Albanian Surprise – Çobo Winery, Berat, Albania

Some kilometres outside Berat you think you’ve landed in a real dump with nothing much to offer than a statue in the centre of town and the ubiquitous cafés surrounding it. The place is called Ura Vajgurore and this is where the gem is to be found.

Çobo Winery in Ura Vajgurore, near Berat, Albania

The winery consists of a huge house attached to the cellar, bottling plant and tasting room. A charming gentleman steps forth and introduces himself as Muharrem Çobo, owner, winemaker and marketing director. He knows how to do all three of these things well. Here’s why.

Muharrem Çobo, owner, winemaker, marketing director

Taking us through the cellar which produces no more than 100 000 bottles per year, he tells us that the grapes are sourced from their own vineyards and others that they buy in. The stainless steel tanks for primary fermentation look pretty new and shiny and then there’s the room where all the vats are kept most of them new Barriques and some older large ones. I notice the riddling board where several bottles of sparkling are awaiting a turn and he tells me it’s his new baby, making a bubbly out of Puls, a white wine grape only found in this region. Everything is done by hand and carefully monitored by Muharrem himself. His first batch of Shendeverë, the name of the fizz suggesting the good life, has been sold out except for a few bottles kept for tasting.

An impressive tasting room

Our next stop is the tasting room, a fabulous facility where you’re able to indulge in the line-up of wine as well as have some bread, cheese and olives to go with it. Shesh I Bardhe is an example of a traditional Albanian white wine, kept as pure as possible to its traditions without too much interference. It’s got a strange flowery nose almost like honeysuckle and has some gooseberry on the palate with good acidity and something slightly bitter but not offensively so, on the finish. Shesh i Zi reminds me of Pinot Noir which I find out later is in fact true. It’s acidic, bright and fresh with berry fruit on the palate. But it’s Kashmer that gets my attention. The name is made up of the 3 grapes it contains viz. Cabernet (Kabernet) Sauvignon, Shesh i Zi and Merlot. This is an earthy wine and tells the story of its terroir. There’s enough fruit and acidity to keep it interesting right through the finish which is medium. The flagship is next up – E Kugja e Beratit meaning ‘the red of Berat’. This grape varietal is also called Vlosh and has seen the inside of small oak barrels for 6 months and 4 months in big ones. It comes from a small parcel of land measuring 2 hectacres. It has a deep nose of horse, leather and covers the palate with thick, velvety tannins that are not overwhelming. The finish is looong and satisfying. Put it together with a meaty dish on a cold winter’s night and life’s complete.

The reds got my attention
Muharrem’s new baby – a sparkling made from an original Albanian grape called Puls.

As I said before, Muharrem knows what he’s doing. The pricing is somewhat more than you would expect from Albanian wines but the quality is all there and for a small set-up like his, paying €30 for their E Kugja e Beratit is not unthinkable. It might be difficult to sell this to a consumer after import taxes, transportation, etc. but production is so little that he probably doesn’t have a lot to export anyway.

What a surprise to find a top class winery in the wilds of Albania that understands the international market and sticks with what it knows best i.e. grapes from the area that speak of the oldest winemaking tradition in Europe.

Links:

Çobo Winery

Sea Horse Restaurant, Helsinki

‘Riimihärkä’ – Finland’s version of Beef Carpaccio

THE PLACE 8/10: Dating back to the 1930’s, the walls have seen it all from sailors to musicians to artists and drunks. It’s cleaned up its act and nowadays it still has some interesting clientele, but there are no more cigarette stains on the tablecloths.

THE FOOD 7/10: Traditional Finnish. Famous for friend Baltic herring, meatballs and vorshmack. The standard is ok but the menu tends to get a bit boring after too many visits.

THE DRINKS 6/10: Dull wine menu, the usual beer and some cocktails prepared with Finnish gin Napue (about the only exciting drink).

THE SERVICE (6/10): Not very personalised and I even heard the waitress shout across the room at some guests who didn’t know they had to wait to be seated.

THE AMBIENCE (8/10): It still has that old world charm about it, especially in the tiny bathrooms with brown tiles. The people make the place.

THE PRICE (7/10): Prices have been steadily rising but you can still get a large plate of fried Baltic herrings for under €20.

OVERALL RATING (7/10): It’s fun, once a year.

The painting of a sea horse has been there forever.

