What’s in the glass tonight September 17th – Minervois


ch-millegrand-2012

Off Topic: Ch. Millegrand Minervois 2012 – $

When I was looking for a Rhone, I chose a neighbour instead, Minervois from the Languedoc. A blend of Syrah, Carignan, Grenache and Mourvedre grapes. It won a Medal D’or in 2013.

Dusty carmine colour, showing some tawny browning. 13% alc.

The nose showed soft and savoury, dark fruits and raisins. It was bright and brittle the first night’s tasting so I left half alone. A night’s standing in bottle took the bright edge off the attack and restored some body.

Still, it remained light-bodied, fruit-forward, with soft acids. Little tannin, no bite or grip to this rouge. Simple, straightforward, but disappointing. The nose saved it from mediocrity.

82 points

What’s in the glass tonight September 14th – Viognier


te-mata-estate-zara-2014

From the Cellar: Te Mata Zara Viognier Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$$

Purchased a year ago at an industry tasting. Not kept for very long cos L wanted a Viognier, and I had maybe two bottles in the Pool Room…it is not a wine I collect. Call it fashion, call it my own taste…

Brilliant medium gold colour. 14% alc.

A smoky and spicy and dense bouquet, with ripe enveloping apple scents.

Rich flavours on attack. Ripe, sinewy also, with a silky texture on the mid-palate. Flavours of cooked apples and figs. Oily and mouthcoating. A long hot and spicy finish, with white pepper and cashews. This was good.

89 points

What’s in the glass tonight September 11th – Merlot Malbec


ka-tahi-merlot-malbec-2013

Ka Tahi Merlot Malbec Hawkes Bay 2013 – $

Under the watchful eye of Napier Hill, in Pandora lies the home of Ka Tahi Wines.  Here is another wine from this producer…A blend of 85% Te Awanga Merlot with 15% Gimblett Gravels Malbec.

Inky carmine. 13.8%.

It started light and a little thin in the glass, but softened and deepened over time.

Lifted dark fruit aromas of blackcurrants and ripe Black Doris. Quite savoury also, with pleasant vanilla and spice notes.

Upfront, in the mouth, the wine was soft, with drying tannins on the mid-palate, and some acid showing at the death. Quite long, the acid made it mouthwatering, but that could also be indicative of some shortness of body. Quite attractive, and a good BBQ wine. It went well with our mild lamb curry.

84 points

What’s in the glass tonight September 10th – E.Guigal Rhône reds


eguigal-cdr-2012

D and R came around for a pre-dinner drink and snack. We polished off my open bottle of E.Guigal Côtes du Rhône 2012 , then I cracked open a E.Guigal Gigondas 2010.

eguigal-gigondas-2010

The CdR 2012 was excellent, and looks a great bet for the cellar (Decanter July 2016 rated it 87 pts, saying, “Bright aromas of crisp red fruits, with smoky roasted undertones. Soft notes of creamy vanilla [] fine tannins [] fresh mineral finish [] poised and polished”) (I would score a few pts higher than that), while the Gigondas 2010 appealed to me greatly for its extra concentration, ripe fruit, density and all-round superyumminess (to be scientific).

Good times. Good company!

MS Tasting –Barbaresco


Magnum Barbaresco 2007 2

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco

An unknown for me, Barbaresco. So I was very keen to attend this month’s Society tasting.

It provided the very rare opportunity to taste an cellared horizontal of wines from one fine producer – a co-operative – from across each of the Barbaresco crus, with the exception of Pajè. Our Cellarmaster was kind enough to round out the flight with Rabajà from his own cellar.

As usual, the notes provided were excellent, this time by AH:

The current cooperative was founded in 1958 by the Reverend Don Fiorino Marengo as a countermeasure to the urban drift that was gradually depleting his congregation. It was effectively a revival of a previous cooperative, the Cantine Sociali, started by Domizio Cavazza, a Barbaresco resident and head of the Royal Enological School of Alba. The original cooperative went into decline during World War I and closed in 1923 after failing to survive the harsh economic conditions under the fascists.

