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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.


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Wine Quiz Night for The Village School, Belsize Park, 7th February 2019

WanderCurtis Wine Quiz Night, Belsize Park, 7th February 2019

 

Getting together 100 people on a cold winter’s night was a formidable task. Lindsay and her excellent team were up to it.

We hosted at the Village School Belsize Park, raising money for Friends of Della and Don in support of Ratmalana in Sri Lanka devastated by the 2004 Tsunami.

We carefully selected wines to show of varietal qualities for the blind tasting quiz part of the evening and amended our wine quiz to compliment the evenings themes.

It featured an art auction with a collection of fine work from artists such as Grayson Perry and delicious homemade Italian cuisine by Riccardo of TortelliniCup.

The following wines were served-

 

Aperitif – Prosecco La Gioiosa et Amorosa NV DOC Treviso

 Wine 1 Viñalba Selección Torrontés 2018 Lujan de Cuyo

Wine 2 Grand Ardèche Chardonnay 2016 Louis Latour

 Break for Italian buffet

 

 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2017 Monte Schiavo

Alain Grignon Carignan Vieilles Vignes 2017 PGI Pays de l’Hérault

 

Wine 3 Edna Valley Pinot Noir 2016

Wine 4 Valpolicella Ripasso 2016 Villa Borghetti

 We used the local Majestic Wine in Chalk Farm. The Torrontes exhibited great typicity with floral fragrant notes of lychee and white blossom. This was in stark contrast to the buttery rich Chardonnay from Louis Latour.

The reds were similarly rewarding. To find a Pinot Noir of this quality from California for under a tenner was an achievement. The Edna Valley showed earthy qualities with a good red fruit core. Villa Borghetti’s Valpolicella Ripasso fermented on pomace from Amarone production displayed a richer wine with blueberry and spice aromas.

The winning table  was ‘Chardonnay’  who leapt up in joy and around £11,000  raised for Charity.


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Cantina di Mogoro, Tiernu, Bovale, 2016, Sardinia

 

 

Not many bottles have me reaching for Jancis’s tome, Wine Grapes.

 On a recent holiday to Sardinia the villa manager very kindly left us a bottle from a friends winery. I was deep in cynicism when I opened this local red from Cantina di Mogoro.

 The grape, Bovale Grande. as I discovered is Mazuelo (Carignan) which probably arrived in Sardinia during the period of Aragonese domination from approximately 1400 to 1700.

 It’s a very vigorous vine with large leaves and compact clusters of small berries,  rich in colour.

 On tasting, I was pleased to find it  full of ripe red fruits, cherries and raspberries, Mediterranean herbs and a savouriness  with balanced acidity and freshness, soft tannins and good length.

 Lovely with the sun setting over the Mediterranean with local chicken gently sizzling on the barbeque.

 I promptly ordered a case which Alessandro delivered, each bottle was as good as the last.

 I would recommend indulging in Sardinian wines. Their Vermentino’s, Cannonau’s (Grenache) and other Carignan’s are well worth discovering.

 

https://www.vinissimo.co.uk/wine/tiernu-bovale-campidano-di-terralba-doc


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Louis Jadot Wine Dinner at Patron Restaurant April 24th 2018

Maison Louis Jadot is a family owned business based in Beaune, Burgundy  established in 1859. They also have substantial vineyard holdings throughout the Cote d’Or as well as the Maconnais as well as producing  wine from a number of other appellations throughout Burgundy.

The winemaker, Jacques Lardière, has been with the company for over 30 years and together with Pierre-Henry Gagey and his father André before him, has built the company to be one of the finest in Burgundy.

 

We  hosted at the excellent French  Patron Restaurant in Kentish Town with Maison Louis Jadot’s  Export Director Sigfried Pic.

A three course dinner was matched with some of the finest Burgundies from the Louis Jadot range.

 

Aperitif, we compared Chablis and Saint-Véran.