Link: Sea Horse Restaurant, Kapteeninkatu 11, 00140 Helsinki

La Dolce Vita – The Sweet Life in Helsinki

Wine and food fairs are a menace. You never get to drink a full glass and you never seem to be able to fill your stomach on all the snacky portions available. You usually come away feeling dehydrated and slightly ill. Nowadays, I make it a habit of going to a fair not just to see what’s available but with a particular mission in mind, a quest for what is different and new.

At this year’s Italian celebration of their fabulous fare, held in the gorgeous setting of the Old Student House or Vanha Ylioppilastalo as it is known in Finnish, I’m on the look out for some grape varietals I’ve never tasted before. Not as easy as you might think…. Not because I’ve tasted so many wines in my lifetime but because the standard and generic is in your face all the time and it’s hard to sift through the stuff that you always come across.

Benanti’s Marketing and Export Manager Agatino Failla

This time I’m in luck when I stumble upon the Benanti wines from Sicily. Their Marketing and Export Manager Agatino Failla, has a wicked sense of humour and before you know it, you’re tasting some products that grab your attention. Benanti Etna Bianco 2014 is made from Carricante grapes. I try not to look too stupid. It’s full of mineral and flint, slightly spicy and plays games with your taste buds resulting in a long, extended finish. When I do a bit of research, I find out that Carricante is an ancient grape that thrives on the slopes of Mount Etna’s volcanic soil and is prized for its acidity. The vines inherited by the Benanti family are old, really old between 80 and 120 years I am told. The complexity in all their wines are testament to these struggling growths digging deep to find water and hence survival.

This brings me to the reds and again I’m trying not to show my ignorance. Benanti Etna Rosso is a product of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio both of which have been around forever, both of which are intriguing in their profile. It reminds me a bit of Pinot Noir with its fruity intensity without losing that trademark minerality of all Benanti wines. It could be my imagination but do I really taste the terroir here? Then the 100% Benanti Nerello Mascalese. We’re talking tannins and sour cherry, cranberry and some hints of a flower, violets perhaps? It’s medium-bodied and stuffed with all kinds of intricate flavours that keep you talking and sipping.

With diurnal temperatures sometimes ranging as wide as 20 degrees at certain times of year, these vineyards have to fight for their very existence. Growing ancient grapes on an active volcano is not for sissies. The Benanti family intend to hang in there and judging by awards, they’re reaching for the stars and getting there.

Alko stocks 2 of their wines: Benanti Etna Bianco 2014 and Benanti Nerello Mascalese 2013.

Why I Always Attend Australian Wine Master Classes

Because it shakes up my thinking. It’s unsettling when you think you know something and then find out that you were way off the mark. When you expect robust and you get lean, it messes with your perspective and that means that you’re just plain wrong, something most of us would not like to admit.

This time we celebrated the evolution of Chardonnay, Grenache and Shiraz. You’ve seen the map and probably know that it’s a vast country, so vast that it could be called a continent. You expect diversity. You automatically think that there’s a lot of wine being produced judging by the ubiquitous product on your shop shelves in other parts of the world. Surprise #1 – It produces a mere 4 % of all wine but is the 5th largest exporter by volume.

Justin Fairweather from Alpha Box & Dice
Justin Fairweather from Alpha Box & Dice

Then you hear there are no less than 60 wine regions stretching across the southern coast and that South Australia has some of the oldest vines in the world, some 150 years old. Not so surprising Shiraz, Chardonnay and Cab Sauv are the top 3 varietals. And just when you think that what you’re going to be faced with are heavy, overoaked offerings, the wines trip off your tongue like light, wisps of purity but not without structure and finish.

Ever heard of Orange County as a wine region in Australia? Yep, behind the Blue Mountains vines are growing at a high altitude and some of these belong to Philip Shaw. His #11 Chardonnay 2015 with citrus and honey and a good backbone of minerality and acidity that is balanced by the well integrated oak exposure, counts as one of the top ten. Next up is one huge kangaroo hop to the West Coast and Margaret River, an area that consistently amazes me with its uniqueness. The grapes for Woodland Wines Wilyabrup Chardonnay 2015 made by Andrew Watson come from a small, low-yielding vineyard, which apparently brought forth even less grapes than was expected due to heavy rain and wine which damaged the canes causing a 40% crop reduction. Fermented in French oak, the nose is toasty with plenty of citrus and pears notes followed by a full, rounded, fruity palate and an added flavour of apricots. Again, gorgeous acidity to keep it elegant. Out of a line-up of four, these were just my picks but the other two were just as stylish: Ten Minutes by Tractor 10X Chardonnay 2015 from Mornington Peninsula, Victoria with the ocean surrounding the vineyards on 3 sides and The Pawn Wine Company Jeu de Fin Chardonnay 2015 from Adelaide Hills.

