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EuroVintage Roadshow 2013 – Imports

By August 21, 2013No Comments
Carrying one of the largest and most comprehensive portfolios of a wine distribution company in New Zealand must have its challenges as well as its benefits. With such a broad and deep range of wines, there’s truly something for everyone, whether it be good value and easy drinking, or top-of-the-range and deluxe. The challenge, of course, is for the representatives to understand all the detail and individuality of each of the lines, and to do justice to them all in a crowded marketplace. That being stated, one can only admire the strength of the EuroVintage range. It truly is magnificent in its scope.

The biennial EuroVintage Roadshow, where the agencies get their chance to strut their stuff to the wine and hospitality personnel, is a great tasting opportunity for attendees. Even given 6 hours to taste all the wines, ciders and other associated products, there is not sufficient time to go around them all and do justice to each exhibitor. Most of the attendees are selective in what they taste, and take the chance to meet or reacquaint themselves the people pouring the wines. This year, I looked at the imported wines, and even then, a number of high profile agencies were missed. However, what I did see was extremely rewarding. Here are my impressions of what I saw. I have grouped the notes according to country. www.eurovintage.co.nz

Australia

Browns of Padthaway

This has always been a quiet label, very much as the owning family. But the wines have a following for their understated elegance, that the Padthaway terroir and climate endow upon them. Michael Schreier and Sue Brown showed the new ‘Glendon Park’ Verdelho 2011. It had a little savoury meatiness to the exotic herb aromas and flavours, and I suspected some oak, but no, it’s pure stainless-steel. The palate crispness and steeliness confirmed that, and it’s a wine of interest. I then looked at two vintages of the top Cabernet Sauvignon wine. The youngest, the ‘Myra’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 dark purple-red, with an intriguing melange of blackcurrants, smoke and herbs, and an essence-like richness and sweetness on palate, seamless in its flow. The ‘Myra’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 more complex and savoury, with good meaty notes, but equally as fine in texture. There’s a cool-climate elegance here that is akin to our Hawke’s Bay wines…


Michael Schreier & Sue Brown
Browns of Padthaway
Grant Burge
One of my favourites from the Barossa Valley. Always dependable with noteworthy wines. The ‘Miamba’ Shiraz 2010 showing the top vintage, impenetrable black colour, a ripe, but youthfully shy. Sweet, dark, black plums, tightly bound, but with linearity. Give it time. The ‘Filsell’ Shiraz 2011 contains a portion of Eden Valley fruit to supplement what normally comes from the ‘Filsell’ vineyard on the Barossa floor, the crop affected by the difficult vintage. No worries here, it’s packed full of black fruits, earth and black pepper, unfolding oak spices and liquorice. What is different is the silken mouthfeel where there’s usually a bit of structure and grunt for the 100 y.o. vines. It’s rather atypically elegant, but delicious because of it. The ‘Cameron Vale’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is decidedly blackcurrant leafy, cooler and varietally clear, and possesses considerable extract and structure. And almost a polar opposite was ‘The Holy Trinity’ 2010, the GSM blend. Lighter and garnet-tinged in colour, showing ethereal red fruits and great subtlety. Layers of aromatic and flavours, with detail. Drinkability with complexity. Brian McGrath says the Grant Burge team fondly call it ‘THT’.


Brian McGrath – Grant Burge

Shingleback
These McLaren Vale wines are becoming increasing well-known, possibly by the exposure of the widely seen ‘Red Knot’ tier of wines incorporating contract fruit. John Davey heads the operation, making the wines. I tasted wine Shingleback wines made exclusively from the family vineyards, Firstly ‘The Davey’ Shiraz 2010, quite elegant and showing gentleness and balance, the palate still tight and fine-grained. ‘The Gate’ Shiraz 2010 is a barrel-selection, an alternative to the top ‘D Block’, and the wine has lovely aromatic intensity and a nutty finish. The ‘D Block’ Shiraz 2010 is a step up, impenetrable black-red, with complex savoury detail to the rich, smooth flowing fruitiness, backed by fine extract. The Cabernet Sauvignon wines are equally goo. John reckons he let ‘The Davey’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 go a bit far in ripeness, and indeed the fruit is sweet, but the blackcurrant aromas and flavours are still there. It’s a milder, rounder style, but attractively so. The ‘D Block’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 is more concentrated and driven. Black fruits brushed with minerals and with good texture. The fruit richness underlines the palate. It’s a good one for sure.


