WanderCurtis Wine

Wine tastings, corporate events, reviews and recommendations


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Vassaltis Winery, Vourvoulos Santorini

Vassaltis Vineyards

When my good friend Richard, founder of Wanderlust wines knew I was off to Santorini he insisted I go to Vassaltis. ‘Best wines on the Island’ he told me. Started by Yannis Valambous a former financier in London. It is Santorini’s newest winery, outside the village of Vourvoulus. The winery is sleek modern light and spacious with excellent views over his vineyards to the sea.The first wines from Vassaltis were released in 2015. We were lucky enough to meet their two highly talented winemakers, Elias Roussakis and Yiannis Papaeconomou.

Richard was bang on.

The wines are fabulous. The restaurant menu excellent too and the vibe atmosphere and service of the staff lived up to all expectations. Definitely a highlight of our vinous tour of Santorini

Tasting notes below courtesy of Kiran

Aidani 2020

Aged for up to 2 – 3 years

The label design is shape of a volcanic stone.

Nice floral nose.

Fresh with peachy and citrus notes some jasmine florality and medium body with high acidity but less than Assyrtiko A lovely aperitif style wine. 

Nassitis 2020

A blend of 3 whites Aidani, about 30% Assyrtiko and Athiri.

Lemon sorbet and wet stone on the nose.

More lemon zest, mineral and lovely salty tangy phenolic bitter finish.  A great food wine. 

Santorini 2020

100% Assyrtiko  a blend of grapes from different vineyards all over Santorini 24 eur. 

12 months on lees then bottled.

Immediate hit of dried herbs, rosemary thyme etc. then some lemon zest.  Then emerging hyacinth quite floral. 

Quite full bodied tannins felt on gums  high cripsp acid  nice long salty finish.

Gramina 2019

Gramina means field so this is a single vineyard wine from Vourvoulos the village nearby. 100% Assyrtiko grapes are handpicked early morning and the wine spends 12 months on lees and 12 months in bottle. 

On the nose an attractive petrolic whiff with an undertow of herbs and wet stones

Full bodied, smooth texture with dried green herbs, fresh acidity and a long lingering salty stony finish. Excellent. 

Santorini 2016

Darker richer in colour than the 2020.

A much more complex nose: petrol, honey, baked lemon, over ripe honey dew melon then salted almonds, really interesting. 

Lovely silky texture, very complex ripe with some sweetness and nuttiness the saltiness is still there but less aggressive softened out by the other flavours and age. A superb wine showing how well Assyrtiko can age. 

Santorini barrel aged. 2019

Smokey lemon and lime sorbet hint of petrol faint tarragon

Taught and almost austere structured wine herbs minerals and sea salt. Long. 

Santorini barrel aged 2017

On the nose smoke a bit of vanilla and over ripe mango AKA petrol.

The nuts honey, increasingly complex.

Lovely full body with a silky elastic texture, sweet notes, complex softening out the austerity found in the 2019 Gramina. Very long and persistent. Another fantastic wine.

Laterals would be an aged Riesling or a grand cru Chablis with a few years. In other words, premium wines of complexity and character. 

Open to debate but generally the non oaked versions seem to retain more of a unique assertyko character although the oaked versions are extraordinarily well made wines. 

Plethora 2018

The outstanding Plethora from Vassaltis- a truly remarkable wine

Late harvest Assyrtiko 6 months on lees then 8 months in old vinsanto barrels which are 60 years old then 2 years in bottle. A gap is left on top and sometimes flor grows. 

This closest to Nykteri approach that Vassaltis has.

Nose is reminiscent of a vinsanto, roasted nuts, smoke, hint of caramel, touch of balsamic. Very complex, a hint of Christmas.

Rich mouth feel, spices, orange peel and a characteristic sea salt and wet stone tang. Very very long. An outstanding wine, extraordinary.


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Santorini, Megalochori- Gavalas and Venetsanos Wineries

The passionate Vagelis Gavalas stands proudly with his father George

Gavalas winery

Gavalas was established in 1895 making it one of the oldest in the Cyclades. It is still family run with the fifth generation Vagelis taking on the realms. It is situated in the very beautiful hilltop village of Megalochori.
Our Toyota Aygo almost ended up wedged into a tiny narrow street.
We would recommend parking up and exploring the delights of Megalochori prior to tasting.
We were fortunate to be hosted by Vagelis Gavalas who if he’d had his way would have kept us there all day! They have a broad range of styles and have some lesser known varieties such as Katsano

Wines tasted with Vagelis Gavalas

Aidani 2019

In the past vineyards used to be mostly assyrtiko but other grape varieties mingled in including Aidani. So many wines labelled Assyrtiko were effectively field bends. However, although the PDO still allows a percentage of other varietals all the serious wine makers now select to bottle 100% assyrtiko wines.  At least as far as possible.

So as a result there is a fair amount of old vine Aidani and a 100% bottling appears on a number of wine makers lists.  Its not made for aging and is best at around 2-3 years

The winemaking includes a cold soak, fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and 3- 4 months on lees with batonage , typical for aromatic type grapes.

Indeed, the wine is more aromatic and less acidic  than assyrtiko.  There is an aroma of rolling tobacco and ripe honey dew melon.

It has medium body, medium acidity, flavours of stone fruit, mineral, citrusy with a bitter lemon pip finish. 

Vagelis Gavalas the wine maker explains that Aidani does have a bitter characteristic which the lees aging softens out. 

Katsano 2020

This wine is a blend of two rare local grape varieties Katsano 85% and Gaidoura 15%. Made in a similar way to the Aidani and at 12% alcohol a lighter wine.

A floral nose, hyacinth with a green tinge of dried herbs, potpourri quite delicate

Lighter body, higher acidity, floral, green and refreshing.  Similar profile to a gavi di gavi

Santorini 2020

100% assyrtiko in a distinctive blue bottle.

Blend of different parcels from across the island all vinified separately 

Classically austere in style. Lemon sorbet, a green florality, wet stone and citrus pith.

This is my type of wine, fresh and clean with crisp acidity. More lemon, lemon pith and with a phenolic, herbal tingling finish on upper gums. Great balance the freshness masks the 14% alcohol. Really lovely!

Santorini Natural Ferment. 2020 14%

Made from old vines of 50 plus years and with wild yeasts. Slightly riper grapes with a bit more residual sugar. Some of the harvest matured in old oak barrels then a proportion blended back in. 

A wine with a richer flavour and more texture from the longer lees aging.  Lime, lemon pith, wet stones, fresh green herbs. A lovely characteristic salty tang on the finish. Excellent!

Nykteri 202014.5%

This is a barrel aged Assyrtiko using the best late harvest grapes using first run juice from grapes treaded into the night. 

Vagelis explains that the old style Nykteri were heavy and oxidative wines made from the last batches of grapes, made in often partially filled barrels and intended for the wine makers own consumption.   But now better more controlled wine making techniques are used to prevent over oxidation.

A smoky, volcanic nose with a hint of vanilla.

Ripe stone fruit, mineral salty and intense, full bodied but nicely balanced. 

Enalia Santorini 2018

Even older vines at 120 years plus 18 months lees aging.

A pleasant whiff of petrol on the nose, more dried herbs.

