Thursday, 28 February 2013

CUWS M12 - Paritua Wines

CUWS M12 – Paritua Wines
Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A tasting of Paritua Wines at Cambridge University Wine Society, presented by its winemaker Jason Stent. This relatively new winery was established in 2001, with their first vine plantings arriving in 2003 focusing on the noble grape varieties of the world. The name ‘Paritua’ comes from the local name of the stream that runs through this Hawkes Bay property. Its current winemaker, Jason Stent, was keen to stress that while at Paritua he generally tries to practice minimal intervention in the vineyard, there are some rather nifty high tech gadgetry including a heated water sprinkler system for frost prevention that covers most of his vineyards. While based in Hawkes Bay, two of Paritua’s wines (their Pinot Noir and Riesling) are sourced from Central Otago. In addition, they also incorporate another label within their stable, called Stone Paddock.

The wines are presented below in the order they were tasted. I have included their RRP (according to Paritua), but a quick google search soon reveals that most of these wines can be had for slightly less from Imbibros or Hennings Wines.

2008 Paritua Riesling, Central Otago
£18.99 | B+

Lime rind and peel on the nose, with grapefruit and hints of kerosene; whilst pleasant and attractive enough, it lacks a certain zestiness for me. The citrus fruit is gentle on the palate, generous acidity but lacking in flavour concentration; its correct but feels a touch flabby / dilute, lacks focus. Cant help thinking it could be more precise and nervy.

2009 Paritua Chardonnay, Hawkes Bay
£18.99 | B+

Attractive peachy nose, with overripe stone fruits, tending towards passionfruits and mangoes, quite sweet; significant oak treatment here, but the buttery creamy notes integrate well with the other aromas. Fat acidity, fruit is ripe and generous if a tad simple / one-dimensional, slight savoury hints too; rather short finish. I like this, its well made and quite attractive, but I feel it’s a but too pricy for what it is.

2008 Paritua Pinot Noir, Central Otago
£21.50 | B

Bright cranberry and red cherry fruit, with warming mulled spices, earthy notes and a lick of sweet oak – pretty, polished and attractive nose, great start. Sweet red fruit on the palate, medium acidity, but feels somewhat tired and flat, just isn’t bright and its lacking in concentration. The palate such a disappointment after the nose, could be a dodgy bottle?

2008 Stone Paddock Syrah, Hawkes Bay
£14.99 | B+  

Red plums and blackcurrant cordial, quite sweet on the nose, with a hint of sweet spice. Bright red fruit on the palate (red berries and plums), a lighter, easier drinking style; smooth and polished. A little too commercial for me, correct but unexciting.

2008 Paritua Syrah, Hawkes Bay
£21.50 | B+

Jammy red & dark fruit, stewed fruit / compote nose; theres fruit liquers and cassis, almost tending towards being too sweet and confected – heady stuff, slightly over the top for me. Blackcurrant fruit on the palate, theres concentration and nice texture here, medium low acidity, hint of spice and savoury touches, some sweet oak too. Correct, but again, unexciting.

2007 Paritua Red, Hawkes Bay
£21.50 | A-

This is their Bordeaux lookalike, with a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon / 32% Merlot / 9% Cabernet Franc / 5% Malbec; significant new French oak used, approx. 2500 cases made.
Dark fruit, cassis and brambles, with a hint of leafiness, fragrant spice and sweet oak; brooding, attractive nose. Plenty of ripe fruit on the palate, nice extraction and concentration; black plums and brambles, medium acidity with decent tannins. Structured and ageworthy, drink now – 2018+

2007 Paritua 21.12, Hawkes Bay
£37.50 | A-(+)

Paritua’s flagship red, a blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon / 28% Merlot / 21% Cabernet Franc; significant new French oak used, approx. 700 cases made.
Dark fruit compote, cassis and bramble notes, with hints of coffee and dusted cocoa, bit of sweet oak too; more brooding, less open and overtly fruity than its ‘Red’. On the palate, dark plums and blackberries, feels extracted; quite a large mouthfeel and heavy texture; a big wine, carries the sweet oak well. Medium acidity, plenty of fine tannins; big boned, quite muscular at the moment, certainly ageworthy; drink now – 2020+

