Decanter Fine Wine Encounter 2018, Landmark Hotel, London (18-11-2018 by Nenad Jelisic)
This is the fifth time that NJ Wines participated at this two-day-long wine tasting and already now I can say that with 100% probability it was not the last time. Every year, NJ Wines participates at many different wine tastings, but Decanter Fine Wine Encounter-tasting at the five-star Landmark hotel, which is held every year in the first or second weekend of November, is NJ Wines’ absolute favourite. Everything was perfect arranged on this wine tasting, as it was on the four tastings before. From the clear division between the "old" wine countries (France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Macedonia, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey) and the "new" wine countries (Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Chile, China, New Zealand, South Africa and USA), the beautiful and easy understanding wine catalogue and the service in the wonderful ballrooms. During these two days, several wine tastings were going on at the same time. Better to say, while the great tasting took place in the Ballroom, Grand Ballroom and Empire Room, the one hour and thirty minutes long Master Classes were going on in the Drawing Room at the same time. During these one hour and thirty minutes long Master Classes, one could try: e.g. different vintages of Dom Pérignon: 1985, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009 or different vintages of Château Montrose: 1982, 1995, 1998, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016 or different vintages of Sassicaia: 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015 etc. Last, but by no means least, so-called Discovery Theatres were going on too (Saturday only), at which one could try e.g. different vintages of different wine producers from Mendoza (Argentina), Napa Valley (USA) or Rioja (Spain) etc. Over 130 wineries participated at the tasting. NJ Wines tasted 419 wines and of these 72 wines got more than 2,5 NJP, i.e. 17%, which is a not so good result, but something better than last year when 15% of wines got more than 2,5 NJP. Among all these wines that NJ Wines tasted during the Decanter Fine Wine Encounter 2018, the biggest surprises were Bela Voda 2015 (3,5 NJP of 5,0 NJP) a red wine that consists of 50% Plavac Mali and 50% Vranac and Rkaciteli Special Selection 2017 (3,5 NJP of 5,0 NJP) a white wine that consists of 100% Rkaciteli from Tikves Winery from Macedonia. The fact that 2 wines of the 21 wines (of 419 tasted), which got more than 3,0 NJP, belong to Tikves Winery tells a lot about what high quality the wines produced by Tikves Winery have.
The following wines got more than 3,0 NJP (in alphabetical order): 1. Bodegas Osborne, Sibarita, 30 Year Old V.O.R.S, Oloroso, NV, dry sherry, Jerez, Spain, 3,5 NJP, 2. Chateau Lascombes, 2012, red dry blend wine, Margaux, Haut-Médoc, Médoc, Bordeaux, France, 3,5 NJP, 3. Château Montrose, 1982, red dry blend wine, Saint-Estèphe, Haut-Médoc, Médoc, Bordeaux, France, 3,5 NJP, 4. Château Montrose, 1998, red dry blend wine, Saint-Estèphe, Haut-Médoc, Médoc, Bordeaux, France, 3,5 NJP, 5. Château Montrose, 2005, red dry blend wine, Saint-Estèphe, Haut-Médoc, Médoc, Bordeaux, France, 3,5 NJP, 6. Château Montrose, 2015, red dry blend wine, Saint-Estèphe, Haut-Médoc, Médoc, Bordeaux, France, 3,5 NJP, 7. Chateau Peby Faugères, 2015, red dry blend wine, Saint-Emilion, Libournais, Bordeaux, France, 3,5 NJP, 8. Comtes de Champagne, Blanc de Blancs, 2007, white dry sparkling wine, Champagne, France, 3,5 NJP, 9. Fonseca, Guimaraens, Vintage Port, 1998, port wine, Douro, Portugal, 3,5 NJP, 10. Fonseca, Vintage Port, 1985, port wine, Douro, Portugal, 3,5 NJP, 11. Graham's, 20 Year Old, Tawny Port, NV, port wine, Douro, Portugal, 3,5 NJP, 12. Inglenook, Rubicon, 2014, red dry blend wine, Rutherford, Napa Valley, North Coast, California, USA, 3,5 NJP, 13. Morlet Family Vineyards, Passionnément, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012, red dry wine, Oakville, Napa Valley, North Coast, California, USA, 5,0 NJP, 14. Penfolds, St. Henri, Shiraz, 2015, red dry blend wine, South Australia, Australia, 3,5 NJP, 15. Quinta do Noval, Colheita, Port, 2000, port wine, Douro, Portugal, 4,5 NJP, 16. Quinta do Noval, Vintage, Port, 2003, port wine, Douro, Portugal, 3,5 NJP, 17. Ramey, Chardonnay, Hyde Vineyard, 2015, white dry wine, Carneros, Napa Valley, North Coast, California, USA, 3,5 NJP, 18. Rombauer Vineyards, Diamond Selection, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015, red dry blend wine, Napa Valley, North Coast, California, USA, 4,5 NJP, 19. Tikves Winery, Bela Voda, 2015, red dry wine, Macedonia, 3,5 NJP, 20. Tikves Winery, Rkaciteli, Special Selection, 2017, white dry wine, Macedonia, 3,5 NJP and 21. Yao Family Wines, Yao Ming, Family Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015, red dry blend wine, Napa Valley, North Coast, California, USA, 3,5 NJP.
