Spritzig wines ?

It seems increasingly common now for wines to have some retained CO2. Almost every young Australian Riesling will have some, indeed some are almost fizzy. And over the past few months I’ve regularly encountered it in red wines of all different types, some even 10 years old, and from both New and Old World. Almost all New World Pinots have retained gas.

Personally I find it annoying, it gives the wine a slightly hard edge, but mainly it’s just distracting. I always shake it out (in the bottle), which can be a bit embarrasing in a restaurant!

I think the spritzig character is something to do with keeping the wine very cool during bottling. Does anyone know ? A google search wasn’t revealing.

Masi Tupungato Paso Doble Malbec Corvina 2003 (review)

84 points

Argentina. 13.5%

There are fears that globalisation will lead to a world of homogeneous wine. But it has also produced this, Argentinian malbec “with a percentage of slightly drived Corvina grapes”. Italian Masi winemaking with Argeninian terroir. And it shows it has that fresh acidity that is common in Italian wines, while it is definitely Malbec – something Argentina does so well. Good food wine. Young but drinkable. Now to 5 years.

Ashton Hills Pinot Noir 2004 (review)

84 points.

Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills, South Australia.

Campbell Mattinson of http://www.winefrontmonthly.com.au described it as ”Ripe and luscious and bordering on aniseed like, with churns of cherry and rhubarb and Asian spice. Lines of foresty nuance and raspberry jubes through the background. Flavour and impact. Big, warm end of town, but very good at it.”

Which is a pretty good description I think. I’m not into describing every flavour of a wine in such flowery style, but in this case I think he has caught the flavours. What isn’t conveyed so well is that this is a soft somewhat dilute wine with out of balance warm alcohol. Interesting flavours and very approachable in spite of its age – but far from vin de garde.

What concerns me is that this is the sort of Pinot that represented the upper end of Australia 5+ years ago. I don’t see a lot of signs of progress. But then at A$29 I’m probably asking too much.

Longview devil’s elbow Cabernet 2004 (review)

87 points.

Adelaide Hills, South Australia. 14.5%

A pleasant surprise. More approachable, and more stylish and complex than I’d expected. The french oak is good (and important), not too heavyhanded. The fruit is not cosmetic, though it’s young of course with cherry tones.

A pretty impressive fine cabernet. The alcohol does a great deal to make it approachable now, and will tell against it for aging. That said, I’d be interested in seeing this in 5 years time.

Good value, especially against Western Australian peers.

Chateau Reynon 2002 (review)

88 points.

Cotes de Bordeaux. 13%

Lovely open knit approachable style, lively yet nicely rich. 2002 at its best produced classic claret with fresh and pure fruit flavours. This is a different take on the vintage, less classic cabernet, but a definite success. For drinking now and over the next 5 years.

Lorinon Tinto Crianza Bodegas Breton 2002 (review)

78 points (maybe higher in a year or two)

Rioja, Spain. 13.5%

The 2001 was one of the most enjoyable everyday drinks I had last year. But this bottle reflects the much more difficult vintage in Spain. It has darkish colour, and acceptable weight, but the flavours and acid are simple and harsh. I would recommend leaving it for a year or two if you have already bought it. Otherwise I can’t really recommend buying it.

James Love Pinot Noir 2002 (review)

85 points

Alexandra, South Island, New Zealand.

Funky savoury fruit and beetroot aromas. Soft, rich, forward wine. Quite a character, lively, fun. I don’t think this is for aging, but I could well be wrong. Quite good without food. Interesting handcrafted sort of wine. Without intense concentration, hence my doubts about aging – but as I said, I could be wrong about this, it certainly has freshness still.

Here is their website.

Dominique Laurent Bourgogne 1999 (review)

89 points

Burgundy, France. 13%

Amazingly high quality for a basic bourgogne, and for the price. Dark, surprisingly so. Firm tight masculine style of pinot – very much a (Mediterranean) food wine. Nothing like the strawberry/rose pinots that usually feature around this price.

Complex, melange of flavours. A bit rustic. Drinking very well now, has really benefited from the age – I wish I had more bottles (last one).

Carruades des Lafite 2001 (review)

90 points

Pauillac, Bordeaux, France. 12.5%

2nd wine of Lafite. Is a 2nd wine used to declassify lesser fruit in order to keep the quality of the main wine high (especially in lesser vintages) ? Or is it used for marketing, to give people a lower priced taste/preview of what the main wine is like ? Presumably both reasons, which can conflict a bit when it comes to production decisions. I suppose the ideal is to make a wine, probably using fruit from younger vines, that drinks early, with less concentration and tannin but gives an indication of the house style and quality.

I don’t drink Lafite enough to know if this has been successfully achieved here. I can only comment on the wine as it is. Which is a dark red, with very pronounced classic lead pencil mineral aromas. It drinks very well, approachable yet classic austere yet flavoursome. Undeniably fine. All your guests will enjoy it. The flavours are however very linear, from start to finish there isn’t much variation. Very polished and fine then, but a little boring for it.

While maybe only a sixth or less of the price of Lafite this is still an expensive wine. I was tempted to buy another bottle but managed to secure some Leoville Barton 2002 for the same price – I think the Leoville will be a more exciting wine.

In the US this sells for US$30 – good value at this price. Drink now – 2015.

Chateau Potensac 1996 (review)

86 points

Medoc, Bordeaux, France. 12.5%

Perfectly respectiable deep colour, not opaque nor purple but a colour showing no signs of decay.

Odd, shellfish minerally nose.

Austere, minerally wine. Good body and structure, not alcoholic nor weighty, nor light or dilute. But very linear flavour structure.. steel, slate.

I am not convinced this bottle is alright, in that I did not expect such minerality. But with food it did turn well. The next bottle will be interesting to compare.

Other vintage reviews of Chateau Potensac.

St Jerome Matuka Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1998 (review)

84 points

Matuka, Auckland, New Zealand. 14%

This is the antithesis of industrial wine. First in that this is the current vintage for sale (7-8 years old). Second it is definitely handcrafted in quite a French bordeaux winemaking style. It definitely reflects its terroir (the good and the bad). And it is worth drinking for this reason and that the style is an enjoyable one.

1998 was a good vintage in New Zealand. It occasionally produced some wines of great depth and ripeness. Here there is some of this, along with some weakness in the mid palate, some dilute grapes, and some green flavours, and some hot alcohol. The greenness mingles with the classic bitterness of the winemaking style. The result is very much a table friendly wine, ready to drink now, a dry style, a touch flabby, with very limited aging potential.

It’s a good honest wine (though it has some pretentions of greatness, eg the label makes a thing of it being handpicked and unfiltered), with distinctive style for New Zealand. The sort of wine largely doomed to pick up bronze medals in wine shows – which illustrates one of the problems with wine shows.