2009 Stone Paddock ‘Isabella’ Late Harvest Semillon, Hawkes Bay
£13.99 (37.5cl) | A-

Golden amber in colour. Sweet, honeyed nose of tinned peaches and ripe mangoes; quite thick, full on, aromas. Tastes of tinned fruits again, quite intensely sweet (I’m guessing 150-200 g/l residual sugar);  texture is quite thick and hefty, but with a nice streak of acidity, alleviating the cloying feel – makes it all taste like tinned pineapples. Not shy.    


Monday, 18 February 2013

Cambridge Tasting Pt III – Seven Springs Wines

Cambridge Tasting Pt III – Seven Springs Wines

Sunday, 20th January 2013.
West Lodge, Downing College, Cambridge.

The third lot of wine at this tasting were from Seven Springs vineyards from the Western Cape in South Africa. Their UK importer is listed on the back label as Belle Epoque Wine, The Mead Barn, Coltishall, NR12 7DN. As far as I am aware, they currently do not have a UK stockist so I can’t provide retail prices. However, Tom Lewis assures me that they would be around the £10 mark.

Seven Springs Vineyards, Western Cape, South Africa

2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Correct varietal notes of citrus, hint of leafy greenness / cut grass and gooseberry, not as pungent as some Marlborough Sauv Blancs. Fruit on the palate is sweet with good acidity, quite generous in flavour but one-dimensional. A simple, well made wine - does what it says on the label.

2011 Pinot Noir ‘Young Vines I’

Fragrant, sweet red fruit, ripe strawberries and red cherries with a sweet wood / polished cedar nose too (I’m guessing theres some oak here?). Fruit is juicy yet with some crunch, ripe red cherries; forward, easy to understand but quite simple.  

2010 Syrah

More akin to Barossa Shiraz: mint / eucalyptus, with ribena pastilles, dark fruit compote and licorice – fragrant, quite heady nose. Palate lets it down, tart, unripe black cherries, lacks a bright juiciness you expect from the nose; feels fresh though.

I thought these three wines were technically well made if not slightly boring, it does what it says on the tin but doesn’t excite. I would be surprised if they were trying to retail this for much more than £10. Of the three, I was most impressed by the Pinot – I often find that entry level South African Pinot can feel cooked / hot, which this one manages to avoid. 

Cambridge Tasting Pt II – Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux

Cambridge Tasting Pt II – Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux

Sunday, 20th January 2013.
West Lodge, Downing College, Cambridge.

 The second lot of wines at this tasting were the Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux. Clarets at this level are a staple diet of Cambridge Colleges, so when Tom said that he had been sent several samples of the newly released 2010s, I procured some mature 2000s from the College Cellars for comparison. On a side note, I remember tasting quite a few of the 2010 Cru Bourgeois during the en primeur campaign in 2011, my impressions then was that quality was pretty high across the board, with plenty of sweet fruit and ripe tannins. The fruit quality was there to get good extraction and flavour; certainly a great vintage capable of long term cellaring. I was keen to see how the wines have developed now that they are bottled and ready to go.   

Bordeaux Cru Bourgeois
2010s courtesy of Alliance de Cru Bourgeois du Medoc
2000s procured from the cellars of Downing College, Cambridge

2010 Chateau La Garricq, Moulis en Medoc

Plenty of dark fruit and cassis on the nose, balanced with a sweet lick of oak; smells ripe and heady, almost a touch alcoholic. On the palate, the fruit sweet and textured; good stuffing and warmth on the mid palate, ripe tannins showing as quite silky; I think the relatively high alcohol levels somewhat masks the chewier side of the tannins. Good, well balanced wine; still very powerful, needs time.

