Wine of the Week: New Vintages in the New Year
It's finally here, KFWE New York is TODAY, followed by Los Angeles on Wednesday. The past few weeks have been quite intense in preparation for the shows. KFWE is going to be very exciting this year. I have been getting reports, feedback and pictures from the shows that were held this week in Tel Aviv, (the unofficial KFWE) in Paris, as well as in London. Nathan Herzog was present at all of them, and he was impressed with the enthusiastic crowds whose appreciation and wine knowledge seem to be growing at a fast pace.
We are looking very much forward to officially introducing many new wines and wineries that have joined the Royal Wine family. The most interesting ones are arguably the new 2015 wines from Bordeaux. Sure, we are happy to see the return of a legend, Château Léoville Poyferré, as well as Château Giscours of course. Two other prestigious newcomers, however, are joining the ranks of our great grands crus from Bordeaux: Château Lascombes and Château Cantenac Brown, respectively 2nd and 3rd crus classés Margaux.
By the way, do not forget to pick up at the show the beautiful and very detailed brochure of our Bordeaux 2015 portfolio. It was fascinating and very educational for Jay and I to taste through all these wines. I highly recommend you taste them, too. These wines are not easy to approach so young; ideally multiple hours of decanting are necessary to reveal a hint of what's to come as they will develop and evolve gracefully for several decades. But, patience will be rewarded...
Among the many other new wines and wineries showcased, we are also happy to welcome the Gush Etzion winery. Winemaker and owner Shraga Rozenberg will be there to pour his wines and introduce them to the trade, press and consumers.
After all the talk on the 2015 I would like to highlight a couple wines this week, including a 2016 Bordeaux.
Château Lamothe-Cissac, Haut-Médoc, 2016
2015 was a great vintage in Bordeaux. And yet, some say that 2016 is even greater! With great vintages awarded critical acclaim, prices have been rising and indeed the higher-end wines are not inexpensive. Now with that being said, the good thing with exceptional years is that even the entry- to medium-priced wines are especially good. And those are most of the time not affected by the speculation that surrounds the trade of the grands crus classés.
So here is a great example. Château Lamothe-Cissac from the Haut-Médoc appellation is a great value. While obviously young, it is already smooth enough to enjoy now. It features a black fruit character with notes of earth and minerals. Medium-bodied, this wine is great to pair with either chicken or beef-based dishes. Well-structured with good acidity and ripe tannins, it should develop some nice tertiary aromas within three to four years and can be stored for another four years or so after that. Lovely wine.
Bordeaux wine needs not to be expensive to be good and have aging potential. A first glimpse into another great vintage!
Herzog, Special Reserve, Alexander Valley, 2015
One of the things I love about wine is that it's always full of surprises. Wine is a living product that depends on the climatic conditions in any given vintage, as well as on the talent of the human beings who work hard to create excellent wines from the grapes, year after year. There is not much need to introduce again the Alexander Valley from Herzog. It has been around for a long time and has won multiple awards and accolades over the past 25 years or so. The 2014 was rated 92 by the Wine Spectator. And it is indeed a great wine.
I recently tasted the 2015 for the first time, and I was amazed at how different it was from the 2014. Sure, it is always a high quality wine from Sonoma. The vintage has an unmistakable Cabernet Sauvignon character combined with the very precise winemaking style of Joe Hurliman, the head winemaker at Herzog.
Comparing 2014 and 2015 however is an awesome educational practice that I very much recommend and encourage. While the 2014 is very much concentrated and features notes that are "old worldish" (earth, minerals, mushrooms) with a thick texture, the 2015 features a great purity of fruit with an elegant, smooth texture. A delight now, but I am also confident it will age very well. Always a safe bet!