Sunday, February 28, 2010

Red From Portugal, White From Italy

My wife had a birthday...and I always know what to give her as a present...she loves flowers. I can also use them as a background to the wines!!!

Early to mid-90's I drove down to Portugal for golfing holidays on the Algarve. I took along my own wines...we stayed in a house...and ate out sometimes. I took my own wine along...as...except for a few Vinho Verde...the rest were poor. On the last visit...around 1995...I found a small wine shop in the village...and...amid all the dross...there were 'higher' priced wines. I tried a couple...and decided I could maybe stop bringing wines with me. As it turned out...that was my last visit. The wine tried here...reminded me of that first impression...
Quinta de Santa Ana Reserva Tinto 2005
Estremadura, Portugal
A dead-ringer for a Rhône...intense middle palate...meat and spice...marzipan...the tannins just so delicious...complimenting the fruit...it has a hefty 14.5 %...but is so well balanced...you just don't notice it. Went VERY well with a Pizza...
Points 17.5







Next evening...with some Antipasti...a white from Southern Italy...




The Flying Doctor of Walla Walla recently tried a Fiano...a native grape of South Italy...maybe his ancestors were responsible for smuggling some into Australia.
Colli di Lapio Fiano de Avellino 2008
Campania, Italy
Aromas of peach, melons and some sweet grapefruit....this reminds me in style of a Grüner Veltliner...but maybe more delicate...although there were some almonds...and a touch of oiliness...and some minerals. Put this in a GV blind tasting. The sun was peeping round the clouds at the time...so thoughts of spring came to mind...but as I write this post...there is a storm brewing.
Points 16.5

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Last Rhini

What better way to spend an evening...your favourite white grape and your favourite red grape..and your best friend Volker.
The original plan was our usual quartet...at our local Bistro...but two cried off at short notice.
I decided the 1999 Grüner should be tried....but was wary...10 years old...so...being the realist...and ALWAYS prepared...I took along a 'substitute'...as it turned out...a wise choice!!!
I had recently purchased a LARGE mixed case of all vintages of Grüner Veltliners...and all have been very good indeed...this 1999 was the oldest though....
Bründlmayer Grüner Veltliner Ried Käferberg 1999
Kamptal, Austria
A trace of oxidation...then a swirl..and you aren't sure..then it is back..and some definite caramel....not a NO NO drink...but also not one you want to fight your way through when you want a pleasant evening. Re-cork it...Volker will use it when he is next in the kitchen.



A quick pull of the cork...and we had an Italian...which should go well with the Pasta starter (along with some fried liver slices..and well-spiced)
Luciano Sandrone
Nebbiolo d'Alba Valmaggiore 2006

Piemont, Italy
Some truffles...and almonds..even marzipan..and was a definite food wine...just perfect..but seemed to miss the Pasta..and flattened off...
Points 16





During our starter...Volker mentioned a tasting we took part in...around 2005 I think. It was organized by our local wine merchant and friend...Robert.
Sixteen people had been invited...and each had to bring a bottle of Pinot Noir / Spätburgunder (this had been done a few days in advance...so as to be able to prepare them)
The guests were split up into 4 groups of 4...each group being designated 4 covered-up bottles. Each group had a captain...who could decide should there be a 'tie'...I was 'chief' our my group...which...as you will see...was important for 'my' wine. Each group had to choose two wines to go into the next round...that would be 8 wines..then the whole 16 guests would evaluate them again..and give them points to decide the winner etc...
My group found a definite winner...but the 2nd choice...now...on tasting the wines...I knew that Robert had put 'my' bottle in my group...and...being captain...but not saying I knew...I convinced the group that 'it' should get another chance. And so it progressed...but as it happened...it only made 7th or 8th in the final reckoning.
Now...as I said...Volker mentioned the tasting...which was very X-Files...as the covered bottle I had brought along...was the wine from back then.
I had bought a few bottles...and the last one had hit me for six!!!...and so to the VERY last bottle...
To be fair...only the last time I tried it in mid-2009...had it really opened and was in full bloom.
Ziereisen Blauer Spätburgunder
Selection Rhini 2002

Baden, Germany
Medium colour, light, browning rim; nose exhudes ripe smokey Pinot...you just had to keep going back again & again...gorgeous sweet flavour...smokey strawberries?....perfectly balanced, the fruit just filled the mouth..
Points 18

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pato & Pato

Did you know that the Portuguese word for Duck..is Pato? The wine I took along to a restaurant...and tried...with duck...along with almonds and dates....
Can't get a better marriage than that I guess.....
Our guests also enjoy trying everything on show....so mouthfuls of every course were tried.....here a couple of other dishes...
We only wanted a half of white...0, 5l is what we got..a very good Giunco Piccolo 2008 from Sardinia.








