Archives for posts with tag: Wine

Years ago, the most well-known wine-day to the general (rather than the oenophile) British public was the day that Beaujolais Nouveau was released. The popular press was concerned with reporting, and sponsoring, teams of drivers, pilots and even parachutists to win a race to get the wine to London. The evening was often marked by Beaujolais Nouveau parties. I think I attended one last in the early 1980s, and I recall nothing of that evening, although the next morning is one I haven’t been able to forget….

That date is the 3rd Thursday of November, so this year it’s 15th November 2018 – and (un-)coincidentally the occasion for a Beaujolais tasting for the WING group at the ICC.

The nouveau isn’t that great a wine, frankly – but it has contributed to an image for Beaujolais as light, chillable, wine best consumed young… which is only part of the story…

Red Beaujolias (about 1% of Beaujolais is Chardonnay) is made from the Gamay grape. Gamay is thin-skinned and light in colour giving light-bodied, fruity and aromatic wines. The grapes are typically trained in gobelet (or similar) and hand picking is compulsory. Experiments are done with cordon royat and machine harvest. The soil is mainly granite and limestone clay, with granite proportions increasing the further North you are.

Beaujolais produces pretty close to 100m bottles every year, there are 3 appellation (AOC/AOP) categories and 12 AOC/AOPs:

  • Beaujolais (about 35% of all Beaujolais, a little over half sold as Nouveau)
  • Beaujolais Villages, from 38 villages in the Northern half of the area, but without the village name on the bottle (about 27%, about a third Nouveau)
  • The Beaujolais Cru, 10 village areas on the best sites where the village is mentioned on the label, each with its own AOC/AOP (about 38%, no Nouveau).

These areas are located as shown on this map:


The area, as you can see, is south of the Mâcon vineyards of Burgundy, and the area counts as part of Burgundy for most general description. In fact there are some Chardonnay vineyards that are to the South of the most northerly Gamay vineyards of Beaujolais (e.g. around Saint-Vérand or Chânes where Macon, Saint-Véran, Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages vineyards form a entangled patchwork).

Really the Nouveau is a lower level wine, even if it comes from the Villages area. So a quality proportion is better shown in this Wine Folly graphic…


The issue with Beaujolais is this: while the description of fresh, fruity, chillable and especially youthful wine does fit the bottom tier, and some of the middle tier – it certainly doesn’t fit the Cru wines. They show the qualities of Gamay – freshness, fruit, suppleness… in a much more serious package, varying greatly across the 10 Cru, with wines that improve with age and in some cases last for 7-10 years…

Part of the reason for all this variation is the relatively uncommon method of making the wine called Carbonic Maceration. I say uncommon, meaning in the wine world – but it is a main way of vinifying Gamay in Beaujolais.

Carbonic Maceration does not use yeast to start fermentation. Whole bunches of grapes are placed in vats, which are then sealed and filled with CO2 to remove the oxygen.

This triggers a process within the grapes known as intracellular fermentation. Once alcohol levels reach around 2% abv, the grape skins split and release their juice. Carbonic maceration extracts some colour from the grapes but little tannin, generally creating red wines that are light in colour, low in tannin and which have a soft, fruity character.

Also the process produces esters such as ethyl cinnamate in higher quantities than normal, giving rise to flavours such as raspberry, strawberry, banana and bubblegum…

Wines made in this style include Beaujolais Nouveau and are often best when drunk young and sometimes even lightly chilled.

More serious wines are more likely to be made using semi-carbonic maceration. A similar method which does not include filling the vats with CO2. Here, the vat is filled with the whole bunches, the weight of the grapes on the top crushes the ones below, releasing the juice. Yeast ferments the fruit and releases CO2, kick-starting carbonic maceration in the remaining un-burst grapes.

Both carbonic methods only create a small amount of alcohol, so once it is completed, the grapes are pressed off the skins and yeast completes the fermentation process in the normal way. Again, some more serious makers might use some oak in making the wines.

