Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Fattoria Carpineta Fontalpino, Tuscany, Italy

So often in recent years  when a Chianti was presented (at a reasonable price ) the outcome was more of a disappointement then a jump for joy. I have been on the look for a Chianti classico for quite some time until this Fontalpino came along.

Please do not get me wrong Italy produces fantastic wines and world class, but as in all renowned wine producing countries there are the good  the bad and the very ugly. Let us have a look at the DOCG Chianti.

Chianti classico
Chianti classico is the oldest and most genuine area in the Chianti region, it holds 7 sub-zones, each one producing a Chianti with a specific name and label. The region stretches between Florence and Sienna including 14 municiplalities; Greve in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Barberino Val d'Elsa, San Cascino in Val di Pesa and Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Castelnuovo Berardenga and Poggibonsi as the most important. We all recognize a Chianti by its Black Rooster label. Legend has that in the 13th century Florence and Siena decided to use a horse race to end their land dispute over Chianti. The meting point of two knights, who had left respectively from Florence and Siena when the rooster sang at dawn, would mark the new borders of their territories.

The Florentines selected a black rooster and kept it for a few days in a box with no food. On the day of the race, when they took the roosters out of the box, he sang much earlier than dawn. Thus the Florentine knight left before the Sienese rider, meeting him only 20 km from Siena walls. Since then the black rooster has been the symbol of Chianti, first of the Chianti league in the 13th century and then of the Chianti Classico Consortium. A lovely story to a region that has been in the move for over 2000 years, as the fertile soil gave way to many different cultures and wine is one of them.

What makes it Chianti
Chianti Classico is a DOCG wine and shows unique peculiarities and characteristics. It is not enough to be produced within the Chianti region to be called a "Classico". There are specific rules, its blend must contain 80% of Sangiovese grape, this is the dominant grape of the region, and 20% of other grapes which are native grapes such as Canaiolo and Colorino and since some time Cabernet-Sauvignon and Merlot.
The characteristics are limpid ruby red color, floral notes on the nose, on the palate harmonious dry and sapid flavor and a minimum of 12° degrees alcohol by volume. Of course there are the talents of the winemaker and how he works his wine which brings out the beauty in these wines.

Facts Chianti Classico

Region:  Tuscany

History:  Established as a subzone of the Chianti DOC in 1967, which became a DOCG in 1984, Chianti Classico became a separate DOCG in 1996

Vineyard surface: 7200 hectares / 17800 acres

Production: 278,000 hl / 3,090,000 cases (last count 2016)

Principal red grape varieties: Sangiovese

Styles and wine composition
  • Rosso  minimum 80% sangiovese 
  • Riserva minimum 80% sangiovese 
  • Gran Selezione minimum 80% sangiovese 
Significant production rules
  •  Maximum vineyard elevation 700m (2,300 ft) 
  • Grape for Gran Selezione can be harvested only from the winery's own vineyards
  • Minimum alcohol level: 12% for Rosso, 12.5% for Riserva, 13% for Gran Selzione
  • Residual sugar: Maximum 4g/l (0.4%)
  • Aging: For Rosso, minimum approx 1 year, for Riserva minimum 24 months, including 3 months in bottle, Gran Selezione, minimum 30 months, including 3 months in bottle. 
Fattoria Carpineta

The Carpineta Fontalpino vineyard has been owned by the Crest family since 1960 and there are traces of the wine producing traditions dating back to the beginning of the past century (1800).

The winery is located in the heart of Tuscany, very close to the splendid city of Siena and the historical municipality of Castelnuovo Berdadenga in Montaperti where  took place the famous battle between Siena and Florence in September 1260.

The property extends to about 80 hectares and present various cultivar. The area where the vines are planted is about 28 hectares of specialized vines, sub-divided into grape types of Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and other experimental vines (Petit Verdot, Alicante...)
The production areas are Chianti Classico and Colli Senesi.
The name which has never changed, comes from a historical area, where we fnd Carpineta (a spot where we find trees with silver backed leaves, typical for the area) and Fontalpino (the fount with the pine trees of Montaperti).
This domain lays in the hands of brother and sister Cresti (Gioia and Filippo). Gioia is oenologiste and responsible for all the production, from grape to bottle. Filippo is the commercial and development director .
The terroir is made out of mixed clay, sand, supported by a good rocky layer and are a an altitude ranging from 230 to 380 meters above sea level. The density of the vines is between 2600 plants per ha to 6600 plants per ha. The vines are grown in spurred cordon and simple Guyot style. The average age of the vines is about 25 years.

Fattoria Carpineta Fontalpino 2015

Grape: 100% Sangiovese

Price: €21 $23 £18 average ex tbw

Alcohol: 13.5%

Visual: a medium red color appears when pouring, its color intensity is about 3.5 out of 5, its brilliance is luminus, its limpidity is transparent, the legs are medium heavy and running down fairly quick, this wines expressed masculinity, dressed in a dapper polished cut suit, ready to impress, very seductive.

Nose: the attack on the nose is well present, spices and black fruits are noticeble, cherries, blakberries thuya and pine in the wooden notes, a good complexity and a continuous present of the different aroma's.

Palate: The attack is well set, with a medium heavy body, healthy tannins, still young, balance between acidity and aroma's is good, the wine holds well and lingers on for  long time.

Conclusion: This is a Chiant Classico with structure and complexity, a Chianto Classico very well made and priced at very good value. A house that makes very good wine, and thrives to be among the best in the production of Chianto Classico.

