Friday, December 31, 2021

Quinta Do Crasto Vinha Da Ponte - A Unique Wine

 Quinta do Crasto is among the best, if not the best Portuguese winery. The Vinha da Ponte wine will be legendary over time and is unique for a couple of reasons. The first is the vineyard. It is situated on the steep slopes of the Douro Valley in schisty soil. There are probably over 30 varieties in this very low yielding, terraced vineyard of more than 100 year old vines. The best known are Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Tempranillo, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Dao. There are some white varieties here as well. All is put together in a true field blend.

The second is the winemaking. As I understand it, the grapes are picked at the same time. Some may have an alcohol level of 16%, some of 11%. Obviously, most will be around the 14% mark. The grapes are then foot trodden in traditional lagares. After fermentation, the wine is matured for 20 months in new French oak barrels. This wine is only made in exceptional years, seven times this century so far.

I am drinking the 2015 Quinta do Crasto Vinha da Ponte. I managed to get two bottles to Australia, with great difficulty. The bouquet has lifted aromatics. I smell red and blue forest berries on the nose.

The flavours of this full-bodied wine are unusual. It is very blue fruited. There are red berries as well and some spice. I decanted the wine, as suggested on the back label, but the wine still felt very young with a lot of energy. It was a warm vintage, but the acidity in this wine is high - maybe because some varieties are harvested early for them. Tannins have medium intensity. The oak is smartly integrated and hides behind the strong fruit, which carries through to the long finish.

This is quite a unique wine with a lot of personality. I also have two bottles of the sister wine, the Maria Teresa, but based on this experience, I will leave them in the cellar a little longer.

Score: 96/+++  


Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Georges Noëllat Les Petits Monts

 The Les Petits Monts is a relatively high altitude 1er cru vineyard in Vosne-Romanée, situated just above the famous Richebourg. This was a good place to be for the warm vintage of 2015. The following year, when I visited Burgundy, I met Maxime Cheurlin, the young winemaker of Georges Noëllat. He is perhaps most famous for having stood up Jancis Robinson at a prestigious lunch in London, but I digress. The wine which impressed me was the 2015 Georges Noëllat 1er cru Les Petits Monts. It was not easy to get some of this wine to Australia, but I managed via a friend in Switzerland. Hopefully this effort was worth it.

The colour is a brilliant crimson. The nose is a little closed, with red cherry notes emerging slowly.

The flavours explode on the palate. This wine is vibrant! Red cherry, strawberry, and some smoky savoury notes dance on the tongue. This wine is upbeat all the way. Silky tannins deliver an exquisite mouthfeel, and the elusive peacock's tail emerges a bit shyly on the finish.

This is an elegant and delicious wine, quite generous. A bit more cut-through would have delivered an even higher assessment. Will reach peak in 3-5 years.

Score: 96/+++

Monday, December 27, 2021

What Have We Been Drinking This Christmas?

 Christmas gatherings this year have been much smaller in many countries, as we are still in the grip of covid-19. However, I am sure this community has still been enjoying their wine. My drinkings are shown below.

The Arras Sparkling was sadly disappointing. It was fresh, but had little complexity and no biscuit flavours. The Nimbostratus Chardonnay is an unusual wine, which I will report on separately. I enjoyed the Derthona again, which I have reviewed previously. It is a bigger white wine without having buttery flavours. It went well with the prawns. But the wine of the day was the Georges Noëllat Burgundy. Again, I will review it separately.

What have you been drinking? Please comment. I am also interested in comments from the Northern Hemisphere, where different temperatures no doubt lead to different choices. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

The Standish Wine Company Lamella Shiraz

 I am quite excited about this wine. Therefore I am writing this up, as I drink it on Christmas Eve. It is the 2015 The Standish Wine Company Lamella from Eden Valley.

I am drawn straight to the palate. Flavours of red cherry, cranberry, mocca, and some secondary earthy notes create interest. The key here, however, is the combination of energy, power and elegance. This wine absolutely nails it. The tannins are fine for a full-bodied wine. The super long finish is smooth and lifted, and very impactful.

This wine is superb drinking now. It will not last as long as a very good Bordeaux, but should drink really well for the next 3-5 years.

Score: 97/+++

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Yabby Lake Single Vineyard Pinot Noir

 When it comes to Pinot Noir from the Mornington Peninsula, I tend to be quite selective. Many of the wines are bold and fruity and lack Pinot Noir typicity. Yabby Lake is a producer I am happy to try. Yesterday it was the 2015 Yabby Lake Single Vineyard Pinot Noir. This is a mid-level wine from this company.

