jamie goode's wine blog

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A lovely day in the country, followed by GruVee

It has been one of those summer days that England is so good at. Temperatures in the low 20s, just a few high clouds, and a gentle breeze. Warm but not hot. Easy.

We went for a walk to Holmbury Hill in the Surrey Hills, which is a really beautiful spot. You can wander through Hurtwood for miles, and dip down to Holmbury St Mary for a pint of beer. The village also has an idyllic cricket ground hidden in the woods, with an undulating, almost hilly outfield.

I'm now sipping a deliciously fresh expression of Gruner Veltliner, one of my favourite grape varieties. This is the Domaene Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner 2008, from Schloss Gobelsburg, which is stocked by Waitrose in the UK and costs £8. It's crisp, bright and minerally with a hint of smoky white pepper character that you often get with this grape variety. There's some citrus character, too, as well as a hint of apricot richness hidden under all the steely minerality.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Some fine wines at Pepi's dinner, with an Austrian focus

On Thursday evening, after the Sainsbury Press tasting, I headed over to Shepherd’s Bush with Tim Atkin for an Austrian wine dinner. The room was full of Masters of Wine (MWs) – they’d just had their AGM. And the purpose of the dinner was to celebrate the first non-Brit chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine, Dr Pepi Schuller, who is Austrian, but rather exotically has a PhD from the University of Stellenbosch.

The dinner was held at the wonderful Princess Victoria, a former gin house, then seedy pub, and now a serious wine-friendly gastro pub run by Matt Wilkin (see reviews here and here). It was a cracking evening, full of good humour, gossip, boisterous banter and fantastic wines. Here are my notes. The journey home was a long one involving two tubes and a bus, but it was worth it.

Walther Polz Therese Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Sudsteirmark, Austria
Serious Sauvignon from Styria, in southern Austria. Rounded and generous with ripe fruit and just a hint of greenness. Good concentration. Quite a rich style, but still savoury. 89/100

Georg Bruer Berg Schloossberg Riesling 2006 Rheingau, Germany
A fantastic wine that shows Riesling at its best. Lovey taut limey fruit on the nose; great concentration and minerality on the palate. Good weight with real presence and also a bit of residual sugar adding volume. 92/100

Bründlmayer Steinmassl Riesling 2006 Kamptal, Austria
Willi Brundlmayer was there to present this wine. Taut, pure and mineralic with some lemony fruit on the nose. Good concentration on the palate with lovely fresh acidity. Bright and lovely. 91/100

Louis Carillon Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Champs Canet 2005 Burgundy, France
This wine will divide people, I reckon. Nicely focused nose with creamy, nutty notes and precise citrussy notes showing some new oak. Oaky palate has nice focus and purity, with promise for the future. Oak dominated at present, though, and so the score is a bit of an act of faith. 92/100

Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner Tradition 2005 Kamptal, Austria
Michael Moosbrugger made this wine in a traditional style after finding papers in the loft of the monastery detailing how the wines were made in the past, and it’s brilliant. Richly textured, smooth and slightly creamy with some spice and mineral characters on the nose. The palate is texturally rich and complex with great depth and a hint of honeyed richness. 92/100

Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton Grand Cru 2003 Burgundy
An atypical vintage for Burgundy, but this wine still has lots of interest. Dark coloured, it has sweet, intense, spicy dark fruits backed up by firm, spicy tannins. Really dense and quite surprising, I suspect this will benefit from some age. It’s not really all that Burgundian at the moment! 90/100

Moric (Roland Velich) Blaufränkisch Neckenmarkter Alte Reben 2004 Burgenland, Austria
Lovely minerally blackcurrant fruit is the dominant theme here. It’s quite focused, with lovely structure from smooth but firm tannins. Good integration of oak and lovely minerality to this serious red wine. 92/100

Château Leoville-las-Cases 2004 St Julien, Bordeaux
This is a beautiful Claret of great purity, that’s ageing very well. Lovely blackcurrant fruit nose with minerally, spicy depth. The palate has good structure and presence under the generous, pure, sweet fruit. Just a baby, but with fantastic potential. 94/100

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Austrian Sauvignon that rocks

Played football again tonight for the first time in ages, and it was great fun. I was really encouraged that while I felt knackered after 10 minutes, I stayed that way for a full hour without feeling totally knackered. Football is brilliant for fitness. You run a lot in short bursts, but because you are chasing a ball your mind is taken off the fact that your muscles and lungs are in real pain, and thus you cover much more ground, more pleasurably, than you would if you were jogging or running on a treadmill. Best of all, if you exercise regularly, you can drink more wine and eat more calorific foodstuffs (e.g. cheese) without becoming fat. Not that it's wrong to be fat. It's just that I have such a fragile ego I need to avoid becoming fat because I couldn't cope with other people's disapproval.

