WanderCurtis Wine

Wine tastings, corporate events, reviews and recommendations


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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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Finca L’Argata Grenache 2016, Joan D’Anquera, Monstant

Wish I’d cleaned the glass better (and the windows)…

I bought this from Bordeaux Index (BI – yes, they’ve changed their name back to the original, and frankly, I thought BI was much easier to say/remember/refer to) a few months back, and excitedly took delivery earlier this week. They loved this wine, and I think they are right!

The wine comes from 40-60 year old Grenache vines on sandy limestone soils, next door to Priorat. Fermented with whole clusters and aged in neutral oak for 14-16 months. The wine was £23 all in.

Appearance

Translucent light ruby, reminiscent of a light bodied pinot noir. I could swear it got darker as the evening wore on.

Nose

Red ripe jammy cherries, strawberry jam, cherry lollipop, cherry liqueur, with an explosive wild floral , dried thyme, oregano, dried rosemary, freshly sawn wood, and some funky deeply ripe fruit note that I’m having trouble putting my finger on. Salty blood comes out after a couple of hours. So perfumed! If tasted blind, my first impression would likely have led me to Volnay in the Cote de Beaune.

A truly spellbinding nose, I just want to sit and take in all the aromas!

Taste

Intense yet light ripe cherries, alcohol-steeped strawberries, strawberry jam, with a sharp, tart palate cleansing wash of acidity. I would say acidity in this is medium+. The taste deepens with time in the glass, developing a more broody, bloody/meaty concentration, darker cherries and plums, with that funky aroma supporting the overall taste.

Tannins are very fine, higher than I expected, medium to medium+, dusting my cheeks fully with just a little prickle of electricity.

Alcohol is a little separated from the fruit, leaving a warming flush in the mouth then throat. The finish is really long, ending sweet and savoury with that funky dark ripe fruit afterglow. I think the finish must be 1 minute +.

Conclusion

This is a super complex wine just at the start of its life, I’m not sure how I will hold onto the other bottles long enough to let them develop (especially if I tell Adam about this…..Oops)

The funky aromatics and taste (a good thing) are explained by the whole cluster fermentation, and I can’t help thinking the complex perfumed nose could also be attributable to this winemaking technique. The age of the vines likely helps explain the concentration, acidity and tannin levels which all contribute to make this a truly complete wine.

A steal at £23. Highly recommended.


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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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Blind wine tasting April 6th 2021

The theme this week was back to the original that we started with at the beginning of lockdown. Blind anything.

Kiran’s wine

Smoke, Black pepper the most I have experienced.

(Black pepper is a note I have struggled with. Partly because I’ve been trying too hard to find it in Syrah/Shiraz when it’s never been there. The majority of Syrah probably doesn’t have this note. Also because I’ve been looking for spices, when in fact, after obsessionally smelling pepper grinders for the last few weeks I now realise it’s more of a floral woody note spice yes but much more complex than that.)

This wine had it in abundance- Floral violet blackberry, wood spice.

Soft tannins mainly on the tongue less so upper palate

Medium plus acid medium alcohol

A lovely Elegant balanced wine

Reminiscent of Pinot Noir but the clear black pepper nose countered that.

Stuart and I were pretty sure this a Northern Rhône Syrah, the elegant style. We had all visited Rene Rostaing a few years ago and this reminded us of that style. Delicious

Wine was

Francois Villard 2012 Cote Rôtie Le Gallet Blanc

The wine is produced from mostly Syrah with a hint of Viognier, 1% or 2% of the blend.

The berries are whole cluster fermented and up to 30% of the grapes are destemmed. The wine is then aged in an average of 50% new, French oak barrels for up to 18 months. A lovely wine highly recommended

Stuart’s wine

(Served in Bordeaux bottle)

Red strawberry chews, very clearly red fruit a little later some beeswax hint vegetal sweet spice.

Soft tannins all over mouth with high acid,fresh, puckering salivary glands

We thought Pinot, possible laterals Grenache but didn’t have the alcohol/body and had very fresh cool climate acidity.

