Catavino, the Iberian wine web site is closing its doors for the last time at the end of the month and coincidentally the other day I drank my last bottle of something that I might never see again. Not just because of vintage changes or time moving on, but because it is from a winery that no longer exists, which is a terrible shame as it it one of the most fascinating sweet wines that I have tasted and the very best example of its type that I have come across – so I thought that I would tell you all about it here…
This will be my last piece for Catavino and, unless I stumble across an ancient stash of bottles somewhere, almost certainly my last bottle of Scholtz Hermanos Solera 1885.
Regular reader will know that I loved touring New York’s Finger Lake region last year. It is a very beautiful place and extremely interesting from a wine point of view. It produces some superb wines too and I was thrilled by the wines that I found there. It is very easy to write these more unusual places off as makers of novelty wines, but what they make in the Finger Lakes is often very good indeed and shows that it is a wine region of real quality that can hold its head up in the wine world and be taken on its own merits.
The only downside is that all the wineries are tiny boutique places really, so there is precious little made and what they do have is mainly sold at the winery door. Finger Lake wines hardly ever leaves the state before it is sold, let alone the country. I thought that was a shame and decided to try and make them available to a wider audience, albeit in a small way. So I managed to ship a small amount of the most exciting Finger Lake wines over to the UK.
The result is that I am leading a tasting of the best of the Finger Lakes in London on 7 March 2012. It will be at the West London Wine School in Fulham, places are limited and will sell out fast, so book early - who knows, it might be your only chance to try them.
We will try some superb sparkling wine, a Meritage blend, an amazing and unusual Chardonnay, some world-class Riesling, great Pinot Noir, whacky but exciting local blends and more. So join me there for some lovely wines and a rare experience.
In keeping with many of us in the wine business, I love the Riesling grape. In many ways, for me, it is the grape. The one I love before all others. If a Riesling is on offer, it always calls to me and it pains me that so many people seem indifferent to its charms.
It follows from this that I like to present Riesling to consumers and hope that my love of the grape variety will rub off on to them. To that end I am always trying to win people round to Riesling. It has to be admitted that my success has been patchy, many people who enjoy other wines seem unable to find the pleasure in a fine Riesling that I do, but I have had some converts recently and it was two particular Rieslings that did it, so I thought that I would share them with you. They are both very different in style, but both are hugely enjoyable as well as being affordable.
If the delights of Riesling have passed you by, will you do me a favour – give it one last try. Today may be the day that you see the Riesling light and these may be the examples that win you round.
Recently I presented a tasting of some wonderful wines from Spain. I know that I bang on about Spain and Spanish wines, but really I do believe that country makes wonderful, wonderful wines and can boast one of the most vibrant and exciting European cultures as well.
Regular readers will be aware that earlier in the year I spent a week with Miguel Torres, a giant of Spanish and Catalan wine whose importance to the development of wine in Spain cannot be underestimated. However he is not alone in being a leading producer of good wine in Catalunya. All my adult life I have been a fan of Codorníu which is famous as the leading brand of Cava – Spanish quality sparkling wine made by the Champagne method/Traditional method. However Codorníu is much more than a Cava producer, they have been growing grapes since 1551 and making Cava since 1872 – indeed they created it – but over the last 100 years they have expanded their portfolio and production to include most of the important wine regions of Spain – and beyond. Unlike Torres though they leave each winery as a stand alone brand and you will look in vain for the name of Codorníu on the labels.
Instead they have either created new estates from scratch or bought leading producers and the results are startlingly good. I presented some of these wines in a tasting recently and everyone was hugely impressed by the quality, variety and value for money that the wines represented. Catalans see themselves as the dynamic Spaniards, the busy creative Spaniards with modern ideas, a sense of chic and no manaña mentality, so perhaps Codorníu have brought that drive and sense of élan to their outposts in other regions?