Reviewed by Jancis Robinson for the Financial Times in their 6th December 2019 article, Stunning White Wines for the Festive Season (see blue link below).
This small co-operative, founded in 1954, has 110 members and 200 hectares of vineyard in the Haut-Rhin, nine kilometres from Colmar. Their wines are vinified using only their members' grapes, with a focus on expressing the rich diversity of Alsatian soils. Winemaker Nicolas Garde started at the winery in 2004 and his influence continues to be seen in the way the wines improve with each vintage.
Sheltered by the Vosges Mountains, the Alsace wine region has a semicontinental climate which stays sunny and dry throughout the growing season, which extends the ripening period for the grapes. The slopes surrounding Hunawihr, a picturesque village of half-timbered houses and a 14th century church, are some of the most celebrated in Alsace for grape-growing. Cave de Hunawihr’s fruit is sourced from 25 year-old vines grown in vineyards, located at 250-320 metres altitude, which run along the south and south-east facing hillside slopes around the village. The vineyards cover an area of 36 hectares, located on a geological fault line across Ribeauvillé, which gives soils composed of clay limestone and marl with overlying chalk gravel.
The 2018 vintage was very good. Budburst was later than normal however a very hot summer allowed harvest to begin towards the end of August. Yields were higher than average and the grapes were of a high quality.
Each parcel was individually selected to ensure the best quality for this Réserve wine. Fermentation took place at temperatures of 16-18°C for three weeks with local yeasts. The wine was then aged on its fine lees in stainless-steel tanks for three months before careful filtration. Malolactic fermentation was not allowed to take place.
Residual sugar = 8.7g/litre.
This wine is an elegant straw yellow in colour with youthful tints. The nose is complex with aromas of citrus, pear, white flowers and a touch of minerality. The palate is lively and is bursting with citrus flavours. The finish is long and refreshing.
ABV = 14.0%.
Awarded 89 points and Recommended status by Decanter in their January 2020 edition article, Top Washington (State) Buys (see blue link below).
As the maker puts it: "It takes an unconventional winemaker to make a totally unexpected dry Riesling. One night, Charles was eating Chinese takeout and watching a fight scene in a notorious martial arts film when he had an idea: a killer white wine made to be paired with Asian food. Just like that, Kung Fu Girl was born. And it’s been kicking ass and taking names ever since".
More traditionally put: This wine is made by Charles Smith, a self–taught winemaker who brings his rock and roll spirit to the vineyards of Walla Walla, Washington. As a romantic young man, Charles Smith moved across the world to Denmark to follow his love for his girlfriend at the time. In Scandinavia, he became a recognized manager for rock bands such as The Raveonettes. While travelling on the road with these bands, he developed his passion for wine. In 1999, he moved back to Washington, opened a wine store and became friendly with a French winemaker, later convincing him to move to Walla Walla to make wine together.
Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling grapes comes from Evergreen Vineyard vines, where they stretch across the steep cliffs overlooking the Colombia River. This makes for ideal Riesling growing conditions that rival those in Germany. This wine is made from 100% Riesling grapes, carefully cultivated and pressed at the winery. The wine is barrel-aged for only 2 months (using the sur lie method, ie leaving the wine on its fine lees). Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling is crafted to be approachable and ready to drink the day you buy it.
The wine is a party in a glass. Young and fun, bright balance and tropical fruit notes make this an easy introduction to the world of Riesling. White stone fruit, apricot and white peach aromas with honeysuckle undertones make it a stand out. These flavours are balanced with elements of lime zest, citrus blossom and a floral hint of jasmine.
This wine would pair well with any number of foods. It can very easily be enjoyed on its own but Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling is a match made in heaven with Korean BBQ, spicy curry any kind of Thai food and sushi. Snow crab, lobster, prawns, roasted chicken or grilled salmon would also pair well.
Residual sugar = 1.4g/litre (ie bone dry).
To see an information sheet and tasting note for this wine from the team at Charles Smith Wines, please click on the blue link below.
ABV = 12.0%.
Greywacke was created in 2009 by Kevin Judd who was the chief winemaker at Cloudy Bay for 25 years. The name 'Greywacke' was adopted by Kevin for his first Marlborough vineyard located in Rapaura in recognition of the high prevalence of rounded greywacke river stones in the soils of the vineyard, a sedimentary rock which is widely found in Marlborough. Kevin Judd is also New Zealand's finest wine photographer and has recently published a book The Landscape of New Zealand Wine.
The fruit for this wine was grown at the organically-farmed Ashmore Vineyard in Fairhall, adjacent to the mouth of the Brancott Valley on gravelly clay-loam soils, conditions more typical of the Southern Valleys than the Wairau plains. The 20-year-old vines are trained on a two cane VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioning) trellis with careful shoot and bunch thinning carried out.
Residual sugar = 19.5g/litre (ie off-dry).
To see an excellent information sheet and tasting note for this wine produced by the team at Greywacke, please click on the blue link below.
This wine has intense aromas of honeydew melon and tangerine infused with kaffir lime leaves and honeysuckle flowers. On the palate, there are notes of freshly grated ginger and juniper berries. An invigorating off-dry style that delivers a great balance of bright, natural acidity with a subliminal touch of sweetness.
ABV = 12.5%.
The 2014 vintage of this wine was a huge hit when it featured in Decanter (www.decanter.com) recently. The current 2017 vintage is now newly available and also superb; indeed, as the below vintage table (also from Decanter) shows, 2017 is already talked of by some as the best Riesling vintage in Australia for over 15 years.
The 2014 vintage was awarded 98 points and rare Exceptional status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2018 edition review of Australian Riesling (see blue link below) .
See also here for Decanter's assessment of Australian Riesling vintages (click blue link below).
Clare Valley is one of Australia`s oldest wine regions and is probably best known for its Riesling wines. Polish Hill River is a sub-region one and a half hours drive north from Adelaide. Named after the Polish settlers of the mid 1800s, the climate is ideal for premium grape growing with a combination of consistently good winter rains, hot summers tempered by cool nights and a long ripening period.
Pauletts' reputation for producing wines of finesse, elegance and intensity is justly deserved with consistent skill and care from vintage to vintage. Neil Paulett graduated from the Roseworthy oenology course in the early 1970s and spent a further ten years honing his winemaking skills at Penfolds before buying his own property in the Clare Valley. Located some 90 minutes north of Adelaide,this lovely property now extends to 150 hectares with 47 planted with vines. Since the first vintage in 1983 there have been many accolades both at home and internationally. These wines are a true reflection of the region and are of outstanding quality.
The Clare Valley yields one of the world`s great styles of Riesling. This youthful, aromatic, dry wine has intense mineral and floral aromas on the nose. These aromas follow through on the palate leading to flavours of lime, citrus and white blossom. Tropical fruits and citrus dominate the fresh, racy acidity and a distinct minerality comes through on the palate leaving a fantastic, clean finish.
This wine is a good choice to accompany seafood, especially prawn, crab, oysters and bass and mildly spiced Thai stir fry and seafood curries.
ABV = 12.8%.
The wine-growing estate of Paulinshof is a former monastery firstly mentioned in AD 936. From the early 1800s, the Paulinshof estate has been in private ownership; since the late 1960s, Paulinshof has been the propery of the Jüngling family, and lays claim (or part-claim) to some of the finest vineyards of the middle Mosel: Kestener Paulinshofberger, Kestener Paulinsberg, Kestener Herrenberg, Trittenheimer Apotheke, Brauneberger Juffer (recognised by Napoleon’s classification as the top site in the Mosel in 1804), Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr and the Brauneberger Kammer (which is solely owned by Paulinshof).
These steep, slate-rich, river valley hillsides are low-yielding: this is the principal reason for the outstanding quality of Paulinshof's Rieslings which win numerous major awards every year. The wines all have a delicious seam of minerality and acidity.
Harvested from stake-trained vines on the steep, slate soils of the Sonnenuhr sub-section of Brauneberger Juffer vineyard. The grapes are pressed at low pressure, and then fermented at controlled temperature in stainless steel.
Residual sugar = ~10g/litre.
Straw yellow with a bouquet of orange blossom and lemon rind. On the palate, it is dry with powerful minerality, acidity and grapefruit notes. Long, spicy finish.
ABV = 12.5%.
** CURRENTLY UK-EXCLUSIVE TO EXEL AND OFFERED FOR THE FIRST TIME HERE **
"Fragrant and feminine with aromas of sweet mandarin and red apple, some florals rose layers and fresh wet rock soil ideas. Dry on the palate with vibrant acidity then flavours of citrus – both lime and lemon, some barley sugar and apples. Wild flowers and honeysuckle, long finish, a great aperitif and very tasty wine. Drink now and through 2030".
