Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2015 – Marlborough, NZ; 14% abv; c.30€
Some part of me remembered that this wine has fans among people whose tastes I trust. So I decided to try it though I’m not exactly a NZ SB fan so the idea of spending almost 30€ on one did make me pause for a minute. But since there was nothing else new of interest in that particular Alko I bought it.
Mostly I have only positive things to say about it. It certainly is not your stereotype of NZ SB and there’s quite a bit of depth to the aromas so it isn’t just an in-your-face mix of over- and under-ripe fruit. The scent is really quite interesting and, unlike most SBs, actually invites me to take another sniff though I’m not always terribly into such exotic/tropical fruit sensations in wine. But a couple slight negatives: there is a bit of a pear-drop scent as if it were cool-fermented and I even sense a bit of oak. I know that barrels have to be replaced occasionally but surely the occasional new barrel wouldn’t leave such a mark? Is it a conscious decision to have a touch of oak here? Or am I back to my usual self and crying wolf? There’s also a slight creamy edge that suggests some malo, maybe?
The palate is quite nice, too, and very different again from the stereotype of the NZ SB. It’s quite fruity, weighty and soft like a Chardonnay. Again, there’s a slight creamy edge that seems like malo. But if I’m not hallucinating that, it’s been done well and there’s enough acidity to keep such an amount of boisterous of fruit in check.
It’s a fun, fruity, easy-going wine. There are interesting aromas and textures and it is lively despite the fruit. But 30€? A tenner off and I’d buy it again.
Kir-Yianni Ramnista Xinomavro 2013 – PDO Naoussa; c.23€; 14% abv
Writers often liken Xinomavro to Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir because of the hard tannins and its aromatic profile. And yeah, I can see that. This Kir-Yianni smells really lovely and all the words that my nostrils make my fingers type are those always mentioned in every note of Nebbiolo: tar, roses, red fruit. The palate is also like that: dry tannins, savoury fruit profile, fairly high acidity. But this is just because commonly used wine jargon simply fails us. This wine is not identical to Nebbiolo but rather has a vaguely similar profile. But it is unique. But the jargon fails me again when I try to think of words to express the differences. I just want to say that it’s kind of a rustic version of Nebbiolo with perhaps a sweeter profile to the red fruit aromas. But I don’t know. I’m always a bit skeptical about wine writing because it just doesn’t really work or convey much useful information.
So I’ll just say this: this is such a fun, lovely wine at a pretty decent price. It is full of character and it is full of fun smells for a curious nose and fun tastes for a curious palate. But it is tough. So if you open now (and you should try it) give it air and have a chunk of bloody meat on hand.
One of the saddest things of the old Alko was that we never got any Loire Chenin. And I love Loire Chenin – maybe even more than I love Riesling. So today I went to an Alko and saw a Vouvray and the name Pinon and for a second I got excited! Only it was a Damien Pinon rather than a Francois. But since it has been the only Loire Chenin in ages and not too badly priced at a little over 20€ I bought one.
Damien Pinon Vouvray Tuffo 2015 – c.23€; 13% abv; 8 g/l RS
If I had more frequent exposures to Chenin I might not be terribly excited by this. But with our situation I’m not only happy to see just any Chenin, I also thought it was quite a fun little wine. It has all those quince and hay aromas that one expects from the grape. It does seem quite rich (ripe year plus a bit of RS?) but also has wonderful acidity so it is very moreish. It tastes like what it says on the tin and that, after so many years of no Chenin at all, is something I am genuinely excited about. Ideally, I’d like our first Chenin in years to be a fully dry and austere example but just as with Riesling, I don’t mind RS as long as there is sufficient acidity. And this has it. So my heart is all excited and overjoyed but my brain tries to bring back memories of the truly great Chenins and says that this might not be quite as exciting as I think it is. Which organ to believe?
So anyone tried Damien Pinon? Or do people only drink Francois here since Francois is available in civilized countries?
I really do not get along with Sauvignon blanc – oddly enough not even with the Loire examples that don’t smell of the NZ stereotype. And though there are some rare perfectly drinkable and enjoyable examples, I’d still usually prefer a mediocre Muscadet to an “excellent” SB. But as a bit of a Loire fan and as one not always convinced by NZ wines, I do appreciate the irony that my all time favourite SB comes from Hawke’s Bay NZ.