Bonnes Marres 2011 Drouhin Larose

Bonnes-Mares is a grand cru in the Cote de nuits, mostly within Chambolle Musigny with a small 1.5 hectare (3.7ac) plot in neighboring Morey-Saint-Denis

The style of Drouhin-Laroze is between modern and traditional style with moderate use of oak. Based in Gevrey-Chambertin, Drouhin-Laroze owns range of Grand Cru across the Cote d’Or.

Adam’s wine

Rhubarb, red fruit, smoke, liquorice, hint leather complex

Soft tannins all over medium palate medium acid, length Delicious

Château de Beaucastel 2001, Château neuf du pape

Remarkably young for 20 years drinking beautifully.

A blend of 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, 10% Counoise, and the balance split among the other permitted varietals. From the Perrin family’s largely organic and biodynamic vineyards

Dessert wine

Brown, thick, viscous, unctuous,Dates figs raisins molasses syrupyThick very very sweet mouth coating.Thoughts ? Pedro Ximenez you could stand a spoon in this!

Esszencia Tokaji Château Pazjos 1993

We didn’t know Kiran had this up his sleeve.Served in miniature bottles containing 100 ml only.From Sárospatak Alcoholic Content: 4.7 % volAcidity: 12.5 g/l A whopping 435g/l residual sugar


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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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Château de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape 2009

Friday evening, time for wine – but what to try?

I went for a bottle of the CdP, first coravin’d in January this year. I knew this is a mere pup in terms of its evolution but I was curious and needed something bold.

Popped and poured, no decanting, but let to sit in the Zalto for a half hour before tasting.

Colour

Medium to deep ruby

No signs of age on the rim

Numerous red hued tears working their way down the glass, clearly a powerful wine

Nose

First impression on the nose: wild cherry and wild herbs – thyme, oregano. Then a spritz of black pepper, black liquorice, kirsch, just a hint of acetone, old leather chair, ripe blackberry, cola, blood, and a little background smoke. The nose is so complex and constantly evolving.

Taste

Real energy in this wine, with a strong streak of savoury tannins that shoot down the tongue (Syrah), followed by a sensation of prickly bitterness in the cheeks that just linger (Grenache), along with drying upper gums (Mourverdre).

Acidity is unexpected, medium +, and lingers deceptively.

The finish is very savoury and dry, with the Mourverdre showing its character in this very young wine, very savoury, a little bitter. The sweetness is in the bottom of the wine (thinking of it in taste layers) as the Grenache comes out to play leaving a sweet impression in the mouth. Fruit is perfectly ripe, possibly a little baked.

This is very very long, and with that lingering sweetness you get a better sense of the weight of this wine. There is some heat on the finish too, and at 14.5% ABV, I guess that this is to be expected. It feels like the wine has not quite knit yet, the elements are all a little separate at this stage of evolution.

Powerful, complex and youthful, this is going to be a wine for the ages, likely drinking well into its 3rd decade – a wine for the patient who will be handsomely rewarded! Well done, famille Perrin!


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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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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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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!


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Achtung Blaufränkisch!

Alert! Austria’s other great grape Blaufränkisch turns out, like its sister Grüner Veltliner, to be an amazing food wine.

This was beautifully demonstrated at a recent lunch hosted by Leithaberg DAC paired a selection of the region’s top wines with HKK Hakkasan’s equally top Chinese tasting menu.

Where, you may be wondering is Leithaberg (pronounced Light-a-bear -gh)…… in Austria of course as I’m sure our well healed readers know only too well.  The appellation (DAC) is at the far eastern end of the country close to lake Neusiedler & the Hungarian border. Not to be confused with Neusiedlersee DAC which is on the other side of the lake and also boarders Hungary.  The Neusiedlersee is of course the lake that provides the perfect conditions for noble rot allowing wine makers Alois Kracher and Feiler Artinger to produce amazing sweet wines of international repute.   However don’t be confused as these don’t fall into either DAC region and are normally just labelled from Burgenland.

Link to map of wine region

Anyway now that that is all clear the important thing to remember is that the wines of Leithaberg are delicious and astonishingly good with Asian cuisine.  Austria’s wunderkind Gruener Veltliner now regularly appears on restaurant wine lists in the capital because it is so versatile with food, but look beyond this grape and you will find that Weissburgunder (pinot blanc) and Blaufränkisch (one of Austria’s indigenous reds) are equally great food wines.   This was amply demonstrated at the lunch hosted by Leithaberg DAC at HKK Hakkasan’s restaurant in the City.img_7943

Leithaberg DAC produces Chardonnay, Greuner Veltliner, Neuburger, Weissburgunder & Blaufränkisch but the wines that shone for me were the last two grape varieties.

