Sunday, August 28, 2016

St. John's Road Eden Valley Riesling

Over the years, as a collector, one develops a list of favorites, and it takes a real effort to stray from the known and trusted. Every now and then, I try to push myself to try a wine I have not heard of to keep abreast of something new and potentially exciting.

The 2014 St. John's Road Eden Valley Riesling is a wine I know nothing about. It has a golden colour of medium depth. Floral aromas emerge from the glass. Citrus and floral notes dominate on the palate. This is a clean wine. What is interesting is that it has the elements of a great wine, but not enough to really make it one. There is some definition along the palate, but it could do with more, similarly, I would have liked more acidity to balance the intensity of the fruit, and a firmer finish.

This is a dry, modern Riesling for easy drinking. Would go well with salads.

Score: 88/+

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Felton Road Pinot Noir

Felton Road is perhaps the most important Pinot Noir producer of the Southern Hemisphere. How can I say this? Apart from the consistent very high quality of the wines, the winery has a strong focus on organics and biodynamics, as well as the terroir the grapes grow on. Also, it is highly regarded world-wide.

Therefore, today I will begin a brief series on its five Pinot Noirs, as not many have the opportunity to taste them all. I will review an individual wine each time, and discuss some of the typical aspects of the respective brand.

I begin with the 2009 Felton Road Calvert Pinot Noir. This wine has a ruby colour. On the nose, exotic five spices aromas rise from the glass. The wine has the typical Central Otago fruit concentration. In this wine, there are black and red cherry flavours on the palate. The wine is very focussed and a bit leaner than the other Felton Road Pinot Noirs. The tannins are firm and silky. Fruit and tannins expand on the satisfying finish.

Score: 95/+++

                                                                      ***

The Calvert vineyard is relatively new in the Felton Road stable, as it was planted in 2001. It sits 1km east of the Elms vineyard (the Mother vineyard) on Felton Road. It is at lower altitude, and the fruit ripens earlier. The soil is consistent throughout the 4.6 ha. It consists of sandy loam, quartz gravels, and some calcium carbonate. Some characteristics of this wine are its slight angularity, and its strong minerality and saltiness. This is clearly a function of the earlier picking and the soils. Despite its relatively young age, wines from this fruit tend to easily age for 10-15 years.
    

Monday, August 22, 2016

Giaconda Chardonnay

Lately, it has not been fashionable to show oak in Chardonnay.  The serious ones all have it, but you are not supposed to notice a strong oak contribution. Well, Giaconda Chardonnay is different. This is about a marriage between fruit and oak.

I opened a bottle of the 2008 Giaconda Chardonnay. The colour is still a relatively pale golden, with a green tint (the bottle was screw-capped). This is a full-bodied wine with a lot of power (alc. 13.5%). The flavours are concentrated and complex. Ripe yellow peach and passionfruit is complemented by almond and medium toast. As the wine moves down the palate, it becomes more nutty, partly due to its 100% malolactic fermentation. The mouthfeel is excellent. This wine is clean and elegant, while carrying quite a punch, before it finishes long and smooth.

This wine has many years to go.

Score: 95/+

Award

My blog has been named in the top 100 wine blogs in the world. Nice one,

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The high points debate

The issue of points inflation is certainly gaining momentum, as the points-master James Halliday published his 2017 guide. (There is also an inflation of publishing guide books early). Huon Hooke, the well respected Sydney Morning Herald wine writer, has been critical on Radio National, calling the 100 point scale increasingly useless. There is certainly a virtual circle of scoring high. It ensures you are quoted on the winery's website and get bottles submitted next year. The wineries obviously like it and the quoting enhances the reviewer's brand. James Halliday defends by saying while his scores are high, there is internal integrity to the system and Australian wine has improved. But what is the point of a system that essentially ranks wines without fault between 94 and 98 points? The comment of 'don't look at the points, read the notes' is lame, as everybody looks at the points. Overseas reviewers have been puzzled by this high scoring, and there is a risk that Australia is not taken serious as a result of it.

Independence is important. I do not rely on samples, although I do not reject them. I do not rely on being quoted, as this blog persues no commercial interest.

Any thoughts and comments?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Yealands Land Made Sauvignon Blanc

Yealands has developed a layered structure for its Sauvignon Blancs. Some time ago I reviewed their single vineyard wine, which was propagated as best Sauvignon Blanc in the world. It clearly wasn't the best from New Zealand, let alone the world.

