Warre Late Bottled Vintage 2011

Sometimes you have to strike the iron while hot, so after an absence of Port on these pages for an amazing five years, here is number two within this week. After Auke’s Kopke I reviewed last, lets turn to a different style of Port, with my own Warre’s Late Bottled Vintage 2011. 2011? Is that a typo? No it isn’t, 2011 turned out to be a truly amazing, quintessential Vintage Port year! I ask myself, why didn’t they turn this into a LBV then? B-choice?

So what is a Late Bottled Vintage Port, I hear you ask?

Well, traditionally a Late Bottled Vintage (or LBV for short), is a Ruby Port from a single harvest/year, bottled after ageing for four to six years in wood, tonnels to be precise, which are very large casks. It should be a Vintage Port in style which is to retain some of the character of fruit and the tannins from the wood influence and the aroma’s to be had from the depot of the unfiltered Port (some more tannins for ya). Back in the day, there were many unfiltered LBV’s around, more akin to Vintage Ports. Apart from filtering, I’d like to point out that the time frame of four to six years is quite large. A 4yo Port does taste different from a 6yo Port (when aged in wood).

Today an LBV can taste young and fruity by, (in part), maturation in a tank, to retain that youthful, zesty, vibrant fruitiness, or a LBV can taste mature with noticeable wood ageing. Most of today’s LBV’s are filtered (and fined) and don’t need further ageing in the bottle, which is convenient. Luckily, some however, do have (some) depot and can be aged for a while longer. My Warre is such and example, going against the grain of the modern consumer who wants young and fruity LBV’s which are ready to drink. Although this Warre is not a true Traditional completely unfiltered, LBV, at least it doesn’t say so on the label, it does have some depot. Also, drinking this I do not feel the need to decant it. Sure you sometimes don’t know what you are getting when buying any bottle of LBV from the shelf, if only the labels were more clear, but I do welcome the choice.

To finish this introduction off, a household remark: The picture below is of the 2013 version, My bottle is already open, therefore not very photo genetic, and I couldn’t find a decent picture of the 2011 on ye olde interweb, so I used a decent picture of the next L.B.V. bottled by Warre, the 2013. Don’t be confused though, it looks exactly the same (apart from the year stated obviously).

Color: Extremely dark ruby red. Slightly cloudy and there is some depot in the bottle. Don’t spill this on your white shirt (I did that once at a Port Tasting, awkward).

Nose: Red Wine and fruits. Fresh and slightly sweet smelling, sometimes sugared fruits. Warming and fresh, almost like the warmth of the sun was captured in here. I get this every time I try it. Thick and yet not the promise of a lot of sweetness. Slightly dusty and closed. Warm berry juice over pudding. A tiny hint of vanilla, so American oak? Accessible and promising.

Taste: Sweet on entry with good acidity. Fruitier than the nose, otherwise it tastes like it smells.¬† Excellent acidity actually, matching the medium sweetness. Good balance. Again accessible just like it smells. 20% ABV, and it shows an alcoholic note, that seems to be disconnected from the Port itself. Tannic (Red Wine) mouthfeel, not much, but enough for the specific feel you get between your tongue and roof of mouth. Sweetish and fruity. Fruit juice for semolina pudding. Medium finish with (luckily) some tannins and woody bitter notes, all well in check, just adding to the complexity and giving it a more “Vintage” style. The Port is good and moderately complex. An easy daily drinker and definitely not a true Vintage Port which is something else entirely, but it is family. After multiple sips, the tannins dry out your lips and stay behind on your tongue. I like this style of LBV, it puts the V in the LBV, so to speak.

Just like the Colheita before, this Late Bottled Vintage is a style made for comfort, for all us full-time, over-time, busy office people. Tasty, without a lot of fuss. Just open it and drink. No decanting, no ages of ageing after buying, not a lot depot that gets between your teeth. Easy stuff. This is a very accessible and nice Port with some Vintage Port-style without the Vintage Port price tag, even less hard earned cash has to change hands than when buying a good Colheita. Nevertheless, a Colheita is something different, so you need both in your life. Frankie says: go for it!

Points: 83

After doing this review I feel that the Kopke Colheita 2003 I just reviewed, seems to be more modern in style (as mentioned above for modern LBV’s. It youthful and very fruity, which is a bit odd considering Colheita’s are about long ageing… Food for thought.