Score: I rate this wine at 18.8/20 88/100 (rated as a very good wine)

Until next time please do drink responsibly. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Herdade do Mouchao Dom Rafael Alentejo Portugal

The Portugal tendency is growing in many places, as if they have discovered new found wineland... although Portugal as a wine nation is very, very old. Wine is sacred for them and is first of all made because for their love for cooking, grapes were growing everywhere as clean healthy drinking water was not really around, wine was the perfect alternative. Of course as in all European wine producing countries at the time the wine was more of a sugar bomb them the dry, refined, elegant, characterful wines we know today.

This red wine from Herdade do Mouchao is another novelty in my discovery of Portuguese wines so first a refresh on the Alentejo region.


A region not so well known, (compared do Douro) but it is well in the up regarding wine making, well more in the spotlight should I say. The region lays to the south of the country, from Lisbon downwards towards Faro and the Algarve. The region covers about one third of the country, and according to the rumors the other two thirds often complain about the popularity of the Alentejo wines. I must be honest and although I am a fan of Portuguese wines and always open to discover, I haven't heard to much about this region in connection with wine. But as Portugal is open to explore I am all ears and lips to learn and taste.

The region has a long history as there are still sign of the Dolmens, Cromlech. Arab and Roman culture, remnants can be seen all over the region. Sign of live from the past, medieval castle to make a statement. To the northeast of the region (towards Spain) are beautiful towns and castles, making up the Rota dos Castelos or the castle route, Portalegre is a very well known town in the region. One of the most beautiful towns in the land finds itself towards the south of Alentejo "Evora" here the landscape is more open and flatter, but what about the vines?

Well first of all this region is mostly known for its red wines, climate does not really permit for whites to flourish beautifully only a handful apparently (haven't come across), with the right skills and the ideal location.

Alentejo has 8 sub regions; Portalegre, Borba, Evora, Redondo, Reguengos, Granja-Amareleja, Vidigueira, Moura. Here it gets really hot during the summer so it is a challenge to keep sugar under control and acidity alive. But thanks to evolution and trials and error from the past, there are some interesting wines emerging, still there is a lot that does not hold the road.
Besides their wines, this region is also known for its cork, it is here that the best corks are made and they have plenty of it as the population here isn't as dense as more up north around porto. Portugal has a population of about 10.4 million people, it almost 3 times bigger then Belgium and Belgium has 11.2 million people.

The grape varieties used here are predominately, Aragonez (Tempranillo), Castelao, Trincadeira and since late there has been the introduction of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

In all Alentejo has been a key region in the renaissance of the Portuguese wine in the last few decades.

Herdade do Mouchao, Alentejo

The story began back in 1824, when Thomas Reynolds returns from Porto  and founds the company " Thomas Reynolds and Son", dedicated to the export of Port, Olive oil, wool and cork, before moving definitely to the Alentejo region to dedicate himself exclusively to the cork business.  

Mid nineteen century the Reynolds lease Herdade do Mouchao, the 900 hectares estate was initially to supply cork, a business stared by his grandfather. The family planted then several plots of vines and in 1901 a traditional winery was build. It is thought that John Reynolds was the first to have imported the Alicante Bouchet vine from France, of which Mouchao is now known for its red fleshy variety. The vineyards cover 38 hectares and are planted in different plots. 5 wines are made by this house, we will discover the Dom Rafael 2015.

Dom Rafael 2015 Herdade do Mouchao

The Dom Rafael Tinto is sourced from old Aragonez, Trincadeira, Castelao, and Alicante Bouchet vines from the estate. The grapes are handpicked and are foot trodden then fermented in open lagares, same winemaking method used for more than a century. The wines are aged in oak barrels (not new) for about 12 months. 

Grape: 40% aragonez, 29% alicante bouchet, 31% trincadeira

Price: €9 $12 £10 average ex tax 

Alcohol: 14% 

Visual: A medium dark ruby color appears when pouring, a color intensity of 3.75 out of 5, the legs are medium thick, its transparency is crystalline its brilliance bursting, the wine appears young and masculine, fresh and energetic,   

Nose: earthy dark fruits, currants, blackberries, black cherries, hints of oak, wet wood, little alcohol disturbance, hints of cardamon. 

Palate: The attack is fresh and lively, dry with a medium body, mid palate sits the balance between aromas and acidities fair, it lingers on respectfully, with black fruits tints. 

Conclusion: A very interesting discovery especially in its price category, very well set, a wine that is correctly made and a house bringing grapes to the table other  then the usual suspect gives a fresh breeze and a pleasant change. Surely in the better category, a good example of well made Portuguese wines. 

Score: I rate this wine 17.5/20 75/100 (rated as a good wine)

Until next time please do drink responsibly. 

Friday, 28 September 2018

Chateau Larruau 2012 Margaux France

Ah Margaux, when only the name is mentioned pretty much every one thinks of the iconic legend and one of Bordeaux's most adored. Yes, sadly for many of us it has become more of a dream than actually a reality. But of course Margaux does not just comprise of one single wine, it is after all also an appellation in the Medoc on the right bank of the Bordeaux wine hierarchy.  Many great wines comes from this appellation, big names as Palmer, Giscours, D'Issan, Malescot St Exupery, Marquis de Terme, Lascombes, Rauzan - Gassies, Rauzan - Segla - Dufort Vivens - Kirwan.
The one I want to talk about today Chateau Larruau is a Crus Bourgeois. Yes, very much unknown I must admit as I haven't heard of this wine since very recent actually. But first a little fast course in Margaux

It is often said that Margaux is the most famous appellation of the Medoc some even say of the whole of Bordeaux. It is also the only appellation that has a Premier Grand Cru with the same name and female as well. Yes, very few have rarely be disappointed when drinking a Margaux. The appellation holds 21 cru classe properties from the 1855 classification (one of which has only be revised once in 1973 when Mouton Rothschild went from a second Grand cru classe to a First Grand cru Classe, I honestly think that it is high time this classification is re-classified but that might be a wish to far)

Located in the Gironde estuary, and sheltered from the ocean winds by the huge pine forest the vines benefit from an ideal climate, mild winters, plenty of sunshine and summers that are dry, a terroir that benefits of beautiful gravel, vestiges of alluvial terraces eroded over thousands of years with under layers of limestone, clay and silt. A meager soil that is paradoxically a wealth for wine growers. Interesting to this is that the gravel soil is not that deep which leaves the vines susceptible to drought and so hot summers are not ideal for the Margaux appellation, years such as 1982 and 1990 were not the best for them although these are exceptional vintages overall for Bordeaux.

