Flotsam & Jetsam Cinsault, tasted on camera

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Another Cinsault! This time, it’s from Chris and Suzaan Alheit. This is an honest wine, made for drinking, and it’s lovely. South Africa is producing quite a few of these wines, and I think that’s a good thing.

Flotsam & Jetsam Stalwart Cinsault 2016 Western Cape, South Africa
12% alcohol. Lovely juicy, bright cherry and berry fruits are at the core of this wine, which is so fresh and juicy, but also has lovely grainy structure and a bit of pepper and ginger spice. It’s juicy and smashable, but there’s also some elegance and a hint of seriousness about it. Fine, fruity and peppery on the finish, with fine herbal notes. I really like this. 92/100

So you don't like natural wine? I sense your pain, and I am here for you

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So you don’t like natural wine?

I sense your pain, and I am here for you. Here to help.

I can understand how distressing it must be to see other people enjoying wines that you don’t like. It is imperative that you take every chance to tell them that they are simply wrong. They may not listen, but there’s a slender chance, if you repeat yourself often, that the message will get through.

Don’t waste too much time, though, researching or fact checking any articles you might write. Who really cares about details, such as which natural wine fair came first?

It’s clearly a fringe movement of lunatics. Like a religious cult. You have been wise not to try too many of the wines. You only really need to try half a dozen or so to realise that this niche movement of, say 1000 producers globally, are all making bad wines. Besides, most of your friends are of the same opinion. So you are definitely in the right.

I certainly understand how upsetting these fairs must be for you. All those bad wines! So many of them! I know you haven’t been to any, and I strongly recommend that you don’t bother. It would distress you greatly to see so many young people attending, and enjoying the wines. After all, a few years ago you predicted that natural wine was on the way out. Just a fad.

And, now, these faulty, despicable wines made by fraudsters who have no knowledge of proper winemaking, are more popular than ever. It sickens me to think of so many people having fun drinking wines that you and I don’t like, and don’t approve of.

I know how alarming this is. People who simply don’t get that these wines aren’t proper. I’ve seen your blood pressure rise when you’ve visited the cellar of a producer who you considered sound, only to see a concrete egg or an amphora or two hiding in the corner, and then they start telling you about a skin-contact white that they’ve made. All this corrupt winemaking must be stopped!

You must promise me that you’ll keep on writing these articles telling the world about how bad natural wine is, and how it’s wrong for people to like wines that you don’t approve of. I’m here to support you. It’s all going to be OK.

The Mount Abora Saffraan Cinsault: bright and luminous

mount abora saffraan

This was a delicious and smashable wine, and it didn’t cost very much. It’s a naturally made Swartland Cinsault, and on the back label it says, ‘this wine harks back to the times of bright and luminous wines.’ Indeed, this is bright and luminous. [By way of interest, here's my note on the previous vintage.]

Mount Abora Saffraan Cinsault 2015 Swartland, South Africa
12% alcohol. Aromatic and floral with lovely red cherries and raspberries, as well as hints of tar, herbs and spices. The palate is supple and juicy with lovely red fruits and a bright, fresh, spicy personality. Nice acidity, floral fruit and fine spicy structure make this utterly smash able, and I quite like the faintly rustic hints, too. 92/100

Here’s a video of me tasting it:

Find this wine with wine-searcher.com

Video: day 3 of ProWein 2017

Some highlights from the third and final day of ProWein 2017. I should add that these highlight films are not meant to be representative of the fair. Most people are there to do huge deals and very serious business. I’m there to earn money from seminars (something I’m quite good at – doing the seminars, that is, not necessarily earning the money), and then in the time I have left, to find interesting things. Most of the wine at ProWein is desperately dull and a bit depressing: but this only reflects the fact that 90% of all wine is crap. But the world needs a lot of very cheap, bad wine, because that’s what the market demands, and ProWein is a big showcase for these. Personally, I find nothing to say about most wines of this kind, which is why I don’t feature them here. There are good, cheap wines, and I do feature those, but you have to look hard for them. My focus is on the interesting wines, that have something to say, and which speak of a place. Fortunately there are more of these than there used to be, and their number is growing.

