Thursday, 31 March 2016

HV Wines: Boschkloof Chardonnay 2013, Stellenbosch South Africa.

Out here in Europe it is not always easy to find something pretty good at a fine price from deep down south, South Africa that is. I came across this wine whilst I was looking for a wine who could match a dish for the restaurant I worked at the time. It is quite challenging as pretty much each month and something a whole new set of wines (4 in total) has to be found pairing with the food.
So when I tasted this wine and tasted the Pork belly with miso, ponzu, caviar of aubergine (eggplant) cucumber and gomasio, this South African Stellenbosch would sit pretty well. I needed to find some force and strength, fruit, heat an freshness and Boschkloof had it all......

So Boschkloof who are they......?

The farm as they call it is situated on about 8 kilometres from Stellenbosch. It holds 25 hectares of vines divided under, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Although I am elaborating a white wine here, Stellenbosch is predominately known for its red wines as Cabernet sauvignon and Merlot are the most planted grapes. Stellenbosch lays only about 40 kilometres from Cape town. Stellenbosch was founded by commander Simon Van Der Stell in 1679 as a new settlement for the Dutch colonies of the Cape of Good Hope.
Free burgher farmers were released from their duties in the Dutch East India company and along with new settlers begin to work their own land.
Past records name the farm as Schuldpadvlei and later as Goedgelegen. The present name of Boschkloof is derived from the appearance of a natural ravine or kloof on the farm. It is overgrown with trees and bushes and many wild life reside there, such as deer, porcupine, mongoose, game fowl to name a few.

The farm has a topography with rolling hills with the Helderberg and Stellenbosch mountains as a backdrop. The soil is made up of Hutton top soil with deeper layers of shale, gravel and clay. Summer day time temperatures are high but thanks to the cool and fresh nights, permits the grape to rest and keeps its much needed freshness (acids).

Thanks to the relative average size of the vineyard, there is much space for manoeuvre and work the land with respect, balance and consideration, to achieve a balanced vine growth producing healthy good fruits.

South Africa facts and figures.

  1. Today South Africa exports about 450 million litres of wine
  2. There about 100,000 hectares of vine in South Africa.
  3. South Africa is committed to sustainable wine farming. 
  4. South Africa is the 9th largest producer in the world
  5. Chenin blanc is the most widely planted variety in South Africa. 
Boschkloof Chardonnay 2013
So legend has the the holy grail contained wine which was drunk at the last supper  and until this day the quest to find this vessel is still going on......has it ever really existed?  The Latin phrase "Inconcessum persequor" surrounding the grail on their emblem translates to "I Pursue the unattainable" and between the slopes of the beautiful Stellenbosch valley in South Africa the Borman family pursue the art of wine making.

Price: €9 $10 £7

Alcohol: 13%

Visual: A warm but slightly green tint colour with reflections of yellow. Young fresh and sizzling is what this wine gives you. A perfect limpidity and a good reflection, giving away some good acids present in the wine. Its young/youthful appearance indicates that it is a wine also to be consumed young and not meant really to lay down for a long time, well that is the impression I got by observing the wine.

Nose: The nose is attacked straight away with many smells, of fruits, fleshy and juicy (melons and pears), lots of freshness of citruses and acids. The oak is firmly present and invades the nose with smells of spice and little vanilla. It smells power and youth, excitement and adventure, a wine that will sit well with pork belly.

Palate: The attack on the palate is fresh, slight oily/ buttery, with warm juicy fruits and freshness of the acidity. The oily feel little by little disappears to end up quite tight as a wine, indicating to me that the oak isn't new or that that wine has only be temporarily oaked or, split, meaning part tank part oak. It lingers on for some time but not to long.

Conclusion: A very pleasant wine to match along with white style meat, as pork, chicken and of course fleshy meaty fish. It has a good richness to it and not to warm and lazy, the acidity is well present which makes this wine pretty enjoyable to drink. At the price it stands it is thumbs up for value for money. A nice example of good South African wine, made with intention  and vision. A little lack of complexity might be my only note but then it might not have been the intention of the house to look that far. Definitely worth a case of two for the cellar.

Score:  I rate this wine 18.50/20 85/100 (rated as a very good 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

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

HV Wines Tocques & Clocher Terre Oceanique Limoux 2012

It is not very often you encounter a wine from this part of France (except for some bubbly) that truly stands out and takes you by surprise. I was looking to complete a wine list and I wanted to find a wine that was not like any other, although I had surly not Chardonnay in mind, I ended up to put this wine on the wine list without a doubt of disappointment and until this day interestingly it is the number one selling white wine on this list.
Now for those who do not know Limoux very well, let us go back on a journey of discovery and meet this wine from the far south of France.

Limoux finds itself in the department of the Aude situated in the Languedoc. It is about 30 km from Carcassonne very beautiful historic town. It lies at the river Aude which flows from the north to the south. But Limoux is mostly know for its wine and especially for the "Blanguette de Limoux" a sparkling wine, which incidentally is the oldest on record. There are even rumours that Don Perignon worked here for some time before settling in Champagne to further his quest. For a very long time Limoux wines were not very good at all, the blanquette which was its strongest export got huge competition just on the other side of the Pyrenees from the Spaniards. So since some time enormous investment and adaptation has happened to the wines from Limoux. Incidentally it is only since 2003 that we can speak of an AOC Limoux, 
Now the red and white wines are much improved and perfected proof of the wine I am about to introduce. There is new light in the region and it shines pretty bright. 

Key Figures

  1. 1,800 hectares declared aoc
  2. 400 producers
  3. 2 cooperative wineproducers
  4. 24 private wine producers
  5. 8 trade houses 
  6. 40 hectolitres per hectare allowed fro sparkling wine
  7. For the Blanquette de Limoux 40,000hl produced
  8. For the Cremant de Limoux 30,000hl produced 
  9. Blanquette ancestral method 4,000hl produced 
  10. Limoux still wine white 5,000hl produced 
  11. Limoux still wine red 2,800 hl produced
  12. Approximately producing 9 million bottles
  13. General distribution, 25% export 755 domestic 
Toques et Clocher Terre Oceanique 2012 

This wine is distributed and produced by Sieur d'Arques, the house that exist since 1946. They are a collective group of people who are committed to set a high standard and on the same time respect the terroir with great care. The house produces red, white, rose and sparkling. The quantities are limited and so not that easy to find. The Terre Oceanique is pretty unique as its soil and level of the terroir gives this wine some special and remarkable elements. It lays in cool parts of Limoux which is hugely beneficial for the wine and the Chardonnay grape. Chalk is much present helping creating a wine with great freshness, ripeness and body. Sieur d'Arques is a cooperative with about 400 members, Toques et Clocher was created as every year a dinner was hold by a top chef (from there the tocque as the chefs hat in French) and an auction that followed in selling of the wine to gather money to preserve the church bells from several villages in the area (hence clocher, bells). The wine is matured in oak and bears all the hallmarks of a Burgundy style wine.There are several styles of Toques et Clocher, I here find the Terre Oceanique the most pronounced and touching. 
Cost: €11 $13 £9 

Alcohol:  13%

Visual: A warm golden yellow colour appears with beautiful transparency, a great brilliance and good nectar like legs. It is a wine that surely does not feel to be light but its presence is

Nose: White flowers on the nose acacia and linden, followed by ripe juicy fruits, Pears, Melons (cantaloup) little mirabelle plum. Oak appears with hints of toast and spice. warm and fairly intense, elegant and mature.

Palate:  the attack is well groomed and warm, fruity and spiced. balanced and gives a good freshness, holds very well together in the palate, and evolves beautifully throughout finishing with a long lingering with roundness and buttery.

Conclusion: A wine with great aspect and allure, beautifully made with great care and talent. A wine that surely will give you a surprise as one would not expect such a well made wine from this region. An indication that the efforts done 10 years ago towards the wines from Limoux have greatly improved. A great discovery and good value for money.

Score: I rate this wine 18.9/20 89/100 (rated as a very good wine)

Until next time please do drink responsibly. 

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

HV Wines: Bodegas Escorihuela Gascon 1884 Malbec Reserva 2014 Mendoza, Argentina.

It is not often you fall onto a wine that holds all the elements; value for money and quality in a bottle. I discovered this wine from Argentina the other day and was truly amazed how well this was made at the price it was sold for. Just over €10 $12.5 £7.85, I could only decide to buy a case, for several reasons but primarily to let it rest and see how it will evolve. The 2014 Malbec reserve is still very young and I hope that in 5 years time this wine is truly to its full potential!! Of course several factors are needed for that, and it is important as well to know how they made it, as today many new world wines are made to drink immediately and are not necessarily made to lay down and rest.
It has been known for some time now that many new wine palates want to drink a wine right there and then at its best possible potential.

So what does that mean? Many wine makers have the technology now to produce wines that can be accessible faster for consumption so the waiting game isn't needed any more. I for one are not to much in favour of that as it is a natural thing to let wine rest and consume time for it to be able to come around when the time is right for the cork to be pulled and  the wine to be enjoyed. Of course many will say "when is the right time for a wine to be consumed?". Well there again is one of the secrets of those who really enjoy a wine as it all depends on the conditions of how and where you store your wine.

Anyhow lets check this wine........