Margaux has about 1,400 hectares of vines and produces about 63,000 hl of red wine, only exceptionally a tiny percentage of wine is produced in white, the pavillon blanc the Margaux
Margaux comprises of five communes; Arsac, Labarde, Cantenac, Margaux and Soussans

The dominant grape varieties in Margaux are; Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere

Medoc classification 1855 Margaux.


  • Chateau Margaux

  • Chateau Rauzan-Segla
  • Chateau Rauzan-Gassies
  • Chateau Dufort-Vivens
  • Chateau Lascombes
  • Chateau Brane-Cantenac


  • Chateau Kirwan
  • Chateau d'Issan
  • Chateau Giscours
  • Chateau Malescot St Exupery
  • Chateau Boyd-Cantenac
  • Chateau Cantenac Brown
  • Chateau Palmer
  • Chateau Desmirail
  • Chateau Ferriere
  • Chateau Marquis d'Alesme Becker 

  • Chateau Pouget
  • Chateau Prieure-Lichine
  • Chateau Marquis de Terme


  • Chateau Dauzac
  • Chateau du Tertre

Chateau Larruau

Chateau Larruau is a Crus Bougeois Medoc, the domain is situated in the commune of Margaux, and holds 12 hectares of vine today. In 1971 Bernard Chateau bought parcels of vines but it was only in 1980 that Chateau Larruau was properly introduced to the market. 
The parcels are planted with Cabernet-Sauvignon and Merlot in approximately from the famous Chateau Margaux itself. The Chateau produces a single wine, the Chateau is known in inner circles as a wine of great quality and right in its price bracket. The Chateau produces about 70,000 bottles, with a blend in general of 55% Cabernet-Sauvignon and 45% Merlot.

Chateau Larruau 2012 Crus Bourgeois.

Grape: 55% Cabernet-Sauvignon 45% Merlot

Alcohol: 12.5%

Price:  €29 $34 £26 average ex tax 

Visual: A deep ruby red color present itself when poured in the glass, a color intensity of 4 out of 5, its brilliance is luminous, and its limpidity is transparent, the legs are fairly thick, the wine has a definite masculine appearance, with elegance and warm intentions, seductive and neat.

Nose: when smelling you are immediately overwhelmed with beautiful fruits and layers of spice and oak, a harmonious balance, red and black fruits as blackberries, currants, dried raisins, many flurries of cedar wood, little cacao and coffee, aromas that are clear and neat.

Palate: the attack feels fresh with a medium body, soft, round, structured, mid palate well set together acidity and aromas complete each other, a smooth lingering and last fairly long, the dark fruits pop all along the journey.

Conclusion: although that this wine is just a crus bourgeois it is one of the best crus bourgeois I have tasted and deserves more credit, here is a wine that definitely affordable and will be immensely enjoyed with juice red meats even a glass on its own will certainly not disappoint you. For those who love their Margaux's but can not always slam huge amounts on the counter, this wine is a very good alternative, good value for money.

Score:  I rate this wine at 19/20 90/100 (rated as an 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 tile please do drink responsibly. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Bodega Tapiz Chardonnay Alta Collection 2014 Argentina

Here in Europe Argentinian wines have become the norm, everywhere you look (chops, restaurants, supermarkets) Argentina is represented and rightfully so. There is a house I hopefully in the near future will blog about, as it simply class and right up there as what's best from Argentina.

This time I go back to Tapiz in Mendoza, and there white Chardonnay Alta collection. It is for sure that Mendoza is the star region in Argentina, the vast majority of wines comes from there, in general red is roaming the fame but surely some whites are catching up.  When searching well you can and will find some absolute gems that are worthy the cash you will pay for it, as there are these days wines that reach heights of some well established Bordeaux's .

Mendoza region.
The first grapevines arrived in South America via Peru (apparently) in the middle of the 16th Century, down to Chile then landed in Argentina in 1551. Quickly was there the realization that this land was fertile for vine growing. The first vineyards in Mendoza were cultivated between 1569 and 1589, and Mendoza characterized by an arid desert, has been transformed into a large productive oasis. By 1600 Mendoza was producing a significant quantity of wine that it began to explore new horizons where it could locate its wines. Of course first there were the neighboring countries then followed Spain and England. Of course these days their big exported is the United States of America. 

Today Mendoza produces more then 70% of the wine made in Argentina, with more than 150.000 hectares (371.00 acres) of vineyards and logically possesses the large amount of wineries in the country. 

Mendoza's regions

  • Central Region geographically located in the north of the province, with zones such as Alta del Rio Mendoza (The Mendoza river highlands) , East and North and occupies the departments of Maipu, Lujan de Cuyo, Santa Rosa, San Martin, Rivadavia, Lavalle, Guamalien, Godoy Cruz and Las Heras. 
  • Altitude 800 to 1100 meters above sea level, soils are predominately, alluvial and possesses pebbly subsoil, along sediments of  sand, lime, clay and poor organic matter. 

