Oeno-File, the Wine & Gastronomy Column

by Frank Ward

SAVAGE SELECTION

June 2018. The wines listed by Mark Savage M.W., an outstanding taster and wine merchant, show character and typicity. He looks for authenticity and abhors pretentiousness. He recently showed a selection from his portfolio at the 67 Pall Mall club in London and I went along to try a few samples.

 

With just two hours to spare, my own selection of which wines to taste had to be a savage one too!

 

BERNHARD OTT (Austria)

 

2016 GRÜNER VELTLINER DER OTT

Crisp and vital, its aroma conjures up nettle and chlorophyll, broadening on the palate to include crab apple, grapefruit, and greengage. Needs two years to achieve fusion.

 

2016 GRÜNER VELTLINER SPIEGEL

More complex and more richly aromatic. An extra degree of ripeness finds expression in apricot and orange blossom notes, turning to white peach and stone. The acidity, initially masked by the wine’s amplitude, has a rhubarb-like cutting edge.

 

2016 GRÜNER VELTLINER ROSENBERG

With its yellow tinge, this excellent wine shows more sinew, with a meld of crab apple and rhubarb on nose and palate. The agreeable bitterness will soften as the wine rounds out – without ever ceasing to give bite and precision.

 

ERWIN TINHOF

 

2016 WEISSBURGUNDER

The broad, grapy nose exhales typical Pinot Blanc fruit (wild white rose and grapefruit), leading into a round flavour that, while attractive already, will blossom over the coming two-three years.

 

2016 NEUBURGER LEITHABERG DAC

Matured in old barrels, this gives off a faintly oaky aroma of waxy apple, grapefruit peel, and peach. The rich grapy flavour expands to include orangy notes and ends with a gentle bitterness that acts like a drawstring on the fruit.

 

2015 TINHOF NOIR (90% Zweigelt)

A beetrooty blue-purple, this smells just like elderberry. The lightish flavour seems relatively simple but will round out and gain depth over the coming 2-3 years. Would probably go well with black pudding!

 

2015 BLAUFRANKISCH

A limpid purple, this has a fuller, more generous nose suggestive of raspberry and elderberry with a hint of oak. It’s undeniably light on the palate, not unlike a generic Pinot Noir but with a savage aspect, leaving a thread of raspberry intensity on the aftertaste. A good wine that will open up over the coming 3-5 years.

 

2015 SANKT LAURENT

Darker, richer on the nose, this smells like a fusion of blood orange, beetroot, and cherry, with a shift to raspberry on the palate. Plenty of tannin on the finish, which should round out in time, liberating the fruit. Will develop well over 8-10 years.

 

ALEXANDRE SCHOFFIT, ALSACE

 

2016 CHASSELAS

A delicate green-gold, this has a round, juicy aroma of peach and walnut. Still in chrysallis, it should develop well in coming years. It could scarcely fail to, given the age of the vines: 80 years.

 

2016 RIESLING HARTH (gravelly soil)

The lustrous green-gold colour and delicate scent (greengage, lily, honey) show distinct Riesling traits. The flavour, if light, is steely, with a creamy texture. There’s a hint of magnesium on the subtly persistent aftertaste, which promises a good 15 years’ steady development.

 

2016 RIESLING RANGEN GRAND CRU (Volcanic soil)

This altogether more assertive wine has an intense, focused aroma of white peach, chlorophyll, and honey. The flavour, both steely and fleshy (it quivers in the mouth like a raw oyster), is as delicate yet incisive as a silverpoint drawing. Should show real finesse when mature.

 

TERRES DORÉES, BEAUJOLAIS

 

2016 CÔTE DE BROUILLY

The pale cherry red colour leads into a light but lively scent of wild strawberry and raspberry, with a touch of damson intensity. Many might drink this now; but waiting until end-decade will bring yearly increments of fruit and nuance.

 

2016 BOURGOGNE ROUGE PINOT NOIR

The colour is deep pink rather than purple, the nose exhaling strawberry, raspberry, and peony notes. A perfumed wine with the sweetness of grapes picked at optimum ripeness. Light as a feather, with an almost Chambolle-like delicacy, it shows persistence and will reward 3-7 years’ cellaring.

 

THE EYRIE VINEYARDS, DUNDEE, OREGON

 

2015 PINOT GRIS

The typical PG aroma is full, grapy, and reminiscent of apricot and elderflower. On the light side, it’s nicely balanced with characteristic varietal succulence. The grapes were planted in 1965, owner Jason Lett tells me, adding that the wine rested on its lees for a year.

 

2015 PINOT BLANC

The PB nose of greengage, apple, and chlorophyll leads into a deliciously sappy flavour with malic intensity. A strikingly pure wine with a sustained, delicate finish, to enjoy over the coming 7-8 years (starting now!).

 

2015 CHARDONNAY (MATURED IN OLD OAK CASKS)

Tasted blind, this could be taken for a light Puligny, with its appealing scent of white peach, apricot, and honey. The crisp acidity is in perfect harmony with the chardonnay fruit and the wine should evolve steadily over 7 or so years.

