Archives for posts with tag: Tutored Tasting

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

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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

Naturally (!) – the May Sock Club occurred this year on 1st June. So the June Tutored Tasting followed only 72 hours later. So as to ensure that the information stays as the leading page I have united both sets of notes into one post. It should be top-post until the next Monthly Theme post (Mediterranean Islands) goes up on – about – 15th June.

Starting with Sock Club – the group met and Matt & Kathryn’s on Friday first of June for an evening of blind Tasting…

Here are my notes:

“CUVEE JEAN LOUIS” CHAMPAGNE BRUT (Bredon)         Welcome Wine
This has a citrus nose with a quite persistent but light sherbet mousse, palate has a grapefruit tinge. Rather light bodied and frothy with soft peach and lime hints. Very light for Champagne – definitely a party or aperitif style.

ALICANTE “LA TREMENDA” 2016 (Enrique Mendoza)          Sue T  
Nose is all soft fruit – apricot? Palate also shows apricot with a slightly chalky feel. Some Chardonnay signs: weight, apple acidity… but recessed under the soft Merseguera fruit.. It’s 50% each grape!

RIBEIRO “AILALÁ” TREIXADURA 2017         Kathryn   
Peach nose, this time, with a creamy impression… Palate the same with a ginger element and some saline, savoury hints – then peach again, and a citrus backbone… Quite interesting – showing some complexity!

CHENONCEAUX 2016 (Domaine de Vaux St. Georges)           Yvonne
This Touraine Sauvignon has initial quince fruit and then round Sauvignon Blanc profile on the nose. The acidity is rounder, warmer and less green than many SB, but has some green herbal hints, some mineral and a fuller body with more tropical complexity. Good!

POUILLY FUISSÉ “COLLECTION” 2015 (Sophie Cinier)          Kim
Citrus first, some toasty notes, a medium-weight palate shows citrus and soft fruit with a supple creamy texture, but no oak. There is a warm acid line and a lingering melon hint. Made from 60 year old vines with only old oak this has a clean but rich depth – very engaging!


DENARIO PINOT NOIR 2013 (Patagonia)           Matt
Very pale, translucent colour, slight vanilla and red fruit nose and palate has a lifting acidity with a bitter component… Clean and cool fruit with a slight herby element, very food friendly and good!

CORNAS 2004 (Alain Verset)      Laurie
This is the latest in the Cornas Verset story for me. I was fortunate enough to have bought the 1998 vintage of the great, late Noel Verset (see post of 26 Oct 2014 – below, I still have a couple left btw) and also had the good fortune once (in 1997 I think) to taste the 1991 Yvonne Verset (although allegedly made by Noel’s brother Louis). This 2004 completes the set with Alain (Louis and Yvonne’s son). More recent vintages are about £26, though this is now £45.
Without the ethereality of Yvonne’s, or the wonderful elegant completeness of Noel’s this is an amazing Cornas: slightly earthy nose with quite light fruit – blueberry and strawberry. Palate is supple, and for a Cornas rather subtle, with a lovely fruit acid line that builds for ages to a slightly drying crescendo and a spicy lift at the very end. Speaking as a Syrah-sceptic this was balanced, satisfying and not-at-all salty – lovely!

SCHOLA SARMENTI NERIO RESERVE NARDÒ DOC 2012               Yuan
Nose shows fruit, some spice and a woody, forest-floor note. Palate starts with a black “fruit pastille” sweetness and backed by leathery hints and some warm prune, spice returns too… a clear warm climate wine with some succulence. This Puglian wine is from Nardò, between Salice Salentino and the SW Coast of the heel of Italy. Like Salice it is made with 80% Negroamaro & 20% Malvasia Nera.

BURGENLAND ZWEIGELT 2015 (Heinrich)     Mike
Quite light with a herby cherry/berry nose. The palate is similar – slightly drying sour cherry acidity and then the green herb quality appears again. Quite mouth-watering and fresh.

AMARONE 2011 (Cantina di Negrar)       Rob
Plum skins and prune notes on this nose, with a surprisingly sweet fruit attack on the palate. The palate then opens up a bit to show oily texture, a slight prune depth to the fruit, a hint of bitterness and a warm finish.

A great evening of wine and, though it may seem inappropriately self-serving, I was most moved by the Cornas! Thanks to Kathryn and Matt for their wonderful hospitality…

 

Only 3 days later the TT group assembled again for a Vertical Barolo Tasting led by Kim.