  • The Uco Valley Region, this region includes the departments of Tunuyan, Tupungato and San Carlos.  Here many of the lands is cultivated between 850 and 1400 meters above sea level. 
  • Altitude 850 to 1700 meters above sea level, soil is rocky with low fertility, which is mixed with thick sand and some silt. Thanks to their physical conditions these soils permeable without any drainage or salinity issue. Some ares are totally limestone.

  • South Region, this region includes the departments of de San Rafael and General Alvear. 
  • Altitude 500 to 800 meters, soils are mostly rocky, loose and immature. its saline pressence is caused by the aridity of the region. 
Grape varieties in Mendoza

Malbec with 48% vineyard coverage
Cabernet Sauvignon with 14% vineyard coverage
Chardonnay with 7% vineyard coverage
Bordeaux red blends with 5% vineyard coverage 
Rare red blend with 4% vinetard coverage 
Cabernet sauvignon - Malbec 3% vineyard coverage 
Pinot Noir with 2% vineyard coverage 
others with 17% vineyard coverage

Bodega Tapiz 

This bodega is part of a group, here in this case 3 wineries in total. Tapiz, Zolo and Atlantic Patagonia. It was around the turn of century that this house came to live, with a clear vision; to produce top quality wines by protecting the environment and regional culture (not sure what this has to do with wine making). This 100% family business, aims as much on producing top wines out of their 8 vineyards. This is a vineyard that aims at wine tourism big time, as you can dine, sleep and taste. Patricia Ortis is the owner of the vineyard, but Fabian Valenzuela, 30 years of experience in the wine industry and Jean Claude Berrouet, he is the man that stood at the helm of Petrus (Pomerol) he made 44 vintages for Chateau Petrus and of retirement from the Chateau he turned towards Argentina and Tapiz, where he consult for this winery.

Bodegas Tapiz Chardonnay Alta collection 2014

Grape: 100% Chardonnay

Origin: single vineyard from San Pablo Estate, Uco Valley Mendoza

Vineyard: San Pablo Estate, altitude 1350 meters (4430 feet) above sea level.

Price: €15 $17 £13 average ex tax

Alcohol:  13.9%

Visual:  The dolor appearing in the glass is a deep yellow color, color intensity definitely for this style of wine 4.5 out of 5, its brilliance is sparkling and its limpidity is limpid, a very mature & grown up wine, feminine, a warm impression, legs are very heavy & thick, this wine looks like it is reaching the end, which shouldn't be it is only four years old, its appearance isn't entirely pretty. 

Nose: First sign of oxidation, which for this wine I do not think is the intention, overripe fruit, apples, melons, little oak wet wood, mint and anise hints, alcohol flurries up.

Palate: The attack is medium , oak little noticeable,  not round fairly straight, a certain freshness, mid palate the wine weakens and it lingers ok, but not to long, little sharpness the end. 

Conclusion: Well although I was expecting more I actually got a bit disappointed by this cuvee, not sure if it is the years but for only four years old, this wine should hold better especially this cuvee.  Not impressed.

Score: 16.8/20 68/100 (a fair wine)

Until next time please do drink responsibly. 

Friday, 7 September 2018

Finca Villacreces Pruno 2015 Ribera del Duero Spain

On many wine lists in restaurants all over the globe, Spain has little by little taking in a bit more space, taking away some limelight of the famous two neighbors France and Italy.
True since the global crisis hit us all (well the normal people i would say, the billionaires and millionaires to a certain extent hardly noticed a whiff), wines from Spain were set to the foreground (Spain needed to do business as the country was heavily hit by the crisis) as for a long time Spain was only exported through Rioja mainly. Today we all make acquaintance with regions like Extramadura, Navarra, Castilla La Mancha, Levante  to give a few examples and as you may have noticed my latest blog was about a Spanish wine as well.  It just so happen that I stumbled on this wine from one of my favorite regions in Spain Ribera del Duero.   Before digging a bit deeper into Finca Villacreces let us first re-visit Ribera....

Ribera del Duero.
For many of you this region is very well known due to two big names (there are of course many but internationally I speak) Bodega Vega Sicilia and Pingus.
Ribera del Duero is a very important wine producing region/area in Castilla Y Leon, sitting in the northern part of Spain. Its Capital is Aranda de Duero, for many not so well known but the town holds antique underground built cellars to store wine. Those cellars are interconnected with each other and at certain parts its depth is about 12 meters (40 ft). Although that Ribera has a long history of wine making it was only in 1982 awarded with DO status, which was also given a consejo regulador (the wine regulating authority for Ribera) established to administer it.

The region is on an elevated northern plateau at 800ft above sea level, divided by the Duero river giving the wine growers the much needed water to supply their vines. The region is flanked by two mountain ranges, Sierra de la Demanda and Sierra de Guadarrama, which creates hot and dry summers and harsh winters.
The terroir is mixed with layers of limestone, marl and chalk under silt and clay topsoil, which gives a good amount of complexity to the wines.

Ribera is almost entirely a red wine region, Tempranillo reigns here, producing deeply colored, with firm tannin structure and complex aromas of red/black fruits, some of the top wines can ages for decades. According to the DO status must a Ribera wine make for at least 75% of Tempranillo.

The region holds three provinces, Valladolid, Burgos, Soria, with the river Duero running along for about 112 kilometers (70 miles). When Ribera gained its status of DO, only about nine wineries over 15.000 acres (6070 hectares)) were operating. Today Ribera stands proudly with 270 wineries and 55.000 acres (22257 hectares).

