Thursday, November 29, 2018

Not Pinot Noir As We Know It

A few months ago, the Good Doctor showed SWMBO and I a German Pinot Noir from Chat Sauvage in the Rheingau.  A quality focussed, but new producer who has Burgundy as the model, planting Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay) in some famous sites.  The wine was the 2012 Lorcher Schlossberg Pinot Noir 2012.  It was a revelation in that it was still youthful and sweetly rich, but showed complexing nuances that fine Burgundy can attain.  We were impressed.
So in our next order, we thought we’d try the 2013 Chat Sauvage Assmannhausen Hollenberg Pinot Noir, from a village and site that’s pretty highly rated and with Chat Sauvage’s oldest plantings sited there.  We had The Grove Men in town visiting, so it seemed the ideal time to open it.  Well, it was a different beast altogether.  Much younger and dis-jointed in componentry, the fruit somewhat raw and yet to settle.  The tannin and acid stood out.  It was not really a pleasant drink on opening.  Suddenly, our impressions of German Pinot Noir were not what they had built up to be.  The goal posts had changed.  But time seems to fix most things, and a couple of hours down the track came the tell-tale red berry fruit and floral aromas and flavours.  Yes Pinot Noir, but different again from the model.  SWMBO and I struggled through the bottle, not really caring for it, But by two days later, it was deep and sweet, the tannins and acid had become part of the whole.  It was impressive wine too.  The Good Doctor knows his vinous medicines.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


One of our favourite Mosel winegrowers is Clemens Busch, who from his holdings in the Pundericher Marienberg vineyard makes a stunning selection of wines that show off the differences between Grey, Red and Blue slate.  SWMBO and I tend to prefer the GG ‘Rothenpfad’ bottling for its richer and more exotic character.

But we are so focussed on these top-end wines that we often forget that Clemens Busch also makes a good number of the more ‘fruit-sweet’ pradikat wines. Our favourite of these is of course the ‘Gold Kap’ Spatlese, which really borders on Auslese in style.  However, the Punk Doctor had available some of the regular Kabinett – which we had not tried before.  So our order included a couple of bottles to see how they fared.
We had a lovely visit with the Grove Men, so that was an occasion to open the 2017 Clemens Busch Pundericher Marienberg Riesling Kabinett.  A lowly and deliciously accessible 7.5% alc., this had a nose that showed a bit too much sulphur – not in a bad way, but in a J.J. Prum way that you know it would blow off or integrate – in this case, a couple of hours would help.  But rich and sweetly luscious on the palate.  Lovely fruitiness with honey and slatey mineral flavours.  Subtle phenolic textures which really combined with the sugar to make it smooth and seamless, plus that piquant acidity.  Sure, the sulphur was there, but it was only a part of the wine.  We all drank it with a smile.  They say familiarity breeds contempt.  Not here.     

Friday, November 23, 2018

Sold into Slavery

Most of us believe that slavery was a problem of the past, but the reality is that there are 25 to over 48 million humans (depending on your sources) trafficked into slavery in these modern times.  That works out about a person become a slave every 27 seconds.  There are agencies that rescue these people, but the survivors need assistance.  They need counselling, education and the teaching of a trade, as well as legal assistance to testify against the perpetrators.

Pete and Alanna Chapman of the family that own the Terrace Edge vineyard in North Canterbury have decided to do something positive about the issue with their own brand of ingenuity and the resources they have – grapes – to make good wine.  So they set up ’27 Seconds’ a wine selection from which 100% of the profits go to the slavery survivors.  In undertaking this project, Pete and Alanna were stunned by the assistance and generosity of the wine industry. The grapes, picking, winemaking, screwcaps, label design and production and marketing was donated or at least heavily discounted.
Most of the fruit came from the Terrace Edge family vineyard and the winemaking was at the Muddy Water facility.  The second release of 27 Seconds wines comprises a dry Rosé 2018 with savoury strawberry and quince flavours on a mouthwatering palate, a taut and slender, but intense passionfruity and gooseberry fruited Sauvignon Blanc 2018, plus a red cherry-berry and nutty-oaked Pinot Noir 2017 with very fine structure.  I rate them all 4-stars, and know they’re a good drink.  You can help the cause by buying them from 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

All that Glitters

One of the most stunning presentations I have come across for a wine is that of the new Number 1 Family Estate ‘Cuvee Adele’ Marlborough Methode Traditionnelle 2013.  The wine was first made with the 2009 vintage and released in 2012 to celebrate Adele Le Brun’s 60th birthday.  The wine bottle was dark, near black-green in colour and encrusted with Swarovski crystals, flowing around a capital letter ‘A’.  The effect was magical, glittering  and classy.

For the 2013 vintage release, the Le Bruns have gone one further.  The bottle with the encrusted crystals ar the same as with the 2009, but the wine comes in a black cardboard-based box.  When you open the box, a set of nine small lights located out of view at the top of the box comes on, illuminating the crystals.  Simply stunning and amazing.
And what is the wine like?  It’s a blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir, spending 3 years on lees.  As you might guess, it’s very Blanc de Blancs with white stonefruts and florals, and purity of bready-yeasty flavours.  No aldehydic complexities, just finesse and elegance.  Very feminine, of course, and very much like Adele Le Brun.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Homage to Harmony

It’s the most natural thing to say that the biggest, boldest and most flavoursome wine is best.  Power is sought-after, and lightness somewhat frowned upon as being weak and sub-standard.  And there’s some truth to this, as the wines with the most impact have been made from the most flavoursome and ripest grapes, had as much goodness taken out of the berries and turned into wine.  Then these wines may have the most inputs to match the fruit intensity and extract.  Such wines sometimes deserve to be put on a pedestal – and revered.  But also along with it is the fact that these wines are made to be shared among many people, as a small glass will suffice.  A large glass can be a bit of work to finish, and a bottle may need to be consumed over the course of more than one day.

Of course, lighter and lesser wines are easier to drink.  There is less challenge, as the flavours are less forceful and mouthfilling.  The structure is undemanding, and there’s nothing to hinder you drinking it easily.  Hang-on here….it sounds like the latter approach is the way to enjoy drinking a wine?  Mind you, weak wine doesn’t satisfy the palate and senses.  So it must be in the middle.  The best wines have great flavour and structure, are full of character, but smooth and easy enough to enjoy without hindrance.  To get to that point is not easy….it takes a master winegrower to judge that balance to make such a wine.
And the 2016 Trinity ‘Homage’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah is one such wine,  Beautifully easy to sip and drink.  The range of aromas and flavours are perfect expressions of the grape and place – and of vintage.  The wine is satisfying and almost sating, but requiring another glass to check.  A full array of detail to draw you one way, then another, and all this accumulating to make something greater than its parts (that’s my psychology training).  There is beauty and true harmony.  A great wine for the soul indeed.  Wondrous enough to evoke a tear of pleasure!

The wine has a story.  Inspired by Gerard Jaboulet of the Rhone and his ‘La Chapelle’ Hermitage, Trinity Hill’s founding winemaker John Hancock created this wine firstly in 2002 as a tribute to Gerard who passed away at the too-young age of 55 years.  Made from the MS Syrah clone which traces its history back to James Busby, plus vines from cuttings that Gerard gave to John as a gift.  Picked at perfect ripeness to show fruit and elegance.  Enough subtle inputs such as whole bunch and oaking to add layers of interest.  And super judgement of extraction and barrel-aging.  John Handcock, Warren Gibson, Damian Fischer and team have made the most delicious wine.  It isn’t the most powerful or striking ‘Homage’, but it’s the most drinkable and enjoyable.  What could be more perfect than that?