Saturday, 31 March 2018

Rafael Palacios Louro 2016 Galicia Spain

Here is a wine made from one of the most promising names in Spain. The Palacios family tradition in wine making started in Rioja in 1945. Don Jose Palacios Remondo started the family's first winery, and four of his nine kids will followed in his footsteps, two becoming leading figures in the wine world. There is of course Alvaro Palacios and his famed L'Ermita in Priorat and on the other side his younger brother Rafael Palacios.

Before exploring this talented man; let us dig a bit into the Galicia

Galicia lays northwest of Spain, influenced hugely by the Atlantic ocean, this very green appellation with its misty hills produces especially aromatic, exquisite white wines. Albarino for long the star grape here but since not so long is Godello the new gem on the rise.  It is this cool micro-climate that lead hear to make white wines few can copy anywhere else in Spain. The seafood platters very popular in galicia and Spain altogether were in need of aromatic dry, fruitful and elegant white wines.

Galicia is one of the 17 top-level administrative regions of Spain ( known as comunidades autonomas). Winemaking in Galicia is a long traditions, brought by the ancient Romans and further cultivated by the monks in the middle ages. Surely today Rias Baixas are for most the best known whites from this region, they are crisp aromatic and predominately made of Albarino. The cool moisture-bearing winds blowing in from the Atlantic makes from Gallicia one of the wettest in Spain.
Much rain is falling here more then 1300 mm a year (50 inches), and an abundance in sunshine close to 2000 hours a year. You might know this already but red grapes aren't really the norm here as for most red grapes is their a lack to achieve full ripeness.

The landscape is very variable mostly green, from the rugged cliffs kissing the Atlantic to the Cantabrian mountains reaching peaks of 2000 meters high (6600 ft). Most vineyards are to be found in the valleys surrounding the mino river (minho in Portugal), it is also the region bordering Portugal.

The white grapes most planted are; Albarino, Godello, Loureiro, Torrontes, Treixadura, Caino Blanco.
Galicia has 5 rated DO zones; Ribeiro, Ribeira, Sacra, Monterrei, Valdeorras.

Rafael Palacios

Rafael Palacios has been making wines in this part of Spain for the past 10 years. He does not use the more known grape Albarino to make his wines but the lesser known but as high qualitative Godello grape.
Settled in the DO of Valdeorras where Godello performs exquisitely well. He owns about 24.5 hectares of vines at an altitude of about 600-740 meters above sea level. Working with vines aged from 10 years to 94 years old, practicing an organic partially biodynamic culture. He produces about 208,000 bottles, 90,000 bottles for the Bolo cuvee and 80,000 bottles for the Louro cuvee the wine in question for this blog, then he produce two more finer cuvee's the Sortes about 25,000 bottles and the single vineyard cuvee O Soro with a production of 3,000 bottles.

Louro 2016

Grape: 100% Godello

Alcohol: 13.5%

Price: €16 $18 £13

Visual: warm yellow color, color intensity 3 out of 5, a perfect transparency, its brilliance is brilliant, its appearance is very feminine and seductive, a fresh look and young, a wine in appearance well polished and looked after.

Nose: The attack is very fruity, with little gravel stony hints, flint, iron like aromas, in fruit its pear, melon, citrus with little hints of banana.

Palate: The attack is well set, good volume medium body type wine, fruits are just ripe and mid-palate is the balance between the elements and acidity just right, its lingering last for quite some time, it feels fresh and enjoyable,  sure in combination with some grilled fish, or white meat will work fine.

Conclusion: A sensational discovery, although that the name Palacios isn't foreign, it is the first time I taste his wine and I am intrigued to discover the other wines from this domain. Surely a wine that refresh the Galicia wine platform and a grape that truly inspires when made correctly. Not to be missed when coming along this wine on the shelves of your local wineshop.

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

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Prowein 2018

As every year around this time Prowein in Dusseldorf is happening. I just came back and I must say three days are way not enough if you want to thoroughly look what is around and discover.
Of course you prepare well at least I did ( I realized that some just go an hunt, which is always a risk) for the countries we needed to strengthen our catalog.

We did not had enough time to explore what I had selected as you are overwhelmed with offers and seduction plus you have to visit your existing wine houses you represent. Some houses have spend quite some cash to make their stand look better then their neighbor. You notice that all countries and their regions put forward interesting funds to promote what's good and really also not so good.
This fair is just impressive and truly the biggest around. I do understand why everyone want to be part of this, I saw all kind of nationalities confirming the point how important this fair is.

