TN: Wine tastings can't really get any more eclectic than this, right?

While discussing with an acquaintance about wines we had in our cellars, we found out we had quite a bunch of some really eclectic wines. It didn’t take us that long before we had decided that we simply needed to have a very eclectic tasting of wines that would have to be really off the beaten path. None of the wines should come from regions commonly viewed as “classic wine regions” (even if they actually were such, like Slovenia and Romania, which were represented here).

We also decided to have the wines tasted fully blind (so that I wouldn’t even know which wines were mine) - not really to get people frustrated by trying to guess correct countries, regions and varieties to no avail, but just to get people taste the wines without any prejudices or unconscious biases. And it worked, it least for me! Most of the wines we had weren’t exactly grands vins, but tasting them was very fun and enlightening all the same!

  • NV Luckett Vineyards The Old Bill - Canada, Nova Scotia, Annapolis Valley (18.8.2022)
    A blend of Cabernet Foch, Castel, Lucie Kuhlmann and "Précoce" (I've understood the varieties are usually named *Something* Précoce, so I've no idea what this variety is). The wine is a multi-vintage blend of the best lots that have been aging in oak barrels for 12 to 24 months. Lot L090419. 13% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Dense, almost fully opaque blackish-red color. Big, sweetly-fruited and dark-toned nose with aromas of juicy cassis, some dark plummy tones, a little bit of toasty mocha oak, light blueberry tones, a hint of licorice root and a candied touch of black Bassett's wine gums. The wine feels ripe and juicy yet still bright and crunchy on the palate with a medium body and dry flavors of crowberries, some licorice tones, a little bit of blackcurrant juice, light sweet notes of ripe dark plums, a brambly hint of black raspberries and a toasty touch of coffee. The wine is fresh with high acidity, but there are no tannins to speak of. The finish is ripe and juicy yet dry with a long, fresh aftertaste of succulent blackcurrants, some toasty oak spice, a little bit of brambly black raspberry, light peppery tones and a bittersweet hint of dark chocolate. Still no tannins.

    A nice, fresh and clean red wine (partly) made from hybrids, yet showing no obvious hybrid qualities whatsoever - which is always nice. It was virtually impossible to guess the wine correctly - having basically no experience on Bluenoser wines nor Cabernet Foch-based blends - but I guess the combination of surprisingly ripe and fruity overall character combined with relatively light body, high acidity and no perceptible tannins could've pointed to Canada. Oh well. The wine drinks really well, although the overall style is a bit too polished and oaky for my taste. I guess the wine could age easily for a few years more, so hopefully with additional bottle age the oakier tones would integrate better with the fruit. Pretty nice stuff, anyway.
    (86 points)

  • 2013 Prince Ştirbey Crâmpoşie Selecționată Sec - Romania, Dealurile Olteniei (18.8.2022)
    100% Crâmpoşie Selecționată from the Oltenia Hills, a region in the southwestern part of Romania. 13% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Still surprisingly youthful, pale greenish color. Characterful, sweetish and even a bit odd nose with aromas of candied tropical fruits, some gaseous notes of butane, a little bit of ripe apricot, light floral notes, a smoky hint of toasted bread and a touch of savory spices. The wine feels bright, somewhat exotic and a bit linear on the palate with a medium body and dry yet moderately ripe flavors of apricots, some crunchy apple, a little bit of savory spices, light floral nuances and a toasty hint of smoke. The wine is moderately high in acidity. The finish is lively, quite fresh and rather acid-driven with medium-long flavors of fresh apple, some cantaloupe, a little bit of crunchy whitecurrant, light steely mineral notes and a hint of toasted bread.

    A pleasant and enjoyable little white, but nothing particularly memorable going on here. The wine was much older than I anticipated - it actually felt quite youthful and at no point did I imagine it was already nine years old - but I guess those toasty and smoky tones might've actually resulted from extended bottle aging. However, the wine hadn't really turned into anything really interesting with bottle age, so I guess this was a quite simple white wine to begin with and it won't turn into something more interesting with additional aging. Priced somewhat according to its quality at 60 Lei (approx. 12€).
    (84 points)

  • 2016 Mansus Makovec Klarnica Dimenzije - Slovenia, Primorska, Vipava Valley (18.8.2022)
    100% Klarnica from Dobravlje in Vipavska Dolina. Fermented spontaneously and macerated with the skins for three weeks. Aged for two years in acacia barrels. Bottled unfiltered. 13% alcohol. Annual production 1800 bottles. Tasted blind.

