Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Babich Wines

04 September 2015

Babich Wines at Por Que No, Jakarta

A selection of wines from Babich Wines of New Zealand presented by James Cutfield, their Export Manager for South East Asia. The wines were served as a wine tasting with tapas generously hosted by Por Que No, a new chic Spanish Tapas restaurant in Jakarta. In Indonesia, the Babich wines are exclusively imported and distributed by PT Dwimitra Sukses Perkasa.

A short introduction to Babich. Still a family-owned winery whose production volume places them in the top 10 in New Zealand. Given the domination of massive wine estates owned by huge drinks conglomerates, this makes it a particularly laudable accomplishment. In 2016 they are to be a century old, and long may it continue too. A peek through their website reveals the enormous range of wines they produce (and across various regions), based on two wineries in Auckland and Marlborough. Most of their grapes are sourced from their own vineyards, with some bought in on long term (mostly handshake) contracts. The wines are written in the order they were presented.

2014 Babich Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Straight out of the glass, gooseberry on the nose with bags of lemon peel coming through, hints of greenness too with lime and green bell pepper notes, followed by some under-ripe guava: a classic if not expected nose. Lemony and juicy on the palate with lip-smacking fruity acidity, the flavors just cleanly races through; light, refreshing and very drinkable, makes you reach for another glass. Well executed and shows typicity of origin.

2014 Babich Marlborough Pinot Gris

Higher notes on the nose; high citrus notes, spritz and almost air-freshener like (in a good way); bit of green apple peel hidden behind the citrus. Lemon on the palate again with soft acidity; tastes dry, with pithy hints of ripe stone fruits (without the sweetness) and a mid palate that tries to be bigger and more rounded, perhaps at the expense of definition. Definitely Alsace Pinot Gris and not new world Pinot Grigio in style; easy-drinking and well made but maybe a bit unsure for my liking.

2014 Babich Hawke's Bay Chardonnay

Citrus on the nose with some tropical notes, feels generous. Palate is lemony and rounded; simple, clean stone fruit flavours showing with no oak influence. There some width in the mouthfeel and the acidity doesn’t just race through, it lingers slightly. An approachable, food friendly wine. Textbook New World unoaked Chardonnay.

2013 Babich Marlborough Pinot Noir

Sweet red currants and cranberry on the nose, some violets and damsons too, with red plums; a whiff of volatiles and initially feels a bit hot.  Light extraction, shimmeringly pale and see through in the glass; flavours are of slightly unripe red cherry and currants laced with fresh, fruity acidity. Light and nimble, a cheerful (can I say gluggable?) Pinot; stylistically reminds me of a young Chorey les Beaune.
Top tip: enjoy this wine slightly chilled (which we did), the volatiles are dampened and the bright fruit really shines through.             

Overall, all of the wines felt correct and well executed if perhaps unexciting. All of them show typicity of origin, lightness of touch and a desire to let the fruit speak unhindered . Honestly, you dont get that enough these days. However, fact remains that these are entry-level wines and understandably so. Babich are new to the Indonesian market and these entry-level wines are the forerunners, I’m sure in due course they will ship their mid-level and premium labels here too. And from what I have seen, one can wait with anticipation and excitement.   

Thursday, 3 September 2015


General, 04 July 2015

2008 Clonakilla Viognier, Canberra District, Australia
sourced in 2013 from Wine Exchange Asia, Singapore

Classic Viognier on the nose: sweet stone fruits of peaches and nectarines, honeyed floral notes; its almost textbook Viognier, sweet, voluptuous and fragrant on the nose, all very inviting. On tasting, it is somewhat flat on the mid palate, a bit of drying pith too; fruit is muted and hidden, mouthfeel disappointingly thin. Age has not been kind to this wine, its dried out and past its best. Such a shame, the nose promised so much.

2005 d'Arenberg 'The Laughing Magpie' Shiraz Viognier, McLaren Vale, Australia
bought on release in UK, stored in professional wine fridge since release

Sweet jam, red berry / currants compote on the nose; initially smells quite hot / cooked and some high alcoholic notes (which thankfully blows away after a while). Secondary aromas of oily smoked bacon, violets and whiffs of pepper come through towards the end. Palate still plump and fruity, mostly red fruits now with gentle rolling acidity; in all, it feels rounded, fresh and almost light. A cheerful wine.
Quite the anti-thesis of the Clonakilla above, a decade on and this wine has aged gracefully: I remember the times when this very wine was all about the jammy dark berries and plums (previous blog entries might even attest to this), but those times have changed. Like meeting a cherished old friend, always glad to catch up and see what things have changed.  

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

FHI 2015 Part 1 - Cullen Wines

A pleasant surprise at the Food and Hotel Indonesia 2015 trade fair (Jakarta, 15-18 April 2015). To be honest, I wasn't expecting much by way of quality wine at this trade fair, so imagine my delight at seeing these trio of Cullen wines of Margaret River, Western Australia presented by Trevor Kent, winemaker at Cullen wines. Apologies if my tasting notes seem less detailed than is frankly expected at Vinoremus - I was after all, tasting out of small plastic cups (heresy, I know). The wines are written in the order they were tasted.

2012 Cullen 'Mangan Vineyard' Sauvignon Blanc Semillon

54% Sauvignon Blanc, 43% Semillon and 3% Verdelho. Very small percentage spent some time in oak.
Tangy and zingy on the nose, with fresh grapefruit, unripe lemon and green lime showing to the fore. If there was some oak treatment, it doesnt really show on the nose. On the palate, fresh and taut, with confident but not overpowering acidity as the backbone; plenty of fruit to flesh out the mid palate, good lick of minerality too. At the moment still rather tightly-knit, some hint of width from the Semillon begining to show. Well-structured, very together and drinking beautifully now, but I would expect it to be more exciting with time in bottle (now through to 2025). Great expression of Western Australia Sem/Sauv Bl blend.

2010 Cullen 'Mangan' Malbec Petit Verdot Merlot

38% Malbec, 32% Petit Verdot and 30% Merlot. Wild yeasts, vinified in tank, no oak.
Red fruits dominant on the nose: red plums and red cherries, with some secondary aromas of violets and sweet spice beginning to show. Theres a generous amount of plush fruit on the palate, still vibrant and primary; good acidity and yielding tannins. Such is the balance that everything feels in place like it belongs, nothing out of joint, and mercifully only 13% abv. Drinking well now, but will keep to 2020+.

2010 Cullen 'Diana Madeline'

A 77/10/6/4/3% blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Fully biodynamic. Vinified  in oak, some new.
Primary fruits on the nose: plums, blackberry and blackcurrant. Theres a sense of brooding depth to this (even through the damned small plastic cups), with cocoa, sweet spice and some graphite thrown in the mix. Plenty of fruit on the palate too. Its not powerful (in the knock-you-out-of-the-park-for-six kind of way) but it has weight, texture and persistence on the palate (more like a confident, elegant cover drive seemingly effortlessly reaching the ropes, if you get the comparison). Again, great balance of acidity and fine-grained tannins, framed for the long haul. Utterly compelling, such harmonious elegance and poise. Approach from 2020 and comfortably through 2040.  

Whilst the flagship Diana Madeline needs little introduction, it does carry with it a certain degree of expectation - I am delighted to report that this stupendous 2010 effort cleared them with room to spare. The two Mangans were impressive in their own right and certainly worth a shout-out; particularly for me, both felt well-integrated and showed such balance. Seems to be a thing about these Cullen wines: the sum speaks louder than its parts, yet all in tuneful harmony.