Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Walkaround and masterclasses of Vouray, Loire Valley, France

Most interesting tasting today in London, focussed on wines from Vouvray and their iconic chenin blanc variety. Well organized by Vouvray producers and Sopexa.

Master class n. 1: Vouvray Sparkling wines

1. Couvée Privilège, Domaine du Margallau 2014
Mineral, fresh, dry, 2g dosage. Steel only, 48 months on lees, aging potential. I see this as an aperitif, it is too dry for anything else. Score 85

2. Feuilles d'Or, Domaine Herivault, biodynamic, 2012
Also mineral but rounder finish, better balance. Score 86

3. les temps d'Aimé, Dom Aubert NV
Intense nose, mod balance. Score 82

4.Chateau Gaudrelle extra brut 2014
Balances wine, mod complex, very dry, NO residual sugar. Score 86

Overall an interesting discovery of relatively lesser known sparkling wines from the Loire.

Master class n. 2: Vouvray and cheese

It was a lot of fun to try and pair the cheeses you can see in the picture, which ranged from blue to mid-aged one and were all from France except Gorgonzola. There are countless possible combinations, and in the end it is a matter of taste to pair by contrast (e.g. acidity of the wines and fat of the cheese) or concordance (e.g. sweetness of both wine and cheese).

My favorite of the above lineup was n.5, Champalou les Fondreaux 2018, a sweet wine that maintained adequate acidity, made with only natural yeasts, picked late with no added sugar, which paired with most of the cheeses on my plate! Score 86

I was personally surprised at how well the sparkling wine, contrast-paired with Gorgonzola.

The other feature which emerged this afternoon is the high degree of versatility of Vouvray chenin blanc, which allows for a wide range of possible pairings depending on vinification.

Prices for all above wines between 13 and 16 euros FOB.

Kevin sharing his wisdom

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Walk-around tasting on Ribera del Duero with Tim Atkin MW

Thank you Tim Atkin

Amazing tasting of Ribera del Duero, mostly tempranillo. 100 wines selected by Tim Atkin MW from over 500 he tasted in recent months. The level of quality was extremely high, both for celebrated (and expensive) bottles as well as for many not so expensive gems.

This is a partial list of the bottles that impressed me the most.

98% tempranillo, 2% albillo
Exceptionally intense in the nose, perfect balance and very long.
RRP 138 euro, Score 98

100% tempranillo. Intriguing violet color in the glass, intenso nose and powerful palate, slight feel of alcohol I think this wine is mature now.
RRP 240 euro, Score 92

Amazingly powerful fruit, perfect balance and impressive length. A harmonious wine.
RRP 200 euro, score 98

Four amazing wines from this producer, hard to choose, scores 97 to 99.
In my view these wines are close to perfection: all display intensity, balance, complexity and length. They are all harmonious products which are ready now but could age another few years, though I am not sure they could improve further. Here they are:
La Roza 2016, RRP 2230 euro
LLanos del Almendro 2016, RRP 115 euro
Valdegatilles 2016, RRP 116 euro
La Mala 2016, perhaps the best of all four, RRP 116

Another exceptionally balanced product.
RRP 120 euro, score 98

A velvety wine with a strong personality, it is repetitive but today here is another perfectly balanced and complex wine, long, harmonious. 
RRP 240 euro, score 98

tempranillo 95%, cabernet sauvignon 5%
The perfect wine, it's got everything, do not miss it if you can find a bottle and can afford it. Words are missing to describe the multitude of sensations and pleasure that come out of this bottle.
RRP 350, Score 100

Only one very small step lower is the Unico 2012, RRP 300 euro, score 98.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Meet the producer: Folktale, Aviary and Golden Wineries from California

Today we had a video call with Eddie Morris of Folktale Winery and Vineyards in California. In addition to their own wines, two other vineyards belong to the group: Aviary Vineyards and Golden Winery.

In the video below Eddie explains how their group operates, what are their guidelines and which features to expect in their products.

We tasted their Golden Winery chardonnay from Monterey County, 2019, a golden yellow wine with intense and complex aromas that surprises for its full body, near perfect balance and length. Gone are the days of overly rich Californian chards, Golden rediscovers the more traditional freshness of the variety. I happily paired it with a traditional Chinese "you tofu" and cabbage in the wok. Score 92.

The label needs clarification: it is Monterey-grown fruit but sometimes produced in Napa for operational reasons. As they explained to me, "the bottling location often different than the area that the grapes are grown. Our facility in Napa is about 2.5-3 hours from Monterey. Depending on the availability and need of production, wines from Napa can end up being bottled in Monterey, or Monterey wines can be bottled in Napa."

We also tasted a cabernet sauvignon reserve 2018 from Aviary, a complex abundance of red and black fruit, with tannins rounded by 14 months in oak and a medium structure that will pair well with food of character. I tried with beef chunks in the wok and slightly spicy broccoli. Score 93.

