Strange things must be afoot when I praise a Pinotage and a 2003 N. Rhone. But today we had the annual Winefreak tasting where three of Finland's best importers showed their new stuff.
I started out at Vindirekt's stalls with whites.
Billecart-Salmon Brut NV
Typically yummy. A rather full and fruity Champ but alot of fun.
Billecart-Salmon Rosé NV
But it was eclipsed by this Rosé. B-S seems to consistently make the best NV Rosé: savoury yet fruity, plummy, even mineral, with lovely balance between acids and fruit.
Josmeyer Pinot Blanc Mise du Printemps 2005
Was a pleasant wine in its purity. A bit grassy, rather neutral, with fruit obviously from a warm year, but with adequate acidity backing it up. Decent.
Josmeyer Riesling "Le Kottabe" 2004
Very nice, typical Alsace Riesling nose, limey but a bit sherbetty, oddly enough. The palate was dry and forceful, mineral. Very nice. These two certainly made me want to taste more of Josmeyer: they seem to make a rather pure type of wine!
Ostertag Gewurztraminer "Vignobles d'E" 2005
A little bit sweet (20 g/l RS IIRC), but balanced by a touch of acidity and minerality. I rarely like Gewurz, and though this is well made and tastes of Alsace Gewurz I didn't really get excited by it.
Ostertag Riesling Grand Cru Muenchberg 2004
I know Alsace Riesling is a rather forceful wine, but this was really heavy: not cumbersome in a tasting like this, but I really wonder if I could drink much more than a glass of this (reminds me a bit of Z-H in that respect). It has fantastic mineral aromas to the powerful Rieslingfruit and an interminable aftertaste. I really don't have a clear opinion on this wine: the aromas are such that I would love to love this wine, but the weight is a big question for me. What I can say for sure is that I would love to get a bottle of this to try at the table. I guess that translates to, yes, I like it?
Domaine Bongran Macon-Villages 2001
Sweet popcorn. Rather too smooth palate. Very rich. Well made for sure, and I am always happy to taste such individual wines. But that doesn't mean I'll like them. This wasn't to my taste.
Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru "Les Ruchottes" 2004
Supremely oaky, but it does have detectable minerality and lovely fruit also, so it might become harmonious with time. Fine length and fine acidity. It really does have some really fine elements, but I don't like it when they are smothered in oak.
Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne 2004
Bloody brilliant stuff! This is an absolutely magnificent white Burgundy even though my descriptors read more like a Riesling: petrol, minerals, lime. Fine and pure fruit, high acidity and minerality, perfectly delineated and supremely long and intense (though relatively light). Perhaps my favourite wine of the day.
Chave Selection Hermitage Blanc 2001
This is apparently some Négoce stuff (same as the St-Joseph Offerus if I understood), but made from Chave's own plots (I guess I did misunderstand because isn't this a bit contradictory?). Well it was a bit sweet on the nose, lacking the wonderful minerality of Chave's "own" Hermitage blanc. At 30€ its still really nice, maintaining a bit of freshness.
Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner Eiswein 2005
Bloody brilliant stuff. A bit peppery, very sweet, very intense, lovely acidity (but could always be more, lol!!). I like it very much.
Then the reds from Vindirekt:
Camille Giroud Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2004
I thought Giroud was supposed to have become all modern and spoofy with the change in winemaking? Well, this didn't give much evidence of that. It was earthy, red toned, rather light, but with nice structure. In fact it was a delicious if a bit simple Pinot.
Camille Giroud Vosne-Romanée 2003
Ok, this was sweet and over the top. Big and confected and not at all to my taste. But even this didn't have other signs of spoofulation like an approachable structure in being so young, lashings of new oak, so in other words what I didn't like seemed to have been more from the hot year rather than spoofulation. So, what is the story behind Giroud? I heard that they used need 20 years to become approachable, and these two certainly don't. Have they changed without becoming spoofulators? Or did I just miss the spoofy signs since it was so big a tasting and I'm not a super taster so I'll make mistakes when pressed for time and in such an atmosphere?
Mortet Marsannay "Les Longeroies" 2004
A really nice earthiness and vegetality lurks underneath the lashings of oak (does even the Marsannay see 100% new oak? - certainly tastes like it does...). I know that Mortet sheds its oak with age, but still this is a bit of a scary wine and (at least for now) not one bit to my taste.
Mortet Gevrey-Chambertin "Mes Cinq Terroirs" 2004
The 5 plots used to be bottled separately, but apparently not anymore. Like the Marsannay, this is hopelessly overoaked, but to be a bit positive, it does have nice fruit and some savoury notes like vegetality and I maybe caught sight of minerality. Unfortunately the oak smothers almost everything - even the acidity on the mid-palate isn't noticable. The aftertaste is however remarkably fresh and acidic and actually very nice. For this sort of aftertaste, I can almost deal with all the other stuff.
Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage 2004
The nose is a bit too sweet for my taste, seeming almost honeyed and South Rhoney. The palate is, however, magnificent: dry and mineral, with lovely noticable tannins, but also great fruit - very savoury and unmistakably Syrah! Odd thing the nose though. I do like the taste very, very much.
Chave Selection Hermitage Rouge "Farconnet" 2001
A nicely sweet, Syrahy nose with all the usual suspects of black olive and garrigue and savoury fruit. Very nice, but not complex. At the price of 30€ or so I won't complain.
Jamet Cote-Rotie 2003
The nose is as classic CR as can be - though obviously from a warm year. It has olives, bacon and peach, lovely savoury fruit and even earth and minerals! The palate shows the warm year more in being a bit sweeter than I hoped, but it does lack the unripe tannins I find in too many wines and has acidity. The person at the desk told me that Parker said that it is acidified, but who cares? If it was acidified, it worked, as it brought the wine the required freshness and balanced and it certainly didn't taste manipulated in any way. I like this very much.
Coudulet de Brettcastle 2003
Raisins. Not as badly over-ripe as some other 2003s I've had, but certainly not a wine that I'll be in a hurry to drink again soon despite me loving Mourvèdre and this having a fair amount of it.
Brettcastle CdP 2003
The noticable Mourvèdre usually makes Brettcastle my favourite CdP (well, actually, the only CdP that I genuinely seem to like). This certainly had that aspect noticable, but it was a bit raisiny - again not as badly as expected. This is certainly in the drinkable range for me despite my tastes running to cooler vintages, but I won't go out of my way to taste it again.
St. Cosme Gigondas 2004
Vegetal (=nice), raisiny and too sweet (=not nice). Frankly it tastes a bit spoofy. Well made for sure, just not to my tastes.
St. Cosme CdP 2004
Again an overly sweet nose, but the palate had really nice and abnormally noticable levels of tannins and acidity for CdP, which made the palate IMO much more harmonious than usual with this area. It was of course sweet, candied, and not to my taste, but this is still a very fair representative of CdP.
Remelluri Reserva 2001
Yum! Red toned, leathery and earthy. Seems like a classically styled Rioja to me! And here I was despairing that no one was making good old style Rioja anymore. A very happy find!
Palacios Remondo La Vendimia 2005
Made by Carbonic Maceration and smells like it. Very fruity and upfront: Anna Nicole Smith before her expiration date. Not really to my taste.
Pétals del Bierzo 2005
The Mencia of Palacios. A bit closed and obviously young and modern in style, but balanced, sweetly fruity, but has some vegetal aromas and ok acidity. I like it. (See? I'm not always opposed to modern style wines!!!)
Allegrini Valpolicella 2005
I think it was Jan-Tore who told me that Allegrini might be more to my taste in Veneto that other producers. He was right. This had red berries, earth and had a hefty dose of savouryness to counter the sweet fruit. Nice!
Allegrini La Grola 2003
Some earth, but rather dark toned and very sweetly fruity. A good wine which doesn't too badly show the heat, but is still not to my taste.
Allegrini Amarone 2001
Sweetly herbal and dark toned nose with lots of earth. Sweetish but savoury enough taste. Certainly more drinkable to my tastes than previous Amarones I've tried. But I'm still not convinced that this area makes wines for me.
Flaccianello della Piave 2003
Smells like savoury chocolate. The palate is almost as thick as syrup. I really love the savoury notes of this wine, but why does everything have to be so badly over the top? Oh, yes, that's right: 2003. I would love to taste this wine in a cooler vintage - it might actually be to my taste!
From Maremma, made by Foradori. A well made wine, but rather anonymous and "international" and showing much more sweet fruit than I would like. I was shocked to hear that this has lots of Cabernet Franc! There wasn't the tiniest sign of any Cab Francyness!!! Is this true, or did the supremely informed staff make a mistake here?
Di Majo Norante Contado Aglianico 2003
It is vegetal for sure, but that's about the only thing that will make this seem like Aglianico to me! It's still a pretty nice wine in the weighty style, but has adequate acidity also. A success for the year and one that I'll happily drink a couple glasses of.
Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2005
Pretty nice, but smokier and oakier than I remember previous vintages to have been. Or have I just become less tolerant to oak? Nice vegetal and sweetly fruity and typically Pinoty fruit. Sure, I'll drink it!
Bonny Doon Syrah Le Pousseur 2003
I think I wrote of some previous vintage, that this is remarkably Old World in style. This vintage, however, tasted more like cheap Aussie Shiraz to me. Tarry and with superficial sweetness. I'll pass, thank you.
Then I had a couple wines from Tampereen Viinitukku
Collet Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 2002
Sweet fruit, fine acidity, a bit mute, but seemingly a true enough though a little unexciting Chablis.
Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Gueberschwir 2002
Lovely Riesling aromas, lovely minerality, too weighty - though I'll admit it isn't as weighty as most Z-Hs I've tasted. This might just be a bottle that I could manage to actually drink and not just to taste. Since it has such lovely Rieslingy aromas, I'd gladly do an experiment with this at my dinnertable!
Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Winzenheim 2001
A true and typical nose of lychee and some minerals. The palate is powerful, dry, mineral and a fascinating wine to taste, but not something I am sure I could handle on the table. I was totally sated with one sip.
Mongeard-Mugneret Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru "Boudots" 2001
I like M-M and I like 2001. It was vegetal, beet-rooty, mineral but with fine fruit and acidity. It was a bit lacking in intensity and nervosity, but was a nice sip.
Mongeard-Mugneret Grands-Echezeaux 2002
A lovely wine. Leafy, vegetal, earthy, fantastically intense and "nervous".
Kanonkop Pinotage 2003
This had the Pinotage funk, but it wasn't such a cumin-bomb as so many are. The fruit was certainly too ripe for my tastes, but at least this was drinkable!
Kanonkop Estate Wine Paul Sauer 2002
I understand that this isn't a great vintage? Well, I like it. A rather European feel to the wine with a lovely leafy, lifted, savoury nose of cassis. The palate is a bit sweet but well balanced. A joy to drink though it isn't terribly complex.
Sta Lucia Torrontes 2005 & Quara Torrontes 2005
Two separate wines, but I couldn't distinguish anything between them. A fruity nose with some savoury sea-breeze elements. Dry palate, lacking in acidity, lacking in life. Not very interesting.
Then some wines from Belmondo
Aldo Conterno Barolo Cicala 2001
A superb wine if you don't mind a bit of modern style. Liquorice and earth and true Nebbiolo red toned fruit and vegetality. The palate is sweet and suprisingly approachable.
Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia 2001
A more old world style wine than the Cicala: a bit more vegetal, a bit less liquorice, a bit less sweetness, more restrained, and to my taste all the better for it.
Paolo Scavino Barolo Cannubi 2001
Vegetal and sweetly fruity, obviously a modernist, but is still making good stuff. Lacks the complex earthiness I like, but it is beautifully aromatic. Nice stuff.
Scavino Barolo Carobric 2001
A bit more modern and more liquorice than the Cannubi. And the worse for it IMO.
Scavino Barbera d'Alba 2001
A really nice, savoury and tangy Barbera.
Spinetta Ca' di Pian Barbera d'Asti 2003
Obviously from a year I don't like: sweet, massive, not very harmonious. Tastes flat due to insufficent acidity.
Spinetta Gallina Barbera d'Alba 2004
Lovely, savoury, tangy acidity, some oak, but gladly there is all the other stuff also. Pretty thick and weighty, but fine.
Spinetta Barbera d'Asti Superiore Bionzo 2003
Earthy, but simplistically fruity and unbalanced due to insufficent acidity.
Spinetta Pin 2003
Very chocolatey, sweet, but tangy and with surprisingly good acidity. Not bad, but very modern.
Spinetta Barbaresco 2002
A good wine for the year. It is earthy and has much red toned fruit. Massively tannic, but it does have nice fruit to support it. I rather like it, though it isn't a very showy wine.
Spinetta Barbaresco Valeirano 2000
Nice enough wine, slightly raisiny and chocolatey, but still the Nebbiolo is very evident. Not as badly oaked as I expected.
Spinetta Barolo Campè 2000
Deep, forceful and vegetal. Very nice wine.
Spinetta Barbaresco Gallina 2000
Very deep and earthy wine, seems like Nebbiolo, isn't overdone, but does show a warm year.
Barbaresco Starderi 2003
My first 2003 Barbaresco! A bit raisiny and sweet as expected, but does have typical Barbaresco aromas. This is a bit heavy-handed for sure, but isn't an anomaly.
Pelissero Long Now 2003
Chocolate. Sweet. Yikes.
Pelissero Barbaresco Nubiola 2001
A pretty nice Barbaresco, red toned, earthy, but with a curious Cidery note to it.
Pelissero Barbaresco Vanotu 2001
Big, sweet nose, but still true to the variety. Dry but fruity palate. Very nice.
I was a bit surprised that these "modernists" were making some pretty nice wine. Sylistically I'll still prefer some old style producers like (Cavallotto comes to mind, e.g.), but I admit that these four producers are making some stunning wines.
Jermann Pinot Grigio 2004
A little bit too sweet nose, but otherwise quite the ideal PG. I like it (not something I often say of this variety).
Jermann Vintage Tunina 2004
Pure, clean, mineral yet fruity nose. Similar palate: light yet precice. I like it very much.
Quite an interesting tasting.
I don't drink wine because of religious reasons ... only for other reasons.