Sunday, October 29, 2017

Something to Crow About

Every once in a while you come across some spectacular wine.  In this case, I was totally bowled over by three 2013 Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay reds that come from Squawking Magpie.  Gavin Yortt’s the proprietor, and he was a pioneering grapegrower in the Gravels, o knows the properties of the district and the soils.  He has Jenny Dobson as his winemaker, who is one of the great winemakers and consultants in Hawke’s Bay, operating out of the Sacred Hill facilities.
A little while ago, I came across the Squawking Magpie ‘SQM’ reds from 2013.  They were very special, and quite spectacular in their own right.  I mistakenly though these were the best from Gavin in what he describes as a perfect vintage.  But I was wrong, as he has the Squawking Magpie ‘Platinum’ series of 2013 Gimblett Gravels Reds up his sleeve, and he’s just announced they are available.  There are only 300 bottles of each of a ‘Merlot’ with some Cabernet in the blend, a ‘Cabernets’ with some Malbec in the blend, and a 100% Syrah.
These are simply stunning.  On opening, all three were taut and brooding, or like coiled springs, just waiting to come out.  Even drinking them straight away, the pleasure is great, but the potential even greater.  If you leave the bottles, opened, with some of the wine taken out (SWMBO and drank it), they unfold and develop incredibly.  The Merlot becomes immensely earthy and tobacco flavoured with plums.  Great structure that means the wine will see out a decade with the complexity it already shows.  The Cabernets is my star.  Unrivalled linearity and wonderful varietal clarity, with enormous structure and potential.  Very refined, of course.  This has a couple of decades ahead of it.  Then the explosive Syrah with volume and layers of black fruits, spices and minerals.  Again wonderfully structured and 10-15 years easily.  We shared these, that 24 hour period later, with the Bassinet Babes, and they too were astounded.  The wines are not cheap, at $100.00 per bottle, but worth every bit of it.  These Magpies are something to Crow about.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Sparkling Future

With the Sparkling Wine category expanding, we are seeing deluxe Champagne soar to new heights in pricing and designer packaging.  The backlash, of course is that wine consumers will pay what they can afford to pay, and the rise of local method wines to fill the gap is one of the outcomes.  The big winner around the world is Prosecco from Veneto in Italy.  And maybe Cava will join the ranks of increasing popularity if they can get their unique flavours to become more accepted.

However it’s Prosecco’s turn to take the limelight now.  Made from the Glera grape, which seems to thrive and produce the best balance and character around Treviso, the wine is made economically by the Charmat method with secondary fermentation in vat rather than in bottle, and the input of autolysis is not particularly desired.  The wine sits at 11.0% alc. and with the same figure on average for residual sugar.  I haven’t seen any vintage Prosecco here and the non-vintage concept makes it appear more uniform.  The wine is easy, affordable and not challenging.  Perfect for most occasions.  The future for Prosecco continues to be bright and sparkling.

But one must not be lulled into a false sense of security that all is good and even, for like all wines, they can vary, and distinctly so.  Some are drier, other sweeter.  Some have greater character and balance.  In essence, some are better than others.  This came through in a small tasting of four wines.  The NV Casa Bianca Prosecco Brut was soft, up-front with simple fruit flavours and a bit short.  But still pleasant.  The NV Divici Prosecco  was more taut and elegant, quite mouthwatering due to its phenolics.  A finer wine and a bit more classy by a slender margin.  I did like the NV Masottina Prosecco Brut which was more sweet-fruited with freshness, and lovely elegance and length.  The NV Sacchetto Prosecco Extra Dry was another good one for me, with more purity and lovely mouthwatering vibrancy.  All different and all offering something for all people.  You’ve just got to choose what works for you.