The previous 2 posts have reviewed the Festival as an event and the masterclass talks, but I’ve left this last post to discuss the wines themselves, although some have already been hinted at previously. I’ll work through the wines I tried from each of the tables in alphabetical order.
Austrian Wines Direct: John and Marion McEvoy had lined up a selection of whites and reds from across Austria and with five Grüner Veltliner (Grü-V) on show it was difficult to know where to start!
- Weingut Allram 2010 Hasel Grüner Veltliner, DAC Kamptal (12.5%). A soft and citrusy wine, rich and integrated with a touch of tangerine.
- Weingut Allram 2010 Strassertaler Grüner Veltliner, DAC Kamptal (12.5%). Nettle and white pepper nose with its mellow, clean acidity and slightly sweet, herbal finish.
- Weingut Seher 2010 Grüner Veltliner, DAC Weinviertel (12%). Served a little cool at first but once it warmed up intense aromatics developed with ripe lemons. A smooth, rich texture although maybe not the flavour to support it, nor particularly peppery, but elegant and balanced.
- Weingut Holzer 2010 Grüner Veltliner, DAC Traisental (12.5%). Light aromatic nose with hints of lime, herbal with some white pepper, but a slightly bitter dry taste lacking a little in structure.
- J. Heinrich 2010 Siglos (Zweigelt with a splash of Blaufrankisch), Mittelburgenland (12.5%). A light-medium bodied red with plenty of character.
- Weingut Jordan 2009 Cuvée 1858 “Memories & Generations” (Zweigelt, Blauburger, St. Laurent), Weinviertel (14%). Very smooth with velvety tannins. A dangerous wine, so easy to drink with light, red berry fruit and a touch of chocolate.
- Rotweine Lang 2009 St. Laurent Classic, Burgenland (13.5%). Youthful fruit, almost Beaujolais (Cru) in style, with fine tannins, enjoyable.
Bin21/PortoVino: Paddy Eyres and Alan Holmes were on good form as usual, excellent banter and generous pours coming from a popular selection of drinking wines. I just wish they’d made a hand-out of what wines they had on their stall.
- Quinta da Romeira 2010 Prova Regia Arinto, DOC Bucelas (12.5%). Rich, fruity & a little sweet this had a lovely floral tickle on the nose, a little spice and good length on the finish.
- Bodegas Escorihuela 2009 “1884 Reservado” Malbec, Mendoza (14%). A Subtle, meaty nose with good, chewy fruit on the palate with mild tannins. Very easy drinking and still youthful with another 2-3 years where it could improve further.
- Quinta da Casal Branco Falcoaria 2006 (Castelão, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon, Touriga Nacional & Alicante Bouschet), DOC Ribatejo (14.5%). This was a complex, structured red wine and a beautiful accompaniment to beef Rendang. As I finished off the last of the 2006 Alan opened the new batch of 2008 (DOC do Tejo, in a different style bottle) to compare. This was a much lighter wine which, while pleasant enough, didn’t have the character of the ’06.
- Rocland Estate Chocolate Box “Cherry Chocolate” GSM 2008 (9?), Barossa Valley (14.5%). Very, very fruity with a meaty aspect on the nose. I’d tasted this last year and found it a touch blowsy, but this time it had an edge to it that I didn’t remember; powerful, rich dark berry fruit with some sweet acidity on the finish, an excellent wine.
- LGI Les Calades Vin de France 2011 Carignan 12%. A simple, young, light and fruity nose with equivalent palate. It had juicy fruit with a little bitter twist on the finish that adds character – a good value quaffer for 1 token.
- C da Silva Dalva Tawny Port, an old favourite and extremely moreish, although it seemed a touch lighter than I previously remembered and the alcohol a bit more obvious. However, it complemented Kenspeckle’s walnut & amaretto fudge and Dillies Pepper dark chocolate perfectly!
Carruthers and Kent: Claire and Mo had their hands full over the 2 days as their table was regularly mobbed, understandable with some of the beautiful wines they had on show (a couple of which sold out before I got a look in!).
- Château Ka Source Blanche 2011, Bekaa Valley (13%). Delightfully weird wine of the show, a blend of Muscat, Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc, which dominates on the nose. Good acidity, balanced, chewy flavours with a chaotic melange of tastes – including fudge! – and a toasty finish.
- Painted Wolf “Penny” 2011 Viognier, Swartland (15%). A low production – only 2300 bottles made – with a difficult nose to describe but delicious floral honey flavours with some sweet lime and a bitter aspect on the finish.
