Archives for category: TUTORED TASTING

On Monday 5th August Kim showed the WING Tutored Tasting Group wines from Valpolicella.

Valpolicella is a Demoninazione in the Verona region of the Veneto in N. E. Italy. The area is about 70-100 kms West of Venice, and forms an arc of about 15kms radius North and North East of the lovely town of Verona. So its eastern border is with the Soave wine region.

Italia & Valpo redux.jpg
The area produces getting on for 80 million bottles a year in four styles, of which Kim showed a pair of each of the three most common.

Grapes for Valpolicella centre upon the Corvina, and to a lesser extent its cousin Corvinone. Recent regulations require 45% – 90% Corvina of which up to half can be Corvinone, so the regulations recognise the latter grape but only does so as a “version” of the former. Rondinella is the other main grape which can comprise 5% – 30%. Together Corina/Corvinone & Rondinella must make up 75% of the grapes. Other grapes which can make up to 25% (but rarely exceed 10% in better examples) include Molinara (which used to be compulsory); Oseleta; Dindarella; Rossignola and Negrara. “Other” in most cases below are varying amounts of these last 4.

Wine labelled as simply “Valpolicella”, “Valpolicella Classico” or “Valpolicella Superiore” are made as any other wine. Until early in this century the only other wines of note were made by drying the grapes for at least 2 but commonly 4 months after harvest and crushing the resulting dried grapes. This allows a potential alcohol of getting on for 16%. Most of the wine is fermented to dryness, emphasising the bitterness in the dried skin and labelled “Amarone della Valpolicella”. A small proportion of these wines have fermentation stopped at normal alcohol levels leaving substantial unfermented sugar and yielding Recioto, an impressive sweet wine – at impressive prices unfortunately; a sort of cherry-port wine with normal alcohol levels and some acidity.

Recently winemakers have taken to adding the lees (or “pomace”) of the Amarone or Recioto to the younger normal wine – as it were: re-passing over the lees and imparting some of the dried grape flavours. This is called Ripasso and now is the most common form of Valpolicella.

Wines produced in Valpolicella in 2018 vintage - millions of bottles [Source: Regione VENETO, AVEPA, SIQURIA] (click to enlarge)
Kim showed us 2 exampes each of Valpolicella; Ripasso and Amarone

Here are my notes:

VALPOLICELLA 2017 (ALLEGRINI)   –   £12 Wine Society   –   13%
Corvina/Corvinone 70%; Rondinella 30%.
This has a slightly spirit and oily note on the nose, quite a lot of red fruit, some of it cherry. Palate is warm with sharp cherry and plum notes, slightly bitter but tasty tannins and some toasty hints, a little simple but pleasing and chill-able.

VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE 2016 (TEDESCHI)   –   £12 Wine Society   –   13.5%
Corvina 35%; Corvinone 35%; Rondinella 20%; others 10%.
Rounder nose with some similarities on the nose, fruit more recessed and some woody notes. Palate has more non-fruit elements: leather? And more vinous complexity, more serious, more food-friendly acidity and very good value.

VALPOLICELLA RIPASSO SUPERIORE 2016 “CAPITEL SAN ROCCO” (TEDESCHI)   –   £18 Wine Society   –   14.5%
Corvina 30%; Corvinone 30%; Rondinella 30%; others 10%.
This nose has significant wood and alcohol on the nose, giving a slightly grainy note too. Palate is a bit bitter, shows a spirit element and a tendency towards muddiness again and sweet fruit not-quite-integrated in a drying palate. Too young and a little unbalanced right now, but may open.

VALPOLICELLA RIPASSO SUPERIORE 2016 “LA CASETTA”   –   £18 Majestic   –   14%
Corvina 65%; Corvinone 15%; Rondinella 10%; others 10%
Much fresher Ripasso nose – some red fruit, dusty herbs and plums… Palate is sweeter, a little linear but showing hints of fruit cake and round tannins. Very satisfying and well balanced – a cheese wine?


AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA “MARNE 180” 2015 (TEDESCHI)   –   £32 Fareham   –   16%
Corvina 35%; Corvinone 35%; Rondinella 20%; others 10%.
This has the full fruit-cake, Xmas-pudding nose, plum and a hint of alcohol. Palate has a big texture, warm with some spice and slightly grainy tannin, again an impression of youth and slightly unintegrated. A big wine with great food matching potential.

AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2013 (TOMMASI)   –   £48 Millisema   –   15%
Corvina 50%; Corvinone 15%; Rondinella 30%; Oselta 5%
Nose has a much softer fruit, berry fruits even blueberry! A better balanced range of vinous elements too – some sharper notes and some light spices. Palate is rounder and softer without unintegrated components, some spice again warm acidity, velvet tannins and a lovely twist of bitterness. The overall impression of the fruit recalls a summer berry fruit salad made a couple of days before and starting to show hints of fermentation. A well-integrated gentle giant of a wine – very impressive but quite expensive.

A very interesting tasting, showing that the styles offer a series of different quality/price conundrums. The Tedeschi wines all seemed a little young to be fair, and all had a big-boned quality, that might mean time was envisaged by the makers.. The other 3 seemed more subtle – but sometimes that speaks of a shorter future. The exception is the – older – last wine which was just lovely, although not showing, what I have come to think of, typical Amarone size. I liked that wine best, then and there in the tasting – but the Tedschi Superiore was great value and the Ripassi (especially La Casetta right now) were a great compromise!

Thanks so much Kim for a thought provoking tasting.

À Bientôt

Advertisements

On Monday February 4th the WING Tutored Tasting Group met for a Madiran Tasting, led by Laurie and showing wines from Domaine Pichard. The featured wines were their Traditional Cuvée from 2007 – 2011 and a special Cuvée from 2004: “Auguste Vigneau”.

Madiran is a wine area in South-West France, North of Pau and about 60 miles East, inland, from the Atlantic Ocean. It is approximately a 25 mile sided square, just South of the Armagnac area and comprises 38  communes and straddles 3 departments (Gers, Hautes-Pyrénées & Pyrénées-Atlantiques). A village in the centre of the area gives Madiran its name, but is the appellation for red wines only – whites from exactly the same area are called Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh.


The climate is warm and dry, although less so than further inland, in Gaillac for example. The area is made up of five large, parallel ridges that run roughly north-south, marking the transition between the foothills of the Pyrenees and the Landes, the forested coastal plains just south of Bordeaux. The most common soils here are limestone-rich clay (more to the West, producing robust long lived wines) and relatively free-draining silts, rich in minerals, along the valleys – giving supple more complex wines. Soils often studded with pebbles laced with iron and manganese oxide, which brings a reddish tinge to some vineyards, this soil is more to the East giving (relatively) more delicate wines.  The main river here is the Adour, which lies just to the east of Madiran village. The area has fairly high rainfall, mainly in in the spring, a hot summer, an autumn of still warm days combined with ideal cool nights creating a thermal variation favouring a full maturity of the tannins.

And tannins are the real story here – the main grape is aptly-named Tannat. It has to be 60% or more and it’s main blending partner is Cabernet Franc, although Cabernet Sauvignon and Fer Servadou are used… Ripe Tannat gives big tannic wines that take from 6 to 15 years to come round, and counterpointing or taming the tannins are the job of the winemaker. Small wonder the the practice of micro-oxygenation started here, although it has had more notable (and controversial) use in Bordeaux!

The Estate we tasted was Domaine Pichard – 12 ha (11 red) of vines situated in Soublecause in the East of the area. The soil here is quartz and clay studded with lydiene pebbles. The Estate produces structured long-lasting wines. Auguste Vigneau and then his nephew René Touchouere built up the Domaine from 1955 to 2005 but then sold to Jean Sentilles and his brother-in-law Rod Cork (a Lancastrian living in Paris). They modernised the winery with new foudres and barriques, and replanted some of the vines.

