Late last month I had the opportunity to attend Berkmann Wine Cellars South West Wine Tasting 2013 at The Grand Café in Southampton, Hampshire. It is always a pleasant surprise when one of the larger suppliers remembers their customers out in the sticks and that not everyone is based within few miles of central London. Would I have traveled into London for this tasting? No, probably not. But I am of the mind that, if someone is going to put on a regional wine tasting then it is only polite that us local wine merchants, restaurateurs, sommeliers etc. should attend. It must be working well for Berkmann because this was their third event (which they organise every two years) and it seemed pretty well attended. So, I am afraid that any customers coming to visit the Fareham Wine Cellar on Monday 30th would have found it closed, sorry!!
So I thought I would share some thoughts on the wines tasted.
The first two Drappier wines were the Drappier Brut Nature San Soufre (sulphur) and the Drappier Brut Nature Zero Dosage. These are essentially the same wine, both 100% Pinor Noir and both with no dosage (sugar) added. The only difference is that the San Soufre, naturally, does not have any sulphur added. How different could they be? Actually they were both quite different, the San Soufre was crisp and dry but with quite a developed, yeasty, autolytic aromas. The Zero Dosage was very crisp and dry but the wine seemed a lot more pure and fresh. I have to say I preferred the fresher, purer Zero Dosage style.
I read something about these Champagnes in the press last year and it was great to finally taste them. A most people know Champagne is made from three grape varieties – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Right? Wrong! There are other grape varieties allowed in Champagne production.
According to the 2010 Champagne appellation laws, there are actually seven grape varieties allowed. The other 4 grape varieties are Arbanne, Petit Meslier, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. These four varieties are allowed mainly for historical reasons and I believe that new plantings of these varieties are allowed. These are pretty rare and Arbanne, Petit Meslier and Pinot blanc only account for 0.02% of the total vines planted in Champagne.
Drappier makes two Champagnes with these varieties.
Champagne Drappier Blanc de Blancs Signature NV – 95% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Blanc – the Pinot Blanc, also known as Blanc Vrai in Champagne, adds complexity and roundness. Very good.
Champagne Drappier Quattuor NV – this is an equal four way blend of 25% Chardonnay, 25% Arbanne, 25% Pinot Blanc and 25% Petit Meslier. This is a floral, yeasty, biscuity Champagne with a very particular note of almonds that I don’t normally detect on Champagne.
It was a surprise to see an Albarino and Arneis from New Zealand wine producer Coopers Creek. I have read about Arneis grapes planted in Gimblett Gravels before, but have never had the chance to try an, until now.
Coopers Creek produce the Select Vineyards “The Little Rascal” Arneis and the Select Vineyards “Bell Ringer” Albarino both from Gisborne. Both interesting wines, although I have to admit I didn’t really like the Arneis, it was quite sulphurous. The Albarino had a sweet, confectionery nose with aromas of green apples and had a very crisp and dry finish.
Champagne Drappier Grande Sendrée Rosé NV – This single vineyard rosé Champagne is a blend of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay aged for 7 years on the lees. Very attractive nose of red, stewed fruits and herbaceous, floral notes. Very well balanced palate with strawberry notes on the palate with good minerality and acidity on the finish.
Masi – I didn’t try the Masi wines because I had recently tried them all at a very interesting wine tasting comparing wines made from “fresh” and dried grapes.
Il Bruciato, Guido Al Tasso, Famiglia Antinori 2011 – A blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 15% Syrah from the Bolgheri appellation. Loads of chocolate and violet notes on the nose smelling a bit like a very good Cabernet Franc with no green notes!! The palate is smooth, round and very well balanced with good length and is, for me, reminiscent of a Bordeaux red.
NePriCa, Tormaresca, Puglia IGT 2011 – A blend of Negroamaro, Primitivo and Cabernet Sauvignon. It has lots of tarry, dark and spicy black fruit notes on the nose. The palate is round and spicy with plummy jam notes. A very interesting blend. Soft and balanced with quite a dry finish.
Morgicchio Negroamaro, Tormarecsa, Salento IGT 2010 – Leathery, tobacco-y nose with lots of floral aromas and plum and blackcurrant fruit notes. Full, round and spicy. Very good. I now want to try its big brother, the Masseria Maime.
Tasca , Sicily
Cygnus Sicilia IGT 2009 – A blend of Nero d’Avola and Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose is fruity and floral with notes of cherry, violets, vanilla and also some chocolate / mocha notes. The palate is soft, round, intense and slightly medicinal. Good long finish.
Chateau Ste Michelle, Washington State – the surprise for me here was that I favoured the white wine over the red wines. The 2011Gewurztraminer is very floral but with a really fresh and clean palate. My favourite wine was the 2011 Dry Riesling. This had a really nice lime-y, sherbet nose and more lime and green apple notes on the palate. A really fresh and zingy Riesling with very good acidity.
Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Chardonnay, Casablanca 2011 – quite a rich wine with good citrus, oaky notes and nice minerality. It shows great finesse and elegance. It seems that there is a move away from the bigger, oakier wines of previous vintages.
Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Merlot, Colchagua 2010 – this is one of the best Chilean merlots I have tried for a while. Big, chunky with quite a sweet finish.
Lapostolle Clos Apalta, Apalta 2010 – 71% Carmenère, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Merlot aged in 100% new French oak. For me, this was the outstanding wine of the tasting. It just oozes class and elegance. Like a very good Bordeaux. Loads of red and dark fruit notes on the nose with spicy vanilla and clove from the oak. The palate is full, rich and very well balanced with polished tannins. Very long and classy finish.
A big thank you to Berkmann Wine Cellars for putting on this great wine tasting. Read more about the Kappa Pisco.