Vino

Top drops under $20 (and over) and wine news from Joelle Thomson

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Wine of the week from Germany’s 2000 vintage

This is a beautiful wine. It was purchased in a beautiful place from grapes grown on an outrageously steep one…

2000 Fritz Haag Riesling Auslese 7% ABV, price not available

The 2000 Fritz Haag Riesling Auslese was made from grapes grown on the Brauneberg hillside, which has been regarded as a great vineyard site since the second century AD when the Romans cultivated vines there.

The Juffer Sonnenuhr is the best part of the Brauneberg Vineyard, facing south and producing grapes with great flavour concentration balanced by crisp high acidity, which is still evident in this 18 year old wine today.

We bought it when we visited the middle Mosel in 2001 with our then-15 month old daughter, Ruby. This week she turned 18, so we opened the 750ml bottle of this wine, tentatively, because it was sealed with cork – which crumbled almost as soon as the corkscrew penetrated its Riesling-soaked outer edge, which soon turned to dust, crumbling into the wine, until I extracted the last shred of cork and used a sieve to pour this full bodied, zesty Riesling, which has flavours of lemon, limes and honey. What a wine. It’s succulent and rich but super fresh still, after all these years. There’s no price tag on this wine because you can’t buy it, but drinking it after all this time can buy memories – both from the past and an investment in great future ones.

Residual sweetness is approximately 100 grams per liter, possibly slightly higher. The total production is about 200 cases.

Wine, the universe and everything part 2

Big wine regions often get a bad rap but where would we be without them?

I’ve lost count of how many visits I made to Marlborough last year, often with others who work with wine, and each time we were staggered by the region’s heavy reliance on Sauvignon Blanc. Even when you do expect it,  the number of eggs that Marlborough winemakers have in the Sauvignon Blanc basket is daunting, to say the least.

Great Chardonnays from Marlborough are growing in number but even at the largest wineries, it often makes up less than 5% of their overall production. And that doesn’t even touch on the potential greatness of Marlborough Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Chenin Blanc (listed in diminishing order of their numerical importance in the region). Such is the importance of the wine we call ‘Savvy’. And you’d be anything but that, if you chose not to put most of your energy into producing the most profitable wine. Still, it’s great to taste a slow but steady divergence  amongst Marlborough Sauvignons, which is why Kevin Judd’s Wild Sauvignon hits the sweet spot with so many wine commentators and drinkers alike, not only in New Zealand but around the world. Read on.

The latest stats

85% of Marlborough’s wine production is Sauvignon Blanc

76% of New Zealand’s white grapes are Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is the most planted grape overall and the dominant white wine in New Zealand, which occupies 22,085 hectares of the 37,000 hectares of grapes grown in this country

Sauvignon has had the biggest overall growth of any grape grown and wine made in New Zealand in the past 10 years

In 2008 there were 13,988 producing hectares of Sauvignon planted nationwide – today it is 22,085 (as above). Over the same period, Pinot Noir grew from 4,650 hectares in 2008 to 5,653 today; Chardonnay decreased from 3,881 to 3,203 and Pinot Gris grew from 1,383 to 2,469.

 

5 TOP DROPS

FOR THE CELLAR

2015 Greywacke Wild Sauvignon Marlborough $28-$30, 14% ABV 

Kevin Judd first made this wine in 2009 and it is 100% barrel fermented with 100% wild yeast; about two thirds of the wine goes through malolactic fermentation to soften Sauvignon’s naturally high acidity and  add roundness to this voluptuous, full bodied dry white. It ages in barrel and goes through battonage (French for stirring the lees – the decomposing yeast cells left over in the wine). It was James Healy – fellow winemaker at Cloudy Bay, who steered Judd in the direction of a wild and tank fermented Sauvignon, but that was back in 1991 when they both worked at Cloudy Bay. Judd says he was pestered by Healy to make  wild yeast fermented Chardonnay and he eventually he agreed to do it, he was surprised to find himself thinking ‘This is really quite good’.