Supernatural Wine Co. “The Supernatural” Sauvignon Blanc 2014 – 14% abv; c.23€; Hawke’s Bay, NZ; crown cork (yay!)
If the name doesn’t warn you enough, the label says it all with its mystical thematics and even a picture of Rudolf Steiner. We’re dealing with what James Randi would call woo: anti-scientific ideas used because the makers believe it’s better for the wine. Well I disagree with all that biodynamic nonsense and I suppose I really should dislike “natural” wines and especially “supernatural” ones because I disagree with the pseudo-science behind it. But the fact is that they are often amazing wines. This is no exception. But correlation does not necessarily imply causation and I’ve never been persuaded by attempts to explain this correlation through causation. There are other reasons than biodynamics to why I happen to like so many biodynamic wines.
Quite dark yellow. The smell is familiar from the better Sauvignons I’ve had with its chilli pepper sting – yet this goes well beyond those aromas and surrounds itself in an aura (oh damn! the mystic vocabulary is catching!) of something more interesting and substantial. It smells almost as if it had a touch of botrytis. It is tropical without seeming one-dimensional or just plain overripe and sugary. The palate is rich and concentrated, very fruity and substantial but not lacking in acidity. It is very moreish despite its size. Finishes clean and savoury.
I guess this is a genuinely three-dimensional wine whereas I find most SBs lacking in dimensions. Though I guess they identify with the “naturalist” movement, this is not a freaky, cidery example. It is recognizably the grape it is made from – it just builds up from that and makes it actually nice. So though I disagree with the “philosophy” behind such agriculture I can’t help but love the wine.
Château Léoube Rosé de Léoube 2016 – Côtes de Provence; c.23€; 13% abv
Sari Wines import several very nice wines from the south of France. This Léoube rosé has been one of my favourites over the past couple summers. And I’m happy to see that the 2016 continues to be wonderful.
Pale colour. Lovely, pure strawberry aromas but with a savoury twist so it isn’t just about fruit. Same with the palate: it is ripe and fruity but with good acidity. It is not a heavy rosé nor is it an insubstantial, inconsequential rosé. It’s a serious wine. Good enough that I’ll forgive the price though it is a bit high for a rosé.
One of the fun things about the new and ever so slightly improved Alko is that there is now more choice for us consumers and that importers have it slightly easier when trying to get wines for sale in Alko. One result is that some importers are starting to listen directly to what consumers want instead of listening to what Alko dictates. And apparently low to mid price Bordeaux with a bit of bottle age is something that a lot of people wished for.
I ordered some lamb to take home from a newish Syrian restaurant here and opened a Chateau Simard 1998 with it. Musar might have been the obvious choice but I haven’t had a Bordeaux in ages (since as you may recall I find them just a bit boring these days – at least at the young age that have been available here). And with close to 20 years age it should be drinking well.
And I have to confess that at 30€ and this level of maturity, this was a very decent wine. If more semi-affordable Bordeaux with some bottle age were available I would actually drink some. This had lovely ripeness but also a proper old school rusticity and even a touch of shite to bring interest. Deliciously light, not heavily extracted, not packed too full of everything and 12,5% according to the label all mean that this is very moreish and just what the lamb needed. Drinking beautifully just now but I think I might enjoy it in the future, too since I have some vinous necrophiliac tendencies, but I think now is a good point for most people to start opening these if this was a typical bottle. Have I now lost any hipster credentials I may have had since I’m praising a Bordeaux here?
Zind-Humbrecht Herrenweg de Turckheim Riesling 2014 – 12,5% abv; c.25€
Very interesting scent: almost more like Viognier than Riesling since it is so floral and aromatic and lacking the typical Riesling’s laser sharpness. With the deeper musky and honeyed aromas it seems like a complex but bass-heavy wine and it doesn’t have enough balance from citric high-notes. The few refreshing aromas to surface are tropical and more like pineapple than those light and refreshing citrus tones I so love in Riesling. Unctuous, heavy, concentrated, relatively low acidity, and very slight RS.
I don’t think it’s in any doubt that this is a seriously intriguing wine with lots of fascinating sniffs providing much entertainment for the curious nose. But moreishness and drinkability? Not so much. I managed a glass just fine. Midway through my second one I started to feel like I’d already eaten a three course meal and more was served: I just felt too full to continue.
Fascinating, complex and tasteable – but just not drinkable enough.