Weissburgunder is made in a range of styles from simple unoaked, dry full bodied wine with citrus, mineral & sometimes slightly salty character to more complex, textured, spicy and flinty offerings from old vines that may have seen the inside of large old oak barrels.  The range of wines on offer at this tasting all had a good twist of acidity and wet stone character no doubt thanks to the schist & shelly lime stone hills and cool nights thanks to the lake.

Blaufränkisch comes in many styles and is often blended with other grapes but I was delighted to find that the majority of the wines on show were 100% Blaufränkisch and only subtly oaked if at all.  For me this pure style shows the grape’s delicious rounded fruit & savoury spice character lifted by freshness at its best.  I love the entry level blended wines which are so approachable and reliably tasty but the grape also produces great single vineyard wines with more structure and plenty of layers of fruit, spice, wet stones and sometimes blood.  These wines age well too as the wines at lunch showed.

The lunch:

img_7940Michelin-starred Head Chef Tong Chee Hwee and his kitchen at HKK put on a great menu to showcase their super refined Chinese cuisine.

Dongji Wagyu beef mushroom, shiitake mushrooms with pickled vegetables, onion, mooli .

Chardonnay Leithaberg DAC 2015, Weingut Esterhazy.

A concentrated citrus chardonnay that stood up to the pickled vegetables.

Gruener Veltliner Himmelreich 2013, Weingut Sommer.

Fresh but with some body and great structure, nice mineral wet stone and grapefruit pith. This wine worked as a brilliant foil to the doughy fake mushroom filled with beef and the real fungi.

Zhang Dim sum Trilogy. Prawn and seaweed dumpling, king crab and dry scallop dumpling, label Rouge chicken and pickled Chinese leaves puff.

Weissburgunder Golden Erd 2012, Weingut Tinhof.

Floral medium body, with a bit of spice which resonated with the Asian spices in the dumplings.

Weissburgunder Leithaberg 2010, Weingut Heinrich.

A lovely structured wine with great tension and lift but the body to cope with the delicious seafood flavours of the Dim sum.  This outstanding combination was over far too quickly & is now firmly lodged in the memory.  This is obviously why Pinot Blanc exists!

Signature Cherry Wood Peking Duck. Chef Tong’s speciality served in three parts, smoked crispy skin, outer meat with hoi sin sauce & rich inner meat.

Blaufränkisch Altenberg 2012, Weingut Hans & Christine Nittnaus.

Floral, ripe plum, great balance and a savoury, spicy finish. Wow these wines are the perfect pair to hoi sin duck!  The savoury & plumb flavours in both the wine & dish complement each other but the wine has enough structure &  lift to cope with the fatty meat.

Blaufränkisch Leithaberg 2010, Weingut Nehrer.

Mushrooms, white pepper, red and black fruits on the nose, good body and more fruit and spice in the mouth, complex & delicious the just resonates with the smoky crispy duck skin.

Served on their own

img_7936Blaufränkisch Goldberg 2005, Weingut Prieler

Nice development, cherry, baked fruit, good balance, soft tannins, engaging & long. Shows how well these approachable and friendly wines mature & develop in complexity.

Blaufränkisch Leithaberg 2006, Weingut Anita & Hans Nittnaus.

Characteristic ripe plum and cake spice, enjoyable but not sure if 2006 was a particularly strong year?

Lamb cannon with water chestnut, salted egg yolk and lotus root.

Blaufränkisch Gritschenberg, Weingut 2008 Altenberger

Mature, spicy a wide spectrum of fruit, freshness and rounded tannins, the age & tertiary notes work well with the subtle flavours of the lamb dish.

Blaufränkisch Leithaberg 2010, Weingut Wagentristl

Mature, cloves, stewed rhubarb, stewed plum, spices.  Again the aged notes work well with the dish.

What a great demonstration of how well wine can be paired with Chinese food.  No more beer or jasmine tea for me!