Mendoza Argentina
Mendoza is the largest wine region in Argentina counting for about 70% of the total Argentinian production. It is also known that the French grape variety Malbec has its new world home here in Argentina, no other country so far has been able to produce such greatness from this grape as Argentina does. Mendoza lays on a high altitude plateau close to the Andes mountain range. Mendoza lies on the Western edge of Argentina across the Andes mountains from Chile. The difference here with Chile is that Chile benefits extra Ocean influence, while Mendoza doesn't. Which does not mean a disadvantage. Mendoza area covers about the size of the State of New-York. Most of the vineyards lay in the Northern part of the province just south of the city of Mendoza. Three regions hold some of the biggest names in Argentinean wines, Lujan de Cuyo, Maipu and Uco Valley.  

Mendoza's wine history is according to the historian almost as old as Argentina itself (speaking in colonial terms here). The first vines were planted by priests of the Catholic church of the Jesuit order in the mid-16th Century and borrowed agricultural techniques from the Incas and the Huarpes. The Malbec grape was introduced around that time by a French agronomist, Miguel Aime Pouget.

Around the 1800's Italian and Spanish immigrants fled the European disaster that was Phylloxera, and installed themselves in Mendoza and really from 1885 a boom in wine production happened when the rail line was finished and so trade was firmly established. Till about 25 years ago Argentina focussed mainly its trade to its domestic market, now you will find all over the world in all top restaurants wines from Argentina. 

The grape varieties here in Argentina are as such, Malbec 48%, Cabernet-Sauvignon 14%, Chardonnay 7%, other Bordeaux blends 5%, 26% others. 

Many of the vineyards are irrigated by the rives running down from the Andes, at such a high altitude (between 800 meters and 1200 meters above sea level), the weather is totally different as many other wine countries and so here they can play much better when to pick their fruit. Irrigation is done with care and attention to create wines with flavour and body, drive and character. It also gives way to potential big production, but many wine makers today are focussing on giving the world high end and classy wines.  

Bodegas Escorihuela Gascon.
In 1880 Miguel Escorihuela Gascon immigrated from Aragon in Spain at the age of 19. He first worked in a liquor store in Buenos Aires, where he encounter for the first time wine from Mendoza. So in 1882 he moved to Mendoza and started in partnership with a grocery store, within 2 years time he was able to buy 17 hectares of land and planted vines. And so the story began, Miguel passed away in 1933 in his home in Mendoza, but the family kept on building the dream. In 1993 Nicolas Catena bought the company and started to invest hugely to bring this house up up standards, which today receives international acclaim for its wines. 

Of course the house has a large family of wines with the Don M.E.G as their top cuvee but today we look at the 1884 Malbec reserve.
1884 reserve Malbec 2014.


Price: €10 $11 £8.5

Alcohol:  13.50%

Visual:  Beautiful dark almost black velvety colour. Intense and powerful, deep and inspiring. Very masculine and deep heavy legs. The wine has a good transparency and seems to hold good in acidity. It is definitely a wine to be noticed. 

Nose:  The first aromas you smell are spices as the wine has been matured in oak (70% French and 30% American), it creates an range of spicy varieties, from black pepper, to sage, thyme, rosemary, passing through the oak varieties, such as cedar, eucalyptus and pine, then little hints of cacao and black fruits appear. A lot happening in the glass. 

Palate: Warm and pretty powerful it attacks the palate with black and red fruits (berries), nicely rounded tannins, which makes it much pleasant to drink but also indicates that this is not really a wine for laying down decades (tannins are important for long life). It fills the palate with much fanfare and music, a wine strong and full of muscle, lingering on for quite some time. 

Conclusion: This is a great discovery and a wine that suits meats to perfection. A joy to drink and make every one around the table pause for a second taking in how well and nicely this wine is made. Looking at the price this is super value for money. 2014 will hold a good 5 years at least but this wine is made to consume pretty much when released. A domain to explore further. Great pleasure this wine was. 

Score:  I rate this wine 18/20 90/100 

Until next time please do drink responsibly  

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

HV Wines: Domain Paul Pillot St Aubin 1er Cru Les Pitangerets 2013, Burgundy France

It is not always easy to find a great Burgundy at a very affordable price, in this I mean between €30 and €50. Although this is already a serious price tag for a white wine, but compared to some white Burgundy of immense great quality and price, this wine in question holds the road pretty well. Now St Aubin has for a long time been the somewhat lesser known fellow next to the very famous Montrachet neighbours. But since the price of the Montrachets getting, well let us be honest very pricey, maybe a little bit less for the Puligny and Chassagne, but the Chevalier, Batard, Griots are already at phenomenal prices. St Aubin suddenly became made its presence noticed with wines from  equally good as a Puligny or Chassagne Montrachet. So who is St Aubin.