The Chablis was a favourite with lees ageing adding to texture and complexity with a lovely mineral/oyster shell note typical of Chablis grown on  kimmeridgean soils

First course: Foie Gras with brioche served with Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru La Romanée 2013 – beautiful rich textured lovely vanilla from oak ageing nicely balanced with ripe stone fruit

Main course : Duck confit and Gratin Duaphinoise served with Beaune 1er Cru Theurons 2009

Dessert a selection of artisanal cheese  served with Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cazetiers 2007 and served blind the  Moulin-à-Vent La Roche 2007 in magnum


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Burgundy 2016 en primeur Tasting Notes

We are delighted to announce that Stuart Grostern has joined our team at WanderCurtis.

Stuart has an exceptional palate to match his cellar. His excellent tasting notes  and recommendations spanning 15 years can be found on the Wine Spectator Forum under BirDungy. Below is his valuable insight into Burgundy en primeur 2016.

After having to miss the entire 2015 vintage tasting due to unreasonable work responsibilities, I have rebounded to attend the annual Berry Bros and Rudd Burgundy en primeur tasting. I was fortunate to have arrived early enough to taste some but not all of the greatest wines there, notes below on approx 40 wines.

To start, I think everyone has heard that 2016 was a year badly affected by frost which drastically reduced crop size in some vineyards by as much as 90%. The wines are, therefore, harder to get good allocations of and up (again, especially coupled with Brexit GBP devaluation vs. EUR) in price. However, many of the wines I tasted were beautiful and highly expressive of their place, open to taste, and showing very well during the tasting. Against this, given the ever changing complexion of the region, many new makers are on the rise, with many established makers extending their reach beyond their typical villages. This is not always a good thing, as I found a real mix of newer names, some excellent, and some not so, to be evident from this tasting.

Reds were, in general, open for tasting, fruit driven and well-balanced. I found quite a lot of barrel influence in evidence, even at the villages levels, with some clumsy efforts made especially in those makers who either picked later or tried too hard to find an expression for their wines that didn’t always match the appellation. Some of the villages wines were excellent, and definitely represent the best value IMO. A big shout goes for Ghislaine Barthod’s Chambolle Musigny villages, easily one of the top 3 wines of the night. Morey St Denis also did well and was not very affected by frost. Clos Vougeot in the grands crus stood out. The up and coming winemaker from this tasting for me was Jerome Castagnier, whose wines were all beautiful and full of life.

I have bought across the Cote de Nuits apart from NSG (no real reason), and have not focused on whites because I just have too much white Burgundy and do feel now that some of the newer world chards from NZ (esp) and cooler climate Aussie whites are so close in quality at a fraction of the price that I just couldn’t bear adding any more.

I only tasted a handful of whites, so I don’t have a lot to say here. Colleagues of mine did taste more and liked the vintage, which is reputed to have produced good quality whites across the spectrum, more akin to the 2014 vintage.

Here are the notes:

DOMAINE DE COMTE ARMAND

Pommard, Clos des Epeneaux, 1er cru

Concentrated purple fruit nose, emitting strong dark grape essence. In the mouth, medium bodied, more purple concentrated fruit, grapey, with fantastic balance of fruit, acidity and tannins. Very long finish. Excellent wine, seem to have hit the nail on the head with this wine.

MAISON CAMILLE GIROUD

Santenay, Clos Rousseau 1er cru

Red fruit nose of raspberry, dried roses, and a bit of smoke. Very balanced mouthfeel, giving a real sense of elegance matching the nose. This wine is pure and honest, is what it is and represents excellent value at approx. £38/btl all in. One of my favourite wines of the tasting.

Charmes Chambertin grand cru

Beautiful light red fruit nose, powdery, perfumed with sweet flowers with an underlying concentration of fruit belying some power. A wonderful balance of fruit, tannin and acidity, with a hint of animal savoury flavour. This wine has perfect balance, and its name is apt for its charm. Excellent.

BENJAMIN LEROUX

Chassagne Montrachet, Embazees 1er cru

Very strong ripe fruit nose, with vanilla essence. Very honeyed in the mouth, showing the pear and pineapple fruita but perhaps too much. I think this is overripe for my taste. Not sure how well this will age.

Meursault Genevrieres 1er cru

Very strong vanilla influence on the nose, overpowering. IN the mouth, overpowered by the vanilla essence, leaving an overly sweet cloying flavour. Again, not to my taste and not clear how well this will age.