Luis Pato Vinha Barrosa 2003
Barraida, Portugal
Deep aroma of red fruits...very much cherry...with a 'dry'..brittle tannic touch...and fresh acidity...ripe plums as it opened...still very fresh...and a fine wine with food.
Points 16.5





A day later....an Italian red...it's been a while...and good Barbera has always appealed to me.
Michele Chiarlo Barbera D'Asti
Nizza La Court 2005

Piemont, Italy
Attractive smell on opening...red berries...gentle oak hovering...then an earthiness typical of the area...some leather.
I wanted to see how this developed next evening..but my wife..who hardly ever drinks red...beat me to it.
Points 16.....but ask my wife if it earned more the next day!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Known White, Unknown White

A couple of whites over a couple of days.....the GV grape a regular of this blogger..the other grapes completely new to me.
Weingut Knoll Gruner Veltliner
Smaragd Ried Schütt 2004

Wachau, Austria
Lovely smell of ripe, slabby fruit...oops...I mean stone fruit...aromatic...and a lovely weight....and of course...the usual white pepper.
I love these Smaragd wines......and at € 23,-- great value.
Points 17.25

Filipa Pato Quinta de Sant'Ana
Nossa Blanco 2007
Bairrada, Portugal
Some wines are just so different to the norm that words fail....and this is definitely different...in the fact that the grapes are strange to us...well...to me anyway. The lady behind this property is Filipa Pato (daughter of the Bairrada winemaker Luís Pato) ...who...along with husband William Wauters has created this one...a mix 50%-50% of Encruzado (from Dão) and Bical (from Barraida). It spends time in oak...but you would hardly know it...and the 13% alcohol is also not evident....it reminds me of a white from Southern France....a slightly wild feel to it..vanilla and fruit ..and a changing taste...this 'lives' in the glass...intense citrus...then spices and minerals...very interesting...
Points 16.5

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Michel Whites

I bought a mixed case from Weingut Michel...mostly Spätburgunder(as one does...)...a highly rated Chardonnay(3 bottles)...and to make up the 12..a bottle of Grauer Burgunder. My niece and godchild (pictured here with her Faschings Costume...Mardi Gras) along with her sister & parents were coming over..so a cold buffet was planned.














Vitello Tonato, slices of Roast Beef, Marinated Paprikas & Fennel..and some warm Ciabatta Bread. Only the parents drink....the kids have another 15 years to go....
Weingut Michel Achkarrer Schlossberg
Grauer Burgunder Spätlese trocken *** 2008

Baden, Germany

I opened the Grauer Burgunder 5 hours in advance...and three hours before...decanted it...then back into the bottle to serve at the table(easier to then keep cool). Why all this preparation? Well...at this young age..the better ones need help to show what they are. A lovely aroma of honey and almonds...the flavour explodes on the palate...lots of minerals...and very much GRAPEFRUIT...but not the searing stuff...more mellow...lots of real character here....and the best GB I have had..only bettered by the Salwey tasted last year. The airing benefited tremendously..and I regretted not ordering more.....
Points 17...and cost only € 14,--...this property offers
very good wines at a fair price...see Spätburgunder .
The wine had gone down well....everyone impressed....so I decided to open the Chardonnay.
Weingut Michel Achlarrer Schlossberg
Chardonnay Auslese feinherb *** 2008
Baden, Germany

Extreme bouquet of ripe pears....sweet..this is an Auslese...and it surprised us following the GB....weighty..14.5%..and was almost too sweet...rest sugar dominant...the oak still very much up front.
The Chardonnay is only 5% of what the whole property produces. It will no doubt develope well..as there is power, fruit and minerals...but the other two bottles should be locked away for a year...or maybe two.
Points 16.25...at the moment....and for the potential I guess € 17,-- does not hu
rt.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Asparagus Asperge Spargel

The English, French & German versions are in the title....but here we have some 'los espárragos '. The best white Asparagus grows in Germany...May to June..and to be honest...after that period is over..it is coming out of my ears. My wife loves it....I much prefer the green version. Anyway....I am a believer...if possible..to eat fruit and vegetables when they are in 'season'. My wife obviously couldn't wait for 'Spargel Allemagne'...and the local supermarket had some from Peru...and so it was...that on a Friday evening..I needed fluid to drink with them. Pinot Noir...no...not even I would try that. Chardonnay is perfect.....but I didn't want anything over-oaked....so how about an Austrian.