Video: day 2 of ProWein 2017


So here’s a quick film from the second day of ProWein 2017, the global wine fair held each year in Düsseldorf, Germany. I spent quite a bit of the day doing seminars, which aren’t featured here. The scale of ProWein is hard to grasp unless you’ve actually been there, and walked 15 km in a single day between various appointments. There’s also going to be a video of the third and final day.

Video: day 1 of ProWein 2017

 

Canadian wine journalist Treve Ring and I have been doing some filming each day at ProWein, 2017. With 58 000 visitors this year, it’s a huge wine trade fair, and it would be impossible to catch all of it. So this film just highlights a few wines and winemakers, as well as giving you a feel for the ProWein experience. More to come from days 2 and 3 shortly.

Day 1, ProWein

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Day 1 at ProWein was a busy one. This wine trade fair, with 55 000 attendees, is huge. It’s daunting in scale, so you have to have quite a good plan about what you are going to do next, or else you can end up walking aimlessly through the cavernous halls, and gradually lose the will to live. I had three seminars: two for New Zealand and one for Canada. The rest of the time I did some tasting of interesting things. Today, day 2, will be busier – four seminars to do – and so for now I’ll just post some pictures of the highlights of day 1.

Lovely MCC from Graham Beck's Pieter Ferreira

Lovely MCC from Graham Beck’s Pieter Ferreira

Incredibly elegant Colheita from Noval

Incredibly elegant Colheita from Noval

Lovely Tasmanian Chardonnay

Lovely Tasmanian Chardonnay

Sheer perfection: the 2011 Kapi 6 Putts

Sheer perfection: the 2011 Kapi 6 Putts

Great GV from Schloss Gobelsberg

Great GV from Schloss Gobelsberg

Great grower fizz

Great grower fizz

Really impressed by this Kiwi Chardonnay

Really impressed by this Kiwi Chardonnay

Proper dinner wine

Proper dinner wine

Presenting a seminar

Presenting a seminar

The Canadian booth

The Canadian booth

Axel Probst's Port book launch

Axel Probst’s Port book launch

A pre-ProWein tasting of some lovely Australian wines

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On the eve of ProWein, Wine Australia put on a tasting of some really interesting Australian wines. Here are my notes on some of my favourites.

Bellwether Vermentino 2014 Heathcote, Australia
This is a distinctive white wine that’s mineral, stony and lemony with nice delicacy and hints of juniper. Lots of interest here. 92/100

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Soumah Single Vineyard Hesham Chardonnay 2016 Yarra Valley, Australia
Complex, taut, spicy and nutty with lovely pear and peach fruit. There’s some richness here but also a lovely mineral core. Really fine. 94/100

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Patrick Sullivan Fruit of the Sky Pinot Noir 2016 Yarra Valley, Australia
So pure with floral aroamtics. This is elegant with red cherries, spice, a little bit of lift and some lemony freshness on the finish. Quite beautiful with detail and delicacy. 94/100

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Patrick Sullivan Amazon Pinot Noir 2016 Yarra Valley, Australia
So fine and elegant: floral, with fine spices. Supple and rounded with a silky texture. Amazing finesse and purity here. 95/100

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Luke Lambert Nebbiolo 2015 Yarra Valley, Australia
This is quite special. Pure, with fine, floral red berry and cherry fruit. Structured palate with real finesse, showing spices, cherries, plums and herbs. 95/100

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Jamsheed Ma Petite Francine Cabernet Franc 2016 Yarra Valley, Australia
Grippy and vivid with lovely raspberry and cherry fruit, and nice spiciness. Has focus and grip, showing nice texture but also some structure. 93/100

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Bill Downie ‘Bio Dynamic’ Petit Verdot 2015 Murray River, Australia
Grippy and meaty with some spiciness and delicious plump black fruits. Has density and power, but it’s not without some elegance, too. Very attractive. 92/100

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Soumah Single Vineyard Hexham Syrah 2015 Yarra Valley, Australia
Grippy and structured with ripe black cherry fruit and some richer blackberry character, with a spicy, tarry, peppery edge. 93/100

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Yarra Yering Dry Red No 2 2010 Yarra Valley, Australia
Shiraz and Mataro with a bit of Viognier and Marsanne. Sweet, soft blackberries and black cherries here with some nice weight. Textural, soft and broad in the mouth with fruit sweetness. 93/100

