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Before, during, and after: other wines at the Madeira tasting

January 16, 2018 Leave a comment

I have come to the carefully considered position that Champagne is required at a Madeira tasting.  The aroma of Madeira always fills the room but a glass of Champagne makes everyone jolly before sitting down.  A bottle served while service is performed on the second flight refreshes the palate.  Finally, a bottle at the end resets the palate for dinner wines.  Sadly, two of our four bottles of Champagne were not as they should be.  Fortunately, there were plenty of other bottles to occupy our interests.

Before

2000 Krug, Champagne Vintage Brut
Imported by Envoyer Imports.  Alcohol 12%.  Good, integrated bubbles with focused flavors of sappy fruit.  It finished with tart apples and acidity.  Young with good promise.  **** Now – 2033.

1990 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars LTD.  Alcohol 12%.  Some corrosion around the cork.  A nutty straw color.  The nose is mature and oxidative, a bit more advanced than it should be.  In the mouth are fine, textured bubbles, dry apple orchard flavors, and exotic spices.  The bubbles quickly dissipate.  Completely drinkable but this bottle is probably heat damaged.  Not Rated.

During

NV Jacques Selosse, Champagne Brut Substance
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Disgorged 20 November 2007.  Alcohol 12.5%.  An attractive, rather mature color.  There are hints of yellow fruit in the mouth with yeast notes, and oxidative, tangy apple orchard notes in the finish.  It is a little foxy and earthy with tons of acidity and a sharp finish.  Not right.  Not Rated.

After

NV Ulysse Collin, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra-Brut
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  Lot No. 10.  Disgorged March 2014.  Alcohol 12.5%.  A light straw color.  The very fine bubbles are perfectly integrated with piercing acidity and some tropical fruit.  This wine has power with lemons and other citrus which puckers the mouth in the middle.  The bubbles mix with baking spices leaving chalk in the finish and a long, textured aftertaste.  Bracing stuff best with food.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2008 Trimbach, Riesling Cuvee Frederick Emile, Alsace
Imported by Espirit du Vin.  Powerful, dry, white fruit flavors of apple and citrus with a good vein of acidity.  Certainly a food wine.  Tart overall but there is some Riesling flesh.  This will be long-lived.   *** Now – 2028.

2014 Escarpment, Te Rehua Pinot Noir
Imported by Meadowbank Estates.  Alcohol 13.5%.  A black cherry, Pinot nose.  In the mouth are focused, fresh, and deep flavors of attractive black fruit which is almost bitter.  Watering acidity carries black cherry and licorice towards the dry and herbal finish where tannins are left on the gums.  The long aftertaste is clean. ***(*) Now – 2023.

2003 Chapoutier, Hermitage Le Pavillon
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars LTD.  On the second night this is a seamless wine of brooding strength.  The savory and salty start builds incredible depth of flavor backed by tactile sensation of extract.  This is an inky, mouth coating wine with licorice, floral flavors, and new oak.  This is an intense, modern wine.  **** Now – 2033.

1982 Chateau La Lagune, Haut Medoc
Shipped by Andre Labarda.  Imported by Majestic Wines & Spirits.  A mature nose with leather aromas.  It is off to a savory start with this medium bodied wine.  There is a nice mix of fruit, both red and black, along with hints of floral perfume in the finish.  I would drink these gentle wines now.  *** Now.

1977 Cassayre-Forni Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
This offers a good nose of black fruit and leather.  In the mouth is a linear delivery of black fruit, integrity acidity, and some greenhouse notes.  Best within one hour.  *** Now.

1977 Simi, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
At first this was gentle with foxy, simple flavors.  But after an hour in the decanter it became mouth filling with darker fruit and a touch of greenhouse.  Good weight.  ***(*) Now.

Holiday Claret with Lou

Lou and I usually crack open a few bottles of claret around Christmas-time.  This year we settled on a trio of Chateau Gruaud-Larose sourced from that old DC cellar.   In lieu of a Champagne starter, we tried the 2016 Lise & Bertrand Jousset, Rose petillant cuvee Exile.  This is a surprisingly deep-flavored sparkling Gamay which is only $17 at Chambers St Wines.  Crazy!  It is a rather big wine so one glass to start the evening is all you need.

