by the wines, given the low number of producers making quality wines for export in Uruguay. They were all well made, are a bit different and had a really nice core of acidity that kept them tasting fresh.

Thanks so much Janine for a great tasting and such comprehensive notes.

Until soon!

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