Friday, 27 October 2017

Chateau Lestage Listrac-Medoc 2010

These days you encounter from Bordeaux more and more wines from the lesser known appellations, this time it is Listrac-Medoc. Here the price for the wines is also very interesting as they are affordable and good,so all the reason to have a look into this appellation.

Today I want to explore Chateau Lestage Grand Vin Listrac-Medoc 2010.


Listrac-Medoc had already in the 18th Century a renown reputation, which then derailed somewhat to come back in strength in the twentieth century. This appellation finds itself in the Haut-Medoc district of Bordeaux. In 1913 is Listrac with its 1380 hectares one of the most important wines communes in the Medoc. With the great difficulties the world was facing in the 1920's, Listrac-Medoc suffered without exception and it is then that in 1935 the great cellar Listrac was born (cooperative), a regroupment of 25 winemakers as together they would stand stronger against the difficult times ahead. Today they have grown to around a forty winemakers and exporting their wines the world around.

The AOC Listrac came to light in 1957, thanks to a few hard working gentlemen making sure that their wines are received and reviewed as high end quality wines and the AOC Listrac-Medoc helped confirming that. Today Listrac-Medoc is part of the six communes (St-Julien, Margaux, Pauillac, St-Estephe and Moulis) in the  Medoc with an identity and personality known the world over.  

Sitting between Moulis and St-Julien, Listrac is seen as the roof of the Medoc at a height of 43 meters above sea level. There are three outcrops of Pyrenean gravel on the west, some Garonne gravel to the east and central plain limestone making up the variety of identities Listrac offers. The natural slopes help to drain the soil well. The relatively coolness of the  climate, together with its windy situation and proximity to forest favours even ripening, which is a plus factor for the appellation. Here Cabernet-Sauvignon is king as the terroir favours the qualities of this grape in general.


Hectares: 422 hectares

Production: 2.500.000 million bottles

Winegrowers: 55 wine growers (26 independent wine growers and 29 in cooperative cellars)

Age potential: 3 to 30 years

Chateau Lestage 2010

Chateau Lestage has been in the Chanfreau family for 50 years. The family-owned vineyards covers 42 hectares in the commune of Listrac-Medoc and 9 hectares in the commune of Moulis en Medoc. The vines grow at the highest point of the Medoc, the Puy de Mejon at an altitude of 43 meters. Chateau Lestage is a fairly impressive Napoleon III building to the plans of architect Minvieille in 1870 and is based at the heart of the vineyard.

The terroir of Chateau Lestage contains mainly of Pyrenees gravel on the plateau, with clay-limestone and Marl on the slopes. This specific terroir led us to favors the merlot variety, with grapes, that help enhance the blend on this type of soil.
As the chateau is at the center of the vines, the grapes arrive quick and in perfect shape at the winery, equipped with thermo-regulated concrete vats from different sizes. Besides the winery is another space with up 1000 wooden barrels stored for the wine to age and mature.

Grapes: 56% Merlot 40% Cabernet Sauvignon 4% Petit Verdot

Alcohol: 13%

Price: €15 $17 £13

Visual: Deep ruby red color, intensity of the color 4 out of 5; a very good transparency, brilliance is shiny, a very masculine expression intense and warm, mature and inviting.

Nose: A pronounced nose, striking with black and red fruits followed by spices, cedar and thuya, tiny bit alcohol, blackberries blueberries jump up in constant flow. a nose well worked at and oozing a classic Bordeaux character.

Palate: The attack is descent, with dry tannins still somewhat tight, a medium body, mid-palate holds well with fruits playing the palate, balance sits good between acidities and aromas, the wine feels dry and the length is medium long.

Conclusion: This was truly a very pleasant surprise and great value for money, a very good alternative for the wallet and very enjoyable, the work is done with care and the wine can hold the ranks, surely one for the cellar.  The label is what simple lacking a bit richness as whats in the bottle is surely better then what the label might make you believe.

Score: I rate this wine at 18.9:20 89:100 (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, 25 October 2017

Dominique Guyon Haut Cotes de Nuits Les Dames de Vergy 2014, a natural talent

It is surely not so often that you meet a Burgundian Pinot Noir worthy of its value (€15 $18 £13). As we know Burgundy wines are not among the two buck chuck criminals, not that I consider a Burgundy a criminal, but a wine produced at a price so low, I always ask myself, "who makes this, who are the buyers, who sells this wine and who consume it?". Amongst those low budget wines, the majority shouldn't even hit the shelves, but then sadly these wines are not made to enjoy or drink even, they are made for those in need of alcohol.