94 Points, Cameron Douglas MW
"Bright, very pale straw-yellow colour, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is fresh with taut and finely concentrated, bright aromas of lime fruit with subtle notes of white florals, honeysuckle and suggestions of toasty nuances. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is tightly bound with an elegantly concentrated core of lime fruit, white florals and minerals with suggestions of honey and toast, The palate is crisp with a fine-textured line of fruit extract and phenolics, with underlying thirst-quenching acidity. The wine has very good linearity and carries to a long, lingering, soft-textured, dry finish. This is a taut and finely concentrated dry Riesling with lime, floral and mouthwatering mineral flavours on a dry, textural palate with good linearity. Serve as an aperitif and with shellfish over the next 4-5 years. Hand-picked fruit, WBP and cool-fermented to 12.0% alc. and 6.0 g/L RS, TA 8.2 g/L and pH 3.0. Certified BioGro organic".
18.0+/20, Raymond Chan, Dec 2017
Proudly family-owned, Urlar Estate produces outstanding single vineyard wines using organic and biodynamic principles. Urlar is a Gaelic word that means “the Earth”. Their desire is to bring an abundance of life back to our ancient soils so that the drinker can discover the purity of flavour inherent in the land. Their journey from the highlands of Scotland to the stony soils and cool climate of Gladstone, Wairarapa has cemented a love for all things pure and true.
Only some 175 cases of this are made each year!
In the vineyard, in keeping with traditional techniques, the grapes were hand harvested with each bunch passing over a sorting table to ensure only the ripest of bunches were selected. The bunches were then gently pressed to avoid unattractive phenolics.
In the cellar, aromatic (German) yeasts - together with low fermentation temperatures - ensured the uniqueness of flavours from the site were captured. After a period on its lees (for 5 months) to add mid-palate weight and texture the wine was carefully filtered for bottling.
In homage to its stony origins, this dry styled Riesling has an underlying mineral thread throughout. Aromas include lime zest, granny smith apples and citrus which combine beautifully with a rich palate texture. A tight mineral thread runs the length of the palate making it delicious to drink now although cellaring for five years or more will be richly rewarded. It stands up well to lightly spiced tapas, Asian food and handles strong cheeses well.
Residual sugar is around 6-7g/litre - so on the cusp between dry and off-dry.
ABV = 12.0%.
The 2018 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Alternative South American Whites (see blue link below).
The 2015 vintage (long since sold out in the UK) was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in that same panel (blue link below).
The 2015 vintage was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 tasting/article of/on Top 30 Chilean Wines Under £25 (see blue link below).
Few wineries encapsulate the development of coolclimate winemaking in Chile as well as pioneering Viña Leyda. The first producer to explore this coastal area, a rising star of New World winemaking, it took its name from the local railway station and later lent it to the entire DO of Leyda Valley. If Casablanca Valley represents Chile’s first tentative steps into cool-climate production, Leyda is a series of determined, confident strides: just 14km from the Pacific, the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah planted here express a crispness, minerality and fine-boned structure not found elsewhere in Chile’s viticultural paradise. Viña Leyda now has more than 200 hectares under vine, but the approach remains one of micromanagement, with detailed mapping of each vineyard and individual lot, and constant experimentation with clonal selection and viticultural techniques.
This 100% Riesling wine comes from vineyards located in the fairly-recently-discovered Leyda Valley, located 12 km from the Pacific Ocean. Its closeness to the sea makes it a unique spot for viticulture. Its cool conditions during spring and summer due to maritime influence and summer breezes makes it an extraordinary area for the development of white varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling.
These grapes were carefully transported to the winery in 400 kg bins and then, selected on a stainless steel sorting table, leaving only the best fruit. Then the clusters were pressed as whole bunches, in pneumatic press at low bars, separating the best quality juice. The juice was chilled down to 8º C and gravity clarified. The fermentation, carried out 100% in stainless steel tank, was at low temperatures (13-14°C, finishing at 16°C) for 18-20 days. After reaching dryness, the wine was left on its lees for 6 months to achieve roundness and improve the texture in the palate.
The pureness of this Riesling is shown in its floral, fruity and delightful flavours. They are elegant, mineral, expressive, with papaya, tangy, mandarin fruit and floral hints. It has a creamy texture on the palate, with sweet honey suckle, white fruit, crisp acidity and juicy-lingering ending.