Monday, 31 December 2007

TN : Enrique Foster Terruno Malbec 2005, Vistalba, Mendoza, Argentina

The grapes for this wine come from the Lujan de Cuyo, Lunlunta, Perdriel, Tupungato, Vistalba and Vista Flores areas. The winemaker was Mauricio Lorca.

This wine was imported by Heba Trading AB.

Colour : Deep black cherry/purple

Aroma : Dark fruits, oak, toast

Taste : Violets, dark fruits, long toast on finish, oak, vanilla, warm mocha, mouth coating

Alcohol : 14.5%

Price : 119 SEK

Mark : C+

Website : Heba Trading AB
Website : Bodega Enrique Foster

TN : Mendel Unus 2004, Boedga Mendel, Mendoza, Argentina

The vineyard is situated in Lujan de Cuyo at 100 metres, 3280 feet, and was planted in 1928.

The wine is a blend of 70% Malbec and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The case production was 3646 cases (six packs). The wine was oak aged for 16 months in new French oak barriques. The winemaker was Roberto del la Mota.

The wine was imported by Primewine.

Colour : Deep cassis/red

Aroma : Violets, coffee, dark fruits, spice, rich

Taste : Violets, heat, dark fruits, blackcurrant, spice, coffee, concentrated, soft tannins on finish

Alcohol : 14%

Price : 199 SEK

Mark : C+

Website : Primewine
Website : Mendel

TN : Ventisquero Queulat Carmenere Gran Reserva 2005, Maipo Vallet, Chile

This wine is a blend of 85% Carmenere and 15% Syrah.

On the back label is stated "The legend tells the story of an enchanted city in Southern Chile built in Gold and filled with valuable treasures. Although the city was never found, something magic was uncovered, a beautiful hanging snowdrift named Queulat".

Colour : Black, cassis

Aroma : Dark fruits, blackberry, slight oak

Taste : Lots of blackberry, slight green pepper, chocolate, liqourice on finish

Alcohol : 14.5%

Price : 102 SEK

Mark : B-

Website : Ventisquero

TN : Fabre Montmayou Grand Vin 2004, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina

This wine is from the winery's oldest vineyard which was planted in 1908.

All the grapes were handharvested and the wine was finished in 100% French oak fro 16 months. 12960 bottles were produced.

The wine was imported by Bornicon & Salming.

The Fabre Montmayou winery was the first homemade wine cellar built in Argentina by the group Domaine Vistalba in 1992. The winery was built in the area of Vistalba – Lujan de Cuyo at 1.150 meters of altitude, just by the 15 first hectares of Malbec that were bought in the same area.

The winery is 20 kilometres south from Mendoza. It can be visited and details can be found on the website (tours are available in English).

Colour : Black/red

Aroma : Violets, oak, dark fruits, spice

Taste : Oak, dark fruits, savoury notes, concentrated, mouth filling, lacking acidity/flabby
Alcohol : 14,5%

Price : 189 SEK

Mark : C+

Website : Bornicon & Salming
Website : Domaine Vistalba

TN : Cabardes 2004, Sacha Lichine, Vins sans Frontieres, France

This wine is a new world blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 20% Syrah, and 10% Grenache.

Colour : Dark ruby

Aroma : Earth, dark fruits, spice

Taste : Earth, dark fruits, acidic, thin, soft tannins

Alcohol : 13.5%

Price : 112 SEK

Mark : C-

Website : Sacha Lichine

TN : Tre Rose, Renaio, Chardonnay di Toscana 2006, IGT, Tenimenti Angelini, Italy

Tenimenti Angelini, a family owned group of Tuscan estates, was created in November of 1994, with the acquisition of three historical Tuscan wineries: Azienda Agricola Val di Suga in the town of Montalcino, Tenuta Trerose in the town of Montepulciano and Fattoria San Leonino in the town of Castellina in Chianti. Currently the estate is comprised of 415 hectares, between the three properties, with 173 hectares of vineyards divided as follow: Val di Suga, 100 hectares, with 55 hectares under vine; Tenuta Trerose, 170 hectares with 70 under vine and San Leonino 100 hectares with 45 under vine.

