A Taste of
The Vinorium

Issue: 7 / Sunday 17 December, 2017

Christmas in New Zealand

A Q&A with Don & Valerie from Devotus wines...

How do you your wife, Valerie and two sons propose to spend Christmas this year?

Our boys are now 4 and 5 years old so they are more aware of Christmas than before. The thing they love most is choosing a tree and decorating it so every year we all go to a local farm and choose the biggest one we can get on the trailer, then we make a garland from corks together to hang on it... it’s become our special ritual to start off the celebrations.

Christmas day itself, is a wonderful excuse to shut the gate on the world and have a relaxed day with the children, playing and enjoying whatever the weather throws at us. With Valerie's family all in Europe and mine further away in New Zealand, we like to stay here, try and see through the work and just enjoy the vineyard for what it truly is, a beautiful and spectacular place. Later we may visit friends or the coast but nothing is planned, the day just evolves at a very slow pace with no commitments or places we have to be.

Is there a Christmas tradition in Martinborough which you like to follow?

Martinborough is a small town of less than 2,000 people but with a strong community... we have a thriving tourist industry from overseas and local visitors as we are only an hour from Wellington and for some events, as many as 10,000 visitors can descend on this little rural place. Summer is busy for everyone living here but we all try and stop for the Christmas Parade, which signifies a time for family and celebration amidst the craziness of summer.

Does the local winemaking community come together to celebrate Christmas over some treasured bottles?

Throughout the year we are lucky to be invited to many spontaneous tastings and get-togethers. Sharing wine growing knowledge and experiences is very much the way we work here, and our neighbours are very generous with sharing that knowledge (as well as the precious offerings from their cellars!). It is not unusual to call upon a few close neighbours for an impromptu tasting of Pinot Noir in our tractor shed, usually to taste something from the barrel, and to compare with something that has been aging in the cellar.

You are clearly devoted to Pinot Noir – Will you be enjoying your own wine on the big day or tucking into something entirely different? Perhaps a Burgundy?

Every year Valerie's family in France sends us a surprise bottle. They have made an annual pilgrimage to Burgundy for well over a decade, often waiting years to be allowed to purchase from a particular vigneron. We are lucky enough to also benefit from that trip!

At the moment we have something packaged away in our cellar with no idea what it is until Christmas day. Last year we opened a 2005 Clos Vougeot and the year before a Bonnes Mares from the same vintage. It’s a real treat to experience such great wines, and somehow it brings all the family, that are so far away in miles, closer together in our minds. I can’t help myself, as usually our own Devotus wine is also open, as I love to taste and compare. At the end of the night we usually indulge in a small Christmas pudding.

Money no object – Which wine(s) would you love to serve on the day?

For us the most important thing about Christmas day is appreciating our time with the children and tasting great food together. As it is so hot, we usually avoid large traditional roast dinners and have a day where we are constantly tasting and trying new things with them...it’s like a 24 hour degustation! In our family we have avid divers and fishermen, so we always have a crayfish caught locally often with paua or oysters. So a Montrachet would be perfect with that.

Would you consider putting-in a Santa request to retire your classic 1944 Farmall McCormick red tractor for something a tad more modern?

I think Valerie would prefer that as I would look more respectable when clients visit, not covered in oil and dust. It would also be quieter for her and the neighbours at 6am when I (literally) crank the tractor into life. But no chance... with a modern tractor, sitting in an air conditioned cab and listening to music, I would be in a completely different environment, less connected to the vineyard!

Tell us a little about your plans for 2018 and how is the 2017 vintage looking?

2018 will be another busy year, so far it’s turning out to be a particularly hot and dry vintage, so picking may come forward from April to March in 2018 if this keeps going. Time will tell. The 2017’s are looking amazing in barrel, it’s always a waiting game until they completely reveal themselves. All the barrels are almost through the 2nd (malolactic) fermentation now as the summer temperatures have kicked in and helped to increase the temperature in the winery, and hence push malo through to completion.