    Pale amber color. Savory, somewhat resinous nose with characterful aromas of waxy funk, some smoky tones, a little bit of orange zest, light nutty notes of slivered almonds, a hint of pine needles and a touch of floral spice. The wine is lively, savory and rather umami-driven on the palate with a medium-to-moderately body and characterful, slightly sauvage flavors of waxy funk and earthy spices, some almondy notes of nuttiness, light smoky tones, a little bit of rowanberry jam, a resinous hint of phenolic character and a lifted touch of VA. The wine is quite high in acidity with a subtle hint of tannic grip. The textural finish is long with a complex, savory aftertaste of chopped nuts, some cantaloupe, light resinous notes of phenolic spices, a little bit of almond paste and a fragrant hint of dried flowers.

    A sophisticated, tasty and classically styled Slovenian orange wine with great sense of finesse and nuance. Some people thought this was an aged white, but to me this wine had all the markers of a skin-contact white: resinous phenolic tones and a little bit of tannic grip. Although the wine didn't feel young anymore, it didn't strike as particularly evolved to me, either. It drinks really well right now, but it will most likely continue to develop if left in a cellar. A fine, well-crafted orange wine; recommended.
    (92 points)

  • 2008 Vino Budimir Riesling Margus Margi - Serbia, Zapadna Morava, Kruševac, Župa-Aleksandrovac (18.8.2022)
    The name "Margus Margi" is Latin for Veliko Morava, the river that flows through the region where the vines grow. This is 100% "Rhine Riesling" aka. true Riesling. The label does not bear any indication of vintage, but according to the winery, this is vintage 2008, cold soaked with the skins before fermentation, fermented spontaneously and aged for 3½ years in old, 2000 to 5000-liter Serbian oak casks before bottling. Bottled unfiltered on September 6th, 2012. Aged in bottles for multiple years before release. 12% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Medium-deep, somewhat concentrated yellow-green color. The nose feels waxy and somewhat evolved with complex aromas of peach, some woolly notes of lanolin, a little bit of honeycomb, light developed notes of dried nectarine and browned butter, a perfumed hint of floral spice and a touch of cloudberry jam. Lots of things going on here! The wine feels evolved, dry and waxy on the palate with a medium body and quite intense, moderately developed flavors of lemony citrus fruits and wizened yellow apples, woolly lanolin, some nutty notes of slivered almonds, a little bit of beeswax, light stony mineral notes, a funky hint of old leather and a touch of apple jam. The racy acidity lend great sense of freshness and structure to the wine. The finish is dry, evolved and somewhat waxy with a long aftertaste of lemony citrus fruits, some evolved woolly tones, a little bit of sweet apple jam, light stony mineral notes, a hint of dried white flowers and a touch of tangy salinity.

    A distinctive, characterful and complex Riesling that has some aged qualities to it, yet it really doesn't come across as particularly old. However, this bottle felt slightly less bright and zippy than the excellent bottle we tasted about a year ago, coming across slightly duller with more emphasis on the woolly nuances and waxy qualities with the fruitier nuances a bit more in the background. This is still a terrific and captivating Riesling that is drinking mighty well at the moment, even if this time it didn't quite reach the complexity of the previous bottle. A singular wine and a great purchase at approx. 20€.
    (92 points)

  • 2018 Usagida Winery Whisky Barrel Range - Japan, Kantō, Saitama, Chichibu (18.8.2022)
    Usagida Winery is a winery operated by Chichibu Farmers Factory. Originally they made wine with fruit purchased from local growers, but since 2014 they've been farming two hectares of Muscat Bailey A and Merlot, which are today used along with purchased fruit. This is a blend of Muscat Bailey A (86%) and Merlot (14%). The wine was aged for 8 months in an used oak barrel. Total production is one barrique, which translates to 265 bottles. 12% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Clear yet somewhat dull and unclean brownish-pomegranate color. The nose feels ridiculously sweet with cloying aromas of vanilla ice cream, some Bourbon-like caramel tones, a little bit of fudge, light blueberry jam tones and a hint of woody spice. The wine feels broad, ripe and soft on the palate with a light-to-medium body and dry yet still very sweetish flavors of overripe strawberries, vanilla oak, some caramel, a little bit of toffee, light toasty oak tones, a hint of creaminess and a touch of Neapolitan ice cream. The wine is rather low in acidity with very gentle and soft tannins. The finish is very long, soft and very sweetly-fruited with Neapolitan ice cream flavors of overripe strawberry, vanilla and toasty milk chocolate, light caramel tones, a little bit of cooked cream, a woody hint of savory oak spice and a touch of blueberry jam.