Thanks go out to Auke for bringing up Port again! Now de-cork the old White please ūüėČ

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Kopke Colheita 2003 (2018)

In several of my previous reviews, even more than once, I stated that I love my Ports, and I hereby confirm that I still do, even though my last review was done in the spring of 2014! Terrible! There is no excuse! How did that happen? five years! Is time flying this fast? I have to make amends and restart the fire of Port! Auke, also mentioned before, was so kind as to present me with a sample of one of his recent acquisitions, to help me restart the fire. Kopke Colheita 2003. Auke loves his Ports as well, and even managed to visit Portugal this summer, something I have yet to do.

personally, I love Colheita’s. They are aged, refined, easy to use, (so no decanting of unfiltered vintages) and quite affordable. Sure, vintages are the biggest thing in Port-world, but Colheita’s most definitely earned their place under the sun as well. Even better, Colheita’s also offer us a high quality alternative to Vintage Port and L.B.V.’s, with a different profile, a Tawny profile. Aged, not ruby red any more and more delicate. So a true win-win situation.

Color: Vibrant old red, tiniest hint of tan.

Nose: Fresh, sweet and fruity. Perfumy even. Deep, dusty and dark, with hints of asphalt, tar and licorice. Dry forest floor (in the summer). This adds to the third dimension of the Port and is most certainly not upfront. The combination of freshness and fruits with the darker side is quite interesting. The fruit stays, cherries and raisins with a nice acidic vibrancy. Waves of chewy fruity sweetness. Hardly any wood notes, not even the vanilla of American oak, nor the tannins of European oak. This Colheita is all about being quiet. It’s quiet and calm, softly spoken. The quiet intelligent guy in the corner who would rather ready a book than party hard.

Taste: Quite thin on entry. Not very syrupy and the sweetness seems to be very well kept in check. Plenty of youthful vibrancy and acidity. Here it shows its winy character. The body is quite simple, very nice, but simple. This is a Colheita that is not about sweetness. Sure it has some sweetness to it, (dry honey, does that make sense?), but that is not the crux of the story this Port wants to tell. Nope, this is about fruit, little sweet forest strawberries, cherries (especially in the nose). Not overly ripe red fruits, but almost there. all in all, a rather short finish for such and “old” Port, or does the old age show its fragility here? By the way, the deeper notes I got from the nose are not here in the body of the taste, not even in the finish, although the tiniest hint of wood (bitter) does show itself along to some almonds. Nope, well into the fruity and acidic aftertaste some more of the darker notes briefly return to take a final bow to the lover of Port and kiss his or her lips for the final time.

Medium sweetness which is balanced out nicely by firm fruity acidity. Very friendly and likeable on entry, but lacking a bit of complexity and oomph in the body and finish, but a real winner on the nose! Master Quill’s top tip: take this in big gulps to enhance the aroma’s.

Points: 84

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

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 Ch√Ęteau 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.

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

Warre’s Heritage Ruby

Heritage Ruby is Warre’s entry-level red Port. I attended a tasting lately where a lot of different products were presented and some cross-references were made. Arran finished in an ex-Amarone¬†cask Whisky was matched with a Lenotti Amarone wine, but also an Edradour 10yo Port casked Whisky was matched with a Port. That Port was a Niepoort Ruby, yes a basic Port and it was so good, that it sold out completely that evening. Very fruity and extremely accessible and drinkable. So I thought, let’s have a look at another basic Ruby. Warre was my introduction to Port so I have some of those bottles lying around.¬†A short trip to the cellars of Master Quill produced this (not the most current) bottle…

Warre's Heritage Ruby PortColor: Dark ruby-red with high viscosity.

Nose: Syrupy red Wine. Very fruity (but not as fruity as the Niepoort offering was), strawberry, blackberries and some blossoms as well, slightly perfumy. This is slightly darker (as an experience, as well as in color) but still very fruity. Jam, syrup. The added darkness comes from hints of soil and dry sunny earth. Small hint of petrol adds to the depth. Do I detect a tiny hint of coal smoke? Excellent nose.

Taste: Starts out with a very pleasant kind of sweetness, very restrained even when the whole is pretty syrupy and chewy. Not cloying. a very refined kind of sweetness, pure. Ahorn maybe. Next a balancing act with some lime-like acidity. The nose is fantastic and when you take a sip all is well too, The body itself is more on raisins and the sustained acidity, but not completely integrated. The acidity is maybe a wee bit too high and in the finish it all falls apart for a bit. Finish is also not very long.

I might have been a bit harsh on this one, for I still find it a very pleasant and drinkable Port. It has some faults towards the end, and for the money it is an excellent Port.

After a lot of the other types of Port like Vintages, Colheita’s, LBV’s and so on, I have to say that even an entry-level Port like this one or the Niepoort I tasted is still very good. You get a lot of quality from even a dirt cheap bottle like this or any other Ruby I guess, (or even Tawny, White or¬†Pink Port). The quality assurance of the Port Institute makes sure that probably¬†every bottle that goes out to the consumer meets a high set standard. Maybe we’ll know when I taste a no-name Port with the seal of the institute. ABV is 19%.

Points: 82