Monday, 24 August 2015

HV Wines: Quinta da Revolta Douro D.O.C. 2012 Reserva Portugal

On the hunt for wines for a 3 to 5 course menu, I came across this Quinta da Revolta Reserva D.O.C Douro, which was for the dish I needed to pair it to and in the price category I was looking for a match just right and surprising. The sales representative introduced me to another wine, which was good as well, but this quinta had just that nudge of surprise difference I needed for this dish.
So Portugal the silent little gem of Europe, as it is known.....

It were the Phoenicians six centuries before Christ who acclimatized numerous grape varieties in the country. Then the Romans introduced the vines to the country, en so spread it to all parts of the land. Portugal was an early exporter, in the 12th Century they exported wine, (northern parts, Douro region) to England. This trade will go on for over two Centuries till Phillipe II of Spain annexed Portugal and so the trade with England stopped. But when the trade took back shape, Portugal had huge competition from the wines from Bordeaux, which England so loves. The exchange only gets better when France is at war with England under the reign of Louis XIV. Through various treaties for and against it comes to stand today that Portuguese wines are growing back to a level internationally recognize as one of the nations top wine producers. Looking back at the way the Portuguese make wine has not changed that much, except that the new Portuguese generations are looking at ways to fine tune their wine to the appeal of the palate of today and at injecting a new and different breath of fresh air.

Portugal in numbers

  • Portugal holds about 260,000 hectares of vines. 
  • The annual production is around 7 to 8 million hectolitres, which put Portugal amongst the most important wine producers in the world, 11th to be exactly at the latest survey. 
  • The wine consumed per inhabitant on an annual basis in Portugal is about 40 to 45 litres a year, Portugal is the 8th largest consumer globally. 
  • There are about 180,000 producers in Portugal and only 13% has a production larger then 100 hectolitres (about 10,000 kilograms).
  • Import and exports are about equal at around 1.2 million hectolitres. 

Grape varieties
The principal white grape varieties are;

  • Rabigato: widely cultivated in Portugal and especially in the Douro region.
  • Alvarinho: In the region of Vinho Verde, north of Portugal. one of the grapes most used in this region. 
  • Loureiro: Vinho Verde region like the Alvarinho, it got its name Loureiro (bay leaf) because that is what it reminds it to, also cultivated in Spain. 
  • Arinto: A grape little productive but its cultivated due to its enormous advantages to blend with other grapes to give freshness. 
  • Encruzado: Cultivated in the region of Dao. 
  • Sercial (or Cercial), Bual, and Verdelho: all grape varieties used to produce Madera wine. These grapes are also cultivated on mainland Portugal. 
Red grape varieties.
  • Touriga-Nacional: Used in many wines and especially in the region of Porto and Dao.   
  • Tinta-Francisca: Present in the Porto region, but a grape that is very stubborn and can give average results. 
  • Alverhao: Especially cultivated in the north of Portugal, producing light and fresh wines. 
  • Touriga-Francesa or Touriga Franca: much appreciated in the vineyards of Porto, this grape gives equally good results when vinified in rose wine. 
  • Tinto Cao: very ancient grape, less and less cultivated. 
  • Tinta Barroca: A relative recent grape, mainly used to produce Porto. 
  • Tinta Roriz: This is actually the Spanish Tempranillo.
  • Periquita (Castello francesa): present especially in Setubal.  

Wine categories:
There are two categories of wine, the V.Q.P.R.D and the Table Wines. 

The V.Q.P.R.D
  • D.O.C: Denominacao de Origem Controlada, the highest acclaimed distinction you can get. Like Dao, Vinho Verde, Douro, there are 32 areas with the D.O.C certification. 
  • I.P.R: Indicacao de Proveniencia Regulamentada, (a regulated provenance indication), wines conformed to the legislation of provenance, such as Cartaxo, Pamela, Biscoitos.....
The Table wines
  • Vinho regional: (a geographical indication a bit like "les vins de pays" in France now "Vins de terroir"), this category concerns 8 regions in Portugal, Minho, Tras-os-Montes, Beira, Ribatejo, Estremadura, Alentejo, Terras do Sado, Algarve. You can find great wines in this category, as they offer to the producers a much larger choice in grape varieties and so able to explore better the terroirs. 
  • Vino de Mesa: or table wine. 
Portugal is the largest producer of cork on the world. 

