Monday, May 20, 2024

Meet the producer: Tenuta Fertuna, Tuscany, Italy

Today I explored the versatility of winemaking in the Tuscan Maremma with Tenuta Fertuna.

Fertuna are pioneers in vinifying Sangiovese in all its forms: white, red and sparkling, as well as vinifying in an orange style with their newly launched Vermentino Orange wine. 

I met them at the LWF 2024.

Here my tasting notes:

Droppello alto bio 2022
Sangiovese white, similar to the results one expects from white vinification of Pinot noir. Fenuta say they did it because it was in demand in the market to make blanc de noir. Early harvest, no skin contact
Certified organic. Intense nose, Peach pear, vanilla from wood (oak grown on chalky soil to increase minerality)
Rrp 18, Score 85

Sparkling metodo classico 2019 brut
100% sangiovese
Fruity, balanced, moderately complex.
Score 86

Vermentino 2022
Apple minerality front and center.
Score 89

Vermentino orange 2022
5 days on skins to make it "orange".
Every week batonnage in open air to develop oxidation without adding sulphites.
Rrp 22 euro, Score 92

Celeo Toscana rosso 2018
50 merlot 50 cab sauvignon
Their flagship bottle, sports velvety tannins, good balance complex long,
25 days skin contact macération
Rrp 50 euro, Score 92

Meet the producer: Argentinian Malbec by Bodegas Fabre

Time for Argentina at the LWF 2024 and its most iconic grape: malbec. I never get tired of it, it is an endless sequel of great enjoyment and it seems to get better and better with time,

Pioneers in Argentinian Malbec, Bodegas Fabre, brought to life exceptional wines in some of the most extraordinary terroirs in Mendoza. Born from winemaker and owner Hervé Joyaux Fabre, who became the first winemaker to produce a premium single varietal Malbec in Argentina, Bodegas Fabre has since become a global presence with wines such as Viñalba and Alta Yari.

I joined Bodegas Fabre's husband and wife team, Hervé Joyaux Fabre and Diane Joyaux Fabre, alongside Buckingham Schenk's Marketing Director David Tromans to explore the origins, and current trends of Argentinian Malbec with four wines from Viñalba & Alta Yari.

Viñalba started making malbec in the 1990s when it bought a plot of 100-year-old vines. They have grown since, with some parcels up to 1600 masl. The also tried Patagonia, where they grow grapes but then they transport them to Mendoza to vinify. In Argentina latitude and altitude play against one another, so in the far south of Patagonia they grow grapes at lower altitude to compensate for the cooler climate.

Viñalba reserve malbec 2022, Uco valley
Tannins well structured, could benefit from some time in bottle, can't really feel the oak aging. 
Score 88 rrp 12

Viñalba Patagonia reserve 2022
200 masl only because higher is too cold
Violet, licorice, Good balance and length
Score 88, Rrp 15

Viñalba Gran reservado 2019
Mendoza, Uco Valley 
1 year in French oak 
Very intense ripe red fruit, smooth tannins long the best of the flight, superb value.
Score 93, Rrp 19

Alta-Yari Gran Corte 2022
1560masl, extreme wine making 
Blend with malbec 35% cab franc 60%and cab sauvignon 5%
Mineral spicy notes 
Needs a couple of years to smoothen tannins corners
Score 90, Rrp 25

Meet the producer: Fei Tswei, Ningxia Hui, China

Wine in China is not new, as a book I recently reviewed illustrates at length, international appreciation for Chinese wine is, and so is widespread appreciation by Chinese consumers of high quality international wines. China is already among the top 5 or 6 producers of wine in the world, and quality is improving by the day.

One example is the Fei Tswei winery in northwest China. They were present at the London Wine Fair 2024 and served as the business card for Chinese wines in London.

There are lots of problems Chinese wine has to overcome, including still too much emphasis on quantity and too many fakes that spoil the market, but I came out of this tasting convinced things are moving in the right direction.

Good wines from this producer are available in the UK and the best bottles are not cheap, but definitely worth giving it a try to expand your horizons over Chinese wines.

Here below my tasting notes from the wines proposed by Fei Tswei at the London Wine Fair.

Chardonnay 2021
Smooth, soft sensations prevail
Moderately long
Score 86

Chardonnay reserve 2019
Similar to the previous wine but with better balance
Score 88

Viognier 2019
Apricot nose. Good balance
Score 88

Red joyous blend 2019
Red fruit is intense, an easy wine.
Score 85

Marselan 2019
Intense nose red
Complex long
Score 89

Marselan 2020
More balanced and longer
Score 90

Merlot 2019
Intense red fruit
Complex long,mod length
Score 91

Cabernet franc 2021
Intense nose of ripe cherries
Smoother than expected if you think of cab franc from loire, long
Score 92

Syrah reserve 2019
1 year in oak
Smooth, mod complex and long
Score 89

Marselan reserve 2019
Fruit bombshell, good structure tannins still a bit rough
Mod complex, long
Score 91

Cabernet sauvignon reserve 2019
Intense red fruit, balanced, complex and long
Score 91

All these reserves Ready now, some aging potential .

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Wines of Canada in London

The High Commission (Embassy) of Canada  in London hosted a tasting of Canadian wines organized by Westbury Communications.

Peter McCombie held a masterclass together with Janet Dorozynski and here below are my main takeaways.

Most wine lovers (including myself) assume that Canada is a cold wine region. It is way up there in the northernmost part of America after all right? Well, yes and no. The climate can cold, but Canada's wine making region share their latitude with some of the mainstream classic areas in Europe we do not always associate with the work "cold". Ontario is on par with Tuscany when it comes to latitude.

There are 700 wineries in Canada which get their grapes from 1770 growers. Some 14,000 hectares of land are dedicated to vines in 4 main regions:

Here are my tasting notes.

1 Blomidon nv

Fresh wine with a zesty tone

40mos on  lees

Score 86

2 Lightfoot 2016

100% chardonnay 

Also quite fresh but 48 months lees allow a more fragrant impression

Balanced more complex

Score 89

3 Norman Hardie 2020

100% chardonnay

Complex smooth long 

Score 90

4 Le Clos Jordanne 2021

100 chardonnay

Very light canary yellow 

Smooth soft sensation prevail 

Score 86

5 Spear Head 2022

chardonnay clone 95 100%

Balanced, complex. Vanilla.

Score 91

6 Big Head chenin blanc 2022 RAW

Low intervention 

Concrete , unfiltered, light botrytis

Balance, Slight bitter end

Score 91

7 Bachelder 2022

gamay 100%

Fresh, said, good structure, raspberry 

Score 90

8 Leaning Post 2020

pinot noir 2020 

Structure complexity length a high quality wine which ever way you look at it.

Score 92

9 Pelham 2022

Baco Noir, hybrid vine (vinifera/riparia) produced by Francis Baco in Nova Scotia. Old vines 

Ripe cherries, sweet end, an easy wine that is very popular in Canada 

Score 85

10 stratus 2020

Cab franc 100%

Fruity fresh, powerful structure needs time 

Score 92

11 poplar Grove 2020

Syrah blend 

Fruit and structure, good length and complexity 

Score 93

The final two wines of the day were icewines. My spell checker tries to correct me every time but icewine in Canada is spelled in one word! I have written about Canadian icewine before on this blog.

12 icewine reif estate 2019


Very complex long 

Score 95

13 icewine Lakeview 2019


Veeery sweet, lacks that bit of freshness that makes for a perfect icewine.

Score 86