All Gruaud bottles had fills in the neck but the 1975s were not in good shape.  One cork dropped in at some point after being stood up and the other bottle had a firm cork with scary mold growth on top.  No worries though, the 1978 Chateau Gruaud-Larose, Saint-Julien with modest body and fruit acted as a foil for the 1966 Chateau Gruaud-Larose, Saint-Julien.  The 1966 has more of everything compared to the 1978.  The  juicy acidity makes it particularly enjoyable to drink.  Though there is mouth-coating structure to carry the core of fruit on for several years to come it is balanced and mature right now.

I served Lou one blind wine even though I suspected it was most likely undrinkable.  I did so because the 1975 Montana Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, New Zealand is positively ancient when it comes to the history of the New Zealand wine industry.  With origins dating back to the 1930s, Montana Wines was part of the development of a proper industry during the late 1960s and early 1970s.  The wine is completely shot but it is best put in perspective.  It was only in the late 1960s that that American hybrid vines were ripped up in favor of European varieties.

2016 Lise & Bertrand Jousset, Rose petillant cuvee Exile – $17
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 40 year old vines that was fermented in used barriques. Alcohol 12%.  A very light pink salmon rose.  There are modest and firm bubbles at first with surprisingly ample body that makes it was into the fat and racy finish. Good depth, earth, and a racy, mineral finish.  *** Now.

1978 Chateau Gruaud-Larose, Saint-Julien
Greenhouse aromas with finely articulate scents of red fruit and some earth.  In the mouth are slightly rounded flavors of red fruit, sharp acidity, and structure.  Not bad but certainly no 1966.  ** Now.

1975 Chateau Gruaud-Larose, Saint-Julien
Imported by Chateau & Estate Wines Company. First bottle, dark red, meaty with substantial presence yet short in the finish.  Second bottle, less of a deep nose with celery aromas.  The red fruit is tart, mixing with leather, wet fut, and a very short, tart, citric finish.  Not Rated.

1966 Chateau Gruaud-Larose, Saint-Julien
The most mature color of the trio having a garnet rim.  There are aromas of red fruit, hints of brown sugar, and greenhouse.  In the mouth are bright, fresh cranberry red fruit, juicy acidity, and an almost sappy nature.  The wine still has plenty of mouth-coating tannins as well as a core of fruit.  It takes on a touch of greenhouse with air and a slight cedar note.  Quite satisfying.  ***(*) Now but will last.

1975 Montana Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, New Zealand
Alcohol 12%. Toast!

Liquid research: tasting recent arrivals at MacArthur Beverages.

September 21, 2015 Leave a comment

This past week I joined Phil at MacArthur Beverages to sample several new wine selections.  With the clear bottle, the color of the 2013 Spook Light, Skin Fermented Pinot Gris, Hawke’s Bay might look odd at first.  However, this is a skin fermented wine so the orange-rust color is correct.  It is a generous and rounded wine that has attractive minerals.  I found the 2010 M & S Ogier, l’Ame Soeur, Syrah de Seyssuel, VdP Collines Rhodaniennes to be a subtle example of northern Rhone Syrah.  Though well-made and enjoyable, it did not knock my socks off.  The 2012 Domaine Gramenon, La Sagesse, Cotes du Rhone is a very interesting wine that continued to change and evolve while I was at the store.  Initially it was quite earthy and young then shortly before I left it was more generous with very clean fruit and a beautiful rosemary flavor.  This deserves to be tasted again!  The bottle of 2012 Domaine Leon Barral, Faugeres reminded me of earlier vintages where I fell in love with the fruit and delivery of flavors unique to Barral.  There was nothing but pleasure from this wine which I recommend you drink within the next two years.  The guys had trolled the Californian dump-bin from which came the 2004 Pax, Red Wine, Sonoma Hillsides, Sonoma County.  Let us just say it was massive.  Tim then returned with a bottle of the 2011 Le Paine, Piane, Colline Novaresi.  I neglected to take a picture but my initial taste of this mostly Croatina based wine was very promising.  There is certainly a different flavor profile to the rather floral, black fruited flavors.  This long, textured wine deserves another visit as well.  Thanks to everyone for letting me join in!