Quinta da Revolta Douro D.O.C Reserva 2012

A huge amount of information on this vineyard wasn't really available as apparently the winemaker is still on the old fashion wagon and website isn't to the question but has a facebook page.....strange as he produces a couple of other wines and a website these days is the window to your product. 

The vineyard is situated in Campanha in Oporto in Portugal. It was build between the seventeenth and eighteenth century and holds its name to a possible rebellion that took place in the area. It was the summer home of Viscount of Balsemao owner of magnificent palaces in the city centre. In 1851 the property went to his brother Jose Pinto de Sousa Coutinho target de Balsemao, who then sold it to the capitalist Jose Duarte de Oliveira and in 1918 it was bought by Alfredo Moreira da Silva, a horticulturist in which family it still remains. 

Grape varieties: Touriga france, Touriga nacional, Tinta roziz. 

Alcohol:  14%

Price:  €10 $11 £7.5

Visual: A velvet, dark purple, good transparency, good brilliance, masculine, slight rustic feel with a modern attitude, strength, grown up, inviting and warm. 

Nose: Black fruits, fleshy cherries, blackcurrants, blackberries, spices, little leather, also little alcohol dominants. 

Palate: A fair amount of freshness, dark fruits but in short supply, medium body which was actually nice, tannins fair and present, it is medium long, fairly round at the end. 

Conclusion: This wine stand very good in its price category, what it gives to you for this price will get you trouble finding in many other wines. There is much good work achieved in this wine, and proves that not all wines need to cost and arm and a leg to present something very pleasant and very enjoyable. This wine gives you identity and character, and value for money. It show definitely individuality and ambition, a wine working its way in the right direction. 

Score: I rate this wine 17.9/20 79/100 (rated as a good wine)

Until next time please do drink responsibly. 

Saturday, 15 August 2015

HV Wines: Puech Auriol Coteaux D'Enserune 2010 Languedoc France

I came across this wine by accident, as I was actually looking for something else, but I liked the way the wine stood out. It came over different then many of the other bottles on the shelves. A bit pricey though but there are a few Puech in the Languedoc with good reputation, so first of all who is Puech Auriol?

Puech Auriol
Very little information is available of this wine and vineyard, the owners Cecile and Stephane seems to have made the choice to stay in a way of life where the ultra modernization of wine making is not the norm.... well by reading the little info I found it sounds like. They have Carignan and Grenache predominately as grape varieties, using no chemicals and treating their vineyards as their garden. The area produces a lot of fruits as many orchards are dotted around. With a complex soil structure from sandy loam of Miocene, and rolling stones/pebbles of the Pliocene, it does give a great chance to a large structure in variety of the wines. On these terraces they have found a number of giant fossil oysters, which is what is represented on the label of the wine. So they have the biological certification as all is done in respect towards the soil and vine, no chemical intervention, only some mechanical passages by tractor if necessary. Harvest done by hand and selection of the grapes before processing, where the whole fermentation cycle works in accordance with gravity, Certain parcels are vinified at lower temperatures due to their inferior composition for about 15 days, then carefully assembled with their best parcels. With a late but purposefully malo-lactic fermentation and none filtering of their wines, Cecile and Stephane intend to keep a maximum of the expression and the terroir and indentity of their philosophy in the wines.

90% Carignan grape and 10% Grenache grape (which they let to achieve sometimes over 16% in sugar levels, compensating the intended lower percentage of the Cargignan)
Their Yield is low at about 35 hectoliters per hectare, harvest by hand in caisses of 40 kilos.

So this wine gives me the feeling of a direction many wine makers look to go, of course the financial possibilities here are also playing an important part, not all can go out and get the latest techno gadgets, they have just a couple of hectares and selling their wines around €16.80 £12.50 $18.70 for their reds the whites and the rose are a bit cheaper, much movement financially I do not think is here at hand.

Puech Auriol Coteaux D'Enserune 2010 IGP
Grape: 90% Carignan 10% Grenache noir

Alcohol: 13.5%

Price: €16.80 £12.80 $18.70 

Visual: Purple/ red cherry, big muscle, masculine, transparency medium, brilliance ok, a certain regard of rustic and unpolished feel to it, a wine that seems to give you a certain possibility of surprise. 

