Joelle Thomson

Author, journalist, writer

Category: Riesling (page 2 of 6)

Champagne Larmandier open at our last Wine Wednesday of the year… tonight at 5.30pm…

We’re sharing the love at our last official Wellington Wine Wednesday of the year at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington tonight from 5.30pm to 7pm…

We are cracking open this outstanding champagne, which ticks all the taste boxes and then some, thanks to winemaker Pierre Larmandier…

Champagne Larmandier Bernier Latitude is…

Made from biodynamically grown grapes (think: organic but on a whole new level)

Hand harvested and fermented with wild yeasts (no commercial yeasts added)

Fermented in a combo of wood and stainless steel

Aged on lees in the bottle for 2 years, which is 6 months longer than the legal minimum aging time

Given a super low 4 grams per litre of dosage – it’s extra dry, in other words

Bottled aged for 6 months prior to release

Come and join us for a free taste of one of a 100% Chardonnay (blancs de blanc) champagne, which we usually sell for $95.99 and today it is on special for $89.99… it’s not an every day price but then this is not an everyday wine – it’s something super special.

We will also be selling Robert Walters’ new book Champagne – A Secret History for $36.99 – a book that shakes up all your thinking about what champagne is, should be and could be.

 

Wine Wednesdays 2018… kick off again on 10 January

PS: Our next Wine Wednesday will be on Wednesday 10 January and we’ll have 2016 Fromm Riesling Spatlese open for free tasting, with a discount on the bottle that night.

Top drops… 5 wines with the X factor

I was once invited to post 5 positive things that happen to me every day on a private Facebook page. It’s a nice idea, but every day? Needless to say, posting 5 top wines once a week can be also be challenging but for different reasons…

There are simply so many tasty wines made in and imported to New Zealand today. This weekly blog is about the creme de la creme of them. The following wines are the absolute bests that I’ve tried over the past seven days in my work as a wine writer and as Wine Programme Director (tastings, writing) at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington and also as a wine lover.

So here we go… it’s the silly season but here are some very un-silly sparkling wines and lovely whites.

Big flavour, small name Champagne

Champagne Gatinois Aÿ Grand Cru Brut Tradition NV France $67.99 

19/20

Gatinois is based in the village of Aÿ in the Champagne region and is run by the father son team Pierre and Louis Cheval-Gatinois, who own 7.5 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards and sell half their grapes to Bollinger and other top champagne producers. They also make their own wines. This  blend of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay spends at least three years on lees (decomposing yeast cells) after secondary fermentation in bottle and this is where its rich toasty flavours come from. It’s full bodied, nutty, dry and complex with a slightly oxidative style which provides balancing softness to the refreshing acidity and long finish. Amazing wine.

Another similarly beautiful, Pinot Noir dominant bubbly is Andre Clouet about $54 – toasty and delicious.

Blanc de Blancs

Champagne Larmandier-Bernier Latitude $95.99

18.5/20

  • On special for $88.99 next Wednesday at Regional Wines & Spirits

Biodynamic, blanc de blancs (champagne speak for 100% Chardonnay) which is made from hand harvested grapes fermented in a combo of wood and stainless steel tanks with wild yeasts. Reserve (older) wines make up about a third of the blend and this is aged in the bottle on lees (decomposing yeast cells) for 2 years – 6 months longer than the legal minimum waging time for non vintage champagnes. The dosage is low at 4 grams per litre, which means this wine tastes drier than most champagnes but not austere, thanks to the richness supplied by the long lees aging and full body from the softening creamy effects of aging Chardonnay in wood.

 

Method in Marlborough

Nautilus Brut NV $41.99

18.5/20

Modelled on Bollinger, this Pinot Noir dominant Marlborough bubbly is made in the traditional method, which is another way of saying like champagne – second fermentation in the bottle. It’s then ages on lees (decomposing cells after fermentation) for an extended period of time, which provides big rich toasty flavours; the hallmark of Bollly and Pinot Noir dominant sparkling wine styles. A stunner.

 

Italian fizz

Vezzoli Franciacorta Brut $32.99

18.5/20

Italian top end fizz made 100% from Chardonnay grown in the Franciacorta DOCG in Lombardia; northern Italy. This is also made in the traditional method – the same way as champagne – and it tastes fresh, dry, full bodied and creamy – a dead giveaway this is Chardonnay.

 

Great name, great wine 

2014 Tongue in Groove Riesling $ , % ABV

19/20

I’m a sucker for a great name and this is one of the best because the wine lives up to its moniker, filling every groove in the mouth with its full bodied ripe peachiness. The refreshing citrusy flavours add an amazingly long, zesty, complex finish and every sip is hard to forget. This is a wine of beauty, thanks to Riesling devotee Lynnette Hudson and Angela Clifford; the front face duo behind this wine (which includes other silent team members too).

Top 5 drops… best wines of the week and a 50 year old German ‘white’

The cork from a 1971 German Riesling tasting at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington on 30 November 2017… 12 wines were all drawn from Geoff Kelly’s cellar; he is holding the shrivelled bit of tree bark that kept one of these wines ‘alive’ (relatively) over the past 46 years.

Here are my 5 top drops of the last 7 days – the wines that I can say, hand on heart, are the absolute best that I have tasted from my work as a wine writer and wine programme director at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington. Not that it’s been easy to pick just 5.

The week has been full of wine from sales reps who highlighted local (Martinborough), national (Marlborough, North Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay) and international wines (where do I begin?). And then there was the 1971 German Riesling tasting I paid to attend last night at which 12 wines surprised us all. Not a single bottle was tainted by cork’s worst trait – TCA (trichloranisole), also known as cork taint. Then again, not a single bottle was unaffected by cork because all had, to one degree or another, a level of oxidation due to being sealed with cork. One of the corks is pictured above and it’s not a pretty sight. You get that it’s a bit of wood and it doesn’t do wine any favours after a year in the neck of a bottle, let alone nearly 50.

Speaking of which, last week seems like a while ago now, so without further ado, here are my top 5 drops from this week.

I hope you enjoy the four that you can buy – and the fifth one is purely voyeuristic. How could I not share an incredible wine from my birth year (ouch, 50, guilty as charged).

 

Great white

2015 Pegasus Bay Riesling $32 to $37

Rating: 19/20

A hot night and an old friend’s birthday party last week called for all sorts of interesting wines but as I scoured the wine list for something refreshing, this wine stood out in neon to me – and its succulent, refreshing flavours made it my wine of the night. Pegasus Bay Riesling is North Canterbury’s best known wine and is, in my view, the rock star white of the region, thanks to the Donaldson family, who are among the earliest pioneers of high quality wine in that region. This wine consistently reaches high quality peaks with its rich concentration of flavour and juicy high acidity, which is balanced by lemon honey flavours and a long finish.

Where to buy: Specialist wine stores, Victoria Park New World in Auckland, Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington or www.pegasusbay.com

 

Gem Riesling

2017 Giesen Gemstone Marlborough Riesling $19.99, 10% ABV

Rating: 18.5/20

Speaking of Riesling, we were, weren’t we? Gemstone from Giesen is more than about alliteration; it’s a seductively tasty new wine made entirely from one vineyard in Marlborough – called Eden Valley Vineyard, in the Lower Waihopai Valley. Winemaker Nikolai St George fermented this wine in an interesting combo of granite tanks (made from a giant slab of volcanic rock), French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. That’s no mean feat for a wine that costs $20. The granite retains its core temperature, allowing for a slower fermentation while the other two vessels contribute diverse flavours (softer fruit, warmer ferment from the oak; fresher crisper brightness from the stainless portion). This wine is 10% and noticeably rich in flavour with a medium dry style, balanced by crisp acidity, which provides a long, flavoursome finish.

Where to buy: widely available in supermarkets.

 

Fresh as a daisy Chardonnay

2016 Fromm La Strada Marlborough Chardonnay $31

Rating: 18.5/20

La Strada means the way in Italian and refers to the way that Chardonnay responds to the Marlborough region; which is another way of saying that this wine is all about freshness, powerful ripe citrus flavours and purity of fruit rather than oaky bells and buttery whistles. That said, all those intense citrusy flavours are nicely balanced by 10% new oak, which adds body, weight and a creamy soft appeal.

Where to buy: specialist stores or Fromm Wines.

 

2015 Sacred Hill Brokenstone Hawke’s Bay $64

Rating: 19/20

Merlot, Malbec and Syrah rub shoulders with two Cabernets in this staunch but smooth Hawke’s Bay red – Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc add backbone to the dark spice in this seductive full bodied wine, which was one of my top three wines of the dozen ‘best’ box of 2015 Gimblett Gravels reds sent to me this year. The top 12 selection are chosen blind by Master of Wine Andrew Caillard, and it’s a great privilege to then be allowed the privilege of tasting the entire 12 wines for myself (the wineries send them out to wine writers).

More to come on this top 12 selection in future weeks. Watch this space. In the meantime, grab a bottle of Brokenstone; it’s not cheap but it is outstanding.

Sealed with a cork.

Where to buy: specialist stores or Sacred Hill Wines.

 

German aged Riesling

1971 Reichsgraf von Kesselstaff Josephshofer Trockenbeerenauslese QmP Mosel 

19/20 

This was my top wine of one of the most outstanding tastings held in New Zealand this year – Wellington wine writer and collector, Geoff Kelly (who has an amazing cellared collection of wines), proposed calling this tasting Does Riesling Age?
It sold out in two hours and was held last night with 10 wines from the 1971 vintage, one Cru Classé Sauternes thrown in for good measure and one 1967 beerenauslese, which was my third favourite wine of the night, but more on that next week.

All wines were tasted blind – Geoff had previously decanted them into numbered bottles so that the actual bottles were empty and lined up in age order in front.

This wine was one of the freshest in the lineup, despite its medium amber colour, which suggested it may have faded, but talk about incredible concentration of flavour – rich dried apricot flavours reminded me of the intensity of Central Otago dried apricots; the wine’s high acidity was still present and counted, and balancing the flavours of liquid honey, leaving this wine with a long finish and juicy drinkability which was remarkable to taste in a wine that is now 46 years old.

Where to buy: you can’t, but it’s inspiration to collect and keep Riesling because there is no question that it can age exceptionally well.

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