How do you know what wine to buy? It’s a question as old as the Vinmonopolet isn’t it? And with wine being so expensive it isn’t easy to experiment and try new wines. We tend to try the safe, tried and tested wines we have enjoyed for so long. So how do we get to try new and exciting wines without emptying our wallets every time? Go to one of the many tastings that are being arranged all over Norway. In the beginning of June, Heidi Aas Kvalheim from Pievino invited us to a tasting in Bergen. She had invited Nicola Tippings from Mullineux in South Africa and Alessandro Veglio from Piemonte in Italy to Bergen and they presented four wines each to an eager and thirsty audience.
Heidi Aas Kvalheim from Pievino
These events are great to meet likeminded wine buffs who are also there to expand their knowledge. In addition to the two wine producers we could try the Coravin corkscrew (I’m sceptic …), buy some new glasses, either Riedel or Zalto (I’m in the Riedel-camp), get a great deal on a new Temptech wine cooler (I’m very happy with the one I already have) or try some great apple juice from Spilde.
Chris and Andrea Mullineux
But the main reason for being there was the wines of course. First up was Nicola from Mullineux. The winners of winemakers of the year in South Africa in both 2014 and 2015, we were presented with two white wines and two reds. The Mullineux winery is run by husband and wife team Andrea and Chris Mullineux and their wine are made in Swartland, close to the little village of Riebeek Kasteel. All of their wines are made organically and in 2016 the magazine Wine Enthusiast made Andrea Winmaker of the year. A great recognition indeed.
Kloof Street Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2015, 100% Chenin Blanc, kr 166,-, #919701
A nice light-yellow colour. Lovely on the nose with citrus, white flowers and hints of peach. Nice balance in the mouth with hints of strawberry, good minerality and length. Should do well with fish and shell fish but also a good wine to enjoy on warm summer days.
Mullineux White 2014, 61% Chenin Blanc, 23% Clairette Blanche, 16% Viognier, kr 259,-, #334201
The grapes for this wine come from three allotments with different soil: slate, granite and red clay. Most of the vines are over 40 years old. An unfiltered wine with bit deeper yellow than the Kloof Street although the colour was not cloudy. Caramel, toffee, hints of vanilla and almonds on the nose. Round and mild in the mouth. Good acidity. Nuts and salty caramel in the finish. This was Nicola Tippings favourite, but I have to say I preferred the Kloof street of the whites. This one was a bit disappointing and didn’t have the freshness and fruitiness that I would have liked.
Kloof Street Swartland Syrah 2014, 100% Syrah, kr 169,-, #1770601
Like the Mullineux White the grapes for this wine come from three allotments with different soil: slate, granite and red clay. Nice dark red colour. Pepper, unripe red fruits and hints of vanilla on the nose. Good structure, nice tannins. Has good power and freshness in the beginning but unfortunately it dies down quite quickly. Should be a good wine accompanying the barbeques this summer.
Mullineux Syrah 2014, 100% Syrah, kr 279,-, #342101
The soil is the same constellation as the Kloof Street Syrah with slate, granite and red clay. A nice dark red colour. Ripe black currants and hints of spices on the nose. Round and balanced in the mouth with good tannins, low acidity and hits of pepper in the mouth.
For me the best of the four South African wines were the Kloof Street Old Vine Chenin Blanc. The cheapest of the wines, I felt it really was good value for money and a wine I would love to drink on warm summer days. The Mullineux White was disappointing. Lacking in fruit and structure it didn’t justify being almost 100,- kr more expensive than the Kloof Street Old Vine Chenin Blanc. Hopefully it was a poor bottle.
The last year we have travelled a lot to the Rhone valley and had the pleasure of drinking great Syrah-wines. With that in mind I was excited to try the South African Syrah and see how the stack up against the French wines. Unfortunately, they didn’t deliver in my opinion. There were hints of what we know the Syrah can give us, but they fell short. I would have enjoyed more power, black berries and pepper, the tastes we want when we drink Syrah.
