WanderCurtis Wine

Wine tastings, corporate events, reviews and recommendations

Leave a comment

Bodegas y Viñedos Codorníu Raventós

A tremendous evening of wine and tapas with Codorniu Raventos at Iberica Marylebone.

Oscar Urrutia presented the wines and gave us an insight into three of Spain’s most important regions, a super opportunity to compare and contrast.  However some common feature ran through all the wines: the high standard of the winemaking and their superb value! IMG_5005

Here are the tasting notes:

 Anna de Codorniu Blanc de Blancs Reserva, NV.

A fresh sparkler with citrus & ripe stone fruits and a nice touch of toasty pastry made with chardonnay by the champagne method.

 Vina Pomal Rioja Blanco, 2014. 70 % Viura and 30 % Malvasía.

Nose a little subdued. Citrus notes, nice mouthfeel and a touch of toast from the American and French barrels the wine was aged in. Not particularly long.

Legaris Roble, Ribera del Duero, 2014. 100% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo).

Roble wines are intended for earlier drinking and with less oak and bottle aging tend as in this case to be more fruit focused. Balanced with nice high altitude freshness there is never the less a lick of coconut and vanilla that adds interest.  Very drinkable & great value!

Scala Dei Garnatxa, Priorat, 2014. Grenache.

Fresh red fruits on the nose, I loved the bright crunchiness that the high acidity gives this wine, great balance, and definite mineral / stoney notes no doubt from Priorat’s famous licorella slate. A superbly made wine, one of my favourite wines of the evening.

La Vicalanda Reserva, Bodegas Bilbaínas, Rioja, 2010. 100% Tempranillo from the Rioja Alta region.
This wine was wine of the month recently and for good reason. Lovely smoky, toasty notes on the nose then dark fruit, blueberry & cherries, smooth soft round tannins on the palate, more fruit and tasty hoisin and balsamic savoury flavours.  Long and very delicious.

Legaris Reserva, Ribera del Duero, 2011. 100% Tinto Fino 

Aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, 50% new and 50% old, then a further 2 years in the bottle before being released. This wine is definitely the roble’s big brother, darker and more powerful with concentrated dark fruit, combined with toast & coffee on the palate. Full bodied with firm but ripe tannin and great length.

Scala Dei Prior, Scala Dei, Priorat, 2013. Cabernet, Grenache & Syrah.

Dark colour from the cabernet and Syrah, Black fruit, pepper, spice & herbs on the nose, More concentrated dark fruit in the mouth, with forward mouth coating tannins and very full body, good overall balance and very long. Needs decanting or a few more years of bottle age to really unfold its many layers.oscar 02

Septima Tardio, Mendoza, 2103, Argentina 100% Gewürztraminer.

This is a late harvest wine made 1,050 metres above sea level in the Southern hemisphere. Lovely floral notes mixed with an interesting whiff of vanilla and smoke on the nose.  Sweet dried & exotic fruits on the palate, again with a lick of vanilla from the American oak barrels, rich without being flabby, linger nicely.


Brunello di Montalcino the tasting notes

With its sublime food, rolling landscapes that bewitch the eye, pristine hill top villages and amazing wines it’s easy to wax lyrical about the Brunello di Montalcino region. For me the more fruit focused and elegant Brunello di Montalcinos from higher altitude really sang and the excellence of the fresh crunchy Rossos, with their teasing savoury touch, was a real eye opener. If one had to be critical perhaps a few of the Reserves seemed to try a little too hard for critic scores at the expense of drinking pleasure but then again this just reflects the exciting diversity of wine making approaches to be found in the region. A must for all wine lovers.

The 2010 vintage of Brunello di Montalcino has generated unprecedented world wide excitement and large volumes of sales on release. The quality, with attendant critical fanfare, is obviously a major factor, perhaps also a market hungry for excellence after a run of lack lustre Bordeaux vintages. The BdMs are generally premium priced wines and classically demand patience in the cellar and the premeditation to open them hours or even a day in advance to open up. However since the 2007 vintage they have become much more approachable in their youth than they traditionally were.  Rosso di Montalcinos are generally made for drinking from release although many winemakers produce more serious offerings that can happily age. The wines come in quite a range of styles dependent on the vineyard location and wine makers approach to the use of new oak, extraction of fruit and length of aging in barrel. So there is probably a BdM to please all tastes from elegant with vigorous fruit to powerful, malty leather bound tomes.

