A true unknow wine region (to me): Ravis Rakvice Ryzlink Vlassky 2008, Morava

As far as I can remember - my first Czech Welschriesling! The material for this wine was grown in South Moravia close to the city of Velk√© Pavlovice. By far the most important wine growing region in the Czech Republic. The producer Ravis is one of the lager quality wine cellars in the country. A country much more famous for it’s fantastic beer, than for wine. Maybe a mistake!?! Let’s see what I saw in this one.
The colour appeared pretty transparent. I might reckon some yellow a green’ish reflexes. The fragrance was dominated by scents of superglue, weak petrol, some thyme, some melon and certain reminiscences of “breaking wind” experiences. The taste was very light and fresh. The actual concentration seemed to be rather good for a Welschriesling. It was not all too flat, faceless or simply boring. I can spot clear, maybe a bit weak, flavours of grapefruit, lemons and hints of various herbs. As I’ve already mentioned the expression wasn’t that impressive. Well, expressive impression - that has nothing to do with this very wine. For me the typical feature of Welschriesling. Not really boredom, but something close to that ...!  The quality of this wine was fair, but you should not expect something like a Rhine Riesling. Genetically those two varietals have not a lot in common. I think it was a decent piece of white stuff meant for early consumption. I guess one of the best Welschrieslings I ever had!


Today nothing to drink for a change! More something juicy to watch: Blood into Wine by Ryan Page & Christopher Pomerenke

Did you ever hear of wine from Arizona? No? Well, there we got something in common. A relatively new documentary feature healed me from this wine shortcoming in terms of the Grand Canyon State. Its name? Blood into wine! This entertaining documentary tells the interesting, amusing and eso-mystical wine story of the Maynard James Keenan. Front man for well know bands like Tool or Puscifer. The centre of the story shows the unusual struggles of winegrowing in extreme climates, the true passion for a wonderful beverage and some mash ups with the music scene. This and some other information is brought to the audience in a rather humorous, maybe slightly weird (which is of course the best way to approach such an topic), way. Very nice cinematographical work, too. Some really outstanding landscape pictures!  

In my opinion a pretty entertaining and funny documentary! The “knowledge-gain-potential” might be a bit weak, but what the heck! I don’t think this is the main intention of the movie. My only real problem with this picture is the approx. 10 min appearance of James Suckling. Why? OK, he might be a friend! But why? I really don’t see any reason for this interlude. It surely doesn’t help the movie nor the sales figures. At the very end I got reconciliated by the appearance of the soon to be legdendary Bob Odenkirk. His performance is fantastically odd and hilarious at the same time. Recommendable!


Pinot from the First Lady of NZ Wine: Pinot Noir 2008, Hunter's Winery, Marlborough

Well, today - actually the day before yesterday - (first snowy day this winter) we have a Kiwi classic together. A Pinot Noir from “New Churchill Land” - Marlborough. A wine produced by a wine pioneer, a female wine pioneer, Jane Hunter OBE. Due to tragic events Jane had to take over the management of the winery in the late 1980s. Throughout the past 30 years the Hunter’s winery was a key factor for the establishment of quality wine making in Marlborough and all of New Zealand.

Today’s wine was different to other Pinots from NZ we had so far. Its colour was pretty bright and slightly faint. In the nose very pure strawberry, some raspberry and a hint of blueberry scents come to effect. Perhaps some cellulose, cleansing liquid and baby excrements impressions at first, too. I got a feeling of a more cold style Pinot. Not so much stereo-typical New World Pinot. Same for its taste. Rather cold, semi bodied, slight acidic and predominantly bright red fruits (same fruits as mentioned + rosehip). The alc. was fine. JUST 13,5%. Which is not a lot for New Zealand. The length wasn’t that bad. The balance might have been the advantage of this wine. Sure, it might have been a bit light, but the proportion was very satisfying.
I really don’t have too many problems with this Pinot. The only situation with this one might have been its slickness or over-smoothness. There wasn’t a lot of unique character. It could have been from everywhere. Ahh, maybe not. I dunno. In a blind tasting I’d bet the origin might have been in the South of Baden in Germany or a bit faceless semi-bodied Pinot from Alto-Adige. Whatever! It was a fine'ish and very well produced wine. No disappointment, no enthusiasm or excitement!


