Sunday, 27 December 2015

Dom Perignon 2006

This Christmas, I decided to treat myself to some nice wines to share with my parents for our Boxing Day Lunch (celebrating Christmas 1 day late is the norm, as I always seem to be in a job that requires working Christmas Day).

To go with the canap├ęs (Pringles), we enjoyed Dom Perignon Champagne, this years release - 2006. This sees the first time in their 90 year history that 5 consecutive vintages have been made, a nod to the wine industries ever improving techniques in vinification and viticulture.



Dom Perignon is produced by the Moet and Chandon Champagne house in Epernay, and named after a Benedictine Monk who played an important role is the quality of Champagne. Born in 1638, he was the Cellar Master at the Benedictine Abbey in Hautvillers. He pioneered a number of winemaking techniques, including the blending of grapes to improve quality of wines, making white wine out of black grapes, introduce corks (instead of using wood) and to use thicker glass bottles to strengthen them with the pressure from Champagne inside.
The Dom Perignon Champagne was the first prestige cuvee Champagne produced, an idea from the Englishman Laurence Venn, with the aim to produce a higher quality Champagne intended for English Aristocracy. The first vintage was in 1921, and only released in 1936.
It's always a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, around 50% normally. It ages beautifully well, a truly great Champagne and worth the £££.
The 2006 vintage saw a generally warm and dry growing season, harvest began in September and lasted 4 weeks!

Nose; Complex and rich, floral and fruity notes of green apple, pears...going into savoury biscuit and toasted notes.
Palate; Feels quite tight on the palate, a really delicious mouthfeel and tastes just about ready, but you know it will just get better and better. A delicious mousse; the bubbles seem so delicate, and marry the high mineral flavours well.
A great richness comes through first, then in come the fruit notes - pear, apples some peachy notes. A great long finish.

This wonderfully rich Champagne would go with food very well, I'd suggest more delicate flavours..maybe a light scallop dish, a few slices of smoked salmon maybe (it went great with the Pringles though).
Don't drink too cold! Most people like their white wine absolutely freezing, this would just cover up the complex and rich flavours - muting the wine. Take it out of the fridge 10 minutes before hand and you'll be fine, the enjoy!

“Champagne is the only wine that leaves a woman beautiful after drinking it.” Madame De Pompadour



Monday, 14 December 2015

Robert Oatley Pinot Noir



This blog will mostly see more premium wines, but I don't want to put people to think thats all I drink! I love wine, and its very important for me too taste as much as I can...Its my hobbie, my passion, and of course my job!
But I do occasionally find myself (mainly towards the end of the month) looking towards the cheaper end of the market, and I may as well write about them on here too.
I live over the road to an Oddbins, I would much rather spend my money in an independent wine store of course, but its literally 1 minute walk away! They do have some interesting finds in there, and their stock does regularly change which is good for me too!
I went for their Robert Oatley Pinot Noir and its currently a pound off coming in at £12.25. It comes from the Yarra Valley, just East of Melbourne in Victoria; the coastal South - Southeast area. With its cool climate, its great for this Burgundian variety and some great wines are coming out of here. Its a very good wine, a very elegant style of Pinot Noir, not overly fruity which many people believe all New World Pinots are like!

Robert Oatley founded the Rosemount Estate back in the 60s, sold it in 2002 and started a new venture in 2006 where he produced wines under his own name. He's known as one of the great premium winemakers in Australia. This wine sees French oak, some new and some used.
Nose; Wild strawberries, red cherries, some vanilla from the oak too.
Palate; Red berries, again the wild strawberries, red cherry, some cranberry and redcurrant notes too. A nice acidity coming through from the cool climate and of course the naturally low tannins.
I would like to eat this with a fatty cut of pork, the great acidity would cut through the fattiness well - Pork belly of course! Otherwise a rich creamy wild mushroom risotto (although Im enjoying it with m and s milk bottles), enjoy!

"Lifes to short to drink bad wine" Anon, and me of course

Egon Muller - Chateau Bela



Egon Muller is King of the Riesling grape. One of the great producers in the Mosel region of German, and most famous for his wines coming from the Scharzhofberg vineyard. The Scahrzhof estate has been in the Muller family since 1797; and with the famous steep slopes with huge chunks of slate covering the ground, Egon is able to produce his famous and absolutely stunning Rieslings.
Egon Muller is 1 of the 8 producers who owns plots in the Scharzhofberg vineyard area, totalling around 8 hectares - this is where Rieslings of legendary status are found, with the off-dry Riesling from the Scharzhof winery being one of the most prestigious and most expensive in the world.

It lies in a side valley of the Saar river, and is one of the most coolest site here, classified for the VDP and as a Gross Lage (top site).
Wines from here have a distinct salty, mineral tones with elegance. Capable of ageing, gaining a concentration of ripe fruit yet maintaining a vibrant acidity.

But his success doesn't end there..not happy with just producing wine from this area, he decided on producing collaborations with producers from other areas of the world.
I first came across his Kanta Riesling from Australia, a year and a half ago; a collaboration between Egon Muller and Michael Andrewartha, which sees German traditions and precision meeting the premium, cool climate fruit from the Adelaide Hills. Still on the 2009 vintage today (at work) sees a truly exceptional wine, with great minerality, intense floral and lime characteristics and a great long finish. He definitely brings his own style to this wine from this area, this wine is lean and elegant and drinking great with light dishes such a a ceviche.

But this post isn't about Kanta Riesling, although it seems I got carried away talking about it. I am in fact drinking Chateau Bela Riesling. Another collaboration of Egon Mullers', but this time in Slovakia, on the banks of the River Danube.
Together with Miroslav Petrech (another well known winemaker) this great wine, produced since 2001 is truly exceptional, and one I pour time and time again at work, great with our matching wines to complement first courses and as an aperitif. We get through cases of this at work, yet I still manage to be able to buy a case of it to enjoy at home, currently drinking the 2012 vintage, but having tried back vintages aswell; this wine ages exceptionally well.
Nose; Lime zest, peachy and apricot notes - getting notes of sweetness too!
Palate; A racy acidity dominates this dry style of riesling, thats why its so easy to drink, and so easy to go back too. Zesty limes,Dried apricots, bruised apple and some candied sugary ginger in there too.
This is just such a great wine, great with light dishes, seafood, an aperitif with nibbles or excellent on its own! Its one of my favourites out there, its high, mouthwatering acidity - like biting into a fresh lime makes it so appealling and hard not to put a glass of it down enjoy!

"Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance" Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, 13 December 2015

WSET Diploma - Unit 2

So I started my WSET Diploma this year, Ive taken my first exam (and passed with distinction!) on Wine Production; Vinification and Viticulture, and now getting ready for my next exam on "Fortified" - everything Port, Madeira, Vin Doux Naturels and Sherry related. I've also just signed up for the introductory course for Court of Master Sommeliers course... a bit more service and hospitality related - so 2016 seems like a busy year for me!

I hate revising exams just to pass them, and don't want to think in a few months time I will have forgotten everything I crammed into my head days before sitting my Unit 2 Exam! So I'd like to use this blog, not just to write interesting things for everyone to read, but also as a way to revise and keep my mind updated for me aswell! Im sure you will all find it interesting too mind you...

The Vines Growing Environment
Sunlight, water and Carbon Dioxide -> these are photosynthesised by chlorophyll -> to make GLUCOSE.
Glucose combines to make larger carbohydrates to build the vine, and also contribute to the creation of tannins, acids and flavour compounds of the grape. Temperature is also important to take into consideration within this category - the optimum being 22-25'C, with the vine being dormant below 10'C: With an increase of temperature, the vine increases it metabolism - thus increasing its need for sunlight, water and carbon dioxide.

Regional Climate Classification:
COOL; mean average temperature during the growing season BELOW 16'C - Chardonnay, Pinot Noir ; Mosel, South England
MODERATE; 16.5'C - 18.5'C - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese ; Bordeaux, Rioja, Piedmont, Tuscany, Marlborough
WARM; 18.5'C - 21'C - Grenache - S.Rhone, Douro (Port), Jerez, Paarl, Mclaren Vale
HOT; +21'C - table and drying grapes