The Barolo in question was “TREBAVIO” BAROLO DOCG (TENUTA L’ILLUMINATA). The winery is in the La Morra, in fact on the North West edge of La Morra (and hence the whole Barolo appellation) in the Sant’Anna Menzione (cru). It appears the wine is a cru wine from Nebbiolo in that Menzione. La Morra is the largest of the Barolo Communi, and is said to produce the most supple, seductive, and “Pomerol-like” Barolos. Although comparisons with Burgundy are more common…

La Morra: L’Illuminata is in the Centre of the navy-blue (Sant’Anna) Cru – top left.

L’Illuminata is a moderate-modern wine maker. Not the most iconoclastic but applying some modern methods. For example the maceration and aging: Temperature-controlled steel, then a year in barriques (½ new), then a year in older Slovenian oak botti (10 x times the size of the barriques).

Kim showed the 6 vintages from 2005 – 2010.

Here are my notes:

2010 (Barolo General Vintage Rating 97, ABV 14.5%)
Nose is slightly Burgundian, with vegetal hints, some tar and a perfumed element opening out with time (…or a bigger glass!). High acidity on the palate with round tannins, fruit – plums coming to the fore later. Silky but with restrained power. Very promising and quite typical, but needs a couple of years…

2009 (90, 15%)
This is hotter altogether – the nose is quieter at first, with a slightly cheesy note and spirit hints. The palate is softer, the fruit stronger and the structure majors more on the tannins… slightly sweet impression. Not my favourite….

2008 (94, 15.5%)
Pungent dairy-(?)-farmyard nose with some plum fruit. A slight warm alcohol burn on the palate but there is acidity and grainy tannin all at equal (but not exactly “balanced”) levels. Very atypical – the fruit is sweet and the acidity almost citric. Later curry spice elements (Cumin? Fenugreek??) appear. Least liked by most – I actually preferred its weirdness to the over-heated 09 or the dilute 05….

2007 (95, 15.5%)
More perfumed with some fruit influence and a cherry spirit note. Palate is supple with integrated tannins and a very long fruit acid, the flavour is plum but the acidity reminds me more of raspberry. Good.

2006 (95, 14%)
A fruit and mocha nose making me think of cherry and raspberry again with a slight late herb note. The palate is powerful and gives the impression of more to be revealed, built around a long fruit-acid line the tannins brood beneath without distracting from the velvet mouthfeel… This will last, but right now it’s full, round and complete… a very satisfying wine!

2005 (91, 14%)
Nose is quite quiet with a little pretty fruit and some cheese hints again…The palate seems a little washed-out by comparison to all the previous wines, and the acidity rather green.

An amazing set of wines, which – despite their similarities – showed amazing variety. I think this, at these levels of maturity, has more to do with vintage than age – but who knows? I think one would pick Nebbiolo as the grape in them all, maybe some more quickly than other, and I would enjoy a bottle of any with an appropriate meal.

With most people 2010, 2007 & 2006 were the most favoured –  I concurred. To me it finally came down to a (large glass) taste-off between the ’07 & the ’06… and (then and there)… the 2006 shaded it for me – a wine I would pay the £35 for…

Thanks so much Kim for the Tasting and Ralph for the tip to source the wines…

À Bientôt

May this year is a strange Month: the end-of-Month Sock Party will be on June 1st; and the beginning-of-Month Tutored Tasting actually took place (due to an English Bank Holiday) on April 30th! Rest assured the middle-of-the-month May ICC Tasting will be indeed be in May….

So it was the WING group met to taste Mosel Rieslings guided by Andrew. Andrew had been partly inspired by a travels to Traben-Trabach very near the centre of the Mosel wine area. I too have stayed there and we both heartily recommend the area.

Regular readers will know my liking for Riesling, it’s probably my favourite white grape – especially in its traditional form from Mosel (or Mosel-Saar-Ruwer as the overall region was known until 2007). Andrew had noted the increasing propensity for Trocken and Feinherb (=Halbtrocken, sort of) wines in the area. When I first went there in 2001 only perhaps 10% of production was so labelled – last time (2015) I also had noted the change, then nearly half were.

(See my reflection on these issue in my post of September 17th 2015 – below>).


Andrew sought to explore the differences by showing 3 trocken wines  the first of each pair) against 3 more “traditional” wines with some residual sugar…

Here are my notes:

FINESSE TRABENER KRÄUTERHAUS RIESLING SPÄTLESE TROCKEN 2015 (Weingut Trossen)
Rich oily nose with elderflower and peach, and a later honey hint – all classic Riesling notes but seems a bit dull, by that classic standard. The palate has a zingy acidity, quite rounded by soft fruit – but a little short.

