Archives for posts with tag: Tasting Notes

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 10th July WING met to taste Beaujolais Cru. Led by Yvonne.

Yvonne presented a tasting giving a rare opportunity to sample 6 different Beaujolais Cru: all from the same vintage – all produced in roughly the same way, and to the same price point, by the same grower.

The vintage in question is 2015, a warm year (though for good growers without the stress of the 2003s) giving – in careful hands – ripe, full yet balanced wines. The grower is Frédéric Burrier, making wines at the family domaine: Château de Beauregard and for the négociant business Domaine Joseph Burrier. The first and last wines are labelled “Château de Beauregard” the others are Domaine Joseph Burrier wines.

All the wines are from old vines in single sites within the Cru they represent – mostly 40-60 years old. They are treated the same way: with careful extraction to avoid too much tannin, and with fermentation finished in barrel. They have 10-14 months in 228 litre oak barrels but (I think) not new… and showing no taste of it….

So the differences in these wines will surely be the terroir… we’ll see…


Here are my notes:

Château de Beauregard Fleurie “Poncié”
From a site with shallow granite soil. Has the slightly floral nose of the cru with plum and raspberry fruit, and only a hint of gummy notes. Palate has soft plum fruit a sharper plum skin twist – warm (it’s 14% abv) and a mineral drying finish… opens with time

Chiroubles “Saint Roch”
This is grown at over 500m altitude in entirely granite soils…It is slightly darker than the Fleurie, the same alcohol – but with a sweeter, lighter fruit nose – strawberry? – no gumminess and a floral (violet?) hint. Palate is lighter, rounder and sweeter with a long warm finish…

Saint-Amour “Côte de Besset”
This is the most northerly cru, where sedimentary soils mix with granite scree, and has only 13.5%abv. A quiet nose at first – with darker fruit that opens with time and becomes rather gummy…The palate is succulent  with a citric acidity and dark fruit combining to hint towards blackcurrant, and some herby notes too… The most stereotypical Bojo maybe?

Juliénas “Beauvernay”
This terroir has poor granite soil over Burgundian clay/limestone – the highest alcohol (14.5%). Very dark wine with a plum, almost plum-tomato Grenache, inflection. Palate is almost Italian – plum, prune, cherry with an almost “vinaigrette” acidity – very big, round and more Southern Rhone than Northern Beaujolais!

Morgon “Grand Cras”
This is from soil with much more clay – helping moisture retention and lessening stress – mixed with decomposed schist and granite. The first nose had an elegant hint of apricot, swiftly passing to redcurrant and then to sour cherry with a banana hint too… The palate is very succulent with a strong fruit acid line – red fruit in general with sour and sweet cherry hints, a twist of drying mineral and tannin. Very classy and definitely in the Burgundian direction. A lovely example of the cru with years left to go….

Château de Beauregard Moulin-à-Vent “Clos des Pérelles”
This is from dark clay soils with high manganese levels, the vineyards sustained by cuttings and not new planting… Very dark and 14.5%. The nose is less fruit, more herbs and mushrooms, higher perfumed notes and forest fruit emerge later. Palate has structure with a saline hint, well balanced power and length, suggesting sweet fruit with a plum and cherry character. Will last longest, in my opinion, and improve the most.

A lovely tasting showing how high above the reputed quality Beaujolais can (sometimes) reach. I liked all the wines in different ways but found the Morgon the star of the night. Always my favourite cru, in its own complex and succulent way it showed a lot of typicality. The wines did show the relative differences of terroir well, I thought, although at a level of richness and quality rather higher than typical from Beaujolais in general. I felt the most obviously Bojo was the Saint-Amour. All in all – lovely wines that might all be approached again in 2 or 3 (or 6?) years time…

Thank you so much Yvonne…

_ _ _ _ _ _

Before I take my leave this time I have a (half-) report on the Sock Club gathering hosted by Kathryn and Matt (while I was in France) 10 days earlier… “A lovely relaxed sociable night with lovely food and company”, according to reports.

Below is a photo and list of the wines. Now… I could look all the wines up and post the winery’s info –  but you can do that yourself if you are interested. If you’ve tasted the wine or are interested and want to discuss them you can do that via the comments section. If you do then I, and/or the person who brought the wine, will respond…

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Here’s the list (with a few comments from Ann and I):

THE RHONA, BRUT NV, GRAHAM BECK, SOUTH AFRICA     (Welcome)

BOSMAN FAMILY VINEYARDS CHARDONNAY PINOT NOIR PINOT MEUNIER 2015    (Sue)
A still wine produced in 2010s as a result of the grapes being bit riper than anticipated to make their usual sparkling. The alcohol content was a bit too high. It went down well so produced again deliberately in 2015.

HOWARD PARK, MOUNT MOUNT BARKER RIESLING, W AUSTRALIA 2015   (Kathryn)

COLLEFRISIO FALANGHINA AGT TERRE DI CHIETI- ABRUZZO 2015   (Ann).

JORDI MIRÓ, GARNACHA BLANCA, TERRA ALTA 2015     (Yvonne)

LA CÔTE DORAL (Switzerland) 2012    (Kim)

A wine I do know a little about: here’s a note on this wine from January 2014:
Doral is a Chasselas x Chardonnay, bred to be more aromatic than Chasselas and with more citrus and apricot than Chardonnay. There are only 27ha in Switzerland – 75% of it in Vaud.
This wine comes from various vine plots between Morges and Nyon. The wine is a bit darker than straight Chasselas, but the nose is quieter with hints of pear and citrus. The same things and sharp apricots on the palate, with hints of green herbs. Much more subtle, integrated and refreshing than Chasselas, good length with the flavours and acidity persisting – quite a satisfying wine…
.

ZORZAL EGGO FILOSO  PINOT NOIR (Argentina) 2015    (John)

PALATAIA PINOT NOIR (Pfalz) 2015   (Matt)

SCOTTO FAMILY VINEYARDS LODI ZINFANDEL 2013    (Mike)

RIVE BARBERA D’ASTI IL CASCIONE 2012   (Rob)

 CHATEAU LA BIRONDIE MONBAZILLAC 2013   (Matt)

Until next time…

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…

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 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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