Nosiola is an age-old varietal that has fallen out of fashion in Trentino and the other regions in North-East Italy. In the past it was always fermented on the skins in clay amphora. Foradori continues this practise and produces this wonderful, light and yet remarkably fresh wine with perhaps a specialist touch although universally enjoyable.
The wine requires a great deal of air and shouldn't really be enjoyed too cold – use red wine glasses to enjoy this fabulous naturally-inspired wine and don’t leave it in the fridge for too long.
The first thing you notice on the nose is that this immediately reminds of red wine: there are red fruit notes, a sense of wood in there and this is backed-up on the palate as well. There are also dried petals on the nose, a decent sense of acidity and black tea.
A fabulously complex, if not sharp attack with plenty of notes: grapefruit, pomelo and green apple but this turns into a thick body with rhubarb, unripe apple and even a touch of something pickled: gherkin, possibly even Sauerkraut. Quick on the finish with a dry kick and a lovely chalky undertone.
A unique wine and a very rewarding drinking experience. Priced at around 35€, this wine is one to be treasured by specialists and lovers of natural-style wine. Perhaps a little too unique for regular wine drinkers, even a novice will appreciate the attention to detail though.
Foradori in the UK
Foradori in the US
It’s all good and well putting Riesling in new oak but Sauvignon Blanc is an entirely different kettle of fish. I know that the Americans have been doing it for decades but, in Europe, it’s fairly rare.
Talking of rare, Sauvignon Blanc is rare in Germany. It’s becoming more popular and the German climate really makes the most of the green notes in Sauvignon Blanc – perhaps slightly fuller in body than those of the Loire valley but with the same, important, vegetative structure, mostly avoiding the peach and nectarine overdose you get in Marlborough.
Deidesheim’s Von Winning have a unique signature in German viticulture: they age their prestige wines in new oak giving them a very unique feel. Many don’t like it, some even suggest that it makes the wines undrinkable but I think it’s a nice touch: there are enough wineries in Germany making clear-cut, straight-edge Riesling, why shouldn’t Von Winning do it differently?
But we’re not talking about Riesling and cold-climate Sauvignon can be notoriously hard to pair with wood. Bearing in mind that this is probably Von Winning’s flagship product, this unlikely pairing is noticeable in this wine. Don’t get me wrong, the wine is great and very unique, it’s just a tad….confusing.
Gooseberry is quick on the scene and it hints at white peach although never goes all the way. There are some green apples and even a touch of green bell pepper on the fruit side but this is abruptly killed off by the new wood: hardwood, eucalyptus and fire smoke.
Reserved in the way of fruit, the peach turns into petals and the gooseberry is much lighter than the nose suggests. The new oak isn’t as dominant on the body as it is in the nose and brings with it smoke, vegetative elements of fresh herbs and, combined with a buttery slipperiness when the wood comes in, it feels creamy and calm rather than bold and brash. The finish is crisp and the wood lingers on the tongue.
The wine is remarkably unique. The Fumé wines of California work entirely differently and make use of the fuller fruit and ripeness. The colder touch fits nicely to the wood but the entire composition is an acquired taste. If you like Von Winning’s approach to winemaking and you like German Sauvignon Blanc, this wine is ideal for you – a true Einzelgänger, sticking a middle finger up to the rulebook…and that with a VDP eagle on the neck’s foil.
Up until recently, I'd never really appreciated Riesling as a decent varietal to make sparkling wine out of. It commonly appears off-balanced and over-acidic as bubbly creating an either undrinkable or unmemorable experience. There are however a number of wineries that are more than able to pull it off: Schloss Vaux, Bardong, Sekthaus Solter, Wegeler, Van Volxem, Von Buhl and a handful of others.
Few dare to pair the Riesling varietal with Brut Zero: a dosage-free wine with ultimate dryness and very-little to absolutely no residual sugar (also known as Brut Nature). I personally believe that Brut Zero is one of the best ways of experiencing terroir in sparkling wine: the missing dosage allows the wine to show off its natural aspects and what it is capable of on its own (albeit with a dash of yeast). Particularly in Champagne, the dosage can get in the way and blends the wine hiding particular elements of taste and, in some of the largest houses’ Brut NV products, is exactly what it is there for: continuity rather than individuality of the vintage and vineyard sites.
