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An extraordinary Wynns Coonawarra cabernet tasting

This was a wonderful tasting of a selection of Wynns Black Label and John Riddoch Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon wines from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, with some quite interesting conclusions.  

Those conclusions were that the Black Label, for most vintages, served blind and side-by-side with the John Riddoch, provided the more compelling current drinking.  This might be put down to the charm of youth, but it does not, for example, explain the same conclusion being reached for the 1982, 1986 and 1988 vintages.  Plausibly, wine storage conditions will have played a part.  It would be interesting to comment on the contribution of the vineyard and winemaking operations to these vintages, but since this information is not readily available, I am limited to commenting on what was in the glass. 

The second conclusion of the tasting was that Wynns is a style of Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon that requires an uncommonly long period to show its best.  The wines from 1999, for example, appeared positively youthful at 20 years’ of age.  The wines from the 1980s were mostly just coming on song, and the wines from the 1970s ready to drink.   Of course, there were exceptions in each bracket, but the trend line was quite clear.  

Overall, this tasting showed Coonawarra at its best: soaring quality, ageworthy and an internationally distinctive, unique expression of cabernet sauvignon.  The converse thought also emerged: Coonawarra could be so much more than it is.  But it’s a pretty good reason to buy some Wynns Black Label.

One quibble.  For such a popular, collectible and ageworthy wine, it is unexpected that its producer does not provide a historical tasting notes archive.  Now part of Treasury Wine Estate’s portfolio, the Wynns website only has accessible tasting notes going back to 2010 for the Black Label and 2009 for the John Riddoch.  I had wished to learn more about these vintages and, as a reference point, the producer’s website did not help. 

Notes follow from this amazing tasting.

From the 1960s

1965.  This wine has aromas of black fruit, smoke and cedar, somewhat charming length and a leafy character.  Most certainly ready to drink, and in gentle decline.  Rating: Very Good.

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1968.  This wine had a dusty, blackcurrant and earthy aroma, which with air, seemed a little stripped and woody.  Low level TCA suspected.  Brownish too in colour.  Enough doubt not to rate.  Rating: Not Rated.

From the 1970s

1970.  Aromas of red fruits, herbs and leafs.  Smokey, and a bit muted.  But with a subtle long length.  I enjoyed this.  Rating: Very Good.

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1972.  This is an unusual wine.  Oddly rich aromas of raisins, the palate is also dominated by raisins.  The length is pleasant enough.  Rating: Good.

1976.  A Jimmy Watson winner.  Somewhat austere at first (blind) impression.  Evolved in the glass revealing leaf, earth, soft tannins and good length.  This is a subtle wine that proved compelling with time in the glass.  Rating: Outstanding.

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From the 1980s

1982 Black Label.  Aromas of smoke, opulent blackcurrant fruit, mint and a dusty character.  Prodigious length on the palate.  Clearly Coonawarra.  This is an outstanding wine that was comfortably wine of the bracket.  Rating: Outstanding*.  Abv: 12%.

1982 John Riddoch.  This is quite a complex wine, with its expression of earth and fruit.  The palate has great length and considerable complexity.  This too is plainly an outstanding expression of Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon, although quite different, and slightly shaded by the black label wine from the same year.  Rating: Outstanding.  Abv: 13%.

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1986 Black Label.  Cedar and blackcurrant aromas.  Great length and firm tannins for a wine 33 years’ old.  Another highlight.  Rating: Outstanding. Abv: 12.9%.

1986 John Riddoch.  An aroma of earth, herbs, oak, spice and smoke.  An almost youthful expression, with some raisin overtones.  Rating: Very Good.  Abv: 13.6%.

1988 Black Label.  Aromas of leaf, red fruits.  The palate has long length, with blackcurrant characters.  Another outstanding Black Label.  Rating: Outstanding.  Abv: 12.7%.

1988 John Riddoch.  Classic blackcurrant aromas, coupled with spice.  Somewhat harder tannins with a licorice overlay.  Rating: Very Good.  Abv: 12.3%.

From the 1990s

1990 Black Label.  This black label has restrained aromas of red fruits, licorice and proved quite complex with some iodine characters and brooding expression on the palate.  Rating: Very Good.

1990 John Riddoch.  This proved an outstanding John Riddoch.  It has aromas of blackcurrant, cloves and mint.  The length is long with cassis undertones.  Quite a youthful expression that will continue to improve.  Rating: Outstanding. 

1991 Centenary Shiraz Cabernet.  This was a surprise for principal reason that the shiraz was not at all obvious.  Aromas of clove and mint, with dusty tannins, a leafy character and good length.  Plainly a good wine.  Rating: Very Good. 

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1991 Black Label.  A lesser black label on this tasting.   A dusty aroma, and somewhat acidic palate.  Rating: Good.

1991 John Riddoch.  This proved a rich wine, with an aroma of saturated plums and good length.  Rating: Very Good.  Abv: 13.5%.

1994 Black Label.  Very tannic, but with good length.  Still young.  Rating; Very Good.  Abv: 13.5%.

1994 John Riddoch.  This wine presented awkwardly, with oak, cedar and quite hard tannins.  TCA suspected.  But also 25 wines putting some wear on the palate.  Rating: Not Rated.

1996.  Both the Black Label and the John Riddoch showed flashes of character of mint and blackcurrant, but seemed faulty due to a hardness of tannin and stripped nature.  Both suspected for TCA and withdrawn.  Rating: Not Rated.

1998 Black Label.  Aromas of blackcurrant, with great length and fresh acidity.  In its drinking window.  Rating: Very Good. 

1998 John Riddoch.  A slightly disappointing wine.  Firm tannins, good length, but a little hard and the oak seemed awkward.  Rating: Good.

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1999 Black Label.  The acidity on this wine presents quite firmly.  Blackcurrants, good length and youthful in expression on the palate.  It surprises to say this, but much too early to drink at 20 years of age.  Rating: Very Good.

1999 John Riddoch.  Aromas of blackcurrant and smoke.  Restrained in bearing with good length.  Rating: Good to Very Good. 

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Langtons Classification VII – trends, promotions and demotions

The new Langtons classification (classification VII) of Australian wine was released last week.  It is stated to measure the performance of wines in an open market, with the condition of entry being 10 vintages and a track record in the secondary market.  The list has been prepared for many years now, and is prepared by Langtons, a company that forms part of an Australian supermarket conglomerate.  You can read it here.

