Cape Moby is a line of South African wines from the cool-climate region of Walker Bay on the Atlantic Coast. The region's wines profit from a deeper character due to the oceanic climate: reds remain intense and structure-orientated rather than offensively fruity, wines remain crisp and dry without high fruit extract.
This red cuvee is made up of four varietals: the very Bordeaux Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon coupled with the typical varietals found in South Africa: Shiraz and Pinotage.
Deep ruby red in the glass, the nose impresses with blackcurrant and black cherry. This is off-set with excellent licorice and tobacco notes encompassing the strong and yet not prominent wood in the background. On the palate, the black fruit is very reserved and here you are presented with plum and pomegranate. Also in the body are the notes of licorice, tobacco and cedar wood. The tannins, wood and acidity are all wonderfully mild making this wine already very pleasurable to drink.
Cape Moby is widely available on the German market, For information about finding this wine where you live, contact me and I'll gladly assist you.
The Antinori brand is an important one in Tuscany and yet the winemaking family operates wineries in other regions of Italy and the world too, from Chile to Franciacorta and from Piedmont to Apulia.
The Prunotto winery in Alba, Piemonte has been part of the Antinori dynasty since 1989 and creates several typical Piedmont red wines. With several Barolos in its portfolio, it also creates a handful of wines based on the Barbera varietal - one of North-West Italy's most important varietals.
Plum red in the glass with a pink hue, the wine is very aromatic in terms of red berries on the nose: wild strawberry, blackcurrant, black cherry and raspberry. There is a wonderful spice mixture of black pepper, cloves and a touch of juniper, pine nut and smoke. On the attack is the predictable Piedmont acidity that does its job in holding the wine together. From the berry attack through the spicy body and onto the very dry finish, the wine remains in constant harmony with the acidity and a touch of wood in the background.
A very well made Barbera from an underrated and sometimes purposely misunderstood winery.
Prunotto in the UK
Prunotto in the US
The most famous European red varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Syrah and Grenache. What if I told you that Blaufränkisch (Lemberger) belongs in this list? Blaufränkisch is AT LEAST as good as expressing terroir as Pinot Noir and, particularly when from Burgenland, has just as much depth and complexity as Merlot. But all that comparison nonsense is not what I'm here for. This wine is awesome in its own right, regardless of any other factors and Weingut Heinrich is one of Burgundland’s best and better-known producers making the wine even more of a highlight.
Sourced from the Leithaberg DAC, a small appellation inside of Austria's Burgenland, the wine was spontaneously fermented and aged in used 500 litre wooden barrels for 18 months.
Deep cherry red with a salmon pink hue.
There is Cassis on the nose but it is neither crude, nor dominant. A far-more complex compote of tannin-strong berries are in there as well: cranberry, wild strawberry and redcurrant work excellently together with ripe red plum to produce a forest-fruit feel, complete with the woody notes of the trees. Dark chocolate and a deep sense of wood run in the background with slate, the blackest of pepper and a touch of espresso.
On the attack it's all red and black fruit although not overly sweet: ripe, red plum with cranberry and hints of Cassis and the other berries but nothing brash, nothing jammy or over-ripe. The body is complex but appealing with red apple, plum, pomegranate and this leaks onto a salty, peppery, slate driven finish devoid of the chocolate first expected. There are smoky notes that, combined with the salty finish accentuate the low level of residual sugar: this wine is as dry as it gets: sure, you can go drier but you risk losing the fuller fruit and placing the tannins in the foreground.
Remarkably full of character but not imposing, the wine is proof that Austria's Burgenland belongs to the finest red wine production regions in Europe. Blaufränkisch should be so much more of a thing than it is but perhaps I shouldn't tell too many people - this stuff is affordable, in stark contrast to the majority of European red of a similar quality!
Veneto is home to a number of boring DOCs all based on pretty much the same thing: Trebbiano, Corvina or/and Rondinella. It’s difficult to think of a duller production region but perhaps I’m just scarred from all the awful, cheap Pinot Grigio wines I’ve been forced to 'enjoy' over family dinners, in bad restaurants and when I go to parties and the host decided to shop at Aldi to save money.
No, Veneto is home to good wine as well: a decent Valpolicella or Amarone makes up for the millions of hectolitres of grey, characterless and dull wine. But, what if I told you that it isn’t the DOC and DOCG wines you should be looking out for in Veneto? Forget the Supertuscan, its time for the Supervenetian.
Swap Corvina for Carmenere, Rondinella for Merlot and add a touch of regional flair in the way of Marzemino and the picture is vastly improved. I have rarely tasted Carmenere so good, Marzemino so controlled and Merlot so expressive as in the Porcone Butcher’s Reserve from Zio Porco Wines and I have rarely experienced so many things going on with such precision and such awe-inspiring creativity.