From the origins of wine: Kakhuri Napareuli 2005, Georgia

A wine I simply do have to mention on this blog. I had this in late September. Unfortunately my experience with Georgian wine is less than just limited. Beside this one, I might have tried another handful of reds at various occasions. As far as I know the Kakhuri Winery is one of the better producers in Napareuli/Kakheti region in the East of Georgia. The wine was made of the Saperavi grape. Apparently one of the classier and well ageing autochthonous varietals of Eastern Europe. It was aged in small oak hogsheads for 12 months.

Its colour was black purple. Almost no reflexes of whatsoever. Very tinted! Its nose and taste impressed with a rather unique potpourri of flavours. I got a lot of fruitful aromas of plums, dark berries, like huckleberry and black currant, and rather spicy herbal flavours of pepper, thyme, rosemary and strangely a bit of cinnamon as well. Its length was fine. The concentration was medium and the acid appeared to be a bit mild, but still sufficient. It was surely dry, which wasn’t natural for this kind of wine. The complexity was tangible and comprehensible. Something thrilling and worthy to try! Definitely not dull! Whilst we are on the subject. I know this winery has even more complex and more concentrated wines made of the Saperavi grape. These ones are most definitely interesting as well. Unfortunately they are amazingly expensive ..... for a Georgian wine!


Spicey Whitey from the Far East: Monsoon Valley Colombard 2553 B.E., Hua Hin Hills

Uuuuuhaaaaa! Thai Wine! For the first time on this blog! Well, let’s get it on ;-). 

The Monsoon Valley Winery is a part of the parent company called Siam Winery. Founded by Chalerm Yoovidhya, the actual creator of a worldwide known energy drink, Siam Winery is one of the oldest wineries in South-East-Asia (est. 1986). Their aim is to produce wines which can complement the flavours of typical (and possibly pretty spicy) Thai dishes. The actual location of the winery might take some time to get used to. It is situated approximately 200 km south of Bangkok close to the Royal Spa of Hua Hin. Right between jungle mountains and the ocean. Somehow weird! The women in charge is the Geisenheim graduate Kathrin Puff. With her knowledge and expertise the quality of the Monsoon Valley wines increased gradually over recent years. Today’s wine is produced from the Colombard grape. A classic varietal from Cognac and Armagnac region in the South-West of France. Normally this varietal isn’t considered to produce fine wine, but in this very southerly and sweltering region it shows a better potential. A slightly diffuse resemblance with Chenin Blanc is undeniable and actually factual (Heritage of Gouais Blanc x Chenin Blanc).
My very first impression in the nose was fresh green pepper, cantaloupe and some Thai basil. Loads of freshness and intriguing salty scents. The same happened in my mouth + some lime, a bit of lemon grass, some black pepper, sea salt and a hint of creaminess (approx.. 20% were aged in used oak). I got a rather crude, but very lively, fresh and vitalizing impression of this wine. It wasn`t charming or contrived! For sure not! It was spicy, rather hard, salty, slightly bitter, very dry and almost a bit violent (in a positive way – if there is a positive violence?). The alcohol was fine (13%). Maybe almost a bit strong. On the other hand this last impression might have been influenced by the rather unique style of Colombard (?). I definitely can imagine this wine along Thai food. A statement I don’t use that often, because normally I don’t see the necessity to combine any East Asian cuisines with wine. I guess the best combination might be with Khmer pepper (not chili) dishes, mildly drunken food from China or green tea based dishes from Yunnan. Over the last 5 to 10 years I had several Thai wines. I think my conclusion for today is: those guys, and of course gals, are getting better and better...
QPR in Europe is OK (approx. 10 Euros), in Thailand (a bit more than 10 Euros) it is very questionable.


Some more Shiraz-Down Under-Experience for Christmas: Heartland Shiraz 2008, South Australia

A reasonable Shiraz worthy to mention?! Yes, I think so! Produced by the well know winemaker Ben Glaetzer (Amon-Ra etc.) this Shiraz appeared to have a certain appeal to me. This wasn’t all that easy, because my longing for overpowered Shiraz monsters is rather limited. The grapes for this wine were grown in two very different vineyards: Langhorne Creek and Limestone Coast along the Eastern coastline of South Australia.

My first impression was decent and not too broad fruit. Not too overpowered either. Pepper, Spice, ethereal features, plenty of red currant, mild sweetness, some milk chocolate, a bit more gingerbread, a hint of mushrooms and not specifically definable forest soil features. It wasn’t too bold or stressful. Pretty good integrated alcohol (14,5%) which was present, but surely not in the leading role. Decent body, not too heavy, not lean or elegant either, and a defined playful acid. Overall its balance was very fine. After some hours this fair balance impression was stabilizing. Fairly young, but absolutely enjoyable right now or over the next two years. I'd suggest this one for Christmas. Maybe instead of egg-nog, glogg or other horrible Christmas beverages. Let’s have this with mildly sweet gingerbread. Might work out. In conclusion: fine, well balanced, reasonable priced and still a very typical example of a Shiraz from SA.


