Monthly Archives: October 2016

Emrich-Schönleber – A reliable producer shining in the 2015 vintage

We met with Frank Schönleber, who is a decisive man, clearly spoken and with strong opinions. He takes great pride in their production and will definitely be a leading influence in the Nahe region for many years to come.

The estate is very focused on Riesling wines and during our visit we only tried Riesling and narrowed in mainly on the dry wines. During the meeting with Frank we both talked about the development in the region and the ways of working at Emrich-Schönleber. The trend both at Emrich-Schönleber and among other producers in the region has been to move from sweet wines towards dry riesling. At the peak for sweet wines their production was approximately 75% sweet Riesling wines, but today it is more or less the opposite about 25%.

We talked some time about the development in Nahe and the surrounding regions. One important change was in the regulations and split of vineyards. Until 1971 the vineyards in the region were split up in much smaller sections but because of difficulties to market the wines a reform where vineyards where grouped together to larger vineyards was implemented. In some cases this has resulted in very large vineyards with many different levels of quality and soil, thereby producing wines of different expression. This is a challenge for the consumer. One unfortunate example is the Frühlingsplätzchen vineyard that today is on both sides of Monzingen, where the section on the east side is more similar to Halenberg (also on the east side). Because of this Emrich-Schönleber produces wines that are a mix of Halenberg and grapes from the east part of Frühlingsplätzchen, but these wines cannot be named after the vineyards.

In the cellar Emrich-Schönleber uses spontaneous fermentation for some of their wines, including the Großes Gewächs (GG) wines, but for the more basic Riesling wines they add yeast. The logic behind the decision is that they want to achieve a more classic Riesling expression on the basic wines, while they allow the GG and single vineyard wines to develop a more personalized and complex character, letting the terroir of the vineyard shine through. For the spontaneous fermentation their experience is that it is better to use wood vats instead of stainless steel vats.

To reach top quality in the fruit they control the yield in the vineyards. The preference is to do this proactively for example by letting grass grow between the rows, instead of using green harvest which is a more reactive action.

One important project at Emrich-Schönleber has been the recultivation of a section of Halenberg. We had the opportunity to try three different vintages of this wine made from rather young vines. This is a wine that, of course,  will continue to develop as the vines get older, but in the 2015 vintage our impression is that the wine took a large step up in quality. We look forward to following the development where eventually these grapes will go into the GG bottling for Halenberg.

The wines we tasted

2015 Emrich-Schönleber Riesling trocken

Slate soil.

Slim fresh nose with some white stone fruit. This is carried over to the palate where we also get a sappy, fresh acidity that drives the wine. Good entry level wine with a slim and precise profile.

85p/100

2015 Emrich-Schönleber Riesling Lenz

Mainly grapes from Frühlingsplätzchen.

Fresh stone fruit and hints of white flower on this charming and seductive nose. Acidity is precise and pure and there is a slight sweetness in the background.

The wine has a fresh citric lime finish. A generous wine that is easy to enjoy.

87p/100

2015 Emrich-Schönleber Riesling “Mineral” trocken

From soil with stony quartz slate.

The nose is very slim and slightly citric. Not much generosity here. On the palate it is all about the acidity and the strong mineral bite. We also find lemon, lime and some careful stone fruit.

Energetic but very slim and citric driven.

87p/100

2015 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Riesling “Fruhtau” Trocken

From 20-25 year old vines.

Apricot, young pineapples and some lime notes. On the palate we find a fresh mineral bite and some fresh lemon notes.

The wine has a fresh finish. In total an elegant but careful and tight wine.

88p/100

2015 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Halgans Trocken2015 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Halgans Trocken

To a large extent from the vines on the steep part of Halenberg that was recently recultivated.

Initially some flint notes but then also tropical fruit, mainly stone fruit and some fresh minerals. Pure and precise nose. Zappy lemon acidity with a nice mouthwatering juiciness that stays with us in the finish. Dense and fresh tropical fruit on the palate.

This is a great Riesling wine with both energy and character.