RICKELSBERG STEILLAGE TRABENER WÜRZGARTEN RIESLING AUSLESE FEINHERB 2015 (Weingut Trossen)
This is an interesting wine, with 26 g/l residual sugar and 12% alcohol…so right in-between a traditional Auslese (50 -75 g/l and 9% ish) and a trocken (1 g/l and 13.5%). So, IMO, if the “Feinherb” styling means anything this is it! This had spicy hints on the nose, I would say Fenugreek, with citrus and peach. Palate has warmth, some sweetness and a mineral note with a citrus peel, slightly bitter tinge. Longer and more satisfying in my opinion than the previous wine. This has the acidity / sweetness balance of a traditional Kabinett but over a much richer fulcrum.

 

VON BLAUEM SCHIEFER RIESLING TROCKEN 2013 (Heymann-Löwenstein)
This is an artisan curiosity from the very North of the Mosel, near its confluence with the mighty Rhine. This pays little service to the old style classifications and is just crafted to make a dry wine with depth added by a proportion of botrytis-affected berries in the press. It shows hints of diesel already and orange peel (from botrytis) and some herb notes… Palate is gingery and rather dry, with the acidity rounded and softened by the complexity and depth of flavour. Similar weight to the previous wine and successful on its own, less-well-trodden path…

GRAACHER HIMMELREICH RIESLING KABINETT 2012 (Joh. Jos. Prum)
This is a traditional style and probably has a bit more sugar than the previous Feinherb. However the nose is dumb and the wine a little recessed too, so this sweetness sticks out rather at the moment – especially when slightly warmer than optimum… Against this the acidity is stunning:  piquant, lip-smacking and very, very long – leading to some mineral, slate tones… Unbalanced right now (some traditional Rieslings do seem have a “dumb” period from 3 or 4 – 7 or 8 years from vintage) but give it 3 or 4 years to open up again ….

 

ABTSBERG RIESLING ALTE REBEN TROCKEN 2012 (Maximin Grünhaus)
This is a basic Qualitätswein fermented to dryness, but ripeness must have been between Kabinett and Spätlese levels. The nose has diesel and orange peel hints with some peach, but quite restrained. The palate seems a bit astringent – a thinner, more bitter acidity. This shortens the experience. Well made, clean… but my least favourite in this company.

ABTSBERG RIESLING SUPERIOR FEINHERB 2012 (Maximin Grünhaus)
This is a Große Lage wine and the Feinherb finished product is very like a dashing old fashioned Spätlese. So in many ways this is a counterpoint of the very first wine. Nearly diesel, vaguely furniture polish hint, some fruit blossom and herb hints. Palate has warmth, good supple acidity with soft fruit, long and lip-smacking it is well balanced and very pleasurable now.

I found this an incredibly interesting tasting. First I love this grape, and even my least favourite wine tonight would beat many other wines from many other areas – including, probably, the majority of New World Rieslings!

However the tasting re-enforced an issue I’ve had with German dry Rieslings since it began its forward march 20 years ago – I call it the trouble with trocken. This is the apparent effect of fermenting Riesling to dryness, particularly in cool areas like Mosel, doesn’t just reduce the sugar, but in some way also reduces the rounder flavours in the wine and the acidity. True the acidity, with less counter-balance, seems more fierce, cooler and more bitter – but those long, lip-smacking, zingy, zesty lines of warmer acidity seem curtailed.

This was aptly illustrated by the last trocken (my least favourite)… which seemed shorter, aggressive and bitter in comparison to the wines with some sweet impression, The very first wine suffered a little, much less, from the same syndrome. The middle trocken is – eccentrically – made with 10% – 20% botrytis-affected grapes in the press… and balanced the acidity with the flavour-twist that is thereby imparted: orange peel, ginger…

In contrast the acidity in the Prum is exceptional, long (the most enduring by far), round, warm, lip-smacking, dashing, dazzling… The wine is currently unbalanced by a closed nose and the higher sugar “sticking-out”; although I would guess that, after 4 more years’ development and served a couple of degrees cooler, it could be the best wine of the six?!

However right now the middle trocken and the two  Feinherb wines were lovely – with the last just shading it, IMO.

Thanks so much Andrew for a captivating tasting!

À Bientôt

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