Takatu wines from NZ

After the Austrian tasting, my tasting day was not yet over. A leisurely stop at Caffe Nero for a strong cup of joe, I caught the #11 bus to Chelsea for a New Zealand evening winetasting at the Bluebird. Penny had another boutique winery on tasting, this one from the Takatu peninsula from whence the winery gets its name. Takatu translates as “well prepared”  and the owners have done everything to ensure that their winery is well prepared to produce amazing wines. According to the website, “the topsoil was removed prior to planting in 2000, leaving only iron rich soils adding depth and opulence to the fruit. The vines are densely planted ( 4000 vines per hectare), no irrigation and extreme pruning ensure very low yields and other sustainable viticultural practices all ensure only the best wine is produced.”  They also use wild yeasts when possible. The winery  really is boutique, producing only 3 distinct wines. John Forsman, the owner and winemaker was on hand all the way from NZ to take us through the tasting. Luckily, he flies 747’s when he’s not making wine so coming to London just to do a tasting at the Bluebird was not too much of a stretch. We started with the ’07 Takatu pinot gris. The minerality of the soil really came jumped out of the glass. Stony fruits – apricots, pears, ripe pineapple on the nose. A  full, creamy palate with loads of fresh pears and tropical fruit rolling around my mouth. A pleasure to imbibe. The next two wines were reds. The ’06 Kawau Bay Merlot was a complex joy to drink. Loads of cherry, blackberries and spicy plums on the nose whilst the palate was nicely understated, all cigar box/cedar flavours against a backdrop of understated fruit, smooth and well structured. I could see having this with a nice hunk o’ meat. The last wine was their cuvee, the ‘ 05 Takatu Merlot Franc Malbec. This was one of the wines that was naturally fermented with wild yeasts.  An amazingly...

read more

Riedel at the Bluebird

I’m sitting here sipping the leftover ’06 Katnook Founder’s Block Chardonnay from the Guilty Pleasures dinner the other day and I’m really liking it. Could it have anything to do with the Riedel chardonnay glass I’m using? Probably, in my tastebuds opinion. Before the Riedel tasting at the Bluebird, I would have said pshaw but now, I’m convinced they really do enhance one’s wine drinking experience. I’ll be uploading a video in the next day or two but here is a quick rundown of the wines: Started off the night with Philipponnat brut champagne. A forest of Riedel champagne glasses were laid out on the bar when we arrived. It was a comparative tasting of 4 wines and a cognac. The first wine we tried was from Quincy in the Loire Valley, Joseph Mellot ’06 Sauvignon Blanc. In the taster glass it had a very closed nose and muted fruits, seemed a bit flat. In the Riedel, it really came alive, the nose was bouncy and fresh, the fruit really came thru, a sort of lemony sherbert taste with  a much smoother mouthfeel and balanced acidity. The next white was a Napa Chardonnay from Groth, an ’05. In the tester, a bit alcoholic and very oaky. In the proper Riedel the transformation was amazing. Caramel, buttery nose, hazelnuts,quite intense with sweet, ripe fruit on the palate and a nice long finish. A definite transformation. We then moved onto the reds, the first one, an ’02 Beaune 1er cru from Louis Jadot.  In the taster, not a very pronounced nose with definite tannins, it seemed quite vegetal. When we swapped glasses – much more delicate nose, very perfumy with lovely floral notes. Soft and silky. The last red was an Australian from Platagenet, an ’04 Cabernet. The nose at first was all red chili peppers, it was like walking around a Mexican food market, chewy tannins and pronounced alcohol. In the proper glass, the wine was smoother, less alcohol and the aromas and flavours of ripe black fruits came to the forefront, although there was still plenty of...

read more

Finca Sophenia ’06 Synthesis Malbec and Altosur Torrontes

When S. American wines are mentioned, Chile springs to most peoples minds but Argentina has been making a serious effort to compete with the Chileans here in the UK. While premium Argentine wines have made quite a splash in the US, they’re just beginning to make a dent in consumer consciousness here in the UK. I went to a tasting at the Bluebird Wineshop of the Finca Sophenia winery, based in the Tupungato Valley which is situated at high altitude in the north of Argentina. The vineyard is situated at 1200 metres and is one of the highest grape growing regions in the world. It does, however, have an excellent microclimate with 374 days of sunshine a year which allows the grapes to thrive despite the cold. Estefani Peretti, the representative from the estate was on hand for the tasting. Argentina has two varietals that really only seem to thrive their country, torrontes, a white varietal from Spain and of course, malbec, the red grape from France. Argentina has managed to take these two varietals and make them distinctly their own. When I lived in Argentina, I usually steered clear of torrontes because in my view it was a sickly sweet smelling, floral tasting wine with either no acidity to balance it out or too much.  The Finca Sophenia Altosur Torrontes ’08 exhibited none of those characteristics. It had a lovely, floral but not sweet nose with a touch of honeysuckle to round it out. I found it pleasingly dry with good acidity but not too much that it drowned out the white flowers and citrus character of the flavours. The finish was nice and long and had a lilting flowery/citrus echo. The citrus finish was what really surprised me as most torrontes have that flowery aftertaste but this one lacked that which made it a stand out. I could imagine this being a great sushi wine or even having it with spicy Thai food. The Synthesis Malbec ’07 is one of Finca Sophenia’s...

read more
%d bloggers like this: