Top wines from ProWein 2017

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Three famous South Africans caught at ProWein

[This is a post in collaboration with my Canadian colleague Treve Ring.]

There are wine trade shows the world over, but there is only one that covers all bases from vintage Port to natural wine, from bag-in-box to classed Bordeaux, and from products ranging from Canada to China to Columbia to Champagne. Every March, the wine world heads to Düsseldorf, Germany, transforming this small city on the Rhine into an epic wine HQ – at least for its three days. ProWein is the world’s largest wine trade show, filling nine giant exhibition halls at Messe Düsseldorf with over 6400 exhibitors from 60 countries, and 55000 visitors to drink it all in – literally. Much more than an opportunity to taste (although you quite literally can taste from anywhere in the world), ProWein is the major meeting place for the global wine community, and where agents, importers, media – and noticeably NOT consumers (pros only) – meet to make deals and exchange cards. We spent three full days at the event tasting, filming, and for Jamie, presenting. Here are each of our 10 most memorable wines tasted over the event (these selections were made independently, so any overlap is unintentional), plus links to the films shot each day.

Jamie’s selection:

post quercus

Filipa Pato Post Quercus Baga 2015 Bairrada, Portugal
11% alcohol. Fermented and aged in amphora, 40% whole bunch. This is a beautiful wine that’s floral and structured with fresh, silky red cherry and plum fruit with some nice grippy structure. Precise raspberry and cherry fruit. So fine and textural, this is great stuff. 95/100

Vidal Legacy Chardonnay 2015 Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Lovely intense spiciness on the nose with some nice matchstick reduction. Lemony and fine, with some pear richness, white peach fruit and subtle toast. Lovely mineral dimension, too. 95/100

vazart cocquart

Champagne Vazart Cocquart Special Club Blanc de Blancs 2009 France
Aged under cork. There’s a subtle toastiness here, with lovely rounded pear and citrus fruit, and a hint of baked apple. Very delicate with a lemony edge. Shows finesse. 94/100

Schloss Gobelsburg Ried Lamm 1er Cru Grüner Veltliner 2015 Kamptal, Austria
Lively, fresh and complex with good acidity. Very lemony and taut with a lovely peppery edge to the fruit. Very fine spicy notes, finishing peppery and lively. 94/100

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Disznoko Kapi Vineyard 6 Puttonyos 2011 Tokaji, Hungary
This is from a single plot on south-facing slopes. Intense, fragrant and lemony with amazing acidity under the complex sweet flavours of honey, spice, apricot and marmalade. Amazing acidity counters the sweetness, and this is linear and fine, with incredible structure and power. 97/100

Quinta do Noval Colheita 1964 Douro, Portugal
Wonderfully spicy and intense with lovely intensity and complexity. Notes of old furniture and orange peel, with lots of spiciness. Beautiful freshness and detail here, showing superb concentration and an endless finish. Pristine; almost perfect. 97/100

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Tolpuddle Vineyard Chardonnay 2015 Tasmania, Australia
Pure, linear and transparent with fresh, bright lemony fruit. Has nice purity with some grapefruit character. This is light and elegant with real finesse, but it’s not lacking in concentration. 94/100

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FIO Falkenberg Riesling Trocken 2015 Mosel, Germany
This wine is from the FIO collaboration between Dirk Niepoort and Philipp Kettern, and it’s fermented and aged in large old wood barrels. Very fine, taut and superbly mineral. Transparent and fine with expressive fruit. Harmonious and weightless with great precision. 96/100

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Niepoort Turris 2013 Douro, Portugal
From a very old 0.8 hectare plot, this is 30% whole bunch and spends two years in old fuders. Elegant, fine, supple raspberry and red cherry fruit with hints of apple and spice. Elegant with lovely acid structure. Fresh cherries and raspberries with hood structure and acid. This starts gently, but then just grows and grows on you. Remarkable. 96/100

Crystallum Peter Max Pinot Noir 2015 South Africa
30% whole cluster. Pure floral aromatic nose with sweet cherries and plums. Elegant and supple with lovely purity and finesse on the palate. Red cherry, red currant and lovely silkiness and weight. 95/100

Treve’s selection:

Philippe Pacalet 2013 Gevrey-Chambertin, Burgundy, France
Philippe Pacalet carries on in the vein of his uncle Marcel Lapierre with his terroir-centric, non-interventionist wines. This is from 45-year-old vines in six different lieux-dits, fermented wild and aged one year on the lees, with the only additions being minimal sulphur at bottling. Floral raspberry, forest berries, dusky cherry is veined with a wild herbal note and bright, red currant-tinged acidity. Mid-weight but lifted, there is a fine textural grip on the tannins to structure. 93/100

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Graham Beck 2016 Cuvée Clive, Robertson, South Africa
From Pieter Ferriera, godfather of fizz is South Africa, this is the winery’s premium MCC (Method Cap Classique) and only produced in exceptional years. Previous years have been 2001, 2009 and 2007. “No rules” according to Pieter, the 2016 is a blend of 80/20 Chardonnay/Pinot Noir from their Robertson limestone-laced vineyards, partially fermented in oak and with 60 months on the lees before bottling. The newly released 2016 expresses with crystalline lemon, scented salted plum, minerals, earthy lees and an exceptional depth and reach. The finish is lengthy, and this will continue to build and impress with cellaring. Impressive. 94/100