John Davey – Shingleback

Sandalford
Sandalford’s CEO Grant Brinklow was exhibiting his benchmark Margaret River wines, and indeed, the ‘Estate Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 is classical. Black-red in colour, this is robustly fruity with fulsome blackcurrant aromas and flavours that exude a richness that belies the purity of character. A strong, mouthfilling wine that shows great pedigree in that there is no excess at all. The ‘Estate Reserve’ Shiraz 2010 is a different model, much tighter, more taut, with great concentration. Hinting at the cooler end of the spectrum with its black and dark red florals, there is still richness and ripeness aplenty. It just need time to open up. This will go 10-15 years for sure.


Grant Brinklow – Sandalford

Thorn-Clarke
It was a pleasure talking to Anna Broms, winemaker at this burgeoning Barossa Valley producer. Originally from Christchurch, this Kiwi lass counts herself fortunate to walk straight into the job in 2010, joining a great team. With a slightly surprising honesty, as all the Australian wine industry seems to express, she discussed the challenging 2011 vintage, and her pride in making good wine from a tough year. The ‘Shotfire Quartage’ 2011 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec is lighter in colour and fruit than other years for sure, but it is juicy and succulent, with freshness from the acidity. Likewise for the ‘Shotfire’ Shiraz 2011, with a little more pepper than black fruits, and tighter structure and a little more dryness than full-on years. This is a creditable wine. However, no flies on the ‘William Randall’ Shiraz 2010, the flagship. Impenetrable ruby-red, concentrated aromas and flavours of ripe black fruits, luscious and juicy and layers of spices and liquorice interest unfolding, all backed by mouthfilling mouthfeel. It is a treat to taste and drink a wine of this calibre.


Anna Broms – Thorn-Clarke

Wine Men of Gotham and Step X Step
These are two labels from the Wineinc family company who operate as negociants making wines for the value end of the market. The ‘Gotham’ refers to the pet name for New York city and the ‘Wine Men of Gotham’ alludes to the ‘Wise Men of Gotham’, the English villagers who are very smart behind their simple appearance. The wines must be made with that philosophy in mind, and the ‘Step X Step’ wines more varietally expressive. I found the ‘Wine Men of Gotham’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, made from 95% Limestone Coast fruit, light, leafy with fresh acid and mouthfeel. The ‘Step X Step’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from 100% Limestone Coast fruit very similar, possibly with more linearity. The ‘Wine Men of Gotham’ Shiraz 2011, 70% Barossa in origin, had sweet fruit and a palate based on texture, the fruit behind the tannin graininess. Though with 60% Barossa fruit, the ‘Step X Step’ Shiraz 2011 had more spicy and savoury interest, but equally as accessible. Ian Sunderland said around 50,000 cases of each are made.

Argentina

Trapiche

This South American giant has always been on my books as a worthy producer of interest in this market. I am a fan of the ‘Single Vineyard’ wines, but the world demand has seen allocations restricted. Pablo Aranda Hynes was showing the very affordable ‘Vineyard’ range, the new nomenclature for the ‘Varietal’ wines, and they looked really smart and modern with their near-azure blue labels. I wasn’t sure if his smile was due to the presentation, or that it was his birthday. I had a taste of the ‘Oak Cask’ Malbec 2012, also Dark purple-red, ripe fruit, a little herbal interest, but sweet and juicy, fresh with bright acidity and soft in tannins. Very approachable, and with an incredible 150,000 case production, the consistency of this is simply mind-boggling. The fact that Trapiche exports 1.6 million cases is also amazing.


Pablo Aranda Hynes– Trapiche

ItalY
Frescobaldi
This stand was busy and I only managed a quick sample of a couple of the wines on show. The popular and high quality ‘Nipozzano’ Chianti Rufina Riserva 2009 was elegant and gentle, with an evolved complexity of savoury, leathery flavour to the bitter cherry fruit. It’s an approachable crowd pleaser. The ‘Castelgiocondo’ Brunello di Montalcino 2006 at the other end, still tough and robust, needing time, even though it’s several years down the track. I liked its range of dark fruit flavours intermixed with earth, game and herbs. There’s structure and size, as you can expect.

