Thursday, May 22, 2008

2003 Castello Dei Rampolla Chianti Classico D.O.C.G.

Region: Toscana
Country: Italy
Alcohol: 14.5%
Price: €20.95
Closure: Cork

Castello Dei Rampolla is situated close to Panzano in central Tuscany and has a long history going back to the 13th century. The 42 hectare vineyard, farmed biodynamically for the past ten years, is situated on calcareous soil about 360 meters above sea level. The sangiovese variety thrives in this environment. Quality is further increased by high-density planting of vines and ensuring low yields.

While Castello Dei Rampolla's main claim to fame is their cabernet-based super-tuscans like Sammarco and D’Alceo around 60% of the total production is Chianti Classico (around 100,000 bottles). The remaining 40% is divided between the D’Alceo, the Sammarco and the Trebianco. This wine is the Chianti Classico, a blend of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Here's what I thought of it:

Garnet in colour fading to orange at the rim of the glass. Almost a little smokey on the nose with red cherry, berry fruit and a hint of mushroom. The same red fruit reappears on the palate backed up by firm, dying tannins and some toasty oak. Nice length completes a wine where all components are nicely in balance with one another. All-in-all a really delicious, well structured wine that matched nicely with the wild mushroom and truffle ragu we had for dinner.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

2007 Thorn Clarke James Goddard Shiraz

Region: Barossa
Country: Australia
Alcohol: 14%
Price: €9.99
Closure: Cork

Thorn-Clarke Wines was launched in 2002 as a result of the 37 year marriage between David and Cheryl Clarke (nee Thorn). The Thorn family have a long history in the Barossa having grown vines in there since the 1870’s. They still proudly own and manage some of the oldest vineyards in the region.

Thorn-Clarke abides by a strong philosophy of over-delivering in terms of the quality at every price level. They strive to ensure that whether people buy the Sandpiper range at $15 or the Shotfire range at $23 they are drinking wines that are excellent value for money. So far that has definitely been the case.

This shiraz is a tribute to the ambitious James Goddard, an ancestor of the Clarke family, who found gold in the Barossa Valley in the 1870's. Having migrated from England in the 1850’s, he moved to the Barossa during the gold rush, developing and managing the Lady Alice mine in search of riches. Here are my thoughts on the wine:

Dense, deep, inky purple-red in colour. Nice nose with plenty of black fruit and hints of vanilla. Full-bodied on the palate with black berry, plum and some sour cherry backed by toasty oak and fine-grained tannins. A lengthy, drying finish completes a nice wine that punches well above its weight class.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

2007 Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay Pinot Noir

Region: Franschhoek
Country: South Africa
Alcohol: 13.5%
Price: €13.50
Closure: Cork

An interesting, unique blend that caught my eye at a local wine store - a still wine produced from the grapes of one of the traditional Champagne blends, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This wine is produced by Boschendal Wines a wine producer in the Franshoek region in South Africa. One of the oldest producers in the franschhoek region it has a rich history dating back over 300 years to the arrival French Hugenots in the area.

While the early history has strong links the the French Hugenots the name Boschendal is an old Dutch name which literally means forrest (bosch) dale (dal). The strong Dutch influence continues with the magnificant manor house that has been built in the Cape Dutch style. Completing the estate is 200 hectares of vines consisting of wide range of different varieties.

This wine, from the 1685 range, honours the arrival of the Hugenots in the area, and the beginning of winemaking, in the year 1685. It is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in equal portions barrel-fermented. Here's what I thought of it:

Interesting colour with an orange-yellow-brown, almost a light copper in colour. The nose with tropical fruit - pineapple etc. though there is some hint of cherry/strawberry too. Full bodied and powerful on the palate with the same tropical fruit as on the nose along with a spicy, fresh cherry finish. Really fresh with some bitters on the finish. Not bad, although I am not blown away by this one at all.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

2004 Penfolds Thomas Hyland Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: Adelaide, Coonawarra, and Robe
Country: Australia
Alcohol: 13.5%
Price: €9.99
Closure: Cork

It was Thomas Hyland's hands that took over the reins after the passing of Penfolds founder Dr. Christopher Rawson Penfold. Hyland was married into the Penfolds family and, together with his mother-in-law Mary Penfold, saw the company develop into one of Australia's most famous wine names.

This cabernet is one of a trio of wines that form the Thomas Hyland range honouring the enterprising, pioneering spirit of Thomas Hyland. Typically of many of the Penfolds range it is a multi-regional wine that draws its fruit from Adelaide, Coonawarra, and Robe. Here's what I thought of it:

Deep, dark dense red with purple hues. The nose is not super powerful but shows nice ripe red plum fruit, some black olive and hints of vanillan oak. Soft, round and fruit forward on the palate with the oak nicely tucked away behind red plum and berry fruit backed up by fine, grippy tannins. Decent length completes a drink-now wine that is well made, but is not all that exciting.

WBW#45 Old World Riesling

Region: Ahr Valley
Country: Germany
Alcohol: 13.5%
Price: €12.00-15.00
Closure: Cork

The wine blogging wednesday theme (hosted by Tim at for this month is old world Riesling (in essence Germany, Austria and France's Alsace). Of all the white varieties I can't think of a variety that I love and hate (at the same time) more. When well-made Riesling wines are superb, when done badly they are terrible. C
heap brand names such as Blue Nun and Black Tower, as well as wines designated Liebfraumilch, have really given the reputation of Riesling a hammering in the past. Thankfully things have changed since then with Riesling now some of the world's most undervalued wines.

For this theme I decided to pull out a bottle that I have had lying in the cellar for quite some.
I purchased this wine when travelling on a wine tour to the Ahr Valley in 2001. It was at Weingut H.J. Kreuzberg, one of the stops on the tour, that I tasted a lovely 10 year old Riesling that really caught my attention. I ended up buying a half case of the 2001 Dernauer Pfarrwingert Riesling Auslese Trocken based on that experience. This wine is interesting in that it is an auslese (late harvest) trocken (fermented to dryness) - where late harvest (auslese) fruit is fermented out to dryness. Here are my thoughts:

Pulling the cork revealed some tartrate crystals typical of aged wines. Nice clear, intense gold with some hints of green - it almost reminds me of a dessert wine. The nose is almost botrytis-like with hints of petroleum. Quite powerful and full-bodied on the palate with green apple and steely, mineral-like characters. Quite a dry wine with good acid balance that reminded me somewhat of a dry tokaji I had in Hungary a few years back. All-in-all an interesting style that I thought went quite well with the homemade fish and chips we ate with it.