I would see no problem if those wines would be banned, yes I can hear the argument already, what about those jobs? Well for most working at that level, are not paid honest/ fair anyway, and if they can find a job in this section of the market they can surely find a new one in another section. No university degrees are asked for the positions these candidates have to fill in. I can see that some would find this very harsh, but those mega productions are surely not kind to the hand an soul working for them. It's profit, profit, profit above all, so the ones seeing corners cut, are not the ceo's, the board of members neither the shareholders.

Anyhow let us come back to the beauty that is wine, real wine I even call it. Wine made by passion, love, respect and devotion.

Hautes Cotes de Nuits Burgundy

Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits is an appellation for red, white and yes also rose wines, it is rare but some do produces rose wine. The appellation is spread out over 20 communes on the cote D'Or. These vineyards are on the higher hills, from there Haute Cote (higher hill), then their somewhat more prestigious neighbors below with their 23 Grand Cru appellation from Cote de Nuits. 

90% of the wines produced are red wines, on a stretch of 675 hectares of land, the 10% left over is for the white and tiny bit rose. The vineyards are all along on a terroir of limestone and marl,  on an altitude between 300 and 350 meters. The climate plays a vital role here as the temperatures varies up to 5 degrees then the vineyards from cote de nuits, the nights here are much colder here then those of cote de nuits. The vines are planted south to south west facing, often here the grapes have a bit more difficult to develop and reach their ultimate potential then the cote de nuits, so the wines from hautes cotes de nuits are in general less flavored and complex then their famous neighbor. 

Domaine Antonin Guyon

In the sixties, Antonin Guyon then aged 55, buys plots of vineyards in a range of appellations covering the two hills from Gevrey-Chambertin to Meursault.  After great efforts his son Dominique manages to bring in the 1970 some 350 plots together, belonging to almost 80 different owners from the commune of Meuilley in the Hautes Cote de Nuits. 54 acres (21 hectares), facing south. Today the two brothers look after the winemaking of more then 15 different appellations. 

Dom. Antonin Guyon Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits, Les Dames de Vergy 2014.

Appellation: Hautes-Cotes-de-Nuits

Grape: Pinot noir 100%

Terroir: Limestone, clay soil

Harvest: Hand picked

Alcohol:  12.5%

Ageing: half in oak barrels and half in oak vats. 

Price:  €15 $18 £13 average ex tax

Visual: A light ruby red color appears when pouring, looking young, attractive and lively, the color intensity is about 3 out of 5, the limpidity is perfect or limpid, a very good transparency, thin legs, its brilliance is brilliant, a beautiful, elegant and seductive presence in the glass.

Nose: The nose is predominately fruity with red cherries at first followed by red currants and black berries to finish it off, there little hints of undergrowth and flurries of oak. A balance that sits well and not to overpowering actually a bit more pronounced would have been very welcome.

Palate: The wine is light bodied and delightful, a good freshness overwhelms the palate, then fruits arrive red fruits, mid palate sits the wine good with a well set balance between aromas and acidities, the structure carries the wine very well, the length is good and lingers for a long time.

Conclusion:  It is not so often that you encounter a Pinot from Burgundy at this price with this quality, a domain that burst of talent, and a range to make your mouth water, here without a doubt is a house that knows extremely well how to make wine and is still and I hope for as long as possible affordable. Truly a house do discover for those who do not know it yet

Score:  I rate this wine 19/20 90/100 (rated as a excellent 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.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Castello D'Alba Vinhas Velhas Grand Reservas Douro 2014 Portugal

This wine got my attention because my confusion laid with the name Castello D'Alba in Portugal, although Alba is in Piedmont Italy. I had the choice of three wines from this house, so I took the old vines 2014 cuvee their prestige cuvee, should be top ?

Douro Portugal
Unmistakably the reigning region from Portugal, here the Douro river plays a vital role in the appellation. It is often called the enchanted valley due to its beauty and magical landscape. The valley ends in Porto where the Douro river flows into the sea.

Porto the world over known for its dark licorice drink that has a enormous ageing potential, Porto that is, has besides that other gems made in Portugal some stunning red and white wines that reach these days more and more attention from all corners of the globe. The Douro is one of the wildest most mountainous and rugged wine region of Portugal. The region is cut into three sections Baixo Corgo, Alto Corgo, Douro Superior.

The steeps slopes along the river are a challenge for every winemaker but the vines planted in poor schistous soil thrive here with outstanding marks. In the center of the region, the historic, narrow, stone-wall terraces vines terraces have been classified as UNESCO World Heritage.