Finca Villacreces.

Finca Villacreces is now part of a group "Artevino", which made its first footsteps in the world of wine thanks to Gonzalo Anton together with a group of friends and business people build in the heart of Rioja Bodegas Izadi in 1987.
In 2000 the son Lalo Anton, expanded the vision and Villacreses Finca, Bodegas Vetus and Orben became part of the Artevino group. Each of the wineries keep their identity and is terroir driven, aiming at producing top quality wines. Carefully planning to the way the soil is treated and searching at producing each vintage a better wine.

Villacreces Pruno 2015

Grape:  90% Tinta Fino (tempranillo), 10% Cabernet sauvignon

Alcohol: 14%

Price: €16 $18 £14 average ex tax 

Visual:A deep ruby color appears when pouring, a color intensity of 4.5 out of 5, its transparency is limpid, the legs are medium heavy, brilliance is luminus, this wine give a certain male appearance, muscled, intense a little unclean, couple day old shaven kinda guy.

Nose:At first i got a hit of alcohol which gradually disappeared, then aromas of earthy elements appear, wet moss, wet forest, mushroom, animal, dark fruits en oak aromas. A certain complexity but entirely neat, each time smelling the wine the aromas sit a little bit on an unstable platform.

Palate: the attack is little watery and soft, round, black fruits, mid-palate sits not entirely stable, a slight burning  feeling, lingers medium short, with time the wine grows and flavors are becoming more expressive.

Conclusion: I expected a much bigger and bolder wine, as often in Ribera they come with a bunch of muscle, this one was not that at all, It is not a bad made wine but I haven't fallen for it either (sitting with my bum between two chairs) and the alcohol at the start had for me invaded  to much my judgment and often very hard to cast this aside and look for the secondary elements, in all not bad but it will not stick in my mind as one of those wines not to forget. 

Score: I rate this wine 17.8/20 78/100 (rated as a good wine)

Until next time please do drink responsibly.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Pago Calzadilla, Calzadilla Classic 2010 Spain

This wine came to my attention through my work. I have heard of the Vino de Pago but did not had to occasion to actually taste one. This house should stand its ground and impress, here they leave the wine resting for a very long time (6 to 8 years ish), something not that common these days as many houses release their wines after 1 years top houses 3 to 5 years.
Vino de Pago for many maybe not that common, don't worry I have made acquaintance with it recently to, this is a new sort of appellation Spain has added to its classification system.

Vino de Pago.
This system came to light in Spain in 2003, a system where the Spanish winemakers want to embrace a more fine tuned classification method wherein they would produce higher-quality vineyards on the Iberian peninsula more in view to the world's wine enthusiasts.
This system is in line like the French Grand Cru system, based within the Spanish Denominations of Origins (DO) but functioning independently of them.
Often as many things in Spain and their friend Catalonia, which hold its own Pago System named "Vi de Finca".

The term Pago in the wine terms is "single vineyard" but pago in everyday terms is "Payment". To become a certified Pago, are several requirements needed. The pago needs to be owned by the winery who produces the wines, the pago has to be within a registered DO, and the pago has to demonstrate unique characteristics that make it worthy of receiving the status.
Once certified, a new DO is created for the pago in question and added to the official list and at the moment there are 17 of them.
The reason to hold a vino de pago certification for the winery is that it gives them the right to state on the label their wine to be a higher qualification of quality than DO or even the top-level DOC which is only held by Rioja and Priorat currently.

These classifications are mainly being held by Castilla-La-Mancha and Navarra in some way to show a higher-level of wine making in regions not so well known in Spain.

List of Vino de Pagos

  • Campo de la Guardia (2009,Toledo)
  • Casa del Blanco (2010,Ciudad Real)
  • Dehesa del Carrizal (2006,Ciudad Real)
  • Dominio de Valdepusa (2002, Toledo)
  • Finca Elez (2002, Albacete)
  • Pago Guijoso (2004, Albacete)
  • Pago Florentino (2009, Ciudad Real)
  • Pago de Arinzano (2009, Navarra)
  • Pago de Otazu (2009, Navarra) 
  • Pago de Irache (2009, Navarra) 
  • Pago de Ayles (2011, Zaragoza) 
  • Pago El Terrerazo de Bodegas Mustiguillo (2011, Valencia)
  • Los Balagueses (2011 Valencia)
  • Pago Chozas Carrascal (2011, Valencia)
  • Pago Calzadilla (2011, Cuenca)
  • Pago Finca Bolandin, Bodega Pago de Cirsus (2014 Navarra)
  • Pago Vera de Estenas ( 2013, Valencia) 
Pago Calzadilla.

Pago Calzadilla is located in the Hueta, Cuenca province, Spain, overlooking the river valley of Rio Mayor. From the beginning, the family-run  wine estate has been producing highly  personalized quality wines in this natural district of Spain known as La Alcarria. 

The family wine cellar Bodega Familiar Uribes Madero was founded in 1980 as a small winemaking facility, with the first varieties being planted at this time for ted wine, but it was not until 1992 that the first harvests were commercialized under the name of Calzadilla. 
Pago Calzadilla  currently has an area of 26 hectares, with 20 of these dedicated to grape growing. Annual production amounts to 100.000 kilos of grapes, with which well-aged red wines are made. 

