Saturday, July 30, 2011

Red Vintage 2009

The vintage 2009....wherever you hear or read...a red wine vintage...definitely in Germany...and I am on the lookout now as the mid to top wines are released. New Zealand Pinot is being highly talked about for the vintage...and even Beaujolais is to be searched out. The U.S.A. not to be left behind, are saying it is the best Pinot year ever!
Jim Clendenen was destined to be a lawyer when a holiday trip to Burgundy infused him with the idea of becoming a wine grower instead. He returned to California, rejected all notions of a career in the law and established Au Bon Climat Winery in 1982. The vines he planted lie at the foot of the Bien Nacido vineyard, one of the finest sites in California, ideal for the production of the refined, Burgundian style of Pinot Noir to which Jim so aspires.
He has always been a favourite of mine...and I have rarely had a poor matter what vintage!
Au Bon Climat Santa Maria Valley
Pinot Noir 2009

California, U.S.A.

Dark smokey nose...cherries...juicy and velvety...cinnamon fat & sweet style here...Jim is a master of his trade.
A fruity dancer with all ingredients perfectly shared.
Points 17.25

and after all the above... I was tempted to open this 'baby'

Ata Rangi
Pinot Noir 2009

Martinborough, New Zealand

Nose was very tight....and at first seems green...loads of dark fruits hidden behind the mask...cherries and rose petals with airing. Surprisingly more attractive on the palate...very fine tannins....soft earthy flavour....but again...a lot of it is guessing at the moment. Glad I tried it now...but the second bottle gets left in the cellar a while.

Points 17.5
...but with a point more in 5 years

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Big Can Be Beautiful

In this world of obesity, big is not always beautiful.
A few months again, on Ebay, I purchased a magnum.
Now, Magnums are rare in my cellar as when I have wine friends over we like to have variety.
So there it lay...waiting for the moment to be let loose.
Daughter Number 1 and her hubby came to visit and we had Sushi.
Now was the moment...but would we be bored after half of it?
The answer is....NO!

Kurt Angerer Spies
Grüner Veltliner 2003

Kamptal, Austria
Perfect a Magnum...although it showed so well... I suspect the normal size would please.
Cream throughout...the nose very attractive with it's soft vanilla, it has some spice and pepper but less so now with age. Precise...with a fine thread of minerality. Just lovely on the palate....caramel tones...and an intense soft 'burnt' finish. It has a high 14.5% alcohol but hardly noticeable now it has 8 years in the bottle. Perfect with the Sushi which was very fresh...and as we had not had any for a while...was particularly enjoyed. Sometimes simple things just give perfect moments (although Sushi and GV may not to exactly simple to some)
Points 17.25

Best Home for Sauvignon Blanc?

Sauvignon Blanc was never a grape that was constantly passing my lips...and don't expect me to suck on a gooseberry if you offered me one!.
However, I am being convinced more and more that in Austria...there are great wines made from the grape and, more importantly, wines made in a style that suit me.
The two below are obviously from the top end...but were worth every penny.

Neumeister Sauvignon Blanc
Moarfeitl 2009

South East Styria, Austria
Not a well-known property....More gloss than glass if you get my drift...but that is not a complaint...just the way the wine comes over. A luxurious Sauuvignon Blanc aroma...large barrels are used but the oak comes over so well integrated...there are exotic fruits and yellow peppers...and a trace of vanilla. Even at this age it is very drinkable and very harmonious. Soft and mild even....but on the second day it broadened it's shoulders and there was a gentle explosion of fruit on the palate. A solid wine with mild acidity...and as do many of the Smaragd wines of Austria...they remind me a lot of excellent Condrieu...which gets me every time.
Points 17.75

Tement Sauvignon Blanc
Zieregg 2008

South Styria, Austria
Manfred Tement is more well-known however....Glass Stopper...Purists...get used to it! A spiky diamond...intense lychees and grapefruit...very fine acidity pushing the fruit upwards and onwards...elegant and good use of oak...will improve even more
Points 17.5 - 17.75

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Classic Whites

Volker had returned from Austria and called to say the usual 'trio'...Robert, our wine-merchant friend and the two of us should meet at his place. Each person bringing a bottle of white. Ah ha I thought....Volker's wine will be something he bought in South Styria. It had been a warm day and we sat under the veranda which was a good idea as the heavens opened about the same time we opened the three whites. All were covered up and we drew lots to decide the order. My wine was first up
F.X. Pichler
Riesling Smaragd von der Terrassen 1998

Wachau, Austria

White wine at this age is a risk so I had taken along another bottle of wine in case. was holding up well. Golden colour and a very ripe Riesling smell.

Points 17.25

Robert's choic
e was next.
Gantenbein Chardonnay 2009
Fläsch, Switzerland

I guessed a top Chardonnay but no idea from where. What a lovely surprise when I saw what it was. A week earlier I had been chatting with Robert and casually mentioned that, although I had tried a few of the property's great Pinot Noir, I had never tasted the Chardonnay. It is rare...and costs around € 90,--. Is it worth it.? Almost...if you are tasting it today...which we were....but this will improve to be a great white wine. The first impression is intense minerals, citrus fruit. Classy and elegant...and a gorgeous
middle palate. Classic Chardonnay
Points 18

And so to Volker's choice.

ittmann Westhofener
Morstein Riesling G G 2009

Rheinhessen, Germany

Fresh, steely, so very drinkable...which had us thinking it was a few years older. Austrian Riesling I said...and Volker grinning said no. He had actually gone out that day and purchased the wine....knowing we would think Austria after his holiday. Great balance...creamy...apricots...juicy acidity...very good.
Points 17.25

Volker had bought a lot of wine back and was particularly happy about a wine he had been offered at knock-down price of € 13,--

Sighardt Donabaum
Grüner Veltliner Zornberg Smaragd 2007

Wachau, Austria
Spicy and peppery with a glossy feel. Yellow fruit on the nose. A bargain indeed.

Points 16.25

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Sandwich Surprise

Life is full of ups and downs. I guess my experience with the business maybe hardens you...or prepares you better for the surprises in life. I have maybe more 'problems' to solve with the business in one month that most people have in a whole year.
So...where are we going with this?
The post heading is a Sandwich Surprise.
Top layer of this sandwich was another visit to Restaurant Ambiente. We had been very busy so decided to do a 'business dinner' inviting out my secretary and her husband. Both are lovers of fine it was a pleasure to choose and take along three favourites of mine from over the last year. It was a warm evening...and we sat out in the garden area...the restaurant was quiet so the evening was very relaxed with owner Riccardo and Chef de Cuisine Fernando having plenty of time to please us.

Wieninger Chardonnay
Grand Select 2007

Vienna, Austria
What an aroma...Coconut, Nougat Toffee...the oak very much in the background... Creamy texture...complete harmony...lemon flavoured...and a complete success.
Points 18

Drautz-Able Jodokus 2001
Württemberg, Germany
Medium colour with a pale orange rim..danger if I hadn't gotten that pre-smell. OK..nose...delicate...sweet cream...this spends 3 years in oak. The palate showed almost no tannins...although there was a holding spice that strokes the soft 'fruity' fruit...fine gentle earthiness...dry cigar....there is Cabernet Sauvignon in this Cuvée. Perfect maturity
Points 17.25

Köhler-Ruprecht 'Philippi' '
RR' Spätburgunder 1998

Pfalz, Germany
Bernd Philippi is an individualist....not everything turns out right that he releases...BUT...when it does work..his wines are a revelation. His Riesling both 'R' and 'RR' are not to be are also his Spätburgunder. He releases them when he thinks they are ready...
Here the cork was fully moist..and difficult to extract. I had taken along my 'Butler's Friend' and it was needed.This is lighter in colour than the 1999...and it also a more delicate example. Sweet strawberries spring from the glass..a gentle rippling flavour..mineral and slowly opened up...but remained a layed-back lady...nice earthiness..more than any other area in German..the Pfalz displays it's 'terroir'..a pleasure to drink
Points 17.5