 

2014 PINOT NOIR

Pale and loitering (on the palate), this exhales such typical Pinot scents as red cherry and raspberry. The delicious flavour, with its earthy aspect – this estate is volcanic – shows real substance, with a gentle hint of molasses on a finish stippled with cinnamon and clove spice.

 

2014 PINOT NOIR SISTERS

Fuller and rounder than the preceding, Sisters has more structure on both nose and palate. It’s round the way a good Côte de Beaune is round, with a hint of something meaty. It’s fullish and quite weighty in the mouth, with good viscosity and fine tannins. I could see this improving in bottle over the coming 10-12 years. Very good.

 

2014 PINOT NOIR OV (50-YEAR-OLD VINES FROM 6 DIFFERENT SOILS)

The round aroma leads into a full, grapy flavour with serious Pinot Noir/terroir character and plenty of red and black fruit intensity. A shake of the glass brings forth a touch of graphite (doubtless from the oak). The finish is stippled with gently gritty tannins of the ripe kind. Very good. Still in infancy, it will improve over a decade or two.

 

In the course of this tasting I held a long and thoroughly enjoyable discussion with Eyrie’s owner, the young and enthusiastic Jason Lett. When I was about to leave he asked me to hang on. “I’ve carried this sample all the way from the States and wasn’t sure when to open it,” he said. Delving into his bag he retrieved a bottle of wine: a 2016 Trousseau.

 

On a trip to the Jura, together with Mark Savage, he’d tasted a Trousseau for the first time. He was so inspired by the experience that he got hold of some Trousseau vines and planted them in Oregon. The wine had distinct character, possibly emphasized by the Eyrie estate’s volcanic soil. A clear red, not very deep, it had an agreeable red fruit flavour with hints of sealing wax and a special earthiness. The aftertaste, while still in bud, showed appreciable length. I predict a great future for this new cuvée.

 

 

SILVANO BOLMIDA, PIEDMONT

 

2015 BARBERA D’ALBA

The vivid purple colour promises a solidity you also find on the palate. The big expressive nose conjures up plum jam, prunes, and roast chestnut. The flavour is harmonious and mouth-filling, expanding to include damson and cranberry. The tannins are the supportive kind that will carry the wine through a decade or more of steady development. A wine of real character.

 

2012 BAROLO BUSSIA

The evolved colour has an oxblood tinge, the big, expressive aroma suggesting cranberry, blood orange, and cinnamon. The flavour is rich and vigorous, with hints of ripe plum, cinnamon, and saffron. The forceful aftertaste is so harmonious the wine can be enjoyed already – with flavoursome food anyway. But it has so much substance it could easily close up in mid-career, with full maturity arriving not much before 2025-35.

 

2011 BAROLO BUSSIA RISERVA

The colour is similar to the 2012 but is more nuanced, with an orangy tinge. The lovely nose prompted me to write “like a Pinot Noir in savage mode” (Nuits Saint Georges, perhaps). It’s a nose that compels one’s full attention, releasing such scents as leather, fig, pomegranate, and plum jam. The actual flavour expands to include tobacco and chocolate and the finish is incised with gritty tannins. It’s an impressive wine but I’m not sure whether it’s destined to take a rustic or a more elegant route on its way to full maturity. But it will surely give full satisfaction in a decade or two.

 

 

FRANÇOIS MITJAVILLE, SAINT ÉMILION

 

2015 DOMAINE DE CAMBES

This wine’s lustrous “robe” has a very nuanced look – always a sign of quality. The nose, slightly roasted, is voluminous, and reminiscent of crème de mûre and plum jam. The flavour is simply delicious and, while still oaky, is packed with ripe fruit. While already drinkable with the right food (roasts and stews), it will age well.

 

2015 ROC DE CAMBES

Splendid colour – like arterial blood. The nose is more focused than the previous wine’s, hinting at blackberry, plum, and cigarbox. It’s one of those rare wines that are both massive and aerial. While weighty on the palate it’s not heavy, with a flavour crammed with concentrated, ripe fruit and with a rich, nuanced finish.

 

2015 TERTRE ROTEBOEUF

Time for my departure approaches so I have to taste this in all haste if I’m to sample the 2009 (see below) I quickly register the wine’s striking appearance (almost black with crimson highlights) and a nose of great distinction and superb balance. In short, a wine destined to attain perfect equilibrium in due course.

 

2009 TERTRE ROTEBOEUF

The lovely aubergine blue-purple colour makes me think of Pétrus, while the splendid aroma possesses a Pomerol-like silkiness with suggestions of blood orange, black cherry, and truffle – a nose to set the blood racing. Probe as one might, it’s impossible to find any defect. It’s round, velvety, profound, and very long. And – the ultimate test – balanced.

 

Good to drink now, no doubt; but in 20 years…!

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© Frank Ward 2018

 

 
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