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Ruggabellus Fluus 2015 Barossa Valley, Australia
This is a blend of Grenache, Mataro, Syrah and Cinsault. It has real energy, with supple, fresh cherry and plum fruit with some nice detail. There’s a bit of a natural edge but it’s really elegant and drinkable. 94/100

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Chaffey Bros Pax Antenna Grenache 2016 Barossa, Australia
Pale cherry red in colour with supple, elegant, fine red cherries and spices. Sweetly fruited and elegant with hints of herbs and ginger. 93/100

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Schwarz Meta Grenache 2016 Barossa, Australia
86% whole bunch, natural ferment. Sweet, elegant, fine and smooth with fine-grained structure. Pretty and pure with elegant, supple red fruits and some silkiness. Such elegance here: Pinot’s warm climate cousin. 94/100

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Schwarz Meta Mataro 2016 Barossa, Australia
Perfumed, aromatic and expressive on the nose. Pretty with lively, pure red cherries, plums and blackberries. Juicy and pure, this is real finesse and purity. 93/100

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Gentle Folk Ashton Tansley Vineyards Pinot Noir 2016 Adelaide Hills, Australia
Fine, supple and elegant with expressive, juicy cherry and plum fruit. Lovey balance and structure here with nice purity and fine-grained tannic structure. 94/100

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Ashton Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 2015 Adelaide Hills, Australia
Highly aromatic with sweet sour cherry and undergrowth. Textured, warm and spicy with a rounded character and somefine spiciness, as well as some herbs. 93/100

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Jauma Wines Like Rain Drops Grenache 2016 McLaren Vale, Australia
Supple and rounded with sweet cherry and raspberry fruit. Nice warmth, showing rounded blackberry richness. Pure, with a liqueur-like quality to the fruit, but balanced. 93/100

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Ochota Barrels The Fugazi Vineyard Grenache 2016 McLaren Vale, Australia
Supple raspberry and red cherry fruit with nice spiciness. Grippy and elegant at the same time with pure, sleek fruit. Lovely weight here. 94/100

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Cloudburst Chardonnay 2016 Margaret River, Australia
Combines rich nutty peach and pear fruit with nice mineral, spicy freshness and some lemony acidity. Lots of interest here: full flavoured but balanced. 93/100

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Harewood Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2014 Great Southern, Australia
Lively and bright with linear citrus fruit and some pear and spice notes. Lively and detailed with great acidity. 93/100

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Larry Cherubino Laissez Faire Chardonnay 2015 Great Southern, Australia
Mineral, finely spiced nose is really fresh and expressive. Lively and bright with crisp citrus fruits and fresh intensity. Such a lovely linear wine. 94/100

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Ferngrove Cossack Riesling 2016 Frankland River, Australia
Pure and lemony with a delicate floral nose. Linear and focused on the palate with intensity and finesse combined. 93/100

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Rieslingfreak No 3 Riesling 2016 Clare Valley, Australia
Beautifully perfumed and aromatic with lemon and tangerine notes. Fresh, balanced palate with a linear, lemony intensity. So pretty. 92/100

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Ministry of Clouds Chardonnay 2015 Tasmania, Australia
Fresh and expressive with lemons and Satsuma on the nose. Sophisticated, detailed lemony palate with purity and lovely lemony, mineral undertones. Brilliant wine. 94/100

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Margan Aged Release Semillon 2009 Hunter Valley, Australia
Fresh, stony and linear with a lemony core and also some pear and ripe apple notes. There’s a subtle hint of cabbage in the background, but this is a lovely harmonious citrussy white that’s developing really nicely. 93/100

Blind Spot: Mac Forbes makes great value Aussie wines for The Wine Society

blind spot

Blind Spot is a range of own-label wines made for The Wine Society by Mac Forbes. They’re great value, and made in quite an elegant style. I like them a lot, although the Pinot Noir will be too volatile for some. The Garganega, especially, is really beautiful for the price.

