Exploring Signuradi Part 3.1: The Voyage - Cicero and Donatsch

So far we had the Adolescent Entry Level and The Mature Middle-Agers. What else could be better than hitting the road to Switzerland with three other wine obsessed fellows and give those Alpine Pinots another try or two!?
... for Part 3: The Voyage.  Over two days we have been visiting seven wineries to get closer insights of the people, the actual wineries, their wine making process and of course their wines. For the sake of conciseness I'd like to highlight my most impressive wine experiences in not so flamboyant and dissipated ways like I normally tend to do. I ask for your understanding!

Before I start with my never ending blather I'd like to start with a most sincere Thank You  to all wineries we've visited! I guess, I never experienced such a large amount of openness, respectfulness and friendliness throughout a wine journey! Great Job!

Today I'd like to start with my wine impressions of Cicero Weinbau in Zizers and Weingut Donatsch in Malans. The following two parts will include well known wineries like: Weinbau Christian Hermann in Fläsch, the wines from Daniel & Martha Gantenbein, Weingut Eichholz (Irene Grünenfelder), Weinbau Annatina Pelizatti and the wines of Thomas Studach in Malans.

Cicero Weinbau, Zisers

Well, here we go! Four Teutons far far away from home - well not really that far, but maybe a bit dizzy by the enormous amount of Swiss roundabouts - in Grisons heading to explore the local Pinot Noir Bounty! Our first stop was the dynamic and inspiring Cicero Weinbau AG (formerly know as Mattmann Weinbau) in Zizers. We had the opportunity to check out a few young barrel samples and a variety of already bottled wines. As far as I am concerned the 2011 Pinot Noirs will have a very bright future indeed! The entry level Pinot Noir 2011 seemed very beautifully perfumed and showed an overall lean, fresh-fruitful and elegant style. Very much unlike the far more alcoholic 2009 edition I had a few weeks ago. Most definitely a decent **** Pinot with a lot of appeal! The Pinot Noir M 2011 showed more oak, more substance, very fine refined dark fruit flavours, was a bit more tart and sincere and above all obviously far more long lasting and complex than the entry level Pinot. To me a very decent ***** Pinot Noir with a lot of potential for a long life!

After those already well developed barrel samples it was time to shift over to the bottled white wines. The Riesling x Silvaner 2012 (or Müller-Thurgau) was one of the most convincing Müllers I had so far – well I haven’t had too many because … you know … Müller! Anyway, it was still a Müller-Thurgau. So you better don’t get too excited! However, I was really surprised by its super fresh and very green lemon’y character with a dense structure and without the typical Müller traces of broad-sweet-lame-acid misconduct. To me it was a decent **** and very cheerful wine! The exotic fruited Sauvignon Blanc M 2012 which was aged in stainless and concrete (egg) had a strong, for Sauvignon Blanc, expressive structure and delicate creaminess which I really enjoyed. To me more than just a decent **** Sauvignon Blanc with character. Same counts for the Chardonnay M 2011. It was rich, not too rich, showed well integrated oak flavours, a lot of reserved power in petto and maybe a little bit too much alc. – absolutely decent **** Chardonnay, too.

The highlight at Cicero was a tasting of three very different vintages of the Pinot Noir M. More precisely the vintages 2008, 2009 and 2010. The 2008 seemed very concentrated, full of dark fruits (berries and cherries), dense, full of self-confidence (?) and absolutely well balanced – very decent *****. The 2009 was definitely a vintage’y Pinot. A bit heat stressed, showed a lot of dried fruit, a lot of smoke, far more earth than the other vintages and quite a lot of alc. – due to its complexity still a most definitely decent **** wine. The 2010, apparently a relatively weak vintage in Grisons like in many other areas in Central Europe, was the most impressive wine I tasted at the winery. It was overall elegant, profoundly gripping, showed sublime fruit flavours and an intoxicating structure which over-joyed me (well almost) – I guess, really fantastic ****** stuff!

Weingut Donatsch, Malans

Our next stop was the for many generations well established Weingut Donatsch in Malans. The Pinot Noirs Passion 2009, 2010 and 2011, the upper-middle-class Pinot of the winery, were overall very well concentrated, more juicy-succulent-bold than prancing elegant, full of spicy dark fruit flavours and very accessible. The 2009 Passion showed a lot of ripe dark cherry flavours, had a little bit too much alc. and a rather astoundingly attractive nose. A lot of powerful Pinot for not so much money – to me still a decent **** Pinot Noir. Nevertheless I’d certainly prefer the 2010 and 2011. Both showed more straight dark and fresher character, tamed and not too dusty earthiness, more typical Pinot Noir’ish scents and flavours, more lively acid (especially 2010) and more balance as well. Both were absolutely decent **** Pinot Noirs. The 2011 had a little bit more substance and a better finish – so maybe even very decent *****.

Unlike my last pointless hum and haw assessment I had absolutely no problems to spot very decent ***** qualities in the flagship Pinot Noir of the house: The Pinot Noir Unique 2010. This in 100 % new oak aged Pinot had a very serious and profound nose and taste. The oak was present, but starting to integrate, the strength was impressively violent-succulent without being obtrusive and the vital acid provided plenty of life! Great, dark, complex  and powerful wine! A lot of great potential without any doubt! 

These were the Pinot Noirs. However, the most interesting and enthraling wine of Donatsch’s portfolio wasn’t a Pinot Noir! It was the not totally dry whitey made from 100% Completer grapes. THE very exclusive (cultivated on less than 3 hectares) and autochthons grape varietal of Signuradi. The nose seemed rather delicate and shy. I detected a few sweet almonds, resemblances of sea salt spice arrangements, fresh almonds and impressions of very mild green peppers. The taste was astoundingly complex, very salty, close to off-dryness, well equipped with acid and fine alcohol (a non disturbing one). A rather unusual and challenging wine which might need some time to get used to! Anyway, very unique, maybe a bit freaky white wine which could perform well with local cheese dishes and other fatty food. Absolutely very decent ***** stuff, but probably not for everybody’s palatal.

To be continued with Weinbau  Christian Hermann in Fläsch and the wines from Daniel & Martha Gantenbein ...

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