We can also classify growing climates according to their continentality - the difference between the hottest and coldest month essentially. Somewhere which experiences large differences in temperatures during winter and summer is classed as continental, and where the differences are small; climates are classed as maritime.
MARITIME; a low annual range of temperatures (warm summers and mild winters) along with high rainfall. A long berry ripening stage and usually found near large bodies of water; Bordeaux, East coast of New Zealand.
MEDITERRANEAN; also a low annual range of temperatures but with most of the rain falling in winter; the Med, West coast of the US, Chile, SE Australia, Cape of South Africa.
CONTINENTAL; a wide range of temperatures, with hot summers and cold winters, usually found inland; Central Europe, Spain and Mendoza.
TROPICAL; These areas have little temperature variation, so are tricky! - Vines need dormant periods where they can restore their carbohydrate reserves and rest. If unable too, it leads to vines producing grapes more than once a year, but at the moment it seems pretty on trend to find obscure and unusual wines from places, unfortunately it leads to a shorter productive lifespan (e.g. India and Brazil).

"Either give me more wine or leave me alone" anon/me/everyone

Ca'Marcanda - Gaja

My second wine from my visit to Hedonism was "Margari" from Ca'Marcanda in Bolgheri, the coastal region situated in Maremma, Tuscany in Italy. I am a huge fan of Italian wines and having spent 2 weeks in Tuscany this summer, my flat seems to be full of boxes of 2010 Brunellos now!



Now Bolgheri is a fairly new wine making area of interest; with its turning point going back to 1974, where the famous Sassicaia came out top in a Decanter event, rising above all the big Bordeaux names. Before this, Bolgheri was only making mediocre white and rose, nothing of much interest. Sassicaia was pretty unique as it was 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, very much a Bordeaux grape, and a big change from Italys Sangiovese and Nebbiolo wines. This idea went back to the 1920s, where Marchese Mario Incisa dreamed of making a wine similar to those of Bordeaux. In the 1940s he went about his quest by settling on the Tenuta San Guido on the Tyrrehian coast, he recognised the same gravelly soil similar to that of Bordeaux, so he began experimenting with bordeaux grapes. The first few vintages weren't well received, so it remained a family affair. But with further ageing, the wines were improving considerably, and soon friends encouraged Mario Incisa to release his wines commercially, and as mentioned above, they were very well received.
But it was only since 1994 were Bolgheri reds actually given DOC status, before this they were sold under IGT or Vino da Tavola, this being because of their use of international grapes. Despite this change, many of the producers decided not to accept this change (which came far to late!) and are still carrying on quite happily with their IGT or Vino da Tavola status, but with their massive price labels.
Nowadays we're familiar with Ornellaia, Gaja, Antinori and other "Super - Tuscans" which followed suit and are still out performing the such loved Bordeaux classics.

Ca'Marcanda winery, so named for the long negotiations for the purchase of the estate (ca' meaning case, or house and marcanda meaning mercanteggiare or to haggle) started back in 1996, with the purchase of the 250 acre estate by the Gaja family. Magari (if only it were true) by Gaja, is one of four of their wines they produce from the Ca'Marcanda winery; this one being one of the more entry level styles, for which I paid £39.80. 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cabernet Franc, grown on a loamy clay soil, seeing 18 months of a mix of new and slightly used oak.
Nose; On the nose, I get more of the Cabernet Sauvignon flavours; juicy blackcurrant and blackcurrant leaf, black cherry. Some notes of sweet spice from the oak - maybe liquorice and some cedar wood.
Palate;This wine has pronounced minerality, with luscious fruit from Merlot, a spicy feel from the Cabernet; giving a rich and well rounded wine, with an elegant and silky finish. Flavours of blackcurrant, black cherry, mint and some coffee notes linger on the palate too. Fine and well integrated tannins, which make it very easy to drink, and a medium acidity makes it easy to go back too. Although I enjoyed it on it's own, I could imagine it pairing perfectly with a spiced duck dish, a simple roast lamb with all the trimmings, or maybe steak tartare - Nothing too heavy say like steak or a stew as it would over power the delicate flavours of the wine. I enjoyed this wine without decanting (as I was on my own!) but I would recommend too, if you are enjoying it with a meal, or with more than 1 person! It defintely improved whilst further in.

Nothing overly complex, but a great wine which is perfectly balanced and beautifully smooth. I would highly recommend it and its one I will definitely be returning too. If your looking for a "Bordeaux style", I would definitely go for this wine, or one from this area - you do get a much more enjoyment for your money, and a lot more elegance. I think for this price, it's a higher quality and feels ready to drink, although will improve with further ageing too.

"Age is just a number. It's totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine" Joan Collins