When you think of Sauvignon Blanc, which region springs to mind first? We, and we are sure a lot of consumers, automatically go to Marlborough. To celebrate this grape variety, we have picked a quintessential Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – Lake Chalice ‘The Raptor’ 2018 – as our May Wine of the Month to coincide with 07th May or, International Sauvignon Blanc Day.
One of the world’s most popular grape varieties, and one of the most widely-planted, Sauvignon Blanc is recognised worldwide for its fresh and aromatic qualities.
The grapes for this wine were sourced from a single vineyard in the rich loamy soils of the Dillons Point area of Marlborough’s Lower Wairau Valley. Shaped by a slow convergence of tectonic plates, the Wairau Valley offers a veritable patchwork of contrasting soil types linking the Alps in the west with the Pacific Ocean in the east.
In a nutshell:
Ripe grapefruit and lime aromas are neatly framed by notes of blackcurrant leaf followed by a textured palate bursting with sweet passionfruit and ripe pear with a hint of white pepper on the finish.
Lake Chalice was established in 1989 with a vision of producing internationally recognised wines from the heart of the Marlborough region. New Zealand’s native falcon, the ‘Kārearea’, is proudly displayed on every bottle of Lake Chalice wine. Kārearea favour the remote mountains and foothills of the upper Awatere and Wairau valleys and these valleys are home to Lake Chalice’s three unique vineyard sites. Each vineyard has a diverse microclimate, biodiversity and terroir which are seamlessly translated into multi award winning wines by talented winemaker Chloe Gabrielsen. Taking a boutique approach she handcrafts parcels of fruit from single vineyards into elegant, aromatic, fruit driven wines and has garnered a global reputation of outstanding quality. Certified ‘Sustainable Winegrower of New Zealand’
The grapes were harvested in the cool of the evening to retain the freshness and quickly pressed off the skins to ensure minimal skin-contact time. The juice was settled and cool fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with carefully selected yeasts to encourage maximum thiol characters. Thiols are the compounds naturally found on the Sauvignon Blanc grapes which are responsible for Marlborough’s signature tropical notes.
This week we are celebrating the amazing women that make Hallgarten what it is today. We are proud to represent some of the best female winemakers in the world, and we truly believe that the wines crafted by these talented women – from Japan and South Africa to Italy and France – are some of the very best in the Hallgarten portfolio.
Born in Augusta, on the Ionian coast of Sicily, Sonia grew up in the orange groves of Lentini, watching Mount Etna erupt. Sonia discovered the world of wine by chance and decided to start tending to the family vines and work in the cellar on the vinification processes. After graduating in economics, with plans to become an archaeologist, she trained as a sommelier and then completely devoted her life to wine and after a few years working in vineyards on Sicily, became the owner at Santa Maria La Nave.
Santa Maria la Nave is a small boutique winey on Mount Etna, specialising in wines from ancient, rare indigenous varieties. Their two vineyards were the first is on the northwest side of Mount Etna – the highest active volcano in Europe and a Unesco World Heritage site – located at 1,100 metres above sea level, and are among the highest and most extreme vineyards on the continent.
It is hardly a surprise that Valeria Antolin became a winemaker. Her father was a famous sparkling winemaker in Mendoza and she followed in his footsteps, taking a degree in Agronomy from Universidad Nacional de Cuyo before working her way up at Piattelli. She has been with the estate since it was founded in 2002 and is now the principle winemaker at its Mendoza and Cafayate (in the Salta Province) wineries.
In the words of Valeria:
“Winemaking is our expert craft and rooted deeply within my heritage. My father was a well known Winemaker, as was my Uncle & Grandfather. There has always been a bottle of wine on the family table. Today that bottle is Piattelli. ”
Raised in Turangi on the shores of the mighty Lake Taupo, Chloe’s early exposure to viticulture began with helping her parents pick out wine from the local store (they were fiends for a big Aussie red). After finishing College in 2001, Chloe moved to Marlborough to pursue a Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology degree through Lincoln University, completing her first harvest at the Saint Clair Family Estate in 2006.
Now more than ten vintages later, Chloe is the winemaker at Lake Chalice, producing the very best results for this superb winery… that is, when she’s not being a Mum to Asher, member of multiple sports teams, performing in Kapa Haka (Māori performing arts), being a cross-fit addict or cooking a mean kai (kiwi food)!
Estelle Roumage embodies this outstanding family domaine in Entre-deux-Mers, close to Saint-Émilion, a region Estelle describes as the Tuscany of Bordeaux; hilly, with beautiful biodiversity, groves, rivers and different cultures.
After graduating from Hull University in the 1990s and spending time in London, Estelle spent four years in Madrid, then to Marlborough, New Zealand to learn more about winemaking. She then returned to Entre-Deux-Mers to the family farm, and has been making wine and running the estate ever since!
Her wines are delicate and precise and consistently punch above their appellation. She manages to blend respect for tradition with a modern outlook to vine management and winemaking techniques. On top of this Estelle has a real passion and talent for bringing her wines to our customers to share, to taste, to learn, to engage, in a way that really ignites their taste buds.
Samantha O’Keefe, owner and winemaker at Lismore, South Africa.
Californian Samantha O’Keefe has found paradise and the perfect terroir. Tucked into the foothills of the Riviersonderend, a dramatic mountain range at the bottom of Africa, Lismore Estate Vineyards was born alongside Sam’s nascent family. A passionate vision, combined with vines planted at 300 metres, which are chilled by winter snow and nourished by the African summer sun, produces classic, cool climate wines which are rich, complex and lovingly hand-crafted.
