Tag: JancisRobinson.com

Jul 07 2012

Château Cheval Blanc: An Irresistibly Alluring Cabernet Franc Blend

Posted on July 07, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

For me, Julia Harding’s captivating review of a barrel sample of the sublime 2011 vintage of Château Cheval Blanc explains the irresistible allure of this famous St Émilion blend for the past 150 years:

Deep dark cherry crimson. Delicately floral and fruity, so subtle but gently aromatic. A touch of oak sweetness and spice but very restrained. Very very fine grained, you can feel the tannins but they melt across the palate. There’s intensity but it’s so TENDER. It’s dark-fruited rather than savoury. There’s minerality in both taste and texture. Fabulous way to start a day’s tasting. (Julia Harding MW, JancisRobinson.com, 24 April 2012)

Cheval Blanc and its smaller, but equally famous peer, Château Ausone, are the only two wines in St Émilion to be rated “A” Premier Grand Cru Classé.  The St Émilion  classification system is unusual, because unlike the more famous Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855,  it calls for the wines to be reviewed every ten years. Since it was first introduced in 1955, Cheval Blanc has always maintained its top ranking.

In the second half of the 19th century and for most of the 20th, the 41 hectare estate, which borders the Pomerol appellation, was owned by the Laussac-Forcaud family. They were responsible for the legendary 1921 and 1947 vintages – in 2010 a rare Imperial bottle (6 litres) of the latter sold for a record-breaking $US304,375!

The wine has always been an almost 50/50 blend of cabernet franc and merlot, and is aged in 100% new oak for a minimum of 18 months. The terroir, a mix of gravel over clay (40%), deep gravel (40%), and sand over clay (20%), is considered ideal for cultivating both grapes.

In 1998 the property was sold to Bernald Arnault of the luxury goods group LVMH and Belgium’s … Read the rest

Apr 04 2012

Australian Chardonnay: New style creates excitement on the world stage!

Posted on April 04, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In a recent article in Purple Pages, British wine critic Jancis Robinson stated that “Chardonnay is arguably the varietal that Australia is best at currently. At least, to palates raised on wines produced outside Australia, particularly European wines.” She notes that many new examples of Australian chardonnay are tighter and leaner than they used to be, and in Europe these wines are filling a gap left by people avoiding White Burgundy because of the yet unsolved problem of premature oxidation. (Fine Australian Chardonnays rated blind 18 Apr 2012 by Jancis Robinson (For more information on the issue of premature oxidation of Burgundian wines, see A Few Interesting Facts about Burgundy: Masterclass with Burghound Allen Meadows, Cellarit Wine Blog, 13 March 2012)

On a recent visit to Australia, the Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman also picked up on the trend towards what he describes as chardonnays with less alcohol, less obvious oak, more savoury flavours and smoother textures from wild ferments and ageing on less. “Prevailing opinion suggests,” he remarked after meeting with Australian winemakers, wine writers and sommeliers, “that an emerging style modeled more on white Burgundy may supersede Australia’s reputation for making broad, big-fruit Chardonnays.” Action in Australian Chardonnay: New styles modeled on Burgundy make it the buzz of the country now by Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 2 December 2011)

Neither critic, however, was dismissive of the depth, power and elegance of the best examples of the older style of Australian chardonnay. Robinson singled out “unashamedly full-on wines” like the Giaconda Chardonnay 2008 and the Hunter Valley’s Harkham Aziza’s Chardonnay 2011 as highlights of a recent tasting of 35 Australian chardonnays. Harvey Steiman was rhapsodic about a recent vintage of Devil’s Lair from the Margaret River, which displayed “rich fruit – pineapple, pear, tropical fruits – layered … Read the rest

Sep 09 2011

Tapanappa Dinner with Brian Croser

Posted on September 09, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

On Wednesday night I was fortunate to sample the Tapanappa Wines’ range with winemaker Brian Croser. Organised by Vintage Cellars Double Bay and held at Darlinghurst’s La Brasserie, the dinner offered a chance to drink superb wines with terrific French food under the tutelage of one of the most important contributors to the development of the Australian wine industry.

Croser started Petaluma in 1976 and built a strong portfolio of brands which he also eventually sold to Lion Nathan in 2001. While disheartened to lose his beloved Petaluma to a multi-national, Croser soon saw the sale as an opportunity to launch a new phase in his career. In 2002 he formed Tapanappa Wines as a partnership with Jean-Michel Cazes of Château Lynch-Bages, Bordeaux and Société Jacques Bollinger, the parent company of Champagne Bollinger.

When Croser started Petaluma, he was one of the first to recognise the importance of identifying the best region for the planting of a particular variety. Today he even more passionate about matching varieties to only the best suited terroir, believing Australia’s future success as a premium wine producer depends on its ability to define and promote its “60 fine wine regions…24 of which are as cool or cooler than Bordeaux in France.” (Brian Croser’s answer to Oz wine travails, JancisRobinson.com)

Tapanappa’s chardonnay comes from the Tiers Vineyard in the Adelaide Hills, the pinot noir from the Foggy Hill Vineyard on the Fleurieu Peninsula and the cabernet and merlot from the Whalebone Vineyard in Wrattonbully.

At the dinner the Picadilly Valley Chardonnay 2009 (Museum Release) and the Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay 2008 were paired with a delicious horseradish cured salmon with buckwheat blini, creme fraiche and smoked roe.

Both wines hail from the same vineyard, but the Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay is sourced … Read the rest