Dive is the type of chaos with a flair that only the French know how to do right. Get annoyed at the lack of navettes between the Saumur station and the Ackerman cellars where la Dive takes place or walk. Get pissed off at the crowds of backpack-carrying groupies who just hang out with their revered winemaker of choice, or simply mingle with them. Finally, get paralyzed by the fear of swallowing due to the lack of spittoons, or carry around your own in a trolley, trumping backpacks in annoyance, like a certain couple of Dutch wine merchants (although you never know with the Dutch, they may as well have been creating their own very special blend of salvia-textured wine vinegar).
Just like last year, it is Loire tripping time. Three days, three events, three impressions. First up, La Renaissance des Appellations aka checking if the biodynamic fire still burns in Nicolas Joly’s eyes. Continue reading
Do I still need to introduce Yotam Ottolenghi? The man’s books can be found everywhere, but in all fairness, rightly so. I think that I have made almost everything that can be found in Plenty, bar a couple of desserts, and while Nopi proves to be a bit more challenging, it has done its part in many successful dinner parties. Procrastination meant that only the deli in Spitalfields still had a table for two on a Saturday evening and the place was packed. Service ran smooth though, and we were given ample time to go through the menu and wine list.
Today’s a first for The Wine Analyst, as I return to a producer who will be familiar to those who keep track of my weekly reviews. The goal of these articles is to present different wines, not too often with a link or common element, but nearly always to show how diverse wine can be. It speaks to the credit of this week’s winemaker that, even taking into consideration the fact that it is a small estate, the range of wines is astonishing and packed with different identities. Guilhem and Jean-Hugues Goisot playea defining role in putting the lesser known appelations of Auxerre on the map. I already introduced their Saint-Bris earlier this year; today I turn the spotlight on what they offer in red.
Moving up in the appelations that may ring a bell with a general public, Côtes d’Auxerre is located on the right bank of the Yonne, whereas Coulanges la Vineuse was on the left bank, more to the south. It is slightly larger, covering about 200ha but when it comes down to red, vineyards are planted on pretty much the same area as ClV. Wines from Côtes d’Auxerre are capable of a more elegant, different kind of complexity as soils here are a mix of marl and Portlandian, which contains less chalk and fossils than the famous Kimmeridgian terroir of Chablis.
Goisot currently owns about 30 hectares across various appelations, and certain parcels get the single vineyard treatment. One of them is today’s La Ronce 2012. From the get-go there is an astonishing difference in colour, brilliant and not as hazy as last week’s Vini Viti Vinci. There is a reductive touch on the nose that only really disappears on day two in favor of cherries, wild flowers and a rather distinct toasty touch. If I had not known what I had in my glass, I would have been tempted to place it in Germany as this is often something that comes back in young Spätburgunder. Floral aromas on the palate nicely complement the fruit and while tannins present can benefit from aging, the wine as a whole comes across incredibly balanced. There is lovely depth in the finish that you would be hard pressed to find in some of the more famous and at the very least more expensive Burgundian appelations!
Other Burgundy wines talked about:
Distance-wise, you would not expect anything from New Zealand to find its way to Belgium and the fact that there is quite a range of wines available should tell you something about their quality. Why else would you bother shipping them across the world? It is all the more remarkable when you realize that there is only about 35,000 ha of wine planted, paling in comparison with 792,000ha in France and a whopping 1.02 million in Spain. The majority of this is Sauvignon Blanc, accounting for 60% of the total planted surface in 2015 (up from 40% only ten years ago), but the most important red variety is Pinot Noir at a steady 15%*.
I love New Zealand pinot noir because of its openness. Only rarely do I get austerity, which can be an issue in Burgundy in thin years and they are really characterized by an elegant, ever so slightly sweet fruitiness balanced with a bright sense of identity. In general I would say that they are ready to drink earlier in their lifecycle, whereas this may not always be the case with French or German pinot noir.
One of the regions that has seen increased plantings in recent years is Nelson, at 1123ha just last year, of which roughly a fifth is pinot noir. Vineyards are located in a valley in the middle of the Northern tip of the South Island protected by mountains on three sides. While the climate is sunny, it retains a sense of coolness thanks to the Northern exposure to the Tasman Bay, creating perfect circumstances for grape growing.