The Douro river starts from the Spanish border, and is about 897 kilometers long. The region is protected thanks to the Serra do marao (a mountain range), from the Atlantic influences, here we talk especially the winds. A great difference in climate from east to west, on the east side a more luscious landscape,  while to the west it's almost desert-like. The region where most of the vineyards are set are in Baixo Corgo, here the climate stands in favor for the local indigenous grapes, such as; Tinta Roziz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cao.

The style of wines Douro offers are from light fruity, fresh, to dense deep, powerful and complex, wines that for some have a good ageing potential.

Castello d'Alba Douro

When you search for this wine house then you will have trouble finding it as it stands under the name Rui Madeira wines. This man is supervising quite a few vineyards which is always questionable, not many can really control the identity of a terroir without adding to much of their style and ways. There are some examples out there of flying winemakers, where you recognize to much the identity of the winemaker and not the terroir. This wine is produced in his winery in Sao Joao da Pesqueira, selected from the best parts of the vineyards in the upper Douro. Castello d'Alba was the first wine this winemaker launched in 2000, trying to reflect his experience and his vision of Douro wines. His motto is; 'putting together cutting edge wine making with native grape varieties, creating its own modern and innovative style'. Much about this brand is not really revealed or known, so I always my thoughts a bit aside till I taste the wine. The wine I choose to taste is the old vine red

Castello d'Alba Vinhas Velhas Douro 2014

So according to the facts is this the only wine house that can use Alba outside Italy due to its historic links with the past, although that the Italians fought it long and hard, but had to accept that their ancestors the Romans had during a certain period in history settlements in Portugal.

I chose the top cuvee in red from this domain, as I would understand pretty much immediately how well this man makes his wines. This wine has matured for 18 months in used and new French oak barrels. The grapes come from the Douro Superior at a level of 350 meters above sea level, from vines of more than 40 years old planted on terraces with predominantly exposure east/ north.
The grapes are hand picked, de-stemming at reception in the winery, fermentation in huge 18 ton vats with maceration at a temperature around 26 degrees. Then aged for 18 months in oak.

Grapes; Touriga Nacional, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Roziz, Touriga Franca and Souzao.

Alcohol; 14%

Price; €14.25 $16.75. £12.70 average on the market ex taxes

Visual; A medium purple color, with a certain intensity of 4 out of 5, the brilliance is brilliant, limpidity crystalline, legs are thick and heavy running very slow, this wine expresses a strong masculine identity, strong and mature.

Nose; A nose somewhat discreet due to the quite strong presence of alcohol, the fruits I detect are black and red cherries, herbs like thyme and spices not entirely clear, I catch here and there some pepper and out of the blue some blackcurrant making an entrance but not overconfident.

Palate; The attack is not impressive and the body even feels medium, there is an astringency very much from the start, mid palate unstable and uneven, red fruits and tannins are weak, short lingering, the alcohol burn your gums and this wine is medium ,dry.

Conclusion; I was somewhat disappointed is an understatement, I expected more from this top cuvee and felt that maybe this gentleman who I trust knows how to make wine missed the click here. That moment where you feel you are entirely dropped into Portugal's style and character, recognizing the ID of the region. I feel that with all these grapes the wine is lost and confused, result in under performance and does not do justice to its position in the ranks. Alcohol on the nose is a pure no no here, we need really to control this and I know it is not always easy but other wines can do it so all wines could do it to. I found it disappointing.

Score; I rate this wine 16.7/20 67/100 (rated as a fair 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 do drink responsibly.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Pittnauer Pitti 2015 Burgenland Austria

Austria is not always the first wine country one would mention when asked but it is growing in popularity and quality value for money. I have come across this wine by pure coincidence and it was served slightly chilled and it hit me in the right tone, very pleasant, fruity, fresh, with good structure.
Pitti from Pittnauer is one to talk about.

Grape vines existed well over sixty million years ago. During the post glacial warm period (10,000-5,000 years ago), the vines made their way along the river Danube up towards the northern west parts of Europe. Homo sapiens discovered and cultivated the same wild vine we know today as being the common European grape vine.

 700 BC. The Celts and most probably their Illyrian predecessors begin to cultivate the vine in a primitive form and vitis vinifera grape pips dating from, the Hallstatt cultural period, were discovered in former Celtic dwellings in the wine-producing village of Zagersdorf in Burgenland. In lower Austria, further evidence of grape pips dating from the Bronze Age also suggest that vines were cultivated in the Traisental region, as well as, at this time in Stillfried and the March in the Weinviertel.

