Helen’s blog

Thoughts and tastings from Helen Savage, wine writer.

Archive for February, 2012

Aussie Cabernet – a bit of a disappointment

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

I have been pondering over my  notes from a selection of fourteen Australian Cabernet’s tasted  ‘blind’ at last month’s London trade tasting.  I was disappointed that so many wines seemed show little fruit freshness. There was plenty of extract, shed loads of tannin and no little alcohol, and often quite a lot of acidity, but finesse and elegance was hard to find. Too many didn’t seem balanced. With the exception of one wine (see below) price didn’t seem to make much difference. One of the most impressive wines, was was of the least expensive: d’Ahrenberg ‘The High Trellis’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from McLaren Vale (rrp £11.99), imported by Bibendum.  Qute deep and concentrated, it did, however, display some freshness along with a silky texture. One wine stood out: Henschk’es ‘Cyril Henschke’ 2004 from the Eden Val.  Although surprisingly brown-coloured, it had balance, complexity and elegance, though its sweet berry fruit flavour seemed more mature than it actually was. It ought to have  shown well, it’s rrp is £70 (imported by Enotria).

Was I just having an off day? I don’t think so – I was greatly impressed by some other wines in show, especially a parallel ‘blind’ flight of Semillon.

New Zealand tries its hand at Gruner Veltliner

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

After a week in Austria, I’m  having Grüner Veltliner withdrawal symptoms. I’ve written more in today’s Journal but didn’t have space to talk much about New Zealand’s new fascination with the variety.

At last week’s New Zealand Annual Trade tasting I  tasted the four examples on show and was quite impressed:

Seifried Estate Grüner Veltliner 2011 is from Nelson and from six year-old vines. The wine is the second release. It has 12.5% abv and 5.9 g/l residual sugar. It shows quite spicy fruit, with the green apple character, typical of the variety and lemon citrus freshness. It seems tangier than the 6.7 g/l total acidity suggests. The estate has Austrian roots, so they should get Grüner right!

Nautilus Estate Grüner Veltliner 2011 (Marlborough) – a tank sample of first release wine from vines just 18 months old, has 13% abv and 7 g/l residual sugar. Light, clean and green, with lemony tones it lacks the spicy concentration that may begin to develop as the vines establish themsleves.

Forrest Grüner Veltliner 2011 (Marlborough) has 11.5% abv and 8.7 g/l sugar. Clean and not too spicy, the flavour, with noticeable residual sugar, shows a mix of ripe and green apple.

Yealands Grüner Veltliner 2011 (Marlborough)has 13.5% abv and just 2.5 g/l sugar (though in the mouth it seems a little higher). The vines are planted on gravel with loess with mica and quartz, which sounds promising for a vareity that needs water. Winemaker Tamra Washington is concerned to tame Grüner’s tendency to crop heavily and make a wine that’s balanced – and has succeeded. This has a fine lemon, apple and spicy aromas and is quite a full, creamy mouthful, with a slightly salty aftertaste.

All four wines are very promising, but I have to say that there are plenty of Austrian examples on the shelves that offer just as much fun for a pound or two less.