Tag: Jasper Hill

Oct 10 2011

Cork versus Screw Cap: Don’t Dismiss the Benefits of Cork!

Posted on October 10, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

At the NZ Wine Online tasting of New Zealand wines by Escarpment and Quartz Reef at Coast on Wednesday night I sat next to a gentlemen who was absolutely livid that one of the wines had a cork closure. The wine in question was the Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir 2009 ($74.95), the second most expensive wine of the evening, and Escarpment’s top cuvee. (See Masterclass with New Zealand’s Escarpment and Quartz Reef, Cellarit Wine Blog, 1 October 2011)

Curious why Escarpment’s winemaker Larry McKenna was still sticking with cork in face of what looks like growing consumer resistance, at least in Australia and New Zealand, I asked Larry to explain his reasoning. He believes that for top flight wines, which require bottle ageing to properly evolve, cork is better than screw cap, as it allows the wine to breathe more.

When I got home the latest issue of Decanter was waiting for me on my IPad. Coincidentally, it included an interview with Giaconda’s acclaimed winemaker Rick Kinzbrunner, who told Decanter’s Andrew Jefford that he was unimpressed with what he considers Australian writers’ lack of objectivity about closures.

Like Larry McKenna, Kinzbrunner uses both cork and screw cap, and likes both for different wines. He was appalled by the response of one writer upon hearing that Giaconda’s nebbiolo is sealed under cork: “Now surely if there’s one wine that needs cork, it’s nebbiolo. The vitriol I got after that! ‘No, I’m not interested in your wine if you seal it with a stupid piece of bark.’ There’s this insane preference for screw caps in Australia; and I don’t think it’s objective.” (The Decanter Interview: Rick Kinzbrunner by Andrew Jefford, Decanter November 2011)

In Australia, Kinzbrunner is not exactly a lone ranger among fine winemakers when it comes to maintaining a … Read the rest

Jul 07 2011

Buy Wine Ideas: Aged Australian Riesling – Beautiful Expressions of Terroir

Posted on July 07, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

As the Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman notes “Australia makes a unique style of Riesling that shows off the lovely stone fruit character of the grape, often weaving in floral, citrus and mineral flavors, hanging them all on a dry frame.” (Tasting Highlights: Australian Riesling by Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 23 February 2005)

Australia’s reputation as a great producer of dry riesling was forged in the 1980s and 90s with the emergence of wonderful rieslings from the Clare and Eden Valley, produced by top names including Grosset, Henschke, Annie’s Lane Jim Barry, Tim Adams, Petaluma and Pewsey Vale. But in recent years, excellent riesling has also been made in Victoria (Crawford River, Jasper Hill), the Great Southern region of Western Australia (Larry Cherubino, Howard Park, Abbey Creek Vineyard) and the Canberra District (Helm Wines, Clonakilla).

More than any other white wine, the best rieslings benefit from bottle age. Some will last 25 to 50 years! Over time, the primary fruit flavours are complemented by toasty, honeyed tones and accented by a waxy, minerally range of flavours that impart a richness and taste complexity not evident when the wine is in its youth.

In 2000, the Clare Valley riesling producers became the first in the world to bottle their rieslings under screwcaps. (Now almost all of Australia’s white wines are bottled under screwcap). By all accounts these wines have aged beautifully, with the screwcap protecting the freshness and delicacy of the wine.

Another hallmark of riesling is its ability to transmit its terroir. Well-made riesling distinctly expresses the characteristics of its place. At Grosset’s Spingvale vineyard, for example, rich red soil over limestone produces sturdy vines, big berries, chunky bunches and a lime green … Read the rest

Nov 11 2010

Terroir: What does it mean and how is best expressed?

Posted on November 11, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

On Wednesday, The Sydney Morning Herald/Age inaugural Good Wine Guide’s Winery of the Year was awarded to Henschke, the South Australian winery internationally renowned for its single vineyard Hill of Grace Shiraz. Henschke first produced Hill of Grace in 1958, and the wine is one of Australia’s earliest examples of a single-vineyard wine. Today Hill of Grace has distinguished company in the single-vineyard category. Two thirds of the 94 wines in the Good Food Wine Guide’s highest “three glass”  category are single-vineyard wines. (Singled out for greatness by Helen Pitt, The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 November 2010)

Wine critic and Good Wine Guide author Nick Stock argues that “we need to be championing wines that have a strong sense of place – what the French call terroir.” The prevalence of so many single vineyard wines in the top ranking suggests that winemakers are moving in that direction, but what exactly does terroir mean and how is it best expressed?

Jay McInerney recently wrote a very interesting article about Nicolas Joly, the proprietor of Coulée de Serrant, which is a domain in the Anjou region of the Loire Valley making world-class Savenièrres. In 2000  Joly founded Return to Terroir and is a leading champion for biodynamic viticulture. (Mr. Joly’s Particularly Pure Terroir by Jay McInerney, The Wall Street Journal, 14 October 2010)

Joly is also a “fierce defender” of the French appellation contrôllée system, which came into being in the 1930s and codified years of regional practice based on the idea that wines should uniquely reflect their terroir or place of origin. Essentially, it restricts the planting of certain varieties to specific regions. The white grape Chenin Blanc, for example, is only planted in the Loire Valley where it is deemed best suited.

Australian winemakers face no such restrictions … Read the rest