Giesen The Fuder 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
This organic single vineyard Dillons Point Savvy was from wild ferment 25-year-old vines, aged in 1000L German oak fuder (cigar shaped) for a lower oak to volume ratio, and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Intense white asparagus, savoury lemon thistle, fine flinty ash on the gentle lemon curd palate finishes with a snap of brisk lemon acidity to brighten and carry. Broken stones and salts on the lengthy finish. This is not about the fruit, and will honey and deepen with age. 94/100

Tolpuddle 2015 Chardonnay, Tasmania, Australia
Tolpuddle is the Tasmania project of Adelaide Hills’ Shaw + Smith owners/cousins Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith MW, who continued their focus on cool-climate wines with this site in NE Tazzie’s windy and maritime Coal River Valley. Cream, fine pear, marine salinity and delicate reductive notes, with bright, lemon acidity slicing through and lifting the lees complexities up. This vintage of the barrel-fermented, fuller white went through 100% MLF, though has ample bright acidity to carry. Apple butter and fine stony spice on the finish of this fresh, youthful wine, one that moves with understated fluidity, and potential to age very well. 93/100.

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Fio Reserve 2013, Mosel, Germany
Fio was formed in July 2016, a joint partnership between Portugal’s Dirk and Daniel Niepoort, and Germany’s Phillip Kettern, of Weingut Lothar Kettern. Fio Reserve is Riesling from Falkenberg, a higher, cooler, steep site, and was produced fundamentally non-interventionist. Fermented wild and spending 2.5 years in old German foudres (no MLF) before being bottled without sulfur or filtration, this is alluringly salty, with a mineral ring and haunting oxidative notes. The line and cut of acidity is impressive, as is the intensity, considering the 10.5 percent alcohol (oh, Mosel). Impressively lengthy, this will age beautifully. 94/100

Niepoort 2013 Turris, Douro Valley, Portugal
This 0.8 ha Turris single vineyard is more than 130 years old, and located on schistous soils on the right side of the river in the Cima Corgo. The potent fruit is 30% whole bunch pressed before spending two years in very old 1000-2000L old Mosel foudres, followed by 18 months in bottle before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Savoury stunner, with beauty dark plum, wild blueberry, thorns and dark florals. Elegant and seamless on the medium-plus palate (12.5%), but with a textured fine grip, toothsome tannins and stony salts echoing on the finish. This is an impressive young, tight wine with real gravitas, starting gentle, and growing on the palate with each sip. 95/100

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Hattingley Valley 2013 King’s Cuvee, Hampshire, England
A sneak preview of the September 2017 release. This is a 70/30 Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend fermented in, and then selected from the winery’s top barrels before headed to bottle without filtration. Thirty months on the lees, and no MLF (which is rare for English sparkling), this is a serious, full and earthy fizz, with a very direct form, lees-lined palate, and citrus, green apple notes. Lemon pith shimmers on the lengthy finish. 6 g/l dosage. I look forward to retasting when released, and watching this new project grow. 93/100

Leeu Passant Elandskloof Chardonnay, WO Elandskloof, South Africa
Leeu Passant is new line debuted at ProWein, from highly lauded couple Chris and Andrea, of Mullineux Wines. One of two 2015 Chardonnays released, with the site being the only difference. This was whole bunch pressed, fermented wild with natural MLF. This higher altitude vineyard is warm in the day and cool at night, holding the freshness, but with the power and concentration from the day sun. Lovely concentration, focus and creamy lees-lined palate in a streamlined frame, with apple, cream and toasted popcorn. Detailed acidity brightens the full and richer style. 92/100

Disznókó Tokaji Aszú 2002 6 Puttonyos, Hungary
Disznókó’s vineyards have been considered First Growth since 1732. From fully raisinated and botrytized grapes, a reflection of the ideal 2002 autumn. Pouring a deep golden hue, this potent sweetie is full with white honey, lemon cured, waves of ash and dried apricot and pear. There’s an addictive savoury brown butter undercurrent here, providing a contrast to the sweet richness, and setting it off beautifully. Length goes forever. 94/100

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Luke Lambert 2015 Yarra Valley Nebbiolo, Victoria, Australia
One of the rare Nebbiolos that excels as an expat from its native Piemonte. From two rocky and granitic vineyards in the hills of Yarra Valley, fermented wild on skins for one month and matured in large old oak before being bottled without fining or filtration. An alluring hay and wild herb note woven throughout this crisp and frisky, young, lighter bodied red. Salted black plum, floral cherry, perfumed wildflowers are textured with grippy, fine tannins and completed with a lingering dried floral and pink pepper note. Decant and serve slightly cooler for best enjoyment. Quite characterful and unique – a bright new lens for Nebbiolo. 92/100

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