Volnay Clos de la Cave des Ducs 1er cru

Darker fruit nose with caramel and vanilla. In the mouth, tart fruit with good concentration and acidity. Very elegant, and nicely balanced. A beautiful wine, very very good.

Pommard Rugiens-Haut 1er cru

A darker Pommard character shines out, slightly animal with purple fruit nose. The palate is lighter initially and then gives way to concentrated fruit, followed by bigger hit of acidity than the Volnay. A drying finish, and then a touch of ox that perhaps gives the sense of over enthusiasm with barrels.

DOMAINE DE LA VOUGERAIE

Vougeot Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot 1er cru (white)

Slightly charred nose, but giving the essence of chardonnay. Sweet tart fruit, wonderful depth and concentration, perfect balance of acidity and fruit, an absolutely stunning wine. Outstanding.

Gevrey Chambertin Les Evocelles

Slightly ox’d nose, cloves, a little cloying. Good fruit concentration, drying tannins. This wine needs more time.

Clos de Vougeot grand cru

Very smokey nose, slightly animal, dark fruit with some perfume showing but quite closed for the vintage. Silky tannin mouth, wonderful on the palate with a good slug of wood offsetting the clearly ripe tart fruit and the acidity, leaving a very well balanced wine. Finishes with darker fruit. Very Very good.

DOMAINE MICHELE AND PATRICE RION

Chambolle Musigny Les Cras

Very pale in colour compared to most other wines. Gamey with red cranberry juice, strawberry jam and cinnamon – almost not a wine nose but something from my pantry. Strawberry jam flavour, with good acidity against the fruit, but not a lot else. Not very complex. Good

Nuits St Georges Clos des Argillieres 1er cru

A bit of horseradish, vanilla, strawberry jam, with a slightly smokey edge nose. Good tart fruit, nicely balanced strawberry and cherry with some spices and tea. Mid weight on the palate, long finish, and well balanced. Very very good.

JF MUGNIER

Nuits St Georges Clos de la Marechale 1er cru

Strong fruit nose, grape koolaid or juice, and very purple. Tart fruit set against good acidity with very drying tannins. Very well balanced fruit and acidity, leaving this feeling effortless. Long finish. Very very good – this wine is often impossible to taste at this stage, quite sulfuric, and needing more bottle time so quite a good showing for a long sleeper.

DOMAINE SYLVAIN CATHIARD

Vosne Romanee

Typical Vosne nose hits you straight out of the glass, cherry, tea, vanilla, earth, animal. Ripe dark fruit, a bit sherbety with real concentration and power. Chewy tannins balanced by the fruit and acidity. A very lovely wine, very very good.\

Vosne Romanee Aux Malsoncourts 1er cru

More closed than the villages with subtle cherry, roses and tea leaves. A riper fruit palate, sweet cherry with some fat, and strong concentration of sherbet powder on the very long finish. Excellent.

DOMAINE JEAN GRIVOT

Vosne Romanee

Cherry candy nose with a whiff of animal. Concentrated raspberry with a strong taste presence, finishing slightly bitter with mid length – typical Grivot young wine. Very good.

Nuits St Georges, Les Pruliers 1er cru

Darker roaster nose of cassis. Taut palate with very concentrated dark fruit – a driven wine with strong acidity and a long finish. Very very good.

Clos de Vougeot grand cru

Voluptuos nose of fruit and flowers, complex bouquet of flowers and vanilla. Strong cherry fruit with some animal essence, spices, cassis, dark cherry, just bags of fruit here. A strong barrel influence for this young wine, tannins in force but well balanced, with a slightly drying bitter finish. A beautiful sweet long finish screams balance. Wonderful.

DOMAINE GUYON

Vosne Romanee

Cough medicine and sour cherry nose, smells like it’s slightly oxidised. Same in the mouth. Bleh.

DOMAINE GHISLAINE BARTHOD

Chambolle Musigny

Sappy fruit, violets, and raspberry, with purple fruit in the nose. A darker wine than usual. Very concentrated but supple fruit, with an underlying power that finishes super long. Just a beautiful make you want to cry wine. Excellent.

Chambolle Musigny Les Baudes 1er cru

There is an extra dimension of florality on this compared to the villages that is in addition to everything the villages has, including a bit more vanilla. This is such an elegant wine, precise, long – a real wow wine with a slightly hot finish. Wow.