We tasted the last vintage made by René Touchouere – the 2004 Cuvée “Auguste Vigneau”, and a succession of vintages of the new regime: 2007-2011.

Here are my notes:


2004 Cuvée Auguste Vigneau  (13.5%)
This is  70% Tannat; 25% Cabernet Franc & 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.
The nose has a brackish quality with some hints of damson fruit, quite heavy… The palate has a sustained line of prominent tannins, not too hard but overpowering any fruit, there is a grainy quality and rather a dull finish suggesting the wine is a little too old.

2007 Cuvée Tradition   (13.5%)
This, and all the following wines, are more or less 60% Tannat / 40% Cab. Franc.
This nose is rather closed only revealing some slightly greenish plum notes later. The tannic “hit” of this wine is more striking but less enduring – forming a peak in the early-mid palate. This has higher acidity and is much fresher than the previous wine.

2008 Cuvée Tradition   (14%)
This has a pungent, vegetal, first nose with a vague dried fruit hint emerging. This is smoother and has acidity and tannins balanced and “smoothed out”. Relatively silky but still a big concentrated wine. Quite satisfying.

2009 Cuvée Tradition    (14.5%)
More open nose with a heavy floral perfume and then a prune note. Sweet (slightly over-ripe?) fruit then a massive tannic hit that persists into the rather harsh finish. This is big and seems much too young, but will any fruit disappear before the tannins soften? Judging by this very hot year’s performance in other areas – maybe!

2010 Cuvée Tradition   (14.5%)
Dark fruit on the nose and some floral notes. Good fresh acidity in a line right to the finish, balancing the high levels of  relatively supple tannin.  The is better integrated, firm but enjoyable and hinting strongly at food. Good – my favourite!

2011 Cuvée Tradition   (14%)
A fruitier nose leading to supple but less fresh palate. This is a slightly lighter style than all the rest, perhaps reflecting a difficult year – but still unresolved  and not that successful.

These are all really (I mean really!) tannic wines, but with the profile of the tannins differing between the wines. Some show the tannins throughout; some early and dropping off; some mounting towards the finish… For me the more successful wines (2008 & 2010) cry out for rich Gascony cuisine, and would be enjoyable in that setting – but otherwise they are too much for most occasions. An interesting venture into dark brooding wines though…

À Bientôt

On Monday 3rd December Ralph showed the WING Tutored Tasting Group red Spanish wines in 3 pairs. Each pair consisting in a basic and superior Cuvée from a grower in an interesting wine area.

Ralph made the point in his introduction that Spanish red wine might be considered as surprisingly lacking in variety – a fact he attributes to a relatively small range of grapes, and high heat values homogenising the wines offered. We shall see…

Here are my notes:

The first pair originate in Terra Alta DO – the Southernmost wine area in Catalunya; the centre of the area is situated about 40 km South-West of the centre of Priorat…. The producer is Herència Altés which makes wine at 420-500 metres altitude on “loamy soil with some calcerous and sandy components”.

L’ESTEL 2013
(50% Carignan, 25% Grenache, 25% Syrah). Plum hints on the nose with a slightly cooked fruit quality and something in the tarry, toasty, coffee liquorice spectrum. The palate is grainy but firm showing spicy warmth and earth-tinged fruit – redcurrant, blackberry and plum come to mind….Tannins aren’t overwhelming but a bit harsh…

LA SERRA NEGRA 2012
(80% Carignan, 20% Grenache).This has a much fuller rounder nose with more port hints, reminiscent of red berries or currants in cognac. The palate echoes the flavours on the nose but has a long line of integrated fruit acidity freshening the overall impression…

The second pair were from Bierzo. This DO is actually right at the north-west edge of Castilla y León but it has much more in common with Ribeiro Sacre a few miles to west in Galicia. Both areas have over 75% of their vineyards planted with Mencía. We tried two Cuvées from the grower here, Losada: the first 100% Mencia and the second predominately from old vine Mencia with 5%  other unidentified very old vines added. Bierzo is famous for slate soil but the vines here are grown at about 560 metres altitude on clay rich terraces, the wines are raised for 15 months in oak, 40% new for the second wine.