But, whilst thinking creatively is a start, actually having the balls to try and the skill to pull it off is completely different. I was expecting to be surprised but not like this: I was expecting the juiciest of juices and the most powerful of power but the most refine of refine certainly wasn’t something I was prepared for.
I always find that cars serve as decent metaphors for wines: imagine Chateau Margaux as a classic Jaguar E-Type, Tignanello as a Ferrari Testarossa and Egon Müller’s Scharzhofberger Auslese as a Porsche 911. I was awaiting Chevrolet Corvette in this wine: lots of fun but flimsy and held together with plastic: I wasn’t expecting what I got: a Pagani Zonda: crazy, mad, out-of-this-world power and style but with the beating heart of a state-of-the-art AMG V-12. Perhaps that’s testosterone speaking and maybe this sounds like a wine for the man’s man – (I don’t think there’s a better way to describe the winemaker: Marco Giovanni Zanetti (aka Winepunk)) but the classic touch and elegance behind all the power make it universally pleasing whilst exquisite and remarkably unique.
Blackcurrant red-purple (although you’d be excused for saying black) with a pomegranate-coloured hue.
The note is big on red and black fruit to start with: lots of blackcurrant but also redcurrant and blueberry. There is an undeniable high concentration of Cassis which leads onto a spicy structure hinting at tobacco smoke and even….dare I say it, bacon?
Powerful on the attack with all of the fruit promised on the nose, the wine’s berries aren’t inexcusably sweet: the body quickly picks up on pepper and the smoke in the nose making it large and powerful without being a slippery, forgettable jam-like thickness. The oak is important but not defining. The tannins suggest long-term drinkability but they’re not in the way of enjoyment now.
A well-made wine like no other: classically elegant with a unique sense of power that is both harnessed and yet fully-explored. The varietal trio is a treat and the complexity, despite strength, is the wine’s defining character. Priced at 35-40€, it's a fantastic buy and not just a must-try but an entirely new style of wine waiting to be discovered.
2004 was one of the worst Bordeaux vintages in recent years and the wines of Médoc and Graves are sometimes worth avoiding. However, general sweeping statements are usually a mistake and they are in this case too: many of the top producers made very good wines in 2004 – even in Médoc.
In Pomerol and St. Émilion, the vintage wasn’t as bad as it was on the left bank. Whereas it was far from being ideal, many Pomerol producers still managed to create great wines and, particularly interesting for impatient people, many of them are ready to drink already.
Château l'Évangile’s 2004 wine is one such example. It’s still bright and fresh but it is starting to open up, especially if you give it a few hours in the decanter. It’s about to enter the ‘dead phase’ though, a period that many wines experience for a number of years: once the fruit phase vanished, the harsher tannin notes take over and the wine goes into a kind of hibernation before eventually emerging as the wine it was supposed to be enjoyed as. I guess this phase will take over in the next two to three years and the wine will stay in this phase for ten to fifteen years before emerging a ripe and ready Pomerol in around 2030.
The producer itself is making waves. Whereas Lafleur and Pétrus might be Pomerol’s flagships, the Rothschild dynasty (Lafite branch) purchased the l’Évangile estate in 1990 and its vineyards neighbour those of both Pétrus itself and Cheval Blanc in nearby St. Émilion. The winery’s produce is going from strength to strength with every vintage gradually improving. The 2005, 2009 and 2010 wines from Château l’Évangile were some of Bordeaux’s best for those vintages according to leading Bordeaux specialists and the Château is starting to emerge as a real alternative to the leading wines of the right bank – it retails for a fraction of the price of Cheval Blanc and Lafleur and, compared to the prices of Pétrus, well, it’s a bargain.
Deep, ruby red with a youthful lilac hue.
Lots and lots of blackberry with a whole host of other forrest fruits in the background: wild raspberry, wild strawberry, blueberry and even redcurrant. This is a hint of sweetened, dried plum and this is held together with vanilla in oak, plentiful tobacco and a cedar wood feel.
The blackcurrant is, predictably, the first note on the tongue with a youthful burst of ripeness and freshness – it is in fact so sweet that you might initially feel the wine to be a touch too young but, when it gives way to the rest of the fruit: Cassis, red plum, wild strawberry and even a decent helping of rhubarb, the wine slowly falls into place with the red fruits working together to form a luxurious compote. This eventually runs into a touch of wood with tobacco, pepper, smoke and even leather to finish off the wine – the fruit lingers long in the mouth long after the finish has vanished.
The promise in this wine is very interesting. The unusually ripe fruit together with the background role of the tannin (at the moment) is proof that the wine will keep for decades. An underlining and reassuring acidity holds it together and the fruit will soon take on a background role. It’s interesting to drink wines before the ‘dead phase’ takes over although this wine is far from its prime. One to look out for in future: it’ll be more affordable than the 2005, 2009 and 2010 wines but no less better at defining the estate and Pomerol AOC itself.
For most of us, it isn’t the fantastic and great wines of this world that are of particular interest. The chance to taste a top-end Burgundy is a treat, but a rare one: the affordable, everyday wines are the ones that matter and when they offer the potential to surprise with great quality at a fair price, that’s what the majority of drinkers are looking for.
Dr. Bürklin-Wolf is one of the Pfalz region’s best producers and their Grand Cru (Großes Gewächs) wines are some of the best in Germany. Their Kirchenstück Riesling is of world-class quality and one of Palatinate’s most sought-after wines. However, the attention to detail at Dr. Bürklin-Wolf goes right down to the Gutsweine – wines produced using vines owned by the producer all over the region – no single-vineyard stuff and not even sourced from one single commune. Whereas these wines might not showcase the individual site and terroir of one vineyard, they act as ambassadors for the region and are the wines that most people will drink.
Dr. Bürklin Wolf’s Estate Riesling is already fantastic, one of Germany’s best VDP Gutsweine (estate wines) and this Pinot Noir is just as good. I’ve said it a thousand times: most Pinot Noir in Germany is forgettable at best: unripe, sour, earthy and translucent; it offers good holiday drinking but, when you take a few bottles home, you realise that it was the heat-of-the-moment that forced you to enjoy the wine. This one and a small number of others are exceptions to the rule. German Pinot Noir can be brilliant and whilst this is almost guaranteed with the single-site wines for 30€ and upwards, it can be rare if you don’t know where to look if your budget isn’t quite that high.
Cherry red with a Barbie-pink hue.
The wine is rather expressive on the nose with plenty of red fruit: Cassis, black cherry and cranberry take on the major roles but are joined by a particularly pleasant red plum aroma. The earthy touch commonly associated with German Pinot is there but plays a largely background role. There is a touch of wood too, nothing dominant but extremely helpful in presenting the fruit.
The attack is a sweet berry mixture lead by the Cassis and cranberry but it also includes black fruit in the way of blackcurrant, black cherry and even blueberries. The body is nice and ripe: notes of red apple move onto a cleverly-created wooden finish with bite despite being mild and reserved. This shows off some nice cedar wood character with a touch of smoke.
Again, it’s the attention to detail that makes this wine so impressive. Rather than just make a Pfalz Pinot Noir, you can tell that a highly-skilled winemaker chose to craft this wine as if it were a more prestigious and expensive wine. The Pfalz-terroir is there and so too is the sense of German Spätburgunder but the exquisite use of Barrique is so balanced and neither prominent nor jobless in presenting the wine – just right. Priced at 13€ the value-for-money factor is excellent and, even if the wine were 10€ more expensive, it’d be a fair buy.
Cortona DOC is one of Tuscany’s lesser known production regions. Although many of the region’s largest and most-famous producers do produce wines made here, it doesn’t celebrate the same international appeal as Chianti, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Bolgheri, Maremma or the like.
Whereas a whole host of varietals are permitted here, notably also imported varietals from France, a great deal of the wines are single varietal. Syrah is a popular choice here and, alongside the typical Cuvee wines made using a variety of grapes, a number of winemakers release a 100% Syrah wine.
One such producer of Cortona DOC Syrah is Marchese Antinori – one of the largest names in both Tuscan and Italian wine. Its Montalcino-based subsidiary: La Braccesca, famed for its Montalcino wines, makes this Syrah produced from grapes grown in the Arezzo region closeby, near to the Tuscan/Umbrian border.
Ruby red with a purple, clear hue.
On the nose is a great deal of black forest fruit but also a decent helping of fresh raspberry. Coupled with a hint of vanilla, thanks to the oak handling, this makes you think of raspberry-ripple ice cream. There is a background oak note but it is both very decent and purely a background thing.
The attack is one of Cassis but this quickly moves on to blackcurrant, red plums and the raspberry promised in the nose. It is all very harmonious with a light acidity that eventually turns into mild tannins, a sprinkling of vanilla, a hit of oak and then fine chocolate and espresso.
A pleasant and very simple, smooth wine. It offers a different side to Syrah and, whilst it is a powerhouse on the body, the finish is nice and calm leaving the wine remarkably easy to drink: smooth, long and yet clean on the palate.
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.