Time for some wine after the football, and nothing better than a beautifully aromatic, fresh, minerally Sauvignon from Austria. This is a really superb effort.

Huber Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Niederosterrich, Austria
Wonderfully pure, precise and aromatic, with lovely minerality and bright fruit, along with some freshness from high carbon dioxide levels. The palate is pure with rounded, fresh, almost transparent fruit, a hint of fruit sweetness, and then beautifully focused minerality. It's a bright wine, but it's not at all sharp or acidic. There's a lovely combination of ripe fruit and minerality, but none of the grassiness that's a signature of this grape in New Zealand. It reminds me a bit of Gruner Veltliner, with its textural components and hints of spiciness. 91/100 (UK agent Thierrys)

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sauvignon in Stryria, day 4 and summary

Back home after a wonderful few days in Austria. Graz proved to be a fantastic venue for the worldsauvignon conference: the organization was utterly perfect (in particular, good quality simultaneous translation into three languages is quite a feat), and it's a very easy city to spend some time in. It would be a nice place to live: big enough that there's cultural richness and some people to hang out with, but small enough that it feels relaxed and friendly. Pictured above, by night.

The sessions on the final day included a very polished paper by Larry Lockshin on marketing issues, a Masters of Wine panel conducting a tutored tasting of 12 very interesting Sauvignons from around the world, and a final panel looking at the market for wine in Germany, Russia, the UK and the USA.

After the conclusion of the conference, Tim Atkin and I joined some of the NZ guys for beer at the top of the mountain. Graz is unusual in that it has a small mountain right in the middle of the city. You can take a furnicular, or a lift, or even walk up - and at the top there's a beautiful beer garden with views over the city. It was a lovely way to end what was an inspiring and stimulating three days.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sauvignon in Styria, day 3

Right now, I'd kill for a red wine. Day three of the worldsauvignon congress has been brilliant, but there's only so much Sauvignon a boy can take.

Some really good stuff today. Highlights for me were three rather technical papers. The first was Denis Dubourdieu's excellent talk on thiols in Sauvignon Blanc. He's a bit of a wine science legend, and a really nice guy to boot. Had a couple of nice chats with him today.

Matt Goddard, a Brit who has relocated to the University of Auckland, has been doing some great work on identifying the yeasts involved in spontaneous ferments, and has discovered that if you inoculate with specific Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains plus Pichia kluyveri (a wild yeast) you get really interesting wines. Specifically for Sauvignon, there's a synergistic interaction in terms of thiol production.

Also from kiwiland, Chris Winefield presented another excellent paper looking at thiol precursors. Really good science unpacking the GLV (green leaf volatile) pathway in vines. Not for everyone, but I found it gripping.

Then there was a panel tasting looking at the ageing potential of Sauvignon Blanc. If the conclusion of our clones panel was that it's a bit of a non-issue, then the conclusion of this panel was don't bother ageing Sauvignon Blanc. [Maybe I'm being a bit naughty here.] I just loved the typo in Jean-Christoph Bourgeois' name (pictured).

Then this afternoon, there were several topical excursions to the Styrian wine regions. Mine was titled 'The culinary side of life: typically Stryrian'. We went to a castle, tasted some Sauvignon Blanc, and tried some ham. Then we had dinner. It was jolly, and I was with a nice group, but it was a little short on the culinary side. Pictured at the top is a view from the castle, and also the tasting we had.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sauvignon in Sytria, day 2

A very successful first day of the World Sauvignon Congress, held here in sunny Graz. 250 delegates are attending, representing 30 different countries. The proceedings began with an hour's opening ceremony, which contained several speeches, as well as some country dancing and a performance by a folk group, as well as an anthemic four-piece brass band. There were also appearances from the three 'princesses of wine', pretty Austrian girls selected for their attractiveness but also their knowledge of all things vinous. Pepe Schuller MW revealed that his wife is an ex-wine princess.