In December 2019, Sam suffered an awful bushfire at her winery. Thankfully, she was safe, and thanks partly to donations from around the world, fund-raising events in major wine centres, the generosity of her fellow growers who supplied her with grapes (including some from the unbelievably-named Corona Vineyard), but mostly due to her own indomitable spirit, she immediately set about rebuilding her business and we are very excited to taste her latest wines.
Elizma joined the Olifantsberg team in 2015 following extensive winemaking experience; studying Oenology and Viticulture in Stellenbosch and working in France and Italy, before returning home to South Africa.
Her time making wine in Europe proved to be an excellent springboard to go on and start creating elegant Rhône style wines of her own.
Elizma certainly has her work cut out, looking after all areas of the management of the vineyards and winery at Olifantsberg. In the vineyards, Elizma’s focus is on taking care of the soils and maintaining the quality and sustainability of the vines. Whereas her focus in the winery, is to get the best expression of the fruit using a variety of techniques.
One of the winemakers of Kayra is Özge Kaymaz Özkan, a talented woman who has been with the company for over 15 years. Being from a family who used to work for Tekel, Turkey’s state monopoly in spirits, she was practically born and raised in the industry.
Kayra produces premium wines from the Anatolia region -considered to be the birthplace of wine- and is at the cutting edge of winemaking. The wines are made from unique local varieties as well as international ones. These ancient indigenous varieties are being vinified using modern techniques and are producing award-winning results.
I first used the expression salt-and-caramel in a tasting note about four years ago. My memory is a little hazy, but I think I scribbled it during a sampling of Juan Pablo Michelini’s Zorzal wines at Prowein. I was searching for words to describe the amazing tang which cut right through the sweet fruit in the red wines; a kind of refreshing acidity at odds with the opulence around it. I thought the phrase a little childish but that it would mean easy recall when I referred to my notes later.
And then, of course, I found myself writing that phrase again and again. Salt-and-caramel. Slightly irritating habit, this, like wiggling your leg in the waiting room. What was happening? Were my taste buds changing? After thirty years in the trade? Odd.
I recalled that Prowein moment a few weeks ago while reading a Wine Folly blog, I Tasted 3 Rocks, So that you don’t have to! In this light-hearted piece, posted in May 2019, Madeline Puckette described licking pieces of chalk, river stone, and slate. She found the connection between slate and Riesling to be apposite; that “chalk feels like licking a hard sponge that sucks all the moisture out of your mouth,” the flavour reminding her of a Brut Zero Champagne; and that while “river stone is supposed to remind people of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir,” its flavour is pretty gross.
Puckette was seeking to explain minerality, but concluded: “Minerality is neither a single compound nor the vines” ability to “suck the minerals out of the soil,” but is a combination of many different aspects including esters, trace minerals, acidity level and a wines’ alcohol level. So, when wine writers write “minerality” they are trying to put a name on a multi-faceted characteristic that science doesn’t have a definition for.”
It’s a bit old hat, this minerality thing. Been done to death. A bit late to the party. And as Alice Feiring said: “Minerality has become a dirty word par excellence.”
Walking between the raindrops, then.
I know, but it doesn’t go away.
Minerality famously did not appear in Ann Noble’s 1984 Wine Aroma Wheel, nor in the first four editions of The Oxford Companion to Wine (“imprecise tasting term and elusive wine characteristic that, along with the descriptor mineral, became common currency in the early years of this century.”) But here are two definitions relayed by Jamie Goode in his Wine Science:
Stephen Spurrier: “I suppose it is easier to define what it is not – that is, it is not fruit, nor acidity, nor tannins, nor oak, nor richness, nor fleshiness. It is not really a texture, either, for texture is in the middle of the palate and minerality is at the end. I think it is just there, a sort of lifted and lively stoniness that brings a sense of grip and a sense of depth, but it is neither grippy (which is tannin) nor deep (which is fruity.)”
Michael Bettane: “Minerality is a fashionable word never employed in the 1970s and 1980s. The only no-nonsense use is to describe a wine marked by salty and mineral undertones balancing the fruit, more often a white wine rich in calcium and magnesium as many mineral waters are. For a red wine I have no idea.”
Now Goode himself: “I know what I mean when I encounter some characteristic in a wine that makes me think “mineral”, but I can’t be sure that when other people use it they are referring to the same thing. I suspect that it’s sometimes used as a way of praising a deliciously complex wine, in the same way that “long” is often thrown into a tasting note when people really like the wine but have run out of more concrete descriptors.”
Similar sentiments from Sam Harrop: “Minerality is a term I have used for many years with a clear and personal understanding that not all wine professionals might share.”
But what is it that provokes these “allusions to minerality,” to use Doctor Peter Dry’s words? A prickling on the tongue, or a savoury aroma on the nose? And – from a commercial point of view – does describing a wine as mineral confer a kind of supremacy? A more romantic artisanal image?
Steve Daniel, Beverly Tabbron MW and I had a chat about this in Hallgarten’s tasting room. Steve, fresh from describing one wine as “saltier than a bag of KP nuts,” said: “There is definitely minerality in wine. It has to be there. It’s not acidity, it’s not body. It’s a skeleton which will change but which will let you know where the wine is going.” Steve strongly believes that there is a relationship between minerality and volcanic soils, such as those on his beloved Santorini.
