Vini Pra, a Soave specialist excelling in reds too

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The Soave Classico region with its volcanic soil is one of the areas making some of the best Italian white wines that are mineral laden, and often gently fruited, while remaining stimulating. One of the top 5 names to remember would certainly include that of Graziano Pra, who helped re-energize the Soave DOCG through his efforts with the Vignaioli del Soave Indipendente.

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In 2001, he decided to plant vines in the area sandwiched between the Valpolicella and Soave Classico zones. The soil here is glacial with southeast exposure and elevation of 450 meters. The resulting wines, Valpolicella, the Morandina Ripasso, as well as Amarone are much more red fruited than usual, at times reminiscent of Grenache with kirsch liqueur aromatics.

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For the Ripasso Morandina, the traditional blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Oseleta- is fermented and then pressed through the grape skins of Amarone for 2nd fermentation to gain more structure, texture and bouquet. This then is then matured for 18 months, partly in barriques, partly in Allier oak casks.

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For the 2013 vintage, James Suckling described “This has an exuberant nose of blackberries with wild strawberries and dried herbs. The palate is full and juicy, showing polished tannins and a clean finish. Very well-made. A traditional red blend from Valpolicella with corvina, corvinone, rondinella and oseleta. Amazing Valpo! 94 points

Ripasso no anno

 

 

Contino, the first single vineyard estate in Rioja

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Contino is a single-estate bodega (62 ha of vineyards) based in a 200-year-old farmhouse just outside the town of Laguardia in the Alavesa region. The estate’s name comes from the royal guard of 100 soldiers who guarded the monarch. The label is emblazoned with the bust of San Gregorio, the patron saint and protector of vineyards.

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José Madrazo Real de Asúa (father of Contino’s current winemaker, Jesús Madrazo) established the estate while serving as CVNE’s technical director in 1974. The idea was to create one of the first single estate bodegas in the Rioja region, in direct contrast to the Rioja tradition of blending grapes from different regions and sites. CVNE had long been sourcing fruit from the Contino site for its Viña Real, but decided to purchase the entire plot around the farmhouse and plant it all to vines (a large portion of the land still had other crops planted at the time).

Jesús Madrazo spent much of his childhood at the bodega and has intimate exposure to the terroir and vinification practices, so it’s little wonder that his work at Contino is held in such high regard. While the bulk of the vines planted at Contino are Tempranillo (85%), Madrazo has also been a champion of the Graciano grape which comprises the bulk of the remaining planting. The balance is planted to Garnacha, Mazuelo and Viura.

Luis Gutierrez of Robert Parker describes “the nose is unmistakably Rioja; balsamic and ripe with lush Tempranillo fruit, plenty of spices and hints of leather. The palate shows a powerful, ripe and persistent wine with fine-grained tannins balanced by enough acidity and freshness. It has great balance between modernity and tradition, showing true to its origins.”

Domaine de la Cote, Santa Rita Hills

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The International Guild of Sommelier explains that wines coming from marginal or cool climate sites tend to get a lot of “wind exposure generally lead to grapes with thicker skins, thereby changing the skin-to-juice ratio of the fruit. Grapes with thicker skins tend to produce more concentrated wines even without excess purposeful extraction in the cellar. The thicker skins can offer further benefit: since skin tannin is more pleasant and less bitter than seed tannin, thicker skins can create better balance in the final wine. Thicker skins help produce a structured wine with the potential to age without relying as heavily on harsher seed tannin. As a result, wines from such conditions often have the double benefit of the structure to age alongside approachability in their youth.”

And this is the reason why Rajat and Sashi have been fascinated by the location of Domaine de la Côte. The unique change in topography here, where the mountain range spreads from west to east, allows the daily cool fog to roll in from the Pacific Ocean.

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Their Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir is a blend of all the estate vineyards. 50% of the grapes are fermented whole bunch with 0% new oak used to mature in barrel. The wine is pale red in color with perfumey flavors of Bing cherry, all spice and leather. On the palate it is soft textured and finished quite silky. 1,100 cases produced.

“I found all of the wines to be outstanding, they had an unusual mix of cool-climate aromatics to go with a higher pH, rounder, softer profile on the palate, with distinct saline-like qualities.”- Jeb Dunnuck for Robert Parker

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Wine dinners this September!

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We are pleased to be co-hosting two exciting dinners later this month at Tables Grill (Grand Hyatt) and Il Fumo. The beauty of these wines with equally matched by the creativity and input of both culinary teams, who know Australia and Portugal very well.

Leading wineries from Victoria, Australia at Tables Grill on Sep 22nd

6-course menu with 5 wines is thb 3,800++. Book through order@winegarage.asia and receive 15% off.

WG Grand Hyatt Tables Wine Dinner Sep 22 2017

WG Grand Hyatt Victoria Producer Menu Sep 22 2017

Viagem a Portugal at Il Fumo on Sep 27th

5 course menu is thb 2,200++ with optional wine pairing (6) at thb 1,800++. Book through order@winegarage.asia and receive 10% off.

WG Il Fumo Portuguese Artwork Sep 27 2017

WG Il Fumo Portuguese Dinner Menu Sep 27 2017

 

A gift of gold

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The village of Meursault ranks among the 3 most illustrious names for white Burgundy (Chardonnay) with Puligny Montrachet and neighboring Chassagne Montrachet.