92p/100

We tried this wine a second time in the eventing and it developed fantastically during the hours it was open.

2014 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Halgans Trocken

The wine has some residual sugar (5,7).

The nose shows petroleum and ripe, but still rather careful, fruit notes dominated by pineapple. Juicy but slightly broad acidity combined with apples and tropical fruit on a generous and enjoyable palate.

Long and juicy finish.

88p/100

2011 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling trocken

The wine that in later vintages is called “Halgans”.2011 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling trocken From a warm year with low acidity.

Rather open and warm nose with ripe tropical fruit and some petroleum notes. Same style is carried over to the palate where we also find some French nougat notes and hints of sweetness. The acidity is rather broad and juicy.

A wine with a more ripe and warm character.

87p/100

2015 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling Großes Gewächs2015 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling Großes Gewächs

Red slate, gravel and red loam. Age of vines are between 15 and 60 years.

Beautiful nose with apricot and other stone fruit, some apples and a hint of herbs. A both elegant and complex nose with great freshness.

Same notes are found on the palate where we also have a pure and precise acidity with both lime and lemon. The wine is energetic and mouthwatering and should age very well.

94-95p/100

2015 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs

2015 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Großes GewächsStony blue slate and quartzite soil, producing small and concentrated grapes.

Dense and complex nose with layers of fruit where pineapple, apricot, lime and lemon are most apparent.

The acidity is rather racy and has lots of lime and lemon notes. This will probably calm down with time.

The wine is already well balanced but has a slightly more austere impression than the Frühlingsplätzchen GG at this time.

There is an amazing potential in this very complex wine, but you will have to be patient.

95-96p/100

2013 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling Spätlese2013 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling Spätlese

Rather open and ripe nose with saffron, tropical fruit and some sweet notes. Fresh but rather careful lime acidity and some white flowers on the palate.

Pleasant wine with good personality, but it lacks some precision.

88p/100

2013 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Spätlese

Slim and precise nose with some light tropical fruit and apples. Precise and fresh lime acidity combined with fresh fruit.

This is a pure and fresh Spätlese in a classical style.

91p/100

2013 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling Auslese

2013 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling AusleseNotes of honeysuckle, white flowers and some melon. Careful tingling acidity which is just enough to carry the sweetness. On the palate we also find saffron and lime together with some floral notes.

This is rather slim Auslese that manages to stay fresh even with low levels of acidity.

93p/100

Summary:

The wines of Emrich-Schönleber are defined very much by their precise acidity and the pure and fresh fruit. We would consider them to be school book examples of top level German Riesling with a very classical style.

In a year where some producers get very high levels of fruitiness Emrich-Schönleber has managed to keep a very tight profile but still with fantastic fruit notes. We where very impressed by the wines and would recommend them to anyone looking for Riesling wines that can develop well with age.

Very interesting unknown Piedmont wine

This wine is from a place about 40 km north-east of Barolo and just 8 from the town of Asti in an area called Castagnole Monferrato. The grape Ruché is grown at 250 m above sea level with perfect south exposition made from 25 years-old vines. The family-run estate Montalbera harvest the grapes passed fully ripeness. In addition, 5% of these grapes go through passimento (dry fermentation) for today’s wine. The risk here is of course to render to much alcohol and a sweet wine, but we guess that they know what they are doing. 🙂

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2014 Ruché di Castagnole-Monferrato “Laccento”, Montalbera

Beautiful colour with blood orange core and some red purple tints with orange-pink edges.

After opening, nutmeg, notes of leather, blue plums, but after some hours a delightful and complex scent of cardamom, ripe strawberries, beeswax, subtle peony rose petals, dry thyme, chewing tobacco and soot arrives. Surprisingly, it shares several flavours in a langhe nebbiolo in its impressive and complex nose.