For Bev, minerality is shorthand for a “form of freshness, a salinity. Sometimes I wonder if it is a mild spice.” Then she paused. “But are we just being lazy?”
It seems an elusive concept. Are we searching for a connection between this taste and – inevitably – the impression of rock from which the vine draws its nutrients?
Two well-recounted experiments:
At the end of the 20th century, a German scientist, Andreas Peuke, planted Riesling in three different pots with different soils (Loess, Muschelkalk and Keuper). After some time he collected the resin from the plants, analysed them and compared them. To his surprise, there was a huge deviation in the nutrient levels in the three plants. A definite connection?
Randall Grahm soaked rocks into tanks filled with wine; he too, concluded that the rocks altered the wine to a great extent, detecting changes in the aromas and mouthfeel, and he felt that the wines had gained a higher degree of complexity and density.
But as we know, the correlation between minerality in rocks and minerality in wine has been largely debunked over the last decade by some really clever people, most famously by Alex Maltman, professor of earth sciences at Aberystwyth University, who opined that the geological minerals in rocks (made from chemical elements) are different from the fourteen nutrient mineral elements required by vines. The rock’s chemical elements do not degrade easily and only slowly release their nutrients for vegetation. Then, some of these nutrients are then removed each year in crops, and the soil is further enriched by compost and fertiliser. The result is that almost all of the nutrients in wine come from this humus of decayed plant and animal matter, rather than the geology.
“There would seem to be no basis for the common assertion that a particular kind of bedrock produces certain wine flavours. The term minerality is a contemporary invention.”
Viticultural guru Dr Richard Smart told the Institute of Masters of Wine that viticulture “is not an issue” in wine minerality: of those fourteen nutrient mineral elements, “three of the most important (N, P, S) are not derived from minerals; they are absorbed directly from soil organic matter (humus). Even those which are commonly found in minerals (K, Ca, Mg, and Na) are not directly extracted, they are firstly cycled through organic matter.” He cited minerality as an “invented term as a wine descriptor.”
And in any case, rocks have no flavour at all. Apparently, the “flavour” of stones is caused by an invisible substance called petrichor, which, according to Wikipedia, is “constructed from Greek petra (πέτρα), meaning “stone”, and īchōr (ἰχώρ), the fluid that flows in the veins of the Gods in Greek mythology.”
Derived from organic matter like oils from plants, petrichor floats through the air and comes to rest as a thin film over everything on the ground, including rocks. This coating then releases its flavours (vapours) only when a rain hits the ground; hence the smell of rain.
So, sadly, it looks as though the romantic in me is going to have to take a back seat; it seems I am not sucking from the rock’s core when I savour my Zorzal Malbec.
But if the perception of minerality doesn’t come from rocks, where does it come from?
Fermentation, probably. To rehash well documented findings, it may come from sulphides produced by yeasts as they work their magic in converting sugar into alcohol. If the yeasts are having a hard time finding enough nitrogen in the must, they may produce volatile sulphur compounds such as hydrogen sulphide and mercaptans (thiols), often called reduction and which can usually be the cause of rotten egg smell. But sometimes these compounds, such as ethyl mercaptans, can also give off flinty or struck-match aromas that can be quite mineral in character and seem to add complexity to a wine. It’s a thin line. Modern reductive winemaking techniques, like the use of closed top stainless steel fermentation tanks which limit the wine’s exposure to oxygen, can also encourage the release of these subtle sulphur compounds.
And then, of course, there is the other common form of sulphur: sulphur dioxide can affect taste perceptions of minerality. Their presence may ‘tweak’ the flavour profiles of wine in a more salty or bitter direction, creating a mineral effect.
Sam Harrop: “Complexed sulphides are one of the main aromatic indicators of minerality. Reductive handling at wine phase is vital to protecting mineral perception – both aromatically and texturally. Wines with mineral perception have a low pH, complex acid profile, complex sulphide aromas and necessary aromatic and textural balance to provide the x factor”
I suppose that one crumb of comfort for those looking to equate minerality with terroir may lie in the fact that if one of the reasons for the dodgy performance of the yeasts is because some vineyard sites are deficient in nutrients – so causing the yeasts to stress and produce these volatile sulphur compounds – at least it is the effect of the vineyard.
Explanation over, then.
Whatever the reasons, it still seems odd to me that the use of minerality is so ubiquitous when it apparently didn’t even exist before about 1984.
Each week in our tasting room in beautiful downtown Luton, Bev, Steve and I attempt to delineate every new wine into just three words. We stock about 950 wines, and when we trawled through our database we found that we had used the word minerality in 49 of them – around 5%. These include seven red wines, one rose and 41 whites, all of which had been tasted in the last six months. Intrigued, we looked at this list, but couldn’t find a common theme. The surprise was the absence of Greek wines, which, given our focus on Greece and the character of its wines, gave us pause for thought – and gave Steve the hump. “I can’t believe we didn’t describe Gaia’s Thalassitis Assyrtiko as mineral.”
So earlier this week we gave ourselves a couple of hours and went through a selection of a randomly chosen dozen of these wines. The results were surprising.
A touch faecal when first opening, but within minutes this disappears.
Steve: “This is definitely a ‘natural’ wine. Alive and kicking!”
Jim: “This is my salt and caramel wine.”
Result: mineral, no question.
There were four others where we were unsure. So, of the twelve wines to which we originally assigned the descriptor mineral, only four would now definitely qualify for it. And four would not even come close. A conundrum: while accepting that wine – of course – changes character as it lies in bottle, here we have three so-called experts, with 60 years of experience between them, conceding to fundamental variances in their use of minerality over a relatively (six months) short period of time. Are we just not good at writing tasting notes? Are we incompetent? After all, WSET students are discouraged from using the word mineral. Blimey!
With most (though not all) of the wines, we found that the fruit elements were now much more advanced than in our original tasting; revelatory so in some instances. Are we writing our tasting notes without giving the wine a chance to recover in the warehouse after reaching us? Or are we – as Bev has suggested elsewhere – just lazy? Using the word minerality as shorthand for something else? And even as I write this, landing on my desk is a note from a producer: “After a long and passionate work in our cellar, we are proud to introduce our new-born: a rich white wine, with notes of tropical fruit and a full body which is supported by great acidity and minerality.”
Well, what do our winemakers make of this?
Juampi Michelini (whose wines kindled this essay!) says: “Of course it is necessary to have mineral soils, especially if they are loaded with chalk. But it also has to do with earlier harvest times, something that has been done more and more throughout the world in the last seven years, as well as more reductive fermentations.
“I describe almost all of my Zorzalwines as being mineral wines – but I always say that minerality is more a sensation of textures than of aromas.”
In the appropriate setting of La Cambuse du Saunier, a bucolic oyster shack which borders a sea salt farm near his Narbonne winery, Gérard Bertrand paused. “Ah, minerality! So controversial. I make a link between minerality and salinity, and the salinity comes from limestone, and if you suck a limestone rock – that is minerality.” He put his index finger into his mouth. “You can feel the minerality in the middle of your tongue.
“You cannot make this during the vinification process. This comes from the rock. We do an experiment. We put Château la Sauvageonne in front of a piece of schist rock; we put Château l’Hospitalet in front of limestone, and we put Château de Villemajouin front of silex, and we ask people to taste the stones and then the wine. They all get the link.
“People need to suck stones.”
At the recent South African tasting held at Phonica Records in Soho’s Poland Street, I asked our award-winning winemaker, Samantha O’Keefe, who said: “It’s a sensation of cold in your mouth.” “Cold?” “Yes.” She laughed. “But I work in feelings and colours and so my tasting notes are often odd. But certainly my wines on stony vineyards give me more minerality than those from red shale soils, which are fuller and richer. I definitely do not think it is a flavour. It’s more just a feeling in your mouth. I think it might just be a way of differentiating from those sweeter, fuller types of New World wines which you often get. But I don’t know!”
She paused again. “Minerality is a texture. It’s a stony quality: wet pebbles. I use minerality a lot. But maybe I am being lazy.”
Lazy. There’s that word again.
It does seem as though some winemakers are anxious to maintain the link between minerality and their wines (as you’d expect!) But are we talking about terroir as opposed to minerality? Playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order?
Some key words: refreshing, zingy, acidity, a certain sourness, licked stones. A kind of austere or nerviness or tension; or simply the opposite to ripeness. Whenever I come across what I think is minerality, I pause: “Hello darkness, my old friend…”
But I’m still nowhere near working out what it actually is. Mind you, far better minds than mine have tried and failed; the Oxford Companion to Wine again: “it is not possible to determine whether minerality is a terroir or winemaking effect.”
And why does this bother me so? Why this sophistry in trying to describe something which isn’t there? A flavour – an essence – which may not exist? Am I bending my language to fit a need? What is the need? What is it about minerality? At what point does minerality trans into Fashion? “Sparkling or mineral sir?” Well mineral, obviously, because mineral is Brioni, sharp suited and therefore Continental. But sparkling is, well, gas, isn’t it, and a bit Wyoming. Minerality is cool, it is quartz and diamonds and vaguely Breakfast at Tiffany’s. “Good evening, Commander Mineral, we’ve been expecting you,” white gloves ‘n all. Mineral is nuance. It is class, it is style, and hardly Biffo the Bear. “Indeed.” “Yes, indeed.” “Minerality, yes.” “Yes, indeed.” Opulence, move over, Vanilla step aside and all you other flavours tripping the not-so-light fantastic to the strains of the Fat Belly Boogie. Sodium and calcium and manganese are important and not flippant at all and their nexus endows us as professors in white lab coats, like those Cambridge chaps who discovered DNA in the pub. So when I say: “minerality!” am I a luvvy satisfying my inner core, my night primaeval, by licking from the core of the earth and sharing in a pagan rave with matter which is six hundred and fifty million years old? Is it my soul I search for? Aristotle’s tabula rasa? Core is a great word, it is a key word and if you prefix it with hard you get an awkward word, a dangerous word, a bit nihilistic, but who other than the hardcore would go the Paul Grieco’s Terroir tasting to drink wines from heavy-metal soils matched with heavy metal music? Do metal and core satisfy some kind of prehistoric desire to engage with the elements, to go deep, really deep, in to the earth because deep is good, deep is important and it is the opposite of shallow and who wants to be shallow? No, we’ll keep digging in a maelstrom of kinetic exuberance, knocking at the gates of perception, nosing the brimstone, surrendering to something so great no-one understands it (though it may be “the only true measure of greatness in wine”¹), digging like Heaney’s Old Man, right down into the “roiling, boiling, sulphurous, belching belly”² of the earth, seeking approbation and Dante’s felicity and Milton’s liberty to know, desiring good or desiring God, ingesting Plastic Soup, and not flopping into the chair to watch Corrie but rather romanticizing we are the Underworld Gods, Hecate and Hades, with petrichor running through our veins.