The winery of Immich-Batterieberg opted to produce their sparkling Riesling in this way and it is a brave decision: very few other Mosel producers do it and the slate soils with the cooler temperature already make wines very clean-cut and slightly acidic – opting out of residual sugar could create a dusty mouth-drier with piercing acidity and tooth-stinging harshness. This isn’t the case though, 'Jour Fixe' is one of the best Brut Zero bubblies I’ve ever had and, amazingly, it encapsulates the Mosel terroir, the trademark style of Immich-Batterieberg and serves as the benchmark of Brut Zero Sekt altogether.
Pale straw yellow in colour with a delicate and controlled mousse.
Lots of yeast and rye on the nose: like really crusty, brown bread and it is helped along the way with a decent helping of dried orchard fruit: apple and pear. The whole thing has a background aroma of pink grapefruit: both skin and juice and this really works well with the rye bread.
Green and yellow apples and pears are first on the scene: zingy Granny Smith-style acidity with the crispiness of green pear and the softer notes of yellow pear go into a citrus pre-chorus of lemon juice and grapefruit peel. The body is long, buttery, creamy and ends expertly on the toasty notes of brown bread on the finish: the creamy body is important for the finish: it makes it mild and controlled rather than harsh – the whole thing is big in style and yet remarkable delicate and astonishingly well put-together.
A fantastic sparkling wine: one that even the most-pampered fans of ripe, vintage Champagne would enjoy. The Brut Zero aspect is key to the individuality of the wine but also in defining its finesse: like the still wines from Immich-Batterieberg, the whole thing is bold, big and yet highly-refined. Drink it now or drink it in ten years: it’s completely up to you and, whenever you open it, you’re in for an addictively drinkable, unique Riesling Sekt – one of the best the Mosel and indeed Germany have to offer.
You may link Austria with Grüner Veltliner and you’d be right but in the three neighbouring regions along the Danube: Kremstal, Wachau and Kamptal, the best wines are arguably all made of Riesling. The Wachau is in fact home to some of the world’s finest dry Rieslings and its viticulture heritage is based on this white grape rather than the otherwise omnipresent Grüner Veltliner which also grows there.
The Wachau is unique in Austrian wine as it doesn’t just use the simple classication system that the other regions of Austria do. Its wines are also categorised into three types: basic Steinfeder, middle-of-the-road Federspiel and ripe, luscious Smaragd.
One of the region’s most famous and indeed best producers is Frank X. Pichler. The winery’s products are sought-after the world over and make up some of Austria’s most expensive bottles. Alongside these wines though exist a series of affordable Federspiel and Smaragd wines.
This wine is sourced from a large, steep South-facing vineyard above the commune of Loiben: the Loibner Oberhauser. Right in the middle of a headland inside one of the Danube’s meanders, it is protected from strong winds and is able to soak up the sun’s energy for a large part of the day without shadows being cast from neighbouring hills.
Pale gold in colour.
In the nose are notes of sweetened, candied lemon peel and a great deal of delicate stone fruit: yellow plums, nectarines and apricots but also a fair amount of Nashi pear and yellow apples. The feel in the nose is rather rustical and this combined with a milky, limestone sensation reminds more of Chardonnay than Rielsing.
On the attack, the lemon and yellow plums are first on the scene but are joined by old-fashioned apple, buttery pastry and a decent amount of quince and Asian pears. The finish is chalky and contains notes of pepper but also a dash of salt and a pinch of wet rock.
A very interesting take on Riesling, this wine is a more controlled take on the varietal than one might expect: there’s no racing acidity or a large amount of underlying freshness but rather a complicated and well-mixed full experience. Combined with what might be a hint of wood, it feels like a good Rheinhessen Riesling or even a Chardonnay. Nevertheless a fantastic wine from one of Europe's finest white wine producers.
The Rheingau is one of the finest German production regions, particularly for the production of dry wines. Rather than the slate-laden soils of the Mosel and the fruity-sweet note in the wines, the Rheingau Rieslings are all about spice and mineral structure. Nevertheless, the fruit content of some of the most prestigious dry whites can be quite attractive. The struggle is to match the fruit with the spice – something many wineries manage excellently.
One such winery is Balthasar Ress in Hattenheim. This Riesling Erstes Gewächs is sourced from the Hattenheimer Grosslage Nussbrunnen: a South East facing vineyard protected from cold winds in the North and with soils high in clay content – perfect for both drainage and retaining heat.
The first thing you note is the sweetened yellow fruit: sugar apricots, pear-flavoured candy and canned pineapple. There is a touch of citrus in the way of lime and a hint of black pepper too.