A very intense palate, concentrated baked lemon, with a focused sweetness followed salty wet stones, goes on for ever wow!

Full body well balanced by high acidity which masks the alcohol level of 14.5%.

Vinsanto 2013

280 grams residual sugar.

Vinsanto is aging a minimum of 6 years, this one actually 7 years. 

A real Corker!

Figs and dates with a hint of crème caramel on the nose.

Luscious velvety mouth feel with more soft dried figs and medjoule dates with faint toffee notes. Obviously sweet but with great lift and balance. Surprisingly low alcohol at 11%.

This lasts and lasts. Complex and delicious!

We could easily have stayed all afternoon, such was the quality of the Gavalas wines and the passion of Vagelis but we were already an hour late for our booking at the highly recommended Metaxi Mas restaurant .

Venetsanos Winery

Venetsanos winery perched spectacularly on the edge of the Megalochori Caldera

Venetsanos is one of the oldest wineries in Santorini founded by George Venetsanos in 1947. The winery was excavated vertically inside the volcanic rock. They used gravity for the wine making process. The wine flowing down pipes more than 300m down, to be loaded in the ships in the port of Athinios. The wine was exported to France, Russia and Egypt.The tasting was held on on a rocky terrace with the stunning caldera below and overlooking the port
All wines are single vineyard with low production and high quality.


Santorini

Assyrtiko 100%,Crisp acid lemon grapefruit lingering bitterness and salinity

Nykteri

Vanilla whisky creamy texture Rich wine, Nykteri harvest at night, late harvest with oak ageing

Anagallis

Rose wine deep pink colour ferment with 2 white grapes and mandilaria red.

Delightful perfumed red fruit candied strawberry and red cherry nose

Hint of residual sugar. A crowd pleaser more American in style
Mandilaria

Red grapes not overly complex drying tannins all over mouth reminders of an Italian wine possibly Barbera

Vin Santo

Assyrtiko10 to 15 days drying grape, Luscious very sweet some oxidation nuttiness, fig, date, prune and vanilla

View from Venetsanos restaurant overlooking the port of Athinios


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Bodegas CVNE wine dinner January 27th 2022

Founded in 1879 Bodegas C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinicola del Norte de España) is still owned and run by the Real de Asua family.

There are four brands under C.V.N.E umbrella.

CVNE – (coonay) the flagship brand , made every year,classic Rioja made in the traditional style.

Imperial-rich, full-bodied Riojas, with the Reservas and Grand Reservas being some of the most long-lived in the region today. Excellent for aging and only made in the best years.First made in the 1920’s benchmark style of classic Rioja.

Vina Real- more fruit forward with a stronger new oak component more modern in style with a higher percentage of Garnacha made in a state of the art no expense spared winery outside Logrono

Contino- single vineyard brand established 1973 in Rioja Alavesa more fruit forward than Imperial or Vina real

This was a great way to welcome in 2022. We had a packed crowd of 34 wine lovers for this wine dinner hosted by Quentin Sadler. The wines were fabulous. Favourites were the deliciously textured delicately oaked Contino Blanco. The Rioja Reserva’s were fantastic with the Welsh lamb and the Contino Gran Reserva 2011 finished things off in style.

Aperitif
Roger Goulart Reserva Cava 2019

Starter
Smoked duck breast, Waldorf salad or
Prawn pappardelle “Pil Pil”
Contino Blanco 2019
Cune Organica Rioja 2019

Main
Slow cooked Welsh lamb shoulder, pearl barley & winter
vegetables or
Wild mushroom risotto, parmesan, truffle oil
Vina Real Reserva 2016
Imperial Reserva 2017

Dessert
Selection from The Cheese Plate
Contino Gran Reserva 2011 (Magnum)


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Maison Chapoutier Wine dinner at Frederick’s Restaurant Wednesday September 29th 7.30pm

There was no better way to celebrate our first wine dinner since the start of the Covid pandemic than with the inimitable wines of Michel Chapoutier.

Maison Chapoutier was founded in 1808 and Michel Chapoutier took charge in 1988, he became the seventh generation of his family to run the Domaine. All his vineyards are farmed biodynamically.

We were lucky enough to meet the eccentric and amiable Michel at a party in his Maison when we arrived in Tain Hermitage some years ago. His wines are extremely high quality.

They have vineyards in the best sites including Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, St Peray, Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

They also produce in other areas of France such as Roussillon and outside France including Australia Portugal and Germany

Guillaume Lafragette, Brand Manager of M.Chapoutier presenting excellent wines


The atmosphere in the Club room at Frederick’s marked the occasion.
A packed crowd on 34 wine lovers included new recruits including a cohort of wine enthusiasts, currently doing their WSET exams. We started with an introduction of Chapoutier.
Guillaume Lafragette Chapoutier brand manager was equally as excited to be back to live events as our attendees

The wines showed incredibly well. Stuart’s Tasting notes below-

Esteban, Domaine de la Combe Pilate, VDF, Sparkling, White

Made using methode ancestralle where there is only a single fermentation which is stopped while the wines are put in a capped bottle to finish without any added yeast or sugar (unlike methode champenoise/traditionelle).

Light bubbles, bready, with a faint apricot nose. Opened up as it warmed up to expose more Viognier character. 9% ABV, very drinkable, not overly complex.

M. Chapoutier Les Tanneurs, Saint-Péray, White

100% Marsanne made in stainless steel. Apples, citrus fruit, mineral nose. Body medium +, acidity med +, very good balance between the fruit and acidity, with a lingering saline and slightly bitter finish. Very elegant, long and worthy of its place.

M. Chapoutier Mathilde Duché d’Uzès Southern rhone blend

A fuller wine made from a blend of Viognier, Grenache blanc, Marsanne and Roussane, fermented and aged in stainless steel, from clay-limestone soils. Apricots and other ripe fruit, some white flowers (Viognier), balanced with the cut of acidity from the Marsanne and Roussane, creating a beautiful blend that somehow balanced all the different weights and flavours.

M. Chapoutier Sicamor, Crozes-Hermitage, Red

100% Syrah from Crozes Hermitage, made in concrete tanks. A very typical Syrah nose of leather, spices, pepper, and black fruit, with great balance. Showing some meaty notes as the wine opened up, with a penetrating fruit concentration, fine tannins and lovely overall balance. A very classic example of Crozes.

Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem Cotes de Roussillon

Blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan from Roussillon. A brute of a wine, dark in colour, exploding with garrigue and dried dark fruit, very herbaceous and spicy nose. On the palate, the wine overwhelms, with a bit of fiery bite, biting tannins as you get a sense of the individual parts of this wine as well as a good dollop of the 14.5% ABV. The wine is still quite primary, not quite knit, but based on experience, will evolve into a balanced beautiful expression of the terroir. Give it 5-7 yrs same to tame and settle.

M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut Banyuls

Made from 100% Grenache noir, fermentation stopped by the addition of alcohol to create this 17% sweet and elegant dessert wine. Chocolate powder notes with kirsch, liquer dipped cherries. Smooth and delicious with both the chocolate pot and surprisingly, the Stilton. From 500cl bottles

My favourites on the night were the St Peray 100% Marsanne for it smooth full body and texture. Stuart was more of a fan of the Clos d’uzes Mathilde and the fruit packed well balanced Sicamor Crozes Hermitage.

