The wine of the month, 2020, part 1
April 2020: Gérard Bertrand, Rivesaltes Ambré, 1985 (11 EUR/12 USD in Sweden; 375 ml) white sweet fortified wine, Rivesaltes, Languedoc-Roussillon, France, 5,0 NJP of 5,0 NJP (100 points of 100 points) (07-04-2020 by Nenad Jelisic)
This is without a doubt the best white sweet fortified wine that I have tasted from Languedoc-Roussillon so far. It is absolutely fabulous. Bravo Gérard Bertrand! Regardless of the age of 35, it shows no signs of age. The balance between its sweetness, acidity and fruitiness is absolutely fabulous. This fabulous balance does that Gérard Bertrand Rivesaltes Ambré 1985, after its 35 years, still has at least a 20 years long life (aging potential). The aroma is very sweet, concentrated and sweet spicy. Clear aroma of sweet spices, dried apricots, dried figs, dried grapes, burnt sugar, sweet tobacco and walnuts. The flavour is very sweet, full and bitterly acidic. Clear flavour of sweet spices, dark chocolate, tobacco, burnt sugar, walnuts, dried apricots, dried figs, dried grapes and jam made from oranges and bitter oranges. The aftertaste is very long, sweet and in the end bitterly fresh. Thanks to that the burnt sugar feels clear in both the aroma and the flavour of the wine and that the wine has a good acidity, it will fit incredibly well with crème brûlée. In addition, it will fit really well with grilled duck liver or with blue cheeses like Gorgonzola, Roquefort and Stilton or with tiramisu or with black forest gâteau. Or just enjoy it without any food as a dessert in itself. Gérard Bertrand Rivesaltes Ambré 1985 consists of 80% Grenache, 10% Maccabeu and 10% Muscat. The grapes have grown on granite and gneiss soils. The wine-making process is as follows: the grapes are harvested and selected by hand and after the harvest they are delivered to the winery where they are destemmed and then crushed. After the destemming and crushing process, the grape must, which consists of pulp, skins and seeds, is fermented in the 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 wine is then separated from the grape must and aged in large oak barrels for about 30 years and then in bottle for a few months before it is released on the market. I recommend that you start drink this fabulous white fortified wine at 8°C (unlike what most of web wine pages recommend) and allow it to slowly grow/open in the glass while you drink it. If you can drink Gérard Bertrand Rivesaltes Ambré 1985 from Riedel Vinum Port or Orrefors Difference Sweet or Orrefors Elixir.
March 2020: Churchill's, Late Bottled Vintage, 2015 (18 EUR/19 USD in Sweden) port wine, Porto, Portugal, 5,0 NJP of 5,0 NJP (100 points of 100 points) (03-03-2020 by Nenad Jelisic)
It is incredible that four consecutive vintages of one and the same wine get more than 3,5 NJP of 5,0 NJP (2012: 4,0 NJP, 2013: 4,0 NJP, 2014: 5,0 NJP and 2015: 5,0 NJP). The probability that NJ Wines would give more than 3,5 NJP to four vintages of one and the same wine in price range under 190 SEK is as great as someone would win 100,000,000 SEK in a lottery. The probability is even less that such a wine would get 5,0 NJP of 5,0 NJP (100 points of 100 points) two vintages in a row. Everything that has been mentioned before confirms again that very talented employees work for the Churchill's wine house. And it cannot be just that. The vines and terroir from which the grapes to this wine come have to be exceptional. Else how Churchill's wine estate would succeed produce such great wines (port wines) during not so good vintages as vintage 2012, 2013 and 2014. This vintage has a perfect balance between the sweetness, the acidity and the fruitiness as well as a perfect tannic structure. As the vintage of 2014, this vintage has one of the best aging potential of all Late Bottled Vintages that I have tasted from Churchill, at least 15 years, if not even more because it has everything that is required from a wine with a long aging potential. Furthermore, the aging will only make it more complex and irresistible to drink. The aroma of the wine is characterized by cocoa-rich dark chocolate, sweet spices such as vanilla, cinnamon and cardamom as well as dried black cherries, dates, grapes, blue plums, sweet tobacco and white pepper. The wine's flavour is characterized by rum raisins, sweet spices, black pepper, cocoa-rich dark chocolate, sweet tobacco, dried black cherries, dates and blue plums. The wonderful taste of cocoa-rich dark chocolate, black pepper and sweet tobacco stays in the mouth forever. Churchill's Late Bottled Vintage 2015 is an absolutely fabulous wine. The wine is a blend of six different grape varieties: Tinta Barroca, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional. The wine's production process is as follows: the grapes are harvested and selected by hand, after the harvest, the grapes are delivered to the winery where they are destemmed and then placed in the low stone tanks (lagares) where they are treaded (crushed) by mechanized feet. After the destemming and crushing process, the grape must, which consists of pulp, skins and seeds, is fermented in the stone tanks until it has an alcohol strength of 6 to 8% when it is fortified to 19 to 21% with 77% grape spirit. Then the wine is separated from the grape must and aged in large oak barrels 4 years before it is released on the market. With Late Bottled Vintage, it is meant that the port wine comes from a single vintage and that has been aged in oak barrels between 4 and 6 years. Do not worry about the sediment of the wine in the second to last or the last glass. The sediment only shows that the producer has not filtered the wine at all. The wine will brilliantly fit with a lot of different cheeses like Castello Blue, Gorgonzola, Parmigiano Reggiano, Roquefort, Stilton, and Västerbotten. Or with less sweet cherry pie, blueberry pie and apple pie or with cocoa rich dark chocolate or with pancakes filled with Nutella, very fine grated dark chocolate and walnuts or with Swedish kladdkaka, but so little sweet as possible. Or just enjoy it without any food. I recommend that you start to drink this fabulous port wine at 8°C (unlike what most of wine websites and the producer itself recommend) and let it slowly grows/opens in the glass while you drink it. If you can drink Churchill's Late Bottled Vintage 2015 from Riedel Vinum Port or Orrefors Difference Sweet or Orrefors Elixir.
