Bloomsbury Wine Review
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Published by Birkbeck Wine SocietyJanuary - February 2014
2 | Bloomsbury Wine Review | January 2014
Bloomsbury Wine Review | January 2014 | 3
Bloomsbury Wine Review is a independent magazine published by Birkbeck Wine Society. For information about the magazine please firstname.lastname@example.org
4 Editor's comments In defense of diversity
5 Wines of Setubal Peninsula Jim Budd travels through Portugal
8 Interview In conversation with Ralph Hochar of Chateau Musar
11 Arabian Nights Out A Birkbeck alumnus reports from UAE
14 Extreme Wine Thoughts from a wine economist
17 Producer Focus Highlights of a recent tasting: Domaine Alain Geoffroy Les Claux des Tourettes Domaine Dubois Domaine Jo Riu Domaine Dalmeran
21 January Event A tasting of...Georgian Wines
22 Port Its not just for breakfast any more
Welcome to the January issue.
I was once at a Wines of South Africa tasting and I remember being literally stopped in my tracks by two absolute gems from Stellen-bosch. Curious to find out more I struck up a conversation with the winemaker, Miles Mossop, a rather stern Afrikaner with a death-grip handshake.
The two wines that I tasted were produced in very limited amounts and the proportion that was actually available in UK that year was very small indeed. One wine, a very lim-ited Chenin Blanc-Viognier blend, is named after Saskia-Jo, Miles young daughter. The second, a Bordeaux blend named Max, after his son, who was born in 2005. The production is a puny 6,000 cases of which some makes its way to UK. His aim is to combine elegance, fi-nesse and vibrant New World fruit to produce a wine which will reward cellaring, but can also be enjoyed in its youth. Cabernet Sauvignon, from slate soils in the Botteleray area of Stellenbosch, dominate the latter blend. It then gains increased com-plexity from Petit Verdot grown in the same region, but on gravely soils, along with Merlot sourced close by.
Miles blends them in such a way as to reflect both the individuality of the terroir and personality of his chil-dren. If he is not entirely happy with the vintage then the wines dont get released but sold on to a commercial winery to be used in their blends.
In my opinion, the most exciting wines are made by independent
winemakers. In fact, they regularly accomplish the seemingly impos-sible. They travel the world to meet the consumers, sharing not only their knowledge and expertise, but also their passion that extends from soil to grape to glass.
In the global battle for your wine glass they are the David battling in-ternational drinks Goliaths like Per-nod Ricard and Diageo who make and market bland wines to sell at su-permarkets, often at ridiculous price points.
These wines are often not only made in large factories but lack sincerity, not to mention provenance. It is pos-sible to open a bottle of wine in UK and enjoy a blend of different regions or, even worse, countries.
A lot of New World wine is bulk shipped by the hectolitre in mem-branes to giant European depots and then bottled there for the local market. A third of the wine imported by Asda is bottled in the UK, at its own bottling plant. The reality of big wine is inevitably as bland as the juice in the bottle. It is a fact that more Italian Pinot Grigio is sold abroad than is actually produced in Italy.
As French author Francis Kerline says: - When I have a glass of wine, Im imbibing the region where it comes from. If I want a beaker full of the warm south, I choose something from Provence; if I want to taste the myth of France, I sup on a big Bur-gundy like a Romane-Conti; and if I want the verydouceur de la vieto
wash over my palate, I will opt for a sweet wine from the Loire such as a Coteaux du Layon, because its aro-ma will summon the honeyed light of that region.
Judgements as to quality are, of course, framework dependent. In his book, The Worlds Greatest Wine Estates, Robert Parker, the worlds most influential wine critic, gives his definition of what makes a good wine:
(1) the ability to please both the palate and the intellect;(2) the ability to hold the tasters interest;(3) the ability to display a singular personality;(4) the ability to reflect the place of origin.
When I taste a wine, it means little to me unless I understand its origin and diversity. In fact, origin is di-versity. Good wine, consumed in a sensible manner, can augment a meal and bring joy to social occasions. Good quality wines charm with their palettes of textures and stimulate with their nuanced detail.
Fine wine can bewitch, enchant, and more. Wine is an agricultural product. It should be made not by machines, but by people. We should celebrate the diversity of wine.