Colour : Yellow

Aroma : Green apple, pear drops, pineapple, slight oak

Taste : Butter, slight oak, muted pear, muted green apple, muted pineapple

Alcohol : 12.5%

Price : 106 SEK

Mark : C

Website : Tenimenti Angelini

TN : High Constantia Cabernet Franc 2001, Constantia Valley, South Africa

This wine was grown and bottled in the Constantia Valley.

High Constantia is being restored, under David van Niekerk and Bob de Villiers, to its former wine-making glory.

This wine was imported by Kvalitetsviner i Sverige.

The nose was really great on this wine but it was let down by the taste; the fruit seemed to be fading and it was well past its' best.

Colour : Black/brown/cassis

Aroma : Perfumed, blackcurrant hints, pencil, talcum powder

Taste : Floral, talcum powder, dark fruits, tangy

Alcohol : 13.5%

Price : 219 SEK

Mark : C

Website : Kvalitetsviner i Sverige

Monday, 17 December 2007

TN : Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2003, Terrazas de los Andes, Mendoza, Argentina

Estate grown at an altitude of 980 metres.

In the late 1950s, the LVMH subsidiary Moët & Chandon sent its Chief Winemaker, Renaud Poirier, to Latin America to investigate the potential of the region for producing world-class wines. After traveling throughout the region, Poirier visited Luján de Cuyo, in the province of Mendoza. Highly impressed with the local conditions for winemaking, and the presence of unique high elevation vineyards, Poirier and Moët & Chandon decided to launch its first subsidiary vineyards ever outside of France (Bodegas Chandon Argentina).

Following decades of successful sparkling wine production, in 1999 Moët Hennessy Wine Estates and Bodegas Chandon Argentina inaugurated the Terrazas de los Andes winery, a still wines initiative based on the pairing of fine wine varietals to unique altitudes within Mendoza´s emblematic, snow-fed, high elevation vineyards.

The Terrazas de los Andes winery was launched following the restoration of an old Spanish style winery, established in 1898 by Sotero Arizu, one of the forefathers of Argentine winemaking. Arizu founded the winery in the heart of Perdriel, facing the impressive Cordon del Plata (a section of the Andes Mountain Range).

Colour : Red/cassis

Aroma : Blackcurrant, oak, red fruits

Taste : Red fruits, blackcurrant, oak, green pepper, oak, tannins and liquorice on finish

Alcohol : 13.5%

Price : 139 SEK

Mark : B

Website : Terrazes de los Andes

Thursday, 13 December 2007

TN : AltaCima 6.330, Premium Reserve, 2003, Lontue Valley, Chile

AltaCima 6.330 refers to the height of the Parinacota Volcano that is part of the Andes mountains overlooking the vineyard. The vineyard is situated at the mouth of the transversal valley of the Lontue river. The soil is muddy and clayey and rich in volcanic ash. The climate is semi-arid Mediterranean.

The grapes were hand harvested during the last week of April and the first week of May 2003.

There was a cold maceration for 6 to 8 days at 6 degrees. Alcoholic fermentation was in steel tanks, took nine days, at 27 to 34 degrees. Afterwards the wine was left to macerate for 15 to 20 days.

The wine is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 10% Syrah, and 5% Petit Verdot. 60% of the wine has been aged in French oak barrels (Nevers/Vosges/Troncais), with one third new oak and two thirds in second and third use oak, for 14 months. The other 40% was matured in stainless steel vats.

The alcohol is 13.9%, TA is 3.38 grammes per litre, and the pH is 3.71. The wine has not been filtered or cold stabilised.

The back label states that the cellar life of this wine is between 2005 and 2013.

This wine was imported by Sydamerikaviner HB.

This wine received 93 points at the International Wine Challenge 2006, held in London.

Colour : Brown/red

Aroma : Oak, blackcurrant, spice, plum, cold tea, tobacco

Taste : Blackcurrant, oak, warm finish, spicy, tobacco hints, drak fruits, plush tannins but slight drying on finish, nicely balanced

Alcohol : 13.5%

Price : 158 SEK

Mark : A-

Website : AltaCima
Website : Sydamerikaviner

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

TN : Alpha Estate 2004, Red, Regional Wine of Macedonia

This wine is a blend of the native grape Xinomavro with the international Syrah and Merlot.

The Grapegrower was Makis Mavridis and the winemaker was Angelos Iatridis. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. The choice of this name came from the initial letter of Amyndeon, the geographical location of the estate's vineyards and to additionally declare a quality term in the every day Greek spoken language.

The 33 ha vineyard was planted in the Amyndeon region in the late 1990s.

Alpha Estate is situated in the Ampelia location, meaning vines, in the heart of the Amyndeon region, an area of VQPRD wines in the northern part of Greece.

The 33 ha vineyard was planted in the Amyndeon region in the late 1990s. It is situated on a plateau at an altitude of 620-710 m with a northwest exposure, covering a total area of 33 ha . The local climate is characterized by cold winters with sufficient rainfall and snow, which provide the vines with the necessary water supplies to endure the relatively dry summer. Additionally, two neighbouring lakes contribute to the existence of a mild semi-continental climate, favoring the cultivation of foreign and indigenous, red and white grape varieties.

The sandy-clay texture of the soil, assuring an ideal drainage of the rain water, the favorable climatic conditions during maturation and harvest periods and finally the appropriate viticultural practices contribute to a complete fruit ripening thus offering the possibility of producing wines of exquisite quality and rich aromas. The density of plantation is 3900 vines per hectare and the yields do not exceed 4200 kg of grapes per hectare. In order to avoid extreme water stress during summer, regulated deficit irrigation is applied to assure the optimum maturation of grapes.

Alpha Estate is a member of the Wine Producers Association of the Vineyards of North Greece.

This was bottle number 067757.

Colour : Red/cassis

Aroma : Herbs, red fruits, violets, blueberry

Taste : Thin mouthfeel, acidic finish, smooth tannins, red fruits, herbs, slight oak

Alcohol : 14%

Price : 189 SEK

Mark : C+

Website : Alpha Estate

Monday, 10 December 2007

TN : Veramonte Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2005, Colchagua Valley, Chile

The vintner was Agustin Huneeus. He is also the founder. He is a native of Chile and entered the wine business in 1960 as the principal stockholder and chief executive officer of Concha y Toro. Then a small winery, Concha y Toro grew to become Chile’s largest winery under Huneeus’ leadership.

In 1971, Chile’s difficult political climate led Huneeus to leave his home country. He subsequently headed Seagram’s worldwide operations based in New York, responsible for wineries in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Brazil and New Zealand, as well as California. Huneeus joined Franciscan in 1985 as partner and acting president. In addition to running 3 wineries in the United States for Franciscan, Huneeus developed two well-known Chilean brands, Caliterra and Errazuriz, later selling interest in both, and with his wife, purchased the Quintessa estate in Napa Valley in 1989.

In the early 1990s, he also discovered the winemaking potential of the Casablanca Valley in Chile. He found the climate, soils and terroir to be perfect for grape growing, yet there were less than 100 acres planted there at the time. Combining over forty years of wine growing experience with Casablanca’s unique terroir, Huneeus set out to craft wines that express the diverse estate’s terroir and build a winery to house Chile’s first Napa Valley-style visitor center.
He lives in California at the Quintessa estate and in San Francisco, and spends several months a year in Chile.

Agustin Francisco, the president of Veramonte, began his career in the wine business in 1989 after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley at Franciscan Estates, a Napa Valley based wine company his father ran. Relocating to his family’s native Chile for two years, he was instrumental in developing two well-known Chilean wineries, Caliterra and Errazuriz.
He returned to the USA and received an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He moved to San Francisco and became an associate in the branded consumer venture group Hambrecht & Quist, where he gained management and marketing experience consulting with a variety of branded consumer products companies. He returned to Franciscan Estates in 1996 to lead the company’s sales and marketing team and launch Veramonte nationally and internationally. He left Franciscan Estates in 2004 to again work with his father running a family-owned and operated wine company of wineries which includes Quintessa, Veramonte and Faust.

Agustin Francisco worked closely with his father on the development of the Veramonte Estate and today speaks around the world about the growth and future of the Chilean wine industry. “In the ten years since we planted in Veramonte, it has become one of the most important appellations in Chile. Chile and the Casablanca Valley will continue to emerge as a powerful producer of wine,” says Agustin.

