Wednesday, January 30, 2008

2005 Chateau Saint-Paul

Country: France
Region: Haut-Medoc
Alcohol: 13%
Price: €6.00 (Discounted)
Closure: Cork

Chateau Saint Paul is the result of a union of two plots of vines; one belonging to Chateau Mornin, the other to Le Bosq, both of St-Estephe fame. The vinyards, totalling 48 hectare, have a long history and date back well into the 17th and 18th centuries. The chateau is located next to the great chateau Sociando-Mallet overlooking the Gironde river. With the pedrigree of the dirt in which the vines are grown, there is no real excuse for producing anything but good wine.
The wine is a blend of cabernet (65%), merlot (35%) and cabernet franc (5%) with cabernet being the dominant variety as is typical in wines from the Haut-Medoc region. It has matured in oak for 18 months, of which 25 percent is new oak. Here is my note:

Deep, dark red in colour with tinges of violet. Intense, attractive nose of cassis, spice and some cedar. Concentrated on the palate this is a powerful wine with a good fruit core of cassis, plums and some hints of vanilla. Good balance and complexity with quite substantial tannic grip and a decent length on the finish. This wine is a fantastic bargain that needs a couple of years to settle down.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

2007 Eymann Classic Riesling

Country: Germany
Region: Phalz
Alcohol: 12%
Price: €7.95

Riesling is, in my opinion, the one single white grape that can lay claims to nobility along the same lines that Cabernet does for the red varieties. Riesling has suffered enormously because it is associated with sweet and semi sweet wines of low quality that have been produced in Germany in past years. However, this perception could be nothing further from the truth; when handled correctly this grape can produce phenomenal wines with good potential cellaring.

This riesling, produced by Weingut Eymann, is classified as a classic riesling. The classic category, introduced in 2000, means that this wine has no more than 15 grams of residual sugar per litre of wine. Here is my tasting note:

Clear and very pale yellow in colour. The nose is quite sharp and floral with lots of citrus fruits. Good mouthfeel; crisp and fresh with plenty of citrus fruit and sour apple. Well balanced with plenty of sweet fruit to counter the high acids. Nice length on a rather tart finish. A well made Riesling at an affordable price.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

2003 Siam Winery Monsoon Valley Shiraz

Country: Thailand
Region: Pak Chong
Alcohol: 12.5%
Price: €5-6

First there were wines from the Old World, then along came wines from the New World. Now there are also the New Latitude wines; wines produced in countries such as India, China, Thailand, and Brazil where the environment does not naturally support the growing of wine grapes, and where is little history of producing high quality wine. Advances in winemaking and better control over cropping levels etc. have allowed wines to be produced in these areas where the vine would normally not do all that well.

Monsoon Valley is part of the Siam Winery group based in Thailand, a country certainly not known for producing quality (or any wine at all for that matter). What makes this winery interesting is it's promotion of two so-called "local" red and white grapes: Malaga Blanc and Pokdum. Malaga Blanc was introduced to Thailand in 1685 and has been used as a table grape whereas Pokdum is a mutation of a crossing of Golden Queen and Muscat Bailey A varieties. While both grape varieties are rarely used elsewhere in the wineworld in Thailand they both show promise to produce a product unique to Thailand.

The way some of these grapes are grown is also very non-conventional. The winery purchase a good percentage of its grapes from vineyards located in the Chao Phraya delta. It was here that a network of canals was built for drainage, irrigation and transport purposes during the reign of King Rama IV. The vine grow on narrow small islands with canals in between the rows which gives the illusion that they are floating on the water. Some photos can be found here.

