Monday, November 29, 2021
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Jura wines are relatively rare, representing only 0.2% of French wine production with its 2000ha under vine. They also represent quite unique wine styles, as described below, and they are all the rage in the bars of New York and Tokyo. The authorized grape varieties are Savagnin and Chardonnay for white wine, and Poulsard, Pinot Noir and Trousseau (Bastardo) for red. Two third of the plantings are for white wine, and this is where most of the interest lies.
One of the unique styles is vin jaune (yellow wine), only made from Savagnin. The wine juice is matured for six years in neutral casks. It is not allowed to be topped up for five years. As a result, ullage develops, which results in an oxidized wine. The impact is somewhat reduced by the yeast which develops as a thin cover, similar to sherry production. A second group of wines is called sous voile, which means the wine matures under yeast as well, but not for the duration of vin jaune. This can be Savagnin or Chardonnay. Macvin are wines with the addition of a neutral spirit. This wine can be made from all five varieties. And then there is the desert wine vin de paille. This wine is made from air dried grapes. Conventional wines are made as well, red and white. In contrast to other regions, red wines are meant to be drunk young, whereas white wines are mostly aged.
Tasting these wines can be challenging and does not necessarily correspond with expected varietal character, as the production method dominates. I will report briefly on the outstanding four wines from a recent tasting.
Monday, November 22, 2021
Maude has been a favorite of mine since I visited this boutique winery, located in a small side valley off Wanaka Lake in Central Otago quite a few years ago, and not well known. This changed, when the 2017 Maude Pinot Noir was voted New Zealand's best Pinot Noir of the year. Today, I am tasting this wine.
Monday, November 15, 2021
The most aromatic wines in Bordeaux come from the subregion of Margaux. The 2009 Chateau Malescot St. Exupery is a very good example. It is a blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot (rounding).
Friday, November 12, 2021
As you would probably expect from a blog like this, there are not many reviews of Sauvignon Blanc. But let us not forget that blends with Semillon produce great results in Bordeaux and Margaret River. In New Zealand, a number of companies have released more complex Sauvignon Blancs by maturing them in oak, for example. There are, however, some 'standard' Sauvignon Blancs which should not be overlooked. One such wine is the 2020 Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc. This producer has delivered quality for many years.
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
As I was reflecting on the major wine trends this year, I came to the conclusion nothing will change them in the next few weeks, so I might as well share them now. This is written from an Australian perspective.
1) The rise of Grenache.
Grenache has been with us for a long time, of course, first as an input into port, then as a key component of GSMs. But now, high quality varietal wine is made, and the consumers are lapping it up. Grenache suits warming climate, and its flavours and freshness are also well suited to our palates. Key growing areas are the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, and some high quality is coming from the Great Southern Region in Western Australia.
2) Value Chardonnay
Value Chardonnay has always been around, but never in the numbers and quality as now. These wines are really narrowing the gap to the ultra premium wines. It will be interesting to see how this dynamic will further develop. Best examples come from the Yarra Valley and Margaret River.
3) Elegance over power
Producing powerful elegant wines can be regarded as the holy grail, but in reality, this is seldom achieved. Powerful wines are often high alcohol, tannic, and a little harsh. Well now, many producers give up some of this power for elegance. Grapes are picked earlier, less new oak is used. This trend applies to many wines, but in particular Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Of course, not all winemakers follow this trend, but it is undeniable.
4) Zero Alcohol, wine in cans
This trend is still emerging, but in quite a powerful way. There are a number of factors at work. The major one is to appeal to young drinkers, many of whom find the wine traditions unappealing. And in general, many consumers want to reduce alcohol intake without giving up wine. Quality remains an issue, but major improvements are likely.
5) More and more varied Rosé
Rosé has become an acceptable drink - it took a while. Now it comes in many styles, from many countries, made from many different grapes and blends.
So there it is for 2021.