    Urgh. This was a pretty horrible effort. Everybody was wondering what on earth the wine could be, because it seemed borderline sweet with its lush, creamy notes of vanilla oak and other sweet spices, even if the wine seemed technically dry. Well, it all made sense when the bottle was revealed - nobody was honestly thinking of Japanese wines to begin with, whereas I guess it would've been possible to go for a wine aged in whisky barrels. The problem was that nobody had any experience on such wines, so it was pretty hard to guess anything without any previous data points! All in all, based on this example (and Usagida Winery's other Whisky Barrel Range wine), I would keep all my wines as away as possible from any whisky barrels! A classic example of a wine that is technically correct, yet still almost undrinkable.
    (62 points)

  • NV Usagida Winery Whisky Barrel Range Seibu Railway 50th Anniversary - Japan, Kantō, Saitama, Chichibu (18.8.2022)
    Usagida Winery is a winery operated by Chichibu Farmers Factory. Originally they made wine with fruit purchased from local growers, but since 2014 they've been farming two hectares of Muscat Bailey A and Merlot, which are today used along with purchased fruit. This is a special bottling made for the 50th anniversary of the Seibu Railway. I have no idea what the blend is here, but seeing the wine has no vintage designation anywhere, I'm to assume this is a multi-vintage blend. The wine was aged for 8 months in an used oak barrel. Total production is one barrique, which translates to 265 bottles. 12% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Quite clear yet somewhat aged, slightly browned cherry-red color. The nose feels both bright and heavily sweet with aromas of sappy red fruits, some sweet oaky notes of strawberry ice cream and toffee, a little bit of woody oak spice, light overripe cherry tones, a hint of vanilla and a touch of dried dark fruits. The wine is broad, full-bodied and exuberant on the palate with dry yet intensely sweet-toned flavors of peppery spice and strawberry jam, some vanilla tones, a little bit of blueberry juice, light sweet notes of dried fruits, oaky hints of cloves and Bourbon-like caramel and a touch of jelly candies. The wine doesn't feel clumsy or cumbersome, but it does feel kinda heavy despite its moderately high acidity. The soft, gentle tannins don't really lend any firmness to the palate. The finish is very long, soft and rather sweet-toned with almost cloying flavors of vanilla oak and butterscotch, some strawberry jam tones, a little bit of ripe blueberry, light Bourbon-y nuances of caramel and woody spice, a hint of cloves and a touch of overripe black cherry.

    Ugh. Although the wine felt a bit more balanced and less over-the-top than Usagida's Whisky Barrel Range 2018, this wine was still very similar in style with an excessively oaked overall flavor profile. Even if the wine seems to be very low in residual sugar, the wine is just cloyingly sweet due to all the sweet jammy and oaky notes of caramel, vanilla, cloves and toffee. Not a particularly enjoyable wine, I must say. I wish wine producers kept wines and whisky barrels away from each other - the end results seem to be invariably horrible.
    (64 points)

  • 2011 Prince Ştirbey Negru de Drăgăşani Sec - Romania, Dealurile Olteniei (18.8.2022)
    100% Negru de Drăgăşani from the Oltenia Hills, a region in the southwestern part of Romania. Fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. 14,5% alcohol. Total production 10,400 bottles. Tasted blind.

    Luminous, deep cherry-red color. The nose feels surprisingly pungent and smoky with somewhat aged yet reductive aromas of charred meat, some ripe dark berries, a little bit of perfumed floral character, light gamey tones and a hint of crushed peppercorns. Has a somewhat Syrah feel to it. The wine feels ripe and somewhat warm yet dry, quite robust and even a bit extracted on the palate with a medium-to-moderately full body and somewhat evolved flavors of peppery spice, some crunchy notes of crowberries and tart cranberries, a little bit of evolved smoky character, light meaty notes of roasted game, a hint of sour cherry bitterness and a brambly touch of raspberry. The wine is high in acidity with balanced, somewhat grippy medium tannins. The finish is long, dry and somewhat smoky with quite intense flavors of charred game, a little bit of sour cherry bitterness, light crunchy nuances of crowberries and fresh black raspberries, a hint of savory spice and a touch of crushed peppercorns.

    A somewhat evolved and distinctively smoky Romanian red that might've developed some gamey Syrah-like nuances with bottle age. Several people were guessing whether this was a Syrah, whereas I was thinking of Mondeuse or Schioppettino. Although showing some age, the wine is still remarkably fruity and vibrant, suggesting that the wine could actually evolve even further from here - although its balanced structure doesn't really call for any additional aging. Once you get accustomed to the smoky and gamey notes and somewhat robust overall feel, this is actually quite enjoyable, even if the wine isn't a grand vin by any means. Nice.
    (87 points)

  • 2015 Izutsu Winery Merlot Silver - Japan, Chūbu, Nagano (18.8.2022)
    13% alcohol. Bottled in a 0,72-liter bottle.

    Luminous, quite translucent and slightly evolved ruby-red color. The nose feels fresh and slightly sweet-toned with a bit restrained aromas of strawberry-driven red fruit, some dark plummy tones, light candied notes of blackberry jellies, a little bit of savory spice and a faint hint of fried fish. Can't say which fish, the nose just reminds me of fried fish. The wine is ripe, clean and juicy on the palate with a medium body and balanced flavors of sweet-toned red plums, some raspberry and wild strawberry tones, a little bit of fresh dark damson, light notes of cassis, a hint of cocoa powder and perhaps a touch of vanilla. The wine is high in acidity with firm, textural medium tannins. The finish is juicy, quite long and gently grippy with pretty dry flavors of strawberries and fresh red plums, some sweet-toned notes of ripe damsons, a little bit of savory spice, light raspberry nuances and a hint of vanilla.

    A balanced but also perhaps a bit predictable and characterless Merlot. Nothing too memorable, but nothing to complain about, either. The fruit feels quite fresh, there's good sense of acidity and despite its 7 years of age, the wine still feels relatively youthful. I have no idea whether the wine has seen any oak or not, but I get a feeling it might've seen a little bit of oak - however, unlike some Japanese Merlot wines, this wine definitely doesn't suffer from either excessive use of oak or lack of ripeness. Nice and enjoyable stuff, worth its price at 1900¥ (approx. 15€).
    (89 points)

  • 2017 Gitana Winery Saperavi - Moldova, Cahul, Valul-lui-Traian (18.8.2022)
    100% Saperavi from the Valul-lui-Traian (Trajan's Wall) wine region in south Moldova. The wine is vinified in the Georgian style, ie. in clay vessels. 14% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Deep, dark and almost fully opaque black cherry color that permits very little light through. The nose feels savory and quite intense with somewhat linear aromas of wizened blackcurrants, some sappy herbal notes, a little bit of blueberry, light inky tones and a gamey hint of meat. The wine is full-bodied, somewhat concentrated and slightly evolved with quite intense and rather juicy flavors of wizened blackcurrants, some gamey notes of meat, a little bit of blood, light blueberry juice tones and a stemmy hint of woody spice. The overall feel is balanced and quite structured with the moderately high acidity and harmonious, somewhat grippy medium tannins. The finish is rich, ripe and quite gentle with moderately long and slightly sweetish flavors of juicy blueberries and blackcurrants, some grapey tones, a little bit of savory, slightly earthy spices, light meaty notes of umami and a hint of fresh cherry.

    A pleasant, balanced and quite accessible Saperavi that feels slightly softer and less austere than the traditional kvevri Saperavis from Georgia. All in all, this was a clean, enjoyable and thoroughly well-made effort - although maybe a bit forgettable in the end. Might continue to evolve a bit more from here, but doesn't really call for any additional aging.
    (85 points)