For my part I had focused my attention onto New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Argentina, Portugal, a bit Spain and some existing client and French in particular.

I will start with the country(ies) that disappoint me the most.

New Zealand

I was looking forward to explore and see what this country has to offer and how they evolve. Of course I can't take this as a general/overall declaration, as not all wineries were present on this fair.
First the majority of the houses that were present came from Marlborough.

We started with Giesen wines; which was not a bad start as their white wines were promising, there was structure and not so much the bomb of vulgar fruit which in the past many Marlborough sauvignon blanc were known for. It gave me hope, but their Pinot Noir's were less promising, not bad but not in balance between acidity and aromas, a bit to much a copy of so many Pinot's the new world offers. They were far from the worst to come.

Then we moved on to a whole series of houses, of which you would tasted them blind you would get the idea that you are tasting the one same wine, they all are cloned and polished the same way, no personality no identity except that without a doubt when smelling you knew that this was new world and most likely New Zealand. I talk here of Rock Ferry wines, Waimea, Spy Valley, Rapaura springs, Endeavour vineyards.....Then there were some crackers but they got already representation, I still want to believe that their are gems out there, we were flattered by Huia estate, Waipara West (they need to re-check their prices as for that money you get a very good Burgundy Pinot Noir), what was evident that very few of these wine makers ( and that is not just in New Zealand) do not see/ taste what others make, day in day out they taste their own wines.

There was even one house among then that had the audacity to mention that those French (burgundy in this case) had no clue what they talk about (in the sense that we know to make Pinot noir as well as those french).  As far as my knowledge goes it is from those Burgundians that they copied to make their wine and far from brilliant in many cases and certainly in his case.
As I said I am sure there are really good houses out there but I have not met them yet and it was until I tasted a French house based in New-Zealand and when they explained how it all worked (many growers in Marlborough don't even make wine, they grow the grapes and sell, really something to be proud of) and how they want their wines to taste like, that you really understood how much the kiwi's had to catch up and stop being bullish, as those Frenchies do make a much better wine. 
So disappointed I was, I moved on to Chile.


If there is one consolidation I can give to those Marlborough New Zeelander's you not the worst. Chile, has to really wake up and look at what it is doing, yes they are damn cheap but cheap is not always quality. For some of the stands it was to much to ask, couldn't even bother to be enthusiastic or even serve you, in all there was one house that was interesting in its entire range, La Ronciere.

This house as with many houses in south America have quite a bit of land 200 hectares in this case. For those looking for value for money and higher end range wines, this is certainly one to look into. The mentality sits right and the philosophy moves in the right direction. There was quite a bit of house represented, and some that had potential, like El Principal was good but only three wine, which is not a problem but the two top wines were a bit pricey.  Right now I do not know how Chile will bring an elegance and freshness to its wines but it is needed.

Australia was hugely represented with so many different stands, so of course not all could I do, but the ones that I tried did and did not disappoint me. Tyrrell's wines, were promising but I expected a dash better, Howard Park wines was a discovery, although I have heard from them never got the chance to taste. They have a smaller range named madfish and maybe should keep away from it as it does not justice even though they sell it as an everyday drinking wine, I still think that they should focus on their premium brand as for me that cheaper range doesn't do them justice.
Stella Bella was another house I discovered and tasted and although there is progress it still falls a bit short, their reds are lacking a bit of freshness and that fine elegant trail. I definitely want to try this house again and many more.

South Africa

Here did I tasted three domains, Diemersdal Wine estate, was the first one and much enthusiasme for this house, with good wines and beautiful balance, although that the cheaper cuvee's could be turned up a notch. We ended not tasting all of them as one distributor from Belgium arrived and all panic broke loose so we moved on. If you don't want to do business that is fine, they have that choice in their hands not us.

We tasted also Klein Constantia white and red, a house that craft very good wines, a little European style, there was much depth and structure in these wines and very affordable.

Then we moved on to Tokara in Stellenbosch mountains, an absolute stunning setting, blessed to have a place like this on earth, mindbogglingly beautiful. Their wine range was even more impressive and detailed, with beautiful nuances in their aromas and vinified  with great care and attention. 


In my selection of countries to see did I not select Spain, just because We couldn't do it all, but I knew if Artuke was present I needed to introduce it to my boss. For those who do not know Artuke in Rioja, please go and discover, it is a style that is so different then many Rioja's out there. There wines are elegant, refined, powerful, sublte and lasting. The sons who leading the family traditions, have given much energy to this house, there is a beautiful young spark that is reflected in their wines, a must for all Spanish wine lovers. 