Also, I would like to put out a special invitation to any Vinorium clients that may be making a visit to New Zealand at some time in the future. We don’t have a fancy tasting room or “cellar door” facility here, we’re not set up for “hospitality events”, yet we do have a vineyard that receives a lot of love, and I really enjoy showing our wine growing approach to fellow Pinot Noir enthusiasts. Please come and see us if you get the chance. Merry Christmas and all the best for 2018”.

 

Pan-fried Christmas Pudding Served with 1928 Maury

Written by Stuart McCloskey

I adore a good Christmas pudding however, I do like to serve mine a little different to the norm. Boxing Day is the day I take my cold, pre-cooked mound of fruity deliciousness out of the fridge. I pull off small mouth size pieces and gently toss through a pan of foaming butter. The point here is to keep the Christmas nuggets from disintegrating whilst making sure the exterior of each bite size piece caramelises in its own sugar. The exterior should have an addictive chewy edge whilst the interior is kept soft. The perfect accompaniment being a rich, cold Madagascan vanilla custard (M&S offers the best pots!) as the hot / cold combination is irresistible.

Our historical 1928 Maury (100% Grenache) is the perfect partner (again, I prefer to serve this on the cooler side rather than room temperature) as hints of burnt toffee, dried honey and then a slight bitterness towards the end works magically with the Christmas pud. The palate is succinctly balanced with fine tannins, which does not play havoc
with the rich custard.

The Maury also works a treat with strong cheddar and blue cheeses – There’s a lovely little kiss of volatility right at the finish, which offsets it’s rich, burnt, nutty sugar character.

If I had to choose one Champagne for Christmas Day...

Written by Stuart McCloskey

In short, I cannot as I have two favourites amongst our growing Champagne portfolio and I intend to enjoy them both.

My day will start with a decent cycle on the bike followed by a large plate of pigs in blankets and the stunningly good 2002 Cuvée Nicolas François from Billecart-Salmon.

The ’02 Cuvée Nicolas François is made from solely Grand Cru fruit (60% Pinot Noir & 40% Chardonnay) and is one of the most beautiful Champagnes that I have tasted for many years. Some are comparing the ’02 to the great and legendary 1964, which is an extraordinary tribute. A Champagne that can be easily described as hauntingly beautiful as the balance between power and endless complexity is something very rare.

Egly Ouriet’s Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru NV is certainly going to make an appearance too as this is simply the greatest Blanc de Noir (100% Pinot Noir) which money can buy. Produced from an ancient vineyard planted in 1946 and spends an incredible 65 months on its lees, which adds considerable complexity to what is already something quite extraordinary. This is truly a treat and stirs the depths of your soul.  

Try it with roasted duck from Cornish Duck Company – It’s a magical pairing...

 

Whispers...

We are a whisker away from becoming the UK exclusive agent for the brightest winemaking talent Australia has seen for many years. He has won every award / trophy going and has now produced his own wine along with his wife. Samples are heading to the UK and we are chomping at the bit to represent arguably some of the best Aussie wine to ever feature in our vast portfolio. We will unveil the name and their wines once we have signed on the dotted line, which we hope will be in January 2018...

Wine of the Week / One of the Wines of the Year...

 

2014 Clos de la Roche

...& better than Domaine Romanée Conti @ £11,500 IB per bottle?

Gérard Basset is arguably one of the greatest wine professionals of his generation. Gérard is a former World Champion Sommelier and the only person ever to simultaneously hold the Master of Wine, Master Sommelier and MBA Wine honours. He also holds an OBE, as well as the prestigious titles of 'Best Sommelier in the World 2010' and 'Decanter Man of the Year 2013', and is universally known in the trade for having one of the best palates.

Gérard awards 98 Points and describes it as “Beautiful savoury nuances where delicate hints of umami complement minerally red and black fruit. Incredible complexity and amazing silky texture. For me (GB), this is the wine of the vintage, showing supreme elegance in all aspects. Extremely rarely do I give 99 or 100 points to very young wines, but I could easily have broken my own rule here. Exceptional!