The folk group was led by Hans, who is the president of the local wine growers syndicate. He composed a piece titled 'from vine to wine', which he played. It's in 3/4 time, as it most Austrian music it seems. The dancing group were good, but had the rather alarming habit of letting out high pitched yells at seemingly random intervals. In one dance (pictured), the men systematically clapped the soles of their feet, their thighs and their hands in a complex sequence.

The sessions were very good, once they got underway. We learned from Ferdinand Regner that the parents of Sauvignon Blanc are Traminer and Chenin Blanc. Richard Smart told us why Tasmania is just as good as Marlborough for growing Sauvignon Blanc, and also spelled out the implications of global warming for the wine world. 'The world's wine sector is a canary in the coal mine for agriculture', he pointed out. 'It's an early warning signal'. The lucky regions set to suffer least are Chile, Argentina, China, New Zealand and northern Europe. And Tasmania.

Mike Trought gave a thorough overview of the amazing development of Marlborough over the last 20 years into New Zealand's top wine region. He also looked at the issue of regionality. Kobus Hunter explained why canopy management is key for quality in South African Sauvignon Blanc. Ulrich Pedri described his studies on looking for suitable sites for Sauvignon Blanc in the Sudtirol. And then it was my turn to chair the panel on Sauvignon Blanc clones, with three experts - Laurent Audeguin, Wolfgang Renner and Damian Martin - each making presentations.

Tonight is the conference dinner. More country dancing, folk songs and yodelling?

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sauvignon in Styria, day 1

Arrived in Graz this afternoon for the Sauvignon Congress. I'm staying at a wonderful traditional hotel in the old town, Erzherzog Johann, which is in the best part of a small city that just falls short of being beautiful (although it has a lovely laid back feel to it). Conference sessions start tomorrow, but this evening there was a reception and dinner at the Schlossberg, which is perched on top of a steep hill in the town centre, accessible by a steep path or furnicular car.

It was a lovely evening. Part of the reason for attending a conference like this is that you get a chance to meet loads of people. I chatted this evening for the first time to Denis Dubourdieu and Richard Smart, both legends in their own fields, as well as catching up with a whole bunch of others.

There was also an informal tasting of a range of Styrian Sauvignons, which were uniformly very good. Sauvignon Blanc in Styria has a particular character - it's bright, fresh and fruity, with some depth to it. It isn't grassy/herbaceous like the New Zealand style; nor is it minerally as it so often is in the Loire. I think the next few days will be interesting.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Off to Austria

In the morning I leave for Austria. More specifically, Graz, for the World Sauvignon Congress, where I have to sing for my supper by moderating a session on clones.

I'm looking forward to it: I'll learn a lot, and Styria in August should be very pleasant. I'll let you know how I get on.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Wild Honey with Hannes Sabathi

I met with young Austrian winemaker Hannes Sabathi (pictured) today for lunch.

The venue was Wild Honey (newly Michelin starred) in St George Street. It's simply fantastic: some of the best food I've had in a long time - my slow-roasted pork belly, served with a remarkable risotto, containing chorizo among other things, was close to perfect. Hannes had a gorgeous looking medium-rare roast of veal. My creme brulee to finish with truly was perfect. The ambience is good too. The only thing that let it down a bit was the patchy service: at one point we were presented with someone else's desserts, and it took an age to see sight of the wines that Hannes had bought with him.

Indeed, the restaurant seemed very confused by the whole process of bringing wines along, even though this had been negotiated at the time of booking. In the end we got them, and remarkably they didn't charge us any corkage.

So, how were Hannes' wines? Not yet 28, and running the family winery, he seems to be doing a brilliant job. The winery is in Sudsteiermark (Southern Styria), which specializes in Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Muskateller. The Klassik wines are precise and fresh, while the Single Vineyard wines have real personality and depth, allied to a minerally precision. There's also a reserve line, and the two Sauvignon Reserves I tried, 2003 and 2006, are among the best expressions of this grape I've yet to experience.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Two hits: Austria and Champagne

Two real hits last night, my last in the UK for a while - I'm making this entry from the business class lounge of Iberia en route to Santiago. It's quite nice being able to use an airline lounge because I normally fly economy. Anyway, these wines were just great - a fantastic full flavoured Champagne and a delicious Austrian sweetie.