Day 1


Montalcino Fuligni in the vineyardS.J IGT Toscana 2013. A blend of mostly Sangiovese but with some merlot aged in French oak tonneaux. Slightly dusty nose, cherries, some notes of plumb. Nice freshness, soft tannin and a roundness but with a characteristic Sangiovese fresh cherry finish.

Rosso di Montalcino Ginestreto 2013. 14%.The rosso is made as a glimpse of the brunello. A slightly spirit nose, lovely crunchy fresh cherries in the mouth with a good savoury layer. Great balance, soft tannins, high alcohol balanced by the acidity. Good to drink now.

Brunello di Montalcino 2009. 14%. Fuligni have already sold out of the 2010 vintage but explained that 2009 was in this part of the region as good as the 10. Light intensity garnet colour. Cherries on the nose, spice, cinnamon, touch of caramel with a meaty undertone, then orange peel: complex. More of the same in the mouth, medium body great balance and length.

Siro Pacenti.

Montalcino Siro Pacenti viewSiro Pacenti owns vineyards in the north of the region as well as the south. The wines are vinified separately and then blended to form both the Rosso and BdM. The wines are raised in French oak barrique except the riserva which is matured in larger tonneaux.

BdM Pelagrilli 2010. Smokey nose, bit of balsamic, some spice, herbs, thyme, oregano and red fruit. In the mouth intense concentrated red fruit, cherry pie, smoke, toast but not overwhelming and well integrated. Some charcuterie and a lick of vanilla. If hoisin sauce was made with cherries this would be it. Very long. Excellent.

BdM Vecchie Vigne. 2010. A tighter nose, earthy spices: cumin, turmeric, sour cherry, a bit closed but deep. Medium body, fresh with mouth coating firm but ripe fine grained tannins. Ripe fruit, blueberries but a bit masked by the wood influence, meat and blood below. Very long.

Day 2


Uccelliera, named after the hunting bird loft that still stands on the site, produces a total of 60000 bottles from 6 hectares of Sangiovese plus half a hectare of merlot & cabernet sauvignon. Winemaker Andrea also has olive trees and animals on the farm.

Some of the vineyards lie around the IMG_3442house and were purchased from neighbouring Ciacci Piccolomini but additional plots have been added in the Orcia valley along with a plot of older vines planted in 1975 north of town.

The vineyards are farmed organically and the dry conditions of the Orcia valley favour this. When necessary they spray calcium in the early mornings.

The Rosso is already selected and vinified separately over several picks. The grapes are covered in dry ice to avoid oxidation as soon as they are picked. They are then cold soaked to block fermentation for the first few days to extract colour and allow the natural yeasts to develop and eventually start fermentation. The Brunello spends about 1 month on skins and the Rosso 20 days.

The winery also uses very old French oak barrels which are not toasted for magnums. These were originally destined for the Riserva as the very tight grain produces elegant Sangiovese. An IGT in magnum is now produced which is not to be confused with the regular Brunellos which are aged in large Slavonian oak barrels and around 20% new French oak barriques. The Riserva is produced from specific vineyards with the oldest vines and highest altitude.

The climate is very localised with up to 5 degrees difference with Montalcino and a different profile of rainfall. The geology and soils are also very varied across Montalcino from area to area.

Barrel tasting notes:

Montalcino Uccelliera vineyardsBdM 2014 from large Slavonian oak barrels and lower elevation vineyards. Up front fruit, darker cherry, fine grained tannin, high acidity. This has only been in barrel for about 6 months out of the two years it is destined to spend.

BdM 2014 from lightly toasted French oak barrels from higher elevation vineyards. Slightly richer riper fruit a hint of toast, fine grained tannin more grippy very long. Of course very primary at this stage.

The wines are matured in barrel separately then blended later and finished in either type of barrel according to the development of the wine. Andrea is beginning to leave longer and longer intervals between racking the wines off the sediments sometimes up to 2 years.

BdM 2013 from large barrels 1.5 years in. Slightly reduced, funky nose at first then clears to give red fruits lightly confected. Lighter body & more floral with slightly grainer tannin grippy & a touch fierce at the moment.