- Vila dos Gamas Antão Vaz, 2009. (13%) First try of this Portuguese grape for me and it had a light lemon zest nose, delicate on the palate and a fudge/toast finish. Very good QPR for £10.49.
- Bodegas Abanico Solera Grand Reserva, Emporda (15.5%). Fortified Garnacha Blanco made in a rich Solera style and Oh My God that’s good! Burnt toast, marmalade with a salty touch, an absolutely delicious, moreish wine.
- Vigneti del Vulture 2010 Pipoli Aglianico del Vulture, 13.5%. A woodsmoke nose with fresh berry fruit, some tannic structure and a long finish. Another £10 wine with excellent QPR.
- Domaine Champaolou Sparkling Vouvray (Chenin Blanc) Loire. This had a blackcurrant leaf nose with some yeasty/toasty aspects, sharp with good savoury complexity.
Dennhöfer: As usual this Newton based company had their wine-bar stand set up but for some reason seemed almost invisible on the first day, at least to me. I made up for this a little on the second, especially when I realised how generous their pouring measures were!
- Freiherr Von Schleinitz 2009 Riesling, Mosel (10.5%). Light, off-dry sweetness but with enough character and complexity to keep it interesting. Moderate length finish.
- Domaine Michel Schoepfer 2006 Pinot Gris, Alsace (13.5%). One word….Superb. Another…value. This had a delicate floral nose and a golden colour. Richly textured, with a creaminess to it. There was some gentle bitterness and toasty caramel on the finish, excellent value for money at the show price of £8, pretty good at its normal price fo £9.30 too.
- Germain-Saincrit Vignerons Château de la Roulerie 2010 Chenin Blanc, Anjou (13%). A cold, non-committal nose showing a touch of sulphur. It was pleasant with good acidity and honeyed flavours but was a little too light and slightly bitter on the mid-palate.
- Ferraton Pere & Fils 2009 Côtes du Rhône Samorëns (Grenache, Syrah & Cinsault). A slightly meaty nose with soft fruit at the front, juicy sweet acidity and a dash of tannin on the finish. Côtes du Rhône could be subtitled “Reliable Reds R Us” and this safe, easy drinking wine with a touch of character fitted the category perfectly.
Dillies: It was good to see Andrew Foster from Hexham at his first festival, but as I’ve previously tried & bought a wide selection of his (& Marta’s Portuguese) wines then I didn’t try so many over the weekend. He did, however, have a couple of unique offerings.
- Stopham Estate 2010 Pinot Blanc, West Sussex (10.5%). The only English wine at the festival (bettering Bordeaux’s showing by 1!). An initial hit of aromas that suggested Sauvignon Blanc, but they mellowed and sweetened. Clean & dry, a good white but not getting anything that suggested Pinot Blanc typicity.
- Valdivia Fino Seco, Jerez (15%). A dry sherry with tangy-sharp, nutty flavours and a “just chemical” aspect. The only Sherry I tasted at the show and an enjoyable one at that.
- Weingut Fred Loimer 2010 Lenz Riesling. Kamptal (12%). Crisp acidity on the palate, light bodied with a smooth mid-palate. Initially comes across as a little simple behind the bracing acidity, but well made.
Pacta Connect: Coming up from Brighton for the festival Judith Burns & Trevor Long had a great set of wines. Trevor certainly had the commercial patter when pouring, possibly a touch over the top, but, as I’ve already mentioned in an earlier post, I had issues with their token pricing compared to the other retailers, which meant I only tasted 4 of their wines (one of those during a Master Class).
- Cattunar 2009 Chardonnay, Istria (13%). Light citrus sweetness, a rich, mellow, creamy white – warm for its 13% and not unpleasant for a Chardonnay.
- Cattunar 2009 Malvazija Istarska, Istria (14.6%). Herbal nose suggesting bitterness but definitely not bitter in the mouth. Quite rich, dry but smooth and doesn’t show any sign of its alcohol.
- Cattunar 2008 Muskat Bijeli Momijanski, Istria (11.8%). Light scented, sweet straw nose, very floral and lightly sweet, heading towards off-dry. A beautiful fresh wine, very pleasant drinking.
- Piquentum 2010 Blanc Malvazija, Istria (12.8%). A savoury, musky nose with a purity of flavours – light, clean and fresh, a touch grapey with a little lime.
