I can’t pronounce it either, 2012, Adelaide Hills, Pinot Noir.

Ngeringa

Ngeringa, Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills, Australia, 2012

I went to Adelaide once.  It was a bit dull.  What is not dull is Ngeringa’s 2012 Pinot Noir. Ngeringa sits on the far eastern side of the Adelaide hills region, nestled in a non-official sub-region called Mount Barker.

Robe: Lots of color by pinot noir standards: bright red blush.  Airs of blood in water.

Nez: Fantastic, powerful nose.  Deep, wet, lascivious scents of earthy, mossy, vegetable notes.

Bouche: Velvety and so-damn-long.  Bold flavors leap out of the glass.  Great structure, the wine is perfectly balanced and even achieves a slight chewiness.

Impressions of Adelaide redefined.  A magnificent wine 93/94.  You can pick it up at Mig’s wines here in Brussels.

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Vintage Bordeaux: Haut Medoc 2005

Whenever the subject of Bordeaux comes up, one cant help but conjure up images of majestic chateaux, of rolling countryside and of course some of the most expensive wine known to man. Since the rise of China as an economic powerhouse, the price of Bordeaux has simply rocketed out of control as this new market makes a beeline straight for the great chateaux of the region. Indeed such is their love for Bordeaux (China is the largest export market of Bordeaux wine in the world) that Chinese investors now own over 100 vineyards in the region.

Of course I talk about Bordeaux as a single homogeneous region, which, perhaps more than most, is a vast oversimplification. Bordeaux covers over 120,000 hectares and is made of 60 different appellations, famously divided into the left and right banks. Bordeaux makes over 10,000 different bottles of wine ranging from mere few pounds for the cheapest, to many thousands of pounds for the dearest. Navigating ones way though this vast array of wines is an exceptionally difficult task and one that few can truly say they are at home doing so. I, a mere mortal, simply have to settle for a basic working knowledge to give me some idea of what I am looking at.

This brings me nicely to today’s wine:

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Chateau Cambon La Pelouse, Haut Medoc 2005

Bordeaux Blend (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot), Alcohol 13.5%

Chateau Cambon La Pelouse traces its roots back to the 18th Century, when the Cambon family first planted vines in the gravely soil of this 35 hectare plot, located in the Macau commune on the banks of the Garonne. The Macau commune lies just South along the river from Margaux. The chateau plants 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignion and 5% Petit Verdot, and their blends, whilst varying from year to year, often contain a large proportion of Merlot. Wines of the chateau are aged for an average of 20 months in French oak barrels of which between 40 and 50% are new.

2005 was a year to remember in Bordeaux. It was a year of plenty – plenty of acidity, fruit and especially, plenty of tannin. It was hailed by some as the vintage of the century, its rich tannins allowing great potential for ageing.

This bottle is a fine example of the vintage, displaying all the characteristics associated with it. The wine is a deep claret colour, with a real spicy nose, traces of leather and smoke with just a hint of red fruit. As expected, tannins are not in short supply, giving a real astringency quality to the wine. Its obvious the wine has been heavily oak aged, bestowing a complex smokey, almost licorice flavour. Unfortunately these intense bold flavours somewhat mask the rather more delicate black fruity flavours. All the components of the great wines are there, however the wine is let down by the lack of balance.

Even with over 10 years of age on the bottle, there is still a lot of room for more ageing and this might just bring some much needed balance to the tannic flavours. The classic food pairings for left bank Bordeaux are simple hearty lamb dishes or fine steaks. This wine would pair very well with either. Its important to avoid overly complex flavours or foods as these would likely be lost in the boldness of this wine. 87 points (MI)

Sharpham Vineyards, Devon, UK

Continuing my tour of British vineyards I made my way to Sharpham Vineyards on the river Dart for a delightful summer afternoon.  Sharpham Estate is known in equal measure in the local area for their efforts in wine and cheese.  A few years ago I tried the Summer Red after friends visited the vineyard so it was great to get back and sample more widely across the range.  Sharpham Estate offers wine tasting, cheese tasting and walking trails by the river and through the vineyards.  If you are here in time for lunch then there is also a small cafe serving locally sourced produce and seafood.

Several of the whites are based on the unusual variety of Madelaine Angevine which makes interesting whites here in the UK.  At nearby site Beenleigh, the Sharpham team also make a Cabernet/Merlot blend under polytunnels, but this was not available for tasting.  I came away with a hearty cheeseboard and a bottle of the Barrel Fermented White which proved a delicious partner for a summer BBQ.

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Price: £6 for a flight of 4 wines, £2.50 for a flight of 3 cheeses.  Prices for wines listed below are based on the website but I believe they are slightly cheaper if you purchase them in the vineyard shop.

Impression: A delightful spot on the edge of the river Dart.  Well worth a visit if you are in the South Hams area of Devon and have even a passing interest in wine and cheese.

Wines Tasted: Sharpham Sparkling 2013, Sharpham Estate Selection Dry 2014, Sharpham Dart Valley Reserve 2014, Sharpham Valley Barrel Fermented 2013, Sharpham Red 2014, Sharpham Pinot Noir and Précoce 2013.

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Even if wine is not your thing the cheese is well worth the visit.

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A Riesling Warm-Up

In preparation for our upcoming tasting of venerable Mosel Riesling (1971-1976) I thought I better drink some more Riesling to whet the appetite.  Back in June we tasted some young Rieslings by JJ Prum, one of the top producers in the Mosel.  On the same afternoon (and in very stark contrast) we also enjoyed a Riesling from the Wachau valley in Austria made by Rainer Wess and reviewed below.  The second wine in this article returns to Germany and hails from the stable of Schäfer-Fröhlich, a German winemaker working magic in the Nahe.

Achleiten

Modern, minimalist, delicious.

Rainer Wess, Riesling, Achleiten, Wachau, 2008

Price: £22 from The Wine Society (out of stock)

The wines of the Wachau Valley are responsible for my love of Riesling and are characterised by a bone dry presentation with intense acidity and minerality. Achleiten is one of the top vineyards in the Wachau, rising vertiginously on the North bank of the Danube and known in the valley for its intense minerality and ageing potential.  Given this bottle was from 2008 I expected this to be close to maturity.

The wine was aromatic with typical Riesling notes of kerosene dominating the nose. As with many wines from the Wachau the palate was not fruit driven although there was a fading note of tart cooking apples and a delightful note of Japanese sour plum. The acidity was screaming on this with a huge amount of minerality, typical of the vineyard.

I tasted this wine again on the second day after opening where it demonstrated slightly less attack but with greater dominance of metallic and salty notes. Another few days later the final drop was showing a hint of oxidation but I suspect this could last a fair while longer in bottle.

Impression: This reminds me why I fell in love with Wachau. Not forgiving, certainly not for everyone, but if you like to taste the earth your wine grows in this is a great introduction to the Achleiten terroir

Score: 91/100 (DT)

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Precipitants of tartrate crystals on this stunning cork from Rainer Wess.

Schäfer-Fröhlich, Riesling Spätlese, Bockenauer Felseneck, Nahe, 2006

Nose muted, faint sweet aromatics on swirling. Beautiful Riesling fruit on the palate leading into something like sweet peaches or pink lemonade.  This reminds me of a sweet delicious nectar. There is high acidity keeping the wine focused through to a moderate length finish. Whilst this is simple and has not gained all that much complexity with age it has kept a phenomenal purity. Gold yummy syrup. Its balanced zingy and left my mouth watering.  I am not really sure where this bottle came from or how much it cost but I am very glad I found it in the cellar.

Score: 90/100

Take home point: I need to taste more from these guys.

SchaferFrolich