BdM 2013 smaller barrel, upper level vineyards. More red fruits and more concentration, fresh cranberry, less oak influence than the equivalent 2014, just a touch of pastry, lovely freshness. Good length.

Rapace Toscana 2013 barrel sample. This IGT is a blend of Sangiovese 60%, merlot 30 % and cabernet 10%. The grapes are co-fermented in small French oak barriques. Darker more intense colour. More dark fruit, rich toasty notes, fuller body with medium acidity. Spice, cinnamon, coffee etc. but still good pure fruit. Long finish.

Rapace Toscana 2012 in bottle. Again darker, medium body, ripe fruits, rich with spice and lots of tannin and toast. Great length.

Brunello di Montalcino 2012 from large barrel. Red fruit a bit of herb & spice red fruit, savoury notes of blood. Lots of mouth coating friendly cocoa like tannin, very long.

IMG_3420BdM 2012 from barrique. Sour cherry, sweet toast with a bit of roast coffee. Really powerful with lots of grippy oak tannin high alcohol.

BdM 2012 in barrel blend 50: 50 of the above: More of the fruit and savoury character but with the volume turned up on the tannin and oak compared to the large barrel sample. Fascinating to see how the blend melds to best of both, keeping the fruit but adding structure from the wood. Not the final blend but this looks like it will be a fantastic Brunello!

Riserva BdM 2012 from the 1975 vineyards barrel sample. More concentrated fruit, savoury with a mineral iron note, complex, graceful and yet powerful very long and delicious. Another one that promises to be superb.

BdM 2011 final blend. Lighter body & more elegant with lovely balance of fruit and touch of umami. Great freshness and good length. A really nice drinking wine that won’t need years of patience. Too lightly described as a restaurant wine in my opinion.

BdM 2010 out of bottle. Slightly spirity nose, touch of cola bit tight & concentrated but persistent deep. On the palate a fantastic combination of ripe fruit & savoury, mineral notes. Great freshness and lovely balance and very very long finish. Really complex. The combination of elegance and power is obviously why there is such excitement about this vintage.

BdM Riserva 2008. More savoury vegetal nose with sour cherry dried herbs and balsamic notes. Lovely rich moth feel, more baked fruit, beginnings of tertiary flavours. The extra time breathing in wood barrels softens the wine and develops more mellow flavours. Complex and very long.

BdM Riserva 2010. Dark so dark for sangiovese deep Ruby colour. Pronounced nose with lots going on, still developing. Dark cherries, some blueberry, dark chocolate cocoa, chocolate coated cherry, dusted in herbs: thyme and earth. Some middle aged leather, tobacco and sweet vanilla. High acidity attacks the palate with sweet cherry and a meaty, bloody, sweaty after taste that had savoury notes.  Tannins are integrated with wood tannins drying. Length is amazing leaving a clean mouth but concentrated throat of dark fruit. Wow! (Stuart Grostern’s note)

This was an incredible tasting which gave us a great insight into the craft and skill that goes into making the outstanding wines, a real labour of love. The wines were superb and are available at Justerini & Brookes. The 2010 BdM has just been released and is an outstanding wine for a great price. The 2012 Rosso is also a superb value delicious drinking wine.

Col D’ Orcia

The whole production of Col d’Orcia has been certified organic since 2013 and at 540 hectares is the largest organic producer in Tuscany. Col d’Orcia is third largest Brunello producer making 800,000 bottles per annum of which 20, 000 are the renowned single vineyard BdM Poggio al Vento, the ‘windy ridge’. The wines are aged in large Slavonian and French oak barrels to allow the wine to breathe and develop over time.

Banditella 2010 Rosso di Montalcino. This is a single vineyard wine matured in 20 to 25 IMG_3461% barrique with a production of 25000 bottles. Lovely cherry notes on the nose. Medium body on palate with great freshness, crunchy cherries and some savoury notes. Nice grainy tannins, a bit grippy but good fruit length on the finish. This is a great food wine with tomato based pasta dishes.

Brunello di Montalcino 2010. Aged 36 months in large oak barrels, 60% Slavonian and the rest oak tonneau with no barrique. Tasty sour cherry notes with some wild garrigue herbs, floral notes of iris & hyacinth. Medium body, fine bright red fruit, great freshness savoury hints with a residue of caramel. Fine grained tannin, nicely grippy and long. Works beautifully with local Pici ragu!.

