Days of wines and roses
Some people accuse me of loving every wine that I taste.
I suppose this may be because I try my best to taste not just for myself but also for those people who may be customers, current or future.
It may also be because, here at Alpine Wines, we are so rigorous that there are no 'bad' wines about which to write. Trust me, I am still looking.
There have been, of course, faulty wines but these are the annoying distractions that will always exist when dealing with organic products.
Having said that, this is not a life entirely of wine and roses. In fact, as I look out of the window at HQ, the roses have all ceased blooming so it is now becoming a life of wine only!
I would like to say that all the wine we try is wonderful but that is not the case. For every bottle of wine that ends up on our website, we have had to taste through dozens that range from almost undrinkable to very drinkable.
Other than a lot of tasting at trade events, we also have samples sent to us. This is not as regular an occurrence as you might think as we are quite a niche operation and we do not really want to have large amounts of samples around, believe it or not!
So, from time to time, bottles arrive and we have the task of assessing whether they would fit on our website. Other than being outstanding, the wine has to be something that we do not already have. I know that we do have a large range of certain grape varieties and styles but each has earned its place through difference as well as quality.
This means that we are less likely to want to buy in another Burgenland Zweigelt, for instance, unless it is significantly better or different from our current wines.
Currently, we are tasting our way through a case of twelve wines from Kellerei Kurtatsch who come from Alto Adige in northern Italy. We have had their wine in the past and we are looking to refresh our Alpine Italy range. UPDATE: a selection of their wines is now in the catalogue.
Here are the wines we have tasted so far:
Lagrein 2015 - This grape is very well connected to both Syrah and Pinot and is very fruity. 'Wine Grapes' maintains that Lagrein wines benefit from a year or two in bottle so we approached this 2015 with caution. How delightful to discover this wine! If it improves further, then we will be very happy. This is a real find and is well worth looking for. It may be that you will find it on this site soon!
Frauenrigl Lagrein Riserva 2014 - This is a single vineyard, slightly oaked, Lagrein. The bottle is rather lovely as it is embossed with the Kurtatsch logo (three young cypress trees). Having been seriously impressed with the previous wine, this one was even better. The slight oaking was just enough to add some extra flavours to the wine and round it out to become a smooth, luscious pleasure. Although twice the price as the previous wine, you may see this one on the website also.
Pinot Bianco 2015 - Whereas Lagrein had the advantage of being a new grape to us, Pinot Bianco (Pinot Blanc, Weissburgunder) is already well established on the website with many differing styles from three different countries. This wine is very nice and has excellent attack and fruitiness. It is different from our range of exceptional Austrian Pinot Blanc and its heritage may give it enough to be on the website.
Hofstatt Pinot Bianco 2015 - This is the single vineyard version which was quite different to the previous wine. Although it was creamy and complex in the mouth, the nose was very delicate and hard to really find. I think it is unlikely to be appearing on the website.
Müller Thurgau 2015 - I have to admit to having something of a soft spot for this often underrated grape. A lot of very poor wine has been made from it over the years and it helped make English wine seem rather unpalatable until things picked up. Despite all that, it is a good workhorse grape that can produce some very good wine. This is no exception to that. It has a fresh, vibrant, nose with plenty of citrus and green notes coming through. The aromas are mirrored in the mouth and accompanied by a good dose of acidity which makes this a really zingy treat. It is not a wine to lay down but certainly one to quaff whist lounging in your deckchair.
Graun Müller Thurgau 2015 - Here we have the single vineyard wine from this grape. Lower yields help to add some concentration of flavours and, while being rather more complex and creamy, the youthful vigour of the grape is still there in abundance. This is an excellent wine with great food pairing potential.
Chardonnay 2015 - The first varietal Alto Adige Chardonnay was made in 1982 and was accepted by the international wine market with great enthusiasm. Kurtatsch Chardonnay has a scent of bananas and gingerbread spices.
This is a very pleasant unoaked Chardonnay which shows off the grape without anything other than pure simplicity.
Blauburgunder 2015 - Alto Adige is known for Pinot Noir and this example shows why. It is young, fresh and fruity and a delightful wine for drinking slightly chilled on a warm sunny day (far too hot today for my liking!).
Glen Blauburgunder Riserva 2014 - Hel-lo! What a difference a year and a little oak can make. This is a seriously lovely wine with a nose that I could bathe in for ever! It has a maturity far beyond its years with caramel, burnt toast, stone fruits and Christmassy spices all mingling together. In the mouth it is still gorgeous with the aromas becoming the flavours seamlessly. With over 50 Pinot Noirs already on the website, I am hoping that this will soon join them.
Grauvernatsch 2015 - Literally "Grey native" as these ancient grapes are known for the grey coating (or 'bloom') that the grapes develop during the final stages of ripening. A more familiar name for the grape is Schiava Grigia although that is not a very well-known grape either!
This red wine is lighter in the glass than most Pinot Noir but the nose is different with a lot of cherry, strawberry and redcurrant. In the mouth it is much deeper than expected with nice tannins that give it real grip and fresh flavours that complement to nose. We tried it very chilled at first and it was very refreshing without the flavours being too suppressed. As it warmed the flavours and aromas grew a little more pronounced. I think that a little chilling is best for this rather lovely and seductive wine.
Pinot Grigio 2015 - Young and fresh with a light floral and citrus nose. On the palate there is apple and quite a lot of bitterness, not entirely unpleasant.
Penóner 2015 - This is the single vineyard, slightly oaked Pinot Grigio.
Well, that is the full case sampled. I am certain that some of these will be available before long. Please remember that these comments are personal to me (Ben) and do not necessarily reflect Alpine Wines as a whole.