Tim and Judy Finn can rightly be considered pioneers in the region as they started their wine adventure in 1978 with Neudorf Vineyards. The estate is quite large at 33ha, and the conversion to full organic production is still ongoing even as sustainable viticulture has been a choice from the start. Tom’s Block 2012 is a blend from different vineyards, fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged for 10 months in French oak. The first word that comes to mind, even when pouring the wine, is savoury. Aroma’s jump out of the glass, redcurrant, cherries and a little bit of spice, all very vivid and attention-grabbing from the start. The crisp fruitiness returns on the palate, even with a streak of refreshing minerality that lingers on in the end. It’s a very open, honest wine that oozes charm and a welcome introduction to the beauty you can find in New Zealand Pinot Noir!
*statistics provided by http://www.nzwine.com/info-centre/statistics/
Summer is over judging from the weather, so our extended focus on Riesling comes to a momentary end. Rieslingfans should not fear, as it is a love I will not be able to shut up about, but for the Wine of the Week I will venture into new territories for the time being. I have talked about the natural wine movement before, just take a look at my reports on Champagne or RAW, but my interest was actually piqued during a vacation in Sicily four years ago. Continue reading
A lot of people tend to forget that there is more to Burgundy than chardonnay and pinot noir. In red there is gamay of course, but let’s not forget about césar, an admittedly obscure variety used in Yonne. Continue reading
Burgundy remains one of the great destinations for many a winelover. Highly reputed for the finest wines in both white and red, known for the nearly incomprehensible patchwork of microclimats and tiny terroirs it is certainly not the easiest wine region, something which I discovered myself over the past weekend. Continue reading
A lot of people who start getting into wine tend to get too serious, often forgetting that it should just be plain fun. Wine should first and foremost be something to enjoy. You can analyse it all you want afterwards, coming up with a complete herbarium to describe it but you should never forget that its essence is simply being a drink. Continue reading
So we had our first sunny day over the weekend. It’s a perfect time to move on from dense, warming wines to something more fresh but still containing a lot of substance as Belgium never seems to heat up properly. Spring is, together with autumn, my favourite time of the year to drink wine. Now what to drink with sunny but cold weather? Continue reading
Biodynamic or natural viticulture is a challenge in the Champagne. In my first post on the topic I mentioned that the focus with most growers lies on securing yield, ensuring that nothing happens endangers the amount of grapes you get at harvest. As most growers are dependent on either the grands marques or the cooperatives, you can imagine the impact of the loss of a crop on their finances. Continue reading
As attentive readers will recall, our champagne is currently maturing “sur lie”. The alcoholic fermentation is done and if all goes well, autolysis, the interaction between the dead yeast cells and the wine is taking place. Continue reading
Fair warning – This may be a bit too much on the technical side for some readers, but stick around and learn something! Biodynamics and natural winemaking are hot topics in the wineworld. You may have noticed a commonality in most of the domains discussed since I started this blog and I have to admit that, though I may not be completely convinced by the gospel preached by the natural wine movement, I do have a great interest in what they are saying. Continue reading
Success in the Champagne is dependent on different factors. The Grands Marques have the luxury of being able to source their still wines from the entire region and have as such a large supply source, enabling them to create consistent and balanced champagnes over the years. Vignerons who are lucky enough to own land in villages with Grand Cru status can have it easier than others as the labelling alone will often allow them to command a premium price. Continue reading
The De Sousa name first popped up in Avize in the beginning of the twentieth century. Manuel De Sousa had fought in France during the First World War, and assuming that there would be plenty of work in rebuilding an economy in shambles, he took the bold decision to get out of Bragas, Portugal, and settled in Avize with his wife and son. Continue reading
One of the first wine regions that thoroughly fascinated me was Champagne. This is not a coincidence as it is the closest international wine region from Brussels (sadly, Limburg or the Westhoek are as of yet not recognized as global centers of quality wine) and Belgians are possibly the largest consumer group of champagne (all the wine that Belgians buy on a quick trip to the region is not included in most market research). Continue reading