Domaine Wachau Grüner Veltliner Terraces 2008
Wachau, Austria
Pale colour.....a crisp wine with a tropical feel...melons...and peach...this is not alluring to be anything more than a basic GV....but here lies the appeal...it paired nicely with the asparagus and I had a piece of spicy cheese afterwards..and the spices of the wine lit up the palate...silky texture....and this is a delicious all-rounder.
Points 16.5

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit

Sometimes everything goes wrong all at once. I hadn't played soccer for 8 weeks (injury, holiday and weather)..and my camera had left me in the lurch while on holiday.
All the recent posts had photos I took before it was sent for repair. Two weeks later..it is back.....and a bright Sunday morning found me out playing again. We won 4-3.
My Radio Show in the evening..and home to some Cod Fillets and a wine from Portugal.





Herdade do Esperao Private Selection Reserva branco 2007
Aletejo, Portugal
A Xmas present....with a straw yellow colour..a mix of Semillon, Marsanne & Roussanne. Exotic nose...some honey with a stony trace...the oak showing...but over the two days it softened...so maybe a decant if you want to empty the bottle at one go...Quite complex and creamy on the palate...well-made...and methinks it will be better in a year or two.
Points 16.75

Next day....This property is a new 'find' for me...and the top wine had impressed when drank on holiday. Time to give Michel's basic a chance.


Michel Spätburgurgunder Alte Reben 2007
Baden, Germany
First up...EXCELLENT quality for the price...€ 11,-- but that shouldn't affect the marking....mark what you have..not what it costs. An aroma of strawberry and sour cherries....'beat this' I said...thinking of the price.....which should not affect the marking....a really attractive palate...with a soft...slightly sweet fruit without being overdone...the tannins just hovering...and a trace of acidity means this is delicious now...but could hold for 5 years..and at that price...which should not affect the marking.
Points 16.5...but the price.....which should not affect the marking....




Did you know that Rabbit is a word used when you talk a lot...Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit..maybe only in England.....but no doubt someone will tell me differently.
Anyway..my Rabbit was past talking...
The food was a Rabbit Casserole..with Cognac, Beer, Honey, Tomatoes, Carrots, Bay Leaves, Thyme & Marjoram. The meat just fell off the bone.......

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Wither(ing) Hills & Bull's Blood

There was more love between Heathcliff & Catherine in the classic novel Wuthering Heights...than I could find in this Wither(ing) Hills
Wither Hills Pinot Noir 2008
Marlborough, New Zealand
After three very good Pinots from the land of sheep & wine.....time to open another purchased on my England trip....€ 17,--. Not too forthcoming...but knitted as it aired....dark berry fruit...earthy texture..chewy...trying to be elegant...but showing a roughness...no sexiness....
left me wanting loads more.....
Points 15.5





Years ago...about all you saw with regards to wines from Hungary...was Tokay and some disgusting stuff called Bull's Blood. Things are changing..so time to try a Pinot from a top property run by Mónika Debreczeni.
Vylyan Pinot Noir 2006
Villány, Hungary
The top Pinot in Hungary..so I bought 3 bottles at € 17,-- each.....and I was expecting more...someone had given it 18.5 points!!! Well...first impression is one of a delicate wine..aiming for elegance...and again...as the above wine..an earthiness...and the gentle tannins begging for time...red fruits...touch of tobacco...in style..South Burgundy....a good Mercury maybe.....let's leave the other 2 bottles a while...and see what develops. At the moment..
Points 16.5

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Cigale, Huber & Two Eggs

A friend recently returned from Madagascar where he claimed this Shellfish...Cigale de Mer.....had been tried often...I think it cost about $3 !!!.
He said it was even better than Lobster. It would have been the PERFECT' match maybe for the GV.
The two meals with this post's wine...well...the rest of the bottle was excellent with some Japanese food....but the day before I had eaten...wait for it....................................Potatoes, Spinach..a 2 lightly fried eggs. Spinach is good for you...but would the wine hold up with the eggs. Honestly..absolutely no problem!

