The Hopwine Tasting
I've written about Hopwine tastings before and I've got to say that unless you've experienced one they can be quite a daunting challenge. Hopwine is an online tasting adventure where you log on, choose wines that interest you, organise a chat with the producer and then wait until you receive the samples that come to you courtesy of Hopwine.
Looking over their calendar of events there are so many to choose from, and so many wineries in attendance that one can get swamped. This is what happened to me during my first visit. There were so many vineyards that were worthy of my interest that I mistakenly ordered quite a lot of samples.
Now, before you get the idea that my house suddenly became a haven for hundred of bottles, then I can tell you that the blessing and curse of Hopwine is their samples, because you don't get full-sized bottles (this might be too costly). What you get are tiny single tasting bottles that hold between 2 and 4cl of wine. You're probably wondering why I think this is a curse, and it's because I often like to taste a wine, spit it out before revisiting. This small bottle method makes this very difficult, and I would urge Hopwine to look at the approach that 67 Pall Mall make.
My strategy with this tasting was to choose fewer, and also to aim for varieties that I quite enjoy. One of the great assets of Hopwine is that they give a real voice to the smaller and unusual producer who might be normally overlooked. I have loved some of the wines I've tried and wonder if I would have come across them in the normal scheme of things.
In the samples I received there were quite a mixed bunch, and I've decided that this merits a further article in the next Winefullness (or an addition to this one). The ones below are those that have stood out so far...
Weingut Nikolaus Köwerich
Fraulein Mosel -2016
Let's dive right in with this lovely beauty from Germany.
On the nose I'm getting honey, apricots, candied pear drops and mango.
As I taste there are ripe yellow apples, and when you introduce air into the mix the whole things grows triumphantly. I'm aware that is tastes like an Apple Charlotte and this makes me smile. It's full-bodied and the acidity doesn't overwhelm.
5 out of 7
Dr. H Thanisch
Grosses Gewächs 2020
Qualitatswein bestimmter Anhaugebiete
Yet another German entry, and this should make those lovers of their wines happy.
It's got tight fruit that needs a little age before it fully expresses itself. I'm enjoying the mixture of pineapple and melon that want my attention.
When I tasted I got squashed apple, sour pear, Galician melon and a richness in the mouth that made me want to lay down a bottle for a few years.
4.5 out of 7
Les Prémices - Gewurtztraminer 2020
It's not too far from Germany to Alsace, and that's where we head to try this interesting little wine.
There's a rich floral nose that attracts you from a distance. This is underpinned by lemons, limes and blossom.
In the mouth this had real body and viscosity. It's enjoyable to savour the variety of flavours that are coming your way, and these include roses, floral, cherry blossom, apples and sweet baking spices.
5 out of 7
Riesling Grand Cru - 2017
At first I thought this was called Frankenstein, and wondered if it might be a beast or a beauty.
You might need to sit down to taste this as your nose could become swamped by lovely aromas of fresh ripe apples, pears, cream, petrol and elderflower.
The taste doesn't let up and the juicy apples and pears are joined by minerals, and lemon and lime. It's got medium length and good balance.
5 out of 7
Beerenauslese Scheurebe 2017
Let's hear it for the Austrians, again!
This dessert wine is a deep golden colour that is so inviting, and it just sets the scene for the candied peel, honey, apricot, citrus, banana and pineapple. That's just on the nose!
Taste and you'll get the addition of cream, honey, jellied fruits and ripe honeydew melon
5 out of 7
The name comes from the first mention of Andau as Zantho in 1487 and I like a little bit of history with my wine.
It's a mixture of Cabernet, Zweigelt, Sankt Laurent and Merlot, and that means there's got to be something in there for most people.
You get aromas of blackberries, plums and black cherries, and these lead your palate into a variety of territories that include spice, and a satisfyingly fruity wine.
5 out of 7
Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2015
Château Franc Le Maine
Check out the names of some of the wines this producer offers and a smile will cross your face (I'm not going to tell you here because I'm setting you some research as homework). They also make one or two wines that I find really worth a tasting and this is the first.
The wine has a good tannic structure that is balanced by a good level of acidity. The taste is velvety, and there is toast and vanilla. The fruit grows in your mouth and gives way to a woody background.
5.5 out of 7
Grand cru 2015
Château du Paradis
This wine is so balanced, and I'm enjoying deep red berries, spice, cassis, vanilla, cream and a backbone of oak.
As I taste I'm aware of blackberry, leather, tobacco, mushroom and leather until a sliver of pepper makes its presence felt.
4.5 out of 7
This was a good tasting, and though there were one or two wines that didn't quite grab me, the majority were really trying to knock it out of the ball-park (so to speak). The Germans made the front-running, but the French came across the hill like the U.S. Cavalry and were determined not to get left behind.
I do wish that Hopwine would change the size of the samples to allow a taster to revisit, and I'm looking forward to a time when English wine gets involved. In the meantime I've got to start tasting for part two of this article.