Minerality: is this the taste of what is not there?
¹ Sam Harrop. Winemaking Intervention in Minerality Perception
² Alice Feiring. The Dirty Guide to Wine
Madeline Puckette, Wine Folly
Jamie Goode. Wine Science
Alex Maltman. Minerality in wine: a geological perspective
Dr Peter Dry. Terroir – It’s the Rocks That Matter
Oxford Companion to Wine
Wendy Parr, Alex Maltman, Sally Easton, Jordi Ballester. Minerality in Wine: Towards the Reality behind the Myths
In organoleptic experiments to test the wine tasting ability of men and women, female participants consistently come out on top. Their superior palates and tasting precision are well documented in scientific papers and journals, which explains why the female success rate in the Master of Wine qualification is now higher than male.
This is now being reflected in wineries and cellars around the world as female winemakers take the helm in a traditionally male environment. We are proud to represent some of the best female winemakers in the world, and we truly believe that the wines crafted by these talented women – from Japan and South Africa to Italy and France – are some of the very best in the Hallgarten portfolio.
Lucia’s family has always been linked to wine. Her mother, grandfather and her great grandfather were wine-growers in Piedmont. Lucia herself developed a passion for dance at a young age winning a scholarship at Balletto di Toscana in 2003 in Florence where she danced for 5 years. Meanwhile, she started studying winemaking. In 2008 Lucia left her ballerina career, to pursue her winemaking dream. Lucia’s first encounter with wine, after her graduation in 2011, was in the heart of Chianti Classico where she worked for two years in many different sectors of production in the cellar and lab. Dealing mainly with red wines, she was introduced to the wine industry under the guidance of leading consultant winemaker, Franco Bernabei. In 2013, she travelled abroad to learn more about wines around the world which helped broaden her skills and knowledge. She started working as winemaker for Frescobaldi at the beginning of 2016.
It is hardly a surprise that Valeria Antolin became a winemaker. Her father was a famous sparkling winemaker in Mendoza and she followed in his footsteps, taking a degree in Agronomy from Universidad Nacional de Cuyo before working her way up at Piattelli. She has been with the estate since it was founded in 2002 and is now the principle winemaker at its Mendoza and Cafayate (in the Salta Province) wineries.
Samantha O’Keefe’s is an amazing story. Berkeley-educated Samantha O’Keefe left her native California and an executive TV job, in search of a simpler life. She settled into her own sliver of paradise in the form of a 600 acre former dairy farm in Greyton, South Africa. Nothing seems to faze her, she shares her property with a troop of baboons and a leopard. She has made her mark since her inaugural vintage in 2006 with a string of stunning cool-climate wines that have wowed customers and critics the world over.
Estelle Roumage embodies this outstanding family domaine in Entre-deux-Mers, close to St Emilion in Bordeaux. Her wines are delicate and precise, and consistently punch above their appellation. She manages to blend respect for tradition with a modern outlook to vine management and winemaking techniques. On top of this Estelle has a real passion and talent for bringing her wines to our customers to share, to taste, to learn, to engage, in a way that really ignites their taste buds.
Born in Augusta, on the Ionian coast of Sicily, Sonia grew up in the orange groves of Lentini, watching Mount Etna erupt. Sonia discovered the world of wine by chance and decided to start tending to the family vines and work in the cellar on the vinification processes. After graduating in economics, she completely devoted her life to wine and became the owner at Santa Maria La Nave as well as becoming a sommelier. Santa Maria la Nave is a small boutique winey on Mount Etna, specialising in wines from autochthonous varieties.
Stefanie is one of the first women to have worked in Germany’s male-dominated wine industry. She has supremely mastered the technical aspects of winemaking, and – crucially – brings heart and sensuality to her work. She has been making the highest quality Pfalz wines for more than 25 years, assisted by a largely female team at the winery and behind the scenes. Her clean, pure wines have a delicate Pfalz spice and are very generous in fruit and length.
Raised in Turangi on the shores of the mighty Lake Taupo, Chloe’s early exposure to viticulture began with helping her parents pick out wine from the local store (they were fiends for a big Aussie red). After finishing College in 2001, Chloe moved to Marlborough to pursue a Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology degree through Lincoln University, completing her first harvest at the Saint Clair Family Estate in 2006. Now more than ten vintages later, Chloe is the winemaker at Lake Chalice, producing the very best results for this superb winery… that is, when she’s not being a Mum to Asher, member of multiple sports teams, performing in Kapa Haka (Māori performing arts), being a cross-fit addict or cooking a mean kai (kiwi food)!
It’s fitting that Ayana makes wine in Japan’s Yamanashi Prefecture from the revered Koshu grape, as her father Shigekazu Misawa is regarded as Japan’s Koshu pioneer. Ayana has studied winemaking on three continents, at the Institute of Enology and Viticulture in Yamanishi, the Faculty of Enology of the University of Bordeaux, and South Africa’s Stellenbosch University. She has also made wine at some very well-known wineries, including Cape Point Vineyards in South Africa, Catena Zapata in Mendoza, Errazuriz in Chile and Mountford in New Zealand. She has now returned to her homeland and works for Grace, one of Japan’s most prestigious wineries.