I tasted many wines in those three days, and sure not all can be mentioned. Prowein is surely an event to be noted if you are in the wine business, this year they had over sixty thousand visitors and that is 4% more then last year. Also when you look who is there, it does make you aware that for all it is an important wine fair maybe the most important. 

Until next time please do drink responsibly.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Massolino Langhe Chardonnay 2014 Piemonte Italy

It is kinda strange that even blindfold choosing a wine, when it comes to Italian wines I will more then often grab a wine from Piedmont.
It is a region of magic and talent, although that there will be as everywhere the odd one or two out of which quality is an expression not a deed.
This house is quality to the bone and is ranked quite high in the Italian hierarchy. It is based in Serralunga in Italy.

Serralunga d'Alba
This small town with its imposing castle at the center on the top of a hill, is just mesmerizing and magical all seasons round. This town is totally dedicated to the vines and no surprise here that the greatest Barolo makers have some land here. Of course this small area sits in a larger area named Langhe, which is a region with an extensive range of hills stretching, between the Ligurian alps and Monferrato, with which they share the same origins, ( raising and folding of the water bed of the Po Valley sea long way back). Geological nature and an ideal climate for vine growing makes this area/region a world class spot on the planet. Besides the beauty of the wines there is a great culinary  culture and landscapes that will take your breath away.

Serralunga is one of the little towns where Barolo is made proudly, here on the other hand the Barolo's are tannic and most backward, which means long ageing potential.

It is set among hills that provide fertile ground for the Nebbiolo grape, this ellipse-shaped town is build around an impressive 13th century castle, one of the finest examples of a hill fortress in Piedmont.


The history of this house and their wines became intertwined with the history of Serralunga d'Alba in 1896, when Giovanni founded the estate. He was also the first person to bring electric current to the village. The first wine cellar was build by Giuseppe, son of the founder Giovanni, who, together with his sister Angela, extended his estate into the best soils and in 1934 was one of the founders of the consortium for the defence of Barolo and Barbaresco. Three kids of him, Giovanni, Camilla, Renato, followed into their fathers footsteps, expanding the estate with the purchase of cru vineyards which are authentic jewels, Margheria, parafada and Vigna Rionda.

In 1990, Franco and Roberto, both oenologists joined the family estate. Both worked hard and condenses the experience of the family and the ambition of a new generation, determined to make an important contribution to the innovation of oenological and agronomic techniques and to the image of the estate in Italy and abroad.

Their philosophy is making wine from outstanding quality, passion, with identity pronouncing the typical characteristics of the land, and grape.

In Serralunga public and private life has always been entwined with wine. A fourteenth century law stated " May no man dare to cut or have someone cut the vines in the vineyards of Serralunga, with ill intent, else he will be find with the sum of twenty five lira". When you got caught stealing grapes, you had to pay a fine of twelve denari (a law stated long time ago of which 25 lira was a lot of money).

Massolino's wines are the result of a privileged relationship with the vineyard, interpreting  all its peculiarities and nuances. A relationship built up day by day, personally supervising every moment in the production chain in all twenty three hectares of the estate. There main strength is undoubtedly the Barolo's, what else would it be?  They have the classic Barolo, the Margheria, Parafada, Vigna Rionda and the Parussi are truly diamonds in the field of Barolo's collection.

Besides the Barolo's there are 6 other wines, 2 Barbera d'Alba's, Dolcetto d'Alba, Langhe Nebbiolo, Moscato d'Asti and the Langhe Chardonnay (the last two wines are whites).

Massolino Langhe Chardonnay 2014 

Grape: Chardonnay 100%

Alcohol: 14%

Price: €14 $17 £12

Soil Composition: Marly lime

Training system and vine density: traditional guyot, with about 5,500 vines per hectare

Yield per hectare: 5.5 tonnes

Average age of vines: 20 years

Total bottle production: 25,000 bottles

Visual: A beautiful deep warm golden color appears, very elegant and seductive, the color intensity is 4 out of 5, perfect transparency and a brilliance that is luminous, the legs are well set and not thick, this is elegance in a glass, very promising.

Nose: The attack is rich and deep an avalanche of juicy white fruit, peach especially, ripe pear, layers of oak and lactic sensations butterish, vetiver, little chalk and mushroom.

Palate: The attack is rich with a medium body, it feels round and oily, soft and expressive, mid palate is the balance between aromas and acidity extremely well executed, ripe fruit, juicy fruits keep on lingering.