However for producers of wine in the Cru areas little – if any – of the wine will be produced like this. Instead the wines will be vinified normally, showing the real character of the Gamay grape…

If you look at any source of reference for Beaujolais Cru Wines they will give you a list of the individual characteristics of the 10 Cru. However although there are general similarities they are all a bit different. For example here are four description of typical Chiroubles: “tart cherry, raspberry, rose petal and violet”; “elegant aromas of violets, peony, red currant and cherry”; “violet, orange blossom, peony and raspberry” and “delicate red berry fruit and violet notes”… You get the idea…

So here’s a typical – but not definitive – idea of each of the 10 Cru’s typical character (listed from North to South):

  • Saint-Amour: Elegant aromas of red currant, iris and plum
  • Juliénas: Bold aromas of strawberry, violets, cinnamon, and red currant
  • Chénas: Medium-Bold aromas of rose and peony and spicy woodsy notes with age
  • Moulin-à-Vent: Bold aromas of cherry, violets and black currant
  • Fleurie: Elegant aromas of black currant, peach, iris and violets
  • Chiroubles: Elegant aromas of violets, peony, red currant and cherry
  • Morgon: Bold aromas of cherry, peach, plum and violets
  • Régnié: Medium-Bold aromas of raspberry and black currant with a hint of spiciness
  • Côte de Brouilly: Medium-Bold aromas of iris, plum and fresh grapes
  • Brouilly: Bold raspberry, ripe peach and a touch of soil

In the November Tasting we are going to concentrate only on the Cru Beaujolais. We’ll try 6 all from the same year and producer. Notes will be posted in 5 or 6 days.

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

The group met and Kim’s on Friday 26th October  for an evening of blind Tasting…

Here are my notes:


EGLANTINE ENGLISH SPARKLING WINE         Welcome Wine
This is from very near Nottingham, and made from Madeleine Angevine with Seyval Blanc and a little of the trio of Champagne Grapes. Nutty nose with savoury undertones and some gradually developing citrus. Slightly gluey with a bitter sweet pithy palate and a citrus lift also growing, quite light with a sherbet fizz….

ALSACE RIESLING “LES PIERRETS” 2004 (Josmeyer)          Laurie  
Quite a dark, evolved colour, showing just a hint of apply oxidation on the nose – but pale in comparison to the nutty and diesel aromas with hints of elderflower and peach. Oily palate with a round dashing acidity – quince and lime, underlying a sweet evolved stone fruit peak – long and quite warm. Lots of secondary flavours but still some youthful dash – rather nice!

“LÁGRIMAS DE MARIA”  2016 (Rioja)         Sue Mc   
This is 90% Viura with Tempranillo Blanco (a mutation of the red). Very light nose with hints of pear and a herby/woody note. The palate follows the same line as the nose – with a citrus hint and little more stone fruit.

“LES IV PIERRE” 2016 (Domaine d’Archimbaud)           Ann
This is from Saint-Saturnin, a little inland from Montpellier. The nose is peach (from 70% Viognier) with pithy and green herb hints, richness and some warmth show too (it is 20% Grenache Blanc and 10% Muscat!). The palate is quite oily and viscous with spicy warmth and good acidity cutting through, rather a good Viognier+!

ROERO ARNEIS 2017 (Marco Porello)          Mike
Slightly sweet fruit nose with an apple sharpness a little reminiscent of some Chenin. Palate has orchard fruit, warmth but quite stringent acidity. I rather liked this and thought it would match a smoked salmon starter very well…


GRANAT ST. LAURENT 2017 (Pfaffl)           Yvonne
This wine, from Niderösterreich, has a big red-fruit nose with Germolene hints and some herbs. The palate has more herbs with damson, sour cherry and raspberry fruit. Good acidity and green notes lift the big fruit making a vibrant and fresh red in the Cabernet Franc / Mencia spectrum. I rather liked this, refreshing and food-friendly…

TIERRA DE FRONTOS TINTO 2014         John
This is a Tenerife wine made from the Baboso Negro grape (the Spanish synonym of the Portuguese grape Alfrocheiro Preto, better known in the Dão and Alentejo). This has a big red fruit nose showing damsons, spice and a greener herbal element. Palate has an acid-fruit line with a slightly sour plum impression. Decidedly in the slightly saline Syrah-ish spectrum a surprisingly fresh, good example.

PETITE PETIT 2015 (Michael David – Lodi)     Sue T  
Made from 85% Petite Sirah (which might be Durif) and 15% Petit Verdot. This is about as “petite” as the elephants on the label. Soft fruit-driven nose, with some oak hints, leads to a (very!) sweet fruit palate – supple, even soft – warm, concentrated and only slightly counter-pointed by some tannins.  Rather too typically sweet, “Californian” for my taste.

RINGBOLT CABERNET SAUVIGNON  2017 (Margaret River)       Rob
Very Cab. Sauv. nose: pencil lead; blackcurrant; cedar; forest floor…. Palate has sharp dark fruit (suggesting but not really resembling blackcurrant) and round tannins – quite supple for its youth though I think a year or two would improve it!