Rafael Tirado became the winemaker at Veramonte in 1997, bringing his experience from the cellars of Chile, France and Spain along with degrees in agronomy and enology. “My aim is to produce complex wines that balance ripe fruit with the judicious use of oak, allowing the flavors of the grape to shine through,” says Tirado. He holds great pride for his role in pioneering winemaking in the Casablanca valley. “This area holds the potential to produce wines that will compete with the finest in the world.”

There is no information about this wine on the Veramonte website. The current release is stated as being the 2004.

Colour : Deep cassis

Aroma : Vegetal, oak, slight dark fruit

Taste : Blackcurrant, coffee, oak, slight vegetal, warm finish

Alcohol : 13.5 %

Price : 99 SEK

Mark : C+

Website : Veramonte

TN : Rosso di Montepulciano 2005, S. Agnese, Italy

This wine is a blend of 80% Prugnolo Gentile (Sangiovese) and 205 Canaiolo.

The wine spent one year in oak.

Colour : Dark red

Aroma : Cherry, coffee, oak, herbs, chocolate, very muted but complex nose

Taste : Thin, cherries, drying tannins on finish, oak, warmth on finish, long length, acidic

Alcohol : 14%

Price : 125 SEK

Mark : C-

Website : Tenuta S Agnese

Friday, 7 December 2007

Bibendum News December 2007

Just got the latest Bibendum newsletter in my inbox.

There are four new wines for December 2007 :

You can subscribe to the Bibendum newsletter via their website.

Website : Bibendum

Thursday, 6 December 2007

New Paolo Scavino Barolos from Enosvezia

I just recieved a newsletter from Enosvezia in my mailbox. Enosvezia are offering a range of top Barolos from Paolo Scavino :

Website : Enosvezia

TN : Misiones de Rengo Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Colchagua Valley, Chile

This wine was imported by Bibendum. Though only information on the 2003 vintage is available.

On the Misiones de Rengo website, there was only information about the 2005 vintage.

This wine had some good fruit but was ruined in the winery by too much time in toasty oak which overwhelmed the mid-palette and finish.

Colour : Black cassis

Aroma : Toasty oak, coffee, blackcurrant

Taste : Dominating toasty oak which builds up too overwhelm on finish, oaky tannins at finish, warmth of alcohol at finish, some nice dark berry and blackcurrant fruit initially

Alcohol : 14%

Price : 116 SEK

Mark : D+

Website : Misiones de Rengo
Website : Bibendum

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Swedish Wine Importers

A list of all wine importers in Sweden, including links to their websites, can be found on the Nordic Wine Institute website (under Links or Länkar).

Website : Nordic Wine Institute

Fine Wine Magazine December 2007

I just received the latest edition of Fine Wine Magazine.

In this issue, there are articles on Provence, Katnook Estate in Coonawarra Australia, Languedoc, Krug in Reims Champagne France, Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss and Domaine Rolly-Gassmann in Alsace France, Miquel Torres, and the upcoming Drinks Auction (which the communistic Systembolaget monopoly have to be involved in !).

It is free to subscribe; see the website.

Both English and Swedish versions can be downloaded from the website.

Website : Fine Wine Magazine

Dina Vingårdar

Dina Vingårdar are now making available, to wine lovers in Sweden, 3D Wines' rent a row of vines offer.

It costs 1180 SEK to rent a row of vines for the year then you have the opportunity to buy up to 4 cases of wines; the minimum if one case. They have a large selection of vineyards across France from which to choose from. You can change vineyards each year. This year the cost of a case of wine was 870 SEK. If you don't choose one of the special wines then you get a present card for 310 SEK. You can pick up the wine from the vineyard or have it delivered to you but you have to pay the freight charges. I have asked twice for how much extra this would be but have not received any satisfactory answer as yet.

Website : Dina Vingårdar
Website : 3D Wines

TN : Meulenhof Erdener Treppchen Riesling Auslese 1992, Weingut Meulenhof, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany

Weingut Meulenhof is owned by Stefan Justen who is also the cellar master. The winery owns 4 hectares of vineyard.

This wine is imported by Modern Wines Sweden, according to BK Wine, but there is no information on their web site.

Colour :
Pale yellow

Aroma : Lemon, petrol, turmeric, honey

Taste : Apricot, honey, lime, petrol, wine gums

Alcohol : 8.5%

Price : 100 SEK

Mark : B

Website : Modern Wines Sweden

Monday, 3 December 2007

TN : Bonterra Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Mendocino County, California, USA

This wine was made from organically grown grapes. Robert Blue was the winemaker.