Pago Calzadilla is located in the Rio mayor valley at an altitude of between 900 and 1000 meters. The unique micro climate of this valley, with frequent mists and winds, protects their vineyard from the danger of spring frost. As mentioned it holds currently 20 hectares of vines under limited production, the vines were planted in 1980 with three varieties, Temptanillo, Garnacha, and Cabernet-Sauvignon. The syrah arrived in 1992 with most of them located on the slopes of the Cerro La Parjara at 1,000 meters above sea level. 
Harvest is entirely done by hand in 15kg crates,  before fermentation the grape bunches are carefully selected and cooled. Grapes are crushed and must and wines are transferred entirely by gravity, without the use of pumping systems. 
Wines are aged in oak barrels that are never older then 3 years, depending on the characteristics of each variety. The ageing process is completed with bottle storage for a long period of 2 to 4 years at least. Thanks to their large storage capacities can they leave their wines rest and aged perfectly.

Pago Calzadilla Classic 2010.

Grape: 60% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 20% Syrah

Alcohol: 14.5% 

Price: €15 $18 £14

Visual: a slightly fainted ruby color appears when pouring in the glass, the color intensity is about 4 out of 5, heavy legs, its brilliance is shiny, a good transparency, this wine is a mature looking with age, a certain regard.

Nose: An earthy impression are the first aromas that hit me, followed by okay elements, followed by dark red fruits, there are hints of alcohol that makes the wine lose its purity of the prime aromas.

Palate: The attack is well marked and little aggressive, with a dry feel, a medium body, mid palate is ok the balance could be better, the wine is astringent, a certain sharpness follows at the end and it lingers medium long, you get a gum warming up feel towards the end, poor alcohol control. 

Conclusion:  Although that this house is not making horrible or bad wines, there are still questions I have to ask in regards this vinos de pago classification, this wine is becoming a bit pricey for what it is and on quality level I expect more. Not entirely impressed so far.

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

Until next time please do drink responsibly. 

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Casa Coller Vino Spumate rose Brut Italy

Champagne isn't of course the only region making bubbles, yes they have an unique position but globally sparkling wine is produced and some with great panache. Italy is another fantastic deliverer of the bubble drink. Italy has several types and styles of bubble like drinks. The one I discovered is a spumante from casa coller, a rose bubble from Pirovano based in Lombardy.

This is a region that has gained substantial interest and has become fairly important as a region in the Italian wine hierarchy. Veneto is slightly smaller then Italy's other main wine-producing region such as Piedmont, Tuscany, Lombardy, Puglia, Sicily, yet it generates more wine then any of them, I guess the Venetian spirit much be part of that success. In the appellation structure is Veneto part of the Triveneto zone, along with its smaller appellations, Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

The grand stars in the Venetian wines are Valpolicella, Amarone, Soave and Prosecco.... Valpolicella is a very fruity style of wine, while the Amarone is very intense deep, complex, big style, and of course the delightful soave whites and the very famous bubble 'prosecco'. It hold 28 DOC (Denominazione di Origine Cotrollata) and 14 DOCG ( Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) and with that close to one of the most ranked regions in Italy.

It is often seen as the sexiest part of Italy, home to the former Venetian Republic that ruled this part of the world for a millennium, from the seventh century AD to the eighteenth century. Venice speaks a thousand words and expressions, romance, mystery, culture and intrigue. It also hold many names, The Queen of the Adriatic, and the Floating city. Here was born the baroque composer Antonio Vilvaldi with his four seasons one of the most famous compositions ever. Not to forget the legendary carnival of masks, which gave the city another nickname " The city of masks".
Veneto sits in the northeast of the country bordering Lombardia, and to the south Emilia Romagna.

Valpolicella blend takes in 29% of the production, Glera (prosecco) 24%, Pinot Grigio 11%, Eau-de-Vie 4%, Garganega 4%, Rare white blend 3%, rare red blend 3%, other 23%.

You can Veneto divide into three geographical areas, northwest the foothills of the Alps and the Adige river, where the climate is cooler and produce fresh, crisp white wines and on the shores of the Garda Lake where the light fruity red wine Bardolino is made. East of Verona is Valpolicella king, producing 500.000 hectoliters  of this red wine, fairly large in production volume the only DOC to rival the famous Chianti from Tuscany.
East of Valpolicella lays Soave, one of the white wines Italy stands very proud of as it has been producing high end qualitative wines.

Then there is central Veneto, around Vicenza and Padua, very pretty town, here international grapes such as Merlot, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Pinot noir have gained status here in respectful ways, for the white it is the very well known and improved Pinto grigio and the Tocai Friulano.

Then there is the Northeast corner, along the Piave river, and here without a doubt reigns Prosecco, pretty much all winemakers here are in the bubble business and rightfully so as terroir and weather conditions give this spot the prime to make good prosecco's.

Casa Coller

Casa Coller belongs to a larger firm Pirovano, which sits just next to Veneto in Lombardy well there is the bottling is happening as they are a bottling company, specialized as bottler of locally produced wines since establishment in 1910. They supply wines from various Italian regions, the company is well equipped, with its own laboratory and bottling plant capable of 120.000 liters a day. Although that they play on a large scale they aim at presenting good quality wines. Casa Coller is one of those wineries which is taken under their wings and producing 6 prosecco sparkling wines and one rose spumante.

Casa Coller Spumante Rose

Production zone:  Northern Italy

Grape: Pinot Noir and Garganega

Alcohol: 11% volume

Price: €8.05 $10 £7.05 average ex tax

Visual: A very soft pink color appears when pouring with a very delicate bubble, running in fairly even order upwards. Very feminine and young, festive and fresh, a sparkle standing proud and full of charm.

Nose: The aromas on the nose are very floral, little rose petals followed by fruits, rasp en strawberries are the main aromas, little hints of undergrowth, wet woods, mushroom.