Tom Keelan - The Pawn Wine Company
Tom Keelan – The Pawn Wine Company

While Shiraz is what most of us associate with Australia when it comes to reds, Grenache is making huge, delicious inroads with innovative winemakers blazing the trail. These wines are astonishing, some richer in style than others without sacrificing the fruit of this great grape. Grenache, Shiraz & Tempranillo blend is what Alpha Box & Dice Tarot Grenache 2015 consists of. Youthful and excellent, just like the winemaker Justin Fairweather, this wine is luscious with raspberry jam and a touch of savoury spice to keep it on its toes and by that I mean, not falling into the trap of jamminess. The label bodes ill but we’re told not to worry. The face of death on the Tarot card only spells new beginnings after the blade has cut away dead wood. Let’s climb the hill north towards the Barossa Valley where 60 year old vineyards sprout forth Langmeil Fifth Wave Grenache 2009. Here is the richer, fuller example of this versatile grape and even with 15,2% alcohol, it retains its sophistication finishing up with chocolate, spice, fruit and silky tannins. Others of the same ilk: Yalumba Tri-Centenary Grenache, 2011 and Ochota Barrels The Fugazi Grenache 2014.

Enter Shiraz and might I remind you that it’s come a long way from the old bold and brassy attitude it used to have. West of Melbourne lies the area of Grampians where old vines of Shiraz are transformed into Mount Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge Shiraz 2014. Distinctly mineral with fine acidity underpins this mellifluous wine that has just the right amount of pepper intermingled with cherries and oak. The finish just goes on and on. Coriole Scarce Earth Old House Shiraz 2014 highlights the single vineyard and distinct geology of McLaren Vale dating back millions of years. It comes through on the palate when you get this earthy taste of graphite, then cloves, then a bit of liquorice and plum all dancing together in harmony. No new oak was used keeping it smooth and velvety.

Languishing in the luxury of ignorance never got me very far and even if I have to admit that I was wrong, I do so gladly especially when I know that it’s going to get better and better from here on out.

Here’s where you can find these wines:

Philip Shaw#11 Chardonnay 2015

Woodland Wines Wilyabrup Chardonnay 2015

Ten Minutes by Tractor 10X Chardonnay 2015

Alpha Box & Dice Tarot Grenache 2015

Langmeil Fifth Wave Grenache 2009

Yalumba Tri-Centenary Grenache, 2011

Ochota Barrels The Fugazi Grenache 2014

Mount Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge Shiraz 2014

 

Long Live the Classics – Elite Restaurant, Helsinki

Phew! A sigh of relief when you enter a restaurant that’s been a true icon for the longest time, then undergoes a renovation and you hold your breath thinking that they’ve just ruined the whole atmosphere by turning it into something hip. Thank goodness this is not the case and the only change you notice is the smell of fresh paint, in the same Art Deco colours, I might add. All the paintings are still in place and the interior has been pretty much left the way it was before.

A lick of fresh paint, but the rest is still there.
A lick of fresh paint, but the rest is still there.

We are pleasantly greeted by Vova, aka Vladimir Gusevin, who has guarded the door of the entrance for longer than most of us remember. The waiting staff have also kept their jobs there and it’s only the restaurant manager, now Tiina Partti, and the head chef Petri Rissanen, that are relatively new. The classic menu is still in tact and never in a month of Sundays are they going to get rid of ‘läskisoosi’ or ‘sauce with plenty of pork fat, or Tauno Palo’s steak, a favourite of the artist’s consisting of rump steak with an onion and cream sauce.

Vova's Vorschmack
Vova’s Vorschmack

Other Finnish staples include vorschmack, Vova’s version of it, with minced meat and I do believe some anchovies mixed in served with sour cream and beetroot salad. Perfectly fried white fish comes in a soup bowl, that familiar ‘kesäkeitto’ or summer soup, a milky mix of colourful, fresh summer vegetables and for afters, lemon pie in a decidedly delicious shortcrust pastry with a spoonful of raspberry sorbet on the side.

Whitefish in 'summer soup'
Whitefish in ‘summer soup’
Good old-fashioned lemon pie
Good old-fashioned lemon pie

One thing that has been vamped up, and it’s about time too, is the wine list. Their own artsy label painted  by Senja Vellonen contains a zippy blend of Garnacha Blanca and Macabeo and the red is not too shabby either with its full-bodied, balanced tannins in the Garnacha, Syrah, Carinena and Merlot. Both of these are a safe bet and can be ordered without reservations. Wine prices are never low in Helsinki and the €48 you’re going to fork out for it, is well spent in a restaurant of this calibre.