The wine is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Syrah, and Merlot 6%. How on earth this can be labelled as a Cabernet Sauvignon varietal is beyond me; even though it is legal.

The wine was aged 13 months in French and American oak with medium to medium plus toast. 39% was aged in new oak, 30% in once-used oak, and the remainder in neutral oak. Coopers included Vicard, Alain Fouquet, Seguin Moreau, and Ermitage.

The wines total acidity is 0.55 grammes per 100 ml, the pH is 3.57, alcohol is 13.9%, and the Brix at harvest was only, compared to Napa for example, 24 degrees on average.

Colour : Deep maroon

Aroma : Raspberry, blackcurrant, cold tea

Taste : Slight oak, blackcurrants, red fruits, smooth tannins

Alcohol : 13.5%

Price : 135 SEK

Mark : C

Website : Bonterra Vineyards

Friday, 30 November 2007

TN : L'Avenir Stellenbosch Classic 2005, South Africa

This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (20%), and Carbernet Franc (20%).

There is no mention of the 2005 vintage on the Laroche Wines website though which seems to rarely updated with information, preferring to try to dazzle with fancy graphics.

L’Avenir vineyards are situated in Stellenbosch. The soil is Origan – Glenrosa type (decomposed shale with clay underneath). The grapes were harvested between the end of January and the middle of March. Fermentation was done with selected yeast strains and took five days at temperatures up to 25° - 32°C in stainless steel tanks. The wine underwent a cold maceration for 36 hours. It went through malolactic fermentation and was matured for 14 months in French barrels. There was no fining and at bottling, the wine was sterile filtered and bottled under vacuum for maximum protection. The winemaker was Tinus Els.

The residual sugar is 3.2 grammes per litre, pH is 3.53, and TA is 5.9 grammes per litre.

This wine won a bronze medal at the 2007 Veritas show.

Colour :
Dark purple

Aroma : Tobacco, blackcurrant, cold tea, raspberry

Taste : Long strong tobacco finish, burnt rubber and heat at end, blackcurrant, raspberry, oak, and hints of liquorice

Alcohol : 14%

Price : 99 SEK

Mark : C+

Website : Laroche Wines
Website : L'Avenir Vineyards

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Enosvezia latest Newsletter

Yet another newsletter arrived today.

Enosvezia are launching 4 wines from Tommaso Bussolas on December 1st 2007.

These are :

  • Amarone della Valpolicella, Order number 99985, Price 626 SEK
  • Ararone della Valpolicella Vigneto Alto, Order number 99986, Price 909 SEK
  • L'errante, Order number 99956, Price 304 SEK
  • Valpolicella Classico Superiore, Order number 99955, Price 232 SEK

Website : Enosvezia AB

Sigva Newsletter

I just got the latest Sigva AB newsletter in my mailbox. They are launching three new wines from Quinta do Noval, located in the Douro in Portugal, on December 1st 2007 :

  • Quinta do Noval Red Wine, Order number 97991, Price 439 SEK
  • Cedro do Noval Red Wine, Order number 98268, Price 149 SEK
  • Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2004, Order number 98464, Price 653 SEK

Registration for the Sigva AB newsletter is via their website.

Website : Sigva AB
Website : Quinta do Noval

Occasion Wine AB Newsletter December 2007

In my mailbox has just popped up the latest newsletter from Occasion Wine AB. In December, they are launching two German wines :

  • Heimz Nikolai 2006 Hallgartner Schönhell Riesling Kabinett Trocken, Order number 97342, Price 99 SEK
  • Schloss Mühlenhof 2006 Weinheimer Sibyllenstein Riesling Spätlese Feinherb, Order number 97388, Price 105 SEK
The Heimz Nikolai might be worth trying but I am not a big fan of the Feinherb style so I will give the Schloss Mühlenhof a "wide berth".

In addition, there is a short review of their attendance at the Det Goda Köket show.

You can subscribe to the newsletter via the Occasion Wine AB website.

Website : Occasion Wine AB

Grapevine Number 4 2007

I just received my copy of Grapevine, number 4 2007, which is published by Tegner Hermansson. Not much of interest contained it though. I did notice that they were offering a wine box of 6 wines for the Christmas period which looks interesting.

