Saturday, October 27, 2018

Felsina Chianti Classico

Felsina is one of the stalwarts of the Chianti Classico style: you get the Sangiovese profile, high acidity, good with food, in particular tomato based dishes.

The 2013 Felsina Chianti Classico is very savoury. Actually, it is surprisingly tart and lean. Red cherry and olive flavours are drowned out by acidity and firm tannins. This still makes it a reasonable, but ultimately not very interesting food wine.

Score: 89/- 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Beyond The Standard White Wines

Do you belong to the 95+% wine consumers who only drink Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, dry Riesling, maybe Pinot Grigio when it comes to white wine? Well, there is a whole other world of white wine out there, which would make the experience much more interesting. Let me suggest four other varieties and styles to try.

1) Assyrtiko. This Greek variety from the island of Santorini, grown on volcanic soil, is crisp and fresh, with strong minerality. This full flavoured wine often tastes of apple or citrus, and the acidity is good. It is now grown in Australia as well. Drink it instead of Sauvignon Blanc. You find a couple of reviews in my index.

2) Gruner Veltliner. This is an Austrian specialty, and these wines are widely available internationally. The key feature are the spicy flavours in this wine. It is one of the few wines which goes well with Asian, in particular Thai food.

3) Alsace Riesling. These Rieslings are very different from German, Austrian or Australian Rieslings. They are much richer and emphasize the texture of the wine. They can have honeyed flavours, even though the standard wines are dry. There is often spice as well. I like these wines with rich fish dishes.

4) Roussane/Marsanne. This is becoming a favourite of mine. These wines, originally from the Northern Rhone - and highly praised there -, but now planted in many places, are all about texture, not the fruit. The colour is sometimes off-white. Pear, nut and honey flavours characterize this rich wine style. It pairs extremely well with all kinds of food.

If you have not tried wines from these grapes, I suggest you do so, and you will discover much more variety in white wine. And then, I have not even talked about the white varieties of Northern Italy, Northern Spain, Turkey, Georgia and so on.   

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Standish Wine Company Andelmonde Shiraz

Dan Standish is currently achieving something almost unique. He gets high ratings from the Parker reviewers, but also from those Australian reviewers who lean more towards European style wines. He seems to be the new star, following Peter Schell at Spinifex, who followed Dave Powell at Torbreck, who followed Rober O'Callaghan at Rockford. After all, winemaking is a fashion business, isn't it?

His operation is no compromise. All wines are Shiraz, mostly single vineyard. The wines are expensive - although maybe not for what they are - and there are no entry level wines. While I have not tasted the current releases so far, I thought I open an older bottle to see what this high praise is all about.

The 2012 Standish Andelmonde Shiraz comes from a vineyard in Greenock. The soil is ironstone gravels and schist over red clay. The label is white with nothing other than the name on the front.

In contrast, the wine in the glass is black. Blue and black berry aromas jump out. On the palate, there is the classic Shiraz dark plum flavour, but more so blueberry and blackberry. Spice and earthy notes add to the complexity. The fruit is pure, very dense and deep. The wine has a big frame, but surprisingly, it is not heavy. It has drive down the palate, and the intense fruit flavours deliver harmony and elegance. The tannins are firm, and velvety.

This wine is an amazing accomplishment. It delivers the unique intensity of Barossa Shiraz, but not at the expense of drinkability. This is a significant step forward for full-bodied Shiraz. 

Needless to say, the wine was fresh and will easily live another 20 years. As an aside, you would have noticed the wax seal. It was not difficult to push the cork screw through and in breaking the seal pull the cork out.  
Score: 98/+++

Monday, October 1, 2018

New Zealands Current Best?

I recently tasted a number of New Zealand's best wines at the 'Family of Twelve' tastings. This a a marketing organization of some of New Zealand's small and medium sized wineries.

The top wine for me was the 2016 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir. This wine is quite steely, and a bit edgy. It has an ethereal texture with very fine and silky tannins and an expanding finish. Ata Rangi seems to be able to produce this character year after year. Is it due to the clone they stole from Romanée-Conti? Maybe it is. The 2013 Ata Rangi McCrone Pinot Noir is made from the Dijon clone and does not come near it. But also, the vines for this wine are a lot younger.

The surprise second best wine for me was the 2015 Neudorf Moutere Pinot Noir. I enjoyed its deep fruit set, and again an elegant, silky structure.

In third place came the 2017 Felton Road Cornish Point Pinot Noir. The dark cherry flavours were quite smooth, and the tannins silky, a bit bigger than the previous wines. In contrast, the 2017 Felton Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir, a blend from three vineyards, was not as differentiated, with a slightly flat patch on the mid palate.

So there you are: three different vintages from three different regions, but a trifecta for Pinot Noir.