Palate: The attack is soft and dry, red fruits pop on your palate and feels very light and fresh, mid palate is a bit weak and it lingers on half short, but it gives you the urge to taste it again and enjoy. The bubble is soft and light, no aggression at all, feels very much like a lady like friend.

Conclusion: This is a very pleasant unpretentious sparkling wine, it is a spumante so the bubble will be soft and gentle, this is a very well made standard rose bubble and excellent value for money, a bubble that will suit well on recpetions, birthday parties and many other occasions. For those who need to check a budget but still want something descent then this bubble should not disappoint you

Score: 18.5/20 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.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Domaine Michelot Bourgogne Chardonnay 2015 Burgundy

Ah beautiful Burgundy, wines of great magic, depth, complexity and longevity. A region of such grandeur, to the envy of the world, how many around want to make a Chardonnay or Pinot Noir like the Burgundian's!! I have taste from all over the world Chardonnay's and Pinot's that were trying to be like but not many did come close. I have even at some point a New Zealander in London, arguing that those French think they make exceptional wine but we new Zealanders make better Pinot's. Okay the guy can argue as much as he wants but you can't miss the fact that the price ready to be paid for a top Burgundy is not just because it is a Burgundy but because the maker the history, the rarity and quality which so far isn't to be found in New Zealand and will not be maybe ever.

There are a group of winemakers in that part of the world who have been taken the torch of the family tradition for centuries of generations to produce the best what Pinot and Chardonnay for that matter can produce.
The only hardship I have for Burgundy is the climate conditions, as everywhere it is warming up so will be this region and how it will evolve is to be seen. But with a bit more heat Burgundy can live, Champagne just above on the other will suffer with hotter conditions as they seek a climate that is rather cooler then hot. So could the most successful region in France see an end to its glory? 

This wine from the Michelot family sits in Meursault, a world renown name in wine.


Meursault is part of the Cote de Beaune which itself was formed in a shallow sea at about 135 million years ago. Meursault sits at the center of the Beaune on about 358 hectares of soft slopes. The vineyards are situated at an altitude between 230 meters and 360 meters sitting on two uneven hills in the valley of Auxey-Duresses. The hard Comblanchian limestone which disappears deep underground around Nuits-Saint-Georges reappears here where as one moves southwards, red wines give way to whites. Nowhere else in the Cote de Beaune does the Chardonnay grape do better than it does here. The excellent soils were planted with vines by the monks of Citeaux as early as 1098. The stone-work on the 53 meters high church tower looks like it could be the work of fairies. Meursault's appellation of origin status dates from 1937. 
In total this appellation produces 19.00 hectoliters  of wine from both colors, of course the reds are produced from Pinot Noir and the whites for the majority Chardonnay. 

There are observable but minor differences between the wines of the different climats (the different plots). In most cases Meursault is greeny-gold in color or canary yellow, leaning towards bronze as it ages. Limpid and brilliant, it sometimes exhibits silvery highlights. Its bouquet has strong aromas of ripe grapes. The young wine is redolent of toasted almonds and hazelnuts in a floral and mineral setting. When barrel aged (in most cases) butter, honey and citrus fruits are also present. On the palate the wines are rich and fat with a cheerful and appealing taste of hazelnut. Unctuousness and freshness are in silky balance. Long and structured, it needs time to mature-this is a great white wine for laying down. These are overall characteristics forms of the Meursault wine. 

Domaine Michelot

The winery has been in the hands of the Michelot family for six generations and having increased in size over the years, now comprises more than 19 hectares which include a number of prestigious 1er cru wines. The domaine achieved widespread recognition in the 60s under the direction of the charismatic Bernard Michelot and this spirit and tradition flourishes and grows in the hands of the current generation.  
The Meursault vineyards are made up of a "terroirs"- parcels of land with individual characteristics of soil, drainage and orientation - and their distinct personalities yield a divers range of wines. The appeal to all our clients, from private individuals to restaurateurs, who enjoy sharing the uplifting pleasures of good wine. 
Cultivating the vines, they keep an anti sickness treatment of the vines to a strict minimum, preferring that the land keeps itself healthy through a careful scheduled programme of ploughing. They allow grass to grow in each part of the vineyard and mow it regularly. The grass deprives the vines of easy accessibility to water and forces the roots to dig deep in search of nutrition. 
To preserve our independance as growers and wine makers we are not part of any organised system or society of organic agriculture. This allows us to develop our own reserach, the object of which is to encourage the vine to protect itself and to strengthen its immune defences. 

Domaine Michelot Chardonnay 2015

This Bourgogne blanc comes from parcels situated exclusively within the Meursault commune and bordering the land classified as Appellation Meursault-Villages. The soil is a clay limestone mix and the subsoil is gravel. As with our villages and premiers Crus parcels, the soil is ploughed and partially grassed. The wine-making and maturing processes are identical to those of our villages and Premier Crus wines. Its character is very close to that of a Meursault village, it should be consumed between 2 and 5 years after bottling. 

Grape: 100% Chardonnay

Alcohol: 12.5%

Price: €19 $22 £17 average ex tax 

Visual: a medium straw color appears when pouring in the glass, color intensity 3 out of 5, perfect transparency, and a limpidity which is limpid, its brilliance (acid indication) is limpid, the wine looks young, feminine, warmhearted, playful and teasing.

Nose: First impression is a fairly discreet nose, not overly expressive and clear in its aromas, a bit of white flowers, chalk, hints of pear, ripe soft juicy apple, minerals, fleuries of broom, with time white fruits and nutty aromas reveal themselves in a more expressive way.

Palate: First impression is a light bodied wine, fragile, white fruits, acids good, balance mid palate ok, a straight kinda feel of wine, gives hints of freshness and lingers on average. 