Artsy wine with backbone
Artsy wine with backbone

Just goes to show, not every joint under the sun needs to make room for the modern or the trendy. Some places are just left as they should be and the charm of this drinking and dining favourite amongst the artists, musicians, dancers and hangers-on in the artsy world of days gone by, still lures you in and plays its magic on you.

04 2016
Art Deco at its finest

Casale del Giglio – Wine Innovation in a Valley

They took a long, hard look at the terroir in the Agro Pontino Valley, 50 km south of Rome in Lazio, and made their decision. The maritime climate had a say too. Hence, the choice of grapes.

With sandy, mineral and alluvia dark volcanic soils similar to those of Bordeaux, they use French and Spanish varietals to create their magic. But one grape that’s neither of these and completely new for me is Bellone, meaning ‘handsome’, a full, beautiful bunch that the Romans discovered (although this is contested by some) and that has frequently been used by farmers for their own consumption.

Bellone 2014

Nose: A tropical fruit nose somewhat reminiscent of Viognier but more guava, grapefruit, perfume

Palate: In spite of what is normally said of this grape lacking zing, a slight tingling on the tongue, guava, apricot, peach, mango, hint of grapefruit

Finish: Slightly bitter, tingling and medium length

My verdict: It’s easy drinking and tempts you to sit on the beach and sip away.

Shiraz_NF

Shiraz 2014

They decided to go with the original name from ancient Persia with the eponymous city.

Nose: leather, smoke, violets, spice, anise

Palate: Beautiful acidity, just enough to transform it from a jammy wine to an elegant mouthful of spice and dark berries

Finish: Medium length but lingering tastes of cardamom and blueberry

My verdict: This is a wine to watch. Still a bit green (2014) and 6 months in oak, the acidity and flavours that are holding back right now, will develop into a world-class wine in 3 to 5 years. I vote for 5. Lamb, grilled tuna, roast chicken.

 

Paolo Tiefenthaler - winemaker at Casale del Giglio
Paolo Tiefenthaler – winemaker at Casale del Giglio (Credit: Tehcnosoc)

Tempranijo 2013

This Spanish varietal (spelt in the Italian way) is usually a strong tannin wine. To minimise this, it was picked late allowing the grapes to slightly shrivel on the vine. In keeping with its characteristics, it was aged in big barrels of cherry oak.

Nose: Wow! Strong, serious molasses, raspberry, blackcurrant

Palate: Rounded – they did a good job of calming down those tannins, luscious, full and slightly sweet with lots of fruit

Finish: Long and fruity

My verdict: Big wine with plenty of layers to experiment with when it comes to food like stews, especially game, roast duck and strong charcuterie like Parma ham.

Oenologist Paolo Tiefenthaler is adventurous and innovative and loves experimenting with varietals that are not that common in Italy. They produce 18 wines with care and quality in mind.

Links:

Casale del Giglio

Available at:

Winesearcher

In Finland:

Viinitkotiin

In Estonia:

Veinidkoju Shop – Lootsi 14-2, 10151 Tallinn (opposite Terminal D, Tallink terminal)

Trending Now – Wine in Finland

He’s seen the inside of kitchens, packed wine on cellar shelves, taken stock, paid his dues in some of the most renowned restaurants in town and now Samuil Angelov is a highly regarded sommelier and wine educator in Helsinki. I want to know his views on wine trends.

Samuil Angelov, owner and sommelier of restaurants Muru, Pastis and Hodari ja Hummeri
Samuil Angelov, owner and sommelier of restaurants Muru, Pastis and Hodari ja Hummeri

“Less is more,” he says. “People, especially Finns are becoming more and more health conscious. They want to eat well and exercise, drink less. This is evident in the sales of hard liquor which have gone down not only in Finland but I’d venture to say in the rest of Europe, especially in restaurants.”

“Today it’s not unusual to find say two gentlemen going out for a meal ordering champagne or sparkling as an aperitif. In the past it would automatically have been a dry Martini or a Vodka Polar. Wine and bubbles have become the order of the day, so to speak.”

“So you mean to say Finns have changed their drinking habits?”

“Definitely. The long lunch is out. Life is too hectic and demanding. It’s possible to have a glass of wine at lunch time without it affecting your work load in the afternoon. You can’t do that with a good dose of heavy liquor under your belt.”