Conclusion: This house is certainly at the top of their game and surely in the Italian hierarchy, they have a beautiful range, this is however their only dry white wine they have but made with such conviction and determination. I am confident that the other wines in the range will be up to the same level as this wine. This house is surely one to discover and to enjoy. 

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

Until next time please do drink responsibly.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Bodegas Habla Solum 2014 Extremadura Spain

The thing that made me go for this wine at first was its simple presentation, which I found very effective. The other point was a wine from extremadura, which is a region in Spain you do not come across that often. Spain these days is very popular in all circles from everyday not so good stuff to the absolute top in the wine world.

Many of us will not connect this region with wine, as an autonomous region it is more famous for its Iberico ham the wild black pigs feeding on acorns, an absolute must if you never tried it. The wines on the other hand have lacked quality and composition, as technically they weren't up to scratch. Extremadura borders Portugal to the east by the Sierra Morena mountains in Andalucia to the south and from the central plateau and Castile by the Sierra de Gata range. A wild, rugged natural region which indicates why the wild pigs here taste so lovely. 

Wine here goes back quite some time actually, the first testimony  from wine in extremadura comes from a document dating around about 500 BC, when it was used during funerals. Also when Plasencia was founded at the end of the 12th century, around 30 articles out of the 700 in the Plasencia were related to wine, showing that there was interest and a certain importance to the product.

The vineyards of extremadura begin at an important expansion at the end of the 17th century. Plagues were not excluded and the area was hit by Phylloxera and Mildew both plagues imported from the Americas. It took up to the Spanish civil war for this area to come back above water and started to grow for the better.

DO Ribera del Guadiana was established in 1999, a new wind blew into extremadura, and many wineries invested in modern technology and renovate the winery and cellar rooms, even the fields where re-worked to improve the quality of the vines.

DO Ribera del Guadiana, has six different sub zones of production, each of which produces very different extremadura wines.

The zones are; Tierra de Barros, Matanegra, Upper Ribera, Lower Ribera, Canamero, Montanchez.

The grapes allowed in extremadura DO Ribera del Guadiana are; Alarije, Borba, Cayetana Blanca, Pardina, Viura, Chardonnay, Chelva, Beba de Los Santos, Malvar, Parellada,  Pedro Ximenez and Verdejo for the white grapes and Garnacha Tinta, Tempranillo, Bobal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Graciano, Mazuela, Merlot, Monastrell and Syrah for red grapes.
Very interesting that many autochtone grape varieties are used here which is nice for a change.

Bodegas Habla

Much detail from this Bodega seem not to be givn, they own 200 hectares and they have spend quite a bit of cash to raise this domain from the rough land it stands on. They use the latest techniques and latest technologies to made the wine and work the land. This particular piece of land seem to have a very ancient history as the Greeks worked this land times ago. They chose this part of Spain as here the vine needs to dig deep in this arid land to get its nutrition and let it stress among them to produce the ideal fruit with the right aromas and acidities, a way many wine makers work. With extensive research and test they have found the right balance to produce excellent wines.

They seem to look for advice in several top places/universities to make sure the right grape and vine is used to produce the best quality wine.

Solum 2015

Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tempranillo

Alcohol: 14%

Price: €11 $14 £10 excl. tax

Visual: A pretty beautiful deep ruby/purple appears when pouring, quite imposing, the color intensity is 4.5 out of 5, its limpidity is perfect limpid, its brilliance is neat not outspoken, legs are medium to heavy rolling down very sedated, it looks young, energetic, masculine, warm southern and luscious.

Nose: The attack is well pronounced, black and reds fruits at first, blackberries, blackcurrants, with time ripe plum make its appearance, little anise, and chocolate on a deeper stage, there is little present of alcohol. It project ripe warm aromas constantly playing with each other. 

Palate: The attack feels full to medium body, dry but not to dry, tannins young and tight, mid-palate hold well; aromas and acidities not entirely in harmony but well set nonetheless, at first a slight burn at the gums but the longer it breath that burning sensation disappears, it lingers for a good time.

Conclusion: This is not their top cuvee and you do get here a good sense where these guys/woman want to go, price wise is this top value for money, Although that there is a good business plan behind this house, it has at least the guns to blaze many critics aside as here they pay attention to everything, as much the wines as the house itself, visits and tastings are possible as wine tourism is big business and it helps to introduce your house to the world. Definitely will try some of the other wines of the house to see if they can blow me away even further.

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.