WINE OF THE WEEK #100
Slowly but steadily, we have arrived at wine #100 my friends!
Ain’t that amazing. 2 years of learning, tasting and writing about wine, and it feels like I only just got started to know a thing or two about grape juice.
Wine is amazing, you are amazing, and I hope this next bottle will be too.
It’s another wine from the Scurek winery (same as #097) , but this time it’s the Stara Bardja cuvée (2008) from old vines.
The blend is this time a combination of “only” four grapes:
- Cabernet Sauvignon 20%
- Cabernet Franc 20%
- Merlot 30%
- Refosk 30%
This interesting combination was aged in new and used 500liter oak barrels. And that’s information that I’ve found on the winemakers website that I like a lot. Why? Because I like my wines elegant and “grapey”. The bigger the oak barrel and the less new oak, the more the expression of ‘terroir’ and the grape will come forward, and the less you’ll be chewing on a woody vanilla stick. So many wines are killed by new oak.
I’m too curious to continue writing… I just wanna taste!
I’m loving the color. The wine shows a nice granate red and some hints of brick which means that the wine starts showing a bit of age. And overall, I got a very healthy first impression!
Wow. This nose smells like the most a very elegant female Bordeaux wine. That means I smell a very vibrant yet earthy jam of plums, cassis and cranberries.
But there is a top layer that really gets my wine vibe going. It smells like smoked pine, eucalyptus, tobacco and black pepper.
This is crazy, because according to the approach you take, you smell either a Chinon, a Pomerol or a Saint-Joseph. Truly amazing!
With such a nose, the mouthfeel is only a pleasure to taste.
The aging made the wine smooth and soft. The more herbal aspects of Cabernet Franc and I guess also the Refosk grape make the wine grippy with velvety tannins.
And the wine remains balanced, flavorful and elegant all the way.
Towards the end, the wine shows more and more resemblance with a 100% Syrah wine. The wine gets a deep purple background with notes of pepper, plum and a pine tree.
The first wine I tasted from Scurek was more of a concept wine and I could not find a connection with the wine. However, with this blend, they’ve shown me that with a little bit of tweaking, they can make an astonishing red blend.
This wine is one of the most enjoyable, most flavorful and most elegant wines I’ve tasted on my blog. The wine has the body and the pedigree of a good Bordeaux wine, but that extra layer of herbs and “nordic” freshness is just crazy.
Delicious!! Thank you Tim for showing me a hidden secret of Slovenia!
WINE OF THE WEEK #099
Merry christmas everybody!
You know what this wine blogger does on christmas day? Right, he opens up a bottle to share his thoughts with you!
It’s time for Slovenian wine nr 3 : Tressa Rdece (red) , 2009 from the Sveti Martin winery.
This wine is from the same valley as the last wine: the Vipava valley in the southwestern part of Slovenia close to the Italian border. We learned from the last wine that this valley has ideal growing conditions so grapes show good ripeness during harvest season and a lot of different red grape varieties are grown in the Vipava region.
This red blend is a good example of the varieties present in the Vipava valley : it’s a blend of Merlot and Barbera.
Merlot is known for making the ‘lighter’ Bordeaux wines of the right bank, and off course Barbera is known for making the ‘lighter’ wines in Piedmont.
Twice, these grape varieties have to stand up against more powerful wines in their home regions (Cabernet Sauvignon based wines in Bordeaux, and Nebbiolo based wines in Piedmont) but I often feel that they also can give some serious power in the glass and both grapes do not just make “table wines”.
You can really make serious juice with both grapes, so I am mega-curious to see how a blend of these 2 will turn out.
The color is a nice deep and dark purple.
Ouf, what a deep nose!
I can smell violets, cassis, blackberry, licorice, black olive, chocolate and a bit of mint.
I think this must be one of the darkest aroma’s I’ve ever had in a glass.
Darth Vader time!
I’m afraid to taste this wine. I just hope there is some acidity present to give this black hole a bit of life.
And yes, there is life! Nice.
It’s so fun when acidity kicks the aroma’s around, opening them, and makes the expression of the nose explode on your palate.
This wine is fun, very drinkable, dry and with a great balance.
What comes back after a while is a cassis & violets cream with licorice.
It’s a pleasure to find such a well defined finish in a wine.
Although the wine is interesting and has learned me a lot about both Merlot and Barbera, I don’t see why these 2 grapes together would be a great blend.
The wine is either too easy or too difficult, too light or too dark. For me, I just couldn’t find any balance, or a clear message.
So, although nothing is “wrong”, I am going for a bronze medal.
Wine OF THE WEEK #097
Let’s kick off Slovenia!
I’ll be starting with what I believe the least funky, most fruity wine of them all. For what I’ve heard about it, it should fit the category of a “lifestyle” wine. In other words, sip along with your friends without getting too nerdy about a bit of grape juice.
The wine is called Strune, from the Scurek winery in Brda, Slovenia
They are a winery very close to the Italian border, even with vineyards in Italy itself, producing around 80000 bottles a year. Check out my wine map to zoom in on the region, it is absolutely stunning!
If you look at the label, you see a cricket or “Scurek”, with a violin with five strings or “Strune”. The number five is very representative here, because the winemaker works his five plots with his five sons and last but not least, their Strune series are blends of five different grape varieties!
The grapes in their red blend are:
- Cabernet Sauvignon (20%)
- Cabernet Franc (10%)
- Merlot (30%) … so far so good …
- Pinot Noir (25%) : huh, one of the most fragile grapes amongst the “big boys of Bordeaux”
- Refosk (15%) : Never heard of it.
A bit of googlin’ learns me that I don’t know anything about Italian wines, because Refosk is actually the same grape as Refosco in Italy. Often used in wines from Gavi, Friuli, Trentino and so on, and known for high tannins, acidity and lots of dark fruit flavors.
I’m just curious how my first Slovenian experience will be…
Let’s dive in and taste!
Althout the wine is very young, there is a beautiful lightness and even a pale brown shade visible. The wine looks very fresh, healthy and interesting. What a nice start!
My first impression is : oh yes, I like this!
But the nose is a real challenge to start explaining. Overall, the wine smells delicate with notes of raspberries, dark berries, dried herbs, twigs and even something salty like an oyster clam. Because the wine is so fresh and vibrant, it almost smells crusty and not smooth like a full bodied wine.
Hold on to your seat ladies & gentleman, because you will have to survive a guerrilla acidity attack. My left and right side of my cheeks and tongue are still shaking. Wow!
If you survive the attack (my sister wouldn’t, haha) you’ll find a wine that is well balanced, very juicy and easy going.
But, it kinda threw everything in there all at once.
It’s all in the attack, not in the mouthfeel.
But here is a surprise.
A fat layer comes creeping from underneath, making the dark fruit and herbal twigs float in some coconut and mocha.
This is truly something.
I think I am right when I say that this wine is more made as a concept : one owner, five sons, five plots and five grapes. They maybe should have done only 3 plots and 4 grapes, but hey … always believe in your concept.
I’m giving this wine the silver medal, because it will bring a lot of fun to your wine table, it is very well priced for so many interesting facts and flavors. But, the balance in the mouth is a mistake. You either can forgive and empty this nice bottle, or you can be grumpy and say it’s a bad wine.
I ‘m going for the first option.
WINE OF THE WEEK #091
Hi supermarket wine shoppers,
it’s time to try out what the supermarket “Lidl” has to offer.
I picked a Bordeaux wine of €5,99 for you, it’s a wine from Chateau Guimberteau, from the Lalande de Pomerol AOC (a small region just above Pomerol).The wine is a blend from Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. My infographic on Bordeaux wines will help you understand what the grapes bring into your glass.
Actually, there is a very bad reason why I picked this wine: I don’t trust Lidl and this was the most trustworthy wine I could find.
Lidl offers all kind of wines for €2 or €3 a bottle, which is just impossible. The price of the cork, the glass of the bottle and the printing cost of the label alone are worth €2. And we did not even talk about marketing, the making of the wine itself and the distribution costs…
So, I’m sorry, but if your house wine at home retails at €2,99 in the supermarket, you are not drinking wine but drinking flavored water with some chemical alcohols in it.
And I got the feeling that this is what Lidl was trying to sell me : a headache and no wine.
If you would just add another €3 to your budget, you are entering a whole new world of interesting wines, so please just drink a bit less and a lot better.
So I went for the €6 Bordeaux wine, a region that can produce interesting wines for this kind of budget . Not always that elegant and refined, but good enough for a tasty and crunchy glass of red wine.
Let’s find out if I made the right call here…
Given this is a right bank wine, it will probably have a large amount of Merlot in it. So I’m looking for a darker color, like prune or dark cherry.
It’s difficult to say, but the wine looks a bit boring and thin. Don’t really get any hints from looking at the wine.
(I had a cold this week so my nose is not a 100%)
But, I get a dull smell of paint and curtains. I’m serious.
Swirling helps because some blackberries are joining, but overall I must say that I’m disappointed.
The wine shows a nice initial attack, with more dark fruit and some nice acidity.
But than it happens… the acidity goes away immediately and what’s left behind is a dry mouth with an awkward woody flavor. To me it shows that this wine is altered with products, and has no proper qualities. It’s a trap!
I don’t even bother to look for a finish, because a wine without a soul will not say goodbye to you.
Everything I am afraid for when I go wine shopping in the supermarket comes together in this wine. It’s a nice label, a big name and a wine from a famous region, but there is absolutely no value for your money.
Shame on you Lidl!
WINE OF THE WEEK #076
I can’t believe we are already at the last wine of the Bordeaux theme.
Behind the scenes, I have been thinking about and tasting a lot more Bordeaux wines and I am wrapping my head around the image and the feeling that I have from this very important wine region. So there is more to come in the near future regarding BDX, but for now, let’s focus on this wine.
CHATEAU SEGONZAC - AOC Blaye/Côtes de Bordeaux - Cru Bourgeois - Vieilles vignes 2009
What a mouthful!
But, I am happy, because this wine is from another “unknown” AOC within Bordeaux: Blaye. On a wine map, the town of Blaye on the right bank, is the mirror image of Margaux on the left bank.
Blaye is the blue region below.
In the history of Bordeaux, Blaye is best known for its white wine production (ugni blanc and sauvignon blanc), and for red wines with a big body. Something I find a bit strange, because right bank means a lot of Merlot, and I have the feeling that Merlot gives more elegance and less body to a wine. This bottle in particular is 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Malbec : the 3 main red grape varieties that you will find in Blaye and a typical blend.
The reason why Blaye is unknown is simple : the wines produced are very drinkable at a young age, so they never made it to the cellar of big wine collectors, critics or restaurants. No attention by the wine elite means you stay under the global radar. (until now… :) )
But, since I am looking for a wine that I can buy in the supermarket, open the same week and be blown away by. This might just do the trick.
Uncork, pour, taste!
The wine has a very deep and intense colour. Something you would expect from the old vines or “vieilles vignes”. If I look really good, I can still see some purple hints, but overall this is a nice ruby red to start with.
This is a bit of a challenge.
The nose is very closed and it feels like I am smelling a really really thick sauce, rather then something alive and fresh. (80% Merlot remember?)
Overall there are 2 components:
1. Very dark fruits: dried plum, blackberry syrup and maybe a small hint of banana.
2. Black stuff : graphite powder and chocolate sauce.
And now that I think about it, and given the fact that the wine is aged in oak barrels. Imagine a dame-blanche, the classical dessert with vanilla ice-cream and a hot chocolate sauce, covered in a very reduced, thick and sweet dark fruit syrup. And, you might want to add an extra layer of the chocolate sauce as well.
Do I like it?
The initial attack is very interesting.
While slurping along, a certain energy is released and flavours start to develop. But then all of a sudden, the balance of the wine splits in two.
High in my mouth I got a very hot and bitter alcohol feeling.
Lower in my mouth, I am waiting for the flavours, but nothing happens. It feels like the hot stuff stole the punch that the lower feeling in my mouth needed to keep the wine together.
I have never had an awkward feeling like this before.
On the finish I am feeling a bit funny. :s
I don’t really know what to say, but this wine sucks.
Strangely though, I got no signs of error on the nose. All I can say is that I feel no connection at all with the wine, and that I will never advise somebody to go out and buy this. I kinda feel like running away from it.
Let’s just move on to the next wine.
WINE OF THE WEEK #075
I am sort of in a Bordeaux vibe lately and I am starting to get familiar with the grapes, the differences in the soil, the vintages and even the different AOC’s.
The wine I am going to taste today holds the AOC “Médoc”. This is the AOC closest to the sea at the north-west top area of the left bank. What is particular for me is the classification “Cru Bourgeois” on the label.
Château Poitevin - AOC Médoc 2008
As you know or may not know, the best Médoc wineries became classified in 1855 with the famous system of ‘growths’ or ‘crus’. You have the famous first growths like Chateau Margaux or Chateau Latour, and a lot of other wineries that are classified as a first, second, third, fourth or fifth growth. The classification was simply based on the QPR of the wines, and it still is a more or less honest representation of the situation today.
However, the list of growths is quite fixed, but 160 years along the road, other wineries were established and started to grow wine. Some of them deserve a special mention and that is why they invented a secondary or parallel system : the Cru Bourgeois. In 2003, the last list was published, and there are 3 categories from high to low : Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, followed by Cru Bourgeois Supérieur and straight Cru Bourgeois.
So as a little recap, in 1855 they made a fixed list of big players. But next to it, there is a more active classification system called the “Cru Bourgeois” system. What I am going to taste thus is a normal Cru Bourgeois. So I guess it should be worth a taste :)
Be sure to check the comment of Nick below if you want to know why it is so difficult to understand french wine. :)
Some other wine facts before we start:
- 55% Merlot , 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot
- Aged 14 months in oak barrels (30% new oak)
- Soil : mainly gravel & clay
It’s always hard to tell something useful about the colour of a wine.
This one is just very dark ruby red. I notice nothing exceptional or wrong, and maybe that’s a good sign.
I am very happy again to have a merlot based wine in my glass that was not aged in new oak. This gives the fruit so much more expression in the nose, but it’s clear the oak adds complexity. Actually, the nose reminds me of an overtoasted piece of bread, some fresh butter on top of it, and a nice thick layer of a fresh fruit jam of blackberries and blueberries.
From time to time, I also got a little hint of clove, but it’s very subtle.
I really like the nose, and I guess the wine will be very drinkable.
My description of the nose is actually pretty spot on.
Imagine you had a bite of this toast with jam.
- first of all you notice the dry bread that crumbles and dries out your mouth a bit
- before you can start complaining, the butter is there to smoothen things out again
- now you start chewing, and because you picked a nice jam from the shelves in the supermarket, you bite in small pieces of fruit and you get some nice fresh fruit juice flowing in your mouth.
- you bite again to start over.
This wine is in balance just because of this experience. The different components make the wine interesting, and they all work together very well.
And now, it even gets better.
On the finish I get the same fruits as in the mouth, but at the same time a lot of almonds, even going towards marzipan.
This is another wine that keeps me busy and makes me fill my glass over and over again. Now that I look at the bottle, I notice it’s almost empty. Woops.
What I like about this wine is that everyone will enjoy it, from the untrained wine lover to the wine professional. At every stage something interesting is happening and the wines does not become boring or heavy.