While Monsoon Valley produce a number of wines based on largely on indigenous grapes it also produces from 100% Shiraz grapes grown in a more traditional way in Pak Chong. I had the opportunity to purchase some around two years ago. The total wine geek that I am I decided to purchase a case of this wine. The first bottle was consumed around 2 years ago. At the time I was quite disappointed with the wine and as a result it was left in the cellar until today when I decided to give it another go. Here is my tasting note:

Ruby red in colour.
The nose is dusty and dominated by cedar aromas with some black, plummy fruit and hints of mint poking through. Quite round and smooth on the palate with the same plummy black fruit and hints of spice. Tannins are very soft. Smooth and decent length on the finish with spicey black fruit. Though a lacking a little structure this is a decent, and very respectable effort from a country not known for wine production. I am certainly a lot more impressed than I was the last time I tasted this.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

WBW#41 Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Friuli-Venezia Whites)

This month the theme for Wine Blogging Wednesday, suggested by Jack & Joanne at fork and bottle, are the whites wines from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region in Italy. Friuli is a region with a long history of occupation; the Celts, the Romans, the Barbarians, the Lombards, the Avari, the Austrians and the Hungarians have all had control over this region at a certain period of time. I would imagine that this variety of cultures would have left a distinct mark on the gastronomy of this region including the wines.

While good reds are produced here, Friuli is primarily known for it's high quality white wines; in some sub-regions white varieties outnumber red varieties by a ratio of 5 to 1. An estimated thirty grape varieties are grown here including a number of indigenous varieties of which Tocai Friulano is the most important and widely grown. Soon to be known as Friulano, in order to avoid confusion with Tokaji in Hungary, this variety is found almost entirely in the Friuli region, except for some plantings in Chile (where it is known as Savignon Vert).

The entire region of Friuli is known for the quality of it's wines. However, the two sub-regions of Collio and, especially, Colli Orientali located to the east along the border with Slovenia are said to produce the best wines.

This month I have chosen to review two wines. Since I found it rather difficult to find wines for WBW themes in the past, I bought the first bottle I came across (more by chance than by design). This was a 2006 Sauvignon (blanc) produced by Tenuta Ca' Bolani. However, I rather like to try something new and original so I also managed to get my hands on a Tocai Friulano - Storico (Cru) produced by Adriano Gigant. This wine comes from 70 year old vineyards located in Colli Orientali, is limited in production to 7000 bottles, and was rated as a tre bicchiere (three glass) selection in the 2007 Gambero Rosso Guide to Italian Wines.

2006 Tenuta Ca' Bolani Sauvignon

Country: Italy
Region: Fiuli
Alcohol: 12.5%
Price: €9.00

Very clear, pale, straw-like in colour. The nose is distinctly sauvignon blanc quite perfumed and aromatic with grass and gooseberry. Palate is limes, gooseberry; round and smooth with hints of butter. The finish is tart lime fruit with a reasonable length. This is very, very easy drinking Sauvignon Blanc. Lovely.

2004 Tocai Friulano - Storico (Cru)

Country: Italy
Region: Fiuli
Alcohol: 14%
Price: €15.95

Pale, clear gold in colour. The nose is elegant, fragrant and floral. Crisp citrus fruits dominate the palate, yet it also has some creamy aspects too. Very well balanced with good structure. The long, thick legs on the sides of the glass are evidence of 14% alcohol though you wouldn't know it. Nice long, slightly bitter finish completes an excellent wine.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

2000 Chateau Capet Duverger

Country: France
Region: St. Emilion
Alcohol: 13%
Price: €11,50
Closure: Cork

I bought this wine on a whim - most probably because it was on sale in some random wine shop. This is a vineyard that I had never heard of, and certainly couldn't find all that much about it on the web either as I find it the way with many French wines.

What I do know is that this chateau has a rather small with a vineyard of around 7 hectares in size. As you would expect from a right-bank Bordeaux vineyard Merlot dominates the vine plantings with 64% followed by Cabernet Franc (28%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (8%). It's safe to say this red blend contains the same varieties in similar proportions. The average age of the vines is 29 years.

Here is my tasting note:

Nice deep purple, red in colour. Shows some age with the brick-red near the edge of the glass. Typical Merlot nose of plummy, black fruit. The wine took a while to open up and show it's true colours but when it did it showed the same plums and black fruit as on nose. Very much Merlot in it's softness and roundness with some firm tannins but not enough here for mine. Ends with slightly bitter red fruit on the finish. A nice red, though not quite what you would expect from a grand cru.