2006

Salwey, Henkenberg, Grauburgunder *** GG, 2006

Pinot Gris is a funny thing. If it is called Pinot Grigio it comes from Italy, is meant to be drunk young and suffers from too much cheap plonk on the market. If it has Pinot Gris on the label it is probably from Alsace and may be a substantial wine with the potential to age well. When it is called Grauburgunder it comes from Germany and could fall into any of these categories. The wine you see below comes from a reliable, quality focussed producer and has been matured in oak barrels - so you'd think even when stored in my wardrobe (officially London's most delicious wardrobe) it should be at its prime now. But then there is always a risk, are we looking at a wine that's already faded?

Emrich-Schönleber, Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Spätlese, 2006

We just voted not one, not two, but three dry Rieslings into our top five picks of last year. We didn't do that to make a point, those were just the wines we happened to enjoy most. Having said that, it is true that the effort many english-speaking wine lovers will make to ignore any german wine that is not sweet Riesling have not ceased to amaze us - amaze, and annoy us ever so slightly. This is not, I hasten to clarify, because we fail to appreciate the great sweet Rieslings. They are indeed unique, delightful and still handsomely underpriced in the global scheme of wine. It's just that this fact is already widely known, so frankly, it is not exactly breaking news to report on another little marvel of liquid stone and sweet peachy caress.

But on this January day, the time has come to do just that.

Julian Friday, 07/01/2011

Sutor, Chardonnay, 2006

When it comes to wine, it is always worth keeping an eye on central and eastern Europe. When browsing the shelves at Philglas & Swiggot the other day I remembered this maxim and went for a highly recommended Chardonnay from a Slovenian winery. Sutor are located in the Vipava Valley, an extension of the Friuli. Charonnay is quite popular there, as it is in Slovenia in general (where it is the most planted white variety), and as I had not had a Chardonnay in a while, I took the Sutor home with me.

Davenport Vineyards, Limney Estate, Brut, 2006

East Sussex may not be the first place on earth coming to mind when thinking of sparkling wine. And yet winemaker Will Davenport has had a lot of success with sparkling wines made in the classic champagne style since he started out with 5 acres of vineyards in Kent in 1991. I bought this wine from a wine bar/shop in South London that specialises in English and natural/organic wines - the Davenport sparkler happens to be both. The Limney Estate wine is made from 49% Pinot Noir and 51% Auxerrois and has been aged on lees for over 2 years, which seemed to make it an ideal candidate for a blind tasting against a German sparkler.

Reinhold Haart, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, Riesling Auslese, 2006

Recently, I found myself drinking with friends who were discussing which type of vegetable they would like to be. When I asked them how they would rate me, Charlotte suggested I could be a squash. Unfortunately I never really found out why she classified me in this way, partly because she went on to say she would quite like to be a courgette. Today's wine, luckily, is not like a vegetable. Instead it is very easy to describe in terms of fruit: take the most deliciously juicy peach you can imagine, add passion fruit, and caramelise it with lots of sugar and some gold, sprinkle finely with herbs and serve in a stony cup with a dash of menthol, spice and lemon juice. As you can see this description really does not work in relation to vegetables, but I can tell you that if this wine were a human being it would have to be the young Liv Tyler - just in blond.

Au Bon Climat, Santa Maria Valley, Pinot Noir, 2006

As far as wine is concerned, there is much more to California than just Napa Valley or Sonoma. In fact, one of the Californian wineries that so far has impressed me most is located a little bit further south, in Santa Maria Valley: Jim Clendenen's Au Bon Climat. On election day in the UK, when a risotto was slowly cooking in the kitchen, it was time to open a Californian Pinot Noir to support us through the long night.

Prager, Riesling Steinriegl, Smaragd, 2006

Both my co-Rambler and I recently came to the conclusion that we had somewhat neglected Austria - a country that makes some truly outstanding wines. So Julian went off to have an afternoon of Austrian wine, during which he was particularly impressed with a Riesling made by the Prager winery. At about the same time I found myself talking Prager with Damian from Fields Morris & Verdin on Twitter. As I had never tried a Prager Riesling, Damian kindly provided me with a tasting sample, the 2006 Steinriegl Smaragd - a Riesling that is more than just a reminder of how good Austrian wine can be.

Weingut Hirsch, Zöbinger Heiligenstein, Grüner Veltliner, 2006

Having had a fun afternoon sipping austrian wines recently, I dediced it was time for another foray into the territory of Grüner Veltliner, also known as "Groona" in the Vayniac universe. The austrian national grape, Grüner Veltliner makes for powerfully spicy, herbal and mineral whites, if, and only if, handled expertly by ethnic austrians with Veltliner strains in their genome. Johannes Hirsch from the Kamptal clearly qualifies here. We have tasted his 06 Heiligenstein a year ago with a very respectable, but didn't-blow-our-socks-off kind of result. So what has an additional year of bottle age done for this wine?

Julian Wednesday, 05/05/2010

Takler, Cabernet Franc Szekszárd, 2006

Another venture into Eastern Europe, and into a grape that I like more and more: Cabernet Franc.

Very dark red, a little cloudy (unfiltered, probably), with a purplish edge. Smells of stewed vegetables, beetroot, ripe red peppers, but meaty at the same time. In the mouth, it brings rather hard-edged cassis and tar at first, Cabernet Sauvignon-style, but with more exposure to air, the sweeter and more savoury vegetable flavours take over. While the ripe fruit and oak flavours lean toward the international style, the vegetables give it character and spice.