Samples1

2013 Spook Light, Skin Fermented Pinot Gris, Hawke’s Bay – $35
This wine is 100% skin-fermented Pinot Gris that was rested on the lees in stainless steel until bottled.  Alcohol 13.1%.  This rounded and weighty wine, had red fruit that mixed with a hint of skin/stems, juicy acidity, and a linear mineral streak.

Samples2

2010 M & S Ogier, l’Ame Soeur, Syrah de Seyssuel, VdP Collines Rhodaniennes – $60
Imported by Robert Kacher.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 13 year old vines that was completely destemmed then aged 18 months in 20% new oak barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose bore hints of meat, pepper, and some smoke.  In the mouth were purple black fruit with an initially very modest structure.  The wine was harmonious and mouthfilling with some earth-like complexity.  The structure eventually built as did blacker fruit.  A bit shy at this point.

Samples3

2012 Domaine Gramenon, La Sagesse, Cotes du Rhone – $37
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from 60 year old vines that was fermented in cement cuve before aging 12 months in barriques.  The animale nose made way to ripe, quickly expanding flavors of dark red fruit.  This wine continued to change, initially possessing floral flavors that poked through before a hint of tea, then took on complexity from a strong rosemary flavor that mixed with fresh, clean fruit.  There was certainly a very fine, drying tannic structure.  Very interesting.

Samples4

2012 Domaine Leon Barral, Faugeres – $26
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This opened up noticeably to offer ripe, red, grippy fruit that had a subtle citric note.  It continued to be a vibrant wine with dark, floral potpourri notes, ripe tannins, a grippy nature, and fruit that almost became sweet.  I like the animale flavors.  This bottle drank very well with consistent stability.

Samples5

2004 Pax, Red Wine, Sonoma Hillsides, Sonoma County – $20
This wine is a blend of 52% Syrah, 47% Grenache, and 1% Roussanne.  This big red wine was evocative of big Australian wine that had a stemmy, mineral side.

Anniversary drinks at Fleurie in Charlottesville

November 20, 2014 Leave a comment

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Jenn and I celebrated our latest wedding anniversary by spending a family weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.  The one person I happen to know there is Erin Barbour Scala (Thinking-Drinking).  We previous met in New York City during her days as sommelier at Public NYC followed by The Musket Room.  Having had diverse and fantastic wines with her before I knew there was no other choice than to dine at Fleurie restaurant where both she and her husband are now based.  As Wine Director, Erin’s wine list focuses in on France and Virginia but she is far too curious to neglect the rest of the world as was evidenced by her selections that night.  We were greeted to glasses of NV Rolet, Crement de Jura for ourselves and locally made sparkling grape juice for our daughter.  The Rolet was great by itself, accessible with a nice balance of yeast and fruit.  It left me thirsty for more wine.

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I select the wines we drink at home on a daily basis so it is nice to step away from making any choices.  We gave no direction to Erin as to what we felt like drinking or avoiding.  With Coravin in hand Erin proceeded to pour a utterly fun variety of wines.  To go with our shrimp risotto with carrots and shellfish sauce she poured the 2009 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot, Chassagne-Montrachet Les Chaumes.  It was utterly satisfying and drank spot-on with its balance of maturity, fruit, and supportive toast.  Jenn’s herb crusted halibut was joined by the 2010 Schäfer-Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck, Riesling trocken Grosses Gewächs, Nahe.  The glass was incredibly and persistently aromatic with herbs, stones, and some petrol with great balance in the mouth.  Great stuff! For my venison Erin poured two different red wines.  The 2011 Avennia, Sestina, Columbia Valley is a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc blend with fruit sourced from the Bacchus and Red Willow vineyards.  It was forward and complex with darker, racy fruit that was hard to resist.  Avennia was only launched in 2010 so if this second vintage is an example of their other wines this is a new name to follow.  My second red wine was completely different being the 2010 Cambridge Road, Dovetail, Martinborough.  As Erin pointed out this field blend of mostly Pinot Noir with Syrah is not such an oddity given the affinity for these varieties to perform in cooler climates.  Its oscillation between Pinot Noir and Syrah aromas was rather intriguing.

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With our trio of desserts and petit fours came the King Family Vineyards, Loreley, Monticello. This pure Petit Manseng wine was made in the vin de paille style.  She poured this wine because it shares the same name as our daughter.  It was a touching end to our meal.  If you are in the Charlottesville area or need a break from the city I strongly recommend you dine at Fleurie.  Due to the Coravin you can drink almost anything on the list by the glass.  With a large order of wines soon to be added there will be even more reasons to stop by.