It’s actually a pretty interesting list, even though it is easy to cynical about lists and since it’s wine, everyone has a view.  The facts are it captures many, perhaps almost all, of Australia’s great wines and helps provide an easy reference point to quality Australian wine for expert and new comer alike.  I think it therefore is of use.

In this post, I wanted to sift through the list to see what has changed, as that is potentially of interest in spotting trends.  So, I am going to look at the promotions, demotions and departures.  The latter two have seemingly, and perhaps unsurprisingly at least from producers, attracted little comment that I have seen.  Here’s what I found.

Promotions at the top level (exceptional)

At the top level, there is only one move, a new entrant.  The new wine is Best’s Thomson Family Great Western Shiraz.  I have tasted this wine on few occasions, but it is a very good wine.  There are many outstanding wines at this level.  I do think though that Grange and Hill of Grace remain above most of them.

Promotions at second level (outstanding)

At the next level, twelve wines were promoted:

1 Best’s Bin 0 Great Western Shiraz
2 By Farr Sangreal Pinot Noir, Geelong
3 Charles Melton Nine Popes Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre, Barossa Valley
4 Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz, McLaren Vale
5 Henschke Euphonium Shiraz Cabernet Merlot, Barossa Valley
6 Howard Park Abercrombie Cabernet, Great Southern
7 Langmeil 1843 Shiraz, Barossa Valley
8 Leeuwin Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River
9 Seppeltsfield Para Liqueur Port, Barossa Valley
10 Yalumba Signature Cabernet Shiraz, Barossa
11 Yarra Yering Dry Red No. 1 Cabernet, Yarra Valley
12 Yeringberg Cabernet, Yarra Valley

These promotions are from quite a mix of regions and styles, with five wines from the Barossa and three wines from around Melbourne, namely the Yarra Valley and Geelong.  But it is a strong list.  I haven’t encountered a couple – Howard Park’s wine and the Seppeltsfield fortified specifically.  Leeuwin’s cabernet sauvignon has improved over the years.

Promotions at the third level (excellent)

At the next level, twelve wines also have been promoted:

1 Cullen Wines Kevin John Chardonnay, Margaret River
2 Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet, Margaret River
3 Hentley Farm Clos Otto Shiraz, Barossa Valley
4 Hoddles Creek Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley
5 Kooyong Haven Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula
6 Oakridge 864 Chardonnay, Yarra Valley
7 Oliver’s Taranga Reserve Shiraz, McLaren Vale
8 Vass Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay, Margaret River
9 Wine by Farr Tout Pres Pinot Noir, Geelong
10 Xanadu Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River
11 Yabby Lake Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula
12 Yarra Yering Dry Red No. 2 Shiraz, Yarra Valley

I have tasted most, but not all, of these wines.  Of the twelve, interestingly ten are from the Margaret River and the wine regions around Melbourne.  A couple of wines here will be on a higher trajectory, with Oakridge’s 864 chardonnay the most obvious example.

Demotions 

Now, my spreadsheet was tested by trying to track the various movements, so if there is an error here or anywhere else in this post let me know.  These are the wines that have been moved down a level:

1 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River
2 Chambers Muscat, Rutherglen
3 Chambers Topaque, Rutherglen
4 Crawford River Riesling, Western Victoria
5 Dalwhinnie Eagle Shiraz, Pyrenees
6 De Bortoli Noble One, New South Wales
7 Glaetzer Amon Ra Shiraz, Barossa Valley
8 Grosset Springvale Riesling, Clare Valley
9 Majella Malleea Cabernet, Coonawarra
10 McWilliams Lovedale Semillon, Hunter Valley
11 Noon Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale
12 Paringa Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula
13 Seppelt St Peters Shiraz, Western Victoria
14 Wynns Michael Shiraz, Coonawarra
15 Yalumba Octavius Shiraz, Barossa

This group is a bit of a mixed bag, but they all remain in the classification, so really, it is not that the wines have all suddenly undergone some misfortune.  I will return to this shortly, as first I want to mention the wines left out of this classification.  They are:

1 Bannockburn Serre Pinot Noir, Geelong
2 Greenock Creek RR Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Valley
3 Wolf Blass Platinum Shiraz, South Australia
4 Coldstream Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley
5 Katnook Prodigy Shiraz, Coonawarra
6 Lake’s Folly Chardonnay, Hunter Valley
7 Lindemans Shiraz Cabernet, Coonawarra
8 Paringa Shiraz, Mornington Peninsula
9 Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling, Clare Valley
10 Primo Estate Joseph, South Australia
11 Rolf Binder Shiraz, Barossa Valley
12 Sally’s Paddock Cabernet, Pyrenees
13 Savaterre Chardonnay, Beechworth
14 Wantirna Amelia Cabernet blend, Yarra Valley
15 Wild Duck Creek Estate Springflat Shiraz, Heathcote

This is a very interesting list.  It would appear to reflect changing styles (rich and bold styles to more elegant), some declining fortunes and perhaps declining interest in a couple of cases.

Trends

You can slice and dice these a number of ways to work out trends, but it is interesting to look at which grape varieties and regions had the most net promotions and demotions.  Here’s what I found, using a very simple method of promotions minus demotions for grape varieties and regions:

Grape varieties
Pinot Noir, net +2
Cabernet sauvignon & cabernet first blends, net +1
Chardonnay, net +1
Shiraz & shiraz first blends, net -2
Riesling, net -3

Regions
Margaret River, net +4
Yarra Valley, net +3
Barossa Valley, net +2
Coonawarra, net -4

This is just one means of looking at this information, and wine is notoriously diverse.  However, in  terms of grape varieties, this may very tentatively suggest that pinot noir, chardonnay and cabernet blends are grape varieties on the up, and riesling and perhaps shiraz is not.  There is a lot of movement in shiraz both up and down and a lot of shiraz on the list, so I am slow to draw strong conclusions on shiraz, but it is net down.

The funny thing is that this more or less accords with what I anticipated might be seen, except for the cabernet blends.  The pinot noir charge is led by the established wine regions around Melbourne – the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Geelong.  Tasmania has not yet seen its day, although I think it is coming.

In terms of movements in regions, the Margaret River, the Yarra Valley and the Barossa lead the pack for net promotions.  Coonawarra has seen the most demotions.  Again, these are not particular surprises.  If tentative observations may be made, and there seems no reason not to make them, perhaps it is that the Yarra Valley appears to be rising with more serious producers than ever and the Margaret River has become Australia’s benchmark region for cabernet sauvignon.  And Coonawarra, well, I think it could be so much more than it is.  Perhaps that is a post for another day.

