Sunday, 11 February 2018

Clos Triguedina Malbec du Clos 2014 Cahors France

In all honesty wines from Cahors have been for a long time neglected as they were performing below par in all ways possible. Still today I hear at times the demolition of the Cahors wines, which today is somewhat ill placed. Wines from the Southwest of France have been climbing the rubble of bad wine image for quite some time now and some are have become truly remarkable. I am open to wines from all corners and so also from this corner of the planet, Clos Triguedina I never heard of before is one domain I like to set some light on.

First of all as in all French wines, they are named after a town. Cahors is a small town in the southwest of France sitting at the borders of a big natural park, with the river Lot running through it.
The wines from Cahors go back a very long time, thousand of years. They were actually one of the first vineyards in France, planted for the Roman Empire, making sure the legions had something to drink. Helas quickly it came apparent that the production of wheat was in shortage to feed the masses, and Rome saw France as the empire's breadbasket, so many vines had to go including the cahors. In the third century change finally saw the light, and a very discerning Emperor Probus, decided to stop all this nonsense and reinstated the delicious dark red drink, and still today they celebrate this man, with a wine named after, made by the house I am talking about "Clos Triguedina". Quickly after that Cahors became one of the most sort after wines in France. Pope John XXII, born in Cahors promote this revival in the fourteenth century. The port of Bordeaux began to take an interest too in this wine, as their wines became increasingly popular, they used the stronger and richer cahors to blend with theirs to bolster their exports. In the 19th century total catastrophe, all Cahors vineyards were wiped out by the phylloxera epidemic. After that took it quite some time to rebuild and of course Bordeaux took advantage of that and what came out of Cahors was then heavily taxed, so their wines were selected instead The wines from Bordeaux took then really center stage and ever since haven't left that position.
In 1971 Cahors became an AOC appellation, which took quite some time as many AOC were awarded to many regions in 1936.

Summers here are warmer and drier than Bordeaux, which is an indication why malbec and tannat feel much at home here as they need that sunshine to achieve their ideal phenolic ripeness. Rainfall is much less here than the Atlantic coast, which cuts down big on fungal issues, something sauternes really needs and Cahors can do without. Winters can be harsh, 1956 proved it as it froze so much for so long that it wiped out the vines, replanting was again at the order.

Today the style Cahors is much evolved and improved, and once again rises to the times of noble, quality and class.

Clos Triguedina.

Etienne Baldes planted his first vines at Clos Triguedina in Cahors in 1830. Etienne Baldes had recuperated the best parcels on the Lot terraces. Now for 8 generations the Baldes winemakers have assured the continuity of the domain. In 1877 were the vines partially destroyed by the phylloxera virus, once all was clear they soon replanted. In 1956 the big freeze hit the vineyard and destroyed some of the vines as their plots sits in a micro climate area, they felt very vulnerable to harsh weather conditions. Today some of the vines of these plots still stand strong and are used to blend in the top cuvees as the vieilles vignes gives that little something a young vine can produce. Renee Baldes, reputed winemaker participated at the creation of the first syndicate in Cahors and the brotherhood. He was one of the most demanded grafters in the region.

Today it is Jean Luc Baldes passionate winemaker who is holding the reigns. He went to Bordeaux and Burgundy to work on his skills and passion. He is the 7th generation and also the first to install stainless steel tanks for the domain in 1976. He has been hunting to perfect and improve the quality and standard of his Cahors, back to a time where they were reveled by the world. In 2000 he installed a modern cellar with 600 oak barrels. As a creative winemaker Jean Luc Baldes has developed a wide range of wines which includes; Clos Triguedina, Prince Probus, Balmont, Domaine Labrande.

Clos Triguedina Malbec du clos  2014

This is the house entry level wine, where one can always discover if the rest of the family will blow you away or fill you with disappointment. 

Grape:  100% Malbec 

Alcohol: 13.5% 

Price: €7 $8 £6 average excl. taxes 

Visual: Deep ruby color with reflections of purple, color intensity is 4.5 out of 5, the legs are heavy and sticky, it brilliance is luminous, looks very much a polished wine, intense, masculine, young, a bit metro-sexual and ready for consumption. 

Nose: Fruity attack on the nose, well present, black ripe fruits, currants, blackberries, wet wood in layers, undergrowth, little animal like, not complex, very straightforward.

Palate: The attack is medium almost mellow, same for the body medium like, mid palate fruits in dominance, with some spice but unclear, it lingers on for some time but does not stay, one does not expect that either, it feels somewhat warm and little immature.

Conclusion: Although that his house carries a great reputation, you should surely not judge this house on this wine alone, there is certainly indications that the more higher cuvees, Clos Triguedina, Probus and The New black wine in particularly will hit the mark of Cahors excellence. You get good value for your money, with a wine that sits good and drinks easy. A house to try if you like your Cahors or are on the look for something different.

Score: I rate this wine 17/20 70/100 (rated as a good wine)

rating system
19.6-20 exceptional
19-19.5 excellent
18-18.9 very good wine
17-17.9 good wine
16-16.9 fair wine
15-15.9 drinkable wine
14-14.9 acceptable wine

Until next time please do drink responsibly. 

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Clos Henri Pinot Noir 2012 Henri Bourgeois New Zealand

I certainly know Henri Bourgeois, in the Loire valley, I did not know them yet for their wines in New Zealand. Set in Marlborough, where of course I got very interested as Marlborough is a terroir for Sauvignon blanc.. is it?

Marlborough New-Zealand
This is undoubtedly the most known new world wine growing region for sauvignon blanc, 95% of the sauvignon blanc from New Zealand comes from Marlborough. Most of us have certainly tasted, enjoyed a Marlborough sauvignon blanc. But as with all they couldn't stop producing and soon became this beauty an overproduced vulgar nightmare. Thank god balance have been restored as towards the end of the nillies (2008-2009) there was so much of it on the market and more bad than good that it tipped over and a market that fully began to reject it.

But thank the senses and good reasoning much is brought back under control. There is still as in all the vulgar bomb of exotic fruit and dry it cuts you in half wine on the market so cheap one sometimes wonder how they manage it on their business plan?

Marlborough found itself to the northern part of the south island, as you know New Zealand is split into two islands and pretty much all along northern and southern parts wine fields are growing.
With its 20,000 hectares of vines, Marlborough is the largest wine region in new-Zealand. The region consist of two parallel valleys the Wairau and the Awatere, the long and some straight  valley Wairau is the longest established. Although that vines were planted in 1870, it took one hundred years for this region to become commercial. New-Zealand is very young in its commercial venture in the making of wine, but many winemakers came to Europe or Australia to craft their skills. Montana the Auckland based producers now Brancott wines, was one of the pioneers to buy land and plant vines in Marlborough. The sauvignon blanc really came globally into the spotlight end 80 and the 90's, this zesty bursting of exotic fruit, goosberryfull dry wine became beloved, adored, for it then to fall from grace as the wines became vulgar, tarty and boring.  Soon alarmbells were ringing and common sense kicked in and many that jumped on the sauvignon success wagon who hadn't really much of a clue, went bust and the real hardworking knowledgeable winemaker kept solid and their wines stood through the tides of time. Although that you still will find here and there the cringe as big players stand strong, overall the winemakers from Marlborough will try to bring a wine with personality and identity.

Henri Bourgeois Marlborough

This famous Loire valley family has nest itself southern foothills of Marlborough's Wairau valley. Clos Henri is the name of the estate is meticulously established and organically run.
With 10 generations of know-how, their aim is to achieve the identity of Marlborough through Clos Henri, representing the terroir to its most finest.

Its Remi and Jean Pierre that set the first step to venture outside the Loire borders. In 2000 the purchase 98 hectares of bare farm land. In 2001 they planted the first grapevines. 2003 first harvest and vintage, 2005 planting of the Hill slope vineyards,  2007 purchasing of an extra 11 hectares bringing the estate to 109 hectares, 2009 construction of the winery on the estate, 2010 first vintage they achieved dry-farming (no irrigation), 2013 fully certified organic with 42 hectares on the estate.

Henri Bourgeois Clos Henri 2012

Grape: 100% Pinot Noir

Price: €27 $34 £24

Wine making:  bunches are hand picked and sorted 100% destemmed, before being transferred under gravity into large French oak vats with no crushing. The berries spend about one week soaking, after that the fermentation process starts, they look for a light extraction through gentle pump over at the beginning of the fermentation alternating with plunging mid fermentation.  The wine is aged in 100% French oak of which 25% new oak.

Alcohol: 13.5%

Age of the vines: 8 to 13 years old.

Ageing potential: 7 to 8 years.

Visual: Medium ruby red color, intensity of the color 2.5 out of 5, perfect transparency, brilliance luminous, feminine, young and slightly frail, clean, neat, little airs of seduction.

Nose: a fruity attack, cherries, raspberries, oak flairs and spice, hints of licorice, in the background blackberries, stereotype nose of many pinot noirs around.

Palate: the attack is good but light bodied, fruity, and tannins soft, little astringency at the end, good freshness, balance acidity and aromas is ok, heat around the gums slightly after awhile, lingers on for awhile, not to long.

Conclusion: I was very intrigued when I saw this wine. Marlborough is hard core sauvignon blanc, even though they work hard to give this wine its rightful place in the Marlborough hierarchy, I still find that Pinot performs better elsewhere in New Zealand, (tasted better for that price).
You still get a professional and good quality wine, but most Pinot's from New Zealand move in the direction of Burgundy style and not Loire, which here is what you get. It does not take away that after this wine sits a wonderful family with tons of experience, I expected it to give me a bit more, blind tasted and I would not think immediately New-Zealand Pinot Noir/Marlborough. 

Score: I rate this wine at 17.9/20 79/100 (rated as a good wine).

Until next time please do drink responsibly.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Clos Marsalette Pessac-Leognan 2008 Bordeaux

I actually never heard of this wine before, but I have heard of the owner of this wine, "Comtes Von Neipperg". This gentleman owns a couple of names in Bordeaux, of which the most famous of all is  " Canon La Gaffeliere" which stands among the greatest in Saint Emilion hierarchy.

In some ways this family belongs to the foundations of what is Bordeaux today, working hard and bringing beautiful crafted wines to the table. In total they own 10 estates, most in France, 2 outside, 1 in Bulgaria and 1 in South Africa.

So before we dig ourselves into Clos Marsalette, let us first see who the count is.

Comtes Von Neipperg
The count from Neipperg was founded in the XII Century in Germany in the valley north of Wurttemberg. The earldom comprises of some 30 villages and market towns, including Schweigern, which remains the family seat to this day. Here stands a family with quite some history, dating back to the holy Roman Empire. The Von Neipperg's served the Imperial family of Austria, starting in the 16th Century, contributing officers and diplomats for many years. The family has been making wine in Germany since the 13th Century, and viticulture has never been far or away from their lives, actually wine making was essential of the Neipperg's. A rooted history something of some 800 years of winemaking traditions. The talented Stephane Von Neipperg manages the estates in Bordeaux which his family acquired in 1971. Working with the top in the industry has he been able to bring all the estates to exceptional levels. Residing in Saint -Emilion since 1983, Stephane Von Neipperg and his wife Sigweis, have devoted themselves tirelessly to their estates and the next generation of Neipperg's are committed to the same goal, producing outstanding wines.

Clos Marsalette

Located in Martillac, in the appellation of Pessac-Leognan where many of the top Chateau reside (Haut-Brion, Mission Haut-Brion, Pape Clement, Smith Haut Lafitte to name a few). This is a joint venture between the count and Didier Miqueu.

The vineyards sits majestically on gravelly soil settled there for millennia by the Garonne river. These different deposits offer a great diversity, the subsoil is composed marine sediment from the Miocene and Pliocene period (5 to 15 million years ago) in the form of shelly sand with a bit of clay, fawn-colored sand and multi colored clay.
The vineyards of Clos Marsalette vineyard covers an area of 12.3 hectares for the red wine and 1.3 hectares for the white wine. The grape varieties planted for red are; 50% Merlot, 48% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet franc. For the white wine the varieties are; 65% Sauvignon blanc and 35% Semillon.

Clos Marsalette 2008
I came across this wine a couple weeks ago, and although I know the count and of course Canon la Gaffeliere, I did not know Clos Marsalette.
Also not that often to find in a wine shop wines aged 10 years and at a very affordable price, so there was very little hesitation.

Price: €26 $33 £23 average ex tax

Grape: 40% Merlot, 55% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc

Alcohol: 13.5%

Visual: A beautiful warm red colour with slight dark brown reflection at the rim, the colour intensity is 3 out of 5 and the transparency is perfect, brilliance is

Nose: A rich attack of just ripe fruit with aromas of wood, earthtiness, berries and black cherries are dominant a fairly rich impression. Dried almost smoked herbs and spice are making their appearance.

Palate: An attack on the palate is beautiful, soft and round tannin's, a medium to full body, balance between acids and aromas sits really good and it lingers on for quite some time. Mid-palate feels warm and complete, berries dominates the fruits.

Conclusion: A very pleasant discovery from a house where care and craft is noticeable, a wine I enjoyed greatly and for ten years of age still holds well and kept in perfect conditions can still live another 5  years easy. For those looking for a top quality Pessac-Leognan at very affordable price than this is surely a front runner. Great house, good value for money, assets not all can hold on to.

Score: I rate this wine at 19/20 90/100 ( rated as an excellent wine).

Until next time please do drink responsibly.