A Medoc from Stellenbosch: Kallista 2004, Vriesenhof, Stellenbosch + some original friends

Isn’t it nice to have a couple of comparable wines next to each other waiting in line to enter your gullet? Of course it is! This time I had a very interessting tasting with several Bordeaux'ish red blends. Why Bordeaux'ish? Well because the most classical Medoc (for me) came from Stellenbosch. Let's start with this one.

Vriesenhof Estate Kallista 2004, Stellenbosch

The Kallista 2004 was a “true” Medoc from Stellenbosch. Very continental and classical style. Extremely surprising! In a blind tasting you might get deceived by the austere, straight, forward, pretty powerful, gentle and down-to-earth style of this red blend. A well known feature of the Vriesenhof wines in general. This Blend was composed of 37% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon and 27% Cabernet Franc. My first impression was: rather hard and classic style, hyper dry, not all too fruitful, maybe a bit clumsy, still rather hard tannins and stronger acid, plenty of chocolate, dark rubber, some animalistic components, slightly stinky fragrances and still pretty juvenile. After a while impressive cold and dark cherry flavours, as well as quite a lot of red paprika powder flavours, developed. A gentle and rather fresh acid remained. The wild animal components faded a bit, but never vanished completely. A certain amount of black pepper, and aromas of wild spices joint the reclined party in my mouth. The impressive power and elegance remained throughout the whole evening and the next day. Very convincing wine with a fantastic QPR. I really don’t want to compare the styles of the consumed wines. In my personal and utterly subjective opinion this wine was by far more Medoc than the other ones. Maybe with the exception of the Langoa-Barton 2001. This one was very St. Julien, agian in my utterly subjective opinion ... 

Chateau Langoa Barton 2001, St. Julien

My first impression of the Langoa-Barton 2001 was very silky and a light combination of typical Medoc wine flavours. Quite a lot of spice, black pepper, a bit tar, a slight hint of eucalyptus, a bit too much steel, a lot of pencil, somehow impetuous, not so power-gentle and surely elegant like many St. Julien wines. Later far more contenting flavours of milky-bitter-cherries, pepper, coffee, a hint of bitter choco and undergrowth developed. After some hours and on the next day a more typical elegance and arrogance took the lead. Just the way I like my Juliens. Nice treat, but 2001 wasn’t a super vintage for sure. A little bit more force and power would have been better ;-)

Chateau Sociando-Mallet 1999, Haut Medoc

At first, the Sociando appeared far more accessible, silkier, rounder and maybe a more “sweet” than the others. I got flavours of chocolate, cappuccino, dark berries, ketchup, a hint of cola and a bold variety of warm indescribable feelings. Its style was straight, a bit warm, cosy, mildly elegant, with a certain freshness and almost quaffable. Later more rigid and butch flavours like white and black pepper combined with wilder spicy components evolved. Impressive Medoc expirience without a lot of potential to improve. Drink up, I say!

Chateau Tour de Pez 2010 (barrel sample), St. Estephe

This Tour de Pez 2010 I was a barrel sample I “snitched” from a wine merchant. It is always a nice opportunity to overlook the development of a young wine for several days. My first impression was purple soup! Great! I got loads of caramel, liquorice, rubber, cassis, smoke, fart, intensive fruit and juvenile sweetness in my nose and on my palate. Very fleshy and forceful stage at this moment. Surprisingly not as harsh and hard as I would have expected this wine at the moment. The tannins or acid were rather tame and peaceful. Already pretty accessible, but not as a Bordeaux. More like a powerful / juvenile Grenache based wine from the Rhone region. On the third day the distressing features faded and a decent young Bordeaux appeared. I see a lot of potential for this one. According to that impression 2010 will be a fantastic vintage. Again …. Beware very high headache potential!