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IMW Annual Bordeaux tasting – 2013 vintage

Held in Sydney by the Institute of Masters of Wine on the weekend, this was a first close local look at the 2013 vintage of Bordeaux. The 2013 vintage in Bordeaux was, of course, rather dire. It saw a dismal spring, an early summer and catastrophic flowering. The vintage culminated with tropical weather at the end of September, with heavy rain and high day and night time temperatures combining to produce an outbreak of rot. Phrases along the lines of “the worst vintage in recent memory” abound in the media.

In short, then, expectations were low. I can’t recall an Australian en primeur campaign at all. It did not surprise then to see lower numbers at this tasting. However, it did provide an opportunity to look quite carefully and methodically at what is a very large bracket of wines. And my takeaways were rather surprising. There are a number of good wines made in this vintage, the best being medium bodied with resolute tannins and quite long length. Perhaps a few may even be affordable on these shores. Some felt that the Saint-Juliens showed best. My view was a little different. I felt that in fact the better producers produced the better wines in most cases. Short notes follow.

Pessac-Léognan
Château de Fieuzal. 13% abv. 65% CS, 30% M, 5% CF. Not a really deep colour. Cassis and leaf aromas. Firm, dusty tannins, fresh acidity and medium-full bodied. G-VG

Château Smith Haut Lafitte. 13.5% abv. 55% CS, 35% M, 10% CF. Always a favourite. 2013 has tomato bush and stemmy/leafy, herbal character. High tannins and medium-full body on the palate with good length and some cassis. VG

Haut-Médoc

Château Belgrave. 12.5% abv. 70% CS, 30% M. Earth, ferric aroma, cassis. A bit Coonawarra like. Palate with medium bodied, cassis, slightly hollowed out and mid range tannins. G

Margaux
Château Boyd-Cantenac. 13% abv. 66% CS, 29% M, 2% CF, 3% PV. Medium intensity of colour. Lots of chunky oak on the nose, fruit hidden. Medium-full body, medium-firm tannin and mid range length. Palate much better. VG

Château Brane-Cantenac. 13.5% abv. 84% CS, 14% M, 2% CF. Medium intensity of colour. Stemmy, oak and blackcurrant nose. High acid and firm dusty tannins. Ferric and earthy. G-VG

Château Cantenac-Brown. Not shown. Apparently pre-assessed as cork tainted, bretty or both so didn’t taste. NR

Château d’Issan. 13% abv. 60% CS, 40% M. Lovely oak, lovely ripe blackcurrant fruit and plenty of wood smoke. Dry medium-full tannins, medium-long length and medium body. G-VG

Château Lascombes. 12.5% abv. 55% CS, 40% M, 5% PV. Lots of refined Frenck oak. Mid range tannins that are quite grippy and dusty. Great length. VG

Château Rauzan-Ségla. 13.5% abv. 58% CS, 39% M, 2% PV, 1% CF. Medium colour. Refined blackcurrant. Fine oak. High acid, dusty tannins, really good length. G-VG

First Growths
Château Angélus. 13.5% abv. 62% M, 38% CF. Is there much point rating this bracket? All are outstanding. Richer than the Cheval Blanc, the Angélus has aromas of red fruits and lightly smokey oak. Full body, firm but not dusty tannins, long length, terrific balance. O

Château Cheval Blanc. 13% abv. 49% M, 3% CS, 48% CF. Refined integrated red fruit nose. High tannins, long length, amazing balance. O

Château d’Yquem. 13.5% abv. 30% SB, 70% S. Botrytis marmalade aromas. The palate is full bodied with glorious refreshing acidity, long length and a viscous body. Outstanding wine. O

Saint-Émilion
Château Dassault. 13% abv. 75% M, 20% CF, 5% CS. Sweet fruit, lovely French oak, medium intensity colour. Fuller body with medium tannins, medium-full length and medium-high acid. Subtle. VG

Château La Fleur. 13% abv. 92% M, 8% CF. Sweet red fruit, medium intensity of colour, restrained savoury oak. Medium-full body, medium-high tannins and a balanced mid range length and savoury fruit profile. G-VG

Château Pavie-Macquin. 13.5% abv. 85% M, 13% CF, 2% CS. Evident tears, mid range depth of colour. Restrained cedar oak aroma, spice, graphite, smokey oak. Palate is fuller bodied, more viscous, medium tannins, red fruit and long length. VG

Château Trotte Vieille
. 13% abv. 54% M, 2% CS, 44% CF. I almost never “get” this wine. Wood, stemmy aroma. Medium-full body, medium-high tannin, really a lot of tannins actually, quite good length. G-VG

Château Valandraud. 14% abv. 65% M, 25% CF, 5% CS, 4% M, 1% C. Rich, baked fruit, with cedar/pencil oak and lots of new French oak. Full body, medium-high tannins, medium acidity, long length, wood character evident. VG

Pomerol
Château La Conseillante. 13% abv. 80% M, 20% CF. Herbal, leaf, clove, tomato bush aroma. Medium-full body, medium tannin and length. Very balanced. VG

Château Petit Village. 13.5% abv. 70% M, 20% CF, 10% CS. Cedar, spicy and red fruits. Palate has medium-high tannin, medium-full body and more structure and long length. VG

Saint-Estèphe
Château Calon-Ségur. 13% abv. 85% CS, 7% CF, 6% M, 2% PV. Mid range colour. Blackcurrant, high tannins, medium body and good length. VG

Château Cos d’Estournel. 13% abv. 78% CS, 20% M, 2% CF. Cassis, earth, ferric character. Drying high tannins, but great length. VG-O

Château Montrose. 13% abv. 68% CS, 29% M, 3% PV. Cassis, blackcurrant and fruity aroma. Medium/medium-full body, dry high tannins and good length. VG-O

Saint-Julien
Château Langoa Barton. 13% abv. 65% CS, 30% M, 5% CF. Mid range intensity of colour. Tomato bush aroma. Palate of medium-high tannins, high acid, but balanced. G-VG

Château Leoville Barton. 13% abv. 85% CS, 15% M. Mid range colour. High acid, dusty tannins. Iron filings and leaf. VG

Château Leoville-Las-Cases. 13% abv. 74% CS, 12% M, 14% CF. A wow aroma. Refined oak, blackcurrant. So evocative. Balanced palate, long length, refined, high tannin but fine indeed. VG-O