The Produttori del Barbaresco currently comprises 51 growers, led since 1991 by Managing Director Aldo Vacca, son of the founding Managing Director Celestino Vacca, who retired in 1984. Gianni Testa has been the winemaker at Produttori since the late 1980s and under the current management the cantina sociale has earned a reputation as one of the world’s best best cooperatives, certainly as far as value for money is concerned. Production is around 550,000 bottles per year. In years when the riserve are made they are divided among Barbaresco (50%), single vineyard Barbarescos (30%) and Nebbiolo Langhe (20%).

At harvest the farmers bring their grapes to the piazza where they are analysed for parameters such as sugar, phenolics and tannins, which determines the amount each producer is paid. This ensures that quality does not take a back seat to quantity. The grapes are sent down a chute to the cellar, which makes use of the steep hill on which the town sits to permit gravity feeding between the three levels for fermentation and racking before the wine is taken to another facility next to the nearby Ovello vineyard for aging in 22 – 55 hectolitre botti.

The Barbaresco “normale” spends two years in botte. In good years the cooperative may decide to produce individual riserve from each of the nine Barbaresco crus, which spend three years in botte. The decision on whether to bottle riserve is made, not so much on the quality of the riserve in good years, but on the quality of the normale in poorer years. In other words, if higher quality fruit is needed to maintain the standard of the normale, the riserve will not be made.

As with every vineyard in the Langhe, aspect and position on the hillside are important determinants; the south facing sites on the mid to upper producing the best wine. When asked to describe each of the nine Produttori crus in one word, Aldo says Pora is approachable; Rio Sordo, elegant; Asili, austere; Pajè, bright; Ovello, lively; Moccagatta, floral; Rabajà, complete; Montestefano, powerful; Montefico, austere. I usually find that the crus starting with “p” are softer, more elegant expressions, whereas those starting with “m” are more structured, especially Montestefano. Asili and Rabajà usually stand out in the line-up for their balance and complexity. Whereas Aldo would be no more likely to rank his children in order of preference than rank the Produttori crus, my personal order of preference would look something like Rabajà, Asili, Montefico, Ovello, Montestefano, Rio Sordo, Moccogatta, Pajè, Pora.

On the quality of 2007 vintage the opinions of critics vary. Jancis Robinson says simply…”Hail and arid conditions resulted in a low-yielding year, but of good quality fruit”….but she is referring to Piemonte as a whole and what is true for Barolo is not necessarily true for Barbaresco, thanks in part to the influence of the Tanaro river. The Galloni and Tanzer web site Vinous rates 2007 as the best vintage in Barbaresco since 1996, giving both these vintages 96 points. Here is their description of the 2007 vintage: “The 2007 Barbarescos possess dazzling aromatics, silky tannins and generous, at times explosive, fruit. Although 2007 was a warm year, temperatures were remarkably stable throughout most of the summer, which allowed for full ripening, even in less well-exposed vineyards. As a result, many entry-level Barbarescos are unusually delicious. One of the defining characteristics of the vintage is that the differences from vineyard to vineyard are more attenuated in 2007 than they were in more typical, cooler years such as 2001 and 2004. Because of the unusually warm weather in the spring, the entire growing season was moved up in the calendar, but the cycle from flowering to harvest turned out to be close to normal. These conditions resulted in wines that combine elements of warm and cool vintages to an extent I have never seen previously.

We would be tasting all but one of the nine riserve; Pajè missing the cut on this occasion

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Asili

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Montefico

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Muncagotta

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Ovello

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Pora

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà

Magnum Barbaresco 2007 1

And to the wines:

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Pora – Deep tawny red colour. Florals, roses, vanilla, oak, almonds, lifting. An excellent start. To taste I saw raspy acid, tannic dryness, bright red fruits – plums and cherries. Refreshing. It softened in the glass, and was transformed by food. I scored it Silver.

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo – Deep tawny red colour. Vanilla pod notes, somewhat reticent to begin with. There was engaging suppleness in the glass, refreshing, with a good tannic backbone. Deep red fruits. Lively acid finish. Lovely length. Charming. I scored it Silver.