Sometimes there just a bit too much of the good old alc: Pegasus Bay Main Divide Pinot Noir 2006, Canterbury

Pegasus Bay is located in Waipara Valley in Canterbury Province near Christchurch. This rather large family owned wine producer was established in the early 1970s. Which is rather ancient for a winery in NZ. It might be fair to say that Pegasus is the most famous and by far most influential producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines in Canterbury province. The rest I leave up to you ...
The Main Divide line of the winery is the entry level to a rather large assortment of wines and wine styles. This one appeared to be a bit colder and a bit acidic Pinot. Prior to blending and bottling it was aged in French barrels for 18 months. My first impression were strong aromas of dark cherries, mulberries and hints of violets as well as plums. Assorted forest berries and slight undergrowth, too. Decent oak. So far - pretty nice. The problem of this Pinot was overpowered alcohol. Far too much of it (14,5%). It wasn't a well adjusted background player. It got the leading role. Unfortunately a rather common problem of Pinots from New Zealand. Sometimes it works. This time - not really!


Some Sparkling Stuff from the East: Pinot Fran 2005, Novyj Svet, Crimea

Novyj Svet is the name of a Crimean city as well as the most famous high quality sparkling wine producer in the Ukraine. The winery itself was established in the late 19th century by Prince Golitsyn. One of the most famous doyens of the Russian/Ukrainian wine business. Apparently a hundred years ago the reputation of the winery wasn't that bad. Besides the Russian Royal Family, Novyi Svet wines were highly regarded in circles of wine connoisseurs all over Europe. Today Novyi Svit produces its sparklings by the traditional champagne method. All wines are composed of the "Champange 3" varietals. Unfortunatly the bulk is produced as demi-sec sparklings. However not this one! The Pinot Fran (Pinot Noir) is a Brut sparkling. Fermented in oak barrels and aged for three years in the bottle. For sure a very interesting fizz! Unfortunately I do not have a lot of experience with Ukrainian wine. This one got a pretty strong body, gentle oak nuances, well aged and nicely developed fruit flavours. Rather manly, a bit rustic, fresh and lively. Very impressive mousse. Elegance isn't lacking either. If you ever got the chance to try it, I'd suggest: go for it. Grab for the silver lable, sorry can't read Cyrillic letters ;-), – it’s the Brut!


Riesling from Israel? There you go: Golan Heights Winery Gamla White Riesling Kosher 2008, Golan Heights

Israeli Riesling! Wow! Humongous surprise for me! Not just the fact that there is a relatively large Riesling cultivation. I am by far more surprised that this is working out very well. The Gamla White Riesling Kosher was produced by the Golan Heights Winery. Probably the most famous winery in Israel. Especially the Yarden Line has a renowned reputation for high quality wines. But mostly for the production of  classical French varietals wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Red Blends or Chardonnay.
This Riesling from the Gamla Line, well known for more accessible stuff, is mend to be off-dry. It was grown on two different vineyards in the North of Golan in the Galil appellation. It got 13% alc and was aged in stainless steel. In my glass I can spot strikingly golden colour reflexes. Apparently rather dark ones for a younger Riesling. Fragrances of petrol, dried apricot, lemons, honey, a hint of nail polish remover and some shoeshine were my first impression. Later the petrol and the nail polish remover faded away.  Its taste was off-dry. For sure! But in a combination with a very gentle acid proportion. Hence the wine showed a very nice balance. Its length might be described as medium and the mineral aspect seemed to be a bit weak, but still sufficiently pleasing. I got flavours of lemons, some apricots, mandarins, maybe some more exotic components, plenty of honey and a certain amount of herbs. Its structure was very pleasing! It wasn’t flat or weak at all. It showed crisp and fresh aromas, but might have not the enormous complexity like so many off-dry Rieslings from Europe. Whatever, it was a good and enjoyable AND most of all a very surprising wine. Experiment successful! QPR seems fine.


Some Organic, Scottish, Kiwi Pinot: Urlar Pinot Noir 2007, Gladstone

Still inspired by a personal reminder I had to grab for another Pinot from NZ. The Urlar (Gaelic for The Earth) Pinot Noir from Gladstone cultivation area north of Lake Wairarapa on the North Island. Organically grown and barrel-aged. Compared to the fantastic scenery of the South Island, Lake Wairarapa might appear a bit dull. But the Pinot qualities from this area are quite convincing and not all too expensive (sometimes). The colour of this Pinot was pretty dark and shiny. Its nose was still rather reserved at first. I caught some cherries, some lime, a bit of rosehip, slight (and a bit disturbing) cooked attributes and unusual "sweaty" hints. At first the sweet'ish flavours were rather prominent. After one to two hours this changed substantially! Decent acid and still some fetching tannins impressed me. Some obvious impressions of limestone provided this Pinot with a elegant mineral touch. Nice flavours of dark cherries were very dominant, too. On top I got supplements of mild green'ish herbs. Amother half a day later I got strange but pleasing peanut flavours!? The power and finish were very well proportionate. The alc. was fine (13,5 %) and not dominating.
Nice and inflaming Pinot with heart and soul (sorry the cheesiness). Supposedly honest Pinot. Pure assumption! For relatively little money (approx. 20 Euros).