Quite intense and direct taste packed with slightly sweet, very ripe and fresh combo of primarily wild strawberries and big plums wrapped in delicate minerals. A very generous, quite mellow, pliant and pure wine, but even more impressive it is remarkably rich, balanced and framed in velvety, thick really ripe, impressively soft and approachable tannins already, totally unlike a barolo. Its only backside is that it lacks elegance and finesse. In deed a steel for the money at €30.

90-92p

The fleshy 2014 spanish Petalos has amazing freshness

Alvarò Palacios, originally from a well known family in Rioja and famed by his internationally recognised Priorat wines. Moreover, he has worked at famous Pétrus in Bordeaux and is obviously putting Spain’s wine ares on the map for outsiders. However, this wine is based on the grape mencía from the very north-western Spain, where he produces the wine of the evening which is ment to be approachable and from old vines. It was invented in collaboration with his nephew Ricardo Perez back in 1998. We are certainly outside of our comfort zone this time, so now let’s taste the wine.

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2014 Petalos bierzo, descendientes de J.Palacios

Roasted almond, crème brülée, green banana, natural vanilla, yellow pears desert and a sweet perfume.

It is very fruity, very fleshy and overly meaty. Bitter cherries, cinnamon, savoury notes, bay leaf, and with an abundance of tasty minerals. Impressively balanced, vivid and rich with a little dry, peppery, metallic and persistent final. Above all, the acidity is fantastically clean, fresh and balsamic.

This is not our style, but In a blind tasting, despite the fleshiness, I could still have been thinking a blend of hermitage and beaujolais. Most likely, better in 3-4 years. (tasted 15/10-2016)

90p/100

 

This is definitely a producer to follow closely in the future.

A neutral terroir-focused 2012 Bordeaux that impresses

We don’t focus on wines of Bordeaux, but this producer, Château Le Puy, is interesting and caught our attention when it was offered recently at a wine bar (l’Enoteca) in Malmö, Sweden.

This producer works dynamically and uses no sulphur or pesticides and have never done so. They use no new wood at all as they want real terroir in their wines and they conduct extraction by the ultra traditional submerged caps method. Wow, we are hooked. A blend of 85% merlot, 1% carmènére and the rest cabernet sauvignon.

Scissored from the producer’s website:

“To be a winemaker you need to be observant, curious, imaginative, hard-working, thick-skinned, meticulous, passionate about nature and about life and filled with respect for your fellow man. A winemaker must be artistic in his methods, bold in his thinking, enthusiastic yet reflective, passionate yet patient, pragmatic yet imaginative, efficient yet generous. Being a winemaker is about communicating directly with wine lovers, showing them the very best of yourself through the medium of wine. ” – Jean-Pierre Amoreau

Yes, this might be one of the best description of the art of making wine, but how does the wine taste?..

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2012 Château Le Puy “Emilien”

Distinct nose of tidy barnyard, undervegetation, horse back, muddy gravel, dried raisins and figs. The typical pen lead, gravel, undervegetation, black olives and black currants wrapped in metallic and saline minerals. Texture is dense and just a little hefty now with tannins that need more time still. Otherwise, very crisp and balanced already. A rich, well structured wine with a lot of honest character (true terroir) and dry sensation in the persistent finish. (tasted 5/8-2016)

89-90p/100

California – New country, new experiences

Approximately two weeks ago I and my family moved from Sweden to California (Berkeley) where we will be staying for six months. After that we will spend another two months traveling along the coast, and among other things, visit wine regions like Oregon and Washington State.

Until now my knowledge about wines from the US have been limited and to be completely honest my impression has been slightly negative due to experiences with extremely fruit driven wines with high alcohol levels. I am fully aware of that it is not fair to discard such a large wine region based on a few experiences and I also know that there are some exciting developments and recent trends moving towards more refined and terroir focused wines in the US. Therefore I have decided to focus only on wines from the US while staying here.

I am very excited about what I will discover the coming 8 months. I will try and take part in as many wine tastings as possible and I will visit many producers.

If you have any suggestions of producers to visits or wines to try, please do not hesitate and let me know.

The search for the best producers and wines from the US begins now!