Pauillac

Château Batailley. 13% abv. 4% M, 94% CS, 2% PV. Meaty, farm and earth aroma. Medium tannins and length. G

Château Lynch-Bages. 13% abv. 72% CS, 20% M, 6% CF, 2% PV. Tomato bush, steam, leaf and cassis. Medium-full body, high dusty tannins and blackcurrants. VG

Château Pichon Baron
. 13% abv. 82% CS, 18% M. Iron earth, cassis, blackcurrant, earthy aroma. High dusty tannins, long length. VG-O

Château Pontet-Canet. 13% abv. 30% M, 65% CS, 4% CF and 1% PV. Earth, blackcurrant, really vivid fruit. Fullish bodied, high tannins, tea leaf and red fruit edge gives unusualness. Good length. G-VG

Sauternes
Château Suduiraut. 13.5% abv. 93% S, 7% SB. Caramel, brown sugar aroma. Full bodied, viscous, medium-long length, fresh acidity. VG

Clos Haut Peyraguey. 13.5% abv. 95% S, 5% SB. Lemon, spice, and seemingly not that much botrytis. Medium-full bodied and mid range length. G

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Rutherglen fortified muscat; from bottom to top

Here’s the second of my promised posts on the Rutherglen wine region.  The first post was on  Rutherglen’s renaissance and can be found here.  This post is all about what Rutherglen is famous for: fortified muscat (grape: muscat à petits grains) and fortified topaque (grape: muscadelle).

Viticulture and winemaking

Rather than recite facts from the texts, here are thoughts on the viticultural and winemaking aspects of Rutherglen fortified wines from speaking with winemakers and producers in the region in April.  Sadly for likely cost of my MW studies, it seems this is a vastly more efficient way of extracting information.  So then, getting stuck into things, muscadelle and muscat are both raisined on the vine and picked very late.  This year, for example, harvest for some was still going on in late April.  Muscat (a reddish/brown coloured grape) normally comes in a bit earlier than the muscadelle (which is a white grape).  Muscats become more like raisins on the vine, and the muscadelles more like sultanas.  Once out of the vineyard, fermentation takes place on skins in stainless steel to around 2-3% abv, the raisins are pressed out and then the fermenting must fortified by the addition of 96% grape spirit.  The spirit usually comes from Tarac in South Australia, who are regarded as producing high quality pure spirit that does not impart flavour into the wine.  Once fortified, the finished wine sits around 17-18% alcohol, with over 250 grams per litre of residual sugar.

The wines then go into a wood maturation process.  Barrel sizes vary from very small to very large and it seems there is no one agreed style.  Chris Pfeiffer of Pfeiffer Wines for example does not favour overt wood influences, but with ageing taking place over such long periods, it seems inevitable that practices vary.  Blending takes place using a modified solera system, with the extent of topups depending on the style of the producer.  The ageing process takes an awfully long time, and contributes to loss of water and some alcohol too, which concentrates the wines in barrel.  Around 2.5-3% is lost each year.  Oxidative reactions caramelise the wine and the PHs can be high.  In terms of generalities, raisin and roses are seen in the muscats, and treacle in the topaques.  In older wines, mocha and caramel is seen in the muscats, and more butterscotch in the topaques.  In terms of producer styles, Buller, Chamber and Morris are at the bigger end of the scale, while All Saints, Campbells and Pfeiffer are lighter and more elegant.  Stanton & Kileen is in the centre, towards the bigger group.

In 1996, the key producers in the region got together to draw up a 1996 classification of Rutherglen fortified wine.  There are now only seven left in this group, an unappreciated (on my part) indication of the scarcity of this unique wine style.   The classification has four levels: Rutherglen (3-5 years average age; 180-240g/l residual sugar), Classic (6-10 years average age; 200-280g/l residual sugar, Grand (11-19 years average age; 270-400g/l residual sugar) and Rare (20 years+ average age; 270-400g/l residual sugar).

Reflecting on this, and considering for the moment the current fashion for medium bodied Beaujolais and pinot noir styles that are sent to market a few months or a year after vintage, here’s a style that requires producers to withhold their wine for sale for in some cases decades.  This requires a certain patience on the part of producers and consumers alike, and I think respect too.  There are few wine producers that could withhold wine for sale for these lengths of time, all the while losing 2.5-3% each year to the heavens.

The tasting

And now for the rather extraordinary part: tasting through each producer’s fortified muscats from “Rutherglen” right through to “Rare” under the expert guidance of Chris Pfeiffer.   I did not undertake an equivalent exercise for muscadelles although I gladly would: it was genuinely challenging to taste so many fortified wines and sensibly seek to mark out the individual differences.

Here are my notes and observations.

Bracket 1 – “Rutherglen”

All Saints – raisin aromas.  Viscous, good length, raisiny on the palate.
Campbells – more caramel, barley sugar and butter aromas.  Balanced palate.
Morris – back to raisins, this time supplemented by currants.  Some heat on the palate, long length.
Pfeiffer – more florals – jasmine as well as currants.  Good length on palate and lovely balance.  Quite elegant.
Stanton & Killeen – butter, caramel and petrol aromas.  Caramel and slight cloy on the finish.
The Pfeiffer wine was the pick of this group for my palate.

Bracket 2 – “Classic”

All Saints – aromas of butter, florals and green herbs.  Rich caramel texture on the palate.  Quite full bodied.
Campbells – fresh caramel, cooked caramel, lactic aromas.  Full bodied palate that is well proportioned and with good length.
Morris – raisin, small currants and floral aroma.  Good length, quite long.  A bit of heat on the finish in this wine too.
Pfeiffer – raisin, lactic and floral aromas.  Very good length on the palate.
Rutherglen Estate – more raisiny nose, with some spirit evident.  Good length, sweet finish.
Stanton & Killeen – lactic, wood aromas.  Very caramel on the palate.
The Campbells and Pfeiffer wines were the pick of this group.

Bracket 3 – “Grand”

Oh, the step up!

All Saints – floral, subtle currants.  On the palate, caramel and long length.
Buller – spirit aroma and caramel infused palate.  Long length, but some heat on the finish.
Campbells – lactic, butter and caramel aromas.  Balanced palate with good length.
Morris – spirit and raisins on the nose.  Balanced, concentrated palate with spirit in the background
Pfeiffer – floral, small currant aromas.  Long length and balanced spirit on the palate.
Stanton & Killeen – aromas of butter and small currants.  Caramel, butter and long length on the palate.
While all are good, if I had to choose, the Stanton & Killeen, Pfeiffer, All Saints and Campbells wines all deserve a place in your cellars.