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Asili – Deep tawny red. Vanilla notes on the nose, softer than the previous wines, with elegance, spice, almost dusty. Brambly red fruit to taste, bright entry, delicious complete marriage of acid and fruit. Ripeness and persistence. A drying finish. Ticked my box. I scored it Gold. One of my two Wine of the Night(s) WOTNs.

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà – Deep tawny red. Dusty, with boxwood, tannins, & superb concentration. A step up in intensity. It showed lighter and sweeter in the mouth than the previous wines. Delicious again, ripe gorgeous fruit, svelte balance, complete. I scored it Gold.

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Muncagotta – Deep tawnier red. Aromatic, and dusty. With oak, vanilla, roses and varnish. Sweet entry on palate, mouthcoatingly textural, with red fruit flavours. Some hint of dryness and austerity on a long finish. I scored it Silver.

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Ovello – Deep tawnier red. Slightly dumber than previous. Some vanilla, baking spice, cloves, dry straw and oak. Grippy dense black fruit, austere, slight body, sinewy and drying. I scored it Silver.

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Montefico – Deep tawnier red. Spice, pepper, violets, volatile acids, deep perfume and roasted meat on the nose. Layered, intriguing, complex. In mouth I saw this as a complete expression – ripe red fruit, acids, texture, length and bosy. It was made in a bigger style, almost full throttle. Power and balance. I scored it Gold. My second WOTN.

2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano – Deep tawny red. Dusty, with phenols (whiteboard cleaner), most primary. Admirable flavour and grip. Great balance and structure, drying finish. I scored it Silver

The wines were all dusty on nose, with bouquets of roses and cloves and vanilla, and textural on palate. There was great concentration of fruit. The acid and tannin profiles point to years and years of life ahead for these wines

This had to be one of the most enjoyable tastings I have attended. It was a new variety (for me) and the similarities and subtle differences between the wines really made me work hard and think.

Here we had the same winemaker, same grape, same winemaking, and same vintage. All the same, yet differences emerged.  Fascinating, illuminating.

 

 

 

What’s in the glass tonight September 7th – Chardonnay


ka-tahi-chardonnay-2015

Ka Tahi Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2015 – $

Ka Tahi means the one in Te Reo. It looks to be a negociant wine.  Pale gold colour. 13%.

Fragrant peach, nectarines, manuka honey. It smells very developed for a 2015! Almost Burgundian in character.

Flavours in the mouth of apples, citrus, mandarin, nectarine, butterscotch. There is a zesty sharp attack with this wine, crunchy mouthfeel, medium length. Nice weight and ripeness to this value quaffer.

84 points

What’s in the glass tonight September 5th – Chardonnay


sacred-hill-chardonnay-2012

From the Cellar: Sacred Hill Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2012 – $$

Gold colour. 12.5%

Mealy secondary aromas. Cashews, butterscotch, apricots. Interesting.

I taste dulled fruit, a bit thin at first look, and citrus. This wine died in the glass in a relatively short time, and became unrewarding. Some wines improve with a bit of age, but this was not one of them. Oh well.

79 points

What’s in the glass tonight September 2nd – Merlot


Villa Maria CS Organic Merlot 2014

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Organic Merlot Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$

This wine was awarded a gold medal at the recent 2016 Bragato Wine Awards. Geoff Kelly highly praised the previous vintage, which I never managed to hunt down to taste, so when this appeared in the shops I defo wanted to give it a go.

The fruit was sourced from the certified organic Joseph Soler vineyard in Hawkes Bay.

Inky scarlet colour. 13% alc.

Soft taut savoury dark fruit on the nose. Dense, with cedar and boxwood and cardboard. Smells sweet with vanilla.

Soft fruit in the mouth. Ripe enough. Good fruit weight and depth. Fine tannins. Enough acid to keep things interesting. Other thoughts – warmth, elegance, studied ripeness. I suspect not as ripe as the lauded ’13.

Far too young now, this will look really good from another 3-4 years in bottle, benefitting from the time for the flavours to develop and marry up together. Ideally wait until 2024 and appreciate its class.

90 points