The Campanian Volcanic Arc has at its centre the mighty Mount Vesuvius. This is dangerous territory. A devastating earthquake rocked Avellino in 1980; it was from these ruins that Antonio Capaldi built Feudi di San Gregorio. The winery champions Avellino’s native grapes – Greco di Tufo, Fiano and Aglianico, as well as the Falanghina from nearby Benevento.
In less than 30 years it has become a benchmark for the region.
The flagship Serpico Irpinia is produced from centuries-old Aglianico wines and is an unforgettable mouthful of dried cherry, liquorice and leather.
The Aglianico grapes used for producing Serpico are produced in a historic vineyard named “Dal Re”. This historic region of the Apennine countryside is known as Irpinia and it has a unique terroir and climate in which vineyards coexist with fruit trees, olives and aromatic herbs. The winds here divert a beneficial rainfall which creates a microclimate in Irpinia that differs from Campania, the winters though brief are snowy and cold and the summers can be wet and prolonged.
Recently the winery has begun producing a stunning array of traditional-method sparkling wines under the Dubl label – these are not to be missed! Produced using the traditional method sparkling wine, the end product has a fine and persistent mousse. A fresh and aromatic wine with notes of crisp golden delicious apple, peach and floral hints of camomile, complemented by rounder notes of apricot.
For more information on the wines of Feudi di San Gregorio, please get in touch with your account manager.
The Tessari family began farming on the dark and volcanic land of the Rugate hill, near the centre of Brognoligo, over 100 years ago. The volcanic origin of the land and its limestone and basalt characteristics make the soil generous, capable of giving life and taste to the typical grapes of this region, Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave.
The estate was renamed Ca’Rugate in 1986, taking its name from the volcanic hills where the vineyards are located. Now run by the fourth generation, Michele has brought with him a lively, passionate and entrepreneurial spirit. Considerable expansion has taken place in recent years with investment in a new technologically advanced cellar and expansion into the Valpolicella area with the purchase of vineyards in the hilly zone of Montecchia di Crosara.
Monte Fiorentine – which lends its name to the Tessari family’s highest cru – is a territory in the Rugate district, in the heart of the Soave Classico, characterised by hills with an average altitude between 120m and 350m. It is a historic vineyard par excellence, evocative, homogeneous and entirely planted with Garganega grapes.
Ca’Rugate has been awarded the prestigious ‘Tre Bicchieri’ award rating from Gambero Rosso multiple times, making it one of the most awarded producers in the competition and has been hailed by the New York Times as one of the ‘Top Five producers of high end Soave’.
For more information on the wines of Ca’Rugate, please get in touch with your account manager.
At the centre of the most seismically active area in the eastern Mediterranean, Santorini is a unique region for the cultivation of vines. The volcanic, porous soil, the long hours of sunshine, the lack of rainfall throughout the year, the sea mist and the strong winds during summer, the traditional ‘kouloura’ (basket shape) training system, and some of the vineyards dating back almost 3,000 years create rare, precious wines.
This unique combination is most evident in two of Gaia’s wines. The Wild Ferment Assyrtiko is made from grapes from upland vineyards in Pyrgos. The bigger day/night temperature range up here means longer ripening periods which, combined with some skin contact at cool temperature, helps to extract phenolics, giving you a peachy, minerally, umami-rich and powerful wine.
Meanwhile, Gaia’s Thalassitis benefits from sea spray which hits the low-lying vines and confers a stunning, almost indefinable salty character which adds complexity to this steely grape.
One of the pioneers of the modern Greek wine revolution Gaia Wines was established in 1994 by Greek winemakers Leon Karatsalos and Yiannis Paraskevopoulos. Operating two different wineries they make cutting edge wines in both Nemea and Santorini. Gaia’s main aim is to present the potential of the indigenous Greek grape varieties to wine enthusiasts worldwide.
For more information on the wines of Gaia Wines please get in touch with your account manager.
If there has been one buzzword in the food and drink world recently, ‘vegan’ is surely it. Veganism has skyrocketed in recent years and with it the demand for vegan wines.
Although wine is made solely from grapes, it would be wrong to assume that all wines are suitable for vegans. To celebrate Veganuary, the go-vegan month, we have hand-picked a selection of vegan wines from our portfolio that your customers are sure to love throughout Veganuary and beyond.
Smederevka (Smed-er-EV-car) is the most popular white varietal of the Republic of Macedonia. You must try this: while relatively low in alcohol, it is full of flavour with stone fruits, tropical fruits and zest.
This crisp, fruity Zibibbo shows lifted notes of succulent white peach combined with soft floral aromatics of orange blossom and jasmine. Bright and perfumed with a zesty citrus finish.
Although winemakers may let a wine settle, waiting for the proteins capable of haze formation to clear naturally and leaving it unfiltered, most producers will filter out these impurities through the fining process.
To do this, traditionally, a number of animal products have been used in fining through adding substances like casein (milk), albumin (egg whites), gelatin (meat) and isinglass (fish), which act a bit like a magnet drawing all the smaller particles together so that they can be filtered out. These substances aren’t left in the wine so most
winemakers manage to avoid disclosing this on allergen labelling.
However, for ethical reasons you can understand why vegetarians, and in some cases vegans, might want to steer clear.
Naturally fermented in open-top fermenters to encourage a lower alcohol and sulphur content. This handcrafted wine is based on Syrah, with small additions of bush vine Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre.