Champagne Jean Moutardier Cuvée Selection NV
Quite deep coloured, this is a 50:50 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It’s a serious Champagne. The intense, toasty nose has a fine herby edge and hints of toffee. The palate has rich toast and brioche notes, along with a bit of nuttiness and some citrus freshness. Great depth and intensity: a full flavoured style that is just delicious. Brilliant stuff. 92/100 (£19.95 Great Western Wine)

Herbert Triebaumer Ruster Ausbruch 2002 Burgenland, Austria Yellow/gold in colour, this is a rich, almost pungent sweet wine with lifted aromas of cantaloupe melon and apricot, alongside spicy and herbal notes. The palate is viscous (163 g/litre residual sugar) with bold, concentrated flavours of ripe apricot, citrus and melon, together with some spicy complexity. It’s a serious wine of real class and intensity that just manages to stay balanced despite the immense sweetness. 93/100 (£21.95 Great Western Wine)

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Friday, December 07, 2007

The passing of a great

I reckon I was as shocked as most of my colleagues to hear of the very sad passing of one of the world's great sweet wine makers, Alois Kracher, who died this week of cancer at the horridly early age of 48. As my tribute to this visionary and talented wine grower, I'd point readers to a report I wrote on my visit to his winery and home back in 2004, on the occasion of the release of his stunning 2002 wines.

I remember when I first tasted Kracher's wines, with Noel Young pouring them at the London trade fair - it was the 1998s, if I recall correctly. I asked Noel how long he thought the wines would last for. Noel looked at me like I was a bit of an idiot (perhaps he's a good judge of character) and said 'longer than you and me'. Kracher may have gone, but his wines are still with us as his legacy, and there's every reason to expect that his son will continue the fantastic work he has begun.


Friday, November 30, 2007

The transforming power of Austrian Riesling

Forgive the rather melodramatic title to this post. I guess I was led to it by my current enthusiasm for Austrian wine, and also - despite my silly comments - about Riesling.

That's not to say I rate Austrian Riesling higher than Gruner Veltliner. Far from it. It's just that tonight, a decision to open a Wachau Riesling to accompany a seafood risotto proved to be a very good one. This wine isn't from a terribly well known producer, but it's really nice, and is a superb food wine. It manages to carry quite a bit of weight, while remaining very fresh. And it's relatively affordable for this level of quality.

Erich Maccherndl Riesling Smaragd Steinterrassen 2005 Wachau, Austria
Quite a deep yellow colour with some green tinges, this is a full flavoured, savoury, 'trocken' style Riesling made from ripe grapes. The nose shows refined honeyed, minerally, herby/citrussy fruit. It leads to a palate that's rich and ripe, but nicely defined by fresh herb and citrus notes, together with a hint of sweetness and cutting minerally acidity. There's a lot of intensity and presence here in this dry styled wine, which is probably best served with food. 90/100 (£12.95 Great Western Wine here)

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Natural Gruner, a revision and a better comparison

A few days ago I reported on the Sepp Moser 'Minimal' Gruner Veltliner (here), which is made without any sulfur dioxide additions. I compared this 2005 with the regular 2006 from the same vineyard. Well now I have my hands on a 2005 to do a better comparison with, and I also have some of the 2005 Minimal left in the fridge.

On retasting the Minimal, some three nights after it was first opened, I'm going to revise my judgement. I think this is a fantastic wine. It is profound, even. I'm getting complex notes of orange, vanilla, lemon, herb, butterscotch and toast. The palate is concentrated with a lovely bitter citrus freshness to the warm nutty, toasty flavours. It's unusual but lovely. 94/100

So, now to the Sepp Moser Gruner Veltliner Schnabel 2005 Kremstal, Austria. A yellow gold colour, it has a beguiling, complex aroma of nuts, herbs, pepper and toast. The palate has a lively presence of fresh, herby, peppery fruit together with some nutty depth. As is typical of Gruner, there's an interesting texture: it's not fat, but there's some broadness, although the overall effect is one of dryness. Quite serious and food friendly. 91/100

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Gruner with and without added sulfur dioxide

Even 'natural' winemakers have to add stuff to wine - almost always. While wine pretty much makes itself without much in the way of additions, one chemical - sulfur dioxide - is pretty hard to do away with. It's almost universal use in wine is because it has the useful dual action of inhibiting the growth of unwanted microbes and preventing oxidation. There's quite a bit more to it than this, but the long and short of it is that if you try to make wine without sulfur dioxide additions, you run the risk of it being spoiled.