We have been waiting to sample / drink this wine for a very long time and had the indulgent pleasure of sharing a bottle this week – Wow, what an extraordinary wine.

98+ points Stuart McCloskey “This wine is clearly built for the long-term and demands a little respect in terms of aeration (if you choose to drink now). A wonderfully precise, extremely pure bouquet unfolds immediately however the mineralité and oyster shell took a good hour to come through. The palate has a wonderful structured and as one expects, perfectly proportioned. This is a breathtaking bottle of Burgundy full of elegance and finesse. Buy a bottle, set aside for a decade and then enjoy a perfect 100 pointer”

Here's how the Clos de la Roche Grand Cru
stacked up to the other 2014s (February 24 2016).

*Prices are current market values.

98 Points | Joint First

Louis Jadot, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru Buy Today @ £750.00 IB per case of 6

Domaine Leflaive, Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru @ £4,200+ IB per case of of 6

97 Points

Domaine Raveneau, Valmur Chablis Grand Cru @ £2,200.00 IB per case of 6

Vincent Dauvissat, Les Clos Chablis Grand Cru @ £900.00 IB per case of 6

Domaine Armand Rousseau, Chambertin Grand Cru @ £6,500.00 IB per case of 6

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche Grand Cru Monopole @ £16,000.00 IB per case of 6

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti Grand Cru Monopole @ £11,500.00 IB per bottle

Christmas Q&A with Stuart Pym of Flowstone

How do you and your wife, Janice propose to spend Christmas this year?

Mostly at home with Janice’s mum, having a nice relaxed lunch, and opening presents…and drinking some good wine.

Is there a Christmas tradition in the Margaret River which you like to follow?

Not really. We do normally go for a bike ride in the tracks out the back of our place, and then settle in for lunch etc. Christmas morning is a great time to get out and do stuff, as no-one else is; especially in tourist crowded Margaret River.

Which wine(s) will you be serving on the big day?

Christmas lunch can be a long affair, so certainly more than one wine involved. Most certainly start with Champagne (probably 08 vintage something), then a lighter, but complex white, perhaps Sancerre (or Flowstone Sauvignon Blanc), certainly a Chardy, and I’m thinking about an 05 Corton Charlemagne, red with the main course will be…..96 Barolo, and I think a nice old Rutherglen Muscat will go perfectly with the Christmas pudding….and then a lie down.

Money no object – Which wine(s) would you love to serve on the day?

Pretty much as above, except maybe the fizz would be a 98 Dom Perignon P2.

Tell us a little about your plans for 2018 and how is the 2017 vintage looking?

So far 2018 looks very promising. Spring has been excellent, and the vines are in good condition, with reasonable crops. The rest of Oz is apparently going to have a wetter than normal vintage due to the weaker el Nino, but of course, that doesn’t affect us, and we are looking forward to another great Margaret river vintage. The 2017 vintage was a white knuckle ride, with a cooler ripening period, and rain at the end of March, but a beautifully warm and totally dry April allowed the reds to hang on the vines and get beautifully ripe in the cooler Autumnal weather. The result will be finer and purer whites (due to the cooler season), and wonderfully balanced and harmonious reds. They will all be something to look out for.

 

What's New &
Available by the Bottle?

 

The 99 point 2014 Château Ducru Beaucaillou

 

2014 La Petite Eglise

 

2014 Le Haut de Pontet Canet

 

Half bottles of the delicious Château Doisy Vedrines

 

2013 Paul Hobbs Ross Station Estate Chardonnay

 

A Double Magnum
2013 Seña

 

The Unveiling of the
Twelfth day of Christmas

 

On the Twelfth day of Christmas my favourite wine merchant sent to me...

Christmas is the time for giving, therefore we have decided to donate
(on behalf of The Vinorium family) the following:

£500.00 to Roy Castle Lung Caner
In loving memory of my mother, Pamela

 

£500.00 to Save the Children

 

£500.00 to Bernardo’s

 

& £500.00 to NSPCC