Château Montrose is a second Grand Cru Classé producer in the commune of St. Estèphe on the Bordelaise peninsula of Médoc. Its wines are known the world over and sought-after on nearly every domestic market ensuring prices stay high, availability low and limits the availability of ripe, ready-to-drink wines in the typical retail environment.
A personal comment about Montrose: the wines are often quite a lot “bigger” than those of neighbouring producers and those in Pauillac, Margaux and St. Julien meaning they take rather a long time to come into the drinking window. Whereas some of the top claret from the late nineties is already in fantastic drinking condition, Montrose wines are take a touch longer to reach maturity. But, when they do, wonderful things happen.
This 1994 Grand Vin de Montrose is a typical Médoc blend: 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc.
Deep ruby red with a purple hue.
There’s rather a lot to take in at once on this wine. Firstly there’s Cassis and a whole bunch of red and black berries: blackcurrant takes a prominent role but there are some sweeter elements in there as well: raspberry for example. The fruit is remarkably sweet altogether in fact and reminds of compote, were it not for a large sense of woody, high-quality tobacco hanging around in the background. This hints at vanilla but contains darker notes: espresso, leather and walnut wood.
The attack is as big as is expected but not overpowering. The berries slowly ease into focus rather than hitting you all-of-a-sudden. The first on the scene is blackcurrant but Cassis comes pretty quickly after that. Raspberry doesn’t really appear in the taste but redcurrant does and so too do red plums – the body feels like eating a spoonful of expensive French jam. The finish though takes away all that sweetness with rather hefty but not-unpleasant tannins: they, in themselves have a fair amount of character to show: a touch of vanilla but a lovely smokey, freshly-roasted espresso feel and a unique sense of bitter chocolate.
A ripe, extremely well-made claret offering perfect drinking right now. Give it an hour in the decanter though because, as with all Montrose wines, it takes a while before the harshness of power opens up to let you in. If you have any of this lying around: drink it in the next five-ten years. If you’ve seen it for sale somewhere and you can trust the dealer and their cellar, buy it!
German Pinot Noir is a mixed business – there are some fantastic wines out that at least rival the decent stuff from Burgundy. Whilst top-par might still be a few years away, the best German Pinot is just as good as some of the stuff that fetches hundreds of euros in France, however it costs only about half the price.
Not all Pinot is good though, in fact the vast majority is worth forgetting – whilst the wines could never be labelled as bad: their international appeal is low: they're often clumsy and sometimes feel unripe. They fulfill a purpose though: people buy them in supermarkets and they offer decent value for money.
The wines that stand out often come from producers that are pretty much only bothered with the Pinot varietals: seldom do Riesling wineries create excellent Pinot although it does happen, just not so often. In Germany’s Baden and Ahr valleys are where Pinot Noir is at its most focused. Whereas a handful of Pfalz wineries do create excellent Pinot Noir, I genuinely believe the best wines come from the Ahr and Baden.
One such winery that has recently sprung to attention is the Huber winery in Malterdingen. Alongside a handful of entry-level, varietal wines, the producer is famed for its single-vineyard Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay) wines. This Pinot Noir (or Spätburgunder as it is locally known) from the Hecklingen vineyard of Sommerhalde is one such wine. The vineyard is at the foot of the Black Forest which offers some of the finest limestone and iron-laden soil in all of Baden.
Cherry red – translucent.
Lots and lots of fresh red berries on the nose: Cassis is very prominent but so too are a whole compote of forest fruits: wild strawberries, blackcurrant and raspberry but also cranberry. There is a toasty, earthy aroma on the nose that reminds slightly of smoke.
This youthful wine starts with tart and refined black and red berries. The sharper notes of Cassis and blackcurrant are the most noticeable and they slowly lead on to a body dominated by raspberry, cranberry, strawberry and even watermelon. The finish is rather long, contains a touch of chalk, a hint of smoke and a typically-German earthy bite.
The fruit was still in its infancy: a few years in the cellar might round off that sharpness (although I found it gave the wine some character). Unfortunately though, the finish wasn’t half as rewarding as the rest of the drink: something was missing – oak perhaps? Everything else about the wine was worthy of the Grand Cru quality the wine proudly boasts– the finish let the wine down in my opinion however the winery caters for a whole host of styles and it is refreshing to see a winery making high-quality Pinot Noir without just copying the guys in Burgundy. The driven fruit however is some of the best I’ve ever experienced in a German Pinot.
-Sud de France
-Pinot Blanc (Weißburgunder)
-Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder)
-Pinot Meunier (Schwarzriesling)
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
-Medium / off-dry
-Brut Zero/ Brut Nature
-Medium / off-dry