Grapevine Archive for Riesling
Members may remember the tale of the 500ft-high bridge and four-lane motorway planned to pass through some of the Mosel?s most prestigious vineyards and the lobbying and campaigning that has taken place, not just by locals but by wine-lovers and wine writers the world over.
Despite fierce protest, legal challenges and political wrangling, construction had started on the new route. However, the latest news from Pro-Mosel, the body set up to channel support against the so-called B50 project, gives fresh hope though, as the construction company involved in the development has stopped all activities until further notice:
?Construction cranes have been dismantled, demonstrably angry workers have been sent away. According to witnesses, the building company Porr have suspended their activities on the construction of the Mosel bridge until further notice. It has been reported that static calculations are missing, and that only the measurements for the first bridge pier have been reliably calculated. Officially, the contractors refuse to confirm this information.?
Apparently, similar problems have already been cited by critics of the project. Last year, a report was produced which criticised a lack of exploration of the subsoil, in particular in the area of the bridge. The Mosel region is susceptible to landslides and with supporting piers designed to reach a height of 160 metres, there is a particularly high risk of instability.
You can read the full press-release and find out more about the bridge and the campaign to stop its construction on Pro-Mosel?s website.
Kevin Judd was born in Totton, Hampshire, emigrating to South Australia aged nine (“my parents went, and at that age you just go with the flow”) and then, with his wife Kimberley, on to New Zealand in 1983 where along with David Hohnen he was founding winemaker at LVMH’s iconic Cloudy Bay. He stayed there for 24 years. He says that his one regret is that he didn’t stay for his 25-year gold watch (LVMH also own TAG-Heuer!) but he certainly has no regrets about the path he has followed since.
2009 was the first vintage of Greywacke, so named because most of New Zealand lies upon the eponymous bedrock. The range comprises Sauvignon Blanc, Wild Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Late Harvest Gewürztraminer. At the end of January 60 members were fortunate enough to try six of these seven wines at Peter Gordon‘s Kopapa Café and Restaurant which had been expertly matched by Peter himself and his head chef Leigh Hartnett. We were delighted that both Kevin and Kimberley were there to talk to members about the wines in detail.
The aperitif of Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2011 was a sprightly, fresh, lime and fresh grass sauvignon which demands you have a second glass.
Kopapa’s speciality is tapas-style dishes, and so we had four shared small plates as our starters. The two dishes of goat’s curd panna cotta, beetroot yuzu salsa and black olive tuile, and then smoked monkfish carpaccio, white balsamic, caper & parsley dressing were a marvellous foil to the rounded, ripe, savoury, almost minty character of the Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2010 (due in February). Rich and yet palate cleansing at the same time, the savoury notes melded with the smoked monkfish as well as the classic sauvignon marriage with goat’s cheese.
The second pair of dishes (pan-fried Scottish scallops, sweet chilli & crème fraîche – Peter’s signature dish – and tempura spicy dhal inari pocket, caramelised coconut, plantain, pickled green papaya) were beautifully matched with Greywacke Riesling 2011 (it’s first showing anywhere in the world – due in June). The wine is fresh, off-dry, open, appealing with lime and mineral notes and should come with a label that says simply ‘Drink Me!’ The 20g/l residual sugar, and the lovely crisp acidity countered the sweetness of the coconut and the chilli spice perfectly.
Next to the cheese course, and a twice baked Crozier Blue soufflé (no mean feat to produce 64 individual soufflés all at the same time!) with Jerusalem artichoke cream and a pomegranate dressing went superbly with the soft green apples and tropical fruit of the Greywacke Pinot Gris 2010, with its 8 g/l of sweetness balancing the light saltiness of the soufflé.
The beautifully cooked main course of lamb cutlet & braised lamb shank with white bean purée, kale and fig jus fitted hand in glove with Greywacke Pinot Noir 2010 (due in June). The wine, with its lovely waft of sweet cherries and cream, showed a savoury and mineral depth of huge proportion, and a fresh, almost eternal savoury finish.
To finish, Greywacke Late Harvest Gewurztraminer 2009 (we believe these were the last bottles in existence) with its 90 g/l of residual sugar and its trademark lychee and Turkish delight character, and yet a freshness rarely displayed in gewurz found elsewhere, with another signature dish of banana tarte tatin and sea salt caramel ice cream.
As well as arguably being New Zealand’s top winemaker, he is a very talented photographer. He has published three books – details and several images can be found by clicking on this link – and members enjoyed browsing through the books as we ate and drank.
It was a night to remember and to savour. Kevin and Kimberley moved on the next day to Denmark in their four week odyssey of the northern hemisphere, but we look forward to their return to these shores, as well as the very welcome arrival of the new vintages later this year.