“What would you say is the fastest growing beverage?”

“Champagne and sparkling wine. We have one of the world’s most highly acclaimed champagne specialists and Masters of Wine, Essi Avellan as well as Alko’s Communication and Marketing Director and Master of Wine, Taina Vilkuna, right in our midst. Needless to say they have had a great influence on the consumption of wine in general and especially bubbles.”

“Finns are quick learners and early adopters. As a sommelier, can you see this in your restaurants?”

“When I started working the floor in the late 90’s, wine knowledge was pretty limited. Today, my customers keep me on my toes. They’ve become so aware and know so much and it pleases me when I see a young couple coming in for a meal who know what they want in both categories of food and drink.”

“What about the style of wine? Are the heavy, in-your-face types still popular?”

“It depends on the weather. If it’s cold, Amarone and Barolo are the ones that’ll warm you up. But the lighter styles are in, with German wines doing really well at the moment. Riesling, Spätburgunder, Pinot Noir, cool climate wines with less alcohol are flying off the shelves. Personally, I’d like to see more consumption of the new style of USA and South African Chardonnay which is more acidic, fruity and elegant than the over-oaked stuff they used to make. It’s still oaked but balance is everything.”

According to Samuil, wine is here to stay. The demographic is changing to include the millenials who are taking a deep interest in the subject. This is evident from the attendees of wine tastings, of which he does a lot.

“We still have a long way to go to educate the entire population of Finland. There are a few wine drinking pockets mostly in the big cities but the countryside is going to take some doing. On the other hand, Alko is providing a good service in that you can find almost every grape varietal available in their shops from Helsinki to Rovaniemi, if not on the shelves then to order.”

Watch out for these events:

Grand Champagne 21 – 23 April 2016

Wine Tasting for Dummies with Samuil at Pastis

Links:

Pastis

Muru

Hodari ja Hummeri (Hot dogs and lobster)

Grand Champagne

Making Wines Honestly – Mount Abora Vineyards

Imagine using your imagination. Think of a flavour profile of a wine that, in your opinion, would be the best wine you have ever drunk. I can just picture it. Spice, fruit but not too much, with garrigue shyly showing up in the finish with a touch of tannins. As a white, crisp acidity, nut and honey flavours on the palate and a smooth, elegant finish. Whatever works for you. Now imagine 3 guys putting their heads together, seeing and dreaming about the finished product and then trying to create it. It’s like working backwards. What do we want, how do we do it, where will find the grapes. That’s what you’ll find in the wines of Mount Abora Vineyards.

Pieter de Waal
Pieter de Waal

Pieter de Waal is a friend of mine. He’s been making wine as a garagiste in his lounge and in borrowed cellars under the Hermit on the Hill label and now he’s found a team where he can fit in. The other members are Johan Meyer, one of the top ten young winemakers to watch in South Africa today (JH Meyer label), and Krige Visser, a maverick himself and brand designer of note.

Some of Pieter's off the wall labels
Some of Pieter’s own off the wall labels

My first question being a South African and familiar with the map, “Where is Mount Abora?” thinking that it’s somewhere in the Swartland area.

“It’s a figment of the imagination. Intertwine Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Kubla Khan and a kindred spirit like D.J. Opperman, a poet from South Africa and you find their imagery in our wines like Koggelbos Chenin Blanc and the Abyssinian Red Blend.”

“We’re inspired by the wines of Alain Graillot from the appellation of Crozes Hermitage in the Northern Rhône. He is one of the most celebrated winemakers in the area and his philosophy is simple: very little intervention and making wines that people will want to drink.”

When you ask Pieter about their process, ‘NO’, ‘LOW’ and ‘MINIMAL’ is what you keep on hearing.

“No acidification, no yeasts added, no enzymes, no or minimal filtering, no or minimal sulphites i.e. minimum intervention all round. We harvest early to retain the natural acidity in the grapes; we use whole bunch fermentation in our reds and white, no punch downs, no pump overs. We’ve been using bare feet to break the grapes since feet are soft but we’ve just acquired a really expensive machine that uses a perestaltic movement to press, a little bit like a toothpaste tube. “

Their Saffraan is 100% Cinsault and reminds me of a fine Pinot Noir, with light colour, enough fruit and beautiful acidity. Pieter says, “This is a heritage project and harks back to the time in the 70’s when Cinsault was the most widely planted red grape in SA. We’re trying to present an honest wine showing the bright quality of this varietal.” It catches me off-guard. I find apples, spices and raspberries and a grip that holds you well into the finish. Vintage 2014

Koggelbos Chenin Blanc has that lovely yellow colour you expect to find. The grapes are from 4 blocks in the Paardeberg and vines that are more than 40 years old. It’s been in 300 l. old oak barrels the staves of which have been scratched out and cleaned and then put together again. Kept on the lees for 6 months, the mouthfeel is creamy and sustained. Minerals and stone fruit mingle nicely on the palate and the acidity maintains a perfect, elegant balance. Vintage 2013.

