Monday, 22 September 2014

Red, red wine

Autumn is here. And with it the new season along with the changes it brings into one's diet. Wild mushrooms! Game! Slowly cooked stews! Meat!

And that means transition from light, crisp whites and bubblies and rosés to red. I got to sample Norex Spirits' new autumn/ winter collection (Fashion week - take that!) and oh, what a lovely afternoon that was.

Bar 7 Blings at Radisson Blu Plaza offered a nice venue for the event. 

I kicked the day off with Champagne. This summer I've really fallen for rosé - in Champagne, too, so Nicolas Feuillatte's Rosé Brut was a nice new acquaintance. My ablsote favourite though was Blanc de noirs, made entirely out of Pinot Noir, which lends it great body. Rosé and Blanc de Noir are sturdy enough to be served with food, too: Rosé would compliment lighter dishes with fresh tomato, whereas Blanc de Noirs could carry something more robust too. 

Feuillatte, founded as late as in 1976 is today the most popular Champagne in France, and #3 worldwide, too.

Then off to whites form Austria, one of my favourite white wine countries. The difference between these two was clear: as teh name would suggest Fortissimo was so much more intense, aromatic and as such, more after my own heart. This I would pair with fatty fish and it could take some smoky aromas too. The importer's website actually suggests it as a white alternative for duck.

Spanish selection was particularly inviting (claro que si!) and Parés Balta had some interesting stories in store too. Located in Penédes near Barcelona this family-owned vineyard's own story has just entered its 3rd century.

Since 1970's the winery's been in the capable hands of Cusiné family. Their women play a big role in the production and have had several wines named after them. The wines are biodynamic, too. 

Wines from Parés Baltà are typically very, very dry. This Gewürtztraminer is a fine example of that. The bouquet is typical to this grape, intensely aromatic and perfume-like but taste totally throws one: in its dryness one could easily mistake it for Chablis.

Ginesta is part of the winery's Microcuvée edition which only gets made the very best years. The number of the bottles is also very limited - this for instance was the bottle 2281 of the only 2586 they made that year.

Spain was also responsible for the most confusing bubbly I think I've ever tasted. Txapana Arzuaga is a blend of Pinot Noir (40%) and Chardonnay (60%) from Ribera del Duero's wine region in Northern Spain and represents "the old school cava-making". It is extremely dry, intense and very original - the spokesperson's described it as "pharmacy-like" and said it has a tendency to divide people firmly into two categories: people either really like it or really don't. I'm still not entirely sure which group I belong to...

Because the event showcased the new additions for the autumn and winter there weren't a who lot of rosés. There was this though and an instant favourite of mine it became too. Very balanced and elegant - only mild berry notes, none of that ickiness that too often accompanies these pink beauties and the wine, a Cinsault-Grenache-Mourvèdre-Syrah- blend is moderate on the acidity too. 

I was already feeling amorous and then I was introduced to these brothers. Full of love, these two. Then again, I don't think I've ever had a bad bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape... These are BFFs with stews and anything gamey. Ooh, autumn is looking a lot more bearable...!

Our afternoon continued with a Grand Cru tasting showcasing Wolfberger's wines from Alsace , another firm favourite of mine. The tasting was superb and taught me so much about terroir (yep - I just used an actual wine term instead of my own silly make-believe ones!) and how much the terrain and the conditions contribute to the complexity of the wine. 

Wolfberger's representative was tangibly proud as she talked us through the production of their wines and how a minimal intervention is needed as the product itself is so good. Finnish palate is apparently very appreciative and their wines are very popular here - especially now during the crayfish season...!

The first up was the wine we chose for our crayfish party. Every bit as good as I remembered. It's aromatic and well suited for (white-fleshed) fish and crayfish, though the citrusy notes did get us thinking about vegetable dishes and Asian cuisine, too.

The next sample took a wild leap forward. From the hot and dry microclimate of Pfersigberg this Grand Cru had those familiar petrol notes in its bouquet, followed by a longer and more intense flavour. 

This is the wine Wolfberger's representative felt was "in culinary terms most interesting".

Then it was off to Steingrubler regions Grand Cru. Even more intense with interesting, oceany, briny breeze, courtesy of the limestone terrain. 

Then we moved on to Gewürtztraminer, that Alsace darling. Intensely aromatic with floral notes that are begging for Asian, spicy food. Strong cheeses and fruity, not too creamy desserts were other suggestions around the table.  According to my tasting notes (yes, I actually made some!) this was my personal favourite. 

The word "Gewürtz" means spice - no wonder then it makes such a great match with all things spicy. "Traminer" refers to the village of Tramini in Italy where this grape originally hails from. "And that" as Oz Clarke would put it, "is a wine fact."

Pfersigberg's Gewürtztraminer (no, I'm not even going to try to say that out loud) had a less intense bouquet, but grew stronger as we swirled our glasses a bit. This had a lot more sweetness to it and a beautiful evolution is expected in the coming years.

Steingrubler's Gewürtztraminer (seriously, who comes up with these languages?!) had an intensely yellow colour and very strong petrol notes. The taste was sweet to the point of sharp. Other qualities (look at us go...!) were certain oiliness and gentle smokiness, again courtesy of the terrain. This became evident in Steingrubler's Riesling too as it had had time to breathe a little. 

What a journey!




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