The filling to this sandwich is the surprise.
The day before we went out to dinner on Tuesday I had noticed, in the dark, a flashing light to the left of my left eye. I called the eye doctor next day and made an appointment for Thursday morning at First in to see him...we chatted about food and restaurants first...then some drops in the eye to enlarge the pupils...then a good look. 'You have a small hole in your eye' he said!!! Needs to be operated on quickly. He explained that his laser machine was being he started to phone around and found a doctor in nearby Mainz. He informed them that the pupils were prepared and gave me the address. With my sunglasses on (those drops make it impossible to drive..I was on my bike back to the office. My secretary insisted on driving me to Mainz and I arrived at 9.45am
The doctor there checked the eye...'You have a big hole' he stated. I hour ago it was small! He explained what would be done and that I must not move. So...chin on a ledge...gripping onto the apparatus...I awaited the laser shots. Some were painful...others were just blinding lights. If you are cringing by now...join the queue! It seemed like 10 minutes but was probably only two....then it was over. He patted me on the hand and said...'well were very still'. 244 Shots he said!!!
I got a taxi home and was sat in the office at, Three hours...amazing. Instruction football and stay off the PC...the movement from keyboard to monitor was not good for a few days.
I tried until the evening...but our international business relies heavily on sat with my left hand over my eye. There was bleeding from the op....which means you see like a black eyelash moving about. It is slowly getting better day by day. That is normal my eye doctor tells me.

As so to the bottom part of the sandwich.
We had promised 2 friends we would take them out to dinner.
We decided again on Restaurant Ambiente. The lady was a wine drinker but her hubby was happy to drink beer. I took along two bottles.
It was Friday and as the weather had improved the restaurant was full. This meant waiting to order and we ate later than planned. Made a note...go midweek next time. Riccardo apologized as many customers had arrived without ordering a table and, as can happen, everybody arrived at once.
It was, however, a very enjoyable evening as I was on top form and we laughed a lot.
The white wine was very good.
Chateau Tuilerie Eole Blanc 2007
Languedoc, France

A cuvee of 40% Rolle, 20% Viognier, 10% Grenache Blanc..with Rousanne, Marsanne
& Clairette making up the rest...grown on sandstone soil..only 4000 bottles were there will be 3999 that can be enjoyed as much as we did. Fresh sparkling tinges...a wild can feel the countryside...reserved nutty bouquet...and some citrus fruit...but it's the taste that wins it fairly explodes onto the palate..loads of minerals bouncing about..and an intense creaminess..and a good long finish. Excellent wine.
Points 17.5

Diel Pinot Noir Caroline 2008
Nahe Germany
The red I will refrain from writing notes....the evening had cooled and, although showing all it's qualities, needed a more focused

Drinking South Styria

Friend Volker and his wife Steffi had gone on holiday for 10 days....their destination?...Austria Südsteiermark (South Styria).
A postcard arrived with Volker looking more like an evangelist preacher than someone who wrote that food,wine and views were superb.

Not to be outdone...and it was planned anyway...I went into my wine cellar and pulled out two recent purchases. The Südsteiermark, as I have noted before on the blog, is the place to buy very good...great even, Sauvignon Blanc.

Polz Sauvignon Blanc
Hochgrassnitzberg 2008

South Styria, Austria
Aromas of cassis and ripe gooseberries...loads of minerals here...and a real explosion on the palate. LET IT AIR!
What an exciting and complex jungle of exotischism. Wild herbs...just the right balance of zippy citrus acidity and a lingering finish of perfection.. Top SB!
Points 17.75

Willi Sattler Sauvignon Blanc
Privat 2006

South Styria, Austria
This is not so much your 'green green grass' SB...more a soft butterball, If I had tasted this blind I would have been uncertain at first. Super complex aroma of exotic fruit...with a gentle creaminess. As it opens only then do you get a shot of the grape's natural character. A super length of flavour and I was putting this in the top 10 SB's that I have ever tried. Judge it as white wine maybe and not as a typical Sauvignon Blanc...but whatever you do...get to try it!
Points 18
Perfect with Antipasti

Not sure what wines Volker tried on holiday...we are meeting up in a couple of days. While he had the real Sü liquid Virtual Reality was a very fine second.