Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A Californian Riesling from Hagafen in Napa

Having been introduced to the wines from Hagafen in Napa Valley before by a friend, on my visit to California last year I had to make sure we paid them a visit and call in on their tasting room to sample some of their other delights. I’d been brought back a bottle of their Sauvignon Blanc (read my review here) and after going to their website I really wanted to try some of the other varietals they did, the reds were rich and full of flavours and all with great structures, but the one wine that really stood out to me, and the wife to be, was their 2010 Rancho Wieruszowski Vineyard White Riesling.
In the glass it had a bright, pale lemon yellow colour, with very pronounced aromas of stone fruit, peaches, apricots and citrus such as mandarin. On the palate it was off-dry, with all the flavours of stone fruits and mandarins, but it also had a touch of minerality to which all just added to its wonderful complexity. It had just the right amount of acidity to cut through the weetness of the wine perfectly, making it a well balanced wine, with great complexity and that touch of class.
Unfortunately they’re not available in the UK, but if you get the chance to go to Napa Valley, then make sure you pay these guys a visit on the Silverado Trail, but not just for their fantastic wines but also for the views.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A 2001 Rioja Reserva from Coto de Imaz

As you can see from the picture, this bottle had been hanging around in my wine rack for some time, which I have to say is rare for me. Originally it was a present from my wife to be, from a business trip to Spain that she’d been on, and I'd been saving for the right occasion, which just so happened before Christmas.

Produced from the Tempranillo grape in Rioja Alta region by the El Coto de Rioja winery, which was originally founded in 1970, it took them almost 5 years to release their first vintage. According to their website, the winery experienced spectacular growth during the 90's, to become a leading Bodega amongst the Rioja Qualified Designation of Origin wines, and in 1997 it became the first Spanish winery group to be listed on the stock exchange.

The wine itself is vinified in stainless steel tanks, with up to 25 days maceration and pumping over to ensure the right balance between fruit and extraction, before spending 16 months in 225 litre new American oak barrels, followed by a further 3 year in bottle before being released.

In the glass it had a deep ruby colour, although at the edge you could see it turning a shade of orange from it’s age, on the nose you intense aromas of red berry fruit, but also spice such as vanilla coming through from the oak and it’s age,

On the palate these all came through beautifully, but with a complexity to them that was amazing, which was helped by the age of the wine, the tannin which fine and silky which just glided over your tongue and a tiny bit of acidity, just to help make your mouth water that little bit. The finish to this wine was just amazing and lingered around for ages, would I recommend this wine, absolutely, it was just delicious and enjoyable, I only wish the wife to be had bought more than one bottle home with her.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A Dinner with Kevin Judd from Greywacke

One of the great things of working for an independent wine merchant (The Vineking) is that I get to go to all the events that we organise, such as the a dinner with Kevin Judd at the Dining Room in Reigate. For those of you who don’t know who Kevin is, he’s the winemaker from Greywacke, formerly the founding wine maker from probably New Zealand’s most iconic wine, Cloudy Bay. Kevin produced the first 25 vintages at Cloudy Bay, and introduced the world to the fantastic Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, after leaving Cloudy Bay; Kevin decided he wanted to continue wine making, but now under his own label, Greywacke. He buy’s his fruit from various vineyards around Marlborough, including from his good friends at Dog Point (another one of our favourites) who are the other original founders of Cloudy Bay, they also very kindly let him use their facilities to produce his wines. He did remark that it’s now more affectionately known as the Cloudy Bay retirement home, as many of the original staff from Cloudy Bay now work at Dog Point or with Kevin at Greywacke.

Kevin talking to the room
Listening to Kevin talk about his wines and the wine making process, the most amazing thing was how little intervention he did with them, to put it in his own words, I press the grapes, put the juice into the tanks or barrels depending on which wine he’s making, and leave it to get on and do it’s own thing! This all helps to keep the pure fruit flavours that you find in his wines; another thing was the use of wild yeasts to produce his Wild Sauvignon and his Pinot Noir, which just help to add another dimension to his wines.

Along with the wines we’ve sold in the past, he also bought some of his Chardonnay and Pinot Gris for us to taste, and like his other wines we know so well they didn’t disappoint, unfortunately at present they are only produced in small quantities, but we are hoping to get some of his next vintage of the Chardonnay, but again we only be able to receive a small quantity, so if your interested in them, then make sure you get your orders in early!

The wine we had on tasting were;

2011 Sauvignon Blanc – this just had beautiful green fruit flavours and aromas, with a touch of minerality to go with it, great acidity, producing a beautifully restrained and elegant glass of wine.

2010 Wild Ferment Sauvignon – with a much richer mouth feel, and more complexity than his ordinary Sauvignon, it had a hint of Vanilla and softness to the acidity which just made this wine absolutely stunning.

2009 Chardonnay – again this wine had a real richness to it, with slightly savoury/lanolin aromas, with a touch of citrus on the palate and a creamy texture, combined with a minerality and a long lingering finish that made this wine just amazing.

2010 Pinot Noir – with both some dark and red fruit flavours and aromas in the glass, intermingled with a smoky vanilla oak, soft fine tannin and a great acidity to it, and a length of flavour that just kept on giving, this wine definitely did not disappoint.

Several empty bottles of his Pinot Gris
2010 Pinot Gris – this wine was slightly off dry, but with stone and dried fruit flavours, the perfect amount of acidity, and as with all the others a length of flavour that just kept on giving, it worked very well the raspberry and vanilla in the desert, but was a little challenged by the chocolate.

I have to say, my favourite of the night was his Wild Sauvignon, but we couldn’t find fault with any of range and I’d highly recommend any of his wines for you to try.