Recent Wines April 2023 #theglouthatbindsus

For the wines drunk at home back in April, before we headed off to Australia, we have just six, plus an unusual beer. All the wines are classics in their own way (four are what we’d term natural wines and two we wouldn’t), and they were all stunningly good. There is one wine from the Mosel, two come from Jura, one from Kent, one from Austria’s Wachau, and one from Trentino in Northeast Italy. The beer is from Hampshire.

Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese 2010, JJ Prüm (Mosel, Germany)

There are some Prüm geeks who will turn their noses up at the Graach wines, preferring Wehlen’s Sundial every time. It would be a narrow-minded approach in my view. They say the Graachers age more swiftly. If that is the case, this fabulous 2010 Spätlese must be all-the-more wonderful for lasting so long in what is now the third cellar it has resided in.

Dr Katharina Prüm is the latest in a line of this eminent family to make wine at Bernkastel-Wehlen, the estate being founded in 1911. This wine was made by her father, Dr Manfred. In some ways these Mosel wines are unique in the way they combine floral lightness with amazing depth and spice. That’s all fine, but more than anything else, Prüm wines last for a very long time. In fact, if you drink them young you are wasting both money and potential. This applies almost equally to the Kabinetts and Spätlesen as to the higher Prädikats.

Stephan Reinhardt calls Prüm’s wines from Graach’s Himmelreich site (where the family farms more than eight hectares) “filigreed and dancing”. I cannot top that. The 2010 vintage was one that yielded higher acids and this bottle has a strong lime/mineral spine. Layer upon layer of aroma and flavour build on that, with apricot and ginger being the most obvious. The wine has superb, near perfect, balance now. The fruit is rich and spicy, but it is the still present lime acidity which carries it upwards. Complex and long.

Most of my Prüm wines over the years, including this one, have come from The Sampler.

May Provisions x Charlie Herring Riesling Graff (Hampshire, England)

Brewers May and Tim Phillips collaborated to make a rather innovative and intriguing beer. It’s a 50:50 blend of (you’ll need to pay attention) May’s wheat beer aged on the skins of Tim’s Riesling grapes, and Tim’s cider, which was also aged on Riesling skins. I think the skin contact (or conditioning as the brewer would call it) was for around five months, so quite an extended period. There was no fining, filtration, nor pasteurisation.

This is the inaugural 2020 vintage, the 2021 having now been released. The result is remarkable. It does taste very much a blend of beer and cider, which works exceedingly well. The grape skins seem to pull it all together. When I first tasted this cuvée I thought it needed time for the elements to meld, and they have now. It is fresh, appley and quite complex. The wheat beer’s freshness combines well with the cider acids. The bottle says “best before December 2022” but I think that date was pessimistic. I stuck to my guns and scored a hit.

£18 from The Solent Cellar, although naturally sold out.

Côtes du Jura « Les Cèdres » Chardonnay 2015, Anne & J-F Ganevat (Jura, France)

The Ganevat domaine wines are generally wines of stature, another example of a domaine where their own vines produce wines which benefit from prolonged ageing. They make some very impressive Chardonnay from the area around Rotalier, in Jura’s Sud-Revermont. The domaine, and Jean-François himself, need no introduction, of course, suffice to say that as well as a bewildering array of negoce bottlings, many containing some of Jura’s (and indeed France’s) rarest grape varieties, he looks after an estate of around 10ha, of which just under half is planted to Chardonnay.

Les Cèdres comes from old vines off a mix of chalky limestone and marl, with a 30-month vinification, and yields its complexity, after a decent spell in bottle, of lemon peel, ginger, and fresh melon. It’s a wine which genuinely evolves through several personalities as it sits in the glass. It would take a very long paragraph to describe its progression as it deepens on nose and palate, indeed just as you’d expect a fine Burgundian Chardonnay to evolve (assuming it was premox-free…it may be ironic that whilst Jura wines can be famous for their deliberately oxidative nature in some cases, Ganevat Chardonnays are as clean as a whistle, and natural wines too). Carafage recommended by the producer.

This is simply a very fine wine. I dread to think what these bottles cost now. This was in the low £40’s from The Solent Cellar some years ago.

Trousseau Amphore 2015, Domaine A&M (Bénédicte and Stéphane) Tissot (Jura, France)

The array of wines made in his cellar at Montigny-Les-Arsures surely give Stéphane the chance of claiming to be the most prolific of Arbois’ natural winemakers. They come from a whopping 50 hectares, mostly around the town, although the family now owns vines at Château-Chalon too. That these are all farmed biodynamically, with no synthetic chemical inputs, is quite remarkable. Stéphane’s wines played a part in my trip to Australia, which took place a couple of weeks after we drank this Trousseau, but I wasn’t to know this at the time.

Whenever I have visited Montigny, as opposed to the domaine’s shop on the Place de la Liberté in the centre of Arbois, it was always impressive to glance along the rows of amphora. Stéphane was an early adopter of these vessels in Jura (I’m reasonably sure he was the first), initially for white wines, but Trousseau does well in the terracotta. I wonder whether Trousseau, in its Bastardo incarnation in Portugal, saw the inside of similar vessels with any regularity?

Served cellar cool, the bouquet of this eight-year-old wine is nicely developed. The darker fruit side of the variety combines with the slightly earthy or ferrous texture of the amphora in which it was fermented and aged. The palate is both fruity and spicy, with a slightly bitter-fruit, clay-textured finish. However, overall, the wine is fairly smooth, quite mature, yet still super-fresh. This comes from the extremely long and slow fermentation it undergoes in the amphora.

Another exceptional bottle, sourced directly from the domaine.

Naturally Petulant Pink 2021, Westwell Wines (Kent, UK)

Westwell is one of the English producers to watch. Although Adrian Pike got off to a flying start here, the wines have now reached an exceptional level of excitement. There may be posher English wines, but Westwell is up there with the innovators, forging flavours which really rock.

The grape blend for this “petnat” cuvée is the classic triumvirate of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier, but the flavours are exciting and new. Picked at the end of October 2021, the grapes were all macerated on their skins for a few days in stainless steel tanks, with only natural yeasts during fermentation. It only underwent a rough disgorgement before early bottling, and no sulphites were added.

The colour they call “rose quartz” (nice). I’d say it also has a touch of sunset pink, if we are trying to be poetic, which the wine certainly deserves. The palate combines strawberry and lemon meringue with raspberry sherbet. It’s perfectly dry though, and the fresh fruit acidity makes it an absolutely perfect, refreshing, glass of sparkling wine and, again, as Westwell suggests, it would be a great match for fish and chips. I’d add prawns if they are your bag, or unsmoked lighter fish. Or perhaps with a croissant for breakfast?

Westwell’s agent is Uncharted Wines. Purchase direct from them or their retail customers. You can go direct to Westwell, but the wines don’t tend to be cheaper. £24.

Ried Loibenberg Loibner Riesling Smaragd 2007, Weingut Knoll (Wachau, Austria)

This is a wine where some readers might like me to explain the label. Ried Loibenberg is one of the finest sites on the mostly south-facing slopes above the River Danube, in Austria’s classic Wachau region. We are a short train ride west of Vienna, and immediately west of the town of Krems (where you can hire bikes and cycle the excellent Wachau cycle route). The variety is self-explanatory, along with Grüner Veltliner, one of the region’s two staple varieties.

Smaragd is the term effectively used for a richer (but still dry) style of wine made for ageing. Federspiel is often the designation for those intended to drink sooner. 2007 was a trying vintage in some ways in the Wachau. Hail disrupted a warm summer, and a wet September meant that many had to harvest later than usual. The number of Smaragd wines producers were able to make was reduced, but where they were made by top producers (and Knoll is unquestionably a top producer), they were usually up to the mark.

This wine is definitely fully-mature but not falling off any cliff yet (though maybe I’d not hold it for too long). As such, it was a pleasure to experience a fully mature Wachau at over fifteen years of age. Lanolin. Olives, some citrus, rounded, a little voluptuous, certainly one of the more sensuous wines of the year so far. The length is incredible, and if you love Riesling then experiencing a Wachau Smaragd with decent age is a must. And I just love Knoll. I was so pleased to share this with a couple of friends who also take pleasure in Austrian wine but perhaps know this classic region less well.

This gem was purchased, possibly in 2014, at the wonderful Fohringer wine shop on the banks of the Danube at Spitz, before cycling on to lunch at the Gasthof Prankl down the road. The wines survived transport in a basket on the front of my bike…I’d advise being better prepared. The kind staff at the restaurant guarded our bikes whilst we climbed up to the castle above the river to get us moving again, although this being Austria, we probably should not have worried. Weingut Knoll has its own inn at Unterloiben 132, Dürnstein, also on the cycle route, and substantially closer to Krems if you are feeling unfit (though the whole route is quite flat along the river’s left bank and at least as far as Spitz the scenery is magnificent).

“Morei” Teroldego 2013, Foradori (Trentino, Italy)

I would not be the first to call Elisabetta Foradori the Queen of Teroldego (cf the World Atlas of Wine, 8th edn), but she most certainly is. The Foradori winery sits on the western edge of the Campo Rotaliano, between Mezzocorona and Mezzolombardo, above the Adige Valley. The appellation (DOC) for the variety here is Teroldego Rotaliano, but the Foradori family make natural wines, fermented and aged in amphora, so of necessity as well as choice they bottle theirs as “Vigneti delle Dolomiti”, an “IGT” equivalent.

Teroldego does not always make great wines. Some less enthusiastic drinkers may substitute “rarely makes” (unfair in my view as I quite like an “ordinary” Teroldego from time to time), yet in the case of Foradori we are most definitely in fine wine territory. These are yet more wines to respect through proper ageing. The results will be quite different to the albeit often pretty good, yet easy going, co-operative Teroldego you can buy relatively cheaply.

The soil on the Campo is gravelly and well drained. Biodynamic farming has been the norm at Foradori for many decades, a pioneer in the region for this philosophy. Morei means “dark” in Trentino dialect, and it describes the wine perfectly. The nose is immediately saturated with intense, dark, fruit. This is surely intensified by the vinification vessels, terracotta Tinajas from Villarobledo in Spain.

The palate is purity personified. Mineral, concentrated, textured, still tannic, it takes a long, long, time to open-up even at almost a decade old. The bouquet takes as long, but the scent of black fruits and lavender are joined by a more earthy bass note as time progresses. All the while the wine’s acidity makes its presence felt. In some ways this is a difficult wine to drink, both complex and complicated. But sometimes you enjoy a wine that poses more questions than it answers, and as I’ve already intimated, it is undoubtedly fine.

Another wine originally purchased from The Solent Cellar, but which should be available via Les Caves de Pyrene.

About dccrossley

Writing here and elsewhere mainly about the outer reaches of the wine universe and the availability of wonderful, characterful, wines from all over the globe. Very wide interests but a soft spot for Jura, Austria and Champagne, with a general preference for low intervention in vineyard and winery. Other passions include music (equally wide tastes) and travel. Co-organiser of the Oddities wine lunches.
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4 Responses to Recent Wines April 2023 #theglouthatbindsus

  1. frankstero says:

    That fancy snakebite sounds interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark C says:

    Five of my favourite producers who between them rarely, if ever, make a dull wine.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark C says:

    And Knoll’s label is bettered by no one.

    Liked by 1 person

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