The Hop, The Vine: Another of the presenters that didn’t have a bespoke list for the festival, and whose normal list doesn’t mention vintage or alcohol, so details are a little lacking I’m afraid.
- Langmeil Viognier Great White Hope Barossa. A bitter herb nose with a dry, slightly tart, citrus taste, but quite elegant textures and complexity.
- Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills Merlot, Washington. This had a mature, sweet/smoky nose with some blackcurrant and chocolate. On the palate it was smooth with fine-grain tannins, chocolate on the mid-palate and into the finish – a damn tasty wine.
- Giné Giné 2007 Priorat (14%). Grenache, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon with a nose to die, with rich, oaky vanilla and smoky fruit. Clean acidity on the palate, fine tannins at the edge of the tongue, a complex, integrated wine with light fruit and toasty oak, delicious!
- Taltarni Lalla Gulley 2006 Riesling, Tasmania (11.5%). Fresh nose for its age just a hint of petro chemical (actually I’d have liked more, but that’s just me!). Clean with a touch sweet lime, a good food wine.
- Babylon’s Peak 2007 Syrah/ Carignan, Swartland (13.5%). Jammy aroma with a little cooked fruit at the back of the nose. Surprisingly lifted on the palate with a lot of flavours and aromas going on, but a little too jammy needing more grip – would be an excellent curry wine.
- Zephyr Wines 2008 Gewürztraminer, Marlborough (14%). A full on Gewürz’, richly flavoured and textured but, like others I’ve had recently, just a bit too over the top and a little flabby.
Tyne Wines: Irwin Thompson was as cheerful as ever pouring his selection of Beaujolais and southern French wines, and I managed to taste through a few more than usual.
- Domaine Daulny 2009 Sancerre, Loire (13%). A blend of Sauvignon Blanc from the 3 Sancerre Terroirs (caillottes: chalky soil, terres blanches: Kimmeridgian limestone and clay, Silex: Flinty soil). A hint of grassiness and pungency on the nose, clean and dry at the front of the mouth, mineral on the mid-palate with a subtle, light finish.
- Château la Croix des Pins 2007 Rosé (Grenache), Côtes du Ventoux (13%). Herbal with sweet tannins, not too acidic, a tasty rosé for contemplative drinking.
- Domaine de la Madone 2009 Fleurie, Beaujolais (13.5%). A ripe nose typical of Carbonic maceration, a little light but balanced and well made, a complete wine.
- Château Puy 2006 L’Etiquette Rouge, Minervois (14%). Notable in that it was used as an example for Helen Savage’s “Faulty Wines” talk during the Master Classes but which most, including myself, agreed was delicious. This smooth, fruity red had a subtle hint of “Barnyard” that indicates a touch of Brettanomyces.
- Château Puy 2008 Les Yssieres, Minervois (13.5%). Smoky Savoury nose with a smooth palate, good complexity, developed flavours and light tannins. An excellent medium bodied wine ready for drinking.
- Christope Savoye 2005 Chiroubles, Beaujolais (13%). Light fruit nose, a touch of character. Young berries, light acidity and barely any tannin, drinking very well.
With so many other distractions at the Festival I am not too surprised I only managed to taste my way around 42 of the retailer wines over the weekend (getting through a fair few tokens in the process). As always there were likely other wines that I would have raved about had I tried them, and some that I know are good but have had before.
A few wines stood a little taller than their brethren (with 3 bottles* coming home with me on the Saturday evening). Here, in order of how much I liked them on the day, are my top 10 of the show;
- Bodegas Abanico Solera Grand Reserva*, Emporda. Carruthers & Kent.
- Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills Merlot, Washington. The Hop, The Vine.
- Domaine Michel Schoepfer 2006 Pinot Gris*, Alsace. Dennhöfer.
- Rocland Estate Chocolate Box “Cherry Chocolate” GSM 2008 (9?), Bin21.
- Weingut Allram 2010 Strassertaler Grüner Veltliner*, DAC Kamptal. Austrian Wines Direct.
- Château Puy 2008 Les Yssieres, Minervois. Tyne Wines.
- Giné Giné 2007 Priorat. The Hop, The Vine.
- Château Ka Source Blanche 2011, Bekaa Valley. Carruthers and Kent.
- Painted Wolf “Penny” 2011 Viognier, Swartland. Carruthers and Kent.
- Domaine Champaolou Sparkling Vouvray (Chenin Blanc) Loire. Carruthers and Kent.