Saturday, 8 January 2011

A handful of delicious white wines to start the New Year

I've been a bit lazy on the blogging front recently, although a mixture of illness (getting better now) and pressure of work meant that my time was at a premium, over the Christmas and New Year period. Anyway, a belated Happy New Year to all who read this blog - thanks for your continued support, and I hope you stick with me in 2001.

Although a confirmed carnivore - and therefore a confirmed red wine drinker - I've been going through one of those phases (I'm sure it happens to most of us from time to time) where I seem to be deriving more pleasure out of white wines than red. I'm sure it'll pass, as most phases do, but for now, I'm enjoying it. Here are my notes on some of the whites that have impressed me most.

Firstly, a couple of brilliant Rieslings from an estate I visited whilst on holiday in Germany, last September. I hope to import these (and other) wines, in the very near future, and I'll tell you more about this fabulous grower in another post......

Dr F Weins-Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett 2009 Mosel Saar Ruwer
From the famed "great wall" of classic, south-west-facing vineyards situated on the Mittel Mosel, between Berkastel and Zeltingen. Pale straw colour, with orange and green glints. Delicate aromas of mandarin orange and flowers, with subtle mineral and herbaceous notes adding an attractive prickle. The palate is similarly delicate and light, yet imbued with myriad flavours of citrus, tree fruits, subtle spice and orange zest - fresh fruit, minerality and laser-like acidity all working in complete harmony. The finish is elegant, mouth-watering and long. A beautiful wine, which is so lovely to drink now, it is almost too much to resist. Then again, it will age and evolve very nicely for a good 5 years or more.

Dr F Weins-Prum Graacher Domprobst Kabinett 2009 Mosel Saar Ruwer
Another wine from the above-mentioned great wall. Aromas of lemon, lime and mandarin orange greet the nose, with plenty of floral, herbacous and mineral notes adding further interest and complexity. The palate is definitely a notch or two further up on the ripeness scale than the Wehlener Sonnenuhr, suggesting something nearer to Spatlese level. That said, it is still amazingly light on its feet, with elegance to die for. The flavours are beautifully concentrated, with lime oil, orange peel and peach, with an almost honeyed richness, all of which are countered by intense, lemony acidity and slatey minerality. This really is a glorious wine, combining raciness and complexity in equal measure. Like most 2009's from the Mosel, it is simply wonderful now, but this one also has a long evolution ahead of it. Fantastic wine!

Next up, a lovely white wine from South Africa, selected and imported by Richard Kelley MW of Richards Walford - a.k.a Rick, the intrepid Cape Crusader(!) whose stated aim is to seek out and bring to us some of South Africa's "great vinous treasures, resigned to anonymity; forgotten, abandoned or just simply undiscovered." I think he's onto a winner with this one.  Again, I hope to add this wine to my list in the very near future, priced at around £12.99........

This wine is predominantly Chenin Blanc, with Viognier, Chardonnay and Clairette also in the mix. It is both fermented and aged in barrel, spending 12 months on its lees. The colour is gold/straw, with orange glints. The nose is crammed full of citrus, stone fruit, roasted nut and herbaceous aromas, with more than a touch of minerality and a fine cloak of toasty/buttery oak. In fact this is so enticing and complex, you could be forgiven for thinking it is a rather classy white Burgundy. Then again, the palate offers a warmth and richness that suggests warmer climes - perhaps the wilds of Provence, or the hills of Roussillon, with their long growing seasons and mineral-rich soils. There are some lovely flavours, with notes of spiced apple and orange zest, complemented by subtle oak and leesy flavours, and again a strong mineral streak. The rich, slightly oily texture is beautifully countered by a core of lemony acidity, whilst the finish is warming, long and generous. I have to admit that, although I'd heard that the Cape was capable of producing some really stunning Chenin-based white wines, I'd never been particularly struck by anything - until now. This really is a superb wine, which manages to be rich and generous, and at the same time truly elegant and exciting. An absolute revelation! (Edit - now available at Leon Stolarski Fine Wines - price £12.95).

Finally, three extremely noteworthy wines from the latest "bottle blind" tasting at the Nottingham WIne Circle. Actually, some of the reds were pretty decent, too, but these whites were the ones which impressed me most. Interestingly, the first one also has a Richard Kelley connection, since it was also included in an amazing "90 years of Domaine Huet" tasting he put on for the Wine Circle a few years back.....

Domaine Huet Le Haut-Lieu Vin de Glace 1980 Vouvray
Initially stinky and cheesy (though in a nice, vinous way), with rotting apples and custard and a whole load of minerality. Although lovely to begin with, it just gets more lovely with time in the glass, revealing hitherto hidden notes of citrus fruit, truffles, quinces and wet wool. The palate is incredibly focused, with deliciously tart lemon, lime and apple flavours, accompanied by what I can only describe as a simply spine-tingling level of acidity and minerality, and great length on the finish. What is more, having now tasted this wine twice in the space of a few years, I can say with some conviction that it is still developing and is yet to reach its peak. A stunning wine, and a very early contender for my white wine of 2011! As a footnote, I notice that (though only 1,000 bottles were produced) this wine is still commercially available. I may just get some - watch this space.

Domaine Potinet-Ampeau Meursault 1er Cru 1971
Amazing colour (almost orange, rather than the usual Meursault yellow) with lovely aromas of lemons, oranges, gunpowder, undergrowth and wonderful old Chardonnay complexity. The flavours are very definitely secondary, with nutty, cheesy, truffley, earthy nuances, with a delicious core of minerality and acidity. 39 years old? No problem! Another really lovely wine, brought along as a treat by Wine Circle member Mike Lane, since he was unable to attend the pre-Christmas "best bottle" tasting. Thanks, Mike!

Domaine Mestre-Michelot Puligny-Montrachet 2004
A quick sniff tells me we are in the same ball park as the Meursault (well, just a few miles away, actually). Butter and smoke on the nose, with background notes of root ginger, treacle tart and lemony/appley Chardonnay fruit. Quite oaky at the moment, but beautifully done, and very sensuous, with a wonderful level of fruit and budding complexity. A relative baby, but a very pretty one! I have no idea of the true value/cost of this wine, but Wine Circle member Kevin Scott picked it up on one of his regular trips to the Straker Chadwick auction house in Wales, for the bargain price of around £10 per bottle. Amazing!

1 comment:

Roger Sleigh said...

Agreed re the Liberator, fantastic wine, lets hope all the editions are such a success.