Classic Wine Region Selection

We’ve compiled a classic selection which – according to us – is phenomenal. The tasting of these wines requires time and a bit of background knowledge is also helpful. Therefore, we’ve collected the most important titbits, alongside the tasting of the wines. 

 

Clemens Busch – the compass of change

Clemens Busch is the pioneer of biodynamic grape growing in the Mosel. The family has been dealing with grape growing since far beyond living memory, with Clemens’ grandfather being the first to concentrate on grapes and wine. After World War II, they had to restart the family farm from nothing. Clemens joined his dad at the age of 17, in 1974, and at the time they had 2 hectares of grapes in 16 parcels. This wine comes from Marienburg, one of the most outstanding vineyards of the Mosel, where in a singular way, three different types of slate converge: grey, blue and red (the colours of the Busch wines’ capsules also refer to this). The vineyards are more like chasms, with a fear of heights meaning rejection during the recruitment of vineyard workers.

 

Despite the fact that vineyard names were done away with in 1971 for the sake of clearer transparency and to boost export potential, Clemens Busch could never accept it and made it his personal mission to keep the historic names and fame of the original vineyards. Those who can look out on their own vineyard from the kitchen window probably have even stronger motivation to work without chemicals. Clemens took the first step in 1976 when they stopped using herbicides, then in the ‘80s he switched to using plant-based fungicides. By today, they’ve changed their organic cultivation to biodynamic. Spontaneous fermentation is a family tradition, in the same way as is ageing the majority of the wines in 10-hectolitre barrels (out of which even the youngest is more than 50 years old). Clemens Busch has also been experimenting with making wine without the addition of sulphur, but as he admits, he hasn’t yet found the key to it, and believes in carefully decreasing it, instead of completely leaving it out.   

 

The wine: CLEMENS BUSCH Riesling vom grauen Schiefer 2017

A real icon of the wine region. The tiny terraces with a few rows of the almost vertical vineyards have been cultivated biodynamically since 2005, and the grapes picked from the steep plots can only be transported to the cellar on the other side of the river by ferry. It was traditionally fermented, spontaneously, in large 20-30-year-old barrels, in which it was also aged for a long time. It’s completely different from the Mosel style. It has a stony, bony character with a restrained peach flower note, with more soaked stony tautness on the nose. The palate is thick, full of power, with scintillating acidity and a long finish.   

 

 

Château de Puligny-Montrachet – a double life

Burgundy is possibly one of the least comprehensible wine regions: although it fundamentally works with two varieties (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), to unravel the matrix that comes from the names of the producers, the villages and the vineyards requires encyclopaedic knowledge. Seeing the word Château possibly makes us think of Bordeaux, but we nevertheless find the vineyards of Château de Puligny-Montrachet on Burgundy’s premier cru territories. The contemporary fame of the 300-year-old estate was established by Hubert de Montille. He was a successful lawyer and a public figure, who also modernised grape growing and the winery, and also created the unique style of the wines. He became world famous as the protector and spokesman of small, local wineries against globalism, due to the film Mondovino. His son, Étienne de Montille, has been the manager of the Chateau since 2002 – he’s in charge of making the red wines, while his sister, Alix, is responsible for the whites. In 1995, they started cultivating their plots organically, and then biodynamically since 2005. Under Étienne’s management, the wines have changed a lot – they became mellower and more colourful. What has not changed is the preference for whole-bunch pressing, the omission of filtering and fining, the modest use of oak and the avoidance of chaptalisation.

 

The wine: CHATEAU DE PULIGNY-MONTRACHET Clos du Chateau Bourgogne Blanc 2016

It’s not a classic Puligny-Montrachet but a Bourgogne Blanc (as in this case, the winery took on the name of the village), however, it’s such a Bourgogne Blanc that comes exclusively from the 5-hectare plot, surrounded by walls, which lies right next to the winery – so exclusively from this world-famous vineyard. Although it’s the winery’s entry-level wine, it gives a lot more than that: it has medium-intense, elegant aromas of lemon, pineapple and flowers, with some cedar wood and vanilla in the background. On the creamy palate, the acidity is in lovely balance with the alcohol, with apple and pear flavours, then a layered finish.   

 

 

Prunotto – Italian design

The melody of the Italian language turns even the plainest giving of directions into a poem: Prunotto’s home in Alba, Piemonte, lies between Barolo and Barbaresco. The soil is limestone, clay and sandstone, which when added to Langhe Hill’s topographic diversity is an excellent substrata of vineyard mythology. The best wines produced here are intense and full-bodied with pronounced acidity and tannins. Their beauty and fame are based on their long ageing potential. The winery was established by Alfredo Prunotto at the beginning of the 1900s, then it was purchased by the Antinori family, who have been dealing with wine since 1385. The renewal of Prunotto was assigned to Piero Antinori’s oldest daughter, Albiera. The setting up of the estate started with soil research, clonal studies, the gradual buying up of vineyards and changing the cellar’s barrels. Today, they grow grapes on 65 hectares of excellently located land, working with traditional clones and sustainable methods. They grow Nebbiolo in Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero, Barbera in Alba, and Barbera and Moscato in Monferrato.

 

The wine: PRUNOTTO Barolo 2016

With its masculine structure, floral and leathery notes, Barolo made 100% from the Nebbiolo variety is the region’s iconic wine. It’s grown on limestone-clay soil, and made with 18 months of ageing in large French barrels. Intense aromas of rose petals, red fruits, spices and subtle earthiness. Balanced palate of sour cherry, cherry, leather and mushroom notes, with a long finish.  

 

 

Château de Fonbel

Bordeaux. And if it’s Bordeaux, then the Left Bank is the land of the Cabernets, the Right Bank is that of Merlot. Château de Fonbel is located on the right side of the River Garonne, in Saint-Émilion, thus, the majority of their grapes are Merlot. Here, the 20% Cabernet Sauvignon is complemented with 7% Petit Verdot and 3% Carménère. Even with this modest proportion, the winery is still the most prominent in the wine region regarding the last two varieties. Its growing fame is not due to this, though, but its sibling estates, Château Ausone and the Château Moulin Saint- Georges. From the crop of the 16-hectare, clay, pebbly and sandy soil vineyards, some 60,000 bottles of wine are made annually. The wines are fermented in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks, then 30% is aged in new French barrels for 10 months on average. They show their nicest side after a further 4-16 years of bottle ageing.  

 

The wine: CHATEAU DE FONBEL Chateau De Fonbel 2016 Saint Emilion

Saint Emilion’s big wine is made from a blend of 70% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot and 7% Carménère. Black forest berry fruits, blueberry, tobacco and earth notes in lots of layers, in good balance. It’s a densely-textured, medium-bodied wine with ripe tannins and a round palate. It’s already enjoyable to drink but it still has lots of years of ageing potential.    

 

 

Telmo Rodriguez – going back to his roots

Telmo Rodríguez is the heir and manager of Rioja’s most ancient winery – Remelluri. It could be said that the only thing that’s been hard in his life was his birth. Yet, after a brief fling with the role, he turned his back on his comfortable life. He left Rioja and the family estate to work with a completely different approach. In his own words, he became a “driving winemaker” (instead of a flying one) and travels all around Spain searching for neglected plots that nevertheless possess excellent qualities, as well as studying forgotten winemaking traditions. He returned to Rioja with the same idea in mind – that is to find the original values and rediscover the wine region in which he manages two wineries: one is Bodega Lanzaga, which he set up based on his own principles; the other is Remelluri, which he returned to in 2009. In Rioja, he studied 18th century winemaking in the same cellar where Hemingway recuperated from his exertions at the festival of San Fermín, the crazy fiesta of Pamplona that features the running of the bulls.  

 

The wine: TELMO RODRIGUEZ Lanzaga 2014

The heart and soul of the Lanciego project comes from 30 biodynamically cultivated Lanciego parcels of mixed plantations with bush-trained vines. The spontaneous fermentation happens in concrete vats, ageing is crucially carried out in barrels, in small batches. The nose is incredibly complex, deep and serious with spicy, floral, balsamic vinegar, dark chocolate, and tobacco notes, with plum and blackberry on the edges. The palate glides effortlessly, there’s no full-body or heaviness, and it doesn’t hit or stick. Instead of the basic sweetness of the usual Riojas, what we get here is spicy freshness. A grown-up wine at the ideal stage of bottle ageing. 

 

 

Szepsy Pincészet – fathers and sons
The Szepsy family has been living on the Tokaj Hegyalja (foothills) since the 16th century, while today, István Szepsy and his son are still the determining and influential figures of the wine region. Upon graduating from the University of Horticulture, István became the chief horticulturalist of the Mád cooperative in 1976. Over the next three decades, he built up his own estate, which has been providing for the family since the ‘90s. During the years after the transition, they lived off selling wine to local pubs, yet, believing that better times were yet to come, István Szepsy put away some of his most beautiful wines, which later served as the basis of the estate’s international fame. During the following three decades, the size of the estate grew to 53 hectares, they cultivate grapes in 22 vineyards, in six different villages. Their most well-known vineyards include Betsek, Birsalmás, Nyúlászó, Szent Tamás and Úrágya in Mád, and the Bányász in Tállya. High, stony plots with 40-year-old vines on average, with an extremely low yield. They don’t use chemical fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides in the vineyards. Fermentation is carried out with native yeast and the use of sulphur is minimal. They only concentrate on three varieties: 70% Furmint, 25% Hárslevelű and 5% Muskotály – the latter two are put into the Szamorodni, while the base material of the Aszú and the dry wines is strictly Furmint.

 

The wine: SZEPSY Nyúlászó Furmint 2018

Mád, the Nyúlászó vineyard, yellow clay and tuff soil, 60-year-old old vines. It was fermented in barrels by its own yeast, then aged in second-fill, 300-litre Kádár barrels for seven months. A bone dry, layered and long wine with lots of minerality. Grapefruit and peach on the deep and juicy palate.