Wineweek 148: Fall Winds

It still looks like summer outside, but one can feel the fall coming in many ways. First and foremost, the evenings are cold and crisp, and second, I have caught a cold – great. Last, but not least, my birthday is in a few weeks. The fall never comes without it. Yes, my 35th birthday is approaching, and that always implies I will have some good food and wine. I have no idea what is in store for me this year, however, I have been marketing very hard that 35 is a “round number”, and should be celebrated heavily. Its half way to 70 after all.   Continue reading “Wineweek 148: Fall Winds”

Wine Review: Gardo & Morris Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc

On my quick and lazy Sunday post I mentioned that we had a go at a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc last week. I am not a huge fan of the grape in general, however, I do have a soft spot in my heart for SB from Marlborough, New Zealand. And since I have a weakness for sparkling as well, then a sparkling from the region does not sound like a bad idea. Continue reading “Wine Review: Gardo & Morris Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc”

Wine Review: Quartz Reef Chauvet Method Traditionelle

Quartz Reef is a winery in the Central Otago part of New Zealand. The slightly odd name is taken from the largest Quartz rock deposit in New Zealand that lies below the winery. As many Otago wineries they are strong with Pinot Noir but in this instance I sampled their Brut Sparkling wine. The winery was formed in 1996 by Rudi Bauer an experienced winemaker who has worked in Germany, Oregon and Champagne. He was also one of the people behind creating the Central Otago Pinot Noir celebration and he has multiple Pinot Noir wines available. I must try to sample some of those as well in the future. The winery has around 30 hectares near Cromwell in Central Otago. In addition to several clones of Pinot Noir they also have Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.

Back to sparkling wine though. Rudi was one of the pioneers of sparkling wine production in New Zealand. He made his fist attempts with sparkling wine in New Zealand in 1990 and before that he had spent time in Champagne with Champagne-maker Clotilde Chauvet and Jacques Peters of Veuve Clicquot to master the process. I am not sure if that is where he learned all of his skills but I was impressed by his wines. The fact that more than 70% of the total production for them is sparkling wine suggests that consumers also like it.

The one I sampled was the Quartz Reef NV Brut Method Traditionelle. It is blend of 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Chardonnay, it has been aged for 24 months and has 8g of residual sugar per litre.

The wine has a nice nose of lime, melon, brioche, lees and fresh green apples. It is refreshingly dry with clear acidity, pleasant if that is your thing. There are clear notes of citrus and the finish is full of mineral and chalk.

A very good wine that I would not hesitate to have again. It makes me want to sample the rose as well as the vintage sparklings. It is in between a 3.5 and a 4 in quality rating but being generous I give it a 4. I had a glass at the excellent wine bar Monvinic in Barcelona and there a bottle was a bit more than €50 and a half glass was €6.5. From the producer it is possible to buy it for 30 New Zealand Dollars which is about €21 and that would be really great value for money. In Europe it is likely to set you back a bit more (if you can find it) but I have seen it available for around €25 from Winedirect in the UK and that is great value for money. Very good value for money at €25 so a 4 for that.

Aussie Inspiration at Philglas & Swiggot

After five and a half weeks of travelling in Asia, we returned to a grey and cold Sweden yesterday. Regardless of the weather, it is great to be home – there is nothing like your own wine fridge. Before going back to business and some Singapore memories, I have a few reviews on London wine shops to share with you.

A few blocks off Oxford Street it feels very tranquil stepping into this small wine shop. Philglas & Swiggot used to have a clear focus on Australian wine (and to some extent also New Zealand) but the past years strengthening of the AUD has made it more tricky to sell Aussie wine (and other stuff from down-under) in the UK. So the selection has extended to other parts of the world as well, for example Italy, France and South Africa. The shop in Marble Arch is one of three outlets and I am yet to check out the others.

Service was really friendly and extremely knowledgeable and helpful (great recommendations for other wine shops to visit, this is how we found out about the German wine shop The Winery). The current selection of wine did however to some extent fail to excite me, probably because I am not very knowledgeable on Aussie wines. I only found a few things that really got me in to the buying mood: a German Riesling names Einz, zwei, dry (what a great name) and a Louis Barthelemy Champagne.  I also saw some Taltarni sparkling wine from Tasmania. It’s one of my old favorites, and although I did not see a good reason to drag a bottle all the way to Stockholm (as I have tasted plenty of samples), I am happy to recommend it to anyone who wants a good Aussie bubbly.

After visiting Philglas & Swiggot and spending some time in Asia (due to the proximity, a lions portion of the wine selection in shops was from Australia), I realized how poor my knowledge on Down-under wines really is. There are many interesting areas, like Yarra Valley making some good Pinot Noir and Barossa Valley with its Shiraz and not to mention Tasmania with some great Method champenoise bubblies.  I am still on my way learning about old world wines, but something about Australia tickles my fancy (maybe it’s the weather). A few days before we were due to fly back to Sweden we started discussing next years holiday plans (as one needs holiday plans), and Australia is climbing quite high on the list.