The two wines I'm drinking tonight are therefore of real interest. They're both Gruner Veltliners from the same producer and the same vineyard, but one was made conventionally, with normal sulfur dioxide addition, and the second without any. It's not a totally straight comparison because the vintages are different, but still it's interesting to see how the wines differ. I intend to ask Nikolaus Moser why he's trying to make wine without sulfur dioxide, and what he's hoping to gain from this approach, but first I wanted to try the wines. My verdict? They're both great wines, but completely different in style.

Sepp Moser Gruner Veltliner Schnabel 2006 Kremstal, Austria
A classic Gruner, this has a lovely peppery freshness with richer textural elements to the fruit. There's some bright minerality and fresh acidity on the palate, keeping this from being fat, and combined with the smooth, rich texture it makes for quite a compelling wine that should age nicely in bottle. Pure, refined and expressive. 91/100

Sepp Moser Gruner Veltliner Schnabel 'Minimal' 2005 Kremstal, Austria
This wine, made without any added sulfur dioxide, is pretty wild stuff. There's a hint of cloudiness to the yellow/golden colour. On the nose, spicy, slightly peppery fresh notes are combined with richer, toasty, vanilla, bready elements to create a warm, complex whole. The palate has really nice tangy, minerally acidity under the warm toasty, bready notes. There's also some tannic structure here, which is unusual in whites. Extremely food friendly and quite complex, with a pleasant sort of reductive character. Who knows how this will develop, but it's quite serious and thought provoking now. 92/100

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

I love wine!

Some bottles opened last night, and continued tonight, remind me why I do what I do: I love wine!

First of all, a couple of Gruner Veltliner. Lenz Moser's Laurenz V Sophie 2006 is a wine that we've consumed 15 bottles of in the Goode household since summer. It's brilliant for the price - around £5 on special from Tesco - and we have six more arriving next week. But a step up is the Stadt Krems Gruner Veltliner Weinzierlberg 2006, which is one of the most enjoyable whites I've had in a while. It's aromatic, full, generous, well balanced, lively and quite thrilling. This is GV at its very best, and just under £10 from Averys. I must buy some.

Then a really good Bordeaux: Chateau Brown 2004 Pessac Leognan. This is deep, minerally, gravelly, savoury and quite tight, with lovely dense dark fruit hemmed in by firm tannins, good acidity and a touch of oak. Pretty serious stuff, definitely in classed growth league, and which is a good four or five years off its peak. Again, this is a wine that had me on wine-searcher looking to see where I can get some. Unfortunately, none available in the UK...

The picture is of the closure used to seal the Stadt Krems GV. It's a Vino-Lok, which is a glass stopper with a plastic ring doing the business of sealing, covered in a metal cap. I'm not sure about Vino-Loks: they look good, and feel nice to open (no special tool is required), but plastic allows diffusion of oxygen, and it is plastic that is making the seal. Besides, they're really expensive compared with screwcaps and Diam, their main competitors.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sliverado, Priorat, Tesco, Lenz and Russ

Began today with Tesco's press tasting at County Hall. The Tesco team were beaming with pride as they launched their new range: all 180 wines on show were new additions. Dan Jago was bursting with boyish enthusiasm - he makes everything he does look very easy, as if he's just having a bit of fun. I suspect the reality is that it's like watching a swan cross a pond: on the surface everything looks smooth, but under the water those legs are paddling like crazy. I also discussed football with fellow Man City fan Jason Godley. Interesting times.

Then it was off to lunch with Lenz Moser (above) and Russ Weis (below), with the theme being Silverado (the Napa estate where Russ is manager) and Melis/Elix, Russ' Priorat venture. We were due to meet at Tendido Cero, but when Russ and Lenz got there the manager refused to let them open their own bottles, irrespective of corkage fee. They tried to explain they were presenting their wines to a journalist, but got absolutely nowhere. A strange attitude, really, and it meant that proceedings were moved to Bibendum, a short walk away. It was the first time I'd visited Bibendum (the restaurant, not to be confused with the wine merchant), and the setting in the Art Deco ex-Michelin building is stunning. The food is also pretty good.

Lenz and Russ are buddies from the time when they both worked for Mondavi. They are both charismatic brand ambassadors, and the lunch had a real sense of openness and energy to it. We began by looking at one of Russ' Priorat wines, the Elix 2005, which was superb, even though it is the young vines cuvee. Then we tried two Silverado wines side-by-side. The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon really impressed, with lovely structure and focus to the dense fruit. The 2oo2 Solo Cabernet Sauvignon takes things up a bit in terms of elegance and density, and up a lot in terms of price (retail is c. £80). It's a lovely wine.