The attack too contains a great deal of yellow fruit: apricot, banana, pear and even melon. There is green pepper and asparagus in there and this is held together with a lime cordial feel which runs the show without playing a major role. The body is creamy, buttery and rather thick and goes onto a finish which hints at chalk but never goes there and shows off some lovely sage and peppermint on the finest.
A very ripe and appealing Erstes Gewächs. Entering drinking now, this wine is likely to impress for the next ten years or so. Not quite as bold and fruity as Weil’s Kiedrich Gräfenberg 2011, the mineral notes are not as prominent as those in Johannisberg’s 2011 Silberlack. The three make up my personal favourite 2011 Erstes Gewächs wines.
A few weeks ago, I posted a review of the 2010 non-Erstes Gewächs Kiedrich Gräfenberg only to have to inform you that the wine no longer exists in that format. Feeling a bit guilty about posting a review on a wine that is seldom available, I popped back down to the wine store and purchased the 2011 Erstes Gewächs (the then Rheingau equivalent of today’s Grosses Gewächs).
I was expecting much of the same: succulent fruit and metallic minerals and, whilst these were present in the wine, they were presented ever so slightly differently (click here for my review of the 2010 non-Erstes Gewächs). Gräfenberg is one of both the Rheingau and Germany’s finest vineyards – it consistently yields fantastic wine year after year and this 2011er is no exception.
Green apples and slightly-unripe pear on the nose together with quince and a whole bunch of highland herbs.
The attack is rather sharp at first with lime, gooseberry and green apple. The body incorporates those notes and takes them onto rhubarb and even more pear. This is all rounded off with a big show of Rheingau flair: quartz, metallic aromas, a hint of wood and lots of fresh herbs such as sage and rosemary – there was also a hint at something menthol: spearmint perhaps.
A far more spice-intense wine than the non-Erstes Gewächs, this wine is more ‘Rheingau’ in style. Like Schloss Johannisberg’s Silberlack, this feels like the main characteristic of the wine is the elegantly-presented spice and mineral side. Whilst the fruit is excellent and those green apples really shine through the entire product, the fruit is relaxed, less sweet and more background noise than wine-shaping.
As the proud home of both Ornellaia and Sassicaia, Maremma is one of Tuscany’s most-prized production regions. In the last 50 years together with Bolgheri, it has altered the Tuscan wine world, taking away importance from the wines of Montalcino and Montepulciano.
Another major producer in Maremma is Monteverro. Owned and operated by Georg Weber since 2003, the Tuscan producer has experienced international success in its short history. Regularly put in the same league as the top wines of the region, the first wine retails for upwards of 70 euros. This second wine is made up of 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet France, 20% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot.
Plum red in the glass with a clear-brown hue.
The nose is rather reserved. There are notes of both blackcurrant and Cassis and yet these are almost hidden behind fresh herbs, oak and cigar tobacco.
The attack is smooth and silky: there are profound notes of forest fruits – mainly blueberry and wild strawberry. The body too is smooth with red cherry and blackcurrant. This leads onto a finish which is quite heavy on the tannins but eventually gives way to vanilla and smoke.
Whilst the wine is already showing off some fine fruit, it probably is a tad young. With a few more years in the cellar, those hefty tannins are likely to let up a little and expose a touch more of the finely composed silky body and character-defining structure.
Schloss Johannisberg is one of Germany’s most famous producers. Found in fine wine stores the world over, it is commonly accredited with having invented or indeed first utilised the classic wine classification scheme: it was probably the first producer to create Spätlese wines and, whilst the modern classification laws have changed, its most impressive dry wines still are produced in this way. The winery however uses colouration to distinguish between the traditional categories: Qualitätswein (Gelblack), Kabinett (Rotlack), Grünlack (Spätlese), Rosalack (Auslese), and so on…a clever move when you consider that all dry wines produced by VDP wineries are no longer allowed to carry their Prädikat. Their top dry wine is Silberlack (Spätlese quality grapes) and carries today the illustrious GG or VDP GROSSES GEWÄCHS® title. Before 2012, a handful of vintages carried the Rheingau-specific 'Erstes Gewächs' title.
The Rheingau is very special in Germany. Whereas it is one of three/four specialist production regions for Riesling and pretty much Riesling alone, its wines are rather different. Whereas the Pfälzer wines are all about powerful citrus fruit and the Mosel and Nahe wines about delicate, floral structures, Rheingau has always been about minerality. This makes some Rheingau wines feel a little dated and out-of-flavour but, when a producer does it properly like a handful of them do, Rheingau wines have just as much modern appeal as their compatriots.
Bright, bold gold.