Nose: Cassis, blackberries, ash, very fruity based wine, a little nail varnish, power, strength, impressive introduction. 

Palate: Sharp, not as heavy as I thought it would be, but it is not a light wine, on the mid-palate it falls apart and sadly it has a short ending. it was actually better on the nose, you have your cooked fruits, cherries mainly, but then you get a slight burn feeling on the gums. the aromas are not entirely clear. 

Conclusion: A wine I expected to be given more of a ride, it started promising on the nose but short and disappointing on the palate. There is definitely movement for improvement as the wine and the terroir have much potential. I would like to see more determination of the wine on the palate, control the alcohol as it did hinder a bit on the nose and as well on the palate. Balances are not at its levels yet, but surely a domain to keep an eye on. There is definitely more to expect from this wine......

Rate: I rate this wine 17.70/20 77/100. (rated as a good wine)

Surely an area I always love to discover and observe, there are few areas in Europe that sit with such potential then the Languedoc-Roussillon. But to my delight more and more great wines arise. Until next time please do drink responsibly. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

HV Wines: Koyle Royale Los Lingues vineyard Alto Colchagua 2010 Chile

The other night I was invited to a dinner at some friends place, where on the table we had The Koyle Royale Cabernet-Sauvignon 2010 from Chile.
We actually started with some sparkling wine, it was a crémant de Loire which was okay, and then we could decide to go for a white or straight to the red. The white wasn't that appealing so I opted for the red straight away. 

So who is Vina Koyle? Well, it is a family vineyard and totally biodynamic, a term that will appear pretty much everywhere as more and more winemakers do realize the importance of the land and how to threat it. So the Koyle family, how did it all start? In 2006 Alfonso Undurraga Mc Kenna, the father together with his sons Max and Cristobal were on the hunt for land to make good wine, a philosophy all ambitious wine makers hold as all dream to have their wine to be acclaimed all over the world.

Here the family didn't take it small they acquired a property of 1,100 hectares of terroir in Los Lingues. Not all under vines but then it is not clear how many hectares of vines they hold, with the size of the property, I think there must be a tiny weenie bit of grape growing. So, I would then also be suspicious of the amount of production they hold....and how well the overall quality in any business you want to make money and a lot of it if possible, and sometimes regardless of knowledge or a degree.
Like my old bosses who I worked for, comparing a tomato, carrot etc.. with wine it's all sales they told me.....yes if you look it that way it is after all a product but for me you can't compare wine to anything else.

Wine goes back with us quite a bit in history (about 10.000 years) and with many associations, movements, wars and celebrations. It is the product that needs knowledge as without it you can only tell a story to clinch a sale and of course knowing a lot of peoples helps as well....I can guarantee you, standing in front of top sommeliers with just a story will not get you very far. As in all profession only those who have stumbled into this industry can only talk this way....I am amazed to learn the amount of people working in the wine industry that actually know very little or have very basic wine knowledge.  Believe you me I know, I worked with two of them, but who am I...... 
Anyway back to our wine here, Their philosophy is to produce a wine with character and identity, following a vision that sits in the family for some generations. With a terroir compared to the Mediterranean and the influence of the Andes mountains, we can expect here wines made from healthy grapes and good acidity, lots of fruit and complexity.  

They have 10 wines, 1 white 9 reds, their top cuvee is the Auma, then follows the Royale selection and the Gran reservas. The Auma is around £41 €59.45 $61.50. The one I want to elaborate is the Koyle Royale Cabernet-Sauvignon 2010 around £14 €20.30 $21. The Gran reservas are about £9 €13 $14

The Koyle Royale Cabernet-Sauvignon 2010 Chile.
Grape: Cabernet-Sauvignon 89%, Malbec 6%, Petit Verdot 5% (once a wine reached a certain percentage of one single grape, one does not need to mention the other grape varieties)

Alcohol:  14.5%.

Price: €15 £10 $16.

Production: 27,600 bottles.

Oak Ageing: 18 months in French oak.

Visual: Dark ruby red with still showing some youth and not much sign of age after 5 years of life. It is believed that this wine can live up to 10 years and +. I would think 10 years max but only a test can tell. Transparency is matt, so no filtering, that is done to preserve as much aromas as possible as with filtering you lose aromas and fruit. Brilliance is weak, but very heavy legs, the wine is full, power, big body a very male like.

Nose: Bon bon anglais (candy), oak, berries red  and black (blackberries, blueberries, redcurrants), flowers (peony), slight hints of alcohol, after a while little cacao, smoky, sandalwood, cedar.

Palate: Astringent, soft tannins, start to fall apart in the middle of the palate, red fruits unbalanced so is the acidity, tannins on the gums, medium long to short last, looking for correction.

Conclusion: This wine is already 5 years old and on a visual level it holds itself well together, it looks more promising than on the palate for sure. On the nose it plays with many different smells but no clear cuts or lines except for some. The palate leads then to a more diminuendo than a crescendo sadly, but for the price paid one must admit that it is very correct and good made, it was a non mover on the emotional level, but a pleasant companion during the evening. A correct wine, but for a acceptable production they could balanced it a tat better. Still a young vineyard, and this is just one of their wines, so for now I give them a firm handshake and keep up the good work.

Score:  I rate this wine 16.5/20 65/100 (rated as a fair wine)

A wine that will pass in all fairness and will for most palates be remembered for a short moment, don't expect something in the wow factor zone but out of Chile there is much worse than this.

Till next time please do drink responsibly 

Thursday, 6 August 2015

HV Wines: Decanter World Wine Awards 2015

Another year already gone as we come again to the Decanter World Wine Awards. The 2015 edition has seen 16,000 entries up from last years (15,000). So something is telling me that even so it rises steadily, this competition is settling itself as soon to become the global competition and maybe soon a annual guide will be made like so many do with a deeper detail of all wines who won a price?

This year 305 golden medals were handed out, 114 region trophies and 35 International trophies.

The judges are all very high calibre, many Master of Wines and experts in their field, and all the wines are tasted blind, so no pre-judgement possible and solely judged on what's in the bottle, how a competition should be organised for my part, no other competition so far is matching up to this one.

The world's best palates.

As last year, this year's panel judges is just remarkable, nowhere else do you find such a large selection of professionals in any competition from all corners and specialised in their country or region of expertise. 36 regional chairs with each their team carefully selected.

Just to name a few, the chairman Steve Spurrier, staged the historic blind tasting in 1976 between Californian wines and Bordeaux where against all odds California came out as the winner, it was named " The Judgement of Paris". Gerard Basset, Decanter man of the year 2013, Sommelier of the world 2010, Master of wine, holds a wine MBA, best sommelier in the UK several times, Jasper Morris, Master of wine, Angela Muir, Master of Wine, Michael Hill-Smith, Master of Wine, Stephen Brooks, Wrote numerous books on Bordeaux, contributing editor for Decanter since 1996, Richard Juhlin, one of the master on Champagne on this planet, Peter Richard, Master of Wine, Caroline Gilby, Master of Wine, Rosemary George, Master of Wine, James Lawther, Master of Wine, Paolo Basso. 2013 world sommelier, Andrew Jefford, Write a column for decanter each month and wrote about food, whiskey, travel and perfume. The list goes on and on, so with all these experts there is no doubt that this competition is taken extremely serious. So maybe time for more Chateaux's, clos, domain's to participate!!!!! Of course a tiny little important factor plays here at hand, the blind tasting aspect......maybe one day the big boys and girls might just feel a bit more confident that their wines are worthy of a blind judgement and after all there can only be one winner, which doesn't mean with no win their wine is bad....  I think that here and a decade this competition will be the one to enter.

So here I have made a selection of International trophies, I thought were interesting and well judged.....

Dry Rieslings under and over the £15 €21.75 $22.50

Both are new world wines, the wine under £15 is from Chile and the wine over £15 is from South Australia. Very interesting that as far we all know Germany and France are the key holders of some of the worlds most amazing Rieslings. But here in the International Trophies winners, we have Vina Leyda, Single Vineyard Neblina Riesling, Leyda Valley, San Antonio Chile 2013 (13%)

Riesling under £15 €22 $22.50

According to the description, it is a textbook beautifully made Riesling. A lovely nose of pithy lime, green apple and herbs.It's dry, soft, succulent and vital, with juicy citrus and stone fruits underpinned by brisk acidity and complemented by a savoury overtone. Energetic, broad and wonderfully balanced. About €14 £10 $16

Not widely available, UK and America seem to be the places to find it, although the presentation of the bottle is simple and not to attractive, it looks like that the new world is catching up fast and since some time outshining the usual suspects. Of course you have to judge a wine also by its price. There are surely some German or French Rieslings that will blow your mind away but also and most likely your wallet

Leasingham, Classic Clare Riesling, Clare Valley, South Australia 2009 (12%)

Riesling over £15 €22 $22.50

Here they describe the such as; Beautiful, developing toasty aromas and refined lime fruit character, boosted by touches of smoke, quince, and saffron. Savoury, mineral and fresh, it shows off stupendously toasty maturity, with a superb, layered, and textured palate, citrus acidity and a long finish. Just starting to open up, this is everything that is wonderful about Clare Riesling. About £30 €43 $45

In the International Trophy winners Sauvignon Blanc under and over £15, we keep ourselves in Australia and New Zealand. They are very expressive sauvignon's by reading it. I personally have my thoughts about it as I think when thy are too expressive they become fairly vulgar. So a hunt for them would be required. Both wines are easy to find. Small and Small from New Zealand and Bay of Fires Tasmania, Australia. 

In the International Trophy winner, Chardonnay, interestingly we have Burgundy France and Hawke's Bay New Zealand. For many years now we know that the closest competitor to the Burgundy Pinot Noir was the New Zealand Pinot Noir. Although one is northern hemisphere and the other southern, there is no other country really that gets it pretty close, even so they are still quite far apart. Top Pinot from Burgundy is literally far. The two winners are the Marks & Spencer, Macon-Village 2014 and the Anthony Joseph Vidal, Legacy Chardonnay, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand 2012.

In the International Single variety Trophy winners, it's South Africa and Italy that took the price, A barrel fermented Chenin Blanc from Paarl Perdeberg, The dry Land.  It seems like that more and more trying out the barrel fermented process to create and search more identity and individuality in their wines, and rightfully so, I'm all for it when wine makers look and create wines with substance and personality. Sadly still on many shelves there is garbage and waste to be found. The Italian single variety is Tiefenbrunner, Feldmarshall von  Fenner zu Fennberg, Alto Adig/ Sudtirol, 2013. Yes a bit strange to see it German or Austrian for that matter but Italy does has borders with Austria and Tirol should give it away.

White blend under £15

De Morgenzon, Maestro, Stellenbosch, South Africa 2014. (14#%)
So it seems that there is undoubtedly a winemaker of unquestionable skill and craft behind this outstanding fusion of varieties. The fruit is plentiful and rich, with notes of lemon, tropical fruit, white flowers, spices and herbs. It's powerful and textured, with a gravelly palate and a lengthy finish.  About £14.99 €21.75 $22.50.

White blend over £15 

Chateau Brown, Pessace-Leognan, Bordeaux, France, 2013 (13.5)
Gorgeous, subtle oaky nose with youthful quince aromas to the fore and elderflower, orange blossom and green apples in the background. Creamy, round and intense, the palate is bursting with toasty, spicy fruit which has lovely weight and concentration. Classy and delicious, but will get even better. About £31.05 €45 $46.60

Interestingly enough the Rose wine International winners are both from Provence, and rightfully so as so far I haven't really met many rose's outside Provence that hit the spot. Chateau Salettes, Bandol, Provence, France 2014 and Chateau La Tour de L'Eveque, Petale de Rose, Cotes de Provence, France, 2014. Two beautifully rose wines, tasted them and enjoyed them tremendously. Not expensive at all one is just under the £15 and the other one is just above the £15.

In the red wines there is a big entry that gives me hope some day in the future more houses like this one will enter. Yes, there is a price tag but this domain is fantastic. International trophy winner Pinot Noir over £15  Domaine de la Vougeraie, Bonnes Mares Grand Cru, Burgundy, France 2013 (13%)
Complex and distinguished, this opens with an exotic, musky perfume of creamy red fruits. It's very finely drawn, with lovely purity, fine tannins and quality oak which is a touch present at the moment. Long and concentrated, this may not be a big, brooding Bonnes-Mares, but it's undeniably a very elegant and splendid wine. About £175 €253 $262.50

The international Trophy winner for red Bordeaux varietal over £15 comes from Spain. Uha as you can see more and many to focus on Bordeaux style varieties, because it is these varietal's who have proven to be reliable and customers love them. Grapes that everyone knows and trust, that does not mean the wine is good.... Miguel Torres, Reserva Real, Penedes, Spain 2012 (14.5%)

 They say it is an outstanding wine; very deep, dark, dense and complex, with cigar box, pencil lead and blackberry on the fragrant nose, which has a lovely Cabernet quality. The ripeness is spot on, backed by wonderful. high-quality, velvety tannins and the capacity to age for another decade. about £71.99 €104.40 $108

Interesting amongst the International trophy winners in the red Rhone varietals, stand a wine from South Africa and the other is from South Australia. It proves that certain varietals do book excellent results outside their known region which can only be good news for us the consumer.

Lomond, Cat's Tail Syrah, Cape Agulhas South Africa 2012 (14.8%)

An exquisite, appetising, cool-climate Syrah with alluring aromas of bay leaf, liquorice, toast, oak spice then red and black fruits. The palate is buoyant and spicy, with wonderfully integrated, grippy tannins and admirable length driven by fresh fruit and perky acidity. £14.99 €21.75 $22.50.

Sidewood, Mappinga Shiraz, Adeliade Hills, South Australia 2013 (14.5%)
A delicious, ambitious, cooler-climate Shiraz with floral lift on the sweet nose alongside a twist of black pepper and dark cherry fruit. Ideally this needs  a few more years' rest in the bottle, by which time it will be absolutely singing, but there is still buckets of appeal right now, with its velvety tannins and liquorice-tinged fruit. About £25 €36.25 $37.50

Interesting that both won coming from a cooler climate and so indicating that Shiraz or Syrah (same same) is looking to seduce its strength on other levels and seems to work with style. The Rhone varietal grape is sun loving, creating deep big and bold. A try is definitely required, but a little bit of searching and hunting will be needed as widely available they are not.

The Red Spanish varietals over 15 caught my eye, which won International trophy Lan, Culmen, Rioja Reserva, Spain 2010 (14%)
Modern bold and masculine, with a huge nose of earth, chocolate, vanilla, cassis, prune, date, fig and spice. Something of a monster and fully charged on the palate, boasting lashings of oak and immense levels of dark fruit, complemented by black olive, tapenade and tobacco. A wonderful wine with fabulous density and great potential for the future. £65
€94.25 $96. This is truly a wine for the lovers of big, heavy, intimidating and dinner required fans. Wines from Spain since the crisis have seen a new light and have risen to levels maybe many of us didn't realise the quality they hold. But do not forget that Spain for a long time did not export their treasures, the culture of wine is a combination of their food and not a trade to expose to the world, the crisis made them to look out and good they did.

One of my Italian favourite wines is the Barolo, a wine with so much talent and quality and in the International winner for red Italian varietal over £15 is the Rivetto, Leon, Barolo Riserva, Piedmont Italy 2009. (14.5%)
An archetypal Barolo; imposing and dazzling with a layered nose of freshly dug earth, truffles, leather, ink, balsamic notes, dried flowers and ripe cherry. The mouth is very long, blessed with vibrant, rich fruit, breezy acidity and lovely kick of liquorice on the finish. £63.25 €91 $95

The International Trophy winner red blend under £15 has gone to a wine from the Southwest. I wrote a blog on wines from the Southwest a couple weeks ago, how they have made a big come back and not just this one got a price Chateau Lagrezette won the regional France red over £15. So great news for this amazing region, but here the honour goes to Chateau Bouissel, Le Bouissel, Fronton Southwest France 2011 (13.5%
   Fresh and warm, with well-judged oak bringing a little spiciness to the table, complementing earthy, smokey aromas of black cherry, herbs and liquorice. Vivid, ample, stylish and articulate, this displays lovely balance, reams of deep, juicy fruit, and a characterful, dusty finish. A simply stunning illustration of Fronton. Price not communicated.

Out of the international trophies these were the wines that caught my eye. once again this competition is helping us open up the vision of a global battle of fine wine making. For those who which to read it in more details here a link

So till next time please do drink responsibly.