DOMAINE LOUIS BOILLOT & FILS

Gevrey Chambertin

Grape bubblegum nose, essence of grape Koolaid. Taste is similar, with concentrate grape jelly, but much weight in the mid-palate, which doesn’t live up to what the nose tells me I will get. Sweet and tart fruit, very nice balance but is this really from Gevrey?? Tastes more like Volnay to me

Gevrey Chambertin Les Evocelles

Similar nose but wutg more concentration. More fruit in the mouth, with good acidity balanced against the tannins with a bit more weight and length than the villages. Good but again, not really GC to me.

DOMAINE CASTAGNIER

Charmes Chambertin grand cru

Very ripe raspberry and cherry nose, with flowers and earth. A beautiful nose with hints of tea. Sweet ripe cherry fruit, with strong acidity balancing it out, and tannins just so. A beautifully balanced wine. Excellent.

Clos de Vougeot grand cru

A subdued nose with a bit of horse hair, purple fruit like cassis. Super concentrated ripe fruit, tart acidity. Medium bodied, very precise and long. The tannins are chewy and balance well against the fruit and acidity. A super wine. Excellent

DOMAINE LIGNIER-MICHELOT

Morey St Denis Vieilles Vignes

Purple fruit with some animal, really sexy nose. Concentrated tart fruit, with good acidity and beautiful tannins. A really well balanced wine with a linear fruit taste profile. Very very good.

Morey St Denis Les Faconnieres

Just like the VV but with more animal essence in the nose, just a lovely wine to breathe. Dark syrupy fruit of cherry and raspberry, very concentrated with a bit of fat sweetness and a good finish. Wonderful wine. Excellent

DOMAINE DES LAMBRAYS

Morey St Denis

Lifted nose of fruit, flowers and vanilla essence, concentrated grape juice and cinnamon. A beautiful fruit expression of concentrated grape juice like the nose. Strong acidity is well balanced by the tannins. A great wine. Excellent

Clos des Lambrays grand cru

Nose much more closed, with some hints of the MSD. A super charged concentrated wine, perfectly balanced between ripe tart fruit, silky tannins, and acidity, finishing slightly hot. Amazing. Excellent

JEAN LUC & ERIC BURGUET

Gevrey Chambertin Symphonie

Raisined nose characteristic, still a bit sulfury and a bit dirty on the nose. Concentrated drier fruit of prunes and raisins with good acidity and tannins. Was this picked too late?? Ok

Gevrey Chambertin Mes Favorites Vieilles Vignes

Nose of dried fruits, cloves, raisins, with some horse hair and earth. Concentrated sweet and tart fruit, with a better palate than nose, showing cloves and spices. Very good balance and long finish. Very very good.

DOMAINE ROSSIGNOL-TRAPPET

Gevrey Chambertin Vieilles Vignes

Overty oaky nose, over dominates the rest. Clumsy oaky wine with drying tannins that really needs a lot more time in bottle. Not knit. Clumsy.

Chapelle Chambertin grand cru

Charred smokey nose, with cherries and flowers, very pretty. Sweet ripe fruit, vanilla and spices but a bit lightweight in body. Nice concentration of fruit but more pretty than substantial. Drying finish. Very good.

Chambertin grand cru

Charred smokey nose, lots of barrel, with horse/manure, animal, earth and cloves hiding the fruit in the nose. Sweet fat fruit, fresh raspberry and cherry with good acidity enclosing the fruit. Strong tannins with a slightly hot finish,. Good balance and very long. Very very good.

Hope you enjoyed these.


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Sensational Stellenbosch. May 2017 – day 1

Our first tasting in Stellenbosch was at the magnificent  Tokara Estate  owned by GT Ferreira , situated  at the crest of the Helshoogte Pass. The exceptional location allows panoramic views over Olive Groves, valleys and Mountains from Simonsberg to Table Mountain. The  tasting room has a huge stone fireplace and contemporary architecture, there’s also a sculpture garden delicatessen and restaurant.