The nose was rather full: lots of yellow and green fruit. Particularly apples, pears and quince. Stone fruit was in there too and so was exotic pineapple and mango. There was a lovely herbal feel as well paired with white pepper.
The attack was rather sharp: driven lemon juice but also ripe apple and pear. The quince note took over the body of the wine which occasionally hinted at peach and banana. The finish was a wonderful mixture of fresh herbs (particularly thyme) and white pepper. This carried on for a while and made for an excellent swansong for the bold yellow fruit.
For a wine approaching four years of age, what was most astonishing was that the wine showed almost no age whatsoever. It could’ve been just filled and I wouldn’t have noticed. Nevertheless, despite feeling closed on some notes, it was surprisingly open elsewhere. Its boldness might indeed be an acquired taste but mixed with that precise yellow fruit and unforgettable finish, this is a wine that is likely to get better in the next five years or so.
With 98 hectares of vineyard, the Bischöfliche Weingüter of Trier are by no means a small producer. Formed in 1966 with the coming together of three producers: the Bischöfliche Konvikt, the Bischöfliche Priesterseminar and the Hohe Domkirche, all three producers had strong ties with the Catholic Church. This is a bond that still exists today.
The producers have holdings in several of the Mosel’s finest vineyards: Piesporter Goldtropfen (Mosel), Kanzemer Altenberg (Saar) and Scharzhofberg (Saar) to name but a few. The majority of wines produced are based, of course, on Riesling.
Trittenheimer Apotheke is one of the regions’s finest vineyards and this wine of Spätlese quality is great at expressing the blue-slate soil of the terroir. Even although the BWT’s (Bichöfliche Weingüter Trier) three predecessors were some of the founding members of the Mosel VDP, BWT isn’t a member – this means it isn’t able to decorate its wines with the Große Lage or Großes Gewächs titles.
Shiny gold with a hint of green.
Stone fruit and sweet lime are the first notes to pick out but there are hints at elderberry and gooseberry. The wine gives off a slight honey feel too alongside wet rock.
On the attack is citrus: lemon peel and lime cordial but also a hint of green apple. The body is filled in with mineral notes of slate and pepper but also peach and apricot. The finish is long, sweet and brings with it a metallic sense: iron and the slate returns.
The higher level of residual sugar allows the slate notes to take a background role and the fruit emerges far more prominently than it would in a simple Qualitätswein. Trittenheimer Apotheke is a fantastic site and this wine really gives a brilliant insight as to what is possible on such steep, mineral-intense vineyards. It might not be the finest and most-balanced wine the Mosel has to offer but is nonetheless very impressive.
English wine is hard to find in Germany so imagine my surprise when I saw Hattingley Valley for sale at my local supermarket. I’ll admit, I hadn’t tried anything from the producer before so it wasn’t long before a bottle of Classic Cuvee made its way into my shopping basket.
Hattingley Valley’s winery is situated in Lower Wield, right in the middle of Hampshire in Southern England. The 2010 vintage was the winery’s first and the grapes are grown in the producer’s own vineyard of over 24 hectares. The head winemaker is Emma Rice who has recently been awarded with the United Kingdom Vineyards Association ‘Winemaker of the year’ title – you might recognise her name from her days at Nyetimber – probably England’s most famous sparkling wine producer.
This wine is made of the classic Champagne varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir and 25% of the total blend was aged in old Burgundy barrels. 2011 was a particularly good vintage for English wine thanks to the warm late summer period meaning that the grapes achieved a high level of ripeness.
A lovely peach-toned colour with a bright, off-gold appearance. Fine and composed bubble structure.
A very fragrant fruit note is the first thing to notice about this wine, alongside the typical citrus and orchard fruit exists a sense of something red – raspberries perhaps but this is so faint it disappears as soon as the brioche notes appear with a unique feel of oak at the end of the nose.
Very fresh on the attack with notes of apples and pears, it soon made way to a zesty lemon and floral body which eventually goes on to a brioche taste and a light smoky feel on an oak-tinted finish (an interesting touch rather than overdoing it as is so often the case)
A very good but also very individual wine – a lot of English wines are Champagne copycats but this one, despite opting for the same varietals, takes a unique approach with those fresh apples and pears and the oak on the finish. I like that in a wine, particularly in English wine – I believe this to be the future rather than creating a style of wine that already exists.
-Sud de France
-Pinot Blanc (Weißburgunder)
-Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder)
-Pinot Meunier (Schwarzriesling)
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
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0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
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-Medium / off-dry
-Brut Zero/ Brut Nature
-Medium / off-dry