I was pining for mature cheese with the Banyuls rather than the chocolate dessert.
True to form my father delved into his travel bag and delivered a selection of mature cheeses including Michel Chapoutier personal favorite Blue Stilton.


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Blind Tasting, an exploration of Bordeaux Varietals. Can you tell Cabernet Sauvignon from Cabernet Franc or Merlot?

Stuart’s challenge this week was blind reds, Bordeaux varietals predominant, a blend but had to be >65% of one of the main current Bordeaux varietals – Cab Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, excluding Malbec, any age and from anywhere.

We would have to draw upon our favourite tome ‘Beyond Flavour’ by Nick Jackson MW and remind ourselves of some key distinguishing features of the varietals.

Cabernet Sauvignon has medium to high levels of fine grained tightly knit tannins, always felt on the gums not the tongue. (Hole in the middle of palate) The sleek tannin structure is linear with a strong sense of direction enhanced by good retention of acidity.

Merlot’s fine grained tannins are also felt on the gums but they are fruit wrapped and can sometimes feel a bit sticky/clayey.

They are so richly fruited that the tannins are often less obtrusive in Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon. Furthermore the feel of the tannins can lead to a more square sensation rather than the linearity of Cabernet Sauvignon. Also there is no hole in the mid palate as Merlot has such rich ripe fruit concentration. As opposed to Cabernet Sauvignon it can quickly lose its acidity and require acidification.

Cabernet Francs grainy stalky moderate tannins are also felt on the gums. It preserves its acidity well and has savoury red fruits and obvious pyrazines with a strong herbaceous streak.

Carmenere is described as green on green

Malbec has intense colourmay display high ‘lockjaw tannins’ especially at the angle of the jaw, with sweet fruit ending dry.

Petit Verdot is  often perfumed with floral violet notes

The natural woody cedar flavours of the Bordeaux varietals enable them to blend so well with oak maturation also allowing gentle oxidation.

We had initially explored this theme a few months ago (including Malbec) tasting notes  below.

Blind tasting Bordeaux varietals January 2021

Kiran’s wine

Musty, leather, earthy, cedar, perfume, boot polish, menthol.

Complex nose, very fine resolved tannins, powdery, not at angle of jaw, sweetness, black fruit medium + acid Med + Savoury persistent drying tannins. Delicious complex savoury balanced wine

We thought 15 to 20 years old as mainly tertiary notes no particular pyrazines and suggested a Malbec.

2006 Jean-Luc Baldes Clos Triguedina ‘Probus’, Cahors, France 100% Malbec

Adam’s wine

Green pepper, herbs, black currant leaf.

Herbaceous green pointing to S America for Stu re green and herbaceous

Stu getting lockjaw tannins

Marked acidity with our mouth’s still watering.

The greenness and acidity pointed us to Cabernet Franc, though not particularly red fruited.

Cabernet  Franc Valdivieso 2015 chile

Stuart’s

Bell pepper, pyrazines, floral hint of volatile acidity, dried lilies, red fruits  some cassis, woody cedar and savoury.

Lovely balance and  length with complexity resolved tannins horseshoe profile

We felt this must be old world.

Grand Puy Lacoste 2000

75% Cabernet Sauvignon 20% Merlot 5% Petit Verdot

Blind tasting Bordeaux varietals April 19th 2021

Kiran’s wine

Medium to deep garnet clearly showing some age, on the nose  Kiran detected baked plums and milk chocolate , Stu – Spices plum compote possible strawberry.

Adam got more spiced wood  cedar also an oxidative nose, finishes a little Savoury/salty no pyrazine of note

On the palate soft resolved tannins very fine powdery dusty gum tannins mainly, medium plus acidity.

We were pretty certain this was a Merlot dominant right bank Bordeaux of probably premier cru level St Emillion of about 15 to 20 years old

2007 Sophia Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay New Zealand

Merlot dominated Cabernet Franc Petit Verdot blend

This surprised us, though Hawkes Bay is pretty much as close as you can get for this style in the New world and I’m sure Steve Smith MW who we’ve done many tastings with will be delighted to know the outcome of our blind tasting thoughts.

I visited Craggy Range last year and saw the dedicated winery built just for Sophia.

Stu’s wine

Initially charred smoky charcoals cloves spices herbaceous

Smooth soft ripe tannins sweetness.

Full lush perfumed nose, black pepper, incense, sandalwood, young cedar sap from tree

Juicy fruity  slightly sticky feel in the mouth

Kiran gets green pepper pyrazine no one mentioned fruit.

Fresh pour some green pepper stalky

Lavished with oak

Delicious aromatic

Reminds me of Pomerol for no more a reason than I really loved it, an Emotional memory of previous Pomerols often shared with Stuart

Château Feytit clinet 2005 Pomerol

(95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc)

Adams wine

Sweet fruit, strawberry plum fruit forward blackberry

Spiciness, Smoky cloves barrel

Stu got Jammy baked fruit

Stu sure dried fruit warm climate and found raisins

Tannin on the gums drying medium plus acidity

Guidealberto Tenuta San Guido IGT 2015

Cabernet Sauvignon dominated cab Merlot blend from the famous Sassicaia winery in Bolgheri.

Learning points

Focusing on tannins is invaluable. Merlots certainly felt sweeter fruit wrapped and sticker

New Zealand and other New world regions with age can very closely resemble the old world. If in doubt lack of any pyrazines(herbaceous bell pepper blackcurrant leaf cassis notes) unlikely to be Bordeaux

Pyrazines are more often found with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc less so with Merlot which has lusher fruitier spectrum with softer tannins and no hole in the palate


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Chianti and Confit

Kiran’s choice this week, and it was to be our first non blind tasting for over a year. Kiran was seeking an exploration of Chianti, one of his blind spots. After listening to the excellent Guild of Sommeliers podcast on Sangiovese it further inspired this weeks theme.

A trio of Chianti wines

It was a little disconcerting arriving with uncovered bottles but it had its own merits and still presented us with many learning points.

Of course we had pre read the indispensable ‘Beyond flavour’ by Nick Jackson MW which primed us into what structure to expect. However there were some revelations in store.

 

Kiran’s wine

Monte Bernardi Sa’etta Chianti Classico riserva 2016

100% Sangiovese single vineyard oak 24 months bottle 1 year

Appearance– Medium ruby

Nose– tart cherry thyme tobacco spice savoury profile

Taste-Very drying gum tannins fine sand or chalky. Clearly felt in the gums medium + and med + acidity

Med acid very dry dusty no real sweetness

Savoury salty flavour profile cherry strawberry

No tertiary aromas

This felt like a typical Chianti and was crying out for a tomato pasta dish

Adam’s wine

Brolio Barone Ricasoli 2013 Chianti Classico Riserva

Very different nose clearly pyrazine blackcurrant, blackcurrant leaf

Herbaceous, chocolate vanilla yoghurt smoother ? Oak influence

Smooth sweeter softer tannins mainly gums

If Tasted blind we all said we would have thought this was a Cabernet based wine. Tannic quality a little different but on the nose clear pyrazine.