Erin Pours Wines From New Zealand and New York at The Musket Room

January 21, 2014 Leave a comment

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When Jenn and I sat down at the bar of The Musket Room it was sommelier Erin Barbour Scala who immediately placed glasses in front of us.  It is through her previous work at Public and her wine blog Thinking Drinking that Erin and I have become friends.  Erin decided to start us with a flight of three New Zealand white wines.  I typically taste wines that I have selected so to taste interesting wines picked by someone else is a treat.

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The 2009 Quartz Reef, Vintage Methode Traditionelle was quite an opener.  Its upbringing in oak and even, perhaps, the hand riddling, produced a beautiful sparkling wine evocative of Champagne.  That I may not have been able to place this as a wine from New Zealand may be due to my inexperience but I would readily open a bottle for my friends.  Erin noted that the 2011 Millton, Chenin Blanc, Te Arai Vineyard would change in the glass.  I was diverted by having my first taste of Chenin Blanc from New Zealand but Jenn was beguiled by the oscillation between waxy fruit, sage, and perfume.  Jenn grew up in New Mexico so she finds aromas of sage particularly attractive.  That she loved the Chenin Blanc over the larger, oak influenced 2009 Mountford Estate, Chardonnay is a bit telling.  For me the Mountford was a little too overt.  The 2009 Urlar, Pinot Noir mixed some complexity with higher-toned berries and citrus.  Of similar intensity the 2010 Paumanok Vineyards, Merlot showed a nice mix of grapey fruit and cinnamon spice.  To finish with the Channing Daughters Winery, VerVino Vermouth-Variation 3 served on the rocks was a complete surprise.  I did not take any note, instead I sipped it as I chatted with Barbara Lambert and Erin.  Erin and I have been discussing our next Online Symposium, we solidified our next topic that night so stay tuned.

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2009 Quartz Reef, Vintage Methode Traditionelle, Central Otago
Imported by Station Imports.  This wine is a blend of 87% Chardonnay and 13% Pinot Noir which was aged on the lees for 4 years.  Alcohol 12.5%. The nose was textured with aromas of a little sweet spice and wood notes.  There were slightly firm bubbles in the mouth with dissipated in to a firm mousse.  The acidity was supportive throughout.  The flavors were tangy and chalky with grip, spices, and a juicy aftertaste.  A pleasure to drink.

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2011 Millton, Chenin Blanc, Te Arai Vineyard, Gisborne
Imported by Verity Wine Partners.  This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from the Te Arai Vineyard which was planted in 1984.  It was fermented and aged in a mixture of demi muids and stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol 11.5%.  There was an evolving nose of waxy aromas, sage, and perfume.  The nose really steps out of the glass.   The flavors were a bit more fresh in the mouth than I expected with apple fruit and lots of grippy acidity flavors.  The flavors started apple-like then became sweeter.  An interesting wine.

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2009 Mountford Estate, Chardonnay, Waipara Valley
Imported by Fruit of the Vine Inc.  Alcohol 14.5%. The nose was clearly barrel influenced Chardonnay with ripe yellow fruit.  In the mouth were butterscotch flavors, good acidity, and a bit sharper towards the end with apple acidity.  I thought the oak a little too overt for my preference.

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2010 Urlar, Pinot Noir, Wairarapa
Imported by Atlas Imports.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir fermented in oak cuves then aged for 25% new French oak barriques.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a complex nose of higher-toned berries, citrus, and “under brush”.  It took on a citrus aromas with air.  In the mouth were firmer flavors but delivered with good length.  It had nice cranberry notes yielding both fruit flavors and complexity.

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2010 Paumanok Vineyards, Merlot, North Fork
This wine is 100% Merlot.  There was a slightly sweet, restrained nose.  In the mouth were grapey flavors, cinnamon spice, and chewy tannins.  The firmer structure made way to acidity in the aftertaste.

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NV Channing Daughters Winery, VerVino Vermouth-Variation 3, Long Island
Alcohol 19%.  Served on the rocks this was a balanced, light red wine with a floral and herbal mixture.  No notes taken but I enjoyed sipping from my glass as I chatted.

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Cloudy Bay: An Intimate Lunch with Ian Morden

March 28, 2013 1 comment
Vineyard, Image from Cloudy Bay

Vineyard, Image from Cloudy Bay

Captain Cook set sight on Cloudy Bay on Wednesday, the 7th of February 1770.  In his journal he noted, “…the snowy Mountain S.W. being…abreast of a Deep Bay or inlet called Cloudy bay…”.  Some 200 years later in 1985 the Cloudy Bay Vineyards was founded by David Hohnen.  Cloudy Bay quickly became infamous for its Sauvignon Blanc.  It was served aboard the first British Airways round-the-world flight of the Concorde. Unfortunately, after departing Christchurch a tail rudder incident caused those glasses of Sauvignon Blanc to fly about the cabin.  The trajectory of its popularity continued to ascend such that we find Jamie Goode commenting in 2000 that it was so popular in England that wine merchants were finding all sorts of ways to ration the wine.  Less than one decade later Ian Morden became Estate Manager of Cloudy Bay.

Ian Morden

Ian Morden

I was quick to accept an invitation from Maria Denton, the Moet Hennessey Portfolio Manager at Washington Wholesale Liquor Company, to join her and Ian for a lunch at The Blue Duck Tavern.  I had it in mind I was attending a luncheon tasting with others in the business and I was the blogger.  With bag and Nikon slung over my shoulder I announced to the hostess that I was present for the Cloudy Bay Tasting and Lunch.  She was perplexed, there was no big tasting scheduled.  It began to dawn on me, I was having lunch with just Ian and Maria.

The Blue Duck Tavern was an apt choice for lunch.  With a menu full of locally sourced ingredients it reminded Ian of Forage Cloudy Bay.  In this event four groups set off in cardinal directions to gather ingredients for a meal.  At the end of the day all of the items are placed on a giant table so that the chefs may get to work. The food, of course, is complimented by the wines of Cloud Bay.  One effort to prevent cellar palate is the annual Pinot at Cloudy Bay.  In this event one to dozen Pinot Noirs sourced from around the world are served to an array of international guests in discrete tasting sessions.  Ian certainly drinks diversely and more than once per year.  He was quick to ask Maria and I for suggestions on local wineries he should visit and try.

We started our lunch with two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc both of which are sourced from the same vineyards.  The traditional Sauvignon Blanc was very aromatic and textured, what I would hope for from this wine.  But the mouth was surprising for it contained more texture and weight than I had expected.  Ian believes that Sauvignon Blanc should not just be about aroma and flavor but also of texture.  I can appreciate that desire as I like to pay attention to the feel of the wine on my tongue, gums, cheeks, and throat.  The structural component has been achieved in the last several vintages through barrel fermenting a small portion of the wine in old oak.  Barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc is not new to Cloudy Bay, it has been practiced for many years and is fully expressed in their Te Koko.  Legend has it that the explorer Kupe pursued a giant octopus across the Pacific Ocean ultimately killing it in the Marlborough Sounds.  For food Kupe dredged up oysters with a scoop in Cloud bay.  The Maori called this bay Te Koko-o-Kupe or Kupe’s scoop.  This wine is primarily barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc using indigenous yeasts.  Some of the lots took up to eight months to complete fermentation.  Whereas the traditional Sauvignon Blanc expresses itself best at a cool temperature, the Te Koko blossomed with air and warmth.  I kept my glass around for one hour and it was lovely, truly complex.

Ian is responsible for the management and strategy of Cloudy Bay.  He is also part of the four-person team responsible for the blending of the wines.  Tim Heath, Senior Winemaker, and his team of Nicholas Blampied- Lane and Sarah Burton are responsible for the wine making.  The strength of this team is evident in the first glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  The 2012 vintage was described by Tim Heath as “nerve-wracking”.  After a great start this vintage went on to experience the coolest temperatures and least amount of sunlight in eighty years.  The fruit took two weeks longer to mature but went on to experience one of the sunniest autumns.  Yields were reduced by 25%.