CHARDONNAY DULCE ALB 2013 (Chateau Vartely – Moldova)       Kim
Nose has apricot, honey and passion fruit with some citric lift. The palate is very sweet – with a butterscotch tinge and a freshening lemon acidity, served with a choice of patisserie – for me it worked best with the tarte au citron…. Yum!

A great evening of wine, it’ll be no surprise to anyone that I preferred the wines that suggest food!! There was (though I say so myself) quite nice food, and it was very good to see people again after 7 weeks in France. Thanks for your hospitality Kim.

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

The group met and Anna & Paul’s on Friday 24th August  for an evening of blind Tasting…

Here are my notes:


CHAMPAGNE TAITTINGER BRUT         Welcome Wine
Subtle nose, with some gluey notes, a frothy mousse and a palate framed by citrus – getting on for grapefruit, some brioche notes and long deep flavour profile. Excellent!

CHABLIS CC “LES PREUSES” 2011 (La Chablisienne)          Laurie  
Rich, slightly oily nose, citric and some softer fruit. The palate has melon fruit, a drying mineral line ending in a slight ginger hint and some subtle signs of oak. Long with a satisfying balance of richness and austerity.

ELARA ALBORIÑO 2017 (Nelson NZ)         Yvonne   
Quite a fruity nose: peach and apricot and a stony twist to stone fruit! Floral hints too. Palate has a very clean profile – freshness, warm acidity and a nutty hint at the finish. A full, but not too rich, Alboriño.

CHÂTEAU FILHOT SAUTERNES GCC 2010           Paul
Marzipan, passion fruit, butterscotch – lovely complex nose. Palate is sweet with some warm – almost burning – caramel notes that remind one of butterscotch. This has time to go – but has lovely freshness now – and integration and complexity will ascend for 7 – 10 (?) years. Luscious!


“THE ISLANDER” SANGIOVESE 2014 (Lurton)          Ann
The Island in question here is Kangaroo Island of the coast of S. Australia, 200km SW of Adelaide. Interesting to see Sangiovese grown here, along with Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Semillon – showing Jacques Lurton’s roots! This is slightly herby on first note with plum aromas breaking through… Palate has a slightly burnt, woody note then spice and then plum fruit, some lifting acidity helps freshen the palate…

THYMIOPOULOUS XINOMAVRO 2013 (Naoussa)           Anna
Nose is cherry fruit, going towards plums with some herbal tones. Big, dark, brooding, tannic – but round with very dark fruit. Obviously hot-climate but maybe a little young.

ERIMO SAN QUIRICO 2013 (Ercolino)         John
This is a, rather superior, Aglianico. Starts with a volatile nose and some sweet red fruit – raspberry? – then herby notes. Palate is sweet, with plum / prune / almond Italian-ish features prominent, but secondary elements: leather, spice… seem only a suggestion thus far – thus lacking a little freshness atm… Needs food.

OSADIA  2015 (Mendoza)     Kim  
Nose of stoney plum fruit and some citrus. Palate is sharp, spicy, with warmth, big tannins and growing cherry notes. Big boned and not-quite integrated, this needs food or time – or both!

SAINT EMILION GC 2014 (Lay & Wheeler)       Rob
This had a slightly stalky / greenish tinged nose – herbs and red fruit. The palate has a slightly laurel-leaf quality and overbalances the fruit v tannin equation in favour of the latter, making the wine seem harsh – undoubtedly too young, by several years…

A great evening of wine and lovely food, especially in my opinion, the crab tarts with the Chablis: a match made in…  Kimmeridgian soil?!?!

I – burdened by the call of duty the following morning – left before the final wine, a “DRY SACK” (Williams & Humbert) made by adding a little PX sherry to a 15 year old Oloroso… sounds fantastic – if anyone present wants to contribute a note I’d appreciate it…. (not as much as the wine, obviously!)

I loved the curve of pleasure of the whites and the first red, for me this overshadowed a little the following reds, which were all marked by more-or-less immaturity, making them seem a touch less enjoyable than the preceding wines… but a great evening nonetheless. Thanks to Anna and Paul for their wonderful hospitality…

A couple of days later, thanks to Kim’s organisational genius, more-or-less (4 more and 1 less, actually), the same group visited the nearest vineyard to Nottingham – the Eglantine vineyard near Bunny. You can see more information about them by clicking here . We had tried a wine of theirs a month ago (you can see the note on 30th July post) and decided to visit…


Veronica Skuriat greeted us on a surprisingly wet and windy day and showed us round the vineyard (briefly) and the winery. A fascinating insight into the life of a small winery with small volume manual or semi-manual machinery to get the grapes to be wine in the bottle.