Blind Spot Garganega 2016 King Valley, Australia
£8.95 The Wine Society
12.5% alcohol
This is a really attractive fruity white with lemons and white peach, with nice texture and a delicate saline edge. This has a hint of green tea, too. Delicate and pure. Lovely. 91/100

Blind Spot Clare Valley Riesling 2016 Australia
£8.95 The Wine Society
11.5% alcohol
This has a lovely fine citrussy core. It’s fresh and direct with a spicy edge to the lime and grapefruit, but it’s really nicely balanced and pure. Really appealing. 90/100

Blind Spot Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2016 Australia
£9.50 The Wine Society
13% alcohol
Distinctive apple and pear fruit here with a hint of liquorice and some subtle toast. Fresh and quite mineral, this is a distinctive, slightly savoury interpretation of Aussie Chardonnay. 88/100

Blind Spot Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2016
12.5% alcohol
£10.95 The Wine Society
Juicy and bright with a really natural personality to it. Has sweet cherries and plums with some warm spiciness and a bit of lift to the aromas. The noticeable volatility adds some sweetness to the palate, and there are hints of ginger and white pepper. Distinctive. 89/100

Blind Spot Grenache Syrah Mourvedre 2015 McLaren Vale, Australia
14.5% alcohol
£7.95 The Wine Society
This combines freshness and ripeness with sweet red cherries and raspberries, as well as some blackberry richness. It’s smooth and textural with a slightly saline edge. Delicious for the price. 89/100

Blind Spot King Valley Barbera 2015 Australia
13.5% alcohol
£9.50 The Wine Society
Sleek black cherry fruit here with a lovely open personality. This has a smooth quality to the fruit with cherries, tar and herbs. Warm and autumnal with lovely fruitiness. Dark and satisfying. 90/100

Some fine wines at Ellory, with Texier, Stephan, Foradori, Le Soula, Bosman

finewinesatellory

Had some lovely wines last night with Angela Jordaan and Thor Gudmundsson at the fabulous Ellory (thoroughly recommended: really good small plates style menu and excellent wine list). Here are my notes.

Bosman Optenhorst Chenin Blanc 2014 Wellington, South Africa
From vines planted in 1952, making this South Africa’s fourth oldest Chenin vineyard. Natural ferment, one-third in concrete, rest in older oak. There are some rich toast, peach and pear notes as well as some ripe apple, but there’s also lots of freshness. Fine spicy notes and a hint of raisin in the background, with mineral precision and some more floral characters, too. Just lovely. 95/100

Bosman Twijfeling Cinsault 2015 Wellington, South Africa
From 15 year old bush vines. Lively and fresh with lovely redcurrant and red cherry fruit. Fresh and detailed with lovely fruit and a bit of spiciness. Supple with some grip. Juicy yet has seriousness to it as well as fun. 94/100

Domaine Macle Côtes de Jura 2011 France
This is a blend of Chardonnay and Savaging, with some flor character. Complex, toasty and apply with savoury, sour salty notes and some fine spices. Tangy lemons, apples and pears with complexity and intensity. 94/100

Le Soula La Macération du Soula No 14 Vin de France|
This is skin-contact Vermentino. Full orange colour with a hint of bronze. Lovely, pretty wine with a hint of white pepper and notes of lemons and spices, as well as some ripe apple. The palate is fine, fresh and spicy with a bit of grip. Dry but not drying, with lovely balance to the pear, apple and white peach fruit. Such balance and complexity. 95/100

City on a Hill 2015 Swartland, South Africa
Mostly Chenin with 12% Roussanne and 2% Viognier. Made by Andre Bruins. Very fine and detailed with spice, citrus and pear, as well as a hint of apricot. Lovely delicacy to the fruit with a citrus edge and some spice. Really expressive. 94/100

Foradori Fontanasanta Manzoni Bianco 2015 Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Italy
Very fresh and fine with a hint of reduction and lovely fine spiciness. Lemony and pure with some pear and tangerine. Real finesse and purity here. Just lovely. 93/100

JM Stephan Serine 2015 Vin de France
From Condrieu, this has no added sulphites. Inky dark and intense with ripe, rich blackberry and black cherry fruit, with some grippy tannins. This is floral and exotic with real structure, and complex notes of roast meat, iodine, blood and black pepper. A remarkable wine. 95/100

Eric Texier Brézème 2014 Northern Rhône, France
Supple, fresh and pure with lively black cherry and raspberry fruit. Supple and pure with real elegance. Very fine and pure with sleek black fruits. Smooth and fine with lovely focus. 93/100

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