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.
One of the most prestigious producers of rosé wine in the world, Domaines Ott’s Clos Mireille estate is situated right on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the Côte d’Azur. This unique location gives the wines a completely different feel than the often sweet, fruity rosé wines from this part of the world – thanks to the cool winds and sea spray, the wines can sometimes feel rather cool – more cold climate minerals than Southern fruit. The clay soils of the Clos Mireille estate are essential in the final composure of the wine – slate-like compounds are key to the wine’s structure. This wine is a cuvee of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Pale pink with orange touches – the same colour as the new iPhone.
The first things to come through are citrus peels: grapefruit, lemon and Clementine but lemon juice is allowed to emerge – only in the most discreet way however. Wild Raspberry, a hint of strawberry and even cranberry is in there but blink and you’ll miss it. The Mineral compounds: white pepper and salt pick up where the berries stop – the wine reminds immediately of wet rocky outcrops.
The citrus takes the main stage again here: lemon peel, then juice, then pink grapefruit although only the sweeter notes with the bitterness hidden behind a splash of wild strawberry and raspberry. The full fruit notes are never really fully exposed but move on to sage, mint and some floral pulses and then white pepper and then the wine is almost completely finished – discretion and fine tuning seldom seen in rosé.
Rosé is commonly labelled as wine for people who don’t usually drink wine and yet, when you drink wines like this, you realise just how good it can be and why some rosé deserves to appear in fine wine journals. This is some of the most expertly created rosé I’ve ever tried – the attention to detail in displaying the terroir is phenomenal and the cliché notes of overpowering red berries are not missed – this really portrays how good rosé can be.
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!
Knipser is one of the biggest and most important names in the Pfalz. Alongside a whole host of varietal specific white wines, the winery is famed for its red wines: particularly those based on Pinot Noir, locally known as Spätburgunder. Over the years though, the company has experimented with a handful of exotic varietals: Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon for example.
This fresh red is based on Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and a handful of Cabernet hybrids which make it very different to how German rosé is commonly produced. Its youth makes it very fresh – this is perfect food wine and also ideal for drinking outside in summer or late spring.
Pale, pastel-pink like cooked Salmon.
The nose feels rather zingy – alongside the typical red berries (Cassis, raspberry and strawberry) are citrus notes and those of fresh herbs.
The attack is floral and rather fruity – quite sharp actually but this is probably due to the wine having only just been filled into bottles. The body is of red fruit: strawberry, Cassis and creamy raspberry bonbons. A certain amount of pear also comes though and the finish is crisp and slightly metallic.
A very fruity wine but decently done. The dryness and crispness of the finish means that it has classic appeal despite its fruity body. The finish is the defining characteristic of this very modern wine that reminds of well-made French rosé.
Second wines from famous Bordeaux estates are always a sensible investment if you wish to get in touch with the world-famous terroir without spending a fortune. Often first wines are unaffordable and, particularly in good vintages, stretch into the many hundreds of euros per bottle. 2005 was a great year in Bordeaux, particularly in the Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated production regions on the West bank of the Gironde.
Château Montrose is one of St. Estèphe’s finest producers and most famous names. The first wine in 2005 costs almost 100€ whereas the second wine costs around 30€. The Château itself is one of the second Cru producers of Médoc and Graves – this courtesy of course doesn’t extend to second wines: these are, more often than not, completely unclassified. The best fruit is used in the first wine whereas the second wines are often made with grapes deemed not quite good enough for the top product.
To open a 2005 first wine now would’ve been pointless. Particularly Château Montrose is known for its power and a 2005 first wine would’ve been closed and rather wasted right now. I thought the second wine might be a bit more approachable which it was, still far from its peak though…
Ruby red with a bright pink hue.
There was lots going on the nose but it was partially masked by a huge wooden element in there. Cassis, forrest fruits and some red plums were available but they only popped-up briefly. The wood was very dominating: it brought lots of dark aromas to the wine.
The attack was nice and tart but the fruit was never able to develop. Blackcurrants, plums and blueberries were there but as soon as they were hinted at, the wood kicked in bringing espresso, dark chocolate, tobacco, vanilla and leather. The tannins weren’t as harsh as expected but still very prominent.