Medici Ermete
This sparkling wine producer, known world-wide for their Lambrusco was my biggest surprise. Sure Lambrusco is sweet, frothy and fizzy, but there are various grades of interest, and other wine styles are made, and extremely well too. The gentle and urbane Pierluigi Medici took me through his range. Starting with the ‘Unique’ Spumante Brut Rosé Metodo Classico NV, actually a 2010 vintage, 12.0% alc with 20 months on lees. Salmon pink. With faint red florals and definite autolysis, the softness of the wine inviting and seductive. A dry Lambrusco next, the ‘Concerto’ Lambrusco Reggiano 2012, 11.5% alc, lurid dark, staining red, with boysenberries melded with steel and minerals, quite opulent, but the decadence reined in by fine tannins and fresh acidity. A superbly poised wine. Then onto the trademark Reggiano Lambrusco Rosso Dolce NV, at 8.5% alc. Also dark red, saturated. Sweet and light, fluffy and gently lush, an absolute delight and too easy to drink. This retains a true vinosity to ensure it isn’t a ‘pop drink’ as the more commercial examples can be regarded. A more unusual and individual wine was the ‘Quercioli’ Grasparossa Dolce NV at 8.0% alc, the Grasparossa fruit giving a distinctive, intense spice and herb amalgam in aroma and flavour, the mouthfeel refined, but luscious and slippery. This is wonderfully textured and is a serious rendition of the soft, sparkling, sweet red. The final wine was the ‘Nebbie d’Autonno Malvasia Dolce 2012. Only 4% and from early picked Malvasia fruit. Exotic yellow florals, with a hint of autumn as the name suggests, musk and even a little raisin and honey. Pierluigi suggested this was a wine for ‘beginners’, but it will delight experienced and sophisticated drinkers too.


Pierluigi MediciMedici Ermete

Spain
Torres
One of the world’s most respected brands, Torres has long expanded beyond the Penedes into Spain’s other classic, emerging and rejuvenated areas. Gabriel Fernandez Bosch was pouring a full tiered selection. I began with the ‘Gran Vina Sol’ 2011, a blend of Chardonnay with Parellada, one-third barrel barrel-fermented with 5 months in oak. A little golden, soft citrussy fruit, good Chardonnay expression and a hint of creaminess. Then the souped-up ‘traditional’ ‘Gran Coronas 2009, Cabernet Sauvignon with 15% Tempranillo, in oak 12 months. Bright purple with vibrant blackcurrant fruit, balanced sweetness and tannin grip. A relative newcomer to the range, the ‘Celeste’ Ribera del Duero 2010 is in its fifth vintage release. Very youthful with refined, elegant and bright berried fruit with a little spice and herb underlay, and oak noticeable. Attractively stylish Tempranillo wine. Also typical of its origins was the ‘Salmos’ Priorat 2010, a blend of Garnacha, Carinena and Syrah, blacker, earthy and mineral, but still with the house signature of bright, sweet fruit expression. This had structure, concentration and line. Finally the flagship ‘Mas La Plana’ 2009, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from 60 y.o. vines, given 18 months in French oak, plenty of it new. Densely concentrated with power, lusciousness and structure. Clearly Cabernet Sauvignon, reminiscent of California than Bordeaux to me.


Gabriel Fernandez Bosch – Torres

Portugal
Dow’s and Graham’s
I’ve had the luck of seeing quite a bit of Jorge Nunes from the Symington group over the last couple of years. The last time, I saw the stunning 2011 Dow’s and Graham’s Vintage Ports brought over as barrel samples (click here to read). There was a full line-up of wines, including a 4.5 L Graham’s 20 Y.O. Tawny Port on offer, but I restricted myself to the two 2000 Vintage Ports being offered. The Dow’s Vintage Port 2000 is in a bit of a dumb phase at present. Garnet and brick hues to the dark red colour, this was more undergrowth and dried leather and herbs, rather than sweet fruitiness, the palate tight, firm and granular. It’s clearly got the goods, but it’s sulking. Not so the Graham’s Vintage Port 2000, showing the best I’ve seen it. Still ruby-red, with ripeness and sweetness to the fore, ultra-smooth, with harmonious tannin and alcohol cut. Sensationally good.


Jorge Nunes – Symington

Other Imported Agencies

As mentioned in the introduction, there were too many exhibitors to see them all. For the record, the other imported wine producers present, but I didn’t see are listed:

  • Australia: Angove, Elderton, Kingston Estate, McGuigan, Serafino, Tempus Two, Wirra Wirra
  • Chile: Conch y Toro
  • France: Delas
Also in the EuroVintage portfolio of imported wines, but not present are:
  • U.S.A. Roederer Estate, Foley Family Wines
  • South Africa: J.C. Le Roux
  • Italy: Da Vinci, Torracia
  • Spain: Lustau, Alejandro Fernandez, Carchelo
  • Madeira: Blandy’s
  • Austria: Salomon Undhoff
  • France: Louis Roederer, Joseph Drouhin, Domaines Ott, Chapoutier, Alsace Willm, Verve du Vernay, Pol Remy

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