Sangiovese 80% Merlot 15% Cabernet Sauvignon 5% aged in barrique and tonneaux for 16 months

Learning points

Small amounts of other varietals can make a profound difference

Chianti Classico wines can vary enormously

Stuart’s wine.

Il Carbonaione 2016 Podere Poggii Scalette

Sangiovese 100% IGT from older vines planted in 1928 from the rare Sangiovese di lamole clone

Red fruits dried and jammy some dark fruit cinnamon stick Vanilla tobacco Tinned cola

Mouth more powerful wine

Notable oak vanilla

Gummy distribution tannins finish savoury

This was a more robust expression of Sangiovese again showing the great diversity of Chianti. In some ways this provides greater interest in other you don’t know quite what to expect.

As with all Italian wines food is needed, fortunately, Kiran hade made a delectable Confit duck and red cabbage


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Improve your blind wine tasting skills.

WanderCurtis Wine, Tasting Tips: Improve your blind wine tasting skills.

 

Celebrating the first tasting in person after 3 months of Zoom tastings!

 

These last few months of forced isolation have provided the perfect opportunity to hone our blind wine tasting skills while enjoying a brief weekly escape from the tedium of lockdown..

Kiran, Stuart and I have taken turns to drop off decanted blind samples of wine to our doorsteps (carefully sanitising the bottles and minimising any contact, of course) then analysing them via Zoom with each other. More recently we have been doing this outdoors in each other’s gardens – all with minimal hints and desire to fool the others using various techniques such as decanting into the completely wrong bottle and glass shapes for the type of wines being tasted!

We want to share our notes with you as well as some of our learnings about how to find the ‘tells’ for some of the wines that gave us trouble.

 

After all, wines with friends is always better than wine alone!

 

The wine notes and learning points are detailed below:

 

Tasting 1 – April 26th 2020  – First Zoom tasting

 

Adam’s – deep ruby red, fruit forward, mainly black and blue fruits, compact a bit tight at this moment, nice touch of oak. Opinion was a new world wine probably Cabernet, still tight so age given as quite young 5-10 years.

Torres Mas La Plana 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon – an early killer blow dealt given that this was a wine at one of our tastings. Challenge set.

 

Stuart’s -Burnt smoke, spice, black fruits, complex, thoughts were Syrah given fruit profile and spice, we narrowed down to old world and Rhone Syrah. Age was thought to be very young, around 5 – 8 years.

Cote Rotie Guigal d’Ampuis 2010 Rhône – A good piece of deduction by the boys

 

Kiran’s – tertiary notes definitely old vegetal, compost, urine, pale colour. Could not distinguish varietal as too old all tertiary, but smelled of an aged Bordeaux. We were very close on age and left bank Bordeaux blend (Stuart said 1995)

Chateau Langoa Barton 1996 – pretty much nailed this one

 

Learning points

 

Don’t forget all the places around the world producing quality Cabernet Sauvignon. Italy, France (Bordeaux of course), Chile, California, South Africa not to mention Australia! Spain had us fooled despite having conducted one of our wine dinner tastings at Frederics with this wine!

See the excellent Wine Folly website for more details

 

Tasting 2 – May 3rd 2020 – Zoom

 

Adam’s – lemon citric petrolic nice mouthfeel length, but not oily! Kiran and Stuart believed this to be Semillon based, new world, and fairly old like 10 years.

 2012 ‘Margaret’ Peter  Lehman Sémillon Barossa – spot on with the detective work

 

 

 

Kiran’s – delicious, red fruits perfume, wild strawberry, earth, floral, violets, mixed spice

We thought classic NZ Pinot and likely Central Otago given perfumed red fruit in abundance and quality. Stuart and I both though of C Otago Pinot Noir, and thought Felton Road Bannockburn, about 6-8 years old.

2010 Mt Difficultly, Bannockburn Pinot Noir , central Otago. This was at a great drinking age and showed how well NZ Pinot’s can be a decade on, unfortunately Kiran’s last bottle!

 

Stuart’s – complex, herbal, cinnamon, spice, savoury, blood meat, good acidity and  tannins, thought Italy because of structure. Kiran and I had a lengthy discussion about whether it was Nebbiolo or Sangiovese, and then correctly landed on Sangiovese, a younger wine, like 5-8 years old.

Brunello di Montalcino 2010 Argiano – a tough one but we landed on our feet

 

Learning points

 

Ageing potential of New World wines is often underappreciated.

If stuck between Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, think about the tannins. The merciless tannins in Nebbiolo will be the tell.

 

Tasting 3 – Sunday May 10th 2020 –  Zoom

 

Stuart’s – White, lots of colour, golden, oxidative hazelnut texture ++ full body Med  acid more like a red re:body, lees, wood, drying tannin slight salty savoury after taste whisky. Stu says floral orange blossom. Guess was Rhone varietals and a blend.

St Joseph Blanc 2015 Vins de Vienne Roussane/ Marsanne – excellent work!

 

Kiran’s –  red. full of raspberry’s very ripe, blueberry with medium drying tannins and med + acid. Reminded of Italy savoury blood meat kept thinking of beef Florentine? Possibly Barolo or Brunello but not coal tar roses and not mixed spices of Brunello, not harsh enough tannins

Key was blood savoury after taste liquorice. Then we thought possibly Brunello.

It was actually a GSMC mix, which fits G red fruits ++ M savoury blood salty, liquorice spice great wine and in retrospect there wasn’t enough acid and tannins for Barolo/ Italy and red fruits much too overt, almost new world,

Coudolet de Beaucastel 2009 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 20% Syrah, 20% Cinsault – what a delicious wine, we were all very animated about how enjoyable this was

 

Adam’s cocoa, coffee, chocolate, wood ++ , Kiran cola, black fruit, floral, Stuart Balsamic vanilla coconut wood, delicious drinking beautifully.

Stu got Rioja but I asked him what else it could be and diverted him to GSM mix. Correctly guess Rioja, and approximate age (10-15 years, possibly 09)

Contino réserva 2007  – missed out on which maker despite having tried it on numerous occasions so a little disappointed

 

Learning points

 

Italy and Spain laterals of Sangiovese v Nebbiolo

GSM blends can be like Chianti/Tuscan but Italians are more acidic and tannins a bit harsher.

Noted that Coudolet de Beaucastel is an EXCELLENT wine, and I (Adam) went on to buy a case of 2016 which is delicious, moreish and nearly gone already!

 

 

 

Tasting 4 – Sunday May 17th  – Zoom

 

Adam’s – Blackberry pepper Med + acid, drying tannins a little austere poor year tasted more old world thought GSM Rhone blend. The wine had that garrigue character, and a lightness with good acidity so thought potentially a higher altitude wine but Stu and Kiran dismissed Malbec

Zuccardi Mountain vineyards Uco valley, Argentina,2014 Malbec  – fooled by this one

 

Kiran’s – med acid ++ pickled lemon, floral, Stu apricots, flowers. long (no petrol). Very full body, a more heavyweight wine. Stu and I got aromatic varietal, were torn between Gruner, Riesling and possibly Albarino.

Riesling FX pichler 2013 smaragd Austria –  a beautiful fuller bodied style of Gruner

 

Stu’s –   Wow wish I hadn’t dropped my bottle on the pavement!

Big nose+++ polished wood, floral, pot pourri, tar, liquorice, in the finish sandalwood caramel acid ++ tannin++ drying

Awesome wine very complex nose and well-balanced palate – thought aged Barolo, around 15 years old.

Azelia 2001 Barolo Bricco Fiasco – this was in such a beauty

 

Learning points – Laterals to GSM think Malbec as red plum and black fruits similar structure, medium tannins and med low acidity. Malbec, weak spots need better strategies to identify it, and most definitely drink more high-altitude Malbec!

 

Showed just how great Barolo ages over many decades. Other great vintages include 1999 2001 2004 2006 2010

 

Tasting 5 – May 24th – Zoom

 

Adam’s – lots of fruit, leather. Medicinal, cough linctus, menthol eucalyptus liquorice. Kiran and Stu both got Shiraz, Stu thought it was Shiraz Cab blend, about 15-20 years old.

Henshke  Keyneton Euphonium 2001 Shiraz-based blend. Such a pleasure to drink!

 

Kiran’s – Honey poss. Botrytis, ginger. Old feel, me honey and hay, phenolic feel slight bitterness on the finish and some tannins – surprising.

Med + acid not high, Stu bruised apple thought possibly aged Chablis, too honeyed, about 10 yrs old.

Domain Huet Chenin Blanc 2012 – this one got us, although we both thought about Chenin at some point

 

Stu’s – pot pourri ++ light colour ? Pinot soft powdery tannins salty savoury aftertaste

Kiran wood ++, nutmeg clove spices, balsamic character. Final thoughts – Kiran – very clearly Rioja

Rioja Alta 890 Gran Reserva 2001 (95%Tempranillo) – experience counts!

 

Learning points – Remember laterals for very old wines, age brings soft elegance colour fades like old Rioja resembling a Pinot.

Australian wines 20+ years old can age beautifully

If find botrytis in white wine think Chenin, Gruner

Must drink more Chenin!

 

 

 

Tasting 6 – Adam’s Garden

 

Kiran’s – Initially Gewürztraminer nose terpenes floral ripe stone fruits

Glycerol thick oily lovely mouthfeel medium + acid

Not floral enough for Gewürztraminer no bitter finish acid a bit higher thought viognier poss Gruner did not get white pepper

Stu found mineral seashell herbaceous wood. Didn’t get this one.

Emmerich Knoll smaragd 2010 Reid Shutt Gruner Veltliner known as a floral site, fantastic wine ++

 

Adam’s – Tarry medicinal spirity initially closed. Later floral cherry in alcohol

Stu complex Coca Cola violets flowers

Kiran complexity spirity spices development ? Uccelleria Brunello 2010

Barbaresco Produttori di Barbaresco Riballa 2007  – absolutely lovely and changed a lot as evening went on tannin++

 

Stu’s – Adam initially Pinot old excellent quality turmeric nutmeg cinnamon spices tea dried flowers pot pourri not much fruit, compost+ manure earth tertiary

Tannin+ drying and acid high

Thought could not be Pinot re tannins ? Chianti? Age about 10-15 years.

1999 Comte Armand Pommard 1er Cru “Clos des Epeneaux” known for tannin profile. Missed this wine which was in a fantastic place

 

Learning points.

High quality Burgundy from certain sites can have firm very present tannins also wood age adding to tannins, so don’t rule out Pommard when you get these characteristics

 

Tasting 7 – Zoom

 

Stu’sClassic toast smoky buttery Malo nose, Chardonnay, honeysuckle, caramel, lemon tart, lovely good acidity but not cleansing or laser like sharp linear (Burgundy)

Both thought Chardonnay

Kiran – Kumeu River? me on reflection NZ too, slightly richer than Burgundy but very close. Landed quite firmly on NZ Chard

Vidal Legacy Hawkes Bay New Zealand 2014 – – great score for Kiran and me!

 

Kiran’sVery pale brick red, nose dried roses hint of tar liquorice some herbs tannins medium soft sl drying Med + acid

Thought Nebbiolo re nose and colour, quite perfumed.

 Sesti Rosso di Montalcino 2013  – In retrospect tannins too soft for Nebbiolo

 

Adam’s Very fruit forward blackberry possible cassis

Eucalyptus medicinal herbs Stu and Kiran thinking Aussie Cab/ Shiraz re fruit.

Stu didn’t like tannins slightly bitter and poss out of balance with alcohol

Revealed that it was French

Corbières Serres de Mazard 2017 50% Syrah, 25% Carignan, 20% Grenache, 5% Mourvèdre.

 

(After notes probably some carbonic maceration as fruit a little confected/esters) Decanter outstanding in April 2020 edition

 

 

Learning Points

Which region In France produces such fat ripe fruit forward wines akin to New world? Languedoc

New world vs. warm climate Languedoc wines – look for old world techniques like carbonic as a possible differentiator

Tasting 8 –  Stu’s garden

 

Kiran’sInitially smokey toast oak vanilla aftertaste caramel some lemon rind but predominant 2y Oak

Nice texture and balance Med +acid alcohol texture

Oak predominated

Stu and I both thought Bordeaux semillon sav blend, lacked florality and prettiness of Sauvignon mix. Fruit was missing on this wine.

Château Bouscaut Semillon Sav Graves Pessac Leognan 2012 – the oak and pyrazines were the giveaway on this one

 

Adam’sKiran and Stu instantly said Rioja

Balsamic coconut American oak chocolate bounty bar spice turmeric clove cinnamon nutmeg red fruits. Plush anything you want it to be open and giving

Thought réserva Rioja about 10 years old

Protos Gran Réserva Ribera Del Duero 2004

 

Stu’sAlcoholic. Double tiers of legs! Full body

Closed, struggled to get much

Smokiness perhaps red fruit

Acid medium

Tannins medium/ low

Hard to gauge soft tannins Med acid high alcohol bit of spice red fruits ? Hint carbonic/ esterification. Thought southern Rhône blend Grenache predominant

2013 Chapoutier Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem Grenache Syrah Carignan

 

Tasting 9 – Adams garden

 

Kiran’sTerpenes variety, white flowers peach aromatic nose

Same palate, acid medium to med + not searing acidity

Something petrolic on nose implies age thought poss Riesling but detected some texture from lees or oak not done in Riesling

Difficult one to nail aromatic variety warmer climate possibly Riesling,Gruner, Albariño ,Viognier, Stu thought maybe pepper

Blank Canvas Gruner Veltliner 2013 New Zealand  – this one fooled us and had some new French oak to make it even harder. The next day Kiran’s NZ Gruner even better, really textured with botrytis honey petrol smoke mandarin smaragd like but I still don’t find white pepper!