Last summer I had a couple of very enjoyble Pinots from Africa, Aotearoa and California

Bouchard-Finlayson Galpine Peak Pinot Noir 2004, Walker Bay

Is this really Pinot Noir? Really? Well, at least it is a product from a coop between Bouchard Pere et Fils and Peter Finlayson - the former winemaker for Hamilton-Russel in Walker Bay. This Pinot wasn't even close to the attributes I interlink with Ham Rus Pinots. At first it gave me a lot of distress. It was wild, a bit aggressive, showed plenty of alcohol and was very much dominated by aromas of dried fruits. The first two hours I'd guess it could be an Amarone or something like that. After that period, a typical Sangiovese cherry flavour tendency developed. Very strange! On the second day it wasn't that aggressive anymore. Even some gentleness developed. Unfortunately there was still not a lot of acid present. This one might have provided the wine a better balance. The high amount of extract and concentration was definitely a plus, but if you are expecting a "normal - (and due to the price a high class)" Pinot you might get disappointed. The QPR is astoundingly miserable (approx. 30 Euros, today more something like 40 Euros).

Te Kairanga Runholder Pinot Noir 2005, Martinborough

For those who don't know. Martinborough is situated east of lake Wairarapa on the North Island of Aotearoa. The Runholder is Te Kairanga's basic Pinot. At first I got plenty of raspberries. Some hours later quite a lot of cherries and plums, too. A bit rustic maybe. Even some barn and cow flavours. Very nice acid (almost a bit too much) and plenty of semi-bodied strength. Clear aromas and some freshness resp. life were present as well. It might have reminded me of a stronger and more concentrated Pinot from Maconnais region. Or maybe a Rully? I guess, right now is a very good time for consumption. I am sure it'll last another year or so. The price is okay but not too great (approx. 20 Euros).


Belle Glos Winery Clarke & Telephone Vineyard 2005, Santa Maria Valley

Damn! This is something! A rather subtle example of an Central Coast Pinot. Apparently the Clark & Telephone Vineyard is one of the oldest Pinot cultivation areas in the AVA Santa Maria Valley (est. 1972). At first I got beautiful as well as powerful clear Pinot aromas. Plenty of juciy cherries, some oak, a hint of raspberries and almonds. It was charming, beguiling and almost aristocratic (in its particular own way of course). Its marmelade punch tendencies weren't too distinct. At the same time it appeared to have quiet a lot of spicy and rather fleshy flavours supplemented by some serious flavours of cinnamon. Very nice surprise for little money. At least for a Californian Pinot. (apporx. 30 Euros).


A glorious basterd from Down Under: Yarra Burn Bastard Hill Pinot Noir 2003 Yarra Valley Victoria

What a beautiful bastard!?!!! Brought from the Holy Halls of Harrods some years ago I had absolutely no excessive expectations. Neglected under the staircase of the Harrods wine vault I just had to grab for some Aussie Pinots. The Yarra Yearing Pinot was great but extremely mighty and slightly violent. This bastard however was a "real" Pinot for half the price. Probably due to the questionable reputation of the Yarra Burn Winery!?! I mean the price! Anyway, Bastard Hill Pinots and Chardonnays, which are the flagships of Yarra Burn, aren’t produced every year. The 2003 and 2006 are the most recent from the Bastard Hill vineyard. I assume! ...? Whatever! Good decision to grab for this! It was a pretty massivly amazing Pinot, I guess. I was surprised how sophisticated and well balanced it was. Normally 14 % alcohol in a Pinot can be highly problematic. This one however did not show any indications of unbalanced alcohol aromas or overpowered fruitiness. It had mild and fresh fruit flavours (mainly raspberry and young cherries) and a nice influence by well proportionated oak aromas. A good body structure and a super fine finish as well. Overall a very gentle and silky Pinot without the well known perils of New World Pinots! All right, All right my last sentence makes me to a generalising bastard ;-). Maybe the best Australian Pinot I ever had the privilege to taste. Was the last bottle. :-(.