Huber Grüner Veltliner Berg 2007
Traisenthal, Niederösterreich, Austria
I had tried the 2008 on a Hot August Night last year. It was 'slightly' colder outside..(about 40 degrees less!) and the eggs....nothing like putting pressure on a wine. So..how was it? Answer...even better....the stones are the first thing with this wine...then the tongue licks the minerally spices..forgot to mention the pear and honey nose...a never ending 'enjoy' wine with class...man...I know I am known as Mr Pinot Noir.....and Herr Grüner Veltliner is a mouthful..BUT...they have given me almost as much pleasure over the last 12 months.
Points 17.5

Monday, February 01, 2010

Sir Tannat & The Chastity Belt

My favourite grapes...are...at the moment...Pinot Noir, Grüner Veltliner..and of course all the other 'obvious' varieties. Tannat is rarely tried...this is more 'Joe' country. Mind you...he is starved of my grapes!
Vignobles Laplace Chateau Aydie 2006 Madiran, France
This is 100% Tannat from 22 year old vines. A trophy winner in the category 'Regional French Red' in Decanter magazine.
This is like 'ye young fair maid'...showing off her wears to the Knight of the realm Sir Tannat....first impressions please him. Then he finds out she has a Chastity Belt...and that all is not as he expected. No..I am not going mad.....well...not too mad. This had a deep, dark brooding colour...but showed a surprising open smell at first. Quite intense bouquet of dark fruit...spices and coffee...cool & elegant. But that was it...it then just closed up as many wines at this age do. Result...tell the young lady to sleep on it to see if she will unlock the belt. No chance it seems...next day she flaunted absolutely nothing. I have no doubt she will mature and display all her commodities in a few years...and give the noble knight, Sir Tannat..the key to the hidden treasures.
Points 15...but many years ahead.

Something Old, Something New

Not wanting to spend an evening alone at home...I called Volker who said he would cook something 'simple'...oh yes...3 delicious courses is simple?
He had invited our other wine-loving friend Robert. I took along 1 white and 2 reds...but before we started...Robert produced a wine covered up..and said...'You'll NEVER guess where this is from'. I tasted and tried a guess at Southern France or maybe a white Bordeaux..as there was a mix of grapes here......but was getting nowhere..so he gave me some information. 5.500 Bottles...200 Magnums...10 Jeroboams!!! Hardly your normal Supermarket wine!...No idea I said...OK...here are the grapes...Gouveiho, Viiosinho, Rabigato & Dodega do Larinho. The last one gave it away...Portugal...had to be Douro!


Wine & Soul Guru 2008
Douro, Portugal
Sandra Tavares da Silva and Jorge Serôdio Borges are oenologists and married with each other. One fine day, they decided to make a wine together and they bought an old Port Wine warehouse, in Vale de Mendiz. Wine & Soul was born and so was Pintas. This is their white 'baby'. It spends 8 months in new French oak....and is still a touch too young..but what I liked was the dry stone aroma and flavour...some smoky oak....very similar to a Rhone white...and is not overloaded with alcohol...12.5%. A lifting touch of citrus and some white pepper and an old vine taste.
Points 16.5 with more to come....

Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2008
Stellenbosch, South Africa
I am not yet a big fan of South African wines.....most of the reds seemed unbalanced...but I will continue to experiment. As to the whites....I have tried very few...so the chance to try a possible 'goodie' came along.
No over-oaked Chardonnay here...any oak is balanced with the lively acidity and a general mineral feel...apricots...pineapple...and a gentle creamy finish..tempting you back for another sip.
Points 16.5

Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir 2007
Central Otago, New Zealand
As with the Rustenberg...this was bought at the Waitrose supermarket chain in England.
Black cherries..a 'wow' smell...but a real mix of dark fruits....and there is an intriguing lingering spiciness of elegance......the palate just continues what has gone before...very seductive.....a nice zip of acidity bouncing the fleshy fruit along the tongue...some dusty tannins and a fine finish make this a real one to buy. Only trouble is...do we have a Waitrose supermarket in Germany?
Points 17.5

Tollot-Beaut Aloxe-Corton 1990
Chorey-les-Beaune, Burgundy, France
This is the first of the '5' purchased from Reid Wines. (see previous post)
Robert said, after trying this.....you can't mark it with points...just appreciate the condition of the wine...and I can only agree.
The level was superb....and the cork showed that careful cellaring had been a big part of it's life. Obviously the top vintage is also a reason for it's quality. The medium colour with a light rim was also pleasing.....it is a pleasant 'Village' wine.....robust even..and with some bite...but the fruit has faded...should I have left it a few years more?...no.....don't tempt fate with these old bottles.

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