The contents are :

  • Chateau de Bonhoste Blanc
  • Dievole Rinascimento IGT
  • Tommasi Pinot Chardonnay
  • Tomassi Recioto della Valpolicella Florato
  • Irony Cabernet Sauvignon (2 bottles)

The price is only 720 SEK and the order number is 604539-09 (from Systembolaget).

Website : Tegner Hermansson

VinUnic Newsletter December 2007

VinUnic have published the December 2007 edition of their Våra Viner newsletter.

Guigal's 2003 LaLa wines are unleashed on Sweden. Italy's Tenuta San Guido's Sassicaia 2004 and Guidalberto 2005, which I might buy, are also available. From California comes Shafer's Hillside Select Cab 2003 and Relentless 2004.

Website : VinUnic Våra Viner Nyhetsbrev December 2007

TN : Massaya Classic 2005, Vin Rouge, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

This wine was sealed with a screwcap. It was imported by Vinalliansen but no mention of the 2005 vintage appears on their website !.

This wine is a blend of 60% Cinsault, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Syrah.

Colour : Pale red/ruby

Aroma : Violets, blueberry, white pepper

Taste : Violets, liquorice, blueberry, smooth tannins, slight spice and white pepper on finish, thin moothfeel

Alcohol : 14%

Price : 77 SEK

Mark : C+

Website : Massaya & Co
Website : Vinalliansen

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Adopt a Vine at Three Choirs Vineyard

For 39 pounds it is possible to adopt a vine for a year at the Three Choirs Vineyards in Gloucestershire in the UK. This is a nice option if you intended to visit the UK and would like to do some vinous-related touring and visit a vineyard whilst there.

You will get :

  • A certificate of adoption (which is valid for a year)
  • A name plate on the vine (up to 20 characters)
  • A glass of wine for two people to toast their vine
  • 2 bottles of wine from a carefully selected list to take away
  • Free entry to the vineyards
  • Free wine tasting in the shop
  • Guided tour of winery at 2.30pm
  • 20% discount on wines bought from the shop
Website : Three Choirs Vineyards Shop

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

TN : Deakin Estate Reserve Sparkling Shiraz

There is no mention of any vintage on the label.

I served this wine chilled and really liked it but as it warmed up it lost its bite and fruit.

Dr Phil Spillman is Deakin Estate's winemaker. He joined the Wingara Wine Group from Villa Maria in New Zealand and, prior to that, worked at BRL Hardy and Chittering Estate. Craig Thornton has been Deakin Estate's vineyard manager since 2005.

The Deakin Estate property and its wines are named in honour of that visionary, Alfred Deakin. It was purchased in 1967 and then planted to premium wine grapes which were sold as fruit until 1980 when a winery facility was built. The Deakin Estate range was launched in 1994.

There is no mention of this wine on the Deakin Estate website !.

Colour : Deep black/purple

Aroma : Dark fruits, blackcurrants, blackberries

Taste : Fizzy but does not last that long, liquorice, dry, unsweetened bramble jelly

Alcohol : 13.5%

Price : 99 SEK

Mark : B-

Website : Deakin Estate

Friday, 23 November 2007

TN : Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Alto Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Alto's history dates back to 1693, when it was part of a larger farm named Groenrivier ("Green River").

In 1919, the then owner of Groenrivier, Hennie Malan, divided the farm vertically in order to sell half of the land to his brother-in-law. The development of Malan's share was a co-operative venture between himself and his son, Manie. In the next few years they set about converting this partial wilderness into a wine farm, to which they gave the Latin name, Alto, a reference both to the altitude of the vineyards and their own aspirations. They built a homestead and a cellar, and planted the lower slopes with vines.

Malan's choice of red varieties was based on a shrewd assessment of the nature of his land. When Piet du Toit bought Alto in 1959, neither he nor the experts he called in for analysis and advice could fault the planting or the wine created by the Malans. When Piet retired in 1983, his son, Hempies, a well-known rugby Springbok, succeeded him. Hempies du Toit continued the fine red wine-making traditions of his predecessors until May 2000 when Neethlingshof's winemaker Schalk van der Westhuizen took over.

The wine is made from the grapes of unirrigated, north-facing vines between 8 and 19 years’ old at the time of harvesting. These vines grow in decomposed granite soils and a clay subsoil, at altitudes of 135 m and 475 m above sea level, with those at the higher levels cooled by False Bay breezes. A five-wire fence was used to trellis the vines which yielded a low four to five tons the hectare.

The grapes were harvested by hand at the end of March at between 24° and 25° Balling. After destalking and crushing, the mash was fermented in stainless steel tanks at between 25° and 27°C, using the selected NT112 yeast culture. The juice was separated from the skins after 10 days. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was racked into first-, second- and third-fill French-oak barrels and matured for 18 months.

A chemical analysis of the wine shows that the alcohol is 14,10% by volume, the residual sugar 3,1 grammes per litre, the total acidity 5,71 grammes per litre, and the pH 3,56.

Colour : Blackberry

Aroma : Oak, blackcurrant, spice, mint

Taste : Some blackcurrant but overpowered by oak, spice, mint, liquorice and slight sweetness on finish

Alcohol : 14%

Price : 129 SEK

Mark : C

Website : Alto Wine Estate

Thursday, 22 November 2007

TN : Beaujolais Villages Nouveau 2007, J.L. Quinson, Romaneche Thorins, France

Colour : Black cherry/red

Aroma : Bubblegum, stewed strawberry

Taste : Long acidic finish, bubblegum, stewed strawberry, spritzy moothfeel

Alcohol : 12%

Price : 70 SEK

Mark : D+

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Wine and Symbian OS

A couple of months ago I bought "The Symbian OS Architecture Sourcebook" by Ben Morris. Symbian OS is what powers most Smartphones (example manufacturers being Sony Ericsson, Nokia, and Motorola). Ben is a freelance writer and system and product architect focusing on Symbian OS.

When not using, thinking or writing about software, Ben likes to write about wine and vines. He owns a small vineyard (less than one hectare) that he is restoring to production in Alba, Piemonte, Italy, at Google Earth 44 38.01 N 8 8.850 E or thereabouts.

Ben spends most of his time in London but is flying quite a lot, Ryanair, to Italy. He is also studying on a Wine Production part time course at Plumpton College in the UK. He has written an article for the UKVA's magazine around a Plumpton trip to the Vintech Expo in Bordeaux.

Last year, Ben made around 60 litres of Dolcetto and Barbera from old vines. This year, his aim was to make 200 to 300 litres. The summer in Alba was good this year; around the mid 30 degrees earlier and then consistently warm, mid 20 degrees. Some of the young vines, "Barbatelles", planted this year were lost to heat though some could come back. There were a couple of days of rain in August and a hailstorm with stones the size of cherries.

Website : Ben Morris

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

TN : Chateau Perenne, Premieres Cotes de Blaye, 2004, Cru Bourgeois, Bernard Magrez, France

The vineyard dates back to the 17th century. Up until the French revolution in 1789, the monks of the Saint Romain de Blaye Abbey lived at the Saint Geres Prieure, receiving a significant source of revenue from the vineyard. In 1791, the estate was sold to the Irish O'Lanyer family.

This wine won the Medaille de Bronze at the Concours d'Aquitaine 2006. It was aged in French oak barrels for 18 months and is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Colour : Purple/red

Aroma : Oak, cedar, blackcurrant, leafy

Taste : Smooth moothfeel but not mouthcoating, blackcurrant, smooth tannins on long finish, blackcurrant, some underlying dark fruits

Alcohol : 14%

Price : 17.35 Euro (purchased at the Bernard Magrez Boutique at Chateau Pape Clement, Pessace, France)

Mark : B

Website : Bernard Magrez

TN : Beaujolais Nouveau 2007, J.L. Quinson, Romaneche Thorins, France

This wine promised so much from the nose (really good for the price) but it was only just drinkable so buyer beware !. This also makes a mockery of the Systembolaget's monopoly policy; one of their stated reasons for existing is that they taste everything beforehand so it's theoretically impossible to buy a bad wine but this is just a joke.