Surprisingly, for a 6 year old wine, the colour included some orange-brown tinges. The wine did not give away much on the nose.

On the palate, there was red cherry, but savoury notes dominated, in particular mushroom. Some spice added a nice contrast, but otherwise, this wine was not very complex. On the positive side, the tannins were fine and the finish quite long. Overall, a somewhat perplexing, drink now wine.

Score: 91/+  

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

E. Pira Chiara Boschis Via Nuova

 In general, I do not take much notice when people describe a vintage as great or poor. Hot or cool, yes, because this can be objectively verified. But in terms of quality, there is so much variation that you can find great wines in so called poor vintages, and poor wines in great vintages. The odds are perhaps against it, but I prefer to look at the individual wine.

2012 was regarded as a pretty good vintage in Piedmont, although dwarfed by 2010 and 2013. So when I opened the 2012 E. Pira Chiara Boschis Via Nuova I was pretty confident this should be a good wine at a good time to drink. The Via Nuova is a blended Barolo. The number of vineyards varies between vintages. In 2012, it is a blend of six vineyards, two each from Barolo, Monforte, and Serralunga.

When I opened the bottle, I got a bit concerned. The colour was a quite developed blend of red and brown. I inspected the cork, which was firm and hardly penetrated by wine. Dried flowers and prune notes emerged from the glass.

Being from the southern areas of Piedmont, this is always a full-bodied wine. Unfortunately, this wine lacked energy. The flavours were very earthy with some dried fruit characteristics. The wine still has a good structure with mellowed dry tannins. The finish is long.

This wine is much more developed than it should be at 9 years of age, and is past its best. It could of course be the bottle, but if you have this wine, I suggest you drink it now.

Score: 89/0

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Yeringberg Pinot Noir

 The Yeringberg winery has famous neighbours in Yarra Yering and Coldstream Hills. Like the generations before, the fourth generation of the founding family is focussed on quality. The low production allows it to eschew all forms of publicity, hype and marketing. Therefore, it is not often talked about. Yesterday, I drank the 2015 Yeringberg Pinot Noir.

On the nose, I experienced wet forest floor or even the opening of a can of wet tennis balls.

This is a very savoury wine, not unlike by Farr. Mushroom, red capsicum, tomato, and earthy flavours emerge on the palate of this smooth wine. The structure is solid, even though acidity and tannins are quite light. The only drawback: this subtle wine can be overwhelmed by food.

Score: 93/++


Monday, December 13, 2021

Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay

 For 30 years, from about 1980, the answer to which wine was Australia's best Chardonnay, was relatively simple. It was either Giaconda's Chardonnay or the Leeuwin Art Series, with Pierro challenging in some years. During this time, Penfolds embarked on the 'white Grange' project, the ambition very clear.

A few weeks ago, I tasted the highly acclaimed 2018 Yattarna. It is a very good wine, and as I have a couple of bottles in my cellar I will report on it in the future. However, the wine would not have made me change my view expressed in the previous paragraph.

Then I tasted the 2012 Penfolds Yattarna a few days ago. This wine blew me away. It started with the pungent nose of exotic fruit. The wine is sourced, I believe, from three regions, Adelaide Hills, Henty (Victoria) and Tasmania. As a cool climate wine, you expect citrus the dominant, maybe only flavour. However, this wine shows peach, grapefruit, even some tropical fruits. Biscotti notes round out the palate.  This is complex! It remains focused and precise. The overall mouthfeel has some ageing Semillon characteristics as well. Smoothed out acidity, and a gentleness, which is very appealing.

This is the greatest Australian Chardonnay since the 1987 Leeuwin Chardonnay (with apologies to the younger readers).

Score: 97/+++

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Chateau Rauzan-Ségla

 The high quality Chateau Rauzan-Ségla from the Margaux subregion swims somewhat under the radar in Australia. The 2005 Chateau Rauzan-Ségla is testament to the winery's quality. 

2005 was a warm vintage, and after opening the wine, it is already clear this is a big wine. The nose is highly aromatic, with blackcurrant and earthy notes emerging from the glass.

On the palate, a complex flavour, a blend of blackcurrant, charcoal meat, cigarbox, and smoky and slightly saline elements emerges. The oak is noticeable, but well integrated by now. This is a dense and powerful wine at 'only' 13.5% alcohol. The Merlot component delivers on the mid-palate, no problem. Firm and dry tannins lead to a full-flavoured finish. This wine demands beef. 

This Margaux will live much longer, as secondary notes will completely take over in time. Decanting is highly recommended.

Score: 95/++