2012 Cathiard impresses again in Aux Malconsorts

 

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We simply love the precision and quality that Sébastien and his father Sylwain succeeds to deliver in every vintage regardless of how difficult it may be.

2012 Vosne-Romanée 1er cru Aux Malconsorts, Sylwain Cathiard

The classic popcorn, distinct orange-peel, Vosne spices, ginger and intense violets and subtle roses. The clean bluish-red and creamy fruit is wrapped in layers of vibrating minerals and orange-peel. It is more forward, denser and opulent than usual, but still with that remarkable precision and finesse as always.  A very generous, rich and persistent wine that still should be kept for a few years more to the let the thick tannins ripen even more. (Tasted 5/8-2016)

94p/100

The 2006 pride of Paolo Scavino

We have met with the lovely Elisa Scavino a few times along the years and they have evolved in a fantastic direction by cutting down on new oak and keeping up their meticulous work set up by her great father, Enrico.

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2006 Barolo “Bric dël Fiasc”, Paolo Scavino

Colour is half-half transparent of red cerise core with glowingly blood orange outer parts.

Obvious oak notes still in here even after 10 years and I remember that they turned down this quite a bit back in 2008 which was a great decision. A very much boosted perfume of raspberry candy sweets, blossoming roses and minerals in here still. Be sure to let the wine stay in a decanter for about two hours to let its inner terroir slip through. As always, it is fresh and elegant with its personal deep minerals and clove-coated red fruit. However, tannins are not anywhere near finished. I guess that you have to wait as late as 2022 for this one to integrate fully.

90+p/100

Another really good red from etna

A month ago another interesting etna rosso appeared at the Swedish monoploy and yesterday we tasted it. It is built upon 80% nerello mascalese and the rest is mainly nerello cappuccio but also Alicante from the northern slopes of the volcano and more precisely in the contrada (vineyard area) Moganazzi at 750 m above sea level. Amazingly, some vines here are as old as 150! Soil is sandy with lava and highly mineral. The producer I Custodi let 20% whole bunches go into the crusher and raises the grape juice in used barriques. We keep being fascinated by the wines from mount Etna and they way they mix Burgundy with Barolo, but more importantly their very own intriguing terroir of complex minerals.

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2009 I Custodi, DOC Etna Rosso “Aetneus”

The core is dense and glowing of scarlet and cerise colour with light pink-cerise edge.

The nose first emerges with synthetic glue and some “Burgundish popcorn” of which the latter  is a notion of skilful use of wood with light toasting. After another two hours, these scents vanish totally and then it is full of prominent site-typical minerals and lavishly beautiful roses and violets as part of its lovely perfume. In addition, clove, wallpaper paste and spice cumin are noted too. It is pliant, soft and rich, but foremost it is a super crisp and generous wine full of very complex Etna minerals that appear to be wrapped in grape peels and oil paint in a way that partly reminds me of a young Bartolo Mascarello framed by ripe, fine tannins. In addition, spices, dry blood orange and really cool, clean red fruit; mainly notes of raspberry candy, wild strawberries and mull berries. It is very elegant, highly concentrated and quite persistent too. This underrated wine leans more to a very slender Barolo, but without the tar and cigars in terms of aromas and nose, but texture is a middle road. Even though it is approachable now, its tannins needs to settle even more so a guess is to wait with opening this until 2019.

92+p/100

Crisp and fresh 2013 Gevrey-Chambertin village from Groffier

A third whole bunches were put into the fermentor for this wine and it was raised in 25% new, lightly toasted wood.

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2013 Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Seuvrées”, Robert Groffier

A lovely but slow and subtle perfume of crushed stone, some morning dew, dry herbs, and most notably of all, underbrush. Texture is somewhat edgy, but it is the fresh, clean and saline acidity that stands out wrapping highly concentrated and slightly bitter fruit (mainly red currant, lingonberries and cranberries) stones, savoury notes, notes of pears and dry honey. The extra stems add structure and backbone in a very good way and it is quite persistent too. Could probably improve some in 4-5 years.

89-90p/100