Wine Review: Amisfield 2010 Pinot Noir RKV

Amisfield Pinot Noir is one of the many nice Pinot Noir’s coming out of New Zealand in general and central Otago in particular. Amisfield was founded in 1988 as a specialist producer of Pinot Noir and aromatic white wines. The Amisfield vineyard is in the central Otago area close to the shores of Lake Dunstan. Historically it was actually a high country sheep station for merino sheep. In 1999 planting commenced with four varieties of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. It took three years, until 2002, before the first vintage was produced. They are currently producing around 20 – 30 000 cases of wines per year and the majority of that is Pinot Noir, accounting for around 60%. So no surprise it was the Pinot Noir, the 2010 vintage, I encountered at a recent restaurant visit. The restaurant had a fairly overpriced wine list (cheapest sparkling at $50+) but I was happy to find this very exciting Pinot Noir from Amisfield and none less than the RKV 2010.

Amisfield are also committed to sustainable production of wines and are doing a great deal to produce wine that has as little environmental impact as possible. Ther motto is ‘working with nature, not against it’. It is something that is very admirable and I of course prefer a wine produced in this fashion. The do also run a very nice looking restaurant and wine bar close to Lake Hayes. The pictures of it makes me really want to go and visit.

This specific Pinot Noir is produced only in exceptional years and may be very difficult to come by as volumes are not that big either. When the wine was poured the dark ruby red color was what the first thing that caught my attention. It is of course not unusual to see the New Zealand Pinot Noir’s being much fuller and darker in color than the Burgundian Pinot Noir’s. This was in a sense a clear example of the more full-bodied Pinot Noir that often can be seen from New Zealand and the alcohol level is also higher than one would normally find in for example many French Pinot Noir’s.

The aromas of this wine was remarkably full and complex. The aging on French Oak barrels could be noticed in the nose mixed with dark fruit, spices and hints of leather. The flavor is intense with a mix dark berries, plum, spiced oak but I also could sense some earthy flavors and licorice. The wine is really full and has a powerful finish. It is a really nice Pinot Noir and I do appreciate this type of wine. My personal preference is normally the lighter Pinot Noir’s, that feature more subtle flavors. This is more a wine that knocks your socks off and it goes really well with food. Despite the full flavor and fruit it is balanced enough to avoid having sweetness mixed into it so how can one not love it. I know I do!

A very nice wine and I would rate it as a clear 4.5 for quality. At this instance I had the wine at a restaurant at approximately 40 SGD (around €25) a glass but I have seen it available in some online stores for around for around €60-70 for a bottle and that would be deserving a value for money rating of 4. I am very intrigued to sample some of their other wines as well and  especially since I have seen that the have launched a sparkling wine as well.

All the pictures used in this post are courtesy of Amisfield winery (the lighting at the restaurant was insufficient to take decent pictures) and a special thanks to Debbie at Amisfield for providing the nice pictures and a lot of useful background information.

Wine Review: Oyster Bay Brut Sparkling Cuvée

When arriving in Singapore we were treated to a bottle of sparkling wine by our friends. This having been a trip largely without quality wine we were excited to try some sparkling even though it was not something we normally would have bought. This was a New Zealand sparkling called Oyster Bay Brut Sparkling Cuvée and is made with the Charmat method on 100% Chardonnay grapes. For those who do not know the Charmat Method it involves the wine undergoing the secondary fermentation in stainless steel tanks instead of in individual bottles, and after that it is bottled under pressure. It is a method commonly used in Italy for making Prosecco and generally produces fruity and fresh wines. What is often missing for me is the toastines and brioche-like characteristics more commonly found in Champagnes and occasionally Cava. So it is both an unusual choice of country and method for us but we are happy to try new things.

Oyster Bay is probably more known for their Sauvignon Blancs at fairly modest prices for the quality than their sparkling wines but it was interesting to try it. They are a family owned company with a vision to became a premium wine maker and they make a full range of white, red and sparkling wines.

The color is light golden with persistent bubbles. A bit bubbly for my taste but not overly aggressive so nothing disturbing. The nose has hints of grapefruit and floral notes. On the palate it had clear flavour of crisp apple, zesty citrus but also creaminess and in the finish minerals.

For me it was a pleasant surprise (both coming from New Zealand and a sparkling made using the Charmat Method) and it works really well as an aperitif on a hot day or as a companion for some Asian food. It is however clearly a fairly basic cuvée so for me I was surprised when I saw the price in stores here in Singapore. At Cold Storage it was almost 70 SGD (and that was a special promotion, approximately €45). It is available in the UK for around £14 (approximately €19) and that is of course a lot less but for me it would have to be around €10 to be decent value for money. Quality rating it is a nice basic wine so a 2.5 but value for money in Singapore is 0 and if looking at the UK it would be a value for money rating of 2.