Charles ShawChair, Birkbeck Wine Society
Editorial4 | Bloomsbury Wine Review | January 2014
The Quinta da Bacalha estate, formerly belonging to the Portu-guese royal family, dates back to the first half of the XV Century.
Travelling Through Setubal PeninsulaJim Budd
First stop was the large Ba-calha winery, where we had a visit and a tasting. We should have been going to the lovely Quinta do Bac-alha with its gardens and azulejos, which dates back some four hundred years, but unfortunately there is ren-ovation work going on there at the moment.
In December 2003 I'd visited the Quinta but I don't think I had seen the winery, which was founded in 1992 under the name of Joo Pires et Filhos. In 1998 Comendador Berardo became the major shareholder in the company and, in time, the company name was changed to Bacalha.
Bacalha Wines has a production ca-pacity of 20 million litres, space for 15,000 barrels and around 1000 hect-ares of vines.
It is possibly easier to list the major Portuguese wine companies that Be-rardo doesn't own than mention the ones that he does. After an initial joint venture with Lafite-Rothschild at Quinta do Carmo in the Alentejo, Berardo now owns Carmo and last year became the major shareholder in Aliana.
Berardo is a great art collector and there is plenty of evidence of this at the winery including many old azule-jos. Close the entrance to the large winery, there are copies of the famous Chinese terracota army. The soldiers and their horses are currently in a rather shabby state, although they may be in the process of renovation.
We had a very good tasting, con-ducted by Vasco Garcia, the chief winemaker, of seven wines. Although it was All Saints Day the commercial director was also present. With one exception, they showed well and are all good value for money.
We started with the 2008 Loridos Al-varinho, Vinho Branco Regional Lis-boa (7-8). Most Alvarinho comes from the northern part of the Min-ho around Monco (Vinho Verde production area). This was decidedly lean, austere and lemony tonique! in French. I would have liked to have seen a little generosity of fruit. On this evidence it may well be best not to plant more Alvarinho around Lis-bon.
The crisp 2008 Catarina, Regional Peninsula de Stubal (6), was a
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Article reproduced with permission from the author.
Jim has been a wine writer since 1988 following a num-ber of enjoyable years teaching English in south Lon-don. Jim is editor of Circle Update, the newsletter of the Circle of Wine Writers and a contributing editor to Wine Business Insider. He has written for Decanter and many other specialist wine magazines.
His first book Appreciating Fine Wines was published by Quintet Books in 1996 and he was the general editor for Great Wine Tours of the World published by New Hol-land in 2002. He contributes to the Loire section of Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book.
much less challenging white. It is made from Ferno Pires and Arinto grown on flat sandy soils and Char-donnay on the limestone slopes of the Arrbida mountains. Offers good value at 6.
We started the reds with the com-pany's oldest brand the sooty, herbal and leafy 2007 Tinto da An-fora, Regional Alentejano (6). The company has 350ha of vines in the Alentejo and Anfora comes from vines in three zones in the region Portalegre, Borba and Arraiolos.
Anfora is a blend of number of vari-eties including Aragonez (Tempranil-lo), Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, Alfrocheiro and Cabernet Sauvignon. It's one of those wine that underlines what great value can be had in Por-tugal in this 4-7 range. Unlike some of the icon wines that too often have silly price tags.
Next the single varietal 2006 S Touriga Nacional, Regional Peninsu-la de Stubal (11-12) with its com-bination of violets, herbal freshness along with structure and power in the finish. One of the more successful varietal Tourigas but still could have done of any variety to soften out the angles.
Then the top wine from the show-piece estate in Azeito the dense and smoky 2005 Palcio da Bacal-hoa, Regional Peninsula de Stubal (30). The initial sweet fruit includ-ing blackcurrant and toast is bal-anced by quite a lean finish: a good wine and quite reasonably priced. This 'Bordeaux blend' is a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon (51%), Merlot (43%) and Petit Verdot (6%) and it spends 17 months in French oak barriques. The straight Quinta wine sells for 15.
Finally two examples of Stubal's unique Moscatel sadly overlooked ahnd virtually unknown outside Por-tugal. 'The true secret of Portugal." remarked Charles Metcalfe. The 1999 Balcalha Moscatel de Stubal (15) is a lovely combination of nuts, sultanas, marmalade, sweet apricot and freshness in the finish.
Vasco explained that it is the high acidity that makes Moscatel de S-tubal stand