Chatting to John Fiola yesterday, he posed a question about a name for Zinfandel that none of us chatting could answer - it was not one of the synonyms that readily roll off the tongue. The answer was so obscure, I've lost it. John knew the answer because he had in his hands the hefty new tome, Wine Grapes (a complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties including their origins and flavours) by Jancis Robinson MW, Julia Harding MW and José Vouillamoz. He bought his copy on the day it was released!
Coincidentally, at the beginning of November Julia was one of three guest overseas judges at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards and I was privileged to be invited by Julia to a wine tasting held after the awards were completed and before she left NZ to return to the UK. The premise was each of us bring along a bottle of obscure wine. Whoever brought along the best quality / rarest wine would win a copy of the book that Julia had arranged to be shipped out to New Zealand. Sadly, that was not me.
Anyway, I posted the brief notes that follow to my blog and suggested to John FIola I would post them here. So many blogs on the Internet these days, easier to just reproduce here, so ... these are the wines in the order I tasted them. If the grape variety is in the wine's name, it is underlined.
Rippon Vineyards Osteiner 2010 - Central Otago, NZ
Just 1-ha in New Zealand, and 1-ha in Germany, makes Osteiner very rare indeed. This light bodied wine is floral, fresh and fruity with lively acidity when chilled.
Bodegas Terras Gauda La Mar 2009 - Rias Baixas Spain
Golden coloured with a smoky aroma, this aromatic wine has lovely concentration and tropical fruit freshness, a toasted lime and coconut allure and an earthy, flinty undercurrent. Made from 85% Caino Blanco, 10% Albarino and 5% Loureiro, this was one of my favourites and a deserving book winner.
Saladini Pilastri Pecorino 2011 – Offida, Italy
A little wet wool / lanolin nuance to the bouquet, concentrated bright palate with a full-bodied finish, reminiscent of a good, textural Pinot Gris but with fresh salivating salinity.
Rebula 2000 Slovenia
Made from 100% Rebula, this clear amber gold-coloured wine seemed oxidised and past it to me but Julia said it was ‘the style’ and she enjoyed it.
Domaine Belluard Les Alpes 2009 – Vin de Savoie, France
100% Gringet. Almond scent, quite leesy in palate with slightly rancid nut flavours.
Domaine Belluard Le Feu 2009 – Vin de Savoie, France
Same producer, same variety as previous wine (100% Gringet) but such a contrast in style, this emanates a fuller, fatter more enticing aroma. Flinty in the palate with a chalky texture and a fresh citrus (lemon / lemonade) finish.
Les Cretes Petite Arvine 2009 – Valle d’Aosta, Italy
Golden in colour with a rich bouquet and textural palate full of fleshy stonefruit, an underpinning of lime and a fresh, lively finish. I think this was the other book winner as it turned out two books had been couried to NZ.
ManzWine Cheleiros Dona Fatima Jampal 2011 – Vinho Regional Lisboa, Portugal
Poached pear and baked apple scent, rich in the palate, a little gravelly but the fruity traits prevail, finishing dry with a touch of salinity. Some question as to whether marginally corked, but look past that to find a fascinating wine.
Pyramid Valley Savagnin Rose 2010 - Marlborough NZ
My favourite of all the whites, this has a rich concentrated aroma and an equally concentrated palate. It’s dry with textural complexity, light mouth-coating viscosity, stonefruit nuances, wild yeast flavours and a slightly salty finish. Savagnin Rose is described on the bottle as a non-musqué progenitor of Gewurztraminer.
Quinta dos Roques, Alfrocheiro Preto 2007 – Dao, Portugal
Purple violet. Earthy savoury and very dry with noticeable tannins and underlying acidity indicating the wine still needs time, but there is a delectable salty savouriness that says this wine would be excellent with the right food.
Suhu Punta Leo Gracin Babic 2008 – Croatia
A dark red wine with a ‘pongy’ aroma that reminding me of NZ reds of 25+ years ago. But that’s where the similarity ends. A clean, fruity wine with a touch of spice and underlying acidity.
Silver Heights Family Reserve 2009 - Ningxia, China
A Bordeaux blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10%, Cabernet Genischt (the rare one), this to me had a deep Bordeaux varieties scent accented with pencil shavings. Dark in colour and dry in the palate with earth, herbs, stewed red fruit and a peppery bite, it’s a wine that needs to accompany food.
Bodega Mustiguillo Finca Terrerazo El Terrerazo 2010 - Utiel Requena, Spain
This has a deep saturated purple red colour with earth, dried herbs, dried currants, vanilla on the nose and a juicy sweet-fruited palate with a touch of pepper and underlying vanillin oak. Made from Bobal, which contributes to much of the bulk wine in Spain, it is obscure as fine wine. Becoming more and more concentrated in the glass, this was my favourite red.
Les Cretes Vigne la Tour Fumin 2005 – Valle d’Aosta, Italy
Violet red, pencil shavings on nose, firm yet fine tannins, slightly oxidative style.
Foradori Teroldego Rotaliano 2008 - Alto Adige, Italy
Deep earthy wine with underlying acidity, firm tannins, some minor Bretty notes,
Trentham Estate Noble Taminga 2008 – Big Rivers, NSW, Australia
Golden coloured, richly aromatic, bright acidity in the palate to tame the concentrated raisin-like flavours. Orange peel and marmalade on the finish. This was the wine I took becuase I knew it was extremely rare and I knew where to procure a bottle. Taminga ia a grape variety 'developed' in Australia by the CSIRO, to produce a white grape that retains its acidity in the hot climate areas, consequently it works well as a sweet wine, but only a couple of producers making it AFAIK.
There are two versions of the book, the US version and the UK version. Evidentally the only difference is the slip case and cover design - the text is identical. Even so, the US version is $20 cheaper through the online book store here - with free international delivery to boot.
Hope you have enjoyed reading ... and hopefully John Fiola will post that name for Zinfandel.