February 2020: Steyer, Sauvignon, 2018, white dry wine, Radgona-Kapela, Podravje, Slovenia, 4,0 NJP of 5,0 NJP (90 points of 100 points) (02-02-2020 by Nenad Jelisic)
This wine and Edi Simcic Sauvignon 2016, which was chosen as the wine of the month in August 2019, are the two best Sauvignon Blanc-wines that NJ Wines tasted in 2019. The wine is very fresh, very aromatic and a brilliant school example how a really good Sauvignon Blanc-wine should smell, taste and be. Aroma of black currant leaves, green tomatoes, yellow apples and yellow pears. Very fresh flavour of green tomatoes, citrus fruits and green apples. Really good balance between the sweetness and the acidity. Steyer Sauvignon 2018 fits perfectly as an aperitif, especially during hot summer days. Its high acidity will certainly increase appetite. It will fit really well with grilled white fish such as cod, turbot, plaice and halibut or with fresh oysters or with fresh tagliatelle pasta with the delights of the sea (crayfish, mussels and octopus) or with pizza Frutti di Mare or with grilled chicken with white wine sauce, lemon juice and cooked small fresh potatoes. Steyer Sauvignon 2018 should be drunk at 8 to 10°C from, if possible, glasses like Difference Crisp from Orrefors or Veritas from Riedel or Esprit from Peugeot or Atelier from Luigi Bormioli. The wine’s soil consists of sandy clay, vines are 15 years old and grapes come from two vineyards that both are located at a height of about 260 meters above sea level in the appellation Radgona-Kapela. The grapes are hand-harvested and carefully selected in both the vineyards and upon arrival at the winery. After the destemming and crushing process, the grape must, which consists of pulp, skins and seeds, goes in the press machine where the grape must is cold macerated for about 12 hours under a temperature around 10°C. When the pressing is completed, the must is poured in stainless steel tanks where it is fermented under a controlled temperature between 15 and 20 degrees. After the fermentation, the wine is aged on its lees in the same stainless steel tanks that it was fermented in. After the aging, the wine is easily filtered, bottled and then aged for a few weeks before it is released on the market.
January 2020: Edi Simcic, Kozana, 2015, white dry wine, Goriska Brda, Primorje, Slovenia, 4,5 NJP of 5,0 NJP (95 points of 100 points) (02-01-2020 by Nenad Jelisic)
If NJ Wines has to choose two best Chardonnay-wines from all that NJ Wines tasted in 2019 then NJ Wines chooses this wine and Morlet Family Vineyards Ma Princesse 2015. Edi Simcic Kozana 2015 is a big, complex, buttery, flavourful, fresh and concentrated wine with a very long and mineral aftertaste. In both the aroma and the flavour, one finds ripe tropical fruits, nectarines, freshly baked brioche, sweet spices, among which are vanilla most prominent, and minerals. The interaction between the wine's acidity, sweetness, minerality and fruitiness is really good. As with their Sauvignon 2016, which were chosen by NJ Wines as one of the Top 10 Wines of the Year 2019, Aleks and his father Edi with this wine confirm again that they belong to the absolute best wine producers in Slovenia or better to say that they belong to the absolute best wine producers in the whole former Yugoslavia. Aleks and Edi really allow the nature (their grapes and terroir) to "talk" in their wines and it definitely feels when one tastes their wines. In addition, Aleks and Edi create wines with great aging potential that will only get just better over the years. The grapes for the wine are hand harvested. Vines are 23 years old. The soil on which the grapes grow consists of various forms of weathered flysch (called local opoka), which consists of thin and cyclically repeated sedimentary layers of limestone, mudstone and sandstone, and marl (clayey soil that contains plenty of calcium carbonate). The soil such as this is both mineral rich, and has very good drainage properties that means that the vines have to go very deep to find water. A combination of all of the above mentioned factors does that Edi Simcic Kozana 2015 has a clear mineral aroma, flavour and aftertaste. The wine is first macerated for about 2 hours in press and then fermented in 70% used and 30% new 225 litre oak barrels (barriques) from France under a temperature between 22 and 24 degrees for about 25 days. After the fermentation, the wine is aged in the same oak barrels as it had been fermented for about 10 months. After the aging, the wine is bottled and aged for about 12 more months. It should start to drink at about 8°C from large Burgundy glasses, if possible, from Orrefors, Spiegelau or Riedel. It can be enjoyed as a wonderful aperitif or with creamy shellfish and fish gratin or with grilled salmon, if possible, not farmed salmon, with white wine sauce and buttery mashed potatoes or with Bouillabaisse. Edi Simcic Kozana 2015 will develop for at least 10 years, i.e. until at least 2030. I would not be surprised at all if the wine within a few years would reach 5,0 NJP of 5,0 NJP (100 points of 100 points).