From Santorini to Soave, some of the world’s most interesting and talked-about wines come from vineyards planted on volcanic soils. It comes as no surprise that there’s been an explosion of interest in these ‘volcanic’ wines from sommeliers and wine merchants alike.
So what singles out these wines among all the others? Certainly the mineral-rich nature of volcanic soils plays a massive part, as does the finite-availability of wines from such specific sites. It’s true that vines grown on plain old clay or limestone can be world-beating, but you can find these soils in every wine-growing region of the world.
The ‘wow factor’ and story of behind volcanic wines shouldn’t be overlooked either. These vines grown on ancient soils really do take terroir to the next level with their mineral characters, fresh acidity, salinity and distinct longevity. The sight of green shoots and leaves emerging from the black volcanic soil is as ethereal as its gets in the vineyard.
According to Jamie Goode in his book The Science of Wine: From Vine to Glass, wines from volcanic soils are said to be riper, weightier, richer, and with texture and minerality that make them age worthy. Quite an attractive list of assets, but where do these characters come from?
Volcanic soils are rich in potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium, as well as other elements, which can contribute greatly to a wine’s mineral profile. Potassium-rich soils tend to produce wines with an almost almond-edged and savoury finish, while black volcanic soils enhance the citrus, peach and apricot aromas. They all enjoy a wonderful freshness.
Add to this the fact that volcanic rocks constitute high levels of macro-porosity in soils which allows water to be delivered to the roots of vines very slowly. This water-retaining property can be a lifesaver during a dry growing season when vines must rely on groundwater to survive.
The aspect of the volcano itself and the altitude at which many vineyards are planted also help to produce top quality fruit, as does the unflinching determination and attitude of generations of viticulturists who have risked eruptions to plant, tend and harvest vines. Simply put, these are very special sites, and they look awesome too.
Here’s a few volcanic suggestions from our portfolio.
In organoleptic experiments to test the wine tasting ability of men and women, female participants consistently come out on top. Their superior palates and tasting precision are well documented in scientific papers and journals, which explains why the female success rate in the Master of Wine qualification is now higher than men’s. This is now being reflected in wineries and cellars around the world as female winemakers take the helm in a traditionally male environment.
We’re proud to represent some of the best female winemakers around, and we believe the wines crafted by theses talented women from Japan and South Africa to Italy and France – are some of the very best in the Hallgarten portfolio.
It’s fitting that Ayana makes wine in Japan’s Yamanashi Prefecture from the revered Koshu grape. Her father Shigekazu Misawa is regarded as Japan’s Koshu pioneer. Ayana has studied winemaking on three continents, at the Enology and Viticulture Institute in Yamanishi, the Faculty of Enology of the University of Bordeaux, and South Africa’s Stellenbosch University. She has also made wine at some very well-known wineries, including Cape Point Vineyards in South Africa, Catena Zapata in Mendoza, Errazuriz in Chile and Mountford in New Zealand.
She’s now returned to her homeland and works for Grace Winery, one of Japan’s most prestigious wineries.
“Pure, sublimely crisp and mineral in style, this wine is fresh and elegant with subtle notes of citrus fruit and white pear. The palate, like the nose shows white fruits and spicy white pepper notes with a savoury note on the finish.”
Estelle Roumage embodies this outstanding family domaine in Entre-deux-Mers, close to St Emilion. Her wines are delicate, precise and consistently punch above their appellation. She manages to blend respect for tradition with a modern outlook to vine management and winemaking techniques. On top of this Estelle has a real passion and talent for bringing her wines to her customers and engaging, in a way that really ignites their taste buds.
“A rich, powerful wine with a beautiful balance between roasted aromas and intense black fruit flavours. Structured, it has velvety tannins and well integrated oak, complemented by complex dark berry flavours, hints of cigar box and a smooth, elegant finish.”
Juliette’s father Jean-Marc Joblot introduced her to winemaking on the family estate in Givry. She started making the wines herself in 2010 and has never looked back. “I learnt a lot from my father,” she says, “and now I make decisions.” She’s aware that little-by-little more women are entering the world of winemaking but is also quick to point out that in regions like Burgundy it can be difficult to be a women in the winery “because the Bourgogne men are very macho!” The young yet determined Juliette is further exploring her father’s approach of ‘lutte raisonnée’ in the vineyards, and is also looking to retain more freshness by limiting oxygen contact in the winery as much as possible.
“Elegant and poised, this stunning wine shows complex aromas of yellow stone fruits and citrus notes layered with delicate floral nuances. Harmoniously balanced, it has a generous texture on the palate and a wonderful tension on the finish.”
Caterina is the queen of San Marzano and Primitivo is considered the king of Puglian grapes: this is certainly a winning marriage! Named European Producer of the Year 2015 in the Sommelier Wine Awards, San Marzano is one of the most professional, forward-thinking cooperatives in Southern Italy with a reputationfor producing great wines. Trained biologist Caterina Bellanova, whose wines reflect the region and its native grape varieties, is at the helm.
“A distinctive blend with delicate aromas of sun-ripened peach and floral aromatics, which are interwoven with delightful hints of freshly squeezed lime, mint and herbal complexity. Beautifully balanced, the rounded palate is elegantly styled and has a touch of minerality on the finish.”
Chéreau-Carré has always been a family affair, and Louise Chéreau is the third generation to work in the winery which was founded by her grandfather in 1960. Alongside her father Bernard, she is heavily involved in the winemaking process, working the vintage from harvest to blending. “It is great to learn from my father as we build together a solid philosophy that will last until – maybe – a new generation is coming. We are a good team.”
