Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A Provence Rose with a Touch of Hollywood Glam

I tried to avoid writing about this last year, actually I did pretty well at not writing about anything at all but that's a different matter, and that is the now infamous Brangelina rose, Miraval, mainly because I thought I was a bit of a gimmick, especially at £20-£25 a bottle. Also because I was a fan of it's predecessor Chateau Miraval Pink Floyd, which was a stunningly crisp and delicate Provence rose.

Château Miraval is located in the village of Correns, which is just north Brigoles in the south of France, and produces white's under the Coteaux Varois appellation, and red and rose under the Cotes de Provence. Another claim to fame is that one of it's previous owners, the French jazz pianist Jacques Loussier installed a recording studio in the Chateau where artists such as Sting, The Cranberries and even the legendary Pink Floyd all recording there.

Moving back to the present day and the Chateau is now owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, wanting to produce the very best Provence rose they could, they enlisted the help of the Perrin Family from Chateau Beaucastel in the Rhone valley as their wine makers. This was actually quite interesting given that while the Perrin's bought an amazing reputation for producing wonderfulyl, big, rich powerful wines, they had never produced a rose.

For this amazing rose Marc Perrin, the winemaker has used a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Rolle, 95% of which was fermented in stainless steel to retain it's freshness, with the remaining 5% going in to oak barrels, which just adds that little bit more complexity.

In the glass it had this wonderfully delicate pink colour, with quite pronounced aromas of wild strawberries, fresh herbs, rose, citrus and a touch of steely minerality coming through. On the palate you got all the fruit right at the start with this wonderfully refreshing soft acidity, made first think of wild strawberries and cream. You then started to get the citrus and fresh herbs come through on the palate with a real sense of a steely minerality to the wine, which I have to say was just fantastic.

Well, what do I think of this wine, I have to say, to start with I did think it might be very much of a gimmick, but I have to take my hat off to Marc Perrin the winemaker and say, bravo. This is such a beautifully crafted wine with all the flavours and acidity beautifully in balance with one another, I can also see why it made it into the top 100 wines of last year. Which also leads me to say that if you see one, buy it, as I can't imagine it lasting too long!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

A Pinot Noir from the Loire

After visiting the southern hemisphere, I thought I should venture back up to the northern hemisphere and pay a visit to the Loire Valley.

The Loire is renowned for it's white wines, especially those from Sancerre, Pouilly Fume and the slightly lesser known Menetou-Salon, all produced from the Sauvignon Blanc grape, but they also grow a small amount of Pinot Noir. They use the Pinot Noir to make their rose, but also they produce a small amount of red Sancerre. While Sancerre blanc gained it's AC qualification in 1936, it was not until 1959 that the AC qualification was extended to cover both the red and rose produced from Pinot Noir.

The 2012 Jean Colin Sancerre rouge is produced from vineyards situated around Thauvenay, on the hills southeast of sancerre. The soil here is made up two thirds Clay/Limestone and one third Flint which all add to the flavour and complexity you get in the wines from this region. They also practice Bio-Dynamic farming methods, although they are not certified, using natural pests, cover crops and the lunar cycle.

The harvesting is all done by hand and the grapes are packed into small crates to prevent them from being damaged, after going through a pre-fermentation cold soak maceration, it then goes through a two to four week fermentation, with regular cap punch downs to aid extraction. Once the fermentation process has been completed, the wine then goes into new oak barrels, from the local forests for a further 10 months maturation, where it will also go through Malolactic fermentation to give it a much more rounded and softer character.

In the glass it had a pale ruby colour, with lovely red berry fruit, raspberry, cherry and red currant you also got pear drops and a touch of spice coming through from the background. On the palate these all came through with a small amount of fine tannin and a lovely acidity which all balanced out beautifully.

I have to say I was rather impressed with this wine, it had a nice depth of flavour and was well balanced, it didn't bowl me over but I would happily drink a glass or two. On a hot day you could chill it down slightly and would be perfect for a lunch time drink, especially as it's only 13%.

Monday, 14 April 2014

A Directors Cut with a Difference from Heartland

After starting in New Zealand it's time to cross over the Tasman Sea to South Australia, and pay a visit to Langhorne Creek and stop by Heartland wines.