We tried their bubbly – a fresh and lively fizz with floral nose darker fruit and some savoury notes on the palate giving surprising depth and warmth for such a Northern site.

We also tasted the same white we had a month ago, showing similar flavours to then: nutty, floral – stone fruit with a warm citrus acidity.

However the star of the show – literally – is their dessert wine made from frozen Madeliene Angevine grapes –  called NORTH STAR. It’s luscious and an interesting counterpoint to the Sauternes of two nights earlier, showing Passion fruit going into butterscotch and honey burn with a succulent, almost lime acidity and great length and freshness. Lovely – well worth seeking out, and if you’re passing the area the vineyard is well worth a visit. Thanks to Eglantine for their hospitality, and to Kim for organising the trip!

I’m off to France now so there will be little activity on the site for 6 weeks or so. Perhaps someone will post notes of the next Sock Club and Tutored Tasting (I’m thinking of Brigitte Bordeaux!?). I’ll be tasting in Burgundy and Beaujolais, and drinking in the Loire so I may have something to add – otherwise enjoy the harvest season!

À Bientôt

A little while ago my good friend Matt sent me a link to an article entitled:

“Now wine lovers need to know about geology – or do they?” 

by Alex Maltman, Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences at  Aberystwyth University, and author of the book “Vineyards, Rocks, and Soils: The Wine Lover’s Guide to Geology” (OUP) . You can see the full article by following this link.

The article (and book?) argues that descriptions of, or claims for, wine that link the taste directly to the geology are misleading. For example: “kinds of assertions… (that wine flavour is determined by the ground in which it grows) (do not) indicate how it is that a particular rock brings something to the wine in your glass, and our present scientific understanding makes it difficult to see how this might happen.”

 

The blurb for the book claims: Maltman points out many of the geological errors, misconceptions and misunderstandings rife in wine literature and descriptions.

 

So is geology, soil type and structure important to the final wine or not?

 

While I would never argue against the idea of scientific precision in using scientific terms, I wonder that Professor Maltman isn’t arguing against a view no-one actually holds – however imprecise their language.

When I describe a wine as “showing the chalk on which it grows” I’m not asserting that it has chalk in it, any more than when I say it “has hints of raspberry” that it actually has raspberries in it. I am referring to a regularly repeated experiences whereby wines taste different from different soils – even when the other main variables are the same (grape, vine age, grower, viticultural practices, vinification, maturation…).

Surely the assertion, which may be true, that there are no discernible flavour compounds transferred from the soil to the finished wine (what we might call “chemical influence”) is compatible with the assertion that the soil structure physically influences the root development, the rate of ripening of the grapes, their rate of uptake of water, the heat retention of the ground, the diurnal temperature variations of the vines…. and thereby the flavours present in the grapes before vinification.

It is also true that aspect and altitude of the vineyard will influence the same things, but that doesn’t diminish the argument about soil types. To experienced on-the-site tasters it seems irrefutable that there is a difference. I have over and over again stood in a vineyard or tasting room when a wine made from grapes frown on mostly clay soil is followed by another from soil with more limestone (with very few other factors varying), and can taste a difference. Okay, that could – in isolated examples – be many things, but when that experience is repeated with different grapes and places: Loire Cabernet Franc; Alsace Riesling; Rioja Tempranillo; Right Bank Bordeaux Merlot… and the more-limestone-based wine regularly tastes fresher, with higher acidity, subtler… then one can be forgiven for saying that wines shows it’s limestone roots…

Tempranillo on Agrilo-Calcaire soil at Campo Viejo

There are similar experiences to be had with Agrilo-Calcaire against granite; sand against gravel etc. etc. etc…

Of course it’s only a way of speaking to say a wine tastes “of” limestone, and not literally true – but such a statement is pointing to a truth. The bit of land a wine’s grapes are grown on makes a difference to its flavour!

I’m still a terroir-ist!

Happy drinking…

 

On Friday 27th July 2018 a – pretty full – W1NG group met to enjoy the prodigious hospitality of Ann and John and taste rather a lot of wine… blind of course….

Here are my notes:


CRÉMANT DE BORDEAUX BRUT (Aldi)         Welcome Wine
This has a sweet peach fruit nose offset by some apple acidity and a little yeastiness. The palate has warm acidity and a quite short but soft moose, palate has a grapefruit tinge. Made from mostly Semillon and some Cabernet Franc (!) this is medium bodied, quite warm fizz with soft peach hints. Definitely an aperitif style.