Château Montrose (red dry blend wine, Saint-Estèphe, Haut-Médoc, Médoc, Bordeaux, France) Masterclass. Hervé Berland, CEO, led the Masterclass. He led it in a brilliant, instructive and entertaining way. During it, except to enjoy tasting of Château Montrose’s wines, NJ wines got possibility to learn a lot about the Château Montrose’s history, vineyards, cellars, winery and making procedure. Thank you very much for that Mr. Hervé! The wines that were tasted during the Château Montrose Masterclass var were (shown in order how they were tasted and how they were rated by NJ Wines): 1. Château Montrose, 2016, 3,0 NJP, 2. Château Montrose, 2015, 3,5 NJP, 3. Château Montrose, 2014, 3,0 NJP, 4. Château Montrose, 2011, 3,0 NJP, 5. Château Montrose, 2010, 3,0 NJP, 6. Château Montrose, 2009, 3,0 NJP, 7. Château Montrose, 2008, 3,0 NJP, 8. Château Montrose, 2005, 3,5 NJP, 9. Château Montrose, 2003, 3,0 NJP, 10. Château Montrose, 1998, 3,5 NJP, 11. Château Montrose, 1995, 3,0 NJP and 12. Château Montrose, 1982, 3,5 NJP. All tasted vines clearly shown that they have a good aging potential, from minimum 5 years up to 20 years.
The best wine producer at the tasting: Morlet Family Vineyards. From the 2006 vintage, Luc and Jodie Morlet have been producing wines of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah from the Napa Valley, a Bordeaux-style wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle) and a wine of late harvested Sémillon from the Sonoma County. Carefully farmed vineyards and low intervention techniques during the production of the wines create powerful, complex and ageable wines, yet refined and nuanced wines. In August 2010, Luc and Jodie bought a wine estate, just north of the town of St Helena, in the appellation St. Helena in the wine district of Napa Valley in the wine region of North Coast in California. Since then, they have been busy renovating (restoring) the estate's historic stone building, built in 1880, into their family's winery. The wine estate is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and from here comes grapes for their Morlet Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The Morlet’s 'Mon Chevalier' vineyard is located on the hillsides of the Knights Valley, overlooking the western slopes of Mount St. Helena. The vineyard benefits from its proximity to the Mount St. Helena, whose warm and windy climate is ideal for the long ripening of the red Bordeaux grapes: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Luc and Jodie have recently planted their 8 hectares "Cœur de Vallée" vineyard. These Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon vines are located on the world famous Oakville Bench. In addition to the family-owned vineyards, the family leases through long-term contracts vineyards in Bennett Valley, Dry Creek, Fort Ross-Seaview, Napa Valley and Russian River Valley. All of the Morlet’s wines are made according to classical Bordeaux and Burgundy wine making techniques and are aged in only the finest 100% French oak barrels. Morlet Family Vineyards produces 14 different wines.
