Tag: decanter.com

Nov 11 2011

Can you tell if a wine is any good just by tasting it? Impressions from a Craggy Range Tasting

Posted on November 11, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Have you ever been unimpressed with a wine on first taste, but then fallen in love with it over the course of a meal?

Well, according to a very interesting article by Decanter’s Andrew Jefford “digestibility is as much a hallmark of truly fine wine as is sensorial intricacy and harmony.” Jefford goes on to explain:

Twenty-five years of reading wine assessments, as well as providing assessments of my own, have convinced me that tasting without drinking is, in fact, a monstrous (if inevitable) flaw in all wine criticism. I’d like to see wine critics append a ‘D’ or a ‘*’ to any numeric score or tasting note for a wine which has been drunk rather than merely assessed by tasting. Any critic who claims that they have never had to adjust, after drinking, an initial assessment based on tasting alone is lying. (Jefford on Monday: Thinking about Tasting by Andrew Jefford, Decanter, 7 November 2011)

Jefford’s comments resonated with me when I attended a tasting last night of the Craggy Range lineup hosted by NZ Wine Online. The event was held at the Roof Top Bar of Coast, but the sun hadn’t set so I was hot and thirsty. Not the best state to be in when tasting wines! Fortunately the weather cooled and big plates of antipasto arrived in time to whet our appetites.

All the wines on show were excellent, but the Craggy Range Old Renwick Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (26.95) was definitely an example of a wine that opened up with food. I was initially perplexed by its unusually dry, stoney and mineral character, but over time its delicious lime and grapefruit flavours also shone through.

Initially struck by the dark rich purple red colour of the Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2009 (37.95), … Read the rest

Aug 08 2011

The Benefits of Decanting Champagne!

Posted on August 08, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Decant Champagne? Yes, it’s becoming popular!

According to Tom Stevenson, the Decanter World Wine Awards Regional Chair for Champagne, Parisian sommeliers  first started decanting demi-sec Champagne in order to enhance its sweetness by reducing the tactile impression of effervescence. Now the practice has spread across the globe and includes almost every type, style and age of Champagne! (Ask Decanter, Decanter September 2011).

Decanting can help tame the most aggressive fizz and soften the mousse of young, non-vintage Champagne. Aerating the wine also helps to release subtle aromas not always apparent in the first glass when the Champagne is directly poured from the bottle. Interestingly, renowned Champagne house Charles Heidsieck also advocates serving Champagne in white wine glasses instead of the more traditional slender flutes, as the wider surface area of the white wine glass enhances the aromatics. (Charles Heidsieck wants to burst your bubble – decanting Champagne, Dr Vino, 23 October 2009).

Typically the prized fine beading and soft mousse of fine Champagne are the result of extended times on lees and post-disgorgement ageing in the bottle – a practice normally reserved for only the best vintage Champagnes.

But according to Stevenson, even vintage Champagnes can be improved by decanting. He offers the following fun, if expensive, experiment:

Buy Dom Pérignon off the shelf and try it side-side with a bottle of the same vintage bought one or two years earlier and you will see that advantage that time brings in softening the mousse. Decant another bottle bought off the self and the result is somewhat between the two.

A couple of years ago, Riedel, in association with Charles Heidsieck, released a decanter specifically designed for decanting Champagne. Shaped like a lyre, it aerates the wine to release the aromas but preserves the bubbles. Ideally the Champagne … Read the rest

Sep 09 2010

Screwcap versus Cork? Assessing the Pros and Cons

Posted on September 09, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Adam Lechmere, editor of decanter.com, recently reported that the cork industry has secured the endorsement of Prince Charles for a new campaign called ‘I Love Natural Cork’, Vine Talk: Campaign promotes wine corks over screwcaps, Reuters, 7 September 2010.

The cork industry’s public relations material is designed to appeal to our sense of tradition and ‘green’ conscience: “Natural cork in your wine bottle does more than just preserve and improve the quality and character of your wine. It preserves a centuries-long way of life in the rural communities of the Mediterranean cork oak forests, its incredible wildlife as well as the planet by absorbing CO2.”

The decline in cork’s popularity as the preferred wine stopper is certainly a serious cause of concern for the cork industry, and especially for Portugal, which makes 85 per cent of the natural closures – a figure that accounts for approximately 3 per cent of its GDP. As Lechmere notes, 10 years ago 95 per cent of bottles had cork closures. Last year, natural cork accounted for 69 per cent of the 18 billion wine closures sold.

But leaving aside for the moment the merits of the preserving centuries of tradition and stopping global warming, is cork still the best closure for preserving and improving the quality of wine?

Wine connoisseurs are now starting to sample bottles with screwcap closures that have been cellared for almost a decade.

Campbell Mattinson, wine critic and editor of The Wine Front, made the following observations in his January 24, 2008 review of a Howard Park Cabernet Merlot 2001:  “It’s hardly ‘news’ but I was delighted to enjoy a bottle of 2001 Howard Park Cabernet Merlot last week – sealed under screwcap. This was my favourite red wine of the 2001 West Australian vintage and

Read the rest