 

 

 

 

We were greeted by Karl the GM and Suzanne .This stunning property has 60 hectares of vineyards and was built in 1999 with first vintage in 2001. Grapes are sourced from a variety of sites including the lovely Elgin Sauvignon blanc on a site which was a fruit farm. 2007 to 2016 ten year tasting shows exceptional development of these wines Back vintages are stored in a monumental four storey cylindrical cellar hidden behind a vast cast iron door off the tasting room .

Luckily I was inquisitive enough to encourage Carl to not only give us a peek inside but also to sneak out the delightful 2006 Directors reserve Semillon.

Tokara is named after the owners 2 children Distribution is mainly in Holland U.K. Germany. ABS wines distribute in the U.K The German market is very big partly due to historical factors , the Germans colonized SW Africa.25% of  Somerset West has German owned homes

 

Wines tasted.

Tokara Reserve Collection Elgin 2016 Sauvignon Blanc

Elderflower floral citrus peach , crisp good length persistence balance

 

Tokara Reserve Collection Chardonnay 2015

Naturally fermented .15% Pineapple tropical fruit .Butter vanilla toast oak 95 points best in SA 27 % new oak .

Tokara Directors Reserve 2014

70 Sauvignon Blanc 30 Sémillon High altitude 500 m Rich barrel fermented textured .wet hay lemons musty earthy

Tokara 2006 Directors Reserve Semillon

Carl plucked from secret cellar Rich pétrolic flinty gunsmoke texture full lovely pickled lemon

Tokara Reserve  Syrah 2013

Crushed spice Violets soft tannins savoury

2013 directors reserve red

Merlot Petit Verdot others Cedar cigar box tobacco . Long lovely soft tannins Long finish

Tokara Directors reserve Potstill Brandy Another special treat from Karl

floral dry fig and raisins

 

 

 

 

Delaire Graff Estate

 

The high altitude vineyard on the slopes of Botmaskop was originally a lookout for boats entering Table Bay Harbour .

No expense was spared on their multifaceted property, with   a winery, two restaurants, a lifestyle boutique,a diamond store, a five star lodge and spa transformed by Laurence Graff founder and chairman of Graff Diamonds International Ltd.

The cellar is one of the most advanced and well equipped in the Southern Hemisphere the first wines made in 2008.

Wines Tasted on the terrace

 

Cabernet franc rose 2016

strawberry crisp fresh finish

Delaire Graff Sauvignon Blanc 2015

beautifully fresh hint gooseberry and lemon

Delaire Graff  Sauvignon Blanc coastal cuvée Olifants river 2015

3 km from sea has 4% sémillon Franschoek Textured structured great mouthfeel length gooseberry tropical fruit

Delaire Graff Banghoek reserve Chardonnay 2015

vanilla peaches toast long 10 months French oak barriques seductive nose long lingering finish

Delaire Graff Swartland Chenin Blanc 2015

Honey citrus

Delaire Graff Botmaskop 2015

Alcohol stands out Tomato leaf nose cassis soft tannins Needs another year or more

 

 

 

Kleine Zalze Estate

 

Winemaking dates back to 1695 . Now run by ex lawyer Kobus Basson with extensive renovation and modernization.The property includes an 18 hole golf course a luxury residential developments a boutique hotel and a top Provençal inspired restaurant

Terroir Dinner with Anthony van schalkwyk atTerroir restaurant

Four clearly defined ranges exist . the foot of Africa range , The cellar selection range , the vineyard range and their flagship family reserve range.

Wines tasted with dinner

Vintage 2009 Blanc De Blanc Methode cap classique.

Family Reserve Chenin Blanc 2015

Family Reserve, Cabernet 2012

Family Reserve Shiraz 2012

For full tasting notes see details from our wine dinner in London with Kleine Zalze .

I highly recommend this as a destination to base yourselves in Stellenbosch, complete with infinity pool , majestic views , mountain bike trail , excellent restaurant and easy access to wineries .


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Chateau Haut Condissas – punching well above its weight!

It’s really not that hard to find great wines: go for a prestigious region, select one of the big names, just check that it has a good score from an international critic or two and bingo! As long as of course you don’t mind paying through the nose……  And in Bordeaux the wines have steadily been extracting larger and larger amounts through said nasal passage to the point at which they are now truly eye watering.

Which is why I have been a fan of ChateIMG_9919au Rollan de By for many years, it is a reliably delicious Cru Bourgeois from the Medoc, worthy of aging for a few years and sold at a very fair price.  So I was intrigued to hear that proprietor Jean Guyon (who also owns Chateau Greysac & a few others) also makes a more ambitious wine at Chateau Haut Condissas with the aim of rivalling the classified growths.

Arriving at a recent vertical tasting of the wines the very air in the room was scented with plums, cigar box and coco powder, a very promising start and the wines did not disappoint.

IMG_9922Wine maker Olivier Dauga (who used to work at Sociando de Mallet another of my favourite Medoc producers) explained that his goal is to achieve fine tannins by avoiding too much extraction, the fruit should be in the fore with the wood in a supporting role & not the other way around. His philosophy is that good grapes make good wine very good grapes make very good wines. The vineyards of Haut Condissas are to the very north of the Medoc near the Atlantic on the plateau de By close to the river bar.

These are rich merlot driven wines but have an unusually high proportion of around 20 % Petit Verdot.  This gives the wines colour & spice and extra freshness but they have to be careful as PV can give green tannins. Made without aeration or filtration in a very pure way with 100% new oak of which 10% American. The chateaux believe that affordability is important for high quality wines in the Medoc.

Haut Condissas 1999. Nice cigar box nose with red fruit berries. In the mouth medium body, fresh, light red fruit, more cedar, soft slightly powdery tannins & medium length. At its peak I would have thought but still full of life. Lifted & Refined. Very good. Returning later vegetal notes had developed.

Haut Condissas 2009. A hot year. Ripe plums, red fruit, faint cloves and smoke on the nose. Full body, medium + acid, more plums, cooked red fruit, some more cloves, coco powder, toasty, ripe soft tannin, and a long finish. 14% alcohol so a big wine but finely balanced. Excellent.

Haut Condissas 2010. Beautiful scented nose of red fruit, cedar and smoke, clove. On the palate: lovely & cool balanced, medium body, good fruit, lifted, tasty lashings of toast and spice. Very long. Excellent.  Returning later ground coffee & forest fruit compote.

Haut Condissas 2013. A Kosher wine – This is made in a different way observing the Sabbath & according to Judaism’s dietary laws.

There was a lot of rain in 2013 the wine is light in colour and intensity. More fruit driven nose with black plum & coco. Lighter body fruit, some toast and vanilla, slightly more angular tannin. Very drinkable. Very good.

Haut Condissas 2014. On the nose red fruit, some black berries, spice, smoke. In the mouth great balance, lifted and fresh, full fruit, nice spice, ripe tannin. Long a Lovely wine. Excellent.

Haut Condissas 2005.60% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot,10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc. On the nose rich ripe fruit, smoky, coco & vanilla, forest floor an intense & complex nose. On the palate: lovely texture, medium plus body, more opulent than others, developed with mature flavours, leather, loam etc. with a lovely fruit core, holt chocolate. Very complex & vibrant. Great length and good freshness.  Gorgeous! An outstanding wine.

The chateau bottled a small quantity of single varietal wines from each of the grape varieties in the 2005 blend and in a brilliant twist to the normal wine tasting invited us to produce our own blend.IMG_9921

2005 100% Merlot. Dusty coco and plum nose, not particularly intense. Gorgeous fruit pie and chocolate shake, full body, powdery coating tannins. Medium acid.

2005 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Clove, indistinct fruit on nose. Cool, refined great structure, high acid, full body, long.

2005 100% Cabernet Franc. More delicate fruit raspberries etc. Bit of smoke. Beautiful fruit, fresh, refined, long & lifted wow! Light tannin and light structure.

2005 100% Petit Verdot. Spicy slightly funky with dark and stewed intense fruit, clove & lots of tannin.

My blend: 25% Merlot 25% CS, 40% CF, 10% PV. Slightly less open than actual blend, showing the austerity of CS and lighter fruit & high notes of CF.

It was fascinating to taste each varietal in its mature state and experiment with how each component adds to the blend.  Interestingly the only wine which really stood on its own two was the Cabernet Franc & the 2005 blend was far and away greater than the sum of its parts.

The 2005 and 2010 are still available at around £30- £35 per bottle by the case which for back vintages of an outstanding wine is great value!