Artadi Orobio 2006

Artadi Orobio 2006The wines of Artadi have finally arrived in Australia, it has been a good while coming and the first wine is this young Tempranillo. I expect this to be a real hit, it’s very tasty, its under a screwcap and costs about $27. It’s Tempranillo from the very high Rioja Alvesa region, 50% is given some french oak treatment for 6 months, while the rest stays in stainless steel tank. Be prepared for the prices of the top level 2006 wines from artadi, they are not cheap!

A nose of raspberry and fresh red cherry, red jellybeans with some sage and lavender. Fleshy and and fruity in the mouth with some soft fruit tannins, the balance is just right. It’s the kind of wine you can really get your teeth into. Plums, red cherry and tamarillo on the palate, savoury and medium bodied. A fresh and very friendly Rioja under a screwcap, if that’s important to you. 89 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $27 Closure: Screwcap

Gonzalez Byass Apostles Palo Cortado

Gonzalez Byass Apostles Palo CortadoI think this is the first Palo Cortado I have done a full post on, which is strange as I love the style. So what is Palo Cortado? Well it’s not a fino and it’s not an oloroso, it’s a wine that goes a bit weird in initial stages of aging and doesn’t show the traits of either fino or oloroso. It’s a rare thing when it happens naturally, however there are now bodegas that make an artificial style. Don’t ask me how that works, I have no idea.

A nose of Christmas cake, vanilla and wood, with some medicinal herbs. Initially there is a burst of sweetness, but this quickly moves on a very savoury, dry palate. Roasted almonds and a kind of pop corn flavour with orange peel and a light mocha note. Intriguing wine, there is quite a lot going on here but that long warm nutty finish almost makes you not worry about it. 91 Pts.

Source: Broadway Liquor Distributors Price: $50 (375ml) Closure: Cork Stopper

Web: www.gonzalezbyass.com

Naia Verdejo 2007

Naia Verdejo 2007This wine has been dubbed the giraffe wine at home. I like giraffes, but I’m not sure I’d like to get too close to one in the flesh. This wine however is very friendly. And it is long and textured too.

A classy nose of citrus, lemon and grapefruit, with fennel bulb and herb notes. The real show here is the texture, length, and complexity on the palate. Very classy. Apples, lemons and pears with a touch of mineraly goodness.  A bit higher in cost than most Verdejos, but it is the most interesting I’ve had. 91 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $40 Closure: Conventional Cork

Quinta do Noval Masterclass

nacional-05-and-noval-douro-sA last minute invitation got me into a Quinta do Noval Masterclass a couple of weeks.  A great opportunity to have a look at just about all of the current releases and a few back vintages, including a couple of vintages of the revered Nacional Vintage Port.

The tasting was led by Aymeric de Gironde, the International Sales Director for Axa Millismes, who did a great job of bridging the gap between a straight forward lecture about a grand old port house and giving a sence of the place and the people that live and work there. There was enough information to start a profile on the Qunita, so I won’t bore you with all the gritty details right now. It should be up on the site in the next couple of weeks.

We ran through the table wines, then the tawnies followed by the vintage ports. A fairly big range, but I could see the quality from the cheapest tawny through to the top end table wine.

Table wines:

Maria Mansa 2003:
This wine was Noval’s first commercial attempt at a Douro table wine and its a good drink. It’s mainly a blend of the two torigas. Shisty and earthy on the nose with beetroot, plum and cherry. In the mouth it’s medium boddied and fairly straight forward but enjoyable with blueberry, cherry and plum with some pepper/hot cinnamon. 88 Pts. $33

Cedro de Noval 2005: This is named after a big old cedar that provides some shade in the courtyard at the Quinta. This is a blend of mostly syrah with the torigas and some Tinta Cao making up the balance. Flinty, shisty nose with cherry, plum and mulberry with herby undergrowth. In the mouth, it’s bright and fresh, well balanced and stylish. Silky, fine tannins frame the fruit with a bit of tar and mint. Minerals show throughout, but mostly on the finish. 91 Pts. $44

Quita do Noval 2005: This is the flagship table wine, and for the price it is excellent value. I don’t expect this to last for ever however as the prices of the top level Douro wines are heading north. This is similar in many respects to the Cedro, however the minerality and finesse are taken up a couple of notches. Gunsmoke and hot rocks on the nose with perfectly ripe plum, red cherry and blueberry.  The fruit is really expressive and the fleshy, soft tannins deliver a lush texture. At the same time, it has a backbone of acid that I think will allow it to age for quite some time. Excellent stuff. 95 Pts. $141

Port Wines

Quinta do Noval Tawny: this is the basic tawny which uses fruit from Class A growers and is made in an auto lagar. Toffee and raisin mixed in with some plum and spirit on the nose. In the mouth its tangy cherry and plum with hot cinnamon and a touch of clove. Fresh and fruity. 87 Pts. $35

noval-tawnies-sQuinta do Noval 10 year old Tawny: Spirity raisins with Christmas cakes spices and mixed nuts. The palate is a bit rum and raisin with plum, rosewater and more nuts. Fresh and full of life. 90 Pts. $79

Quinta do Noval 20 year old Tawny: Smokey and nutty, with soft spirit, light raisins, old wood and an almost salty note on the nose. Very complex on the plate with layers of flavours: rose, raisins and currants, roasted walnuts, smoke and clove. Driving spirit and fairly dry too. Excellent drinking. 93 Pts.

Quita do Noval Colheita 1995: The nose on this wasn’t really giving up too much, some old wood, something a bit floral and raisins. But on the palate it explodes with vitality and fresh cherry and raisins. There is more acid here, but there is also plenty of sweetness to provide balance. Very long finish with a touch of warmth. 90 Pts. $95

Quinta do Noval LBV 2003: Plenty of fruit on the nose here: plum and dark cherry with clove and anise. This really is like a baby VP in character with plum, cherry and rosella fruit with liquorice and clove. Meaty and dense this is a ripping LBV for drinking now. 92 Pts.

Quinta do Noval ‘Sival’ Vintage Port 2005: This is made from a leased Quinta called Sival. The style here is for a lighter and earlier drinking style of vintage port than the traditional vintage from Noval. Nice juicy fruit, rosella and cherry for the most part, there is a bit of plum in there too. Anise and earthy herbs add some complexity. It’s quite brooding at the moment, but highly drinkable. 89-90 Pts. $95

Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2004: This is the stuff. Its quite grapey and raisiny with plum and dark cherry, a little blackberry too. In the palate the first thing that hits me is the lush tannins, followed by some excellent fruit that shows perfect ripeness. More dark fruits, shot with minerals and earthy goodness. Very early in it’s life, this should grow to be a classic. 93 Pts.

Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2003: If I thought the 2004 was good, this takes things to a different level. The nose is fully of classic douro notes: smoke and hot rocks, gun smoke and clove. Intense blackberry, dark cherry and rosella. The tannins are fleshy and ripe which give the wine luxury texture. This has all bases covered and will live a very long, full life. 97 Pts. $185

Quinta do Noval Nacional 1967: It may be the only time I ever taste this wine, so I jumped at the offer of a refill when it was offered. Old coffee beans and smoke with quality cigar tobacco, lifted up by some dried currants, varnish and some floral notes. Amazingly complex in the mouth too, layers of flavour, some grape notes, anise, raisins and old leather.  Excellent mouthfeel and the length here is amazing. The only way to describe this is: Wow. 95 Pts.

Quinta do Noval Nacional 2000: I was thinking that I would be in for a bit of a struggle here, 8 year old vintage port is generally closed down and hard going. But this was so very open and drinking like the 99 point wine that it clearly is. I was supprised that this was my favourite wine of the tasting, thinking the 67 would surely be. The nose is dense and floral with bright fruit and overwhelming sense of welcoming. Seductive and fleshy in the mouth, the wine seems delicate and light but has deep intensity, integrity and complexity. If there is a port you should have an epiphany with, this is it. If you don’t get the port bug from this wine, you don’t like port. 99 Pts.

Cillar de Silos Torresilo 2006

Cillar de Silos Torresilo 2006These 2006 wines for Cillar de Silos are looking quite smart. I’d rate this on par with the 05, which was very impressive in my book. If you don’t have any of this in your cellar and you’re a fan of Ribera del Duero you could do a lot worse than a couple of bottle of this in the cellar. A trio of Alion, Pesquera and this would be a very interesting look at modern style Ribera del Duero in 10 years…

Classic, classy Ribera del Duero on the nose: a raft of savoury fruits such as dark cherry,  mulberry and a little plum with wet clay and mountain herbs, pepper. There are some toasty oak notes and mocha in the background as well.  It’s quietly bold in the mouth, intense fruit flavours with well formed tannins and plenty of structure to improve in the cellar.  The fruit on the palate mirrors the nose but adds some cola, a mocha espresso, and earthy spice. the oak is a little obvious at the moment, however it is framing the fruit rather than smothering it. i am sure this will integrate over the short term. The finish is long and shows earthy minerals. The problem with this wine is that it drinks great now, but if you can keep you hands off it you will be rewarded with greater complexity in a couple of years. It will drink well for at least a decade. 95 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Cost: $120 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.cillardesilos.es

Other vintages: 2003, 2004 , 2005

Gonzalez Byass ‘Del Duque’ Amontillado

Gonzalez Byass 'Del Duque' AmontilladoThe heating at Casa Tinto y Blanco is not really up to scratch at the moment, so a glass or two of good sherry is in order to keep yourself warm in the Melbourne winter. I’m not sure if it’s the warming effects of the alcohol or the intoxicating effects, but after I couple I don’t seem to notice the cold anymore. So I’m very thankful to Broadway Liquor for sending in this, it’s an excellent example of old Amontillado.