  • 2017 Grace Vineyard Marselan Tasya's Reserve - China, Shanxi (18.8.2022)
    The grapes are sourced from a vineyard planted in 2006. Aged for 15 months in French oak barrels (20% new, 80% used). Total production 6823 bottles. 14,8% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Quite deep yet moderately translucent, dark cherry-red color. Somewhat restrained and slightly sweetly-fruited nose with layered aromas of ripe blackcurrants, some lifted minty notes, a little bit of juicy plummy fruit, light woody notes of savory oak spice, a hint of blood and a touch of alcohol. The wine feels ripe, juicy and slightly extracted on the palate with a full body and intense flavors of ripe blackcurrants and sweet forest fruits, some woody notes of savory oak spice, light dried-fruit notes of raisins and wizened black cherries, a little bit of green, minty lift, a toasty hint of cocoa and a touch of fresh red cherry. The overall feel is quite firm and moderately structured, thanks to the rather high acidity and somewhat grippy yet not aggressive tannins. the finish is rich, juicy and moderately grippy with quite bold flavors of juicy black cherries, some wizened dark berries, a little bit of fresh plummy fruit, light blackcurrant tones, a savory hint of wood and a toasty touch of cocoa.

    Grace Vineyard seems to have improved this wine quite a lot in just a few vintages: I remember the 2012 vintage was rather oaky and clumsy at the age of four years, lacking definition and complexity. This vintage sees half the new oak than the 2012 and the overall fruit quality seems to be better as well. The wine is a bit on the ripe and polished side, coming across as rather "new world" in style, but showing enough finesse, balance and depth of flavor to keep things interesting. Although the wine doesn't really call for any additional aging, I can see it evolving just fine for a handful of years more and keeping well for a good number of years. Nobody managed to guess the country or the variety correct; most guesses were on new world countries and Cab-based blends, which probably gives some indication of the style here.
    (88 points)

  • 2014 Grace Vineyard Sonata Series - China, Shanxi (18.8.2022)
    A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Marselan (30%), Syrah (15%) and Cabernet Franc (5%). Aged for 12 months in new American oak barrels (60%) and a mix of new and old French oak barrels (40%). The back label describes the wine as "Cellar Fun Wine". Tasted blind.

    Fully opaque and somewhat evolved black cherry color. The nose feels slightly sweet-toned yet still savory with subtly evolved aromas of ripe dark fruits, some meaty notes of game, a little bit of balsamic richness, light spicy nuances of crushed peppercorns, sweet hints of cherry marmalade and blackcurrant jam and a touch of stewed herbs. The wine feels ripe, dense and quite extracted on the palate with a full body and quite concentrated flavors of wizened dark berries, some woody notes of savory oak spice, light savory notes of meaty umami, a little bit of meat stew with aromatic herbs, a green hint of minty lift and a toasty touch of mocha oak. The overall feel is quite structured, thanks to the rather high acidity and moderately grippy tannins. The finish is savory, quite grippy and somewhat evolved with a lengthy aftertaste of fresh blackcurrants and slightly wizened dark plums, some gamey tones, a little bit of savory wood spice, light peppery tones, a hint of toasty oak and a touch of minty character.

    Despite its concentrated, slightly "new world" leanings, this is a quite stern and serious effort in a rather "old world" style. The wine is starting to show some signs of age, but not old in any way. The overall style is quite similar to the 2012 vintage I tasted some five years ago and (fortunately) miles away from the big and polished blockbuster style the 2010 vintage represented. The wine exhibits lovely, savory overall taste, some wonderful aged complexity and solid sense of structure, making it very enjoyable right now, even if the wine promises also good potential for the future development. Nice stuff.
    (91 points)

  • 2015 Plantaže Vranac Barrique - Montenegro, Podgorica, Lake Skadar Valley (18.8.2022)
    100% Vranac from the Ćemovsko polje vineyard located in Lake Skadar Valley in southern Montenegro, next to the Albanian border. Fermented and macerated with the skins for two weeks in stainless steel; racked into oak barriques for MLF. Aged for a year in oak barriques (80% French, 20% American), followed by another year in stainless steel tanks. 14,7% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Very dense and fully opaque purplish-black color. Ripe, dark-toned and quite fruity nose with intense aromas of dark berries and plummy dark fruit, some brambly notes of black raspberries, a little bit of something meaty, light smoky tones, a hint of boozy alcohol and a woody touch of savory oak spice. The wine feels dense, textural and quite extracted on the palate with a full body and ripe flavors of fresh dark plums, some ferrous notes of blood, a little bit of wizened black cherry, light woody notes of savory oak spice, an evolved hint of dried figs and a touch of balsamico. The wine feels quite bold and rich, yet not heavy - mainly thanks to the firm sense of structure from the rather high acidity and ample yet not aggressive tannins. The finish is ripe, rather grippy and very lengthy with sweet-toned yet savory flavors of plummy dark fruits and some sweeter dried fruit tones, a little bit of raisiny fruit, light woody nuances of savory oak spice, a toasty hint of mocha oak and an evolved touch of meat stew.

