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.