Notes of cedery wood and walnuts with hints of old leather. I’d like to say sweet fruit as well, but its more orange peel and spice. Plenty of great old wood character with some varnishy tobaccaco notes, and walnuts on the palate. I rarely talk about tannins in sherry, but this has very soft tannins on the very long finish. It’s quite full on, but very dry and flavoursome. 92 Pts.

Source: Broadway Liquor Distributors Price: $50 (375ml) Closure: Cork Stopper

Web: www.gonzalezbyass.com

Cillar de Silos Crianza 2006

Cillar de Silos Crianza 2006Cillar de Silos is an old favourite, and this 2006 is showing very well. It was a challenging vintage, but the guys here seem to have to made all the right decicions and have producded something well worth drinking and cellaring over the medium term.

A beautiful nose of currants, blueberries and blackberry with  woodsmoke and gamey, herby undergrowth notes. Very smooth and supple in the mouth, plenty of fleshy tannins that lend texture and body. Its a touch flabby in the middle, but the acid cleans that up on the finish. Fresh juicy, fruit: blackcurrant and blackberry with a twist of vanilla and a lick of sarsaparilla. Blackberry and minerals on the long finish. 91 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Cost: $55 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.cillardesilos.es

Other vintages: 2004, 2005

Gonzalez Byass ‘Solera 1847′ Oloroso Dulce

Gozalez Byass 'Solera 1847' Oloroso DulceYes, its time for another cream sherry tasting note. This one kicks goals however…A buggar to take photos of though.

A really enticing nose of wood and nuts, with a touch of raisin, coco powder and nutmeg. Creamy and intense in the mouth with notes of hot chocolate, dried fruit, hot cinnamon, orange peel and nice wood. Plenty of length here, with a warm, nutty finish. A real winner with a hunk of Queso Mahon on a cold night. 90 Pts.

Source: Broadway Liquor Distributors Price: $30 Closure: Cork Stopper

Web: www.gonzalezbyass.com

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Augusti Torello Mata Reserva 2005

Augusti Torello Mata Reserva 2005I  like some bubbles on a Friday night, its always a good way to kick of the weekend I have been drinking a bit of the Raventos i Blanc Reserva 2005 and needed something a bit different so I grabbed a bottle of this fairly new import from The Spanish Aquisition. I tend to favour the more focused and lower dosage sparkling wines, and this pressed all the right buttons.

The ATM Rosado Cava has been around for a while, but the rest of the range has just arrived and I am very impressed with this reserva. It’s from 30+ year old vines and spends 24 months on lees.

A nose of yeasty bread, green apples with a flinty, sea spray note. A vigourious bead in the glass, it’s tight and focused but still gives enough fruit and lees character to be a crowd pleaser. Tangy apples wizzed up with a bit of lemon, followed by a long finish of lemon sherbet and sea mineral tang. A classy bottle the could show a number of NV champagnes (at a higher price) a thing or two. 91 pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $40 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.agustitorellomata.com

Gonzalez Byass ‘Elegante’ Sweet Cream

Gonzalez Byass 'Elegante' Sweet CreamWhat can you say about cream sherry? It’s is the quintessential ‘Nana’ sherry. It’s what many people reference of when they think of sherry, the big jugs of McWilliams Cream Sherry sitting at the bottom of cupboard that their grandmother used ‘just for cooking’. More often than not, if I give someone a glass of good sherry, more often than not I’ll get a comment about drinking it with nana in the kitchen while no-one was looking.  There are some amazing cream sherries on the market (this oloroso dulce is an example) Anyway, this is another blend of PX and palomino sherry, but it works a bit better than the last one.

Notes of dried fruit, mostly raisins, and wood with an almost malty, floral note. Quite nice really. But in the mouth it doesn’t follow through to the same extent. A burst of raisins and nuts on entry but it’s all too short. Viscus and kind of creamy in the mouth with some warmth on the finish. At this price you can’t really complain and Nana would love a sneaky bottle behind the cooking oil. 85 Pts.

Source: Broadway Liquor Distributors Price: $17 Closure: Cork Stopper

Web: www.gonzalezbyass.com