Poggio al Vento BdM 2007. Single vineyard from a fantastic year. Red fruit, some leather and tobacco leaves, garrigue herbs complex intense nose even though it is still a bit tight. Medium body with good crunchy red fruit and very fine grained tannins, sustained savoury notes, still rather reticent but with really lots of length. This is a great wine needs time to open up either in the glass or after a few more years.

Montalcino Col d'OrciaBdM 2014. Barrel sample. Nice cherry fresh fruit, med body, toasty but subtle, great freshness. Will be a good one.

BdM 2012.Barrel sample. Attractive kirsh cherry, backed tart, spices, creamy toast, bit of tobacco lots going on already. Great balance and freshness. Excellent this bodes well for release next year.

Count Marone Cinzano’s winery welcomes visitors for a tour of the winery and wine tasting. They have also recently started hosting lunches with organic food including local wild boar and deer. Not to be missed. For more information visit www.coldorcia.it call + 39 0477 80891 or email info@coldorcia.it


Montalcino Sesti ArgianoPerched on a hill top just north of Sant Angelo in Colle Castello di Argiano is a tranquil oasis heavy with the scent of blossom and surrounded by beautiful views across the surrounding rolling countryside. No wonder Guisseppe & Elisa Sesti fell in love with the place long before they started making the estates wines.

Sauvignon Blanc 2014. Made just for the family. Floral; orange blossom, citrus, nice mineral stoney sensations balance the fruit, high acidity. Beautifully balanced. Lovely to taste a white, superb!

Rosato 2014. A really pale rose pink colour. Made with 100% Sangiovese. Minerals on the nose, some dried herbs. Bracing saline feel in mouth, high alcohol, light fruit, lingering red fruit after taste. A perfect sun downer.

Monteleccio 2013. This is an IGT as it is aged less than the regulation one year in barrel to make a Rosso di Montalcino. Strawberry confected fruit, some herbyness, and cumin too on the nose. Wow this is great! Lovely fresh crunchy wild strawberries, minerality gives it some substance, lovely length & balance. A delicious wine to simply enjoy equivalent of many Rossos. Fantastic value.

Rosso di Montalcino 2013. Light intensity of colour. On the nose strawberry, confected fruit, herbs; sage, thyme, rosemary also flowers; violet, some earthy spices; turmeric etc. In the mouth really fresh bright fruit, high acidity, minerals and a long lingering flavour. This has the substance of a Brunello. Really great stuff. ****

Brunello di Montalcino 2009. This flight of wines are a progression with a clear common character running through them all, the intensity just successively steps up but each is perfectly balanced in itself. The BdM has more fruit, more cumin & turmeric, more violets & wild garrigue herbs then introduces some tobacco leaf, blood and meat.   Then perhaps a whiff of new Gucci leather hand bag. Complex to say the least. Medium body, silky tannins which are reasonably grippy, rich sour cherry fruit. The palate is not as open as the nose but there are beginnings of some secondary flavours too. Lovely mouth-watering acidity with a very long finish. This is my kind of wine!

Montalcino Sesti bottlesPhenomina BdM Riserva 2005. Each vintage has its own astronomical themed label, this one showing Venus joining Jupiter. Darker brown hues with medium intensity colour. Malty notes, cola, sweeter baked fruits, then tobacco, crème caramel, orange peel, lilies. Medium body, baked stewed fruit, plumbs, rhubarb, leather, high acid, soft tannins great balance. Tobacco notes with a long savoury salty finish. Amazing complexity!

Overall a superb range of wines you can’t go wrong with any of them. Available from Armit wines. The Monteleccio and Rosso are tremendous value. www.armitwines.co.uk

Pieve Santa Restututa (Gaja)

Montalcino Pieve santa restitutaThe winery is named after the church on the site which is now converted into a stunning seminar & tasting room. Vaulted tunnels lead down to a state of the art winery hidden under the entrance driveway. The only clue to this subterranean structure is an oxidised steel sculpture by the architect floating over its central roof light.

Wine making in the area dates back to Roman times and the vineyards have long been prized and even fought over by competing nobles. The winery has 25 ha in total, 17 surrounding the winery and 8 near Torrenieri. The Rennina vineyard adjoins the winery and the vines are immaculately groomed in traditional Guyot style. Sugarille vineyard lies just to the south.