1BC, the Romans start extensive planting of grape vines and cultivation of the vine reaches our latitude, with evidence found along and around the river Danube, as well as close to the Neusiedlersee, Sudburgenland and in the region of Carnuntum in Lower Austria and Flavia Solva in Sudsteiemark.

AD276-282, Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Probus repeals Emperor Domitian's ban on vine planting north of the Alps. AD 795, Karl der Grobe, or Charlemagne, issued his "Capitulare de Villis", which gave detailed information on viticulture, vines and wine law.

10th-12th In this century the Cistercians introduce Burgundian viticulture methods into Austria via the stift Heiligenkreuz and Freigut Thallern monasteries in Thermenregion. Meanwhile, Bavarian dioceses and abbeys settling along the Danube, begin to clear and cultivate the river and tributaries, building vineyard terraces in Warchau.

1170, Vienna enjoys a viticultural boom after the house Babenberg is relocated to the capital city.

1359, Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, declares a 10% wine tax, known as the "Ungeld" and introduces laws in favour of landlords and imposes an array of tolls allowing towns and territorial princes to charge for the transit and import wines.

1524 Queen Maria of Hungary granted the vintners from the town of Rust the privilege of branding a capital 'R' onto their casks, as an early from of Protected Designation of Origin.

17th Century, production of wine curbs due to religious conflict, the siege of the Turks, high taxation and the upturn in beer production.

18th Century, Maria Theresia (reigned from 1740
 to 1780) and her son Jospeh II (reigned from 1780 to 1790) revitalise viticulture and during this period, renovation and research into the cultivation of vines and wines begins.

1784, The Josephinische Zirkularverordnung decree of 17 August 1784 allowes every person to serve and sell own produce, including wine, at any time of the year and at whatever given price. This is the beginning of the famous Buschenschank legislation, and the first step towards the 'Heurigen' and 'Buschenschqnken' in Austria.

1860, Baron August Wilhelm von Babo, found the first viticultural and oenology school and research center in Klosterneuburg.

1907, the first Austrian wine law is enforced, listing what is permitted by law and prohibiting the fabrication of artificial wines.

1922, Professor Friederich Zweigelt, creates Austrian's most significant new variety; the Blauer Zweigelt.

1986, the Austrian Wine Marketing Board is established, to specifically promote the image and sales of Austrian wines.

Pittnauer Burgenland

Gerhard Pittnauer was given the reigns of the vineyards in the mid-80 after his father suddenly died. At the age of 18, he had to train himself in all aspects wine, while Austria was going through a massive scandal (1985 diethylene glycol scandal). Fascinated by the world of grape he was notably a fast learner, and realizing the terroir he held, he decided to use indigenous grapes  to express the true identity of his location. Holding 15 hectares of which half is owned and half is rented, he and his wife Brigitte, were able to follow the trail of their vision and inspiration till they found the true communication their grapes were trying to reach. They crafted what they call "living wines", nothing is rushed as they try to obtain the ultimate and perfection, using the healthiest grapes, starting on the vine and ending in the bottle. They are constant open to experiment but not to the deterioration of the wines, in 2001 they build the winery in the middle of the vineyard, so the grape has little disturbance from vine to cellar. In 2014 was he awarded Vintner of the year, by Falstaff Magazine.

Pittnauer Pitti Burgenland 2015

This wine is their somewhat entry level wine, if i may call it that way. Cultivated from 10 to 15 year old vines on a sandy, silt and limestone soil (so a dynamic/energetic wine I feel). The grapes are undergoing a vineyard sorting, followed by a 14 to 18 day maceration and then a spontaneous maceration in stainless steel tanks, with natural yeast lasting four days. Aged for six months in stainless steel tanks with a rough filtration before bottling.

Grapes:  Zweigelt 50%, Blaufrankisch 40% and Merlot 10%

Alcohol:  13%

Price: €12 £11 $15

Visual: A pale ruby color appears in the glass, with a color intensity of 2 out of 5, the brilliance is sparkling, limpidity is optimal limpid, looks young, fresh, alive, energetic, legs fairly thick, a handsome teenager a metrosexual.

Nose: The attack on the nose is very present, a fruity nose, cherries,  red and black fruits, young plum, little alcohol on the nose, fresh and seductive.

Palate: The attack is fresh and fruity, light body,  dry and tight tannins but a bit obscure, mid palate delicate, soft, with medium lingering, end feel dry gums.

Conclusion: A very pleasant discovery and very good standard, the wine will be even better served slightly chilled, a domain that works towards and aiming for a true identity, the philosophy behind this wine is well aimed, for easy everyday drinking. a domain I certainly want to discover more off.

Score:  I rate this wine 18.2/20 82/100 (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.