 

Stu’s – initially nose of glue dope ? VA heady potent

Once that blew off violets blackberry black plum cocoa chocolate baking spices 5 spice wood tannins Med + soft acid medium, high alcohol body high

Thought 14.5% Adam getting a bit drunk

Probably Rioja possibilities Brunello but not acidic or red fruit enough new world Syrah too much oak not obvious black pepper or burnt rubber smoke

 Alion 2003 Ribera del Duero  – A big glamourpuss of a wine, drinking beautifully. Shame that was the last bottle…

 

Adam’s – All tertiary old, mushrooms earth leather

Stu clearly bell pepper and cedar

Thought 20 yr old + left bank initially then to Right bank

Fruit dropped away

1998 Pomerol Chateau Taffellier  –  a wine Stu gave me a few years ago

 

Bonus wine – Kiran

Prunes raisins alcohol full sweet residual sugar almost a port

Adam reminder of trip to Puglia, thought Primitivo

Other possibilities Amarone or Ripasso bit too raisinated and sweetness

San Marzano 62nd Anniversary Primitivo di Manduria

 

Tasting 10 – Kiran’s house

 

Adam’s – First Rosé of the tasting events

Kiran instantly reminds me of strawberries and cream like a Pinot based champagne

Stu red fruits smells like Pinot acidity not that high

Adam smoke toast oak aged sl some red fruit nice texture and mouthfeel

Other possibilities Grenache Shiraz Carignan Cinsault

Became more complex Floral herbaceous

Sylvain Pataille le fleur de pinot 2016 Rose from Pinot oak aged. We tasted this in Sylvain’s cellar last summer and yet we missed it. Shows how hard blind tasting can be.

 

Kiran’s – Huge whiff of cassis pure black fruits later cedar chocolate some hints of pyrazine picked up by Stu ripe, explained as yellow pepper by K

Adam definitely Cabernet based wine very ripe either excellent year Bordeaux or new world toying on Sophia Craggy Range. Stu def Bordeaux, but A not really getting the classic Bordeaux green pepper herbaceous pyrazine notes

Adam, could not put it down for 30 mins and needed top ups. If not New world then is it favourite BDX red. Pontet Canet?

 Chateau Pontet-Canet Pauillac 2005 – Good shout here!

Stu’s –  Freaky wine very dark colour

Initially blood meat savoury

Then coffee ++ chocolate

Than some red fruit floral

Kept changing on us

Hardest wine yet like a schizophrenic high risk patient, constantly changing character

Dark colour black fruit. Obviously barrel aged possibly Syrah Rhône blend but admittedly no confidence with this

Galatrona Petrolo  Merlot 100% Tuscany – made in the style of the great Pomerols like Le Pin and Petrus, 100% Merlot. A crazy wine.

 

Learning points

Don’t forget Merlot, it can make the most sensuous and serious wines ! Merlot is also still the most planted grape variety in France with a lot planted in Italy and many other countries below:

  • France (~280,000+ acres) Bordeaux, Languedoc-Roussillon
  • Italy (~93,000+ acres) Toscana, Campania
  • United States (~55,000+ acres) California, Washington
  • Australia (~39,000 acres) South Australia
  • Chile (~25,000 acres) | Argentina (~13,000 acres

Remember more red fruits, raspberry, plum, black cherry and others Mocha ( strong coffee/chocolate in this wine not necessarily wood but from the grape variety) vanilla clove tobacco graphite cedar

Tasting 11 – Stu’s house

Adam’s –  wine white, oak toast, smoke, coconut, vanilla, also ripe stone fruit peach
Nice balance oak alcohol body a bit oak dominated.
Stuart instantly California Chardonnay
Au Bon Climat Los Alamos Santa Barbara 2018

Kiran’s – Nose cheap red, Stuart instantly disliked.
Adam confected pear drop ? Carbonic esterified red and blue fruits some smoke
One dimensional initially then – violets smoke more tannins changed over time
Thought GSM Rhône re low tannins red fruit Med acid

Zaha Toko Vineyard Malbec 2016 Paraje AlteMira Mendoza – fooled yet again by Malbec!

Stu’s – Bretty nose horses leather band aid all tertiary
Can’t find fruit –  Brett/spoiled?
Not much came through poss. green pepper capsicum poss cassis but mainly tertiary thought old BDX
Château Feytit Clinet 2012 – bottle was clearly not in good condition or the wine was just in a dumb funk

Then tried the 2005 Feytit Clinet over cheese and ManuU v. Southampton

This was more Pomerol-like – Liquorice possibly plums coffee chocolate plum soft round tannins

Learning Points – Don’t forget Malbec if getting a GSM (red fruit, med/low acid medium tannin profile)

Other Blind wine tasting thoughts:

  • White wines low acid – Gewurztraminer, Marsanne, Viognier
  • Whites with phenolic bitterness – Gruner Veltliner, Albarino, Pinot gris
  • Oak aged whites Chardonnay -Sauv/Semillon Bordeaux, Marsanne, Viognier Rhone, Rioja Viura
  • Whites with botyritis (ginger, honey bitterness glue) uneven ripening – Chenin Blanc, Gruner Veltliner
  • Aromatic whites – Gewurz, Torrontes, Muscat, Viognier
  • Minerality – Chablis (?phenols,acidity,sulphur compounds) – Chardonnay is a master transmitter of terroir

 


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New Zealand Wine Tour January 2020 – Part 1 Auckland Region – Kumeu

 

A Seat at the Table?

This is the title of the excellent, recently released film poses the question –  Has New Zealand earned a seat at the table  as a maker of the worlds best wines?

I think so, but I am biased. I’ve loved everything about New Zealand since I worked as a Junior Doctor here, at the Wairau Hospital in Marlborough a quarter of a century ago. It was then a fledgling region with most of the land in the Wairau and Awatere valley bare and full of sheep. How I wish I’d bought a few acres! A lot has changed since then with New Zealand showing itself as a world class producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay not just a mass producer of its most widely planted grape Sauvignon Blanc.

I had decided to take a sabbatical from work and what better place to be than in  New Zealand for Summer. My tour will span major regions in North Island, starting in Auckland, then to Northland, Hawkes Bay and ending up in Waiheke Island. I plan to review my favourite wines and give an up to date picture of the latest trends in the New Zealand wine industry.

Kumeu River Wines

 

The quality of Kumeu River Chardonnay is well know and I’ve been buying it for years from the wine society. The blind tasting in 2015  arranged by Stephen Browett of Farr Vintners in London confirmed their excellence when they scored higher than famed Burgundies.
This was one of the visits I was most looking forward to in New Zealand. The estate is close to Auckland city which is causing problems.
Paul Brajkovich our host for the afternoon explained that many local vineyards which used to supply fruit have been sold for property development from the encroaching city.
He talked us through the family history and how his grandfather escaping conscription into the army (Croatia was part of the Austro Hungarian empire) arrived in New Zealand in the early 1900s and starting planting grapes on this site.
We were lucky enough to be joined at the tasting by Paul’s brother Michael Brajkovich MW,New Zealand’s first Master of Wine and briefly met Melba the late Matés wife.
We tried the whole range of 2018 wines and a few treats to follow.
I was too busy speaking to Paul and Michael to make  tasting notes on all the wines. They were all of excellent quality, as Suzi demonstrated, they were too good to spit!
Kumeu River Estate Pinot Gris 2018
I really liked the texture here lovely textured mouthfeel with aromatics, florality and stone fruit.
Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2018
Well balanced citrus, stone fruit silky texture, consistently good and very good value
Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2018
More complexity with hint of florality citrus and stone fruit lovely texture and length too
 
Kumeu Village Pinot Noir 2019
This is the first vintage from Rays Road Hawkes Bay fruit
Lovely bright red cherry aromas red fruit on the palate nicely balanced
A very good value Pinot
Kumeu River Hunting Hill Pinot noir 2017
Classic Pinot nose with earth and gaminess but still some red fruits good length and mouthfeel
 
Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2103
This showed ageing potential of these wines after 7 years still plenty of citrus and freshness with added complexity and hazelnuts
The attention to detail and low intervention with techniques such as  hand harvesting, whole bunch pressing, barrel fermentation use of wild yeast, gentle racking and oak ageing really shines through and there is no doubt these wines are every bit as good as top Burgundy.


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Valpolicella, Veneto, North East Italy October 2019

Valpolicella, Veneto, North East Italy October 2019

 Being a fan of full bodied, fruit driven and bold wines, I have always wanted to visit the Valpolicella region of Italy, to witness the appassimento process. This involves drying of the grapes on wooden racks (fruttaio) for the production of Amarone. This area is easily accessible. Only 15 minutes drive from Verona airport. It is also only a short distance East of Lake Garda. Bardolino and Soave are nearby leading to a cornucopia of wine styles in this area. A range of wines are produced in Valpolicella, from the light, fresh, easy drinking red fruity Valpolicella through to the monolithic rich Amarone. Somewhere in between are the wines of Valpolicella Classico and Ripasso wines which are refermented on the lees of grapes used in Amarone production. Reccioto is the sweet version of Amarone.More recently Valpolicella Superiore has emerged. This is made from grapes harvested later(sovramaturazione) or partially dried to produce a wine of greater colour body and alcohol. Valpolicella contains two sun-zones : Classico and Valpantena.

 

We chose to stay in the heart of the hilly vineyards in Sant Ambrogio di Valpolicella. Corte Formigar in Graganago is an 18th century house, tastefully restored and run by the incredible Jessica who could not be more helpful. I highly recommend basing yourself here in the heart of the region. Access to their selection of bikes including electric allow you to gain altitude via the many roads through the vineyards and appreciate the magnificent views and explore the area.

The first night we walked to the local Trattoria dai Fasolini to sample some typical cuisine of the area. Horse is typical of the Veneto region but perhaps not appreciated by British palates. However the home made tagliatelle with black  truffle and parmesan hit the spot. This  matched well with Recchia Le Muraie Valpolicella Classico 2015 made using the ripasso process with Recciotto lees.

 Cantina di Negrar, October 12th

 

 Cantina di Negrar is a well known cooperative winery on the outskirts of Negrar. They have 230 members providing grapes from the Valpolicella region and produce  8 million bottles.This is the birthplace of Amarone. In 1936, by accident a reccioto wine was left to ferment to dryness. The president at the time Gaetano dall’ora quite enjoyed it, called it the bitter one and named  it Amarone (Amaro – bitter in Italian)It was interesting to witness the arrival of a tractor full of grapes being tested for sugar levels and quality by a rather crude machine. A large cylinder of metal with an internal drill was inserted into the grapes, it  macerates a sample of them and analyses the content for sugar levels. If not of sufficient levels the grapes will be rejected.

We had our wine tasting with Sara Albertini who is hugely knowledgeable, having just spent a year in Bordeaux and mid her masters in wine business

 Domini Veneti la Casseta Ripasso Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2016  30 th Anniversary

14 months oak casks Recciotto skins, from grapes grown on Clay soil, Unfortunately this was somewhat reduced sulphurous smoky

Domini Veneti 2016 Valpolicella Superiore Verjago 15.5% 40 days of appassimento

Rich blueberry and violet Soft but silky tannins coffee chocolate cocoa dark cherry bit of raisin smells sweet ripe meaty savoury spicy

 Domini Veneti Amarone 2015

15.5%, Best vintage for many years Described by our host… as like dark chocolate cherry 🍒 liquors. garnet intense nose legs ++ coffee cocoa dust powder raisins spice black pepper

 Domini Veneti Recioto 2016

Sweet cherry not complex recioto

 We had dinner in St Giorgio di Valpolicella high up in the hills overlooking lake Garda at Trattoria Dalla Rosa Alda.

This is a cosy family run restaurant with the mother, father, uncle and  2 sons all working together. The wine choice  was from Zyme, the owner is married to the daughter of the famous Giuseppe Quintarelli.

 

Corte Fornaledo Winery Azienda Agricola Borghetti di Giacomo e Francesco – Sunday October 13th

 The land here is documented in books dating back to 908 AD. The current family have been in residence from 1800 and own 5 hectares in Marano di Valpolicella 450m above sea level, making only 15,000 bottles most of which is sold to private buyers.

 Wines tasted with c0-owner Giacomo Borghetti –

Corte Fornaledo Valpolicella Classico superiore 2014

Fresh red cherry 40% corvina 40%corvinone molinara 5% rondinella 15%

 Corte Fornaledo  Valpolicella ripasso Classico superiore 2015 DOC

14.5% fresh red cherry richer good acidity length all aged in 500l tonneaux

 Corte Fornaledo , Vitae IGT Rosso Verona 2013

2 months aged grapes, aged in Chilean oak barrels IGT all Volcanic soils

mineral savoury spicy oxidation

 Corte Fornaledo , Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2015

3 months drying 3. 5 yrs barrels and then 1 year bottles

Raisins fig full sweet chocolate alcohol!

 Corte Fornaledo Amarone Della Valpolicella Riserva  2009

8 years in barrels one in bottle  oak vanilla chocolate coffee 1000 L Slavonian oak

 Corte Fornaledo, Recioto della Valpolicella 2015

made first by Romans 2000 years ago

Sweet cherry chew 10 g/l

 


 

 

 

Val Polis Cellae wine and food and art festival – Sunday Oct 13th

Azienda Agricola Novaia Cantina Biologica This organic estate high up in the Marano valley was our first stop on the Val Polis Cellae tour. This day long, art, wine and gastronomy festival enables entry to 15 wineries in the area.

Then on to Le Marognole ( names after local stone walls) 6 hectares boutique winery

The harvest had just ended and we were greeted to the smell of fermenting must making the roses Their Amarone 2015 was one of my favourites of the tour tasting of cedar, prunes dates and dried fruits with a power and finesse

 

Dinner in the evening lived up to previous Trips to Italy –

 Osteria Numero Uno is a beautiful authentic Osteria in the village of Fumane

 

Antipasti 

insalata di gallina in saor

Insalata di rape Rossi, mêle, Ruccola gorgonzola anacardi 

Primi

Fettuccine al ragu d’anatra

Tortellini radicchio rosso, burro al miele e scamorza affumigata 

Secondi 

Guancia di Manzo All Amarone con polenta

Scottata di tonno du cavalo nero 

Dessert 

Torta die mêle e fichi secci

 

All washed down with recioto from the local winery and a harsh cleanse of Grappa. This delicious feast was a fitting end to our trip to the Valpolicella area. Italy cannot be beaten for wine and gastronomy.Before even departing Verona, my brother and father already booked our trip to Sicily next year!


Our wine style of choice was the Ripasso’s. The basic Valpolicella was too light and simple for our taste, Amarone at the other end of the spectrum is often too big powerful and alcoholic. The Ripasso is a welcome half way house adding a much-needed richness but not to the level of Amarone. The pricing of Ripasso wines also adds to their attraction.