Montalcino Pieve santa tastingFermentation is temp controlled and micro oxygenation used. The wines are aged in oak tonneau for 24 months with 20-25% new oak. Then it spends 6 months in concrete tanks before bottling which helps remove the sediment.

Interestingly Gaja rates 2011 and 13 over 2012 because high temperatures accelerated sugar ripening, and therefore alcohol, over phenolic ripeness. It’s therefore probably unlikely that   Sugarille will be made. Many other wine makers on our trip extolled the virtues of the 2012 vintage.

Brunello di Montalcino 2011. Ripe red fruit, a balsamic strand, sweet sandalwood & floral notes. Great balance, high acidity, mouth coating tannin, quite grippy, high alcohol with a slightly hot finish. But long with nice baked fruit flavours. Already a very tasty wine.

Rennina BdM 2011. Single vineyard. Slightly spicy, herby nose, bit of meat and blood, complex. Lovely mouth feel with fine grained tannin, bright acidity and crunchy cherry fruit. Tasty savoury and mineral notes again a little residual wood tannin that needs to integrate. Already drinking well but built to last. Really delicious!

Montalcino Pieve santa casesSugarille BdM 2011. Sugarille vineyard is mostly galestro soil schist where Sangiovese excels. Slightly spirity on the nose, strawberry, confected red cherry fruit, bit tight but some dried herbs. Quite powerful, rich concentrated fruit, fine grainy tannin with grip, long fruit finish. Again bit of wood on the finish. Quite a powerful wine but with great balance and persistence.

Sugarille BdM 2014 barrel sample. Cherry boiled sweets, bit of ground coffee on the nose. Wow lots of toast and lots of tannin, medium body, moderate acidity really good length. Obviously still pretty embryonic having only spent a few months in barrel.

Sugarille BdM 2013 barrel sample.

Some high red fruit notes but lots of coco and coffee grounds on the nose. Medium body, nice ripe cherry paste flavours, some toast & more coffee grounds, lots of tannin and bright acidity, all tightly packed. Oak tannin on the finish but very long flavour profile. The makings of an awesome wine.

Fascinating to taste the Sugarille single vineyard Brunellos as they evolve in barrel. These are uncompromisingly serious wines, packed full with everything meticulously in place and with extraordinary potential.

Day 3

Conti Costanti 

Montalcino CostantiLocated just outside the town of Montalcino Costanti is one of the oldest wineries in the region. The vineyards are immediately around the house and adjoin the famous Biondi Santi winery. Annual production is generally 50,000 bottles overall with 35,000 bottles of BdM around 8000 bottles of the Riserva.

2013 Rosso di Montalcino 14.5% Aged 1 year in oak tonneau then 12mths in bottles. The oak is 50% young but not new having been used for the family’s table wine for a couple of years. Sweet cherry strawberries, floral notes, really fresh with beautiful balance. Sweet fruit and savoury notes, overall delicate with soft, cool tannins and a very long persistent finish. A Baby BdM m really excellent!

2010 Brunello di Montalcino. 14% Clear bright ruby colour. Grandma’s homemade strawberry jam, perhaps some herbs, thyme. In the mouth ripe cherry, some orange citrus notes, nice structure underneath. Crisp acidity and beautifully integrated tannins.  Amazingly approachable now but with great precision and structure for a long life. A fantastic wine with a very long lingering herb and mineral finish.

Montalcino costanti tasting2007 Riserva BdM 14%. Slightly darker colour but clear light intensity. Ripe dark cherry sweet fruit with a touch of smoke and dried herbs. The beginnings of secondary notes: Gucci band bag & a whiff of menthol.  More rich ripe sweet red & black fruits on the palate with lovely savoury notes. A medium body wine with silty tannins with a bit of grip. Enough freshness and again very long finish. Superb balance.  This is a bigger wine but not for the sake of it. Outstandingly good.

2012 Ardingo. 100% merlot from Monosoli vineyard aged in French oak barrique. Nose of plum chutney with a bit of smoke. Another amazingly elegant wine, an overall impression of baked red fruit pie with custard. Great freshness to balance the secondary toast and creaminess.  Ripe tannins and good length.

One of my top tastings where the consistent elegance and freshness of the wines really appealed.

Leave a comment

Annual Austrian Wine Tasting

The whites on show were mostly 2013, a warm year with ripe fruit, making the wines from Kremstal & Kamptal even more lush & inviting than usual, for me though the slightly fresher more structured wines of the Wachau shone brightest.

Bründlmayer, Kamptal.
These are always very seductive wines, soft & open but with great underlying structure.

Klassik ‘Kamptaler Terrassen’ Grüner Veltliner 2013.
This is a great immediately accessible lighter body wine, lovely broad fruit, touch of mineral, enough freshness & lift and medium length. Lots of drinking pleasure. (top pick)

Grüner Veltliner Loiser Berg 2013
A delicious blend of herbs, ground spice, minerality and ripe green fruit, more weight, great length. (top pick)

Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben 2013.
A fuller bodied wine, ground herbs & spice with intense fruit and creamy texture. Lovely.

Grüner Veltliner Lamm 2013
This is a fully bodied concentrated wine with a Burgundian lick of wood, intense ripe stone fruit, compact and age worthy.

F.X.Pichler, Wachau.

Very sought after wines with an international reputation, deservedly so because the wines are consistently outstanding.

Grüner Veltliner, Loibner Klostersatz Federspiel 2013.
Fantastic to see some Federspiel wines on show, these light to mid body style Grüners (with less than 13% alcohol) for me offer superb drinking pleasure, top notch examples such as this have all the floral, mineral and fruit complexity you could wish for in their youth. Great balance and length.

Grüner Veltliner, Loibner Steinertal Smaragd 2013.
A bit reticent compared to the Federspiel, floral, white peach, intense on the palate tight fruit stoney mineral. Great structure that will no doubt unwind over time.

Grüner Veltliner, Dürnsteiner Liebenberg Smaragd 2013.
More giving with stone fruit & ripe pear on the nose, mouth filling fuller body with perfectly balanced acidity, delicious long and really sexy.

Riesling, Burgstall Federspiel 2013
Another superb Federspiel, riveting, super fresh, tight mineral, compact fruit, great balance and satisfying length. Leaves you wanting more (on a west facing terrace at sun down!). (top pick)

Riesling, Steinertal Smaragd 2013
Nice tight mineral, fresh white peach, compact core full of promise & great length. Super refined.

Riesling, Dürnsteiner Kellerberg Smaragd 2013
Broader and softer than the Steinertal, ripe stone fruit, subtle herby spice, good acidity & incredible length.

Weingut Joseph Ehmoser, Wagram.

Great value quality wines.

Grüner Veltliner, von den Terrassen. 2013.
Nice ripe ear, floral, medium acidity and length. Good quality everyday drinking. 2013 was a warm year and so this vintage has a bit less of the fresh bite that I particularly enjoy in a Grüner.

Grüner Veltliner, Hohenberg, 2013.
Made in concrete eggs that keep the wine in motion and contact with the lees, sure enough the wine has a nice creamy texture, lovely spicy notes, very good.

Riesling vom Gelben Löss 2013.
A round and accessible fruit driven riesling, good mineral notes, round body and great length. Will repay a couple years in the cellar to develop some of those classic riesling characteristics.

Weissburgunder, 2013.
Fuller bodied and riper than the GV & Rieslings rich fruit, spicy, quite big and intense. These can be age worthy wines developing honey and dried fruit and spicy notes.

Knoll, Wachau

One of the top wine makers in the Wachau, producing outstanding traditional wines, a personal favourite. It would have been nice to see some of their Federspiels which are extraordinarily good.

Grüner Veltliner Ried Kreutles Smaragd, 2013.
Floral nose, hydrangea, peach, ground spice, pear and gooseberry, perfect balance and good length. Lovely. (The Federspiel Knoll produces from this vineyard is always drop dead gorgeous but in short supply).

Grüner Veltliner Reid Loibenberg Smaragd, 2013.
Intense mineral and spicy notes, concentrated ripe stone fruit, quite full bodied & very long.

Grüner Veltliner Ried Schütt Smaragd, 2013.
The Schütt vineyard seems to produce consistently beautiful refined wines. This has a nose of sweet white flowers, ripe pear, nectarine, superb balance and compact body, long. Fantastic. (top pick).

Riesling Pfaffenberg, Kabinett, 2013. (this is just outside the border of Wachau in Niederoesterreich. The Kabinett is equivalent to Federspiel style).
Lovely tight fruit, soft texture, bright acidity and good length. Lighter body. Enjoyable now but with good future.

Riesling Ried Kellerberg Smaragd, 2013.
Ripe apple, pear, hawthorne and spice, intense on the palate, high acidity, tightly coiled. Excellent.

Riesling Ried Schütt Smaragd. 2013.
Tight nose, floral, tropical fruit, compact body, good balance again tightly coiled but deep and refined.

Petra Unger, Kremstall.

Grüner Veltliner, ‘Q’ 2013.
A light fresh wine with green apples, classic touch of pepper and good lift.

Grüner Veltliner Reserve, Gottschelle, 2013.
More substance than ‘Q’ nice ripe pear, crisp apple, medium body and enough complexity to sustain one’s interest.

Grüner Veltliner, Alte Reben Oberfeld, 2013.
Old vines in deep sandy soils giving a intense and complex wine, fully bodied and demanding.

Riesling, Classic Hinters Kirchl, 2013.
Lovely rich and spicy riesling with great fresh acidity really delicious. (top pick).

Riesling Reserve Steiner Gaisberg, 2013.
Old vines, more classic riesling character, intense, complex and long.

Grüner Veltliner Eiswein Oberfeld, 2012.
Unusual to have GV ice wine and something very special, intensely sweet but with good acidity, complex, poached spiced pear, very very long. Superb. (top pick)

Stad Krems,Kremstal.

Grüner Veltliner Loessterrassen 2014
Nice fruity, medium light body, rounded & soft, medium length.

Grüner Veltliner Klassik Weinzierlberg. 2013.
More structure, light fruit and ground spicer, god acidity.

Grüner Veltliner Reserve Stein. 2013.
A selection from two vineyards near Stein, floral, ripe pear, balanced with good length.

Riesling Steinterrassen, 2012.
Good freshness, medium light body, medium length. May fill out a bit more with a year or two more?

Riesling Reserve Schieferterrassen, 2013.
Lovely ripeness, lots of fruit, touch of mineral and medium acidity. Good length.

Schloss Gobelsburg, Kamptal.

Grüner Veltliner Loessterrassen, 2013.
Light, crisp GV with a soft texture, great everyday drinking.

Grüner Veltliner Reserve Steinsetz, 2013.
Ripe pear, bit of ground pepper & spice, quite intense, medium acidity ad good length.

Grüner Veltliner Reserve Renner, 2013. (Reserve is equivalent to Smaragd, 13% +)
Again concentrated, ripe and a little heavy, good length.

Grüner Veltliner Reserve Lamm, 2013.
Vines are trained in a lyra form to maximise ripening, concentrated, ripe stone fruit, peach, even pineapple notes, full body & very long.

Grüner Veltliner Reserve Tradition, 2012.
This wine spends longer in inert large oak barrels allowing it to breath. Flowers and peach on the nose, wide and rounded on the palate full body but great fresh acidity ( 2012 was a more classic year). (top pick).

Riesling Reserve Gaisberg, 2013.
Floral nose, big spicy full bodied, medium acidity.

Riesling Reserve Heiligenstein, 2103.
More linear structured, compact fruit, medium body and acidity, long finish.

Hirtzberger, Wachau.

Grüner Veltliner Rotes Tor Federspiel, 2013.
Lovely mix of ripe pear, ground spice, stones and enough freshness and length. Excellent. (top pick).

Grüner Veltliner Axpoint Smaragd, 2012.
Really ripe green and stone fruit, intense, minerals great balance & freshness, a top notch Wachau GV. (again 2012 just seems to have that extra freshness and structure).

Grüner Veltliner Honivogl Smaragd 2012.
More opulent & fruit driven than the Axpoint, very well balanced and complex.

Riesling Steinterassen Federspiel 2013.
Light to medium riesling with medium acidity and length.

Riesling Hochrain Smaragd 2011.
A wine with great structure, intense & tightly coiled at the moment, good length and promise.


Leave a comment

New Zealand Wine Annual Tasting 2015

A tricky tasting with many wines appearing closed, a root day or are New Zealand’s maturing vines beginning to produce wines that behave just as capriciously in their youth as the best of the old world?

New Zealand undoubtedly produces some of the worlds premium wines and what makes this all the more extraordinary is that it does so from relatively young vines and in the context of a fair bit of climatic variation from year to year. At a tasting 18 months ago to celebrate 10 years of Craggy Range Te Muna pinot noir Steve Smith MW was confident that after a decade the vines were beginning to show their full character. So in theory the wines should just get better and better, no pressure then!

With 474 wines from 103 producers on show and only an hour and a half window I therefore thought the best thing to do was focus on a few old favourites to see how they were developing and what the current vintages are like.

Felton Road Central Otago

Felton Road Elms Chardonnay 2013.
Crisp citrus, ripe pear, lovely texture, this wine has substance but also great freshness & good length. Delicious & great value. (No oak but aged in old barrels to soften and round it out).

Felton Road Chardonnay Bannockburn 2013.
A captivating succession of citrus, lemon & lime, stoney mineral notes, a whiff of white flowers and just a hint of bakery and toast. Great complexity and length, at whole lot of wine for the price. (Again more Chablis than Cote d’Or with only 8% new wood).

Felton Road Block 2 Chardonnay 2013.
My notes read: ‘OMG this is fantastic!’ so it was pretty good. Again citrus, ripe green apples, a good lick of minerals, very intense at this stage with great balance and long lingering finish. Thrilling and with plenty of ageing potential. Grand Cru in terms of quality, Nigel Greening founder of Felton Road believes that whilst NZ pinots are already internationally recognised the Chardonnays are now ready to sit at the top table too.

Felton Road Pinot Noir Bannockburn 2013.
This wine strikes a great balance between forward tasty ripe fruit and a nice vegital backbone, finishing with lashings of spice and wood. Reliably delicious.

Felton Road Pinot Noir Cornish Point 2013.
True to this vineyard’s character this wine is spicy, seductive and forward. Ripe red fruits, cake spices and a lush mouth feel, nice long finish. I always wonder how this will age, having started out so delicious.

Felton Road Pinot Noir Calvert 2013.
Again the consistent character of this vineyard comes through, quite distinct from the Cornish Point, although the clones and vinification are exactly the same. More compact with great balance, clean fruit, perfume with a nice savoury core and great length. Fantastic. One to tuck away for a few years and great value when compared with premier cru Burgundy.

Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3 2013.
A lovely delicate balance of confected strawberry, cinnamon spice, real depth and complexity & great freshness and length.

Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5 2013.
This has an earthy, meaty nose with ripe black cherry, intense and primary, fuller bodied with a caressing mouth feel and just enough freshness to lift the very long finish. Amazing.

Craggy Range

Craggy Range Avery Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough. 2014
A great fresh gooseberry driven SB with a touch of elderflower and cracking acidity.

Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Martinborough.

This has more substance, stone fruit and a nice creaminess, but still all the crisp freshness that you would hope for, very satisfying.

Craggy Range Chardonnay Kidnappers Vineyard. Hawke’s Bay 2012.
Vibrant ripe citrus, touch of honey and a lovely saline whiff of the sea shore. Great balance and freshness, the tiny touch of oak very subtle.

Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna Road vineyard, Martinborough. 2012.
This seemed a little closed down and I have noticed that although they start open and inviting MZ some PNs seem to close down and become more reticent after a couple of years. Red fruit and a vegital base, good balance and nice finish. This is normally a real crowd pleaser with pure fruit and a heady floral perfume as evidenced by our 10 year tasting finishing with the 2011 two years ago.

Craggy Range Pinot Noir Aroha Te Muna Road vineyard, Martinborough. 2011.
A selection from the finest parcels with some whole bunch fermentation. Quite primal with earthy, vegital with black cherries wood and smoke, you can almost taste the stalk tannin which may need a bit of time to fully integrate. Again quite closed but with plenty of substance.

Craggy Range Syrah Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay. 2011.
Black and white pepper, tight black fruit, quite austere at the moment , medium body with good balance, will hopefully fill out with time.

Craggy Range ‘ Le Sol’ Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay. 2011.
Again quite closed overall but clearly an intense wine with a deep core of black fruit, black pepper and toast. Great balance and long length.

Craggy Range ‘Sophia’ Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay. 2011.
Gorgeous polished nose, perfumed wood polish, ripe blackberries, medium body, fine tannins, silky mouth feel and good length. Delicious.