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2012 Cloud Bay, Sauvignon Blanc –
This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc which was primarily fermented in stainless steel with 3% fermented in old French oak barriques using inoculated yeast.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a very light straw with a hint of yellow.  The medium strength nose was aromatic with textured passion fruit.  As it warmed up the aromas became more pungent with notes of grass.  There was a crisp but weighty start to the flavors before the wine fully developed weight and texture midpalate.  There was a long aftertaste which left some citrus notes and fine acidity on the sides of the tongue.

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2009 Cloudy Bay, Te Koko, Marlborough –
This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc which was fermented using indigenous yeast in 90% used French oak barrels then underwent malolactic fermentation.  It was then aged on the lees.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a light golden-yellow straw.  The light nose was more heavy with floral and salami aromas (sounds strange but is good).  There was very fresh fruit in the mouth with watering acidity and lifted berry notes in the middle.  The acidity came out on the sides of the tongue.  The finish brought flavors of white nuts, ripe tannins, and some tang.  This continued to develop in the glass over the course of lunch.

Their Chardonnay followed, which was a first for me.  The Chardonnay is sourced from Mendoza clones which provide many small berries that provide a higher skin to juice ratio.  Cloud Bay has already released the 2011 vintage but you should have no fear.  I thought the 2007 vintage drank quite well displaying balance between bottle age, barrel influences, and acidity.  I imagine it should drink well for another few years.

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2007 Cloudy Bay, Chardonnay, Marlborough –
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was fermented using indigenous yeasts in mostly barrels with some stainless steel tanks using inoculated yeasts.  It was then aged for 12 months in 25% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.0%.  The color was a vibrant light gold.  The light nose revealed heavier, honied aromas with a touch of lees.  There was gentle dense weight to the flavors which were matched by building acidity.  There were slight barrel toast notes and a sense of maturity as stone flavors came out in the mouthfilling finish.

Barracks Block Vineyard, Image from Cloudy Bay

Barracks Block Vineyard, Image from Cloudy Bay

With our entrees arriving it was time to move on to Pinot Noir.  Cloudy Bay has been bottling Pinot Noir since 1989.  They source fruit for all of their wines from four estate vineyards and also growers.  Some of the growers have been providing fruit for over 20 years.  Over the years they have been exploring vineyard sites throughout Marlborough.  This has led them to the free draining soils of the Wairau Valley plains where the Sauvignon Blanc vineyards are located to the clay based soils of the Southern Valleys.  As a result the estate vineyards expanded in 2004 to include the Barracks Block Vineyard.  This was virgin soils which had never seen a vine so there was natural curiosity to taste the results.  They planted the entire vineyard with Pinot Noir choosing to use Burgundian clones.  The estate vineyards generally lie on alluvial gravels with some clay and they experience a maritime climate.  The fruit is cropped at 6 tons per hectare.  The Te Wahi, Maori for The Place,  is produced from vineyards in Central Otago.  Here the soils contains glacial schist with the climate being continental.  The fruit is cropped around 4.5 tons per hectare.  This was an interesting comparison.  The Marlborough Pinot Noir was brighter and redder than the perfumed Te Wahi which was savory with blacker fruit.

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2009 Cloudy Bay, Pinot Noir, Marlborough –
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was destemmed and fermented using indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks.  It was lightly pressed then aged for 12 months in 50% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.1%.    The color was a light to medium garnet cherry.  There was bright red fruit in the mouth then dark red fruit flavors with integrated acidity.  There was long powdery texture and ripe flavors in the finish.

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2010 Cloudy Bay, Te Wahi, Central Otago –
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was 95% destemmed then fermented in open top stainless steel tanks.  It was lightly pressed then aged for 14 months in 40% new French oak.  Alcohol 13.7%.  The color was a medium dark ruby, more intense than the previous wine.  The black and red fruited nose was very finely textured with aromas of stone and perfume.  There were firmer flavors of hard candy along with black and red fruit.  With air savory herbs developed along with perfume.  This is a young wine with strong potential.  Beautiful.

With our entrees cleared it was time for coffee, sugar cookies, and dessert wine.  If I may sum up their Late Harvest Botrytis Riesling it really tastes like Riesling from New Zealand.  The fruit which is harvested is mostly botrytised.  Whereas the Sauvignon Blanc may be harvested in March the Riesling will be harvested in May or even June.  Some of the fruit is unaffected and used for acidity.

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2008 Cloudy Bay, Late Harvest Botrytis Riesling, Marlborough –
This wine is 100% Riesling of which most was botrytised.  The fruit was pressed overnight then fermented for 10 months in old French oak barrels.  Fermentation was arrested with sulphur.  TA 8.8 g/l, 3.2 pH, RS 128 g/l, Alcohol 11%.  There was a light gold color.  The light to medium nose was aromatic with citrus and grass, combining a sense of New Zealand but clearly Riesling.  There was good acidity in the mouth, textured flavors, and a little fresh, citrus note.  There was gentle botrytis flavor, perhaps tea, and acidity which came with a lifted citrus finish.

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The wine caps feature a logo inspired by the dolphins which swim nearby.  Cloudy Bay even produces a sparkling wine named after Pelorus Jack, a dolphin which famously swam in the Cook Straight one century ago.  He was so beloved that he was protected by law.  Cloudy Bay is an historic winery which embraces local history.  With the newer vintages I think it is evident that Ian has balanced respect and change to subtly create new wines.

Pelorus Jack, Image from the State Library of South Australia, 1912. (Flickr Creative Commons License)

Pelorus Jack, Image from the State Library of South Australia, 1912. (Flickr Creative Commons License)

Sauvignon Blanc and Greywacke

September 25, 2012 Leave a comment

I recently drank an interesting pair of wines from Marlborough, New Zealand.  The Auntsfield Estate is old by many standards with the first vineyard and winery completed in 1873.  The original log and rammed earth cellar has been restored providing an historical glimpse at how the wines were originally made.  While the original vineyard consisted of one acre of brown Muscat today there are over 100 hectares of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. The vineyards are located on the lower slopes of southern Wairau Valley.  The fruit for this Estate Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from vines located on old Greywacke rocks and Loess clay soils.

Old Vineyard, Image from Auntsfield

Greywacke is a much younger winery having been established by Kevin Judd in 2009.  Kevin Judd himself is an experienced hand having been the winemaker for the first 25 vintages at Cloudy Bay.  It was during these years that he envisioned having his own label and actually registered the Greywacke name in 1993.  The fruit for his wines are sourced from central Wairau Plains and the Southern Valleys.  The fruit for this Sauvignon blanc is sourced from vines  located on soils of greywacke river stones and older, clay-loams.   The wines themselves are made at Dog Point Winery.

Vineyard Wairau Valley, Image from murraybrock (flickr)

For those curious, such as myself, Greywacke (grey-wacky) is a grey stone found throughout New Zealand.  This type of rock consists of layers of hard, grey sandstone alternating with thinner, darker layers of mudstone.

Both of these wines are quite enjoyable and I recommend both.  If I had to pick a single bottle then I would recommend the Greywacke.  I felt it had a bit more density to its character which combined with more integrated acidity, proved a superb glass of wine all by itself.  These wines area available at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Greywacke, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough – $19
Imported by Old Bridge Cellars.  This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc which was mostly machine harvested.  The majority was fermented in stainless steel tanks with cultured yeast and the remainder in old French oak barriques using indigenous yeasts.  The batches were kept on the lees until blending.  TA 7.2 g/l, pH 3.08, Alcohol 13.6%.  The color is a light straw-green.  The light nose is fresh with textured aromas of grapefruit.  In the mouth the fruit ripens with air providing flavors of white fruit, green apple, and minerals.  There is lively acidity followed by a grassy aftertaste where dry flavors of minerals leave a textured finish.  There is also a hint of sweet spiced tannins.  *** Now-2016.

2010 Auntsfield Estate, Sauvignon Blanc, Southern Valleys, Marlborough – $20
Imported by Vine Street Imports.  This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc sourced from estate vineyards.  85% of the fruit was machine harvested then fermented in stainless steel tanks using cultured yeast and 15% was hand harvested then fermented in seasoned oak barrels using indigenous yeasts.  TA 7.24 g/l, 3.25 pH, Alcohol 13.5%.  The medium strength nose is grassy with pink grapefruit, stones, and white fruit.  In the mouth there is tangy, textured fruit, lots of citric acidity which causes the front of the tongue to pucker before the flavors broaden and show some ripeness.  There are minerals notes towards the finish followed by a long aftertaste.  Quite a mouthful.  *** Now-2015.