St Aubin, Cote D'Or Cote de Beaune
It ticks all the boxes for success, it's situated inside the gold coast of the Beaune part of Burgundy. Interesting enough in its commune boundaries includes also the village of Gamay, where the famous gamay grape comes from which is responsible  for the distinctive Beaujolais wines, even so Beaujolais is much further down towards Lyon. But it is around this village that the best parcels of land are, which make amazing St Aubin's. Although it is far from the well known names in Burgundy, St Aubin is one of Burgundy's top performing wine communes, both in volume and vineyard quality. Almost three quarters of its sites have 1er Cru status. Today nearly 80% of St Aubin wines are white, there was a time it wasn't really so, but due to the huge success of Puligny and Chassagne Montrachet, St Aubin has replant most of its vineyards with Chardonnay, incidentally discovering that the land suits the Chardonnay that bit better then the Pinot, even so there are great St Aubin reds.

St Aubin appellation was introduced in 1937, pretty much at the same time as most of the other communes in the cote d'or.

St Aubin Bourgogne appellation: 

  • Category: village appellation
  • Wine producing region: Vineyard of the Cote de Beaune 
  • Information: appellation village of the Côte de Beaune, region (Côte D'Or). This appellation includes 30 climats classed as 1er Cru. Producing communes are: Saint-Aubin, or Saint Aubin Premier Cru followed by the climate or name of the land/parcel the vines grow on. 
  • Production surface area: whites; 112.95 hectares of which 83.79 hectares in 1er Cru. reds 44.20 hectares of which 33.68 hectares in 1er Cru. 
  • Grapes varieties: whites; Chardonnay. reds; Pinot Noir

Wine Characteristics:

Whites;  St Aubin is the colour of sunshine, with golden highlights whose exact shade varies according to where it is grown and in what year. When young, it combines aromas of white flowers, flint, green almond and orange flower. Richer fragrances come with age; beeswax and honey, marzipan, ambergris and cinnamon. This is a firm and warm, rich wine which with time develops itself into a fuller and even richer complex wine, a wine with potential.

Reds; this wine is dark garnet or crimson colour, with strawberry cheeks. Its aromas are redolent blackcurrant, Morello cherry and blackberry, set of by spicy notes and sometimes hints of mocha. In the mouth is appears a bit fat with silky nuances and a lively finish, with age it adds suppleness, warmth and persistence.

The white grapes are grown on white clays with a high limestone content, the slopes are steep in places and facing an east to south east exposure. The altitude varies between 300 and 350 meters above sea level.

2013 1er Cru Pitangeret; was an average vintage for whites. reds performed better. Overall in France except for Champagne was 2013 not a vintage to cry, alleluia about.

Domaine Paul Pillot, Les Pitangerets, Saint-Aubin 1er Cru. 2013
Domaine Paul Pillot Les Pitangerets, Saint-Aubin Premier Cru, France
As with most families in Burgundy, they own land in several communes. The Pillot family started in 1900 with the grand father Jean Baptiste who was at the time also a barrel maker by trade, the sons then took over Alphonse and Henri and focussed firmly on producing well-made wines, but it was only when Paul, Henri's son took over that the wines truly became of age and style. Now Paul's son Thierry goes even further in trying to avoid too much intervention and work together with the terroir and demand of the vine. The wines of Paul Pillot today are of true craftsmanship, with 13 hectares under vine as much as in Montrachet as Saint-Aubin, this is a domain with a strong future and for those who like to discover a still affordable Burgundy a must to meet. 

Price: €36 $39 £28

Grape: 100% Chardonnay

Visual: A beautiful goldish yellow colour, shines warmth and richness, although that the vintage is not amongst the best years, you can see here that hard work is ploughed into this wine, its brilliance is perfect and its acidity is well present. Its presence is not a shy one and maturity is definitely noticeable. 

Nose: A good and imposing aroma of white fleshy fruits (peach, pear) is giving introduction, followed by spices and oak, it comes over as rich and opulent. youth is still well present and the wine gives signs of some time to come. It has a good strong attack on the nose and the fruits are pretty pure and clean. 

Palate: Rich is sure an understatement, even so the vintage is not a prime, it fills the palate nicely with fruits and spice, oily and buttery, it lingers on for a good while and ends with softness. with the acidity and aromas well balanced, indicates that this wine will live for another 5 years for sure (stored in the right conditions of course). It creates elegance and status, a wine with good craft and identity.  

Conclusion: Well as for those who like their white Burgundies, here is one sure to take note of, price wise still well in budget for most and the wine itself has a beautiful soul and warm beating heart. In this wine you do enjoy the class of one of the most famous regions in the world of wine and a vision of a winemaker that is truly well on the way to set his wines a level higher. Great subtle, elegant and enjoyable, yes a great Burgundy. 

Score:  I rate this wine 18.5/20 85/100 (rated as a very good wine)

Until next time please do drink responsibly.