    A firm, balanced and all in all quite textbook Vranac, showing lots of firmness, extraction and power, yet not coming across as heavy, ponderous or overdone in any way. As the wine is a "barrique" version of the regular "Crnogorski" Vranac, one might expect the wine to be rather oaky in style - and it is certainly possible that this wine might've come across as more oaky in its youth - but at the moment the oak tones were very nicely integrated with the sunny, slightly evolved fruit and only in the aftertaste some sweeter and more toasty oak nuances managed to come to the fore. I'd say the wine is getting quite close to its peak and it doesn't really call for additional aging, although I'm quite sure the wine will keep just fine for a good number of years more. Very enjoyable stuff.
    (91 points)

  • 2011 Tikveš Vranec Special Selection - North Macedonia, Povardarie, Tikveš (18.8.2022)
    Macerated for 10 days with the skins. Aged for 12 months, partially in stainless steel, partially in old oak vats. 14% alcohol, 6 g/l acidity.

    Dense, quite opaque and very dark blackish-red color with a slightly evolved maroon hue. The nose feels very reticent - almost completely mute - upon opening, but slowly opens up to slightly closed and somewhat tertiary aromas of game and meat stew, some ripe blackcurrants, a little bit of hoi sin, light inky tones, a hint of vague dark fruit and a tertiary touch of beef jerky. The wine is extracted, quite chewy and even somewhat tightly-knit on the palate with a full body and bold flavors of licorice and ripe dark forest fruit, some blackcurrant tones, a little bit of meat stew and meaty umami, light tertiary notes of hoi sin and beef jerky, a woody hint of oak spice and a subtly oxidative touch of soy sauce. The wine still comes across as very muscular and structured, all thanks to its high acidity and tons of tannins that aren't green or aggressive, just ridiculously ample, making the wine feel very tough and grippy. The finish is powerful, somewhat warm and very grippy with a long and intense aftertaste of wizened dark fruits and ripe blackcurrants, some raisiny tones, a little bit of oxidative soy sauce, light meaty notes of umami, a hint of licorice and a woody touch of savory oak spice.

    I've tasted the wine previously once, more than eight years ago. Back then it was very powerful, youthful and in dire need of cellaring - or at least that's what I thought. Well, with eight years of aging the wine has lost lots - but fortunately not all - of its youthful fruit, but the tannins have resolved very little and it seems the fruit will give in much sooner than the tannins. It seems the wine will always remain very tough and tannic and it just calls for to be paired something big and hearty; with aging you can't soften these tannins - or at least not while the wine still retains any youthful fruit. Nevertheless, the wine really hasn't lost any quality with age - although I wouldn't say it has improved much either. It has just developed laterally - it's just different and more evolved than how it was 8 years ago. Still, this was a superb purchase at just 10,24€.
    (90 points)

  • 2013 Winnica Srebrna Góra Hibernal Słodkie (Niefiltrowane / Unfiltered) - Poland, Małopolska (18.8.2022)
    A semi-sweet Hibernal, harvested in mid-October. Fermented in stainless steel, bottled unfiltered. 12% alcohol, 25 g/l residual sugar and 8,9 g/l acidity. Tasted blind.

    Luminous, medium-deep golden yellow color. Very intense, noticeably sweet and somewhat evolved nose with exuberant aromas of canned pineapple and fruit cocktail, some perfumed floral tones, a little bit of lemon marmalade, light exotic notes of papaya and a hint of beeswax. Lots of pineapple here. The wine is medium-sweet, intense and somewhat viscous on the palate with a moderately full body and vibrant flavors of canned pineapple and ripe peach, some juicy nectarine notes, a little bit of acacia honey, light floral tones and a hint of apple peel bitterness. The wine feels somewhat oily and relatively high in dry extract, but at the same time surprisingly similar to an aged Auslese Riesling. The high acidity lends good sense of freshness and structure to the wine, even if it can't really help with the somewhat heavy overall feel stemming from the viscous nature of the wine. The finish is long, rich and quite oily (yet not particularly sticky) with moderately sweet flavors of lemon marmalade, some canned pineapple, a little bit of mango, light honeyed tones, a hint of apple peel bitterness and a perfumed touch of floral lift.