In true Rhône Valley style, comes the Abyssinian Red Blend. Surprisingly low on alcohol 12,5%, it’s Mourverdre driven with Cinsault and Syrah next in line. It holds back on you and doesn’t give you that ‘all-in-your-face’ quality that so many reds do. It’s got spice, it’s got pepper and it sure has class. Vintage 2014.

“There are many fermentation technologists out there, but few winemakers. We try to stay as honest to the varietal as possible stripping down to the bare basics of the vine, place, the grapes. Wines of elegance, low in alcohol, less about fruit and more about texture is what we’re creating.”

Links:

Mount Abora Vineyards

Wine searcher – Koggelbos Chenin Blanc, The Abyssinian Red Blend, Saffraan

J.H. Meyer

Hermit on the Hill

 

 

History, Evolution, Revolution – Australian Wine Master Class

Blown away is somewhat of an understatement. I expected thick, over-oaked, jammy, and I got none of these. Where have I been all this time?

The tasting was cleverly arranged in 3 categories showcasing the exceptionally old age of some of the vineyards, how wine making has changed and where it is going, as indicated in the title above. Twelve wines in all, I’ll talk about the ones that impressed me most.

We kick off with a Semillon from McGuigan Wines ‘Bin 9000’ from the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, 2007. From the first commercial wine region of Oz comes this surprise: could have sworn it was oak on the nose but on the palate this young, early picked grape just comes alive in a balanced lemony, acidic palate which has even a little spice on the finish. Considering it’s a 2007 vintage, it’s retained its fresh, vibrant quality. With only 11% alcohol, makes you think.

Available at:

Alko in Finland – €19,59

McGuigan Wines – http://www.mcguiganwines.co.uk/agegate?destination=

Winesearcher – http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/mcguigan+semillon+bin+9000

With Mike Davidson at Restaurant Sipuli, Helsinki
With Mike Davidson guiding us at Restaurant Sipuli, Helsinki

Crossing over the full extent of this huge continent all the way to Margaret River near Perth, sits Vasse Felix Winery in Western Australia. This ‘Premier’ Chardonnay is as young as 2014. With ocean on 3 sides, the conditions are simply perfect for this grape varietal. The terroir of loam soil, limestone and clay produce this delicate grape which after 9 months in French oak, 50% of which is new, is transformed into elegant acidity with notes of butter and pepper. This wine is resoundingly vibrant and bright with a luscious mouth feel and a lingering finish. Am I imagining it or was there something like mushroom in there?

Available at:

Winesearcher – http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/vasse+felix+premier+chardonnay+2014

Vasse Felix – http://www.vassefelix.com.au

Vasse-Felix-435x170
Vasse Felix Winery, Margaret River, Western Australia

Yarra Valley? Victoria? We go way over on the other side again where we come across Luke Lambert who has favoured keeping 40% of the whole bunch of Syrah grapes in his fermentation process. Added to this, the juice is wild fermented and only wild malolactic is allowed. Matured in 28 year old puncheons, yeah I was wondering too, no fining or filtration takes place. Small production, minimal messing around and you get this classy, restrained example of this grape varietal. Nice blackberry, floral nose with a super divine violet palate and a finish that gets you grabbing for more. A puncheon, by the way, is a wooden barrel holding 500 litres of liquid.

Available at:

Winesearcher – http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/luke+lambert+sra+yarra+valley+victoria+australia/2012

VImage_403753

And then the Revolution. Route du Van – a humorous play on words befitting the people that run the show and the winery’s relaxed attitude taking the consumer on a road trip exploring Victoria. Their Dolcetto and Shiraz is undeniably different, the former grape springing forth from some of the oldest vineyards in the world. You thought it was Italian, right? So did I but now I know better. They call this one a Wednesday night wine. No need for pretense, it’s just yummy without being jammy with just enough tannins on the finish.

Available at:

Winesearcher – http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/route+du+van+dolcetto+sra+victoria+australia