Abeille-Fabre Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2010 Vignoble Abeille

Lots of information about the wines marketed as Château Mont-Redon, but not a lot about this particular wine. Château Mont-Redon is owned by Jean Abeille and Didier Fabre, they are the third generation of wine-makers, but already the fourth generation is awaiting. This particular wine is from the Vineyards of Jean Abeille. Château Mont-Redon’s vineyards are 174 ha big, of which a nice 100 ha lies in the AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape

This white Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a blend of 40% Grenache Blanc, 25% Bourboulenc, 20% Clairette, 10% Picpoul Terret and finally 5% Roussane. Well, not your every day Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, isn’t it! By the way, these numbers may vary with every vintage. Around 450.000 bottles of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are produced annually, of which a hefty 100.000 is of the white variety.s

Abeille-Fabre Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2010 Vignoble AbeilleColor: Straw yellow, light.

Nose: Very aromatic, fatty, buttery and nicely fruity. White peach. Mineral but also fruity, white peach in sweet yoghurt. Very appetizing. What I especially like about this one is the slightly industrial, rubbery and maybe gout de petrol like quality this wine has.

Taste: Thick vanilla, wood and warming, what? Warm stones. Mineral and earthy. Slightly waxy and soft lemon juice on top. Gooseberries and grapefruit! Acidity kept in check. Nicely balanced Wine. Vanilla and wood in the nose and now again some vanilla and wood in the taste, this must have seen some wood. Slightly bitter finish, which passes through the mouth leaving a nice taste behind. Well made.

Starts very fruity and aromatic, changes into a more serious nose with petrol. Same with the taste, ending in a slightly wooden bitterness. Not harsh in any way. The finish is long and the bitterness passes into something more woody-fruity and fatty. Fresh butter. High quality. 13.5% ABV. Don’t drink this too cold, when it warms up in your glass it still gives of a lot of aromatics.

Points: 86

Paul & Philippe Zinck Pinot Blanc 2008

Exactly a year ago, I reviewed the 2009 vintage of this Pinot Blanc. Comparing notes it will be quite interesting to compare both. Just like last year, the end of may had its sunny days and this time around we are going crazy over asparagus (the white ones) at home. First time around we had Asparagus with the Zenato Pinot Grigio 2013, this time we’ll take a classic one from Alsatia. Quite an oldie actually since these wines aren’t made for keeping around for a longer time, but I never had a problem with White Wines from Alsatia.

Zinck Pinot BlancColor: White wine with a slight green tint.

Nose: Fresh and citrussy. Slight hint of melon (but without the sweetness). Creamy calcium and flinty. Hints of white peach. Smells quite citrussy and acidic. This may very well be quite a sour example, but we’ll see. Even though this is supposed to be quite a simple Wine, there is a lot going on in the nose.

Taste: Yes, quite acidic. Roter vitamin C. Is it too high in its acids, well no, not even for me. I usually don’t like over acidic Wines, but this one is do-able. After the acidity leaves the mouth, a more syrupy feel gets a chance to present itself. IS a bit the depth of syrup, but this time without the sweetness. Hard to explain. Although probably not present, but you never know in a difficult year; it seems to ave some wood. Toward the finish it calms down a bit, getting less about the acidity, but having drunk a whole bottle yesterday the acidity was something you get used too.

2008 was a challenging year for Alsatian Wines. The 2008 vintage is known for higher acidity, and yes, that’s true for this one too. I wouldn’t drink a whole bottle of this by itself, too high in its acids, but it is a nice and simple Pinot Blanc. Together with White asparagus, excellent. This Pinot needs food. Compared to the 2009 vintage, this is better balanced but also less sweet and more acidic. My wife preferred the Zenato with Asparagus. I had fun with both, but just a little bit more fun with this Zinck. Big difference between the 2008 and the 2009 vintage though.

Points: 78

Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block 2012 Franschhoek South Africa

Already a lot of Whiskies are covered this year, so why not divert to a nice Wine again. There is a lot around to enjoy! Today we’ll be looking at a nice blend from South Africa, but first, an introduction:

The winery was founded by Hugenot settlers in 1776. A group of wine-enthousiasts bought the farm in 1993 and major development took place since 1996. Boekenhoutskloof today has around 20 hectares of vines. 75% are red grape varieties (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot), and thus 25% are whites (Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier). Boekenhoutskloof is farming organically and has plans for bio-dynamic wine making. The winery produces around 3 million bottles per year of which 95% is branded as Porcupine Ridge and Wolftrap, the other 5% are marketed as Boekenhoutskloof and Chocolate Block. Chocolate Block we’ll be looking at is made with 70% Syrah, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Grenache, 6% Cinsault and 1% Viognier. The Syrah grape variety is grown in Malmesbury where it has deep-rooted vines and gives a lot of color, flavor and tannins. Grenache is grown in Citrusdal which has a sandy terroir, excellent for Grenache. Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier are grown in Boekenhoutskloof and Cinsault is grown on granite soils in Wellington. So quite a complex blend.

The Chocolate Block 2012Franschhoek Valley is a broad valley in the south-east corner of Paarl, Western Cape. Franschhoek is warm and produces robust red wines (and fruity whites). The surrounding mountains (Wemmershoek to the north and Groot Drakenstein & Franschhoek to the south) cast shadows which help reducing the temperature and hours of sun the grapes get. They also reduce the influence from the sea. On the other hand, the mountains also hold the cooler winds from the south. Terroir is alluvial sandstone (doesn’t hold water well) and in the north some granite (in the mountains). On the hillsides there is some clay to be found.

Color: Dark ruby-red.

Nose: Spicy, sweet red fruits, very nice and very appetizing. Fat (sweet) fruit notes, like plums, apple skins with a hint of Tobacco, but also fruity strawberries. Lots of creamy vanilla. Excellent warming nose.

Taste: Dark fruits, although none of them leap out my glass specifically, slightly unripe strawberries and some red berries maybe. A sort of “total” taste. A mild and very nice acidity that transforms into the oaky bitterness that is in the finish. Spicy wood, and no shortage of soft tannins. Next a hint of licorice. Hint of oaky bitterness in the finish.

Definitely a Syrah, although the Cabernet Sauvignon is detectable too. Excellent stuff. The wine has an ABV of 14.5%. The bottle was from Lot No. L13/252 and this vintage yielded 1735 barrels.

Points: 87

Agostón Garnacha & Syrah 2013

Bodegas Virgen del Aguila, Paniza Agoston-Jabali lies at the foot of Iberico mountain range in Carinena (a DO), in north-east Spain. The Ibérico mountain range has a wide variety of landscapes and eco-systems. Half is used for vines, the other half is still forest or rocky mountain slopes

Agostón was first made in 2008. The maker calls it “daring, young, fruity & loved by everybody” All wines in this series are blends of two grape varieties. Here we’ll review the “yellow” one that is made with Garnacha and Syrah. The “red” one is made with Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both red wines are true 50/50 blends. The “green” one (a white Wine) is a blend of Viura and Chardonnay and last but not least a rosé Wine that has an orange label is made with Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon. As can be seen, all are blends of a “typical” Spanish grape and an International grape. Very daring and modern…

Agostón Garnacha & Syrah 2013Color: Deep red with purple.

Nose: Fruity and jammy. Very modern and accessible. Not very complex. Extremely likeable, like one likes a lemonade. Bold fruit, cherries, with cream and vanilla. A little bit of dairy, at first some acidity but after moving the wine around a bit in the glass, some typical notes from Syrah emerge. Obviously grapes that have seen a lot of sun. Warm but not dry or dusty. The red and black fruits are pretty aromatic.

Taste: Again very fruity and jammy but here the thick fruits are helped along with some nice acidity. Hardly any tannins to be found. I can’t imagine this has seen wood, although a little bitterness is there, also some vanillin seems present. Although very easily drinkable it will hold the fort when combined with cheeses and meats. Will do nicely too on its own.

Actually a very likeable and very nice wine, that has won some prizes along the way. Still I feel it is a very modern wine. Taylor-made for the modern, fast-forward and demanding market. No fuss, just grab-n’-buy, or buy-n’-drink or drink-n’-forget. Very fruity and just needs the drinker to sit back and enjoy himself/herself. It will not terrorize your conversation or hinder you while apping away on your phone. Nothing overly complex, no talk about tannins or how long you should put it in your cellar. Nice stuff though and not too expensive to boot. Good pick for bars and restaurants. Hip!

Points: 81

La Cave Du Vieil Armand Grand Cru Ollwiller Pinot Gris 2007

Ollwiller, which is a Grand Cru since 1983, lies in the municipality of Wuenheim (Close to the famous Grand Cru of Rangen near Thann), is named after the Château d’Ollwiller that was built in the 12th century A.D. The Ollwiller castle is the former estate of the Bishop of Strasbourg, who was behind the development of the vine in the thirteenth century A.D. The castle is now owned by the Gros family since 1825, cowinemakers and co-founders of the Cave of the Old-Armand.

The vines are situated in a dry microclimate with only 450 mm of rain per annum. The vines are sheltered from the wind by the Hartmannswillerkopf a.k.a. Old-Armand where some heavy fighting in World War I took place, which also destroyed all the vineyards. Its slopes face south-east, with maximum sunshine on an altitude between 260 and 330 m. The soil is composed of conglomerates (loosely cemented heterogeneous material) and marl, reddish sandy clay and gravel.      

La Cave Du Vieil Armand Grand Cru Ollwiller Pinot Gris 2007Color: Light gold with a slight pink touch

Nose: Full on everything, overwhelmingly aromatic. Expect nice sweetness, acidity, fruit, white grapes and also something flinty a trace of sulphur, although it isn’t in the terroir. Marl is. Yellow fruits like white peach (lighter and more elegant compared to the more “common” peach) and dried apricots and pear. Also tighter fruits like white grapes. All of this is in the background adding to the complex nose. This is so much more than just a fruity wine. Unbelievable how well the sweet and the acidity blend together, and don’t forget this is just the nose we’re talking about.

Taste: Thick and syrupy, but not very sweet. Again just like the nose, very good balance and all tastes blend well together. Hints of peach yoghurt, but also a well-defined depth of dried apricots. Fantastic stuff this is. Not as mineral as I’ve expected, but great acidity to keep it in check. Don’t get me wrong it’s not very sweet nor is it acidic, it’s just perfect, although I have to say that the taste is less complex than the nose is.

This gem will do with a lot of foods, yes, we can mention de usual suspects like salads and fish, coquilles etc. But this one is excellent on its own. Sitting back with a nicely chilled “Old Armand” is the way to enjoy it for me. This should only be sold in Magnum sized bottles. Wonderful, This is again an example, why I love Alsatian wines so much.

Points: 90

This review is dedicated to Yvonne and Joost. If you can read dutch please check out their website about Alsatian Wines.

Casa La Teja D.O. La Mancha Airén – Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Here we have a white wine by Bodegas Yuntero, Jesús del Perdón from the la Mancha district in Spain. A district that gets lots of sun. The wine is blended from Airén 85% and Sauvignon Blanc 15%. The owners focus on 100% sustainable viticulture. The wine is also made from certified organically grown grapes with an SHC certificate.

Casa La Teja D.O. La Mancha Airén – Sauvignon Blanc 2009Color: Pale straw yellow

Nose: Very fruity and fresh. Hints of banana and peach. Excellent aromatic fruitiness in the nose. Through the nose it promises a nice balance between the sweet and the sour. Although no of the used grapes are common to Alsace, you could have been mistaken trying this blind. Great balance, and a very appealing nose (to me).

Taste: Very soft, velvety and simple and straightforward. Slightest hint of bitterness (grapefruit). Lower in its acidity than I initially expected. A round overall taste without much acidity and also little sweetness without it becoming bone-dry. I expected a little bit more in the taste department. Even the alcohol seems lower than stated. Very light indeed.

Probably meant to be drunk young, but I have to say that a little ageing didn’t do the wine any harm whatsoever. Definitely an aperitif wine with a lovely nose, in the taste too light in my opinion, and if the wine makers would have been able to match the taste to the nose this would be a winner. As said, an aperitif wine which can be combined with light foods as salads and light seafood. Mussels come to mind. I liked the red better.

Points: 76

Paul & Philippe Zinck Pinot Blanc 2009

And suddenly the sun came out! Nice temperature so I felt like a nice light and refreshing wine. I have a batch of Pinot Blancs lying around for the white asparagus season, but thought I would give this one a try by itself, for me you never can go wrong with an Alsatian Wine. This Pinot Blanc is made by Domaine Zinck from Eguisheim, Alsace, France. Zinck have four great Grand Crus: Eichberg, Pfersigberg, Goldert and Rangen. The last two I also know from Zind-Humbrecht. Spectacular stuff. This Pinot Blanc is from the “Portrait” line of wines and are made as an introduction to Wine. We call that entry-level. Zinck Pinot Blanc

Color: light yellow with a slight green tint, medium viscosity

Nose: Flowery and half sweet. Meaty and buttery with hints of earth. Quite a “thick” and aromatic nose (lots of yellow fruits), seems sweet at first. Vegetal and herbal, maybe sage. Coastal (the terroir is silty), and fruity, melon-style.

Taste: Syrupy sweet. The acidity is in check. The sweetness and the acidity somehow doesn’t seem to be well married together. Something not quite right and I can not put my finger on it. The fruity melons are here too, and just like the nose, “thick”. Quite some bitterness too, that stays well into the finish. Where it shouldn’t be. Chewy and behind it all sweeter than it appears to be.

Pinot Blanc is not Alsace’s favourite grape variety, and I guess this wine shows why. It is recommended with food, asparagus. Don’t have that here at the moment, but I’ve tried it with a salad, OK and with spicy chicken legs, that was quite good actually. Since the wine is quite thick the Pinot Blanc managed the spicy chicken well. Easily drinkable. I personally didn’t like this as much as a lot of other wines from the region, but it does seem to fare better with food than on its own. Well just a matter of taste really, since my wife did love this on its own and is more than happy to drink the rest of the bottles that are in the cellar.

Points: 77