A mistake to open this wine now: whilst it does offer excellent potential, I’m guessing it’ll reach its drinkability stage in five or six years. The notes are there to make this a fine wine, it just needs time.
I often find the Cru Bourgeois are overlooked when it comes to Bordeaux. Lead astray by the ridiculous classification act of 1855 (which has remained pretty much unchanged since its introduction), consumers commonly label the Cru Bourgeois wines as forgettable – not real Bordeaux. Thankfully, this often has an effect on their prices: wines are usually considerably cheaper than their classified neighbours and, in good vintages, it is a great idea to stock up on Cru Bourgeois.
2004 was a bad year for Bordeaux: probably one of the worst vintages in the last 20 years: top-end wines seldom show real character and a glance at the prices alone (compared to the 2000 and 2005 vintages) show just how much the Châteaux of the right bank would like to forget the vintage. Nevertheless, a handful of vintners still managed to pull-off good wines – particularly the wineries of Haut-Médoc AOC and Médoc AOC were able to create wines that weren’t hugely noticeably different from previous vintages. In some cases, the 2004 wines were better than those of 2003 and 2002 (both average Bordeaux vintages).
One such winery is Château d’Aurilhac of Haut-Médoc. This 2004 is a Cabernet-dominated affair with a splash of Merlot and Cabernet Franc in the final wine. Unlike many other Haut-Médoc wines, it feels warm and youthful, most probably thanks to the limestone-pebbled soils of the Château’s estate.
Ruby red with a pink hue – amazingly still showing its youth after eleven years.
Lots of black berries but also a fair amount of Cassis. Blackberry, black cherry and a handful of red berries are immediately noticeable. A toasty oak and vanilla sense is in there as well and so too is freshly-ground espresso.
The attack is a bright red and black fruit note with lots of blackcurrant and a decent serving of Cassis. Amazingly, a certain amount of acidity is still there and the long fruit body is thick with cherries and hints at plum. The finish is woody, smoky and brings with it dark chocolate, tobacco and espresso (not to mention a hint of vanilla).
This wine tastes about five years younger than it is. You’d never be able to tell that it was from a poorer vintage and it is quite a good example as to how good some Haut-Médoc can be: especially after a few years in the cellar. Serve with lamb roast or grilled game.
There are a few things I can’t turn down: Red Toscana IGT wine is one of them. I’ve been a fan of the stuff since I can remember and, unlike most of the other production regions I favour, I can actually afford the Tuscan wines.
Whereas Tuscany might be most famous for its Chianti, Brunello and Vino Nobile, its ‘new’ wines are the most interesting: in Bolgheri for example where the traditional Tuscan practise of using pretty much only Sangiovese in winemaking has disappeared – they hardly use it at all there. Toscana IGT (literally Tuscan country wine) has little to no restrictions. Many of the producers of ‘Supertuscans’ usually blend Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah with a small amount of traditional Sangiovese to create, mellow, fruity cuvees – this is, by far, the most common approach in all non DOC and DOCG red wine from the region.
This wine is made of 70% Sangiovese and 30% ‘other varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon’. It is aged for about six months in oak. The Carpineto winery was founded in 1967 and is known for both its DOCG wines from Chianti Classico and Montalcino. Dogajolo is a flasgship product made using grapes from all over the Tuscan countryside.
Ruby red with a hint of maroon at the rim.
The initial feel is of red berries and forest fruits with a distinct note of vanilla ice cream. There are raspberries in there too and a distant but not unimportant aroma of wood.
The attack is characterised by the red berries: Cassis, cranberry and raspberry but, before their full juiciness is exposed, the vanilla kicks in – this completes the body: long, warm and elegant and leads nicely onto a balanced and hearty oak note and a long, off-sour finish.
A very warming wine and, due to its inevitable youth, one that reminds strangely of summer rather than the typical seasons one would drink red wine. I can imagine it slightly cooled, served on a balcony thanks to its freshness and the liveliness of the red fruit and yet I feel the vanilla note takes a bit too much prominence away from the red fruit too early – I think, with a few more months in oak or indeed the cellar, this wine would feel fuller – there is great potential here it wine is fantastic with both white and red meat, salad and hotpot – a rare product: a food wine suitable for pretty much anything you want to put on the table.