So it was with some trepidation that I tried the wine 'below' it, the 2014 Yealands Land Made Sauvignon Blanc. This is a wine made from many different vineyard parcels. The aroma is true to what one would expect from Marlborough: gooseberry and grassy notes jump out of the glass. On the palate, these flavours are reinforced and very strong. This is a fruity wine. It is clean and well made. Nothing complex in this wine, which finishes dry.

Score: 87/-

Friday, August 5, 2016

Chateau d'Yquem

I am writing this review with some trepidation. Famous wine writers have of course reviewed this wine, and I am not very experienced with Sauternes. However, this is a blog of my personal experiences. So here come my impressions of the 2005 Chateau d'Yquem. 

2005 was a great vintage for red Bordeaux, but not so much for Sauternes in general due to the warmth of the vintage. However, this is a terrific wine. The flavours on the palate are complex: stonefruits, pineapple, honey and almonds. The wine is intense and rich, but has a lightness on the finish. The acidity is perfectly balanced. There is a long and balanced aftertaste. This wine has sheer class.

If you enjoy everyday dessert wines, I suggest you skip the next five or six and buy this wine once. It will change your view of what a dessert wine can be like.

Score: 98/+++








Thursday, August 4, 2016

Cono Sur Bicicleta Syrah

I am on a bit of an international tasting tour. Cono Sur (get it?) is a Chilean producer of large volume wine at generally great value for money. I have enjoyed their Pinot Noir in the past. This Syrah is called Bicicleta, because the workers apparently care for the vineyard on bicycle (go figure).

I tried the 2014 Cono Sur Bicicleta Syrah. This is a pretty basic wine. The red plum flavours are not very intense, but the wine is clean and uncomplicated. It is reasonably balanced, and as long as it is consumed with a hearty dish, such as a hamburger, it can be enjoyed in a supporting role.

Score: 85/0

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Burn Cottage Pinot Noir

My first exposure to this cult producer from Central Otago. I am tasting the 2014 Burn Cottage Pinot Noir. This medium-bodied wine is quite complex on the palate. There is red cherry, spice, dried herbs, earl grey and forest floor notes. However, this is not a cocktail, but a singular expression of the site, with good depth of flavour. The wine is precise and elegant, maybe a bit fruity, if I want to be picky. This wine has a silky and polished finish. It will improve and drink well for ten years.

Score: 94/++

Joseph Drouhin Chassagne-Montrachet

Joseph Drouhin is one of the larger producers in Burgundy, with significant holdings as well as purchased grapes. This Chardonnay comes from one of the three classic white wine growing areas south of Beaune. It is a village wine i.e. not a premier or grand cru. The soil here is a complex mix of limestone, marl and clay. I tasted the 2013 Joseph Drouhin Chassagne-Montrachet. The vintage was very cool, producing classical wines.

I was not quite sure what to expect. It could have been richness, as associated with this area, or more a Chablis style, given the vintage. Citrus is certainly the dominant flavour, but this is a more generous wine than a Chablis. There is candied fruit and gingerbread on the palate and floral notes on the finish. The acidity is surprisingly low for the vintage. This is a very smooth and elegant wine, quite soft, maybe lacking some definition.

Score: 93/++

Monday, July 25, 2016

Ribera del Duero

My visit to the region was very exciting. The qualities of wines I tasted was very impressive, indeed. Unfortunately, I am not able to report in detail, as I am writing an article about this experience in one of Australia's leading wine magazines. I will just say that I had three world class experiences
- visit and tasting at Vega Sicilia, which is undergoing an interesting evolution
- an overnight stay at Abadia Retuerta, an outstanding vineyard accomodation
- the Atauta valley, remote, pre-phylloxera, literally hundreds of sub 1ha plots of 100+ year old tempranillo vines, culminating in the astonishing wines of Dominio de Atauta

If you visit Spain for wine, don't just visit Rioja, visit Ribera del Duero.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Pesquera Millenium Reserva

To get in the mood of Ribera del Duero, which I will be visiting for the next three days, I tasted the 2002 Pesquera Millenium Reserva, only the second release of this wine since 1996.

This wine is very attractive on the palate, with black cherry, bramble, smoky bacon and spices from French oak coming together very well. The wine is quite intense and brooding, yet elegant and harmoneous. I liked the French oak treatment and the velvety texture of this wine. This Tempranillo is pure and penetrating with fine tannins on the lasting finish.

This wine is still youthful revealing a very balanced structure. If this is the standard I will be getting for the next three days, I will be in for a treat.

Score: 95/+++