ALTOS DE LOSADA 2011
This has raspberry fruit on the nose, together with some herbal hints and a floral whisper emerging. Quite complex and reminiscent of a less green Cabernet Franc. Palate has a warm but mineral structured background to red fruit with long evolution in the mouth, showing suppleness and charm – Probably my favourite!

ALTOS DE LOSADA “LA BIENQUERIDA” 2012
This single-vineyard wine has slightly rounder aromas but is also slightly simpler than the previous wine: red fruit, less herbs and a spirity slightly oaky sweet note. Rounder, smoother but somehow narrower flavours on the palate – integrated fruit acid again but a little constricted at the finish.

The final pair comes from Ribera del Duero and are expressions of Tempranillo from Bodegas La Horra Corimbo. The grapes are grown on bush-vines, the first Cuvée is from 20 year old vines has 14 months in barrels, 80% French oak barrels and 20% American oak barrels; the second from 40 year old vines and has 2 months longer in oak.

CORIMBO 2012
Slightly brackish black fruit but quite a hard and unyielding nose – with little development, maybe young? Palate has sweet fruit with a – slightly hard – tannic frame, again seeming young. Quite long but tightening at the finish.

CORIMBO 1 2009
More open pungent nose with sweet fruit and a hint of sous-bois. Palate is a little more supple and nuanced than the previous wine, better integration and interest and not a bad Tempranillo, but rather big and rather pricey (£50ish – nearly double the previous wine and treble wine 3!). I’d expect this sort of quality for wine 5’s price!

A very interesting tasting,  showing that increased price, older vines, single site and “premium” winemaking is not always a big improvement. There’s a danger of getting just more intensity, more concentration of the flavours and no more (and sometimes less) breadth of flavour or interest. In general too I felt the wines (I’d exonerate wine 3 of this) did show a constricted palate of colours to paint their picture, or only a few chords to express their melody – depending if you prefer visual or musical metaphor?!

So perhaps that’s me agreeing with Ralph’s overall impression of Spanish wines expressed at the beginning of the night.

Thanks so much Ralph for a enjoyable and thought-provoking tasting.

As the next Tasting is the Xmas quiz there will not be a scene-setting post this month, but Nottingham based readers may be interested to know that Domaine de Cébène Les Bancels 2015 Faugères made Jancis’ recommended list this month as it’s available from Leon Stolarski (http://www.lsfinewines.co.uk/index.html)

À Bientôt

On Monday 5th November – a smokey night in Nottingham – Anna & Paul led us through a tasting of six McLaren Vale Wines from D’Arenberg – all based on Grencahe and/or Syrah and/or Mourvèdre.

D’Arenberg  was established in 1912, and the winemaking is now in the hands of the fourth generation, Chester Osborn who says: “I aim to make the loudest, most aromatic, fruit-flavoured wines that have great palate texture and are free of obvious oak: I look for tannins that are long, lively, gritty and youthful with fragrant fruit minerality.”

200 hectares of vines are used to make d’Arenberg’s wines (both estate and leased vineyards) and they are all certified organic and biodynamic. This makes them the largest biodynamic grower in Australia. Furthermore, 50% of the estate’s own vineyards are more than 50 years old, which fits well with the estate’s “mission”.

Altogether d’Arenberg make 72 different wines (probably the largest range in Australia) from 37 varieties grown on over 400 different parcels.

Every white and red wine is pressed in old wooden basket presses, with each red ferment foot-trodden too. Red ferments take place in five tonne open fermenters with wooden hammer boards to submerge the cap.

Do the wines match the mission? Let’s see – here are my notes:


THE CUSTODIAN GRENACHE 2011
(85% Grenache with Syrah + 1% Viognier). Plums to the fore initially and some leaf-mould, vegetal notes, spice and a hint of sawdust…. The palate has supple fruit with a warm cherry-liqueur middle, quite long with sharper and savoury elements and a soft tannic frame…

THE LOVE GRASS SHIRAZ 2013
Darker than the previous wine, more blackberry flavours with a port hint – liquorice, baking spice… Palate has salinity and peppery sweet fruit, tannins and port hints re-surface – very big but wearing its size relatively well.

D’ARRY’S ORIGINAL SHIRAZ/GRENACHE 2013
This is pretty well 50:50 of its constituent grapes. 40 years ago this was launched as “Burgundy” and retains the bottle shape. Very intense dark fruit nose with woody hints. Palate is rich – one might say heavy – with sweet briary fruit with an earthy touch and not much to counter-point it, Big but not, strangely, really very vinous. Not at all like any Burgundy I’ve ever drunk (and there has been a bit….)!

THE BONSAI VINE GRENACHE/SHIRAZ/MOURVEDRE 2013
(GSM:: 48:46:6 from rock-based shallow soil). Very fruit driven nose – plums, damsons and black fruit… The palate is pliant with rich but quite firm tannins framing the long warm fruit. The tannins add balance but this needs food, in the same spectrum as a big S. Rhone village.

THE DERELICT VINEYARD GRENACHE 2011
From old vines, this has open fruity nose, plums again recalling wine 1, but fresher, longer and subtler even though there are woody hints. Palate has supple fruit with a good acidity and spicy tannins giving a cool three-way balance… Lovely!

THE DEAD ARM SHIRAZ 2013
This is from vines that have lost branches to a vine disease caused by Eutypa Lata. One half, or an arm of the vine slowly becomes reduced to dead wood. The grapes on the other side, while very low yielding display amazing intensity. The nose of this is brooding black fruit, tight with slight tarry and woody hints. The palate is also tarry, showing sharp fruit-acid with mineral earth notes, spices again and a big structure in recess… Behind all this there is a very sweet fruit and (to my palate) a hint of that saltiness waiting to evolve. Tried again an hour later that proves true: a very big, very well made, relatively balanced version of big McLaren Shiraz.

These are very interesting wines, which certainly fall in with the winemakers aims. They are big  (they are all 14.2 – 14.6 % abv!) and to my palate some area bit too big. Certainly within the Australian vernacular, if you like that, these wines have a lot to recommend them. I appreciated all the wines – except for D’Arry’s Original – but the wines I really liked were the Grenaches. With the Derelict winning the night.

An excellent tour around this part of the wine world! Thanks so much Ann and Paul…

À Bientôt

While I was away – tasting in action, in the Loire, nearly 3 weeks ago John and Ann presented the W1NG group with a tasting of six 2013 wines from Bordeaux – one each from 6 well-known appellations: Haut-Médoc; Pauillac; Margaux; Graves; Saint Emilion and Pomerol.

I have had the notes from John for a while but didn’t want to post them when they would be immediately over-taken by the the Balkan scene-setting post. So now there will be a window for 3 or 4 days – here they are:

The wine had been purchased from the Wine Society Bordeaux 2013 en primeur offer and one of the aims of the evening was to try and see how easy it might be to work out not only which were left bank/right bank but also to see if we could work out the appellation itself? This was always likely to be challenging especially as some of the wines were not necessarily typical. 2013 was also a difficult vintage with very problematic weather conditions and a particularly small harvest. Wine for early drinking rather than cellaring, the Wine Society suggested. The Wine Society had also commented that it was producers, rather than communes, that succeeded or failed to make good wine in this vintage and that the en primeur offer recommended those that stood out as the best within the class. A test of the Wine Society as well possibly?

The wines were served blind, the first two together and the last two together. A very basic “crib sheet” was provided which attempted to highlight the differing aromas and flavours that we might expect to find in wines from the different communes and the different grapes. Once each wine, or pair of wines was tasted, the group shared their thoughts and suggested which region the wines might be from. Only following that, was the bottle unveiled. Some of the tasting notes below come from notes made on the night (largely illegible), some from the producer’s notes and some from other available notes.