The flagship wine for the world-famous, Northern-Spanish producer Torres, Mas La Plana is a Cabernet Sauvignon varietal produced in the Spanish region of Penèdes inside Catalonia. Produced using grapes grown in a small vineyard comprising of only 29 hectares, Mas La Plana was an idea put into place in the late 1970s: a Spanish wine that would compete with the world-famous Cabernet-dominated clarets of Haut-Médoc and its various appellations - something which it managed to achieve in the 1980s at various blind-tasting events.
Today Mas La Plana might not be a world-leading Cabernet but it is certainly one of Spain's better classic-varietal reds. Priced at around £35-40 or 45-55€ it certainly isn't cheap - however, when you consider wines that score similarly from the Bordelaise, it does offer phenominal value-for-money and an excellent excursion into the wines of this little-known production region.
Deep purply-red with a pinkish hue and a rather oily consistency.
The nose was very classic-Cabernet and yet its fruit offered considerably more ripeness than is otherwise found in this grape: lots of Cassis to start with followed by some lucious plum. Blackberry was also rather prominent with some leather, tobacco and coffee-like aromas at the end.
To start with, the Cassis and blackberry attack felt sharp but, by the time the body came into play, it was beautifully-textured with a silky, structured feel and a varietal of red and black berries were excellently worked into the wine. The fruit was probably sharp at the start through its relative youth and whilst the tannins and spicy elements on the finish (toasty-oak, vanilla and tobacco) were very fine, a few years in the cellar would almost certainly lead to a finish fitting for the luxuriously-smooth body.
An absolute cracker: not quite as elegant as the likes of Margaux or Pauillac, it wasn't as big and bold as those Napa and Stellenbosch powerhouses that many other Spanish vintners try to replicate: decent and yet vibrant, classic but cool, Mas La Plana is undoubtedly one of the best-priced Cabernet Sauvignon varietals out there to originate from Europe - perhaps offering competition to Bolgheri rather than Bordeaux. Unfortunately I drank it a bit too early (a reoccurring problem of mine) which lead to the fruit on the attack being a little too strong. In five or ten years, this will be a 100€ Bordeaux-beater, no question!
Château d’Armailhac is a fifth Cru winery in the Médoc commune of Pauillac. Owned by a more prominent estate in the town, Château Mouton-Rothschild, the producer is the sister project of Château Clerc-Milon: also under the Baronne Philippine de Rothschild brand.
Made of the traditional varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon (54%), Merlot (29%), Cabernet Franc (15%) and Petit Verdot (2%), this wine was produced in a year of changing weather conditions. Whilst the 2008 Médoc wines aren’t, by any means, 100-pointers, I tend to find the vintage rather underrated which leads to relatively good prices: most of them are approaching drinkability now and it can be hard to find better-value, ready-to-drink, Pauillac, Moulis, Listrac, St. Estèphe, St. Julien and Margaux wines than those from 2008. Sure, those from 2006 and 2004 are cheaper but they’re nowhere near as good.
Deep pomegranate red with a thin, pink hue. The wine also appeared rather opaque as if cloudy, it wasn’t though.
Cassis, blackcurrant and blackberries were the first notes on the scene. As were the notes I’ve come to expect of Pauillac; red plums and then the unique mixture of minerals and spices. Tobacco, Espresso, Cedar, Pine and Leather were in there as well as black pepper, evergreen vegetation and much, much more.
The fruit was rather reserved at first: when it came through, it was rarely bright. The composed nature of the berries and the somewhat-missing plum notes promised in the nose left rather a great deal to be desired. The tannins though were nice and rounded and brought lovely toasted oak and fresh tobacco as well as some alpine wood and black pepper.
Whereas those mineral notes were-spot on, the fruit was rather too background for me. I’m not one for perfume-like red fruit extinguishing every known note of mineral but a little more fruit would have balanced the wine more. Nevertheless, this was a fantastic claret with a composed mineral and Cabernet-dominated structure. It served perfectly as a food wine and I wasn’t too disappointed that a few glasses remained in the decanter after dinner.
If you have a few bottles of this, it might well be ready for drinking but it will keep a few years more (2016 I’d say). Serve it with braised, roasted or grilled lamb or a seasonal game dish based on boar or venison.
(£35-50/ 40-55€ / $45-60)
-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