Friday, October 17, 2008

2001 Chateau Villars

Country: France
Region: Fronsac
Alcohol: 13%
Price: €13,95
Closure: Cork

Fronsac is a hilly,
picturesque region located along the Dordogne and L'Isle rivers to the west of the much more famous Pomerol region. A part of what is known as the Libourne satellite appellations - appellations that surround more famous wine regions - it's wines are recognized as some of the best value in Bordeaux. The soil on the right bank of the Dordogne contains a high percentage of clay which is a marriage made in heaven for the Merlot variety.

It is in this region that Chateau Villars has a history spanning more than two centuries and has shown itself to be one of the better performing chateaus in the Fronsac. Le Guide Hachette des vins has long rated this chateau as one the gems of its appellation which gives you an idea of the wine quality produced here. Had this chateau been located a little further east it would have a much bigger reputation.

The Gaudrie family has run chateau since the beginning of the 19th century with Jean-Claude and his family currently in control of operations. Thierry Gaudrie has managed to successfully combine the ancestral traditions of his forefathers with today’s modern methods.
This wine (the Chateau Villars) is the flagship wine, a blend of predominantly merlot (75%) along with some cabernet franc (15%) and cabernet sauvignon (10%). Here is what I thought of it:

Despite being seven years old, this wine is still a very youthful, deep purple in colour. Nice mature nose with red strawberry and cherry-like aromas. Some earthy, yeasty, bread-like characters in there as well. On the palate it's smooth and soft with earthy, red berry fruit and hints of cedar. The tannins are quite soft and well integrated. It is full bodied but well balanced and nicely structured. All-in-all an honest, nicely matured red that is very good value for money and shows what Fronsac is capable of.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Casa do Raposo Fine Ruby Port

Country: Portugal
Region: Douro
Alcohol: 20%
Price: €19,95
Closure: T-Cap

Casa do Raposo Fine Ruby Port is produced by Casal dos Jordoes, one of the first organic port producers. This producer is one of the smaller producers in the Douro producing around 140,000 litres of port, of which they bring 35,000 litres onto the market under their own labels, and 275,000 litre of table wine from their 50 hectares. Alongside this they also produce olives from 13 hectares of olive grove.

This ruby port is produced from a blend of the Touriga Franca (Francesca) (60%), Tinta Roriz (20%), Tinta Barroca (10%) and Touriga Nacional (10%) grapes.  These four varieties along with Tinta Cao and Tinta Amarela make up the most important grapes in port production (of the forty eight grapes types permitted).  Touriga Franca provides structure along with a mix of fruit and floral characters, Tinta Roriz (tempranillo) provides firm structure and flavors/aromas of dried cherries and spice, Tinta Barroca provides a high sugar content, floral aromatics, black cherries, plums and purple flowers, and finally the Touriga Nacional provides deep colour, structure and rich flavours of black fruit.

Ruby Port is the most basic of port styles and is generally made with a blend of red grape varieties and blends from several years. It is generally a drink now port, although there are examples of unfiltered Ruby ports that will allow some bottle aging.  This port is port is one of those unfiltered examples with the etiquette suggesting that decanting is required.  Not too sure how long it will age, but after more than a week in the bottle it was still going strong.

Anyway, what do I think of this Ruby Port:

As expected a really deep purple in colour. Plenty of fruit on the nose with spirit coming through as well. Smooth on the palate with plenty of good, juicy, concentrated, sweet fruit. Really quite sweet but the acid combined with the grape spirit gives the wine a good balance. Tannins are quite light on, as expected, which means a really easy drink exactly as a ruby port should be. I really enjoyed drinking this and in my opinion this is a lot better than your average ruby.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

2007 Leasingham Magnus Riesling

Country: Australia
Region: Clare Valley
Alcohol: 13.5%
Price: €12,00
Closure: Screwcap

When I think of Riesling I cannot help but think of the steep, hilly regions of Germany along the Rhine and the Mosel rivers.  The riesling, originating in Germany (Rhine region), is a very versatile grape which can produce wines in many different styles.  In fact it is one of the reasons some commentators, such as Jancis Robinson (and many others I may say), refer to riesling as the king of the whites.  

Riesling is possibly one of the most underrated white varieties after it's reputation was destroyed by wines such as Blue Nun, Liebfraumilch and Niersteiner.  Thouge these wines 
often contained little or no riesling in them riesling was tainted by association.  These wines gave riesling the reputation of sickly sweet wines; beginners wines that were not to be taken too seriously.  Over time Riesling is winning back some of the lost ground, although there is still a lot of ground to be made up.

In Australia the Clare Valley is one of 'the' places to produce riesling and is home to some of the best producers such as Leo Buring, Petaluma and Grosset.  
With an average rainfall of 632mm and an average winter temperature of 13 degrees, the Clare Valley is one of Australia's coolest wine growing regions.  The long, warm summer days and the cooling nights allow the grapes to develop flavour as well as maintaining the crisp acidity Australian rieslings are known for.  In general Australian riesling is drier than those produced in Germany for example where a little residual sugar is often left in the wine left fermentation.  

This wine is the 2007 Leasingham Magnus Riesling produced in the Clare Valley.  Against all advice Leasingham was the first winery in the Clare to plant the riesling variety in the early 1950's.  The variety flourished and the rest they say is history.     

Here is what I thought of the wine:

Light; almost straw-like in colour.  Typical floral nose with a dash of green citrus.  Quite dry on the palate with juicy, lemon, lime citrus fruit and plenty of mouth drying acidity.  A little short on the finish but a nice, varietally correct wine.  While very clean and correct I do think it lacks that little bit of interest for mine.  I would, however, be interested in tasting this with some bottle age.