Archives for category: WIne Tasting

On Thursday 19th October the ICC / WING group met for the first tasting of the 2017-18 Season. The new season will (roughly) have alternate presenters: yours truly, Corkmaster and – new to this blog – the extremely talented brigittebordeaux.  So I kicked off with the 4th most popular Theme: Italian White wine.

I decided, following the discussion in the previous post to further trim the candidates for the Tasting by omitting Fiano and Pecorino – as being too well-known or too obscure, respectively. This left me with two wines of rare quality in denominations known for plonk: Soave and Orvieto; two Piedmont specialties: Gavi and Roero Arneis; and two Campanian whites…

Here are my notes:


SOAVE CLASSICO CALVARINO (Pieropan) 2015   –   12½%   –   Wine Society – £18
Quiet nose – with blossom hints: acacia and elderflower, some herby hints and a start of fruit. The palate has very long citric acidity with a chalky mineral finish, later some peach hints develop on both nose and palate. This is a couple of years too young, but very classy, balanced and elegant.
Ratings: Quality:  15.5/20   Value:  15/20

ORVIETO CLASSICO “TRAGUGNANO” 2015 (Sergio Mottura)   –   13½%   –   Vini Italiani – £17
Immediate nose of floral and pear notes. Soft fruit on the palate, with a softer acidity too. Some warmth in the later palate and increasingly herby (thyme?), but fades quite quickly too. Rather one dimensional.
Ratings:        Quality:  13.5/20   Value:  13/20

GAVI DI GAVI 2016 (Tenuta Olim Bauda)   –   12½%   –   Virgin Wines – £15
This has a fresh nose…lemon and a hint of pear. Clean palate with a lovely acidity growing in warmth and extending the finish. Quite good typicity and a very satisfying food wine…
Ratings:        Quality:  14.5/20   Value:  14.5/20

ROERO ARNEIS “LE FAVILLE” (Brjnda) 2014   –   13½%   –    Vini Italiani – £15
Nose has some floral elements, and a hint of a darker – nutty? – flavour. The palate has saline and that darker note (fenugreek), some warm acidity and a thicker food-friendly finish but a bit short…
Ratings:        Quality:  14/20   Value:  14/20

GRECO DI TUFO, LOGGIA DELLA SERRA 2016 (Terredora Di Paulo)   –   12½%   –   Tanners – £17
Lovely nose of white fruit, citrus and sweeter fruit notes. Palate is very well balanced with evolving acidity that energises fruit elements and some richness. A poised wine with great food capacity, and close to peak, and the groups’ favourite!
Ratings:        Quality:  15.5/20   Value:  15/20

FALANGHINA “PRETA” (Capolino Perlingieri) 2015   –   13½%   –   Vini Italiani – £17
Very pungent menthol / Eucalyptus first nose… Other herby notes mount but never overwhelm the mint dimension… Palate has grapefruit acidity and a sweeter fruit – doughnut peach (?) – gaining ground. Quite rich and unusual, and pretty good.
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  14.5/20

Overall a tasting showing the range of white styles in Italy. With strong, food-friendly, acidity present in most – even from the warmer climes. All had some attractive elements and clean acidity…That freshness is most apparent in the Soave and the Greco, and although the Greco has persuasive charm, I liked the Soave as much and felt its restrained elegance would better reward cellaring. On the other hand, the Orvieto was slightly dull, and I have sometimes found the slightly sweet Amabile style shows more depth at lower price points…

À Bientôt

Advertisements

Carrie and Laurie hosted a WING Sock Party on Friday August 25th, with nearly a full company of Sock Club regulars. A very enjoyable evening ensued – with some notable wines….

So here indeed are those notable notes:

LA GITANA MANZANILLA SHERRY       Welcome Wine
The text book Manzanilla – salty , sea spray, mineral and herby nose. A supple and lightly drying sherry building to a warm finish for a long time – Perfect with olives, to start proceedings!

BADEN RIESLING ALTE REBEN SPÄTLESE TROCKEN 2011 (Alde Gott)       Paul
A slightly spicy and oily (pre-diesel?) nose revealing hints of elderflower and quince later. Palate has ginger hints and dazzling acidity building to an oily rich finish. Very good and promising further development!