Clos Floridène, Graves – Cabernet  Sauvignon 65%, Merlot 35%. £15.00.
This was actually on limestone soil rather than gravel based soil as might have been expected. The estate is quite far south in Graves, close to the border with Sauternes. Some blackcurrant and strawberry aromas, mint, liquorice and smokiness. Quite chunky. Not bad for the price. The majority thought this had more characteristics of the right bank.

Château Beaumont, Haut-Medoc – Cabernet Sauvignon 55%, Merlot 43%, Petit Verdot 2%. £14.30
This was from the Haut-Medoc region in the area to the north of Margaux but south of Saint Julien in reasonably gravelly soils. Some cassis and damson fruit. A little thin on the palate with some bitterness and quite typical of a difficult vintage. Probably the group’s least favourite. The group was split as to whether this was left or right bank.

Château Grand Corbin-Despagne, Saint Emilion  – Merlot 75%, Cabernet Franc 24% Cabernet Sauvignon 1%. £21
This estate is actually very close to the border between Saint Emilion and Pomerol and is on a mix of clay and sandstone soils. Quite a fresh palate. Some cassis and liquorice and pencil lead. Quite firm but fine tannins. The group mainly thought this was left bank (Pauillac possibly) and only one person correctly identified this as the Saint Emilion. Well done Mike!

Château Gran-Puy-Lacoste, Lacoste Borie, Pauillac –   Cabernet Sauvignon 75%, Merlot 20%, Cabernet Franc 5%. £19.30.
This is probably the best known Chateau and is the only producer in the tasting that was included in the 1855 classification (as a 5th growth). We were drinking the estate’s second wine which comes from “a magnificent gravel terroir”. Aromas of red fruits which became more complex when left in the glass for 20 minutes. Quite elegant. Some spice and toastiness on the palate. Soft and round. Generally felt to be a step up on the previous wines. The group were torn between whether this was a Pomerol or a Pauillac but, after consultation of the “crib sheet”, Pauillac won through.

Château Angludet, Margaux – Cabernet Sauvignon 56%,  Merlot 32%, Petit Verdot 12%. £30.
This is from the heart of Margaux and is surrounded by Cru Classé properties. The soil is a mix of gravel and medium sized pebbles with some sand. This had some aromas of both black and red fruits with a little spice. Good structure and smooth tannins. Possibly being drunk a little young but seemed to be opening up and going up a level just as we finished it! The group drunk this together with the Pomerol and we pretty much unanimously agreed that it was the Pomerol.

Château Bourgneuf, Pomerol – Merlot 90%, Cabernet Franc 10%. £28.50.
This estate is situated on the slope of the Pomerol plateau. Upper slopes are pure clay, becoming more sandy moving down the slope, and becoming quite gravelly on the lower portions. Some toasted oak on the nose followed quickly by ripe fruit. Juicy with firm tannins and maybe some chocolate and nuts in there. As mentioned above, after much debate (and much wine) we tended towards this being a Margaux.

It is not immediately obvious what we can draw out of this tasting other than it is far easier guessing the provenance of a bottle when one isn’t doing it blind! The fact that it was far from a great vintage certainly did not help. Different producers within a commune can of course produce very different wines, so trying to guess a region from what may have been atypical producers, was never going to prove to be easy, and so it turned out! We tended to feel that we would have been comfortable picking the wines as Bordeaux, but picking left bank against right bank was more difficult than we had imagined it might be, and getting any further than that, on the wines tasted at least, was pretty much impossible.

Hopefully an interesting tasting nonetheless!

Corkmaster adds: “I’m sure this tasting was more revealing than John (modestly) claims. I’m not that surprised that the “Corbin” seemed firmer than expected (the same can be said of other famous Corbyns – perhaps?); or the D’Angludet seemed young (they invariably take time); or the Puy-Lacoste showed well… Though I’m not sure I would have slotted any into the correct appellations, it’s a pity I couldn’t be there…”

 

À Bientôt

On Monday 6th August Ralph showed the WING Tutored Tasting Group CINSAULT WINES FROM NATTE VALLEIJ.

 Natte Valleij is situated at the foot of the Simonsberg and it is not a new estate, “it’s just been resting for the last 50 years…” Winemaking ceased there in the 50s, and it was bought by the Milner Family in the late 60s

In 2005 wine was made once again and Winemaker Alexander Milner strives to make wine with minimal interference and pretence, merely guiding “beautiful grapes into character full wines” They pride themselves in keeping things traditional: grapes are picked by hand, bottled by hand, corked by hand…

The Natte Valleij Cinsault Collective is a culmination of Alexander’s explorations of The Cape Winelands. Seeking out forgotten patches of old dryland bush vine Cinsault that he felt would offered exceptional quality and interest.

The Estate makes about 800 bottles a year each from 4 parcels:

Simonsberg-Paarl – bush vines planted on decomposed* granite in 1993 face North-West in the lee of the Simonsberg Mountain. They are the youngest in the collective.

Darling  –  bush vines that are most isolated block in the collective. Planted on a lonely hill surrounded by wheat fields and too many gates to remember, this block stands very alone. Planted in 1978 (they think) on Malmesbury formation with strong influences of decomposed * granite.

Stellenbosch – bush vines planted in 1974, in the shadows of the Heldeberg Mountain are planted in decomposed* granite and face West towards False Bay, making it the oldest block and the closest to the sea.

Swartland  – bush vines planted in 1986 on decomposed* Malmesbury shale. The vineyard is situated on an eastern facing slope, which catches the early morning sun and a beautiful block to be in at sunrise.

*  The group thought, especially in the light of recent discussions,  that the use of “decomposed” for minerals should be viewed as a metaphor for “smashed up” or “eroded” rather than taken literally.

 

Ralph showed us 2 vintages: 2016 & 2015; from each area.


Here are my notes:

SIMONSBERG-PAARL 2016
This is pale, translucent with a subtly perfumed nose, red fruit (I though cranberry) and a hint of farmyard. Palate has a lively fresh, almost citrus acidity, cranberry fruit again and refreshing length with just a hint of spice at the finish.

SIMONSBERG-PAARL 2015
This is darker and has a smoke nose with herby notes reminiscent of Côte Chalonnais reds… Palate is deeper too, darker flavours and more tannin but a bit simpler and less interesting…

DARLING 2016
This is similar in colour to the previous wine, with pungent, vegetal aromas. It has a creamy texture and rich body with herby plum fruit and some lifting acidity but a little unintegrated and soft.

DARLING 2015
This has cream notes on the nose with some spirit-tinged fruit (kirsch?). Palate has a brilliant long line of fruit-acidity and a deeper crunchy loganberry fruit. Just delightful, moreish and involving!

STELLENBOSCH 2016
Back to a lighter colour, just deeper than wine 1. Fruit nose with some perfume and herbs. Palate is sweet, jammy summer-fruit with some citric acidity – but very “jelly-juice” simple.  Not to my taste at all…

STELLENBOSCH 2015
This is darker – almost purple – with spirit nose of plum and cherry. Palate has earthy tannin but sweet fruit again and a warm – spice and alcohol – quality. Big, unsubtle and definitely more Côtes du Rhône than Burgundy in style.

SWARTLAND 2016
This is very dark. Strong pungent compost nose, more black than red fruit and spirit again. The palate is blackcurrant pastille with a tannic structure and a lot of spice. A little “cooked” IMO, though more successful than the previous wine…

SWARTLAND 2015
This is even darker again, with  a more dried-fruit nose and an oily hint. Firm tannins and acidity balancing the big, but less blowsy, prune fruit. Longer and fresher than the previous wine – and successful in a more Gigondas style, the best of the 2015s!

These are very interesting wines, each of well-defined character but ranging from light Burgundian to heavier Southern Rhône in general style. The expressiveness of the grape is a revelation – I don’t think I’ve ever before tasted 100% Cinsault, and even majority-grape examples would be outnumbered by the set here. Vintage too was clearly expressed though the tasting – usually the 2016s being lighter and “prettier”. However the Swartland examples were the reverse – at this, the biggest, end of the spectrum the 2015 showed more elegance and better integration – maybe due to the greater maturity. I liked that wine a lot, and the first (Simonsberg-Paarl  2016) for exactly the opposite reason – light, fresh, fruity, succulent and delightful. However, all-in-all my favourite was a lovely wine with real depth and poise – the Darling 2015.

A wonderfully deep enquiry into a quite neglected grape – excellent! Thanks so much Ralph

À Bientôt

On Monday 9th July Janine showed the WING Tutored Tasting Group wines from DOMAINE GAUBY.

This is a biodynamic Domaine of around 45 hectares of vines near Calce in Roussillon. They are mostly between 150 and 200 meters of altitude in wild, arid, steep and hilly terrain, with some influence from the sea – less than 20km to the East. The geology is composed of limestone, marl and shale – with limestone more in the North and primary schists further south, they are sometimes intimately mixed, arranged in vertical strata, which allows a deep rooting of the vine. The wines are hand picked, low yielding and only use indigenous yeasts.

Janine showed us 3 whites and 3 reds.

Here are my notes:

LES CALCINAIRES BLANC 2015
This IGP Côtes Catalanes is made, with low yields, from Muscat 50% (15-50 yo); Macabeu 20% (30-50 yo); – Chardonnay 30% (20 yo) grown on limestone soil. It has 8 months in vat before bottling.
The nose is slightly spirit with floral and citric hints, quite clean and linear. The palate has a chalky feel underneath some lighter touches – acidity and stone fruit. Fresh and with developing interest

LES CALCINAIRES BLANC 2011
This has a much deeper nose with citrus and an oily perfumed nut element. Both higher acidity and more richness on the palate, more interesting than the 2015 and showing both subtlety and secondary characteristics. Good

LE SOULA BLANC 2011
This is made principally from Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino and Grenache Blanc but there are eight varieties in total, grown at even higher altitude on poor more granite soils.
This shows oak and a slightly oxidised note reminiscent of old Burgundy. Palate is creamy with a spicy melon hint and some sherry-ish notes and goes over a little into white Rioja territory. Long and interesting but rather too many secondary-flavours for great versatility.

LES CALCINAIRES ROUGE 2015
This is a Côtes du Roussillon Villages made from 10-20 yo: Syrah (50%); Mourvèdre (25%);  Grenache (15%) & Carignan (10%) grown on Limestone, clay-chalk and shale soils aged 10 months in barrels (20%) or vat (80%).
This has rather a Syrah nose with blackberry slightly hot fruit. Palate is quite simple with a tannic undertow and spicy woody elements too much to the fore IMO. Rather like a Syrah-heavy Southern Rhone from (say) Cairanne?

LES CALCINAIRES ROUGE 2014
This has a more perfumed nose with oak showing through, but not as prominently as the younger wine. The palate is better integrated with some cinnamon hints. More supple than the 2015 but a little less acidity.

CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON VILLAGES ROUGE VIEILLES VIGNES 2004
This is made from 125 yo Carignan (35%); 55 yo Grenache (25%); 25 yo Mourvèdre (10%) and 20 yo Syrah (30%) grown on sedimentary limestone and shale. Aged in barriques for 24 months.
Nose is mature with slightly sour plum with some sous-bois notes. Palate is well structured with a long acidic and slightly jammy plummy fruit, some start of leather and non-fruit hints. Rather nice but again seemed rather like a good Southern Rhone – Gigondas for example at almost Chateauneuf price.

An interesting tasting – these are well made wines with some poise, but the whites speak of the area more eloquently than the reds, and were – in general, much more interesting. The reds although enjoyable, especially the last, seem more generic Southern France: Rhone; Languedoc… rather than anything specifically Roussillon.
My favourite was the 2011 Calcinaires Blanc.

Thanks so much Janine

À Bientôt

%d bloggers like this: