Wednesday, 27 January 2016

HV Wines: Château du Cerons Le Grand Enclos Blanc 2012

I have been tasting quite some whites wines lately, well actually also reds but it were the whites that gave the strongest impression. Today we head to the Graves area with Chateau de Cerons and the Grand Enclos white 2012.

A wine that has such an attractive price for the quality it holds, truly great ,great value for money, one can say. Here you enter the region of Graves which lays to the south of Bordeaux, where you have the famous appellation of Pessac-Léognan (Haut-Brion Mission Haut-Brion, Smith Haut Lafitte, to name a few). It is also the region in Bordeaux where white shines best and where the most beautiful whites appear of the Bordeaux wines.
So Graves.......

Graves is a very large area, sitting on the west side of the river Garonne. It is Graves that brought the original Bordeaux wine, long before the Medoc became a wine area, Pape-Clement is older then 700 years to give you an idea. Medoc for much of it was marsh land and thought then not suitable for wine cultivation.

Graves stretches for about 55km to the south till the town of Langon. At its widest point is the region large from east to west for more then 20 km. This explains why there is such a diversity in the Graves wines, so it is difficult to unify the description of the wines from Graves. Pessac-Leognan is much more compact and hold a more unified identity, although there is great variation in the wines but that comes more from the winemaker him/herself. Also part of the Graves but do hold their appellation of their own is Barsac and Sauternes who are world wine known for their sweet wines, they do produce dry white wines but are not allowed to name their wines Graves, only Bordeaux  can be mentioned.
As it says in the name, Graves is a serie of deposits coming from gravel mixed with sand and clay which crated throughout time the landscape from the region with hills and flat land, with many wooded areas and the best vineyards find themselves most of the times on hill tops. The variety in soil structure varies greatly from plot to plot. Although the reputation for the white wines from de Graves have dramatically improved, the land is still for a majority dominated by red wines. Graves and Pessac-Leognan together have for about 68% of vines planted in red.

Till the 70's most producers sold their wine to negociants especially in the southern part of the Graves. There is as much wines produced with strong tannins intent to lay down and sleep for some time as wines young, fruity and to be consumed in the next couple of years, also the quality amongst them varies a lot.

Château du Cerons Grand Enclos 2012

The birth of this Chateau goes back a very long time during the second empire, on the domain of Marquis de Calvimont when the land of Château de Cerons was divided into two parts. An Italian Engineer and two dormant vineyards fell in love thus the Grand Enclos du Chateau de Cerons gains its independence. On the village centre square , the gates of the property opens upon a charterhouse, which conceals the soul of the estate. The 10 hectares of vines are enclosed by a wall, making it very unique in the region. Today Grand Enclos holds 25 hectares of vines, making red, white and sweet wines. They spent huge amount of times on working the land and respecting the soil, using the bare minimum of chemicals only when really needed. Harvest with great care and attentionally processed they let the wine sleep according to the vintage between 12 and 15 months in oak barrels. Still in the hands of the Italian Giorgo Cavanna (from the Tuscan region), he and his team work hard to make sure that each bottle leaving the estate represent the excellence of what a Graves should be all about. 

Grapes: Sémillon 53% Sauvignon blanc 48%

Alcohol: 12.5%

Price: €15 £11 $16

Visual: Light yellow colour, with a smooth elegant golden shine indicating the passage through barrel. Legs are beautiful and seductive, while its transparency is perfect. It appears very lady like and classy

Nose:  The nose introduces citruses, pears, fleshy juicy white fruit, little peach with undertones of vanilla and beeswax. Very present on the nose, somewhat imposing but not disturbing. Really pushing you to taste it in earnest.

Palate:  A burst of white fruits, pears at first then citruses and little peach, richly filling and well balanced between aromas and acidity, holding a good structure in freshness, its richness feels warm and soothing, oaky and oily, hold well together throughout the whole palate with a long and lasting finish. Very nicely done.

Conclusion:  A wine that gives you all the excitement and joy you expect from a Graves and more and all at a very good price, the sensation and emotion this wines holds is truly great that you can bring it at any table hands down, very few would complain (except for those who do not like the oaky round buttery wines). Great craft, a great wine. Once again it does not have to cost the earth to be good.

Score: I rate this wine 19/20 90/100 (rated as an excellent wine)

Until next time please do drink responsibly.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

HV Wines: Neudorf Chardonnay Nelson New-Zealand 2012

Yes, it has sprung to mind that this blog as well, address the quality that the Chardonnay grape holds. There are very few grapes on the planet that can even up with the immense complexities this grape produces. But left alone that this estate in New-Zealand is truly one of the remarkable success stories and flag bearers of the two part islands that is New-Zealand.  This is a domain that for those who never heard of it, certainly need to add to their list. Not doing so would be like going hunting without a gun.

New -Zealand is about 2000 kilometres east from Australia, pretty much close to the furthest point away (that is looking from an European view). So hopping on a bus to bring it a visit needs quite a bit of planning as, when you visit this beautiful, versatile and awe-inspiring country you make sure that your holiday is set for at least one month. There is so much to see and so much to taste, especially since the last twenty years, the wines from New-Zealand have firmly made their mark and without a shed of a doubt some are truly climbing up to settle amongst the top wines in the world.

It is of course though Australia that the vine has arrived in New-Zealand and precisely in Kerikeri on the North island of New-Zealand in the beginning of the 19th Century (1818). The man who brought them on land was the reverent Marsden. For quite some time it wasn't New-Zealanders who where planting and cultivating vines. The French were first but much difficulties laid ahead of them that many gave up and returned to France. It was especially the Englishman Charles Levet and the Spaniard Jospeh Soler who pushed further and harder and cultivated vines on the land. It was only at the end of the 19th Century that the New-Zealanders launched themselves into the wine business.

In 1920, the surface occupied with vine was about 200 hectares, and we had to wait till the 1980's to see a true explosion of viticulture in New-Zealand. Also since the 1st of April 1990 (believe it or not) the sales of wine was authorised in all shops. The time before it was designated stores (bottle store) that could sell alcohol.

In numbers;

  • The wine regions in New-Zealand stretch over 1500 kilometres, from the north island to the edge of the south island. Reason why the wines from New-Zealand have such a diversity. 
  • Today there is over 35,000 hectares of vines planted. (7,913ha in red and 27,596 ha in white)
  • Sauvignon blanc is the most planted grape with 20,029 ha.
  • Average are of a vineyard 17.4 ha.
  • Number of vineyards 2046.
  • In red is Pinot Noir the most planted grape. 
Principle Grape varieties;

  • Sauvignon blanc 73%
  • Pinot Noir 70%
  • Merlot 16%
  • Chardonnay 12%
  • Pinot Gris 9%
  • Syrah 6%
  • Cabernet Sauvignon 4%
  • Riesling 3%
  • Malbec/Cabernet Franc 3%
  • Gewurztraminer 1%

Neudorf Nelson Chardonnay 2012

It all started in 1978, when the wine industry was almost none existent, two young lovers Judy and Tim Finn wanted to make great wines but both had very little experience even knowledge about the whole process. But with passion and believe, trial and error, they have become one of the icons in New-Zealand wine. Today they export to over 16 countries and with a whole team of professionals and hard working people all with one single goal. making truly great wines, they have settled themselves amongst the family of twelve people.

Today I speak about the Neudorf Nelson Chardonnay 2012. The wine is selected from different precise parcels on the estate, of course it is made of 100% Chardonnay and all hand harvest. 
The 2012 is not a big crop due to weather conditions but what cam out of it is simply fantastic. 

Wine making detail: 
  • harvest from the 3rd to the 24th of April 2012.
  • 100% whole bunch press.
  • Fermentation 100% indigenous, high solid fermentation.
  • 100% barrel fermented
  • Malolatic 100%
  • cases bottled 2651
Price: €21 $26 £18

Alcohol: 14%

Visual: A elegant seductive warm straw yellow colour, rich and deep legs, and a perfect transparency, a good level of acidity as the brilliance is very bright and striking. A beautiful wine to look at a wine that certainly will not miss your eye. 

Nose:  The nose is controlled and measured as all great wines should be, smells are clear cut and very rich and harmonious, apricots, apples, peach, the spice that class-fully glides amongst the fruit smells, gives you a sensation of joy and happiness, oak on the back with a little toast. Made with precision and hunger for taste. 

Palate: a warm silky smooth texture with apples and peach and citrus fruit (grapefruit) overwhelming the palate, the acid is so nicely balanced amongst the aromas that it is a pure delight to drink. it holds superbly well together and it lingers for a long time. 

Conclusion: Yet again from the southern hemisphere a wine that should not stand shy at all even amongst the traditional s from Burgundy. A great sense of terroir and a great sense of craftsmanship. A wine sure to hold in the cellar for special occasions, a wine that all Chardonnay lovers will drink with pleasure and pride. It is a wine with personality, character and style.    

Score:  I rate this wine 19/20 90/100 (rated as an excellent wine)

Until next time please do drink responsibly.   

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

HV Wines: Leeuwin Estate Prelude Vineyards Chardonnay 2011

This estate stands out from the crowd and that since the first time I discovered it over a decade ago. The Art series from Leeuwin are just phenomenal, so it was with delight to discover that they do besides the Art series also another range in white and red. Today I will elaborate the Prelude Chardonnay, which does come at a very affordable price. The Art series Chardonnay today in a shop will hit your wallet for about €105 $113 £85 a bottle. The Prelude is much cheaper but crafted as well and with the same vision and intention as the Art series. If you want to impress someone with a wine different then your European usual suspects, I can guarantee that Leeuwin will most certainly not disappoint you.

Leeuwin Estate is a family owned business and one of the five founding wineries of the now famous Margaret river in Western Australia. It is in control of two generations of the Horgan family who work together with the best skilled wine makers around to produce the finest wines the world knows.

Before it was a cattle farm and it was Robert Mondavi in 1972 who mentored Denis and Tricia Horgan in transforming the cattle farm into  Leeuwin Estate. Quickly it pulled the attention of the world wine lovers and critics, today it is almost unthinkable for every true wine buff not to have Leeuwin in his or her wine cellar. Leeuwin is a state of the Art machine with accurate precision, with its award winning restaurant, cellardoor and art gallery, it brings all elements together with Music festivals in the summer and attraction visitors from around the world.

Leeuwin estate releases the Art series, Prelude vineyards and Sibling labels. The Art series are of course the crown jewels in the estate, but the Prelude series which I had the opportunity to taste and enjoy are truly a statement of talent definitely to discover if you haven't.

Leeuwin sits in the Western Australia district with Perth as its capital. There are nine sensational wine regions in Western Australia with Margaret river as its prime star in the region.

Australia is the 7th largest producer and the 4th biggest exporter in the world and the nr16 wine drinking nation. Australian wines are sold in over 100 countries and you will find them on almost every wine list on the planet.
The UK imports now more wine from Australia then from France. 78% of the wineries have cellardoors and  29% have their own restaurant (including Leeuwin).

Australia has about 2,176 wineries and rising, about 169,000 hectares of planted vines rising by 29% (data taken in 2012), makes it stand on the 12th place in the world.

Leeuwin Estate, Prelude Vineyards Chardonnay 2011

Price: (wholesale) €28 $30 £21

Alcohol content: 14.5%

Visual:  A warm yellow with steady legs, a perfect transparency, and a top brilliance. It shines class and confidence, it has a very attractive feel to it and stands out with her elegant robe.

Nose:  Straight away are you overwhelmed with well balance oak and spice, following quickly by vanilla and white fleshy juicy ripe fruits. Elegant and seductive comes to mind, peaches, pears, and citrus fruits keep on coming. A nose full of swell and panache, an attraction so charming one can't wait to sip it.

Palate: A burst of fruit well balanced and warming up the palate, expressing peaches and citruses, with well balanced acidity, holding the wine perfectly together to end in the back palate warm and soft with fruits who keep on coming. a long lingering finish.

Conclusion: A wine that burst of joy and craftsmanship, a different series to the Art series  but made with as much love and passion, implementing identity and terroir. A wine that is very well made and has truly value for money. In a world when one often things that it needs to be expensive for it to be truly good, has to re-think that once again after drinking this wine. Happy certainly that this is not old world class and hope to enjoy this estate for many years  to come, great work.

Score: I rate this wine 18/20 90/100

Until next time please do drink responsibly.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

HV Wines: Bodegas Castillo Labastida Rioja Crianza 2011

The other day I came across this wine in a shop at a price well below its average price globally. This is a wine that fetch prices of around €14 $15 £10 and here on super promo for about €5 $6 £3.8. I could at first not come to the conclusion of how they make a profit and at what price does it actually comes on offer to the supplier? But then all so often there are promos that are not intend to make money on that one particular item but rather aiming at peoples philosophy making them feel that they just have done a bargain and safe money which they then go on spending more than they initially intended to. Sadly for the shop I went as far as buying two of that wine, just in case one was corked. Often these bargains are the leftovers and are in need to be sold.
This wine has also won several prices; the gold Berlin wine trophy 2014, one thing to note about the Germans, is that they do like to drink their wines inexpensive, a German (the average German that is) will not very easy throw money at expensive wines as in their view, wines are very cheap to make and it should not cost the world to be good. Just look at Aldi and Lidl both German make and truly inexpensive, with good products in store. It also won the silver award in the International wine award competition, so maybe somewhere there is something promising inside this bottle.

Bodegas Castillo Labastida Rioja Crianza 2011

Very interesting that this wine is owned by a group; Union des Cosecheros de Labastida, a group of 152 independent wine makers farming about 1400 hectares of vines. They are currently ranked as the largest co-operative in the Basque Country, with a production of 7 million litres that is around 9 million bottles.

From the outset the wine growers were involved with the entire process, from cultivating the vineyards to barrel ageing to bottling. The co-op has then established its own brand, equipped itself with the most enhanced facilities and came forward with what is in front of us. I had to bring back one of the bottles as it was corked (happens), so that cut itself a bit of the enthusiasm but one should not despair from the first stumble, life's full of it and we don't give up either.

If we think of La Rioja then we think almost immediately at red wine, it is after all one of Spain's most famous export. Although there are many other great wine regions in Spain, many will shout Rioja when asked to mention a Spanish wine region.

Rioja fact file:

Area under vine: 63,370 hectares, at an altitude of 350 meters to 650 meters.
Sub-regions: Rioja-Alta, Rioja Alvesa, Rioja Baja
Wineries:   About 1,200
Main grapes: Reds, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuela (Carignan) and Maturana. White, Viura (Macabeo), Garnacha Blanca, Malvasía, Torrontes, Verdejo, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc

Rioja runs west to east along the river Ebro and is bounded on the north by the Sierra de Cantabria, and to the south by the Sierra de la Demanda and Sierra de Cameros. The result is a craggy landscape where snow can linger late into the season on the top of the mountains and below along the river, vines basking in the sun. It is a region that has more to offer then just wine. From national parks to pilgrim routes, great walking routes, paragliding and skiing, world heritage sites such as Suso and Yuso.... and much more. Rioja has a great diversity and sees visitors by the hundred of thousands. To get there Bilbao is the landing spot, with the Guggenheim not to forget.

The wine,
It is a crianza which means 1 year in oak, 6 months to 1 year in the bottle before selling. Here it is a 2011 vintage which is overall an excellent year.
It's alcohol content is 14%

Visual: Although it should age well as the year is given all in favour, I found its colour not so brilliant any more and looking at its brilliance it indicated that the acidity aspect is low. It comes over as a wine not to be taken lightly, it oozes masculinity and maturity, not impressive and the transparency is ok. its colour is very dark ruby red.

Nose: Not so surprisingly on the nose as it came over as very shy and not to imposing, it took awhile before the aromas made an appearance but disappeared very quickly, so I had to chase them constantly to finally perceive, red fruits not clear which ones but a mixture of plum, black berries, black cherries, some spice appeared but it ended all pretty quickly.

Palate: Tannins were there but not clean and not so pleasant to drink, fruits made an appearance and it fell all a bit apart in the middle of the palate to finish short and a bit struck, demanding if I actually could capture something. It wasn't aggressive, it was soft and one could say pleasant. It does heat up the palate a bit but one thing that was good, I didn't smell or fell like there was 14% alcohol in this wine.

Conclusion: Well I know that some people will find this a jolly wine, one to have after the office with colleagues in the pub, but then a pub with some taste. It is far from the worst I tasted, then for the price paid, but knowing that this wine is normally more expensive then the price it was sold for, I find this truly limit for what is worth. Would I buy it again even if the promo came back on again, NO would be the answer. I had it once and I will not have it again, except if I was forced to.

Score: I rate this wine 15.8/20 58/100 (rated as a drinkable wine)
rating system
19.6-20 exceptional
19-19.5 excellent
18-18.9 very good wine
17-17.9 good wine
16-16.9 fair wine
15-15.9 drinkable wine
14-14.9 acceptable wine

Until next time please do drink responsibly.