Over this last week, my view of California has shifted a bit. I've seen with some of the high-end Jackson Estate wines that California can offer serious wines that have some old world complexity and balance with new world intensity, and this has been confirmed today by these two Silverado wines. California needs ambassadors like Russ, because the image we have of Californian wines in the UK falls into two categories: first, cheap brands that aren't very good and, second, ego-driven wines made by exceptionally rich ex-doctors, lawyers and movie stars which sell for absurd sums to wealthy Americans. This image needs to change.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Gruner Veltliner

Had my brother and his wife to stay for the evening. They live in Plymouth, but had some business in London and so stopped over Chez Goode. So we drank some wine and played some cricket with the boys. Both my lads are getting into their cricket these days so today I'd bought them some decent bats: Woodworm 'The Flame' size 4 and 5, respectively. Coincidentally, they colour-matched one of tonight's tipples: the Laurenz und Sophie Singing Gruner Veltliner 2005 (pictured). I bought a case of it from Tesco a few weeks back, then at a price of under £5 a bottle, which is ludicrously cheap for a zippy wine that actually tastes of the grape it is made from. It's now back to its normal price, which is still very reasonable. I don't buy a lot of wines by the case, and when I do I normally regret it. But we're getting through this case briskly. Five bottles left. Another wine sunk tonight was the Massena Moonlight Run 2003 Barossa. Bought at around the same time for c. £10 a pop, I've drunk just 3 of the case to date. It's nice, but could do with just a hint more freshness and presence,

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Big tastings

Big tastings. We all go to them. Have to. But we all hate them. Not for the fact that we get to meet lots of producers and colleagues: that's what these events are good for. But because it's really hard to do wines justice when you are tasting one after another in an often crowded, noisy environment where it is very hard to concentrate, and where your palate definitely undergoes some sort of transformation in response to the physical assault of repeated challenge by acidic, alcoholic and frequently tannic liquids.

It requires experience, discipline and perseverance to get good information from big tastings. Yesterday afternoon I was at the Austrian trade tasting, which was packed full of really good - often great - wines. But it's so frustrating to know that simply through the constraints of time and the fact that I have just one mouth/nose/palate/brain I couldn't taste all the wines I really wanted to. What I did taste, I liked very much.

One slightly annoying aspect of the tasting is that some leading producers were showing their 2006 Gruner Veltliners, which are simply too young to show well at this stage. Gruner is a funny beast: it starts out all bright, rather tanky fruit, and takes a year or so to begin to express its true character. It just seems really hard to assess it when it is very young, although I guess winemakers must be able to do this to a degree.

Pictured is Christine Saahs of Nikolaihof. I learned yesterday that this estate, which makes very pure, mineralic wines, was the first biodynamic wine producer in Europe (they are certified by Demeter). They converted back in 1971, under the guidance of Christine's Aunt Uta, who was an anthroposophical doctor. One of Christine's daughters is now an anthroposophical doctor, too.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Lunch with Lenz today. Lenz Moser is a name you'll probably be familiar with: his grandfather established a very successful winery under the name, which got into financial difficulties in the mid 1980s and was sold. Lenz (the fifth) ran this company for a while, and then became manager of European operations for the Mondavis. He left this job when he got wind of takeover talk, and decided to set out on his own a couple of years back. His new focus is purely on Gruner Veltliner, of which he makes a range of three.

If Lenz can't be a successful wine producer, with his knowledge of both winemaking and the modern marketplace, then I don't think anyone can. The wines are impeccably packaged and very well made. They have slightly different personalities, and are subtly targeted to female consumers because women actually purchase something like 70% of all wine.

Friendly Sophie is rounded, accessible, generous and quite fruity, but transparent and fresh at the same time. Charming Laurenz is a bit more serious, with a bit of minerality and pepper spice, and good acidity. Singing Sophie is somewhere in between - a fresher, more zingy version of the Friendly Sophie, but still with a nice fatness to it.

Three very food-compatible wines which went with the Japanese-inspired fare at Cocoon on Regent Street (a stylish pad indeed).

For those interested, Sophie is Lenz' daughter, who was 11 when he conceived the project (they had a walk interrupted by a thunderstorm, during which they decided they'd like to make wine together - Sophie reckoned she'd like to take over the family business when she was 25 - now she's 16).