VIÑA ALEMEIRA ALBARIÑO 2016       Carrie
The wine has a peachy fruit nose, a herby dimension and some flowery freshness. Citric acidity on the palate, becoming more saline and then the return of the fruit and a long fresh finish, good…

CUNE BARREL FERMENTED RIOJA BLANCO 2016       Yvonne
This is a 100% Viura white Rioja, with a woody and stewed apple nose, hints later of sweeter more exotic fruit, Palate has slightly balsamic acidity with a smoothed out malic fruit tone. The wine even shows some tannic elements over against that exotic hint as it appears again…

OLIFANTSBERG BLANC (SA) 2015       Sue
This is from Breedekloof about 25 miles East of Paarl, from Chardonnay, Roussane, Grenache Blanc and Chenin… Big warm flavours of flowers and peach on the nose with a supporting sharp note… Palate is rich and warm with a warm acidity keeping up the weight – a white Southern Rhone balance…

À FLEUR DE PEAU (CLOS DE GRAVILLAS) 2016       Ann
A very grapey nose, with caramel, mandarin, mealy and saline notes… Palate is completely dry and has high refreshing acidity supporting echoes of all the flavours on the nose reappearing as the wine opens. Amazingly complex and evocative, this is soooo…. unexpected. Fab!

BADEN GEWURZTRAMINER SPÄTLESE TROCKEN 2012 (Alde Gott)       Anna
Very big nose of roses and lychees… Palate has some sweetness but high pliant acidity supporting the (demi-sec level?) sweetness. Very well balanced and evolved with saline hints and slight ginger holding the wine in balance and away from any blowsiness. Lovely…

MUSSBACH SPÄTBURGUNDER ROSÉ (Müller-Cattoir) 2015        Kim
Dried raspberry and herbal nose. Palate has refreshing acidity and a food-friendly balance. Vinous characters – a quite serious Rosé

ALSACE PINOIT NOIR “LA LIMITE” (Lorentz) 2009        John
Dark for an Alsace PN, with a light leafy nose turning more herby and then vegetal. Supple acidity and herby red fruit with a mineral twist. Rather good and channeling a warmer more Chalon style… Good

CHÂTEAU MONGRAVEY MARGAUX CRU BOURGEOIS 2008         Laurie
A rather text book claret nose: blackberry first then cedar and vegetal notes. Palate has soft blackcurrant fruit with drying but soft tannic support and a clean mouth-watering acidity, some Margaux-like subtlety… just right now I think…

VACQUERAS 2012 (Domaine de la Curnière)        Rob
Smokey nose with some, slightly diluted, blackberry scents. Palate has a brackish Syrah note and a warm acid line with some spice lasting to a leathery finish. Quite poised but a little old for the Grenache and a little young for the Syrah???

Thanks to everyone for such a convivial evening.

Until next time…

On Monday 7th August Rob treated the WING Tutored Tasting Group to some samples of 2005 Red Bordeaux. We broached some wines from this celebrated vintage just over two years ago (see post of June 19th 2015 for report and an outline of the vintage), but felt then the wines weren’t ready. So an opportunity to review the vintage again, in the form of wines scoring 87-89 points, seemed timely…


Here are my notes:

CHÂTEAU LA GARDE (Pessac-Leognan)     [Merlot 62%, Cab Sauv 31%, Cab Franc 5%, Petit Verdot 2%]
Pungent, aromatic herbs on the nose red fruit and grainy later. Palate is full with strong tannins, an acidic line and red fruit rather recessed… Several unintegrated components – showing the wine to be young still (?!)…

CHÂTEAU CAMBON LE PELOUSE (Haut-Medoc) [M60 CS34 CF5 PV1]
A more developed nose of damsons, red currant and a toasted wood hint… Well evolved but with a fresh fruit acid line and some depth. Tannins are fine, giving a pleasurable “open” structured wine – a little simple by the highest standards

CHÂTEAU FONRÉAUD (Listrac-Medoc) [M43 CS53 PV4]
Pungent nose with a vegetal base. Palate has a firm structure, with “hot” tannins and a strong but simple black fruit acidity, all giving length length and warmth. Still young by this tasting needing 3(?) more years integration ….

CHÂTEAU HAUT-BAGES AVEROUS (Pauillac) [M17 CS75 CF6 PV2]
This seemed the most evolved wine, surprising as it has the highest level of Cabernet Sauvignon. Nose of forest floor, herb and lighter floral perfumes more evident than the heavier stewed blackberry fruit. Palate has that fruit again but wrapped with a dark berry fruit acid, supple tanins and a consistent long grip… Rather good and making me want to eat – I think my favourite!

CHÂTEAU CARTEAU CÔTES DAUGAY (St. Emillon) [M65 CS5 CF30 ]
The nose is slightly dusty with notes of plum fruit, some woody tones and a herby hint. Smooth on the palate, soft berry fruit with spicy hints – there is  a leafy note and warm tannin, a little grainy leading to the typical “chocolate” impression. Rather good but not quite soaring.

CHÂTEAU DE CARLES (Fronsac) [M90 CF5 Mal5]
The nose is dark fruit, with a vegetal line. Smooth on the palate, with sweet blackberry fruit supported by good acidity and herby hints again. The tannins seem a little simple and not quite mature. Quite good balance but not quite integrated or expressive… yet?

Another interesting tasting with most (but not all) wines showing signs of maturity and pleasure, but at least two needing a few more years. The star, IMO showing the potential evolution of the vintage, being the Pauillac. A few of those in the cellar would be a good thing…

Thank you for showing the wine, and for your generosity, Rob.

Until soon…

A long hiatus after the July ICC tasting as I was in France, so a double post: a belated note on that tasting with the Sock Club notes.

First: JULY ICC TASTING – “UNUSUAL LOIRE WINES”

On Thursday 20th July 2017 the ICC group met for the last time this season, to taste unusual wines sourced from the Loire. In fact all the wines come from the Coteaux du Loir or from the Eastern Touraine, and generally fall in the hand-crafted, old-vine, organic or even Biodynamic, artisan category. They were all sourced from the grower and paid for in Euros. Most are unavailable in the UK. If you want an idea of how much they might cost if they were, I’d suggest you multiply the Euro cost by 1.6 to get the UK £ sterling value… Soooo… over £150 worth of wine for the season sign-off….


Here are my notes:

VINEFERA SAUVIGNON 2015 (Marionnet – Domaine de la Charmoise)   –   13%   –   Grower €15
The nose is quite quiet for an SB, indeed there is only restrained floral and herbal notes rather than big grassy and gooseberry greenness. The fruit is more in the white peach direction and expands in the middle palate, the acidity is slightly cooler than most SB, more in the Sancerre style – clean and refreshing, longer and supporting a richer wine… Later grapefruit elements come out more. Good, and not obvious what grape it is, based on usual SB indicators.
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  15/20

LA PURCELLE DE ROMORANTIN 2015 (Marionnet – Domaine de la Charmoise)   –   13½%   – Grower €17
From direct cuttings from a vineyard planted in the first half of the 19th Century. Nose is very restrained with a lightly floral nose. On the palate, it has a drying, slightly chalky strong citric acidity that is reminiscent of Chablis and gives the wine freshness, the fruit is more Chenin-like though – with soft fruit richness and a hint of passion-fruit, and a mineral edge. I liked this more than most, I think, and if I had to choose between this and the SB, I think this just shades it by a small fraction…
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  15/20

“LA ROSÉE” 2015 (Mérieau)   –   12%   –   Grower €8
An encouraging onion-skin tone, with a slightly spicy nose, the palate has very strong acidity which has a herbal twist and a spicy finish. Food-friendly but a really a quaffing-with-summer-lunch Rosé.
Ratings:        Quality:  14/20   Value:  15/20

COTEAUX DU LOIR “ELIZARI” 2015 (Les Maisons Rouges)   –   13%   –   Grower €25
A translucent light colour, like an Alsace Pinot Noir. The nose has floral notes, pepper, growing herbal hints, and sweet red fruit, strawberry(?) element, the herbs have an aromatic quality in the fennel/menthol direction, but with less pungency… Chervil? The palate  is structured with warm acidity and that deep herbal quality, but sweet plum fruit waves through the structure. Very long and complex, different elements take the foreground on each approach over an hour or so. A star! A rarity that stands up as a fine wine on its own merits.
Ratings:        Quality:  18/20   Value:  16/20

“LES CEPAGES OUBLIES” 2015 (Marionnet – Domaine de la Charmoise)   –   12½%   –   Grower €14
Very dark indeed. A hint of carbonic maceration, growing with time but still only in the background. With sweet black fruits on both the nose and palate, it is like a black-fruit counterpoint to good (Morgon level) red-fruit, Cru Beaujolais. Without some of the structure of good Bojo – a very unusual wine that lacks a little acid structure
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  15/20

“GUEULE DU BOA” 2011 (Mérieau)   –   12½%   –   Grower €18
A briar fruit nose, with a hint of warm citrus. The palate has sweet briar fruit and suppleness that is supported by a long line of fruit acidity. This gives balance and holds the wine, initially between Argentinian fruit and Cahors structure, at least as far as freshness and acidity go. In time, though still between the styles, it seems to drift a little towards the Argentinian style. Would be great with a dryish Lamb curry dish.
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  15/20

Overall an interesting range of wines to put alongside the famous names of the Loire. The Loir wine from Les Maisons Rouges, was the stand-out for the majority present and it’s a fabulous wine. They produce a little brother – “Garance” from only (!?) 19 – 55 year old vines, while the Elizari vines are from 55 to 100+. They make a brilliant Jasnieres too… I will return there, and also to Domaine de la Charmoise, whose whites I enjoyed immensely.

The Loire is really a very diverse wine region… It makes you want to live there…

So – on to the JULY WING SOCK PARTY hosted by Yvonne on Friday July 28th: a lovely evening with good company, wine and food….

Here are my notes:


TE HUA BRUT CUVÉE (Gisbourne, NZ)         Welcome Wine
A NZ Bubbly from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc & Muscat. Floral hints, a slightly gluey note and some honey. The palate has a slightly pithy – especially at the finish – citrus quality, and a herby hint.

LEEUWIN ESTATE ART SERIES RIESLING 2010       Laurie
Very Riesling nose, lime juice and a hint of Diesel… Palate has a citrus acidity – warm but clean – but the soft fruit drops out a little in the middle before the acidity re-asserts itself. Not as good as the 2007 we tried in May 2016…

MADELEINE ANGEVINE 2013 (English Wine Project)       Sue Mc
Pungent nose, very grassy and even gooseberry reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc. Palate has a warm acidity and the fruit is pear with lemon hints.

CÔTES DE THAU “CUVÉE FLORENCE” 2016 (La Baume)        Mike
This is a Piquepoul / Sauvignon Blanc blend! Nose has a slightly smoky hint, then citrus and peachy fruit. Palate has some residual sugar but firm underlying acidity, which has the respective focused and warm lines of the component grapes not quite integrated…

CLAIRETTE DU LANGUEDOC 2015 (Paul Mas)       Ann
Fragrant nose of flowers, pear and sweet melon. The palate echoes the nose with a citrus and citrus peel sharpness. A warm-climate wine which hints at the exotic – maybe young?

TYRELL’S HUNTER VALLEY SEMILLON 2016         Anna
Pungent: floral and grapefruit with an exotic hint. Very strong acidity with a bitter twist supporting a mealy texture…. The wine has a depth that makes me think it has a long way to go…

FERRANDIÈRE PRESTIGE BLANC RESERVE 2015           Yvonne
This is another Paul Mas property from East of Carcassone, between Minervois and Corbieres. The grapes are oak-aged Viognier, Sauvignon and some Chardonnay. Hints of cinnamon on the nose then citrus, floral notes and a deeper fruit note – perhaps the separate elements of the blend, not quite integrated. The palate has over-ripe peach, ginger and apricots….

MOULIN-A-VENT “LES CHAMPS DU COUR” (Domaine du Moulin d’Eole) 2013         Kim
Sweet red fruit nose, some baking spice and soft citrus (orange?) – slight note of carbonic maceration. Palate is smooth with spicy elements, and a structured finish. Very good Beaujolais, at peak!

SAUMUR-CHAMPIGNY “LA CRIOIX DU CHAINTRE” (Fillatreau) 2013         Rob
Floral elements, spice and a herbal hint. Raspberry fruit and the tell-tale herbal acid line… very good example of S-C.

QUARTER ACRE HAWKES BAY SYRAH 2015        John
A resinous / Bay Leaf note over a black fruit aroma. Palate has spice, warm acidity with a black fruit with black olive tinge. A textbook New World Syrah, does the use of the name  Syrah rather than Shiraz tell of a target style nearer the Rhone than some big Aus Shiraz? I think so, and it’s probably over half way there…

CONDE D’ERVIDEIRA (Alentejo) 2013       Paul
A blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet and a little Cabernet Sauvingon. This shows a floral first nose, then a lighter cherry flavour. Cherry fruit follows on the palate with an earthy dimension and mouth-watering structure. Very successful and typical…

“VOX POPULI” BOBAL 2014       Sue T
From Utiel-Requena near Valencia, this dark wine has a slightly cheesy nose then dark fruit with smoke and floral overtones… Palate has high acidity, and a light fruit centre – but is a big wine with a drying sharp finish.

Thanks so much to Yvonne for a very lovely evening, hospitality and refreshments…

Until next time…

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!

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…

 

%d bloggers like this: