Brokenwood is one of the Hunter Valley's leading wineries. It branched out to McLaren Vale to craft different types of Shiraz quite some time ago. And then it thought about Beechworth. Why? Well, no bad wines come from Beechworth. Enter the Brokenwood Pinot Noir.
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Friday, October 23, 2020
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Bodegas Bilbainas control 250ha in 50 plots in Rioja Alta. This points to a typical Rioja blending operation. Two aspects stand out. Bilbainas is organic, and it has vineyards in limestone soil.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Artadi is a young winery based in Rioja Altavesa, founded in 1985. It is not steeped in tradition. It left the Rioja Appelation in 2015. Today, it is one of Rioja's, in fact Spain's icon producers. The man behind this is winemaker Juan Carlos Lopez de Lacalle.
Monday, October 19, 2020
Are you serious, I hear you say. Well, this question arose in my mind after a tasting of high quality wines of less prominent grape varieties recently.
The most famous regions in France do not feature grape varieties. The argument there is between terroir and producers. Burgundy features terroir, but there is no doubt, producers make a difference. The famous example is the vineyard of Clos de Vougeot, where different producers produce wines of vastly different quality. In Bordeaux, the chateau reigns supreme, but are the differences between Mouton and Lafite all due to winemaking? In any case, grape varieties may not feature, because it is well known that red wine in Burgundy means Pinot Noir, and on the left bank of Bordeaux it is a Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blend, while on the right bank it is Merlot led.
Two varieties which were presented at this tasting were Malbec and Blaufraenkisch. The Malbec I want to talk about here was the 2016 Cloudburst Malbec from Margaret River.
Sunday, October 18, 2020
From Haro I drive east to Marques de Riscal. The Frank Gehry designed building is perhaps the most famous winery building in the world. The colour scheme is supposed to represent a wine bottle, with the beige cork above a red wine bottle. In contrast to this modernity stands the history and tradition of this winery, founded in 1858.
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
My first stop in Haro was at Rioja Alta. This winery was established in 1890 to fulfill the requirements of Bordeaux merchants. There is a lot of tradition here, but also modernity, demonstrated, as an example, by this flashy showroom.
Sunday, October 11, 2020
1) Penfolds Grange
2) Henschke Hill Of Grace
3) Bass Phillip Reserve Pinot Noir
4) Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay
5) Clarendon Hills Astralis Syrah
6) Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon
7) The Standish Wine Company The Relic
8) Jim Barry The Armagh Shiraz
9) The Standish Wine Company The Standish
10) Grosset Polish Hill Riesling
Saturday, October 10, 2020
Today, Rioja is the most exciting of the traditional wine regions in the world. Why? A lot is going on. In the past, almost all wines were blended, but today, a number of single vineyard wines with a terroir focus have sprung up. Traditionally, wines were matured for long periods in oak, often more than five years. Strict regulations supported this approach. Oaky flavours were the hallmark of Rioja wines. Today, a number of wineries emphasize the Tempranillo fruit. The scene reminds me of Piedmont in the 1990s, with traditionalists and modernists fighting it out.
I visited Rioja a bit over a year ago and had planned to publish an article about it, but the wine magazine I used to write for had difficulties, and it never happened. I just came across my notes, and will now write this up here. The blog will have less wine specific tasting notes than normal, as the tastings took place more than 12 months ago, but there will be some.
The geography of Rioja is quite fascinating. On the one hand, warm winds are funneled up north from the Mediterranean, moving from Zaragoza into Rioja. On the other hand, cold winds from the Atlantic hit the Basque mountain range and descend into Rioja. Near Bilbao is a gap in the mountains which delivers wind and rain.
Friday, October 9, 2020
This year, I have not reported on new releases often, as tastings were mostly cancelled. I receive some tasting packages, but it is not something I have focused on. However today I can report on the new Shiraz releases by Alex Head from the excellent 2018 Barossa vintage.
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
There is no denying that there is a trend towards lighter style red wines. Many Shiraz and Cabernet producers try to accommodate this by picking earlier, reducing extraction and using less new oak. Nevertheless, 'lighter' styles are gaining share. The first wave was Pinot Noir. The second wave is Rosé or Rosado or Rosato. The third wave is more subtle, but gaining traction. It is Beaujolais.
The current Beaujolais story is a little complicated. Beaujolais is made from Gamay, a variety which is associated with fruity and easy drinking styles. Beaujolais Nouveau, released in the same year as harvested, was a big marketing success a few decades ago, but is not regarded as a serious wine by passionate wine drinkers.
However, the Beaujolais region has also created 10 cru areas, similar to the system in Burgundy. In contrast, they relate to entire village areas here rather than single vineyards as in Burgundy. If you want to get away from Beaujolais Nouveau as far as possible, you look for the 'M' villages, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent. Wines from here tend to be darker and more tannic than the other areas. Today, I am reviewing two wines from Morgon.