    A vibrant, quite expressive and heavily pineapple-driven semi-sweet wine that had a noticeably Riesling-like feel to it. However, the wine seemed a bit more viscous, heavy and exotic than what I would've expected a Riesling to be, so I said that the wine is very much like an Auslese Riesling, but I feel a Riesling it ain't. In the end, nobody guessed that this was a Polish Hibernal, because, well, I nobody of us had ever tasted a Hibernal before, and Polish wines aren't that common either. Nevertheless, this was a fun, tasty and very well-made wine from the sweeter end of the spectrum - not really a full-blown dessert wine, but definitely something I'd love to pair with a cheese platter! Recommended.
    (91 points)

  • 2017 Puklavec Family Traminec - Slovenia, Podravje, Štajerska, Jeruzalem-Ormoz (18.8.2022)
    I don't know whether Traminac refers to Savagnin (aka. Traminer) or Gewürztraminer, but based on the wine's style, I'd guess Savagnin. The wine is vinified semi-sweet with 12,5% alcohol and approx. 25-30 g/l residual sugar. Tasted blind.

    Medium-deep and quite youthful neon yellow-green color. The nose feels sweet-toned but also quite restrained with aromas of ripe nectarine, some steely mineral tones, a little bit of apple jam, light waxy nuances, a hint of lemon marmalade and a touch of pomelo zest. The wine is balanced, somewhat oily and quite gentle on the palate with a medium-to-moderately full body and medium-sweet flavors of quince jam, some sweet Golden Delicious apple tones, a little bit of lemon curd, light mineral notes of wet rocks, a hint of ripe pomelo and a touch of leesy creaminess. The medium-to-moderately high acidity keeps the wine more or less in balance, but doesn't lend much freshness or structure to the wine. The finish is juicy, somewhat neutral and a bit mellow with sweetish medium-long flavors of lemon curd, some steely mineral notes, a little bit of apple jam, light nuances of ripe pomelo, a hint of wet rocks and a touch of quince.

    A pleasant but overall quite simple and straightforward off-dry white. Nothing bad here, just doesn't leave a lasting impression. OK.
    (85 points)

  • 2013 Domaine Shu-Sheng NKUHT Vino Formosa Rosso - Taiwan (ROC), Taichung, Waipu (18.8.2022)
    To my understanding this wine is a blend of Black Queen and Golden Muscat and made in a style emulating Madeira in order to minimize the foxy qualities of the hybrid grapes. The wine is fortified midway through fermentation so the wine remains sweet. After the fortification, the wine is moved into oak barriques to age oxidatively. In Taiwan's climate the evaporation rate is very high, so the oak barrels lose about 10% of their volume annually. The wine is bottled after five years of aging, so one 225-liter barrique yields just a little bit over 100 liters of wine. This wine bears the lot number 2013-07 and it is bottled in March 2019. 18% alcohol.

    Hazy - or even somewhat murky - reddish-maroon color with an evolved brick-orange hue that turns pale yellow towards the rim. The nose feels sweet, oxidative and a bit hot with complex and quite intense aromas of raisins and blueberry jam, some coffee chocolate, a little bit of Nutella, light bruised apple tones, a sharp hint of nutty rancio, a touch of orange zest and a whiff of minty greenness. The wine is sweet, slightly oily and a bit hot on the palate with a full body and intense flavors of dried dates and sweet smoky tones, some oxidative nutty tones, a little bit of caramel and maple syrup, light bruised apple tones, a zippy hint of lemony citrus fruit and a salty touch of rancio. Despite its obvious sense of concentration, the wine is surprisingly fresh and structured, thanks to its bright acidity. The finish is very long, concentrated and complex with a sweet, oxidative aftertaste of salty rancio, bruised apple, some beeswax, a little bit of lemon marmalade, light Tawny Port-like notes of caramel, a hint of jammy dark berries and a woody touch of oak spice.