Colour : Brown/Red

Aroma : Spice, bubblegum, strawberry

Taste : Spice, lean fruit, thin, bubblegum

Alcohol : 12%

Price : 59 SEK

Mark : D

Monday, 19 November 2007

TN : Viu Manent, Reserva Malbec, Colchagua Valley, Chile

All grapes were hand harvested from the San Carlos estate vineyard between 18th and 22nd April 2004. The average age of the vines was 40 to 50 years old. The vines are planted at a density of 4464 vines per hectare. The canopies are trained using VSP and the vines are cane pruned. San Carlos is situated near the town of Cunaco. The soil is free draining, alluvial loam/clay of medium fertility.

The fruit was destemmed and crushed into tank. Then 15% percent of the juice was bled off to increase concentration. The must was then cold soaked for 5 days at 10-12 degrees. The must was then heated and inoculated with selected yeasts. Temperatures peaked at 30 degrees and two pumpovers were carried out daily. There was a three week post-fermentation maceration period. The wine was matured for 14 months in 85% French and 15% American oak barrels and then lightly filtered before being bottled. Malolactic fermentation started in tank and finished in barrel.

The alcohol measured at the laboratory was 14.1%, pH was 3.55, TA was 4.9 grammes per litre, residual sugar was 2.9 grammes per litre, and volatile acidity was 0.49 grammes per litre.

Viu Manent has been family, the Viu family, owned since 1935. The Managing Director is Jose Miguel Viu Bottini.

This wine was imported by Vinia Sweden AB.

Colour : Very dark purple

Aroma : Plum, chocolate, dark fruits, herbs, pepper

Taste : Oak, dark fruits, green pepper, herbs, blackcurrant, tar

Alcohol : 14.5%

Price : 99 SEK

Mark : C+

Website : Viu Manent
Website : Vinia Sweden AB

Friday, 16 November 2007

Wine and Vineyard in Öland

I have been speaking to a work colleague of mine, Torbjörn Cagenius, who is growing vines and making wine in Öland. He has ten vines of four different grape varieties planted. The varieties yielding the most are Schuyler (blue) and Sukribe (green). He is looking at planting Rondo since another producer, Wannborga on Öland, are apparently producing excellent wine from this grape variety (I must try to get hold of some to try). Öland is agricultural zone 1 whereas where I live, Tyresö, is agricultural zone 3. However, Torbjörn considers the micro climate and soil more important and I would agree with him for such a small plantation. In his experience, it takes three to five years before the vines produce enough grapes to make wine from. he has, so far, no problems with any diseases and no problems from the deer and rabbits which are plentiful on Öland. The only problem has been with birds eating some of the ripe grapes but this has not proven to be a big issue. Torbjörn has his vines planted against walls and on traditional trellising (poles and steel wires between). His oldest vine is 10 years old !.

All his equipment (including yeast) was obtained from :
Gratulera Presenter i Sundyberg
Sturegatan 30
17231 Sundbyberg
Tel : 08 29 08 68

This season, Torbjön has invested in a 5 litre oak barrel made of medium toasted French oak. I am eager to await the results for his experiment. The barrel was bought from Thorslundkagge.

Good luck to Torbjörn !.

Website : Wannborga Vin och Lamm
Website : Thorslundkagge
Website : Swedish Agricultural Zones

Chris Winews No 7 Autumn 2007

I received in the post Chris Wines latest food and wine magazine. It's free and can be downloaded from their website and it also possible to subscribe to a printed copy (which is what I have done). In this issue is an article on Neil Ellis, a South Africa wine producer, whose just released Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon (Systembolaget number 82019) looks interesting at 223 SEK. There is also a one page article on Pinotage.

Website : Chris Wines

TN : Tabali Reserva Shiraz 2005, Limari Valley, Chile

According to the label, Vina Tabali is the most northerly premium winery in Chile. Their website contains no information on the 2005 vintage of this wine.

The grapes were hand harvested and fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature of 26 degrees. Then it was matured in French and American oak for 12 months. It was then fined with egg whites and subjected to a light filtering. It was then aged in bottle for six months before being released.

This wine is imported by Vin & Sprit AB which has a decent amount of information relating to this wine.

Colour : Blackcurrant/violet

Aroma : Spice, dark fruits, burnt rubber

Taste : Undertones of burnt rubber, smoky bacon crisps, oak, some sweetness, dark fruits, long length, good concentration for wine of this price, gripping tannins, white pepper on finish

Alcohol : 14.5%

Price : 93 SEK

Mark : C-

Website : Vina Tabali
Website : Vin & Sprit AB