Head of Tastings & Events
Earlier this month 90 members and guests were treated to a wonderful meal at Smith’s of Smithfield, the great eatery just across the road from London’s meat market, owned by chef John Torode. It was a fitting Aussie-owned backdrop for a dinner that highlighted wines from two of Western Australia’s finest winemakers – Vanya Cullen from Cullen Wines in Margaret River and John Durham from Plantagenet Wines in Great Southern.
The weather was kind and as the evening wore on a aperitif-friendly south-facing blue-sky panorama from the terrace with St Paul’s Cathedral as the centre piece gently dimmed into a full-moonlit night.
Vanya was delighted with the full moon, as it became her visual aid when talking about the biodynamic way that her vines are grown and wines made. The Mangan Vineyard Sauvignon Semillon (soon to come into stock) matched beautifully with the scallops expertly prepared by the SoS team, the Mangan Malbec Petit Verdot Merlot 2009 would knock spots off many a similarly-priced Claret and the Diana Madeleine 2002 (we have the 2008 currently available) was simply sublime.
John’s vibrant Riesling 2009 got proceedings off to a crisp start, and his Omrah Shiraz 2008 made an interesting gutsy comparison with the aforementioned Mangan Red with our aged fillet steak. The 1999 Shiraz again contrasted robustly with the finesse of the DM, both accompanying the excellent cheeses (Yarg, aged Montgomery and Caerphilly), and his cheeky sweet Ringbark Riesling 2009 matched wonderfully with the pear and lemon dessert.
The wines are very different in style, as are the winemakers, and we got the full picture from both on this moonlit night. The venue doesn’t give itself over to being a quiet and venerable eating place – sociability is definitely the watchword, and perhaps a full moon made members even more gregarious and loquacious than usual … or was it the wine? Either way, a good time was had, the food and service were of a very high standard and the beautiful wines spoke for themselves. We shall return there some time soon.
Head of Tastings & Events
Unlike the classic European wine regions (Bordeaux, Rioja etc), Australia has a fairly limited track record when it comes to long-term ageing of its wines. It’s not often that you get the opportunity to see mature Australian wines, even if you visit producers directly.
So I was immensely grateful when I was invited to join Michelin Star chef and self-confessed Australian wine specialist Roger Jones for a tasting of some top-notch bottles from his own cellar. The tasting was held in his delightful restaurant, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn.
Here are my shorthand notes. All wines were tasted blind.
Katnook Estate Chardonnay Brut, 1995: creamy, caramel, still fruity – lovely delicate mousse and texture. Mature yet still lively. 8/10
Plantagenet Riesling, 1998: zingy, floral, discreetly toasty, very fine nose. Gentle, juicy palate, à point. 9/10
Jasper Hill Riesling, 1998: serious riesling nose, creamy, focussed; amazing lift and intensity. Perfection. 10/10
Lenswood Semillon, 1998: nutty, evolved nose, developed palate, good structure, drink up. 6.5/10
Moss Wood Semillon, 1995: unusual aromatics, brioche-like, smooth palate; esoteric. 5.5/10
Moss Wood Chardonnay, 2000: pungent, smoky flavours. Full, opulent and slightly alcoholic. Not entirely clean. Disappointing. 5/10
Mount Mary Chardonnay, 1996: classic, mature chardonnay: nutty, harmonious and classy. 6.5/10
Lakes Folly, 1999: vibrant, high-toned, restrained, beautiful texture and length. 8.5/10
Barossa Valley Estate “E & E” Black Pepper Shiraz, 1998: layered, sensuous, chocolaty Barossa shiraz, smooth and delicious. Lovely now. 9/10
Penfolds Grange, 1990: exotic, complex, fragrant nose; savoury yet full of vitality; incredible ripeness and depth. A showstopper. Drink now or hold for another 20 years. 10/10
Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 1990: attractively evolved, spice/vegetal notes, refined, classy, only 13.5% alcohol, enormously appetising. Now or hold for 10+ years. 9/10
In his third guest blog for Society Grapevine, Paul Pujol (winemaker at Central Otago’s Prophet’s Rock) looks at riesling’s perennial image problem…
How is it that the most beautiful, erudite and alluring aromatic wine in the world keeps getting jumped in the next big white variety queue?
Chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and pinot gris have all had a turn – now, they are not exactly the ugly sisters but it still doesn’t seem fair. When will the wine drinking public notice the gorgeous wallflower in the corner (chatting with her bohemian friend gewurztraminer)?
I have quizzed a number of people about this state of affairs (read, I won’t shut up about riesling) and there are some interesting theories.
Many are quick to blame riesling’s dodgy past (who hasn’t got one of those) of watery acidic bulk wines and brushes with substance abuse at the hands of some greedy industrial wine producers. This did undoubtedly happen, albeit 20+ years ago, and left consumers with a hangover it seems they are still getting over.