2010 Chateau La Commanderie, Saint Estephe

Sweet fruit and cassis on the nose but with a more pronounced stalky / woody aromas; the aromas feels a bit disjointed at the moment, but it should integrate with time. Although the fruit is good, the palate is rather disappointing as the tannins feel green and astringent, gripping in all the wrong places. Feels agricultural, lacks charm.

2010 Chateau Beaumont, Haut Medoc

Dark blackberry fruit compote on the nose, with sweet woody aromas / cedar and cigar box, hints of earthy smoke too – quite alluring in all. Palate feels surprisingly thin, theres ripe sweet fruit but not enough weight and concentration; tannins are sweet and balanced. I was surprised at its lack of depth, if I remember correctly this showed rather well in the en primeur tastings a couple of years back.  

2010 Chateau Gironville, Haut Medoc

Overtly fruity on the nose, with blueberry and blackberries dominating; theres even a porty / Ribena cordial note about it, bright and voluptuous on the nose. Palate shows all the right components in check – sweet, dark fruit; fresh acidity giving it brightness and ripe but wholesome, grippy tannins. A very good claret, should age well; highly recommended. 

2010 Chateau Preuillac, Medoc

Ribena and cassis on the nose, with some notes of blackberry liquer; theres brightness and high, somewhat alcoholic notes too. Good concentration of fruit flavours, relatively high acidity, making it feel quite fresh; not as lavish as the Gironville but still a well-built wine. Has structure to allow aging.

2010 Chateau Patache d’Aux, Medoc

Fragrant, sweet dark fruit with hints of licorice, smells quite big. Disappointingly muted on the palate and lacking any weight, I’m pretty sure this is an out-of-condition sample.

2000 Chateau Patache d’Aux, Medoc

I’ve had the pleasure of tasting this particular wine several times in the past, and this wasn’t the best bottle. The slightly dusty / musty nose hints at a below-par bottle; fruit on the palate is soft and the acidity is still lively but overall, it lacks the brightness and charm I know it should have. Such a shame.

2000 Chateau Bernadotte, Haut Medoc

Sweet cedar and incense, along with a smoky hint of cigar box and sandalwood; fruit is dark but not overpowering – a fragrant, developed nose. Fruit is plush and generous, with a lovely acidity; all components integrated and balanced, this lingers on the palate surprisingly long for a humble wine. So poised, a joy to drink. Proof, if needed, that well-made humble clarets from great vintages can keep so well; still has life ahead.

2000 Chateau Lanessan, Haut Medoc

The bottle I had at the tasting was underwhelming, tired to the point of losing it altogether. I tried another bottle of this a week later, which showed its pedigree: dark fruit, with woody licorice and cedar, somewhat masculine in style. Fruit is sweet with the licorice notes following through on the palate, relatively low acidity. Drinking well now and probably wont improve further.

My overall impression of the 2010 clarets: ripe fruit was clear to see, some to the point of being almost over alcoholic; tannins were ripe too. The best, more lavish of them can be enjoyed on release but for some, I would advocate restraint, give it a few years to settle down and I think your patience will be amply rewarded. A hit rate of one in three for the 2000s doesn’t bode well in terms of consistency, yet given how well the one performed, I could almost forgive the non-performing two. Luck of the draw, I guess, but I’d probably sing a different tune if I was in a restaurant and been served two dodgy bottles in a row.

Many thanks to the Alliance de Cru Bourgeois du Medoc and Phillips-Hill, their UK PR agency for the 2010 samples.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Cambridge Tasting Pt I – Weingut Adank

Cambridge Tasting Pt I – Weingut Adank

Sunday, 20th January 2013.
West Lodge, Downing College, Cambridge.

A bit of background. I must admit, this tasting was mostly the idea of Tom Lewis, aka the Cambridge Wine Blogger (yes, its his fault, I am merely an accomplice). In one of our conversations, Tom said that he had quite a backlog of samples that he wanted/needed to try. Ideally he wanted to try them in a tasting with a few other wine enthusiasts but lacked a suitable venue, which was where I came in. So there the idea came together and materialised.

There were three distinct groups of wines to be tasted: the wines of Weingut Hansruedi Adank from Switzerland, a slew of 2010 Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux and a small selection of wines from 7Springs vineyard in South Africa. Like Tom, I’ve decided to write up the tasting in three separate blog entries, in the order they were tasted. Tom and I somewhat disagreed on the running order – we were both clear the Adank wines should be first, but I would have preferred the 7Springs to come next and end with the clarets. Call me old school if you must.

The other attendees at this tasting were a good mix, including members of the wine trade, wine enthusiasts who were keen to learn more, relative newbies to wine as well as several members of the Cambridge University Blind Wine Tasting Society’s varsity team.  

Weingut Familie Hansruedi Adank, AOC Graubunden, Switzerland
Courtesy of Patrick Adank

Tom and I met Patrick Adank (son of the Adank proprietor/winemaker, himself studying Oenology in France) when he came to Cambridge for a two-week English course late last year. He had a bottle of his top-end Pinot Noir then, which he graciously shared – my review of that wine can be found here, Tom’s here. He kindly sent over a mixed case containing a bottle each of all the wines that his family makes. I have no RRPs as these wines are not available in the UK, but their ex-cellar prices range from €15 - 35ish. 

2011 Flascher Sauvignon Blanc | A-

Sweet peachy notes followed by hints of oak and vanilla, some notes of wet stones too; its actually quite lovely on the nose. Palate is soft and delicate, with medium-low acidity but good minerally texture, think of a thicker, more textured Sancerre, with slight green leafy notes. Doesn’t scream at you like new world Sauv Blancs.     

2011 Flascher Chardonnay | B+

Thick, buttery and creamy notes; hot buttered toast, with overtly toasty sweet oak coming through, balanced with peachy fruit – pretty and certainly not shy. Palate is easy going, fruit is relatively straightforward, with decent length. But it lacks a wow factor: it doesn’t have the sophistication and poise of Burgundy yet also without the overt fruit of new world Chardonnays. I’m left confused and cant help think that it could be better.

2010 Flascher Syrah | B
(this wine was tasted last after the Pinots, it's put here as I took the picture along with the whites) 

Overtly sweet notes of vanilla and red fruits, violets and blueberries; theres some green stalky and woody characters showing too. Unfortunately, on the palate its watery and hollow; hardly any fruit, with a weird astringent finish. Given how its tasting so tired and hollowed out, I’m not entirely sure this bottle was in perfect condition. Or perhaps growing Syrah where they are is somewhat ambitious.

2011 Flascher Pinot Noir | B+

Red fruit, cranberries and red cherries with a touch of savoury bacon and woodiness coming through. Palate is soft, mostly sweet cranberries, with medium acidity; not much by way of weight; feels like a basic but well made Bourgogne Rouge from a cool year.

2010 Flascher Pinot Noir Auslese | B+

Sweet red fruit, with red cherries and raspberries dominating, some notes of confected strawberries and compote with some notes of lacquer perhaps showing some wood treatment; smells ripe and quite promising. Palate has high acidity and the fruit is sweet but rather thin, tastes a bit dilute for my liking; what was there is pretty but just not enough stuffing.

2008 Flascher Pinot Noir Barrique | B+

Red fruit with higher notes sweet spice, ethanol and lacquer with hint of blackpepper; the extra wood treatment shows but theres a slight sulphury whiff which I didn’t mind but some of the others likened it to rubber / tyres which put them off. On the palate its got a bit more weight even hints of minerality, red fruit is sweet and very smooth but it goes way too quickly, just isn’t enough length on mid palate. Feels a bit lean.    

My overall impression of these Adank wines is that theres clearly a house style where its very easy (and not unattractive too) on the nose followed by soft and smooth on the palate. I think the wines are technically well executed, though I might question the wisdom in making Syrah in Switzerland. Personally, I found the Pinots lacking fruit and weight on the mid palate, but then again I had spent most of January 2013 tasting en primeur Burgundy 2011s so perhaps my frame of reference wasn’t entirely fair. Many thanks to Patrick Adank for the wines.