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My wine of the week this week is Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia Reserva Blanco 2005

My wine of the week this week is Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia Reserva Blanco 2005

Winery : R. Lopez de Heredia

Where : Rioja Alta sub region of Rioja

Viña Tondonia is a beautiful vineyard of over 100 hectares, situated on the right bank of the river Ebro, where the most typical Rioja wines are grown. The winery is based in the small town of Haro close by.

The grapes : 100% Viura (Otherwise known as Macabeo)

Macabeo  There are few universal truths about how Macabeo tastes; the wines can be fresh, floral and aromatic when harvested sufficiently early and aged in stainless steel, but weighty, honeyed and nutty when aged in oak and harvested slightly later as with this wine.

Macabeo must (freshly pressed grape juice containing the skins, seeds and stems of the berries) is quite resistant to oxidation, due to its high levels of antioxidant resveratrol monomers (trans-piceid, cis-piceid, trans-resveratrol, and cis-resveratrol). This made it a traditionally popular option with winemakers in Rioja, where barrel aging is relatively common and inevitably involves a certain amount of oxygen exposure.

It is a fairly straightforward grape to cultivate, although it is susceptible to disease and in particular to downy mildew and grey rot.

How is this wine made :

The harvest is carried out by hand to avoid that the grapes breaking, rupturing or spontaneously fermenting prior to arriving at the winery. Fermentation takes place in small oak vats using native yeasts from the vines for 7 days. Fermentation takes place without the skins, to avoid excessive colouration.

Viña Tondonia Reserva Blanco is aged for 6 years in 225litre capacity Bordeaux oak barrels, made at the winery in its own coopery.  While the wine is ageing, it is racked twice a year.  Following the ageing process, it is bottled without being filtered, but is clarified using fresh eggs.

Terminology :

Reserva white wines are aged for at least 2 years with at least 6 months in oak barrels

Rioja alta – Rioja Alta is one of three sub-regions of Spain’s celebrated Rioja wine region, along with Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja. It occupies the westernmost portion of the region, with the majority of its vineyards lying south of the Ebro River. Rioja Alta centers on the historic town of Haro, where a number of well-known wineries are located. The town also plays host to an annual wine festival in June

Soil type : The soil is made up of alluvial clay with a high limestone content

How does this wine taste to me : Almost of orange, deep honey, sophisticated and aged.  An incredible wine

The Label : Ultra distinctive, authentic, and shows the real depth of heritage and tradition behind this wine

MY WINE OF THE WEEK THIS WEEK IS CAVA MARTA, RESERVA VINTAGE 2015 BRUT

MY WINE OF THE WEEK THIS WEEK IS CAVA MARTA, RESERVA VINTAGE 2015 BRUT

My wine of the week this week is Cava Marta, Reserva Vintage 2015 Brut

Winery : Ramon Canels

Where : Penedès.  Located southwest of the Spanish city of Barcelona, the Penedès DOC wine appellation straddles two coastal provinces—both that of Barcelona, in the north, and Tarragona further south. Penedès is known not only for still wines, but for sparkling ‘Cava’.  This is confusing – The Cava DOC is effectively the same area as the Penedès DOC area, but also includes a small number of other villages in Aragon, Castile and León, Extremadura, La Rioja, Basque Country, Navarre and Valencia.  So a Cava wine made in Penedes could use the DOC Penedes (but not call itself Cava) or use the Cava DOC, or use both on its label.

The grapes : Parellada, Macabeo, Xarel-lo

Macabeo (30%) is the white wine grape that drives flavour in Cava.   The wines can be fresh, floral and aromatic when harvested sufficiently early and aged in stainless steel, but weighty, honeyed and nutty when aged in oak and harvested slightly later.

Parellada (20%) is native to the hills of Catalonia, effectively the only place it is grown – of Spain’s 20,000 acres of Parellada vines, just 5 percent are located outside Catalonia.  Parellada brings aromas of blossom and green apple and is thought to be the perfect grape to support Macabeo

Xarel-lo (50%) is valued by winemakers for the acid structure it brings to wines, and stands out as one of Spain’s finest white-wine varieties. It has thick skins, is high in polyphenols, and its juice offers an excellent balance of sugars and acids. It is largely responsible for the age-worthiness of the finest Cavas.

This combination of grapes indicates the significance of blending in the wine.  Each one brings a different role to the wine.

How is this wine made : Cava is made using the same method as Champagne.  A Spanish wine maker travelled to Champagne, where he learnt the method and brought it back to the region in the late 1800’s.

In Summary

  1. The grapes are harvested early to maintain high acid levels and sorted to ensure only the highest quality fruit is used
  2. Each grape varietal is gently pressed and then fermented in stainless steel tanks
  3. These are blended together.
  4. The blended wine is bottled and a mixture of sugar and yeast is added to each bottle to ignite the secondary fermentation in the bottle. It is sealed with a crown cap (similar to what you see on a beer bottle).
  5. The bottles are placed on their sides in a cellar and the secondary fermentation takes place.  The CO² (carbon dioxide) produced during the secondary fermentation (from the conversion of sugar to alcohol) remains trapped inside the bottle and blends into the wine as tiny bubbles
  6. The bottles rest “sur lie” (meaning, resting with the dead yeast cells inside each bottle) which adds complexity (mainly the toasty/brioche notes associated with traditional method sparkling wines).
  7. The dead yeast cells are collected in the neck of the bottle (through a process called “riddling“) and removed from the bottle (through a process called “disgorgement“).
  8. From there the wine (and dead yeast cells) in the neck of the bottle are frozen in a bath of freezing brine. The cap on the bottle is removed, and the frozen sediment is forced out!
  9. The “dosage” is a mixture of still wine and sugar that is quickly added in after the sediment is disgorged and before the cork is put in place. The added sugar determines the desired sweetness of the wine (brut nature, brut, seco, dulce, etc!)
  10. In this particular wine, the second fermentation to “dosage” takes 24 months.

Terminology : There are seven different sweetness levels of Cava

Brut Nature: 0-3 grams of residual sugar per litre.

Extra Brut: 3-6 grams of residual sugar per litre.

Brut: 6-12 grams of residual sugar per litre.

Extra-Seco: 12-17 grams of residual sugar per litre.

Seco: 17-32 grams of residual sugar per litre.

Semi-Seco: 32-50 grams of residual sugar per litre.

Dulce: 50+ grams of residual sugar per litre.

Soil type : Penedès is blessed with nearly ideal conditions for vine cultivation. Soils are primarily limestone and clay, and the climate is generally mild and warm

How does this wine taste to me :

The Label : Classic straightforward and clear

 

So, my wine of the week this week is Terroir Sense Fronteres – Brisat 2017

So, my wine of the week this week is Terroir Sense Fronteres – Brisat 2017

So, my wine of the week this week is Terroir Sense Fronteres – Brisat 2017

Winery : Terroir Sense Fronteres

Where : Monsant

To understand DO Montsant one needs to be intimately familiar with its geography, as confusion comes easy here.  To be clear, both D.O. Montsant and D.O.Q. Priorat are located within the political region of Priorat (demarcated by the dotted line on the map). Additionally true, D.O. Montsant forms a perfect ¨C¨ around D.O.Q. Priorat (area in white), thereby making the two inseparable in conversation if we are understand the region in its totality. Serra de Montsant, a major mountain chain running from the NE through the NW of both wine appellations is also a source of confusion, as it is a major player in craft wines of both regions.

A very unique and differentiating characteristic of Montsant is its smorgasbord of soil types, altitudes and climates. Unlike DOQ Priorat, with its famous slate soils, DO Montsant primarily consists of lime clay soils throughout the region, with a spattering of sandy granite in the south and lime and granite in the north, along with odd batches of slate in between.

 

The grapes : 75% Grenache Blanc and 25% Macabeo,

Grenache Blanc (Garnacha Blanca in Spain) is the light-skinned mutation of Grenache Noir. It is native to northern Spain.  The light-golden, straw-colored juice of Grenache Blanc is increasingly produced as a varietal wine, though its use as a softener in a blend is still more common. It typically displays green-apple and stonefruit aromas and a fat texture. However it is considered to be very sensitive to terroir so can show considerable variation. Extra care is needed to avoid oxidation.

Macabeo (or Viura in Rioja) is a white wine grape used on either side of the Pyrenees, in the north and east of Spain and the southernmost reaches of France.   The wines can be fresh, floral and aromatic when harvested sufficiently early and aged in stainless steel, but weighty, honeyed and nutty when aged in oak and harvested slightly later.

Spain is unquestionably Macabeo’s homeland, most obviously the northern regions. It is the principal ingredient in white wines from Rioja, where the locals call it Viura.

How is this wine made : harvested from vines growing in clay and sandy soils in the valleys of the DO Montsant. In a typically Burgundian style, the grapes are fermented in whole clusters, without first being destemmed and using exclusively native yeasts that appear naturally on the fruit. They are then left to macerate on skins for two weeks, resulting in something similar to an orange wine, with plenty color, tannin and character.

The wine is aged in stainless steel vats for a period of 6 months. The lack of oak used in the aging process allows the distinctive Mediterranean characteristics of the Montsant terroir to shine through.

Terminology : Brisat – Grapes are fermented and macerated with the skins, the stems and the seeds. This old local technique results in what in Catalan is called a “brisat” white wine

Soil type : Clay and sandy soil

How does this wine taste to me : Almost orange! Well textured wine with notes of nuts, dried herbs and apricots.  Hints of oxidation, almost sherry like.

The Label : Classic straightforward and clear

Pietradolce – Etna Rosato – 2018

Pietradolce – Etna Rosato – 2018

So, my wine of the week this week is Pietradolce – Etna Rosato

Winery : Pietradolce

Where : High altitude vineyards on Mount Etna in Sicily.  Mount Etna, or Etna, is an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily, Italy, in the Metropolitan City of Catania, between the cities of Messina and Catania.

 

The grapes : 100% Nerello Mascalese.  Nerello Mascalese is a late harvesting grape creating light coloured wines that display a red fruit character and gentle tannins – allowing the wines to be approachable at a young age, but also suitable for ageing.  Noticeable in the wine this grape produces is essence of the soil, with distinctive minerality, and earthy yet fresh feel,

The variety takes its name from the Mascali plain between Mount Etna and the coast where it is thought to have originated – a small portion of older vines predate the phylloxera epidemic of the 1880s. The prefix Nerello refers to the black color of the grapes, and is shared by Nerello Cappuccio

Nerello Mascalese is a late-ripening variety, and most vines are trained in the traditional bush-vine method, which works well in the terroir.

How is this wine made : Soft pressing and fermentation in steel vats

How does this wine taste to me : Rich, fruity, intense and complex style of rose – very different to provence style lighter rose wines.  Vibrant crunchy redcurrant, good acidity.  Super refreshing on a hot summer’s day.

How does this wine taste to team Wine Parlour : Soft ripe nectarine, cranberry and a vibrant crunchy red current – dry and delish!!

The label : quite recognisable, although I am not sure what this is or how it relates to the feelings I have for what is inside the bottle

The Rhone

The Rhone

On Sunday Evening my wife and I decided to go to a restaurant and enjoy a family favourite – steak and red wine!  After we looked at the menu, we decided to go with this bottle of Vacqueyras.  A southern rhone appellation – this has pretty much all the reputational credibility of the top four prestige cru’s (chateauneuf-du-pape, cornas, cote-rotie, and hermitage) except it isn’t, it comes from the next tier down or the other 12 cru’s.  The rhone is an exceptionally complex wine region in my opinion.  Here is why…

In the northern rhone alone we have 8 appellations

  • Cote-Rotie (reds of syrah and up to 20 viognier)
  • Condrieu – whites of Viognier only
  • Chateau-Grillet -whites of Viognier
  • Saint -Joseph – reds of Syrah and up to 10% Marsanne and Roussanne plus whites which can only be made from Marsanne or Roussanne
  • Crozes-Hermitage – reds of Syrah and up to 15% Marsanne and Roussanne with whites made from Marsanne or Rousanne
  • Hermitage – as above
  • Cornas – Reds of Syrah only
  • Saint-Peray – sparkling and still whites of only Marsanne and Rousanne

In the southern rhone, it is as complex, and appellations are as follows

  • Cote du Vivarais
  • Cotes du rhone
  • Cotes du rhone villages
  • Chateauneuf du pape
  • Grignan Les Adhemar
  • Vacqueyras
  • Rasteau
  • Cairanne
  • Gigondas
  • Vinsobres
  • Beaumes de Venise
  • Muscat de Beaumes de Venise
  • Tavel

The Southern Rhones most famous wine Chateauneuf-du-pape is a blend containing 19 varieties of grape (10 red and 9 white), other AOC regions may even contain more.  The complexity of grapes grown, blends, and appellation rules are intense to say the least.

As part of my diploma studies, I am trying to focus in on the detail of particular wine regions.

The Rhone will be my first one.  Here is my first attempt at drawing a map of the southern rhone to help me remember the appellations and geography of the region.

Rioja Alta Vertical Tasting!

Vertical tastings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wow, what an amazing afternoon doing this vertical tasting!  These wines are an amazing expression of Rioja and I hope we can visit the vineyard next year.  The insight of tasting the same wine from different vintages is extremely interesting.

World’s Leading Wines Tasting Event

Great day out yesterday.

 

Found some very interesting wines, but of particular interest was a wine from The Douro.

 

Douro is a Portuguese wine region centered on the Douro River in the Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro region. It is sometimes referred to as the Alto Douro (upper Douro), as it is located some distance upstream from Porto, sheltered by mountain ranges from coastal influence.  Apparently in recent years many of these wines have suffered from a poor reputation, but watch this space, as with many things a resergence is under way!  I found the grapes Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional to produce dark fruitful wines with a terrific finish.

 

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The Wine Society

The Wine Society

So today we have joined The Wine Society.

 

This is really exciting and marks a new chapter in my exploration in wine.  Every month I want to find one or two gems through this web-site and expand our collection of wines.  The Wine Society seems different to the other “clubs” that you can join.  Slightly less commercial and very wine grower / enthusiast orientated.  The balance of reasonably priced wines to expensive seems very good and I like the fact that you can find different things here.  There is also lots of content to help you learn and develop your wine repertoir.

 

Sante as my wife would say!

 

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