 VINHO VERDE TAPADA DE VILLAR  2017 (Quinta das Arcas)          Kim  
This is made with 50% Loureiro, 40% Arinto, 10% Trajadura . Nose is fresh, light apple fruit, a hint of spritz and an elderflower hint. Palate is also light, apple skin and citrus pith sharpness, very nice with summer salad.

EGLANTINE WHITE WINE         Anna   
This is from Madeleine Angevine and has a pungent vegetal nose with savoury – mushroom or even meaty – hints, fruit appears later. Palate has a grapefruit acidity with a slight bitter orange, even Physalis (Cape Gooseberry) fruit notes. Very evolved and warm wine, not the usual sub-Sauvignon-Blanc package one tastes from English renditions of the grape. Very interesting!

MONTILLA-MORILES “FRESQUITO2017 (Vino Nuevo De Tinaja)           Yvonne
This is made from Pedro Ximénez (PX), and although a white table wine still has pronounced sherry hints, some soda-ish woody qualities and lots of nuts! Similar notes on the palate: nuts and salty flavours with some sweet suppleness underneath. Very unusual and very good.

TRABENER WÜRZGARTEN RIESLING AUSLESE FEINHERB 2015 (Trossen)          Andrew
Lovely fresh Riesling nose, elderflower, peach and a warm sharpness. Palate has a wonderful lively persistent acidity balancing a lip-smacking sweetness. Perfect for a hot weather tasting, more-ish and refreshing, with great depth of flavour in a light package.

“FIDES” GRENACHE BLANC 2015 (Bosman)           Sue T
Pungent nose with green plum skin notes. Very sharp acidity with bitter, slightly green and saline mineral hints. This is skin-macerated for 20 days, a process qualifying it to be “orange wine”,  but the startling acidity, especially for Grenache Blanc, makes me think the hand-harvested grapes must have had high acidity in the first place.

PASSERINA 2017 (Citra)         Ann
This is made (in Abruzzo) from the Passerina  grape, which is more widely planted in Marche. Quite a recessed nose, with some peach and citrus emerging. Palate has warm acidity, medium body and a peach infused, quite long, finish.

So… on to the reds:

SCHILD ESTATE BAROSSA VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015               Yuan
This is very Bordeaux-ish. Nose has some dark fruit and cedar hints. Palate is similarly restrained, dark fruit but quite firm and a slightly grainy tannic structure.  None of the gummy or woody notes Barossa sometimes serves up – a balanced, subtle Aus. Cabernet (yes, really!)

VOLNAY 2011 (Monnier)     John
This has a perfumed, almost floral nose with subtle red fruit hints emerging. Palate has supple acidity, a warm tannic hint and soft red fruit, but the velvet-glove of the fruit hides a harder structure. Very good village Volnay.

 BAROLO RISERVA 2004 (Monsparone)       Laurie
I haven’t drunk this for 2 or 3 years and it has definitely rounded out its rather hard, lean shape in that time. Very typical earthy and floral nose (tar and roses?!). Palate is medium weight, firm and quite rich but livened by a dark fruit freshness and long acid line. Combines savoury power and some elegance, would be great with food, I rather fancy rack of lamb!

SAUMUR CHAMPIGNY “HOSPICE DE SAUMUR”  2011 (Clos Cristal)     Paul
Pungent nose – almost damp dishcloth / sweaty socks… but some other flavours – earth, red fruit – appear. Palate has dark bery fruit, maybe loganberry, and an earthy tannic backbone – long and rich for SC, but very pleasurable.

BANDOL 2011 (La Bastide Blanche)       Rob
This is a classic Bandol with 70% Mourvedre; 20% Grenache and 10% Cinsault. It shows a big, pruney and slightly oily nose, with some spice. Palate shows the same things, with herbal hints and a slightly bitter twist too. Full long and enjoyable.

DOMAINE MAS BELLES EAUX PETIT VERDOT 2016               Mike
This comes from the Languedoc, near Pezenas, and shows a variety usual encountered in small – almost “seasoning” – quantities in the Medoc. This has a plum and sharper fruit (redcurrant?) nose with some herbal undertones. Palate is round, alcohol-warm, with a big Southern-Rhone profile, but a touch of non-fruit flavours and some length and suppleness….

At this point – “head preservation programme Σ2” kicked in and I took myself home – leaving the hard core to sample:

QUARTS-DE-CHAUME (Brochet),
courtesy of our hosts. Whilst a shame to miss such a wine – and be unable to offer a note – I’m sure the company enjoyed it (maybe they will contribute such a note?) but I was able to achieve some things the next day…

A great evening of wine and lovely food and … well ,,, more wine!! Thanks to Ann and John for their wonderful hospitality…

À Bientôt

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