Wine growing in the Langhorne Creek region of South Australia dates back as far as 1850, and was originally a watering stop and then a cattle stop for drovers moving cattle across the country. It got it's name from two drovers, Alfred and Henry Langhorne who settled there to raise cattle, and then later discover it's potential for growing grapes.

Moving forward to today, and three more people have discovered the delights of wines from Langhorne Creek and teamed up together. Grant Tilbrook, who has consulted all across the Australian wine trade for many years and Scott Collett who has run the family wine business in McLaren Vale since 1982 have teamed up with young Australian winemaker Ben Glaetzer, who has known of the potential of Langhorne Creek for a long time from his uncle John, who has over 40 years of wine making experience and won a prestigious four Jimmy Watson trophies.

Langhorne Creek is situated about 80 kilometres south-east of Adelaide and founded on the broad flood plains influenced by the local Bremer and Angas rivers which are dominated by the magnificent River Red Gums, then running down to the nearby Lake Alexandrina. It has a markedly cooler climate than many of it's neighbouring regions, this is partly down to what the locals call the lake doctor, these are the winds coming off the nearby Lake. These winds have a cooling effect on the summer sun and help to ward against pests and damaging winter frosts, but the difference to the climate is quite dramatic.

The grapes are transported over a hundred kilometres to Barossa Vintners in Tanunda which is where Ben makes and matures his wines at his state of the art winery, and where he makes the 2010 Directors Cut Shiraz. All the grapes come from the Langhorne Creek region and are picked at night and crushed in small open top stainless steel fermenter's where it is allowed 24 of skin contact before the fermentation is started. It then go's through eight days of cool fermentation with three daily hand plunges before being placed in American and French Oak Hogheads for 14 months ageing before release.

In the glass, you got this wonderfully deep, almost opaque inky purple colour, with pronounced aromas of dark fruit, cassis and cherries followed by gentle sweet spices of liquorice and vanilla with a hint of pepper. On the palate these all came through with amazing depth of flavour on the fruit and beautiful integration with the spice that just lingered in your mouth for ages. To go along with all the fruit and spice you had plenty of fine juicy tannins and a balanced acidity that made your mouth water just enough to help wash the flavours around your palate.

I've been a fan of Ben's wines since I was introduced to them a couple of years ago, and they just keep getting better with every vintage, and this one certainly didn't disappoint. It was just an absolutely stunning glass of wine which will on;y get better with time, and for me was what a proper Aussie Shiraz should be. It Is one that I'd say every time you saw a bottle, you should buy it.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A Pinot From Across the Main Divide

I thought it was about time got back on with my blog, I've only written a hand full of pieces over the last 18 months, despite tasting numerous wines, and what better way to start off again than with a Pinot Noir from New Zealand.

Main Divide, apart from being the other name of the Southern Alps on New Zealand's southern island, it is also the name of the winery from the Donaldson family, the other being Pegasus Bay, who make some stunning wines, but that's for a later post I feel.

In it's beginning, fruit was bought in from local growers as required, then in 1997 the decision was made to change Main Divide into a "quality focused brand". In order to achieve this they began working much closer with growers who they felt would produced top quality fruit, and from sites that expressed regional and varietal characteristics. By working closely with the growers they are able to promote their beliefs in sustainable viticultural management, organic techniques, low crop levels and minimal handling of fruit.

Within the winery they employ gentle pressing the use of wild fermentation, malo-lactic fermentation and to clarify by settling. By employing all of these techniques through the whole process this allows enables them to produce some absolutely stunning wines with great fruit flavours and a depth not found everywhere.

The 2010 Main Divide Pinot Noir has an opaque ruby colour in the glass, not something you tend to see with Pinot Noir very often, this comes from the use of oak barriques from selected artisan Burgundian coopers, where it is matured for 14 months. You get aromas raspberries, blackberries and black cherries, with hints of sweet spice and smoke coming through. On the palate you get the flavours of all the fruit, the sweet spice seperates itself out into cinnamon and liquorice with hints of smoke intermingled in between all the fruit and spice. The tannins ripe and juicy, balanced out with just enough acidity to make your mouth water and help all the flavours linger for ages.

I have to say this for me is an absolutely stunning Pinot Noir and one of my favourites, it's not your typical fruit bomb style you get from many New Zealand producers, it has much more complexity and depth which they get from the use of burgundy coopers. You can find this wine online and from most good independent wine merchants