For those lucky enough to visit Folktale in California, their estate is now perfectly equipped for tasting, meals and every facility to organize events or explore the vineyards and the region at leisure.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Twelve producers from Occitanie

Another tasting in London about Occitanie, the region of France that was created on 1 January 2016 from the fusion of former regions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées. This is an administrative region, it does not change the classification of the wines.

Thank you to Isabelle Kanaan and Sébastien du Boullay of "Maison de la Région Occitanie - Sud de France" in London for organizing this event.

Besides a walk-around of dozens of wines from 12 producers, there were two most interesting masterclasses today, both led by Matthew Stubb MW.

Masterclass: Occitanie outside the box

1. Terroirs d'Occitanie, baron Ermenegaud, AOP Fugères 2020
50% Roussanne, 20% Marsanne, 20% Vermentino, 10% Viognier
Scisty soil, very poor, roots have to go deep to find nutrients.
A fresh wine (from Vermentino) with floral notes. Honey suckle, jasmine, peach. A complex wine with a long finish. Score 88.

2. Les Vignerons Castelas, Vieilles Vignes, AOP Cd Rhone Sinargues 2018
40% Grenache noir, 40% Syrah, 20% Carignan
Red and black fruits, spicy, peppery notes, good substance (matière!). Good balance, smooth finish. Score 89

3. Domaine de la Louvière, La Sèductrice, AOP Malepère 2019
60% merlot, 20% Cab franc, 20% malbec
Super smooth wine, merlot clearly overwhelming, probably more than 60%
Very ripe fruit, green pepper, herbaceous notes.. Score 82.

4. Les Vignerons du Brulhois, le Vin Noir, AOP Brulhois 2017
50% merlot, 30% tannat, 15% cab sauv, 5% malbec
From the northern part of the region, closer to Bordeaux. medium-strong tannins, probably from tannat. A simple simple but pleasant wine. Score 80.

5. Vignobles Vellas, Domaine Valinière "Granmarone", AOP Languedoc St Drézéry 2019
Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre
The name wants to indicate that this is done in "Amarone style", though the grapes are dried on the vine, unlike Amarone. Fermentation for four months, no wood, aged in concrete for one year. An impressive deep color, intense nose and plump, complex and long in the mouth, a touch of sweet at the end. Score 93.

6. Domaine F. Jaubert, Or du Temps, AOP Rivesaltes 2002
70% Grenache gris, 30% grenache blanc
Fortified wine, they added 96%abv to raise wine to 17%abv. Domain started using this technique in the XIII century, before fortification started in Porto, Madeira or Marsala. Dried fruit, caramel, toffel. Aged 17 years in concrete, NO WOOD. About 85g residual sugar. Score 88.

Masterclass: Local grapes and distinctive taste of Occitanie

1. Maison Sinnae, Eléments Luna, AOC Côte du Rhone Villages Laudun 2020
65% grenache blanc, 35% clairette
Citrus and peach follow a floral welcome to the nose. A delicate wine despite 14.5% abv. Waxy notes, no oak, steel only. Score 84

2. Domaine Lalaurie, marselan, IGP Pays d'Oc 2020
100% marselan
This grape is a cross between cabernet sauvignon and grenache. Produced in the early 1960s, it has become popular in Languedoc and more recently in China because of its resistance to mildew and small berries which result in lower yields. Aromatic wine, red and black fruits, licorice, spicy. Medium tannin. Score 84

3. Domaine Gayrard, Braucol, AOP Gaillac 2019
100% fer servadou (braucol)
Smooth, medium body and balanced wine, herbaceous notes. Lacks complexity and length. Biodynamic. Score 82

4. Les Domaines Auriol, Influences naturelles, IGP Pays d'Oc 2020
syrah 100%
Smooth, medium body, crunchy and vibrant fruit. Not a complex or long wine but pleasant nonetheless. Biodynamic. Score 82.

Before the masterclass I had tasted their Chant de l'âme 2019 a blend of syrah, carignan, mourvèdre and cinsault: a complex, round and long wine ready now. Score 92

5. Domaine Guillaman, Gos manseng, IGP Côtes de Gascogne 2020
100% gros manseng
Semi-aromatic wine, smooth and med long, not complex. Sweetness prevails with 35g of residual sugar, only 11%abv. Score 83

6. Domaine Tariquet, Dernières Grives, IGP Côtes de Gascogne 2018
100% petit manseng
beautiful deep golden yellow for this aromatic sweet wine. Yet one can easily pick a vibrant acidity that makes for a well balanced product. Honey, tropical fruits (mango?). It is a late harvest wine but without botrytis. 100g residual sugar. Score 93.