The 2003 vintage was difficult throughout Europe. Scorching hot weather meant at best early drinking wines without much distinction or elegance and at worst harsh tannic ones (or cooked – depending on the producer or district) that didn’t pack the fruit to back the tannins up.
Arguably some producers did make a better job than others and I therefore find it interesting to see how the 2003s are coming a long nine years on. I can’t say that I see many 2003s these days but I do got one or two bottles left in my possession. One of those is Gianni Voerzios lovely Barolo La Serra.
Gianni is the less famous of the two brothers Voerzio (the other one is Roberto who’s wines got a cult following and play in a completely different price-league). Gianni Voerzios Barolo La Serra must be one of the best bargains in whole of Piedmont. In Sweden his single vineyard wines usually sells for what you pay for generic Barolos from big companies like Fontanafredda (that is for less than €30).
I know that some wine tasters (at least here in Sweden) think that his wines are a bit heavy on the oak. I’m usually not a big fan of new wood but I must confess that I have never found La Serra to be particularly over oaked in any way.
So how is the Barolo La Serra 2003 coming along? Real fine if you ask me! This is still quite a tannic wine that needs some time in a decanter to soften up the hard edges. But the fruit is luckily still there. On the nose it got all the tell tale signs of nebbiolo with cherries, roses, cocoa powder, maybe a whiff of tar and tobacco. In the mouth it is medium bodied and mixes fresh and dried cherry flavors with chocolate/cocoa powder and tobacco. And, of course, it got that mouth drying aftertaste that is quintessential barolo.
I think I might leave my other 2003 nebbiolos to rest for a couple of more years!
(Last year I opened a La Serra 2000 – you can read about that wine here!)
Beyers Truter of Beyerskloof is a hell of a guy. You really can’t overestimate his influence and what he has done for what he calls “the unique selling point of South Africa” – Pinotage.
In Uncorked’s series on South Africa he will explain just why André van Rensburg of Vergelegen was wrong when he said the now classic slogan: “Don’t rape, steal or murder. Don’t make pinotage”. And he also tell us why he loves old bush wines. Here is a teaser (the real series starts in march):
Uncorked is working hard with our new season of tv-episodes for 24HD. We are editing 15 episodes from our South African tour and so it is great fun!
And here is a teaser from our focus on Thelema Mountain Vineyards. Thomas Webb gives us the intel behind the Mint Block Cabernet! So is it the cineol or the clones that gives that minty/eucalyptus flavor?
To be honest – not so long ago Soave did suffer from quite a bad reputation. The wines underperformed and as with many other white wines form Italy – they felt a bit uninspired. But thankfully a lot has happened in the last 10 years or so.
Lately I feel that the italien “great whites” (no pun intended! ;) ) are getting better and better. The reliance on new oak (good for quick gains but bad for long time track record) has diminished and the knowledge both in the vineyard and in the cellar has increased and some of the estates in Soave is leading the way.
This wine from Gini is somewhat of a modern classic. The producer makes two top-tier dry Soaves, the Contrada Salvarenza and the La Frosca. The latter from the vineyard La Frosca (6ha) is made from 100 percent garganega grapes and the vines got an average age of 50 years. It was partly fermented in steel and old oak vats but it has not went through malo lactic fermentation. Before bottling it has spent at least 8 months in 228 liters oak casks (but hardly new).
This usually gives a wine with lovely concentration and freshness. And La Frosca 2009 is no exception.
The wine is bright yellow in colour and has already a developed nose with elements of mature apples, flowers, honey, lanolin and melon. On the palate it has a lot of flavor with again tastes of apples, honey, bees wax and melon. The acids feels fresh but also mature and mellow and the long and well balanced aftertaste got a good minerality to it. Drink now or keep for up to five years!
Uncorked met a lot of interesting individuals at European Wine Bloggers Conference in Brescia in october 2011. We did a lot of interviews and we could not show you all in our episode on the conference.
So here and now you got the chance to meet André Cis. Young austrian wine blogger, photographer and entrepreneur!
Among the new releases in Sweden this week was Quinta do Vale Meãos second wine – Meandro 2009. And such a great bargain it is at around €18!
I wrote a post on Quinta do Vale Meão 2008 some time ago and it is truly a remarkable wine. The Meandro may lack the longevity and structure of the 1st wine but it does compensate for that with tad more approachability and suppleness. And at a third of the price – you can afford to buy more than one bottle!
It may still be a bit young because it is really serious wine made with the best combination of new and traditional winemaking techniques. The Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barocca and Sousão grapes were foot trodden in granite lagares for four hours before being transferred to temperature regulated stainless steel vats. The different grape varieties were vinified sperately and the final blend was then aged in french Allier Oak (second and third year barrells).
Deep dark red colour. On the nose very young and fresh with juicy black berries, spices and oak dominating the aromas. The taste is medium to full bodied with fresh crushed grape/berry notes in the forefront. I also find elements of spices (mint, pepper), oak and dark chocolate under the layers of fruit. The acids and tannins are already so well integrated that the wine almost feels mellow. But ideally I would give it another 2-5 years in bottle before it reaches its full potential!
South Africas Swartland district is “hot” not just climate wise but also hot as in “hyped” in wine loving circles. The likes of Eben Sadie, Adi Badenhorst, Lammershoek (thanks to Richard for the suggestion) and now also Mullineux Wines are setting new standards in a district that until recently was motsly known for rustic an uninteresting reds.
I am now proud to annonce that Mullineux Wines will be one of the stops on Uncorkeds South African Tour that is starting this week. And I am really excited about that visit.
I had Mullineux on top of my wishlist right from the start. Not because the Platter-guide had given them great reviews (even though that is a good reason!) but more so because their Syrah 2008 might be one of the best South African Rhône-influenced wines I’ve ever tasted. I tasted it blind in one of last years tastings of the new releases in Sweden (held by the swedish monopoly – Systembolaget). And it stood out like a beacon. Here there were pure fruit, great concentration and none of those burnt/smokey characters that you can find in south african wines.
And today I got a chance to taste the Syrah 2009 that will be released in Sweden in mars. This is also a stunning wine that stood up to and was not overshadowed by Gugials Côte Rôtie Brune et Blonde 2006 (that is twice as expensive!). Here are my tasting notes on the 2008 and 2009!
Dark red colour
Black berries, spices and oak.Smokey/toasty aromas with minerals, gun powder and black pepper.
Medium bodied and concentrated taste of dark berries (black berries), provencal herbs, black pepper and chocolate/cocoa powder. Notes of oak/vanilla and firm tannins. Great length and balance. Loads of complexity with herbs, berries and oak complementing each other on the palate. A truly wonderful wine.
Dark red colour
Still a bit closed on the nose with dark berries, dried fruits, herbs and toasted oak.
Medium bodied fruitdriven taste of dark berries, liquorice, chocolate leather and herbs. Peppery with good tannins and a spicy and long finish. Still a bit young but will develop.
I asked my swedish Facebookfriends to name their favorite south african wines – and I got quite a good response (see here!). Swedes love south african wine and we got quite a good range at the swedish monopoly.
Therefore it is with great pleasure that I can announce that Ericsson Uncorked is going to South Africa – already next week. Me and videoproducer Björn Lilja are now preparing a seven day tour that will take us from Cape Town and Constantia, south towards Elgin and Walker Bay, then north towards Stellenbosch and Paarl and finally even further north to Swartland and Darling.
And it is quite hard work to choose which among such a number of great wine producers.
So this is my wishlist (in no particular order). Unfortunately we will not be able to visit all of these wineries – but some have already been booked and I am really looking forward to meeting the people behind them. Others have still to confirm. I will keep you posted along the way.
But for now – who or which producers have I missed?
• De Toren
• Le Riche
• De Krans
• Axe Hill
The new wave of spanish wine seems to divide the winelovers and bloggers around the world. Recently I noticed some quite a harsh critique of the new more fruitier styles of spanish wines in social media forums – but for me this critique seems more than a bit unfair.
I’m not claiming to be an expert on the spanish wine industry – but I have been tasting spanish wines for decades and I think that you could compare the situation in Spain today to where Italy was say some 15 years ago. All around the country there seems to be a lot of experimentation and old dogma is being questioned. “New” (at least for the consumers) districts and regions (think Priorat, Montsant and Bierzo to namne but a few) are putting out amazing wines and old favorites like Rioja are better than ever.
Yes it is still true that some of the big names, I am thinking foremost on Ribera del Duero and Toro, are not fulfilling ther potential to the fullest (and whatever happened to Navarra?). Yes there are excellent wines coming out of those districts too but not in the numbers we could expect.
La Mancha on the other hand is a district that you normally do not expect to perform well at all. Large and extremely hot and dry it was long just a center for uninteresting bulk wine production. But even that has changed over the last couple of decades with the likes of Marques de Griñon and Manuel Manzaneque setting the the standards with some truly amazing wines.
I haven’t come across Bodegas Volver earlier – but this Volver Single Vineyard Tempranillo 2008 shows great promise for that grape in the district. And it is also a good example of the more fruity non-oxidized style of the spanish new wave. The Bodega are owned by the enologist Rafael Cañizares and comprise 98 hectars in the eastern parts of the district were the topsoil is sand over large river stones, clay, iron and chalk.
The Volver vineyard, planted in 1957, is the source of the producers top Tempranillo. Low yields, high altitude (660 meters above sea level) with great daytime/nighttime temperature variations and the age of the vines forms the basis for what is going in to the bottle. The wine gets a long and slow fermentation/maceration and then spends 6 months in french oak.
The 2008 got a dark red and dense colour. The aromas loaded with red berries, mint, herbs and liqorice. I also find elements of cocoa and raspberry candy. The taste is medium bodied and fruitdriven with red berries (raspberries), herbs and cocoa powder with a long herbal finish. The tannins are well integrated and mellow. Drink now or over the next five years!
It’s not my favorite grape by default – but the wines made from Austrias own Grüner Veltliner can be amazing. It all comes down the balance between aromatic fruit characters and acidity – because a non-fresh spicy aromatic fruitiness isn’t just that interesting in itself.
In my mind there are more than a few similarities between Grüner Veltliner and Viognier or for that matter Pinot Gris. They all can be refreshingly aromatic with layers upon layers with exotic fruits. But they need that acid tinge that gives the fruit that extra lift for them not to turn flabby.
But to tell the truth - I more often comes across the fresh ones than the flabby kind so lets not whine. Most often the the best wines come from the Wachau where they also get an almost steely minerality as well.
This is very true about Veyder-Malberg Hochrein Grüner Veltliner 2010 that is one of the best examples of the grape that I’ve tasted in a while. The producer is a new acquaitance for me. It was the guys behind the danish wine bar Ved Stranden 10 that thought that I ought to try it – and I am glad I did.
The estate is leaded by Peter Veyder-Malberg who has a been doing wine in, besides Austria, USA, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and New Zeeland. Since 2008 he is his own winemaker and wine consultant. He sought out the best terassed vineyards in Wachau and now farms them biodynamically.
The Hochrein Grüner Veltliner comes from terraced loessdominated slopes in Wösendorf and the 2010 is a beuaty. It vibrates with young fresh and delicately peppery/spicy exotic fruit aromas (lime, kiwi, mango) and got that almost steely/flinty minerality as a backbone. It is light to medium bodied and got fresh citrus tinge as well and the aftertate is beautifully balanced and long! Just love it!