Try the; Chéreau Carré, Château de Chasseloir, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie 2014
“The wine was matured on its fine lees- “Sur Lie” -until bottling which imparts an attractive “prickle” on the palate and a nice weight. Dry, with a characteristic crisp acidity and a bright, fresh minerality.”
With 300 years of winemaking history and a gaze to the future, the Weegmüller sisters have excelled in making delicious Riesling. Steffi is one of the first women to have worked in Germany’s male-dominated wine industry and she has mastered the technical aspects of winemaking, and – crucially – brings heart and sensuality to her work. She has been making the highest quality Pfalz wines for more than 25 years aided and abetted by a largely female team at the winery and behind the scenes. Her clean, pure wines have a delicate Pfalz spice and are very generous in fruit and length.
Nadine Ferrand is the latest family member to take helm at the Domaine in the heart of Pouilly Fuissé. She has transformed the vineyard and winery since taking over in 1984. She and her daughters are clearly doing something right as the wines regularly receive high scores from Robert Parker. Nadine Ferrand has brought the domaine to the top of Pouilly Fuissé. Her wines with vivacious fruit notes, buttery roundness and appealing minerality have been recognised by the Sommelier Wine Awards as a jewel of the appellation
“This is a refreshing, complex and velvety white from Saint Véran. Ripe fruit flavours of juicy white pear combine with delicate notes of zesty lemon. Softly textured, with a harmonious balance between refreshing acidity and fruitiness, this shows great finesse on the finish.”
Samantha O’Keefe’s is an amazing story. A native Californian, Berkeley educated, she and her husband realised their dream and bought a mountain in Africa. But then her husband upped sticks and Sam was left to bring up two young boys on her own, 300 metres up a mountain, surrounded by wilderness (and baboons). But nothing seems to faze her and she has made her mark with a string of stunning cool-climate wines that have wowed customers and critics the world over.
“A stunning example of a restrained, cool climate Chardonnay. Intense citrus aromas and classic soft fruits are layered with honey and vanilla notes. The palate is beautifully balanced with a refreshing, crisp acidity and a distinct minerality. Concentrated and refined, with a lingering citrus finish.”
Olifantsberg is situated on the Breedekloof’s Brandwacht mountain slopes, and is owned by Hollander Paul Leeuwerik, who is making great strides in progressing towards producing excellent Rhone-style wines. Elizma Visser joined the Olifantsberg team in 2015. This down to earth Elsenburg-trained winemaker has worked in France and Italy, before returning to South Africa.
“A unique style of Grenache Blanc which shows delicacy and finesse. Subtle aromas of lime blossom combine with green herbal notes, white peach and quince through to a beautifully balanced and richly textured palate with a delicious saline hint on the finish.”
July celebrates the 31 days of German Riesling campaign from Wines of Germany, so we ask the question, why does everybody love Riesling wine so much?
Below we explore a few reasons why it is universally popular.
Germany continues to reign supreme in the world of Riesling growing 60% of the world’s crop, however the rest of the world is quickly catching up. Australia comes in a clear second with 12%, with our own clos Clare’s Watervale Riesling 2016 (part of the Matthew Jukes 100 Best Australian Wines) standing out from the
crowd in our portfolio.
Contrary to popular belief, two thirds of German Riesling made is dry and has incredible acidity levels. Riesling also has universally low alcohol content.
Riesling grows best in rocky, steep terrain where the vines can get a great deal of sun, such as in the Rhine or Alsace.
Riesling’s roots date as far back as 1435, when a German count bought six Riesling vines – making it the first documented varietal sale.
Riesling is a brilliant test of terroir. Due to its light body and low alcohol they rarely come into contact with oak which means, when you get a good Riesling, you know the winemaker has planted them on the best soils.
Riesling can be the base for amazing dessert wines. A high level of Tartaric acid in Riesling grapes allows the wines, no matter the sweetness, to have a wonderful fresh acidity.
Riesling pairs very well with spicy foods – its low serving temperature and crisp finish makes it the perfect wine for Thai, Indian or Chinese foods. When serving Riesling with meat, choose white meats, such as chicken, turkey or seafood, such as crab or shrimp.
Riesling has a unique acidity, minerality, and fruit flavour with aromas of wet stones, smoke or even petroleum (a highly prized note in aged Riesling). The chemical compound for this petrol characteristic is ‘1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalene’ – aka TDN.
Riesling grapes can be used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. Riesling makes excellent dessert wines and is typically thought of as a sweeter white wine. But that there are many “dry Rieslings” that are in fact very crisp and food-friendly, similar in body and style to a light, aromatic Sauvignon Blanc.
Riesling has some of longest life expectancies for wine due to its low pH (high acidity). The high sugar levels also increase the longevity of this wine. In Bremen, Germany – they have Riesling back to 1653!
On the fourth and final leg of Hallgarten’s Mediterranean Roadshow we welcomed guests to the 29 Glasgow , where they were treated to a range of 95 wines to taste.
The tasting featured the unique flavours of many indigenous varietals from countries on the Med’s shores – the South of France, the Maremma, Southern Italy and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily including wines from the more marginal Mount Etna.
From the more exotic and adventurous Eastern Mediterranean, we will showcase wines from Croatia, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Lebanon, countries which have emerged on to the UK wine scene over the last decade.