While there aren’t any Grand Cru vineyards the very best 1er crus are distinctive with fatness, richness and nutty-butteriness. Surely on the top of every collector’s favorite will be Coche Dury or Comte Lafon, known for their amazing density and long life, plus also Roulot, Colin-Morey or Arnaud Ente. Each have resounding names and resonate prestige, however they are pricey and Coche Dury will sell at a multiple of 10 compared to the rest (Euro 2,000 per bottle in Europe).

Today’s offer is from the 1er Cru Perrières vineyard, in fact worthy of Grand Cru status, as it shows a mineral edge, earthy richness, and complex fruit profile.

So how did we come about offering the Potinet Ampeau at such a fair price and is it worth it? We say absolutely!

The relationship with Patricia and Alain Corcia allows us to tap into the cellars of this estate, which owns more than 20 acres, but remains under the radar. They already exported to the USA in 1920, but as one generation decided to work as professionals outside of the cellar, their wines remained unknown to the broad market until Vincent Durieux took over in 1993. His work is very traditional and these classic wines need time.

Please consider yourself lucky to try this late release from their cellar in Monthelie. Just in time to cater to your special evening.

Potinet Ampeau Meursault Perrieres

Should you like this wine, we also recommend the rounder Potinet Ampeau’s Meursault Charmes 2004, or compact Puligny Montrachet Champs Gain 2010, with an even longer life ahead.

Your new go to wine

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Portugal seems to be on everyone’s bucket list, and surely not because it’s offering great value, but is still very authentic, not too crowded, and has some of the freshest seafood on earth.

 

The wines on the other hand, split hairs – but this could very well be because the good stuff hasn’t always made it out of the country. Perhaps also, because traditionally made wines weren’t pleasing international palates with their long extraction and ageing prior to bottling?

In the late 90’s Swiss wine enthusiast Emil Strickler arrived in Alentejo, near Algarve and took over the 30 hectare estate – Quinta Zambujeiro. He quickly made the finest technology available for the team headed by Alain Bramaz to capture the essence of the region and swiftly climbed the olymp to best in class, albeit in a modern way.

Southern Portuguese reds, especially those from Alentejo are easy drinkers, rich and fruity. With meticulous care in the vineyard and quality oak barrels from France, Alain caressed superb fruit from the vines and gave the wines the needed structure to succeed in the international market.

Try Monte do Zambujeiro at your next dinner, and if you still yearn for more complexity and length, please don’t stop here and get a bottle of Terra or Estate. They age very well.

 

The emerald wine from the Wachau

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White wines resonating an unmatched pedigree come from either Chablis, the Cote d’Or, German Grosse/Erste Gewachs, or the Wachau, and neighboring regions in Austria.

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The Smaragd wine “is the name for the best, most treasured wines from the Vinea Wachau members. The alcohol content of these wines begin at 12.5% by volume. This, along with the highest grape ripeness and natural concentration are what make this world-class designation possible. Emerald-coloured lizards – also known as Smaragd – are at home in the terraced vineyards of the Wachau. On bright, sunny days, their beauty is highlighted dramatically as they bask in the gleaming sun next to the grapevines – the perfect symbol for the absolute top Wachau wines with full physiological ripeness” – trade association Vinea Wachau.

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While you likely will find opulent wines from neighboring estates, the Knoll family cherishes tight minerality and restraint. Their wines are often described as Baroque, very much the same feel as St. Urban, the patron saint of winemakers and vineyards, ornating on the label.

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If you find a liking to this style of wine, please also inquire about mature Gruner Veltliner from 2008 vintage, a Riesling Smaragd, or perhaps a single bottle of Knoll’s “Vinothekenabfulling” we have left from the 2011 and 2012 vintage.

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Domaine Henri Delagrange, Burgundy

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“No view, no landscape, however varied, picturesque or grandiose can make me forget my little valley in Bourgogne”. So wrote Alexandre Dumas of a valley in the Hautes Côtes de Beaune. The Hautes Côtes overlooks the Côte de Beaune from the west, lying between Maranges and Ladoix-Serrigny. The interior is a succession of hills and valleys. The vines cover the sunny slopes at the foot of a limestone cliff.

If you are just starting to get into Burgundy this may be no better way to start than with Didier Delagrange’s Hautes Cotes de Beaune. Made from grapes sourced 150 meters above the Pommard valley, this charming Pinot Noir offers aromas and flavors of violet, cherry, raspberry and crushed strawberry. It’s difficult to find a tastier red Burgundy at this price.

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The domaine itself is in Volnay, Côte d’Or, and the family own fourteen and a half hectares of vines in the best situations in Côte de Beaune.

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The family Domaine has been in existence for more than six generations. From 1978, it included the vines of Gisèle Verdereau and Henri Delagrange who then worked 6 hectares, mainly in Volnay and Pommard. Didier joined the business in 1990, after completing his viticulture studies, and worked with his parents until 2003. Having the foresight in 1999 to purchase land and plant on the underused slopes of the Hautes-Côtes de Beaune has paid off in spades for Delagrange family. Didier Delagrange’s Bourgogne Rouge is hand-harvested, spends 15 days in open tanks and is aged for 10 months in both oak barrels and steel tanks.