Bracket 4 – “Rare”

Things get a little silly now. These are wondrously intense wines deserving of special occasion drinking.

All Saints – florals, delicate.  The first “wow” of the set.  Great length.  Subtle.  An outstanding wine.
Buller – raisin, heat and robust.  Good but not quite in the same league as the others for my palate.
Campbells – currants and long length.  Wow again.  Outstanding.
Morris – spirit, raisin aromatics.  Great balance and long length on the palate.  The best of the Morris wines.
Pfeiffer – florals, small currants, elegant.  Deft touch.  Long length and raisins on the finish.  Just shy of the Campbells and All Saints Rares.
Stanton & Killeen – butter, raisin and good length on the palate, with some heat.

Wow, what a stunning set. While the average quality level is very high indeed at this level (and frankly at all the levels), the All Saints and Campbells Rare wines in particular stand out for their soaring quality.

Takeaway observations are (i) the Grand wines are where the value is, (ii) the Rares are all brilliant but demand a special occasion and (iii) producer variation is considerable – there is no one style of Rutherglen muscat.

Note: I attended Rutherglen as a guest of Winemakers of Rutherglen

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An outstanding Burgundy tasting of pre-2003s

I attended this amazing tasting back in April.  It was almost a case study in outstanding premier cru and grand cru red Burgundy with 15 or more years of age on the wines.  Only two wines missed the mark – one due to cork taint, the other presenting as simplistic (for a grand cru) due to suspected heat damage.  Whether new to the Burgundy maze or a veteran palate, I would actively recommend all of these wines.  Here are my notes.

***

Domaine Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Ruchottes 2008
There are 51 Chassagne-Montrachet premier crus, and Les Ruchottes is among the better of them.  The 2008 has aromas of lemon, minerals, nectarine and stone.  The palate is full bodied, with good freshness and a long finish.  Very Good to Outstanding


Domaine Robert Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Perrières 2002
Les Perrières is a rocky and stony vineyard and one of Nuits-Saint-George’s 37 premier crus.   2002 was a good vintage and it shows in this wine.  Aromas of sweet leather, truffles, mature earth and cherry.  The palate has fresh racy acidity, long length and a cherry core.  Delicious.  Very Good to Outstanding

Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune Les Grèves Vigne de L’Enfant Jésus 2002
Les Grèves is a 31.33 hectare premier cru vineyard in Beaune and is well regarded.  The 2002 “L’Enfant Jésus” has aromas of florals, potpourri and roses.  The palate is slippery with fresh acidity and a certain softness through the palate.  A tannic grip emerges with air, as do some cedar characters.  Very Good

Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Musigny Grand Cru 2001
Words do inadequate justice to this exquisite wine.  Its siren call is strong.  Dark cherry, blackcurrant and leather aromatics promise much.  It is the palate though which truly astounds.   Long length, delicate, light and shade with a lick of tannin.  Burgundy at its finest.  Outstanding with a plus

Domaine Daniel Rion & Fils Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 1990
Clos Vougeot is 50.59 hectares in size and the largest grand cru in the Côte de Nuits with a somewhat varied reputation befitting its size.  1990 was a good vintage.  In the glass, this wine has aromatics of blackcurrant, cherry and an austere iron like character.  There’s long length on the palate with a hint of dryness at the finish.  Very Good


Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Chaignots 1998
Les Chaignots is a 5.86 hectare premier cru vineyard in Nuits-Saint-Georges.  The 1998 is an elegant wine, with aromas of blackcurrant, and even hints of pepper.  The palate has firm tannins and mid range length.  Good


Domaine de Lambrays Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru 2001
Clos des Lambrays is a grand cru vineyard in Morey-Saint-Denis.  This is an impressive Clos de Lambrays, with aromas of cherry and spice, which continue on the palate supplemented by very long length.  The tannins suggest this wine has some time to go yet.  Happily, I have a second bottle.  Very Good to Outstanding


Domaine Jean-Michel Guillon Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru 2002
Mazis-Chambertin is a grand cru in Gevrey Chambertin and is 9.1 hectares in size.  This is a delicious wine from the 2002 vintage, with aromas of blackcurrant, spice and strawberry.  The palate gives a fuller bodied and ripe impression with long length on the finish.  Very Good to Outstanding


Faiveley Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru 1988
Jancis describes this vintage as “tough and unusually backward” with the best requiring a 20 year wait.  Well, here we are.  It has aromas of cherry and a touch of animal (brett suspected).  The palate has a metallic note, with mid range length, stoney characters and tannins that are resolved, but still there.  Points for making it nearly three decades.  Very Good


Comte Armand Clos des Epeneaux Pommard 2006
A comparative baby in this set.  Still youthful, it has aromatics of cherry, and a palate that is full bodied in impression, with big wood driven tannins.  Needs time.  Good to Very Good

***

The tasting finished with a delicious Alsace pinot gris from Domaine Zind Humbrecht with aromas of honey, currants and sultanas, and the palate medium sweet in impression.  Unfortunately my photo proved particularly poor and does not yield the details of the vintage and label.  If you are an expert label spotter (or better still were at the tasting!), please chime in and I’ll post it.

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The Rutherglen renaissance

Rutherglen vines in the morning mist.

Rutherglen as a tourist destination provides a vision of a rural idyll surrounded by Victorian buildings, vineyards, sheep and intertwined family history.  To borrow a concept from Bernard Salt, at around 300 kilometres from Melbourne and further still from Sydney, it is comfortably out of the orbit of the major capitals.  Yet, scratch under the surface and the changes emerge.  Serious food and wine offerings have sprung up, such as the superb new wine bar (Thousand Pound Wine Bar and Store), seemingly teleported direct from St Kilda.  Out of town, both Jones Winery and the ambitious new Ripe restaurant at Buller Wines prove very good for lunch and well beyond simple country fare.  The wine industry is changing too.  Venerable family estate Morris has found a new home under Casella’s ownership, the opportunity seemingly embraced in view of its reported proposed closure in the hands of former owner Pernod Ricard.  Buller wines is being visibly rejuvenated by new owners too, the Judd family, while Rutherglen Estates prospers under Chinese ownership and the thoughtful winemaking of Marc Scalzo.

Jones Winery.

Yes, well and good you say, but what about the wine?  Isn’t Rutherglen a region for fortified wines which everyone agrees are wonderful, are an international benchmark wine style and quite scarce too, but remain in genteel decline for reasons unrelated to expert wine opinion?  And what about durif, a grape that is prone to excess when the pendulum has swung to mid weight wine?  Well, as always, the real position is more nuanced.  The fortified muscat offerings remain utterly superb, and I attended a quite extraordinary classification tasting with Chris Pfeiffer of Pfeiffer Wines that more or less proved it.  The write up deserves its own post.  And durif.  Well, there’s nuance in durif too, with talk of clones, vineyards, terroir and a tasting where wines ranged in style and alcohols from 13.3% to 17%.  I’ll write that up separately too.  And then there’s the whites.  White Rutherglen … who knew?

But before I talk about the wines, here are a few on the ground facts about the Rutherglen wine region deduced from a couple of days of informally walking and talking to producers.  The region is classified as warm climate, and is broadly similar to the Barossa Valley in terms of temperature but proximity to the foothills of the Alps moderates night time temperatures.  Unlike further north, vintage matters here: 2002-2010 were drought years, 2011 was terrible, 2014 was wiped out by significant frost and good wines were made in the other more recent vintages.  Most producers irrigate, add acid and shade fruit to avoid sunburn.  Springs can be wet, and the summers dry.  The soils range from clays to sands, the latter being said to give wines a more floral character.  Picking occurs in roughly February for whites, March for reds and April/May for red/brown muscat (muscat à petits grains) and white muscadelle (both of which are intentionally left on the vine to raisin).  The region has seen compression in picking windows in some recent years (although not the current cooler vintage conditions, it would seem).

Rutherglen Estates vineyard.

As I suspect a rather deliberate eye opener, I commenced wine tasting with a bracket of alternative white varieties from Rutherglen.  These included chardonnay, a riesling and a viognier, but I thought the most interesting wines had marsanne in them.  My surprise at the freshness and balance in these wines was tempered by the slow realisation that Nagambie is not particularly far away as the crow flies, and Tahbilk has hectares of it growing there.  A fiano proved rather interesting too.  Here are my notes.

Valhalla Wines Marsanne 2014
Marsanne and Roussanne both survived the drought years in Rutherglen in style.  The latter retains more natural acidity.  Aromas of bread, hay, minerals and some cedar influence.  The palate is fuller bodied with a touch of butter and mid range length.

Cofield Wines Roussanne Marsanne 2014
This wine has an apple streak running through its bread and floral aromatics.  The palate is all apples, lemons and apricots.

Campbells Wines Marsanne Viognier 2016
I have been critical of viognier, but it works here in a blend.  Floral, hay and apricot blossom aromatics.  The palate is fuller bodied and citrus dominant, with phenolics evident.  Well made.

Rutherglen Estates Viognier Roussanne Marsanne 2015
Soft skinned viognier can be hard in the vineyard, but it is very well managed in this wine which proved to be the wine of the set.  Kernel stones, cedar and smoke characters.  The palate is full bodied with good length supplemented by ginger and apricot notes.

Jones Vineyard & Winery Fiano 2016
This wine sees no added acid and is grown on red clay with no irrigation.  Overt floral aromatics with notes of peach, almost ice cream.  The palate is medium bodied with a fresh style and floral overlay.

Note: I attended Rutherglen as a guest of Winemakers of Rutherglen

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Bordeaux en primeur 2015 underway; some Australian price comparatives

Prices are starting to trickle out from Bordeaux’s 2015 campaign.  Sitting in Australia, there is always an interesting exercise to be done looking at the release prices in Europe as against the selling prices proposed in Australia.  The tyrannies of distance and Australian wine taxes continue to play their role in ensuring that this comparison can make difficult reading for the wine lover.

Here’s a little snap shot so far in the order of European release price, release price in Australian dollars and local en primeur price offered.  The en primeur prices are ex-negociant sourced from liv-ex.com, the Australian dollar conversion is A$1 = Euro 0.64582 sourced from xe.com and the Australian prices from langtons.com.au.  Each of the prices were accessed today (7 May 2016).

Chateau Gazin, Pomerol

Euro 45.60, A$70.61, EP offer A$130.  Australian price: 84.1% higher.

Chateau Doisy-Vedrines, Sauternes, Barsac

Euro 23.50, A$36.39, EP offer A$70.  Australian price: 91.6% higher.

Chateau Labegorce, Margaux

Euro 18.00, A$27.87, EP offer A$52.  Australian price: 86.6% higher.

Chateau Guiraud, Sauternes

Euro 30.00, A$46.45, EP offer A$86.  Australian price: 85.1% higher.

Clearly, Australia remains an expensive place to buy wine, and the difference is mostly due to our wine taxation system.  The latter topic has enjoyed a litany of commentary following this week’s Federal budget and proposed reforms to a taxpayer funded wine tax refund that benefits certain producers.  If you spot more en primeur wines being released in Australia or any errors in my calculations(!), please comment and add to the comparison.

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Tasmanian vineyards map

I have been slowly reading through Tony Walker’s new book Vintage Tasmania: The Complete Book of Tasmanian Wine (Providore Island Tasmania, 2014).  I won’t talk about the book now, other than to note that it has an interesting cross reference in it to a Wine Tasmania website.  Hitherto undiscovered (by me that is), Wine Tasmania has introduced a website, tasvine.org, which has attempted to locate every vineyard in Tasmania on a clickable map.  What a brilliant resource – I love it!  I hope more Australian wine regions follow suit.  If you happen to come across anything else like this, please let me know.

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Notes from a Barolo and Barbaresco (and Brunello) tasting

I am not very good at posting notes from wine tastings.  I usually pick out one or two that I really liked and write those up immediately, whilst the others remain tucked away somewhere, probably to resurface in the washing.  And, yes, that includes those typed into my phone.  So to break the cycle (and I have already written up a couple of these), here are some short notes from an excellent Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello di Montalcino tasting, with an Aussie nebbiolo from Giaconda thrown in at the end.

A brilliantly named wine from Borgogno.

Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Asili 2001, 14abv
Tar, roses.  Fine grained tannins, medium length, lovely balanced wine in its drinking prime. Fantastic start.  Very Good

Marcarini Brunate Barolo 2011, 14abv
Very youthful expression.  Redcurrant, prunes, pepper, earth, florals.  Palate is fruit driven and elegant but builds weight in the glass with air.  Still a baby, and enjoyed time in the glass.  Good to Very Good

Traversa Starderi Barbaresco 2010, 13.5abv

Lowest alcohol wine for the night.  Delicious too.  Tar, herbs, violets and rosemary nose.  Palate has flesh, good length, hints of raspberry and earth.  Joyous drinking right now.  Very Good

Cigliuti Vie Erte Barbaresco 2010, 14abv
Tar and roses again!  Licorice, earth.  On the palate some powdery oak tannin, medium length, plum skins, firm tanins, high acid.  May well age forever.  Good to Very Good

Campogiovanni Brunello di Montalcino 2007, 15abv
A definite change in style on the palate heralding the first Brunello in the set.  Plum, earth, licorice, cedar aromatics.  Palate has earth, blackcurrant, licorice, cherry, towards long length. Good wine, youthful in impression, components coming together and 15abv in balance.  Good to Very Good

Borgogno Etichetta “No Name” 2011, 15abv
Outstanding label: declassified Barolo labelled literally as “No Name”.  In fact, appellation of Langhe claimed on the back label.  Aromatics of roses and florals.  Quite pretty.  Some tomato bush too. Palate has very high acid, huge tannins and a strict impression. Built to last.  Very Good

Luigi Pira Serralunga Barolo 2010, 14.5abv
Classic aroma – tar and roses again.  The palate is fresh and has a lovely moreish balance to it with good length and floral intent, cloaking some serious structure.  Decant.  Very Good

Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2010, 14.5abv
Less obviously Brunello, although the spittoons didn’t receive much of a workout by this point of the tasting.  Licorice and earth aromatics.  Plum and cherry characters on the palate with some strawberry red fruit notes too.  Very good drinking.  Very Good

Giaconda Nebbiolo 2010, 13.8abv

And just to complete an excellent benchmarking exercise, an Aussie wine to contrast. The aroma was immediately different, but with time reverted more to Nebbiolo type. Roses, wet rosemary, pepper, eucalyptus and some menthol on the nose. The palate didn’t have the framing acidity of the preceding wines, but nonetheless had attractive cherry characters, with a touch of fruit sweetness.  Good

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Last stop: Beaujolais

I couldn’t help but like the vignerons that I met in Beaujolais.  The region immediately appeared more accessible and the level of enthusiasm for this mostly unloved region more palpable.  Here, we visited the Cave du Château de Chénas, Cave du Château des Loges and the Vignerons des Pierres Dorées.

A view from Mt Brouilly.

I have already provided some brief impressions on the Beaujolais region in my previous post, but my takeaway points were these.  First, the region is very beautiful.  As a tourist, if you are seeking rolling hills covered in vines, this is your place.  Second, the visit highlights one of the limitations of the appellation system, namely that producers are unable to adapt to produce different wines that the market wants.  It is as if the region must wait for the wheel of fashion to turn, and starve in the interim.  Third, it is a reminder that I must buy more Beaujolais, and in particular, more Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie and Côte de Brouilly.

The Moulin in Moulin-à-Vent.
Not all vines are gobelets.  Trained vines in Beaujolais.
Gazing across the Beaujolais region.
Gobelet trained vines on the Côtes de Brouilly.

Before I get into the tastings, first some more observations on the limitations of the appellation system.  While in an Australian context, I support an increased focus on regionalism and indeed am also partial to Australia considering stricter appellation rules in some cases to really help distinguish our greatest and most well known terroirs, I don’t think that rules and laws generally, and appellation laws in particular, should result in outcomes where producers mush perish as a matter of principle, lock in anything other than best practices or result in a loss of common sense flexibility.  I noticed same small steps around the edges in this regard in Beaujolais – a few Beaujolais Blancs here and there (hitherto mostly unsighted by me and generally quite good), a couple of viogniers here and there (definitely previously unsighted by me) and then the biggest surprise, namely that there is now some limited machine harvesting permitted in the region, even though carbonic maceration requires whole bunch grapes.  Whether the latter is a good development remains to be seen, instinctively it is not, but equally having to tend to gobelet trained free standing vines and vineyards by hand when the wine is being sold at a euro or two a bottle is plainly unsustainable.

The key aspect of Beaujolais is that the crus are largely regarded separately from Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages wines and appear to be doing just fine.  The crus are wines from the towns and places of Saint-Amour, Julienas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly.  Interestingly, the locals regard Côte de Brouilly as the most worthy of the crus, Moulin-à-Vent is the longest lived and most pinot noir like in time and Fleurie seems to be the UK market’s Beaujolais of choice.  As my tastings found, there is a certain logic in these outcomes.

Cave du Château de Chénas

Unsurprisingly, the Cave du Château de Chénas is in Chénas.  The wines here were a great insight into the respective attributes of the Beaujolais crus, which are rarely seen together in any detail on Australian shores.  The quality proved to be very good, and the prices as ever for this region, low.

Beaujolais Blanc 2014
From 4 year old vines.  Lemon and lime aromatics.  Lemon and yellow grapefruit on the palate.  A

Saint-Amour 2014
80% destemmed.  Aromatics of pepper, raspberry and anise.  Palate reminds of rubber, smoke and anise.  A

Brouilly 2014
Aromatics of liqueur, cassis and raspberry.  Short to medium length and fruitier style on the palate.  A-G

Fleurie 2014
Raspberry and more white pepper than preceding wines.  Similar characters.  Balanced.  G

Julienas 2014
Similar aromatics to the Fleurie, reminding of white pepper and raspberry.  Less strength on the palate.  A-G

Morgon 2014
Aromatics of white pepper and raspberry.  A little bit of cherry on the palate, and some tannins.  A-G

Chénas 2014
Raspberries and strawberries on the nose.  Palate with tannins evident.  The comment was made that Chenas more generally can be rustic with higher acidity.  A-G

*Moulin-à-Vent 2014
This is a good wine.  Aromatics of plum, raspberry and white pepper.  The palate has mid range tannins, medium length and similar flavours.  G

*Chénas Selection Couer de Granit 2014
This is still in vat.  Super fruity aromatics that are floral and remind of raspberries and cherries.  The palate is fruity, with tannins and similar characters.  The new winner.  G-VG

*Moulin-à-Vent Couer de Granit 2014
Also still in vat.  Raspberry and plum aromatics.  More acid on the palate, with a gaseous prickle.  Seems like it will be good.  G

A real cellar.

**Moulin-à-Vent 1990
The vintage is not a typo.  What an extraordinary wine this was to finish on, drawn from the (very) cold cellars of the Cave du Château de Chénas.  Aromatics of cherry, earth and game.  So pinot noir like.  The palate is gamey, earthy and smokey.  This is an outstanding wine, proving that Moulin-à-Vent is capable of producing wines that age effortlessly for a quarter of a century.  Buy them if you can find them, and they have been stored well.  VG

Cave du Château des Loges


The Cave du Château des Loges is located in the town of Le Perréon at the southern end of Beaujolais.  Here, we undertook a 2013 v. 2014 vintage exercise with the reds, an outstandingly instructive way to taste.  In terms of comparisons between the vintages, the impact of pH on the wine was viewed as being of some importance.  In this regard, while the tartaric acid of the wines in each vintage were almost the same, the pHs in the 2014s were higher, leading to a rounder mouthfeel.  Lower pH tends to express itself with more forceful acidity.

The whites

Viognier 2014
Out of tank.  This is quite minerally in impression, with florals too with some effort.  There is no real mouthfeel on the palate.  Inoffensive.  A

Beaujolais Blanc 2014
Aromatics of lemon.  The palate is also lemony with some acidity.  Not bad.  A-G

Beaujolais Rosé 2014
Floral aromatics.  Floral palate, medium acidity.  Pleasant if unremarkable.  A

The reds

Beaujolais Villages
2013: Aromatics of raspberry, cassis and some bacon.  The palate is similar, with some tannins and structure.  A-G
2014: More strawberry, verging on strawberry jam.  An even palate.  A-G



Régnié

2013: raspberry, plums and spice aromatics.  Quite structured.  A-G
2014: raspberry, plums.  Medium acid, similar flavours on palate.  A bit better.  G

Brouilly
2013: aromas of raspberry and strawberry.  More acid evident on the palate, with tannins.  Similar flavours on palate to the aromatics.  G
2014: a quieter wine, with raspberry and more acid on the palate.  G

Côtes de Brouilly
It was hard not to be influenced by this being the locals’ preferred cru.
2013: aromatics of cherry, that were finer and seemed more integrated.  Medium tannins on the palate, relatively serious in intent, the length only short to medium though.  G
2014: aromatics of blackcurrant, florals and game.  Sweet cherry and medium tannins on the palate.  A-G

Fleurie
2013: More fruity with raspberry and strawberry.  This is a completely different style to the Côtes de Brouilly.  Similar palate (to the nose) with medium tannins.  G
2014: Cherry, raspberry aromatics.  Similar palate, with medium tannins.  G

Vignerons des Pierres Dorées

The final tasting of my tour de Burgundy was near the unquestionably scenic town of D’Oingt.  In typical French style, D’Oingt has been formally ranked as among the most beautiful towns in France.  There was a bit of energy around the Vignerons des Pierres Dorées, which I quite liked and a rather eclectic selection of wines followed.  Some of the Beaujolas whites and reds see a small amount of oak.

The whites

Beaujolais Blancs (chardonnay) are not a bad value wine choice for a wine I barely new existed prior to this tour.  They can resemble the whites of the Mâcon and the ones with good acidity are quite a refreshing style.

Chateau de Chanzé Beaujolais Blanc 2012

This is a well regarded estate.  Aromatics of cedar, toast and oak. Medium acid, vanilla and stone with mid length on the palate.  The oak won’t appeal to all, and is a little heavy handed, but it is clearly a good wine.  G

Rostre de Bélemnite Beaujolais Blanc 2012
Vinified in oak.  Aromatics of match stick and nectarines.  The palate has medium length and acid.  G

Terra Iconia Beaujolais Blanc 2014
Aromatics of stone, lemon and yellow grapefruit.  Palate of lemon and stones supplemented by medium acidity.   A-G


Carré Blanc Viognier Vin de France
2012: A bit socky, reminding of wet wool.  Probably oxidised and promptly replaced with the 2013.
2013: Aromatics of apricot stew.  A bit simple on the palate.  A

The rosés



Terra Iconia Rosé 2014
Aromatics of strawberry.  Palate that is fresh and reminds too of strawberries.  A-G

Carré Rosé 2014
Floral aromatics.  Strawberry on the palate, slightly less line.  A

The reds

Terra Iconia Beaujolais 2014
Raspberry, compot fruits.  Similar palate and quite supple.  A-G

Terra Iconia Beaujolais Bio 2013
Bio means organic in French, with the little hard to see green symbols on the left of the bottle in the picture above providing evidence to those willing to search really hard for it.  Raspberry, pepper and fruit compote.  More going on the palate.  Fruity.  G



*La Rose Pourpre Vieilles Vignes Beaujolais 2014
2014: Minimum of 40 year old wines.  Raspberry and plum aromatics.  Plums, raspberry, medium length and good concentration on the palate.  The pick of the tasting.  G
2013: Raspberry and plums aromatics.  Similar palate with light tannins.  Less concentration, but still good. A-G

Rostre de Bélemnite Beaujolais 2013
Aromatics of vanilla.  Palate of vanilla too, with medium length and raspberry.  Vanilla quite strong, suggesting a heavy oak hand. Good wine otherwise. A-G



*Laforet Beaujolais 2012
Aromatics of raspberry and cedar.  Similar palate, with medium acid and really rather good length.  This is quite a serious wine, and is recommended.  G

*Le Collins Altieres Beaujolais 2012
Aromatics of cherry, earth, raspberry and cedar.  The palate reminds of cherry and cedar with towards long length.   Good too. G

Late harvest styles

The final two wines were both late harvested styles, neither typical of the region but somehow fitting to finish on.



Derniers Grains Viognier Vendage Tardive
Aromatics of raisin.  Palate reminding of raisins and apricot.  Balanced with good acidity on residual sugar on the palate.  This style of viognier worked. G

Derniers Grains Chardonnay Vendage Tardive
I am not sure I have ever tasted a late harvest chardonnay that comes together.  Lemon, residual sugar on the palate, with acidity tasting separate.  A

This concludes a most enjoyable visit and thank you for putting up with such long posts in the last few weeks.  I am very much grateful to the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, Bibendum PLB, the producers I have named and Robin Kinahan MW for their time, effort and kind support and guidance in supporting this trip, which proved an outstanding educational experience.