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

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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 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.

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

Warre’s Colheita 1999 (2012)

Yes another Warre’s Colheita! This is an earlier one from 1999. Just like it’s predecessor, both 1999 and 2002 weren’t declared as Vintage Port years, so the wines that were meant to be vintages were used for L.B.V.’s and Colheita’s (amongst others). Although the wines weren’t good enough to declare a vintage, most probably the best the year had to offer ended up in these Colheita’s.

Warre Colheita 1999/2012Color: Much paler than the 2002 Colheita. Pale red and less viscous than the 2002 reviewed earlier.

Nose: Fresh and some wood. Powdery, nice complexity. The wood added a lot of nice notes in here, From a Whisky point of view this nose is better than the one from the 2002 Colheita. A fantastic and delicate balance. Dry and complex. A little soap in this one too. Licorice and elegant wood. Hints of wood polish and petrol. Hints of old furniture. Definitely a more interesting nose. Nutty.

Taste: More syrupy and sweeter than the nose promised, but still enough acidity, maybe even better balance and a little bit more depth to it. Seems also higher in ABV (although it is not) than the 2002 Colheita, the alcohol is more present in this one. Less sweet and again the complexity shows over time. Less lively and summery red fruit, but that doesn’t mean its less everything. This has a lot going for it too. It has added depth and is a different Colheita from the 2002 Colheita.

The 1999 Colheita is a more refined and delicate Colheita than the 2002, which is simpler, sweeter and fruitier in it presentation and is more Obvious. The difference between both is in the details for sure, so it probably was a good thing I had a few sessions comparing both to each other. It hardly makes any sense to score both differently and a difference is purely a matter of taste, but I will score this one point higher for its elegance.

Points: 85

Warre’s Colheita 2002 (2013)

A Colheita port is, like a Vintage Port, from a single vintage year ​​with the big difference that these ports are matured in oak barrels and filtered before bottling. Maturation takes place for at least eight years, but often longer, which makes it a Tawny Port. Usually the year of bottling is mentioned on the label, as is the vintage year. Because Colheita’s are filtered, not a lot of further ageing happens in the bottle, but still a lot of Colheita’s can be laid down for a while. No decanting necessary.

Warre Colheita 2002Color: Deep ruby-red which just started to fade a bit. High viscosity.

Nose: Sweet candy. Slightly winey, but foremost syrupy and very fruity. A little bit of soap. Lots of cherries and other sweet red fruits like ripe and succulent strawberry. After some breathing some spiciness and a slight hint of wood emerge. It smells young at first and fresh (acidic?). The whole seems to be crafted from the aromas of red wine, sweetness and some barrel ageing. The color is ruby-red too, so not your typical brownish tawny Port. Yes, it does smell very nice and perfumy though. I swear, when I nose this a lot I get some fresh mown grass and warm butter in there too. Easily accessible and definitely a quality wine. Do I detect a little bit of sulphur in the nose after a while in the glass?

Taste: It’s candy! Luckily not overly sweet and in the taste some nice acidity shines through. Good balance, but not very complex. Lacking depth at first. Again, not your typical tawny. It’s very nice, but it plays in another division. Very fruity and oozes summer. It sometime drinks like 5% ABV, but it still packs 20% ABV, which can be tasted in the finish. The finish itself is long, warming and very pleasant, and adds a lot to the complexity of the whole. It has the smallest hint of wood and fresh nuts, walnuts without the bitterness and hazelnuts. A little bit of tannins on the tongue. Very drinkable.

I can imagine drinking this slightly chilled, sitting outside in the sun. Very refreshing due to its toned down sweetness, nice acidity and accessible fruitiness. Although a little bit different, it did remind me of Kopke Special Reserve Tawny (150th Anniversary in Holland), although that one was even more summery, fresh and light, this Warre has more body and a heavier finish.

Points: 84