Friday, April 03, 2009

2006 Katarzyna Contemplations Triple Red

Country: Bulgaria
Region: Thracian Valley
Alcohol: 14%
Price: €11,00
Closure: Cork

As with so many other Eastern European countries, Bulgaria has a long history of grape growing and wine production; some estimate that vines were already established in this area around 2 AD. During the years of communism the wine industry lost it's way as wine production was monopolized and consolidated into a state-run industry. The target market was also adjusted to be exclusively the eastern block socialist countries. As a result wine quality suffered severely.

Katarzyna Estate, equivalent to the English Catherine or Catherina, was established in 2004 with the goal to put Bulgarian winemaking back on the map. The site selected for the winery is located on section of no man's between Bulgaria and Greece where watchtowers that still exist give reminder of another era. Since 2002 350 hectares of wines have been planted here along with around 12 million investment in a modern winery.

The 2006 Contemplation Triple Red is the estates first release of this wine. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Mavrud (a variety indiginous to Bulgaria). Here is my summation:

Attractively dense and dark in colour. Upon opening delicious dark berry aromas really wafted powerfully across the room. The palate is very rich and full-bodied with smooth, spicey, black berry fruit, pepper and an earthy mineraliness/chalkiness. Nice tanninic grip in there too. Ends with some attractive, slightly bitter notes on a good length. This is a really impressive effort first up. Efforts such as this will go a long way to restoring Bulgaria as a wine producing country of note.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

2007 Thanisch Alte Reben

Country: Germany
Region: Mosel
Alcohol: 12%
Price: €10,00
Closure: Cork

The Thanisch family story is an interesting one, with it's history traceable all the way back to the Thirty Year War. During this time a a village by the name of Thanisch existed between the towns of Bernkastel and Trarbach along the Mosel. Sometime in the period between 1630 and 1640, a traveller brought the plague to the town, killing its entire population with the exception of one citizen, who later named himself after the village of his ill-fated ancestors.

Weingut Thanisch has been owned by the Thanisch family since 1648. Jörg Thanisch, considered one of the rising stars of the Mosel region, has run the estate since he took over from his father Ludwig in 2001. Thanisch strives for a high quality, limited production harvest that produces a great classic Mosel-Riesling. The estate has 5.5 hectares under vine and produces around 60,000 bottles a year. The dominate grape variety is the riesling (75%) along with some Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir.

This is the 2007 Thanisch Alte Reben; alte reben meaning old vine and referring to the 35 year old vines from which this vine was made. The wine is produced from 100% riesling grown in the Süssenberg vineyard which forms a part of the weingut's premier vineyard, Niederberg-Helden. Here's what I thought of it:

Golden / dark straw yellow in colour with some tinges of green. On the nose honey, apple and hint of citrus. Really clean and pure on the palate with apple and pear along with a mineral aspect. Quite some sweetness on the palate though well balanced by mouth puckering acidity. A very nice wine, though not for those who want their riesling bone dry.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

2005 Chateau Rocher Calon

Country: France
Region: Montagne-Saint-Emilion
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Cork

This wine was picked up for a bargain price of 5 euro in the bargain bin of one of my local wine stores. I love a bargain as much as anyone, especially when it comes to wine, and will often take a punt on a wine that I don't know. This one being a 2005 from St. Emilion I was more than willing to give it a go at that price. Rightly, or wrongly, 2005 is considered by many as one of the best vintages of the decade in Bordeaux.

Chateau Rocher-Calon is located in Montagne-Saint-Emilion, the largest satelite region surrounding Saint Emilion. The region characterized by it's production of exclusively red wines, produced from the grape varieties Merlot (75% of vines grown), Cabernet Franc (20% of vines grown) and Cabernet Sauvigon (10% of vines grown). Two other grape varieties allowed in the region, but very rarely used, are Malbec and Carménère.

Clay and limestone along with some sand over a calcious limestone base (also known as roche calcaire, or asteries) make up the ground in which the vines are grown. The summer drought is softened by the inflow of water that rises through the porous limestone allowing the growing of high quality grapes.

Chateau Rocher Calon is an estate 12 hectares in size from which 80,000 bottles are produced with traditional winemaking methods in stainless steel vats with a long maceration of 20 to 25 days and ageing over 18 months. Michel Rolland and his team are used as consultants during the winemaking process.

This wine is typically a Merlot based red (95%) along with a small percentage of Cabernet Franc (5%). Here's what I thought of it:

Dark, deep and purple/red in colour. Nose is very clean; dark plum and current. Some evidence of oak there too. The palate is very closed at time of opening and needed quite some time to even begin opening up. Still it reveals some punchy, juicy black berry fruit on the palate. Quite big and powerful. Quite a lot of acidity in there too. Tannins are evident but not overpowering for a wine this youthful. This one really needs a lot more time in the cellar. A good effort that is value for the normal 12 let alone 5.