When we first launched the Wine Rambler, we anticipated, rather optimistically, that wineries might at some point in the future might send us samples to review. But we also always insisted, a touch self-defeatingly perhaps, that we would be very strict about ethics and transparency in doing this. And we are. But the good people of the Terras Gauda winery of Spain, which makes and markets a range of wines from different regions of northwestern Spain did not let themselves be deterred by this, much to their credit, and were kind enough to send us a six bottle sample to review. And it fell to the Munich branch of the blog to do it.
How to go about such a task? I decided on the following course of action: I would not research anyone else's reviews, ratings or scores beforehand. I would not research prices either, which means I could not comment on value, but I wouldn't be influenced by it either. I would also not set up a single tasting where I would compare them in a professional setting. Instead, we would drink the wines at Munich HQ, one at the time, over a couple of weeks, like almost anyone who buys them would: On the kitchen table, after a day's work, with food.
It has been a while since France, the world's greatest red wine country (yes, deal with it!) has drawn me into its sway. This time, it's the unlikely region of the Touraine. Lured by the relative exoticism of that appellation for red wine, by the very original varietal mix of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Malbec, and not least by my love for regional French reds of any ilk, it was more than easy to give in to temptation.
But don't get the idea that some highly strung luxury cuvée caught my eye with a suggestive wink. No, it was a working man's red, as befits the outcome of the recent presidential election.
It doesn't always have to be Bordeaux. That's a pretty obvious statement from a blog dedicated to German wine, but it also applies to France. Today, however, is not about German Pinot Noir (nor German Dornfelder, Syrah, Lemberger) and it is also not about Burgundy. Today is about Cahors, and that means the Malbec grape. It is also about slow roast lamb shoulder and Easter, but more importantly of course it is about...
...the first magnum bottle of red wine to be reviewed on the Wine Rambler. It took us very long, didn't it?
There is a lot that could be written about Shinn, but as I have done that recently I just point you to my article 'You can't make red wine on Long Island' - Shinn Estate Vineyards, making local wine in a global world. For now just let me say that I bought this Malbec at a recent visit to a beautiful estate on Long Island that is currently being transformed to biodynamic production. Interestingly, the Shinn Malbec comes in a half-litre bottle - they only make Malbec in good years and in 2007 there was only enough for 1344 of those small bottles (selling at $35 each).
In order to avoid any bias I might have had from being welcomed so warmly at Shinn, I figured the wine would have to be tasted blind. So I took it with me to a recent Wine Rambler full committee meeting in Munich and wrapped it properly to hide its identity.
Christmas time, a time of peace, quiet reflection and many calories. The Wine Rambler's Christmas was no different, just add a few more extra calories from lovely wine to the mix. And because combining the food and wine was such a joy, I am going to share some of it with you now. It all started with a sea bass in salt crust with a dry Muscadet, which was a pleasantly light way to kick off the festive food and wine season. After that I felt the need to be more robust and moved on to braised oxtail:
Very dark, blackish colour.
Great smell: Cassis, plums, cherry jam, tar and candied sugar.
Seems to go through two phases in the mouth, with nice sour cherry fruit, fresh acidity and coal at first, followed by subtle oak, vanilla, smoke and ash.
This more than convincing Bordeaux takes its stand between the traditional and the more accessible "international" style and actually gains complexity and tension from that. We (Mr. and Mrs. Munich Wine Rambler with two nice guests) really enjoyed this one, because it seemed to appeal to the snob as well as to the occasional drinker, without being a bland compromise.
Here I am, drinking a wine from the end of the world. This is both true in geographic terms, seeing as the wine is from Patagonia, and it is also true as the winery is called 'Winery from the end of the world' (Bodega del Fin del Mundo). This Bodega is a fairly new venture, about ten years old, and they grow a variety of red and white varietals on 870 hectares of land. As this part of Patagonia is fairly dry, the vineyards need a computer controlled irrigation system - the water comes from 20 kilometres away and a complete water channel system had to be built for the irrigation. This apparently took two years, and the first vineyards were planted in 1999 - protected from the wind by a complex system of windbreakers. Scared away by all that technology? [read the full post...]
German organic supermarket chain Alnatura has a small, but convincing wine selection, much of which comes in half bottles as well. A good marketing move, since, apart from being good for single drinkers or weekdays, this always makes me less hesitant about trying a wine I know nothing about.
Deep cherry red, with a brick-red edge.
Nice smell of tannic cherries, raw beef, some red and black currants.
In the mouth, thick-skinned cherries again, red currants, medium bodied, a little leathery, a spicy, but also mouth-drying after-taste with a real pinch of tannic roughness. [read the full post...]
K & U have been having quite a winning streak in my cellar for the last couple of months, so I had high hopes for this argentinian malbec, a variety I felt pressured into trying by all the buzz about it - on this blog and elsewhere.
And a wonderful bottle it is: [read the full post...]