Conclusion: This is a house specialize in white wines only, this is a white burgundy with grapes solely from Meursault and the traits from Meursault are distinctable  giving a wine somewhat light and easy drinking although can combine with fish on the grill as there is no barrel aged process, the wine sits on its frehness and youth, to drink in about 5 years of its bottling. A house that has much to offer and surely their Meursault. For its price sits fairly good.

Score: I rate this wine 18.8/20 88/100 rated as a very good wine.

Until next time please do drink responsibly. 

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Jutta Ambrositsch Sieveringer Ringelspiel 2014 Austria

Austria has now been standing firm in the realm of wine and with great admiration. Of course for many they are still not as well known as the French, Italian or Spanish for that matter, of course looking from an European point of view. For the Americas it is pretty much the same but Argentina, Chile and Napa will be more common I guess.

Austria's wineries have been producing very interesting and intriguing wines as much red as for white, I had a sparkling once produced out of Gruner Veltliner and I must say that it wasn't really my cup of tea, although that the sparkling was well made, it just did not give me that something some sparkling such as Champagne or Cremant give.

So Jutta Ambrositsch sounds very eastern Europe but profoundly Austrian and based in Vienna wine region

Vienna wine region

It is so that no other country can claim to so much viticulture and wine-culture in its capital city, grapes were cultivated in Vienna as early as 1132 AD.
In the Middle Ages every district of Vienna worked its own vineyards. The city's wine tavern sprung to life in the 16th century, this tavern wine culture was only possible through an imperial edict, which allowed growers to serve food with their wine. When the city grew, many of the vineyards were lost due to development. But since recently there has been a trend toward recultivation.

The wines from Vienna are now counted as part of the classic wines of the world. There are 630 producers working, 637 hectares (1680 acres) of beautiful urban vineyards, many reachable by foot or tram.
Of course here as well the star grape is Gruner veltliner, it is the quintessential Austrian grape. For Austrians the identity grape reflecting  the character and personality of the Austrians in a way. Nowhere else than here and everywhere in the world when asking where does gruner veltliner think you off; Austria without a doubt.

So if you go to Vienna you will most likely come across vines, to the outer districts and the outskirts of Vienna. The northern part wine growing villages such as Strebersdorf, Stammersdorf and Jedlersdorf have also vineyards planted on the Bisamberg, north of the Danube river, which has favorable conditions for the Pinot varieties. In the west of the city from Ottakring, Hernals, Potzlensdorf and the 19th district, with a soil varied carbonate rich is more set for the Riesling, Chardonnay and Weinburgunder (Pinot Blanc). In the Southern parts of the city , calcareous, brown and black earth soils around Mauer, Rodaun and Oberlaa favor the production for the traditional Gemischter Satz, which is comprised of different varieties planted together in a vineyard which then also harvest together all at one time and turned into wine. With this culture has the rediscovery of a top vineyard, the Nussberg which has attracted many young winemakers from all corners of the capital.

Jutta Ambrositsch

A talented woman who in 2005 decided to a make a dramatic career change and left her job as a graphic designer to venture in the wine world and to make traditionally inspired wines from old vine parcels in Vienna. As you may know, Vienna is particularly known for its historic blends or "Gemischter Satz" as explaine here above. Most of Jutta's wines are blends or field blends inspired by this Viennese tradition, and her goal is to always put terroir first, and she is focused on single vineyard vineyard bottlings. In 2013 Jutta took over some old vine parcels planted in the fossil limestone soils of Gumpoldskirchen, a historic wine growing village in the neighbouring Thermenregion appellation.

Jutta is a very natural winemaker, using only native yeasts and keeping cellar intervention to a minimum. She is dedicated to vinifying wines that speak for themselves and express local tradition and terroir. All of her wines are fermented and aged in stainless steel to emphasise purity of the fruit and the wines an energetic feel and fresh approach.

Jutta Ambrositsch Sieveringer Ringelspiel 2014

This typical Viennese field blend 'Gemischter Sats' comes from a vineyard where a number of different varieties have been co-planted on calcerous, loamy soils. The grapes come from from 60 years old vines and are co-fermented in stainless  steel tanks. This field blend is made up of 12 different varieties which includes Gruner Veltliner, Neuburger, Traminer, Gutedel, Gruner Sylvaner, and a number of other native grape varieties.

Grape: Gruner Veltliner, Neubeurger, Riesling, Traminer, Gutedel, Gruner Sylvaner.....

Alcohol: 12%

Price: €12 $14 £11 average ex tax

Visual: A very attractive deep yellow color appears when pouring, with a color intensity of 4 out of 5, it has a perfect limpidity and the brilliance is very good, the legs look fairly thick and roll down at ease, the wine looks a perfect clinically specimen but feminine, very beautiful, very attractive/ inviting.

Nose: Very well controlled and good presence, petroleum in well set doses, stone fruit, juicy and ripe, mirabelle,  apricots, melon, peach, little citrus hints, geranium flowers, fruit compote, great complexity.

Palate: A soft but well present attack, very fine acids, with citrus fruits, fresh feel, mid palate very well composed and good balance, it lingers on for a ling time, the wine feels well compact and in length, with granny smith apples on the finish.

Conclusion: After the wonderful pfaffl house from Vienna in a previous blog is this Jutta Ambrositsch a real marvel with a very unique style. All elements are here to indicate and to prove that she knows how to make wine and with style. A wonderful discovery and very reasonable in price, which combined with the quality of the wine is truly outstanding.  An absolute must for any real true wine lover.

Score: I rate this wine at 19.3/20 93/100 rated as an excellent wine.