The best wine in all categories at the tasting: Morlet Family Vineyards, Passionnément, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012, red dry wine, Oakville, Napa Valley, North Coast, California, USA, 5,0 NJP of 5,0 NJP (100 points of 100 points). What a fabulous wine! The best 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine that I have tasted so far in my life. The wine is the only wine that got 5,0 NJP of 5,0 NJP (100 points of 100 points) of over 400 wines that were tasted by NJ Wines on the 2-day long Decanter Fine Wine Encounter 2018–tasting in London. The wine is also the only wine that has gotten 5,0 NJP of 5,0 NJP (100 points of 100 points) of me so far this year. The aroma is very complex (almost perfumed) and big, and at the same time nuanced, with clear sweet spices (vanilla, cinnamon and cardamom), blackberries, Crème de Cassis, blue ripe plums, dates, sweet tobacco, cocoa rich dark chocolate and licorice. The aroma never ceases to evolve in the glass and it only confirms the incredible complexity and greatness of the wine. The flavour is, like the aroma, very complex, big, and at the same time nuanced, with clear flavours of cocoa rich dark chocolate, black pepper, blue ripe plums, blackberries, Crème de Cassis, dark cherries, tobacco, licorice, dark roast coffee and sweet spices. The wine has a very good tannin structure. The balance between it and wine's fruitiness is perfect and therefore, the tannins do not feel prominent in the flavour. The wine's complexity with its perfect balance says that the wine will develop for at least 10 more years i.e. until the year 2028. The Morlet Family Vineyards Passionnément Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 is already wonderful, but it will be even better within a few years. The question is just what will happen then to my rating system 5,0 NJP of 5,0 NJP, maybe I will be forced to extend it to 6,0 NJP. The grapes for the wine are harvested by hand. After careful selection in both vineyards and winery, careful destemming and pressing, the wine is fermented/macerated in stainless steel tanks and puncheons (454 litres oak barrels). After the fermentation and the maceration, the wine is aged in new puncheons for 16 months and finally a few weeks in a bottle. The wine is not filtered. Such a tasty, complex and tannin rich wine as this one fits just fine with grilled fillet of beef/entrecote with Café de Paris sauce, potato gratin and a salad consisting of tomatoes, dark olives, small pieces of feta cheese, Italian salad spice and virgin olive oil or with reindeer stew with buttery mashed potatoes or with grilled pork chops with grilled red peppers, yellow onions and tomatoes and béarnaise sauce or with rich wild (venison and boar) stew with jasmine rice or with pasta carbonara or with hard cheeses such as Svecia, Västerbottensost, Cheddar, Grana Padano and Parmesan. Morlet Family Vineyards Passionnément Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 should be served at 18 to 19°C in Bordeaux glasses, if possible, from Orrefors, Kosta Boda, Spiegelau or Riedel. Start by serving it at 16°C (when room temperature is over 20°C or outdoor temperature is over 23°C) and then enjoy when it starts to grow in the glass. If the wine would be drank today, it should be decanted for an hour.
The best wine region/wine style at the tasting: Porto and Douro/Port wine. Port wine is a Portuguese fortified wine that is made from many grape varieties. The most used are Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Francesa and Touriga Nacional. White port wines are produced in the same way as red port wines. The only difference is that one uses white grapes like Donzelinho Branco, Esgana-Cao, Folgasão, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and Viosinho instead of red. Port wine's production process is as follows: the grapes are harvested by hand, after the harvest, the grapes are delivered to the winery, destemmed and placed in the low stone tanks (lagares) where they are treaded by real feet or mechanized feet, then the must is fermented together with the skins in the stone tanks or in stainless steel tanks until it has an alcohol strength of 6 to 8% when it is fortified to 19 to 21% with 77% grape spirit. The usual is that one first removes the skins before adding the grape spirit, but some winemakers do the opposite. Now, the wine has to be aged in large oak barrels for a few years before it is released on the market. Unlike sherry, the wine is fortified before the wine fermentation is complete. Port wine is made in several different styles: Colheita (a port wine that must be made from grapes from a single vintage, that must be aged in small oak barrels for at least 7 years before it starts to be bottled and that can be aged in small oak barrels as many as 50 years or more before bottling), Garrafeira (a rare port wine that must be made from grapes from a single vintage and that must be aged in both large oak barrels, between 3 and 6 years, and in large glass containers, for at least 8 years), Late Bottled Vintage (a port wine that must be made from a single vintage and that must be aged in large oak barrels between 4 and 6 years; longer than Vintage port), Ruby (the simplest port wine), Single Quinta Vintage (a port wine that is made in the same way as the Vintage port, but it must come from one winery and it is produced when the vintage quality is not good enough to be Vintage port), Tawny (a port wine that must be made from port wines from several vintages and that must be aged in large oak barrels from 2 years, the simpler version, up to 40 years) and Vintage (a port wine that must be made from grapes from a single vintage and that must be aged in large oak barrels, between 18 and 30 months, shorter than Late Bottled Vintage port).
Port wine the best vintages, 1806, 1812, 1815, 1820, 1821, 1834, 1851, 1858, 1868, 1872, 1878, 1896, 1897, 1900, 1908, 1912, 1920, 1922, 1924, 1927, 1931, 1935, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1963, 1966, 1970, 1977, 1991, 1992, 1994, 2007 and 2011.