The upside of this tarnished history is that producers have put an enormous amount of energy into rebuilding the quality and image of riesling. Now, in any given price category riesling will invariably offer the best value for money.
This is also due to the fact that winemakers love riesling and when talking with them it quickly becomes evident that it gets a disproportionate amount of love, care and attention in the vineyard and winery. In fact, several friends in the industry have pointed out that they don’t actually want riesling to become fashionable so that it remains a bargain for those in the trade.
Another factor that causes consumers to hesitate in choosing riesling is that like any true beauty she can carry off a wide range of styles. From mouth-watering dry styles to some of the most opulent, poised dessert wines in the world, this makes for a bit of confusion when facing a selection of riesling. Again, producers have responded to this by moving towards very clear labelling with regard to the sweetness or lack of in their wine. For our riesling, we try to make this blindingly obvious by putting it on the front label – Prophet’s Rock Dry Riesling.
So, having put those issues to bed we are running out of excuses as to why riesling shouldn’t finally take off. A fantastic food wine, a refreshing terrace wine, relatively low alcohol, the list of reasons to give riesling the time of day goes on… I also thought that if I write ‘riesling’ enough times in this post, that subliminal messaging might work too.
I’d love to hear your views on riesling, good or bad. Rant away: I just did.
Winemaker, Prophet’s Rock
These were the headline results from two days of judging Antipodean rieslings at Decanter Magazine last week (I was part of a panel of six judges who had worked through over 130+ rieslings). We all agreed that Australia’s wines were compelling- dry, pure, beautifully poised, intensely flavoured and pristine…… the very best showing quite outstanding minerality and class.
No fewer than 8 of the Australian entries received the top accolade, a Decanter Award, many of them from the Clare and Eden Valleys. There were a handful of Kiwis which I thought showed brilliantly too, the best being made in a drier Alsace style. But with the bar set so high, New Zealand struggled and failed to get the scores to qualify for even one Award – too many of her wines were confected, resting their quality on sugar rather than fruit. So, as far as generalisations go, it would seem today that Australia has it over New Zealand when it comes to classy Riesling. The results are published in August.
Australia & New Zealand buyer
Twelve of the longest-standing Australian wine families have come together under the banner of Australia’s First Families of Wine – between them they have 14 centuries of winemaking experience! We were delighted that representatives from all the families chose a tasting for members of The Society as their inaugural UK event, showing two wines each from their premium portfolio covering many growing regions and styles.
Members came face to face with a veritable Who’s Who of the Australian wine world: Ross & Katherine Brown (Brown Brothers); Col Campbell (Campbell’s Wine); d’Arry and Chester Osborn (d’Arenberg); Leanne De Bortoli & Steve Webber (De Bortoli); Stephen, Prue & Justine Henschke (Henschke); Jeff & Amy Burch (Howard Park); Peter, Sue & Tom Barry (Jim Barry); Doug & Julie McWilliam (McWilliam’s); ALister & Hayley Purbrick (Tahbilk); Bruce & Pauline Tyrrell (Tyrrell’s); Mitchell Taylor (Wakefield); Robert Hill-Smith (Yalumba).
Such is the quality of these wines (and such was the popularity of this tasting) that we are eager to share them with all members. This selection showcases Australia’s best, classic styles including Hunter Valley Semillon, Clare Valley Riesling, Margaret River Cabernet, Barossa Shiraz and Rutherglen Muscat. Click here for a full list of the wines available.
Were you there? What were your impressions? Do let us know.
The Daily Telegraph
Jonathan Ray includes, among his top 10 Kiwi wines:
NZ4611 2009 Spy Valley Riesling, 13% vol (£9.50 The Wine Society 01438 740222) Marlborough is best known for its remarkable sauvignon blancs, but ‘aromatics’, such as riesling, gewurztraminer and pinot gris also thrive. Spy Valley – so called because of its giant golf ball-like government listening post – is a fine spot for such varieties, and this riesling is charming. It makes a delicious aperitif.
At this moment Marc Hugel and his team of pickers are harvesting Riesling on the Grand Cru Schoenenbourg. What they are doing now is going through the best part of the vineyard and they are only picking grapes that have been affected by noble rot. Sometimes they can pick a whole bunch, but more often than not they are picking berry by berry. Laborious work especially when the vineyard is so steep. Noble rot is no ordinary rot. Conditions have to be perfect, with humidity in the mornings in the form of autumnal mist, or heavy dew, but then the sun needs to shine in the afternoon to dry everything up. The rot makes the grape skins permeable, so water evaporates, allowing sugars to concentrate. The end result for Hugel will hopefully be a bottling of very rare and highly prized Riesling Sélection de Grains Nobles.