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Rediscovering Burgundy, June 20th to 23rd 2019

A lot of pre-planning goes into our wine trips. The final decision is the result of many discussions about the pros and cons of each region.
We try to somehow pull ourselves away from the obvious joys of Italy, only because we’d  never venture elsewhere!
Maybe Spain? Spanish wines these days are so varied, well made, good value and the weather in Spain more predictable.
Or should we cycle by the Danube in the Wachau, immersing ourselves in crisp fresh Gruner Veltliner?
The decision was Burgundy. We had been before, a decade ago and when we first started  Wandercurtis.
We wanted to experience again the long winding, gently undulating cycle route through the Cote de Nuits to the North and the Cote de Beaune to the South.
The wines here magically take on their sense of place with a history of wine making dating back thousands of years to Roman times.The craziness of the division of the land is arresting. More than 30 owners can share a few acres of earth often Grand Cru site only  possessing a few rows of vines.
The prices reflect this, and the demand in the market for Burgundy has rocketed making many of the wines oppressively expensive.

We made some great discoveries:

  • A champion of Aligoté in Marsannay,
  • Back vintages from the 1800’s at Chateau de Beaune including a Romanée st vivant 1865.
  • The cathedral like modern state of the art winery at Louis Jadot.
  • We revisited old friends at Olivier Leflaive and indulged again in the voluminous wine list at Ma Cuisine.

The Magnificent Chateau de Beaune

The Magnificent Chateau de Beaune

 

Tasting at Chateau de Beaune, Domaine Bouchard Père et Fils June 21st 2019

Founded in 1731 by Michel Bouchard, located in the magnificent Chateau de Beaune since 1820.

Philippe Prost, part of the furniture here, took us on a grand  tour of their huge  cellars, under the 15th century fortress, which house some of the best back vintages in Burgundy dating back to 1845.

They own 130 hectares of vineyards across Burgundy, of which 12 hectares (30 acres) are Grand Cru and 74ha Premier cru. In 1995 the Bouchard family sold to Champagne House Joseph Henriot, they have since  acquired Chateau De Ponce in Fleurie and William Fevre in Chablis.

Wines Tasted -Red Crus

Fleurie le Pré Roi 2017

Initially cranberry and bright red fruits and later red plum 6 to 8 months in barrels bright acidity, chalky

Monthelie 2017

Classic Pinot nose with red fruits earth and game lovely length of fresh strawberries

 


Gevrey-Chambertin 2017

Closed and reductive at this stage

Beaune du Château 2017

Blend of 17 premier crus
Lovely perfumed nose of wild strawberries and loganberries with a subtle violet aftertaste and nice soft tannins delicious!
Highly recommended

Beaune Grèves Vigne de L’enfant Jesus 2017

Another classic well made Pinot Noir
red floral fruits and red and dark plums earth spice silky tannins long length beautiful balanced wine

Volant Les Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot 2017

Blueberry red plum, brooding tense wine power underneath, complex holding back at the moment great potential

Le Corton 2017

Lighter colour impressive earthy nose and game lovely balance

Wines tasted White Crus

Pouilly Fuisse 2017

5,000 cases apples pears honeydew melon

Meursault Les Clous 2017

Butter green apples lemon curd melon sl grapefruit on the finish

Meursault Geneveieres 2017

White wine of the day complex lemon smokiness cream butter melon ripe apples pear and minerality really delicious

Corton Charlemagne 2017

sweet apple butter viscosity soft round mouthfeel

Chablis Montmains 2017 Domaine William Fevre

Lemon crisp apple lees good acidity

Chablis Bougros 2017 Domaine William Fevre

Crisp fresh lemon apples

 

Above photos in the Cellars during our visit to Maison Louis Jadot. We were lucky enough to observe barrel transfers by candlelight.

Clos Vougeot

Wines Tasted
Bourg les setilles –  Served at the wedding of Prince Harry & Megan. Fresh crisp
Montagny – Mineral, chewy long quite big.
Puligny les Meix- Nice toasty citrus slightly closed nose slightly vanilla intense. Nice texture
Auxes Duresses la Macabre- Floral vanilla ripe golden delicious softer rounder vanilla lemon pith long
Puligny Referts  Lemon oil hint of citronella! Intense, pear pinapple great body fresh. Tingling finish. Sherbet dip!
Abbey Morgeot Chassgne Wider, not as intense slightly less ripe as pulignys, citrus

We arrived at Domaine Sylvain Pataille the far north of Cote d’Or towards Dijon. We were kept waiting for a length of time, before being greeted by the young, dynamic, bearded
Sylvain fresh from work in his vineyards. He welcomed us into his very compact cellar via a metal door off the small street next to his families’ house. We had no idea what to expect,  initially conversing with us in French.
It became clear this is a man of great passion and vision, using organic and biodynamic methods and some whole bunch, indigenous yeast and low sulphur. We discovered he is very much a champion of Aligote. We were in for a few pleasant surprises and a very long tasting!
Wines Tasted with Sylvain
Borgogne Aligote organic 50-50 barrel tank fresh slightly smoky flinty cumin zest. Lemon pith.
Borgogne les Mechalot. Smokey nose cloves orange, citrus, mineral. Sherbet finish.
Marrsannay  More classic nose wood more orange grapefruit more creamy.No sulphur,Only 1g sO2
Chardonnay Rose old mutation wood ripe citrus, floral smoke Lovely fuller mouth feel. Slight nice vegetal note
Aligote Les Champ ForeyStones Clove slightly bitter notes, Aligote ages more linear catches more smokey notes.
Aligote La Charmes Aux  Pretres  should be 1er cru Charm chaum chaume means field flatishLemon, pith, less clove long
Aligote Clos du Roy Floral citrus peel. In mouth ripe pear, lees, prickle, almond. Needs a couple of years.
Bourgogne Le chapitre Long extraction low sulphur but not young, Slightly funky nose, Lovely length body complex – ***
Marsannay La charmes Aux Pretres chardonnay, Smokey creamy elegant nose, Fabulous intense elegant full v long slightly saline finish
Marsannay Rose Fleur de Pinot Saignee skin contact,strawberry bit of smoke. Wow delicious with structure
Red Wines
Borgogne rouge Strawb jam and leaves, Lovely sweet fruit, fresh , balanced slight edge. VG
Marsannay RougeFruit, animal note, slight leafyNice rounded sweet fruit, balanced with savoury notes excellent complex
Marsannay La Montagne Strawberies and cream on nose.Gorgeous complex
Marsannay Les Longeroies V nice nose strawberry leaf cream Amazing vivid fruit complex intense
Marsannay Clos du RoyDeeper bit of blood, clove mineral balanced fruit savoury very long
Bourgogne le Chapitre  Chalk board, Lovely slightly more funky mineral. Some kirsh
Clos du Roy 2018 barrel sample Volcanic nose yeast reduction,  fruit, savoury stalks

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It was great to be back in Burgundy for may reasons, quiet dedicated cycle routes through the vineyards, the history, exquisite cuisine, excellent wines, friendly locals and as ever the joys of meeting like minded passionate wine folk.