As is his Greywacke Wild Sauvignon – full bodied, succulent, juicy, savoury and long. This wine shines a new light on Sauvignon Blanc. It can age well too; for up to 10 years.

 

NAUGHTY AND NICE

2015 Kung Fu Girl Riesling $24.95, 12% ABV

The label’s naughty, the wine is nice. And it has a new importer in New Zealand as from this week; namely, Constellation Brands.

Kung Fu Girl Riesling is made from grapes grown on the evocatively named Evergreen Vineyard in the Ancient Lakes AVA (American Viticultural Area – 566 hectares with only 5 wineries, so not large). It’s off dry, but only just, which suits its incredibly intense fruit purity,  light body and juicy flavours of ripe limes, green apples and mandarin.

Washington State is not exactly the first place you’d expect to look for Riesling but the classic light bodied, low alcohol, off dry German Rieslings were the inspiration for North American winemaker Charles Smith.

Available from specialist wine stores or email: joanne.deitch@cbrands.com

 

ONE FOR FUN

Bisou Bisou $19.99

Bisou Bisou means kiss kiss in French and the wine is definitely a big cuddly bubbly, made entirely from Chardonnay grapes grown in the Yarra Valley, 40 minutes north of Melbourne. It’s off dry but its creamy soft complexity balances the high but refreshing acidity. It was made at De Bortoli Wines and is available exclusively only through Vinomofo online.

Available from Vinomofo.

 

PINOT POWER

2016 Whistling Buoy Half Acre Vineyard Pinot Noir $42

This grapes in this wine were grown in Lyttelton, which is halfway down the South Island on the east coast of New Zealand. It’s a far flung place for growing fruit, even from the nearby city of Christchurch city (whose residents look north rather than east for the best local produce), but it is a beautiful getaway and a surprisingly successful one for the small Half Acre Vineyard, on the south of Lyttelton Harbour crater. This is the source of the Pinot Noir grapes in this wine. They growing facing north where they are drenched in sun on the warm slopes of a vineyard first planted in 2000. It’s an outstanding wine; revealing the earthy, mushroomy, dark cherry  character of Canterbury Pinot Noirs; its medium body and firm acidity add freshness to the beautiful ripe fruit flavours in this wine. The name comes from the original buoy that marked the entrance to this harbour.

Available direct from Whistling Buoy Wines online at http://www.whistlingbuoy.co.nz/index.php/en/

 

DECADENT DROP

2016 Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Bush Vine Grenache $28.95 , 14.5% ABV

Grenache may be one of the most prolifically grown grapes in the world, but it’s also one of the most under rated. How often do you even see the G word on a bottle of wine? It’s one of the most planted grapes in both Spain and southern France and it was once Australia’s most planted overall grape, until a significant amount was pulled out. How times change.

Winemakers like Bryn Richards from Chapel Hill are now keen to plant more Grenache. He is also lucky enough to have access to old bush vines for this wine, which was made from grapes grown on a vineyard planted in 1952 in McLaren Vale, south Australia – a hot bed of experimentation. Richards is a massive fan of Grenache for its soft, sensual mouth feel and its intense red cherry flavours. If you love Pinot, check out this next step up. It’s full bodied but has a lightness in taste and is a wine of real beauty and instant accessibility; drinks well now, though can definitely improve with age in the bottle for 4-5 years, possibly longer.

Available from Glengarry stores.

It’s all about Chardonnay tonight

Chardonnay may play second fiddle to Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough but the brand spanking new 2016 Fromm La Strada Chardonnay proves this region has more than one string to its wine bow. 

Come and join us in store tonight for a free tasting of a great white made from Chardonnay, which also happens to be a brand new release…

The 2016 Fromm La Strada Chardonnay is usually $35.99 and is on special tonight for $32.99.

Join us for our free mid week tasting…

The time is 5.30pm to 7pm, the place is Regional Wines & Spirits and the theme is Wine Wednesday, which is back tonight with this big, bold Chardonnay from Marlborough.

Bookings are not necessary, just turn up any time between 5.30pm and 7pm to taste this great southern white.

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