After a short break it was Alessandro Veglios turn to present his wines. He told us that in both cellar and vineyard, he tries to work in a more natural way. In the vineyards he hasn’t used herbicides for ten years and he eliminates infesting weeds exclusively by means of brush cutter together with moving the soil, so that also allows vines to “breathe” and avoid the land to be too hard. With him he had four wines, a Dolcetto, a Barbera, a Langhe and a Barolo, four classic Piemonte wines.
Alessandro Veglio Dolcetto d'Alba 2015, 100% Dolcetto, kr 193,80, #7631001
The grapes for this wine come from Roddino, a village just outside the Barolo area, suited to produce the Dolcetto grapes. This village lies at a slightly higher altitude than others and its cool and breezy position helps the bouquet and gives the wine a good acidity. It also keeps the alcohol content nice and low.
A lighter red colour with purple tones at the edges. Beautiful bouquet with lovely raspberry notes. Fresh and fine with hints of white pepper. Very good structure in the mouth. Fresh and fruity, light and delicate. This is the kind of wine that you can drink and drink when in Italy. Superb quality, but it would probably have been even better with some great Italian prosciutto. This wine actually made me hungry for some anti pasti. A great start to the tasting.
Alessandro Veglio Barbera d´Alba 2013, 100% Barbera, kr 203,70, #7631101
Next up was Alessandros Barbera. Ever since I started to interest myself for wine the Barbera has been one of my favourite Italian wines and fortunately Alessandro did not disappoint.
This wine is made in Annunziata di La Morra, in the Gattera area, where most part of Alessandros vineyards are found. The Barbera has the alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in stainless steel tanks, then, following the natural tartaric stabilization, rests for 5-6 months in used barriques. The wine is usually bottled one year following the harvest.
A lovely dark red colour. Fresh currants and roses in bloom on the nose, what a lovely combination that is. Alessandro should bottle the scent and sell it as perfume. Round, fresh, with a great length. Ripe red berries, acidic and hits of rose leaf in the mouth. Still young and can be kept for a few more years. A superb wine.
Alessandro Veglio Langhe Nebbiolo 2014, 100% Nebbiolo, kr 250,90, #7631201
The vines for this wine comes from the village Canale, in the Roero area, from a rented vineyard. In this area soils are naturally sandy. That means that the wines get fine and elegant tannins, velvety, a wine that is ready to drink just after one year of aging and much easy-drinkable than a Barolo.
A lighter colour than the Barbera. Ripe strawberries on the nose. Delicate and round with finely balanced tannins. Nice and long in the mouth. Such a delicious wine that drinks perfectly now.
Alessandro Veglio Barolo 2012, 100% Nebbiolo, kr 350,90, #7615101
The final bottle was Alessandros Barolo. Wine connoisseurs know that the Barolo is the flagship of Piemonte, some say all of Italy, and I have to agree. It has an elegance and quality only the great Burgundy wines can compete with. But I like my Barolos with age and the one we were tasting was a child like five years old. Fortunately, the quality shone through!
Most of the vines for the Barolo are between 50 and 60 years old. The alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks for 12-15 days and then after 7-10 days of natural decanting, the wine is poured into barriques for malolactic fermentation. For a period of one and a half months the wine is aged with the lees and occasionally the lees are stirred (bâtonnage). Then the wine is racked and put into barrels and left for 24 months. At the end of the aging period the wine is bottled and then left for at least 6-8 months, before it is released.
The wine was dark, dark, red on colour. On the nose ripe strawberries, forest floor and mushroom. In the mouth it is long and delicate with hints of strawberries. But it is so, so young it is almost a shame to drink it. It needs at least another ten years before it can be opened, maybe even longer. But the quality shines through even if it is such a young wine. A superb wine to end the tasting on, and for a measly 350,- NOK I will call it a real steal!
Alessandro Veglio is new winemaker for me, but one I will keep a close eye on! His wines are a perfect representation for the Piemonte area. I can recommend all of them and will be buying several of them myself!