    A fascinating, very complex and utterly idiosyncratic fortified wine. Would this wine be poured blind, I'd be completely lost where I would put it. It is definitely closest to Madeira in style, due to its very concentrated, oxidative and acid-driven style, but it is still obviously very different to any Madeira I've tasted. You definitely wouldn't confuse this for a Port, as it is too high in acidity to be one. Ditto for any fortified oxidized wines from Roussillon. Superb stuff and easily the best Taiwanese wine I've ever tasted (coincidentally, also the only one - thus far). I love the combination of oxidative complexity, still vaguely youthful fruity nuances that linger in the background and wonderful, bright acidity that keeps the wine very drinkable despite the sweetness and concentration. This might not be particularly affordable at approx. 80€, but I'd like to say the wine manages to deliver for the price. Just remember to decant the wine carefully, as it seems to develop quite a bit of deposit in a relatively short period of time (just three years in bottle)!
    (95 points)

  • 2017 Chabiant Bayan Shira White Dry - Azerbaijan, Ismayilli (18.8.2022)
    100% Bayan Shira from the mountainous Ismayilli region in central Azerbaijan. 12% alcohol.

    Youthful, pale yellow-green color. Somewhat restrained and quite youthful nose with aromas of fresh pear and some crunchy quince, a little bit of red apple and cantaloupe, light waxy tones, a hint of green currant and a floral touch of chamomile. The wine feels moderately ripe yet dry and somewhat neutral on the palate with a medium body and somewhat crunchy flavors of golden apples, some ripe white peach tones, a little bit of sappy fresh white fruit and a hint of stony minerality. Moderately high acidity. The finish is ripe, balanced and quite dry with a medium-long aftertaste of white peach and fresh nectarine, some crunchy notes of white currants, a little bit of red apple, light stony mineral notes and a hint of fresh, sappy white fruit.

    A pleasant and balanced everyday white. Not big on structure - this is just a clean and harmonious little wine with a somewhat neutral overall character and a fruit profile what feels a bit anonymous. Nothing to complain, but nothing special to write home about, either. An enjoyable, albeit quite harmless effort.
    (84 points)

Posted from CellarTracker


There was a regular group meeting up in London via the Wine-Pages forum, going by the title of ‘Oddities’. I reckon this line-up would not have been out of place there (albeit it was always a random mix of what people brought, so a broader spread of wine regions).

I went just the once, but think it’s a great thing to do from time to time, shaking us out of our safety zones, and at times challenging our preconceptions about what ‘good wine’ is (even sometimes challenging us on what ‘wine’ is :rofl: )

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agree Ian, and what a fun group of wines Otto. The Polish and Taiwanese, particularly, were fascinating reads.

Sorry you had no joy of the Japanese merlot blends you guys tried. I’ve only had one merlot from there, 6 years ago, but it impressed me very favourably:

“Next was a mystery red from him. I initially thought this might be a little corked, but as we traded it through various glasses, it proved not to be at all. Even more fun, this had older scents, some wood varnish and light cocoa and earth around muted dried red berry and cherry. To taste, it has a thinness, but in proportion to where the wine is now. My own guess was an older Cali Cab. None of us came close, as the reveal presented us with a 1997 Chateau Mercian Merlot . This is from….Japan!! Yes, a Japanese merlot. And I wouldn’t kick this out of bed at all, probably an 87-ish for me, and I don’t grade generously. I might have had a hard time guessing merlot, but this has requisite character. Very glad to have had the chance to sample it.”

I’ve had some stuff from Luckett that’s not too bad. Nova Scotia is a very different wine growing area than, say, Niagara or BC. If we ever get the chance to meet, I’ll be sure to bring you something from here that has plenty of structure and tannins. :innocent:

What a line up. I’d love to see that line up in a CMS blind tasting exam!

Actually, I’d rather say the two blends were MBA blends with some Merlot in the mix, since the Merlot component is very small there. And it wasn’t really the fault of Merlot (or MBA) there, just the horrible winemaking with all that whisky oak.

That straight Merlot we had was a decent wine.

And I’ve actually had several nice Japanese wines. I actually visited Japan a few years back and tasted a bunch of Japanese red wines - they seem to make pretty solid stuff with Merlot, TBH. I wasn’t a particularly big fan of most of the red wines they made with the local crosses and hybrids, but the European vitis vinifera varieties seemed to make much better wines.

Looking forward to that! :wine_glass:

Me too. But even more, I’d love to see the faces of the candidates when the bottles get revealed! :sweat_smile: