Matter of Taste – Zürich

Between February 4th and 5th Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for the first time has brought a Matter of Taste event to Zürich. Previously known for taking place in New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore and San Francisco, Matter of Taste claims to be “the ultimate fine wine experience”. And certainly it is.

Matter of Taste took place at the luxurious Dolder Grand hotel bringing some 180 prestigious wineries worldwide and nearly 500 wines rated 90 point and above by Robert Parker. To spice up things even more, Matter of Taste offered 15 exceptional master classes hosted by well-known wine critics and renowned wine makers.

One of the master class highlights was 25th anniversary of iconic Napa winery Colgin Estate by Paul Roberts MS who presented verticals of their famed wines Cabernet Sauvignon Herb Lamb Vineyard (1995, 1997, 2001) and IX Proprietary Red Estate (2004, 2006, 2010) both scored between 97 and 100 points by RP.

Icons of Bordeaux is certainly another master class worth of mentioning. Hosted by Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin and Baron Philippe de Rothschild’s managing director Philippe Dhalluin. The master class showcased three prominent vintages (2005, 2010, 2012) of Château Mouton Rothschild (Pauillac), Château Cos d’Estournel (St. Estephe), Château Haut Bailly (Pessac Leognan) and Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey (Sauternes).

One of the tasting highlights was Château Haut Bailly, which showed superior quality with its charming and seductive style in 2010 vintage and earthy and garrigue profile in legendary 2005 vintage while 2012 was less pronounced, tannic and have started closing down. Château Mouton Rothschild delivered exceptional quality in 2010 vintage, very meaty with round fine tannins, 2012 had a floral character underlined with sweet toasted oak and not quite fully ripe tannins while 2005 gone mostly tertiary with surprising brick brown color.

with Mr. Philippe Dhalluin, Baron Philippe de Rothschild’s managing director

Château Cos d’Estournel in 2005 vintage seemed very rough, acidic and tart, while 2010 was more complete and exotic but still with a pronounced St. Estephe rustic character, 2012 seemed the youngest of all 2012s but very forward and friendly. Sauternes’ Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2010 vintage was delicious, well-balanced sweetness with acidity and the most complete of all vintages tasted (2005, 2010, 2015), 2015 being the fattest and most pronounced.

Another interesting master class was a 2000 – 2013 vertical of Tuscany’s top rated merlot Messorio by the legendary Le Macchiole winery hosted by no other than wine maker Cinzia Merli.

Possibly the most amusing and influential master class of all was the one by Wine Advocate’s Jebb Dunnack. Roadtrip through California delivered 11 Californian wines of profound 2013 vintage made from Rhone varieties (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre) and rated 93 – 99 points.

All wines expressed exceptional depth and finesse with deep inky tones, intense floral aromatics, ripe fruits, luscious and elegant textures backed with fine-grained tannins and long finish. Just beautiful. Although the wines were concentrated and structured, they didn’t loose their charm and elegance. There was a right balance of ripeness and extraction. Bravo California!

Stars of the master class were Sine Qua Non’s Syrah Male, Saxum James Berry Vineyard Proprietary Red, Hammell Wine Alliance True Believer, Paul Lato’s Syrah II Padrino Bien Nacido Vineyard, Andremily No 2 and Kongsgaard Syrah Hudson.

In two days I’ve tasted 160+ samples and these are some of the highlights:

2010 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore

Massively textured from an outstanding 2010 vintage. It posses  so much tannins and structure to last 30+ years! It delivers loads aromatics and flavours of dark cherries, sage, tobacco and mocha. It is a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot and 4% of Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. Aged for 18 months in 70% new barrels. This 25th anniversary edition of Ornellaia has beautiful freshness but is incredibly tight and beefy at the moment. Needs plenty of time. Do not touch in the forthcoming 5-10 years!

2010 Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino Poggio All’Oro Riserva

This is a great Brunello with appealing aromatics of spring flowers, blackberries, plums, dark chocolate and coffee beans.  Full bodied, yet nicely balanced with fine velvety tannins. Modern expression. It has been in contact with the skins between 12-14 days, aged for 30 months in custom made French 350 litre barrels and further 12-18 months in the bottle. 15.1% alcohol, with pH 3.58 and 5.1 total acidity. It can be drink now or the following 5-8 years.

2010 Tasca Conti d’Almerita Sicilia Contea di Sclafani Riserva del Conte Tenuta Regaleali

Awesome value here from Sicily. It is a blend of 67% Perricone and 33 % Nero d’Avola with 14% alcohol and was aged in chestnut barrels for 26 months. Nose opens with a red currants, liquorice and Asian spice. A bit closed at this point but has a good mouthfeel, and well integrated tannins. Only 7,964 bottles made. Give it a few more years.

2010 Duemani Cabernet Franc

Beautiful Cabernet Franc expression from this biodynamic producer from the coast of Tuscany. Luca D’Attoma is one of the best winemakers in Italy who consults well known wineries such as Le Macchiole and Tua Rita. The wine as aged for 16 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Nose displays aromas of black currants, violets, garrigue and leather. Lovely expression of ripe fruits. Full bodied with well integrated fine tannins and beautiful acidity. Persistent spicy finish. Still plenty of years ahead!

2013 Vie di Romans Friuli Isonzo Rive Alte Chardonnay

Awesome Laura with a bottle of  Chardonnay from a highly regarded vineyard site Rive Alte. Packed with lots of stone fruits and aromas of crushed stones. It has a  creamy almost buttery like body, crisp acidity and long nutty finish. Aged in barrels on its lees. Full bodied but not heavy. Great wine. They have amazing Sauvignon Blanc too.

2011 Ramey Chardonnay Platt Vineyard

David Ramey is an iconic Californian winemaker who had previously worked at Chateau Petrus in Bordeaux and for Christian Moueix at Dominus. This is a stunning Chardonnay from the cooler Platt vineyard site and tiny yields. Fermented with indigenous yeast with whole bunches and aged at least 20 months in 50% new French and Hungarian oak barrels. Bottled unfiltered. The wine is offers smoky vanilla character, it is medium+ bodied with pronounced lemon zest and tropical fruits with a touch of honey and brioche note in the background.  Fresh and lively. Very good value.

2014 Reynvaan In The Rocks Syrah

One of my favourite reds in Zurich. A lovely Syrah expression from Washington’s Walla Walla region. Produced by winemaker Matt Reynvaan who I met at the stand. “In The Rocks” is exactly what the name suggests, warmer terrior composed of dried up river bed full of rocks which immediately reminiscent of galets found in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This is one of the most unique terrior in the United States. Co-fermented with 5% Viognier. It displays beautiful deep purple colour followed with intense floral and red fruit aromatics. The palate is full bodied yet elegant and reveals liquorice, dark cherries, blackberries, white pepper and earthy tones. Fine velvety tannins and exceptional finish. While this is appealing now, it will only get better over the years.

2014 Force Majeure Estate Syrah

Another Washington state Syrah from Red Mountain AVA made by Todd Alexander, a young winemaker with serious pedigree. Todd was a winemaker at the iconic Bryant Family Vineyards in Napa Valley where he was responsible for 2012 and 2013 vintages. In 2014 he joined Force Majeure  and continued making world’s class wines. This is unquestionably a profound Syrah with pronounced aromas of blackberries, raspberries, crushed rocks, game and liquorice. Concentrated but balanced. Palate brings dark fruits, pepper, velvety tannins and long sexy finish. Drink now and for the next 10 years. Have I mentioned this comes from 7 year old vines?!

2013 Hammell Wine Alliance True Believer

One of my absolute favourite reds at Matter of Taste in Zurich. This is a blend of 56% Grenache, 23% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, 9% Petite Sirah and 2% Viognier. Fermented with 20% whole bunches and aged for 26 months in new French oak. Bottled unfiltered. It shows deep purple/ruby colour and ripe dark fruits followed by round tannins and meaty mouthfeel full of dark cherries and sweet spices. Good acidity too. Sensational wine which should be drink well in the next 15 years.

2012 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

World’s class Cabernet Sauvignon from an iconic Napa Valley producer. This was the first vintage for Todd Alexander as a head winemaker. The wine hows incredible depth and finesse. It is stunningly textured offering floral nuances, blackberries, black olive tapenade, graphite and cedar. Fine and integrated tannins. Very smooth. Exceptional finish which stays with you for quite a while.

2007 Colgin IX Proprietary Red Estate

One of the stars of the show. With so much power and complexity it reminded me of 1st growth Pauillac. Loads of casis, pencil shavings, forest floor and cedar. Amazingly rich palate with fine grained tannins and beautiful acidity.  Big, bold and seriously age-worthy. Was a pleasure to chat briefly at the stand with Paul Roberts MS who is Colgin’s COO.

2013 Buccella Cabernet Sauvignon

This is a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Malbec and Petit Verdot. Deep purple inky colour. Displays attractive aromas of dark berries, baking spices, coffee beans and leather.  Beefy and complex. Exceptional balance between the ripe dark fruits, fine tannins and acidity. Finish is super long and lasts for minutes! Outstanding! This could go easily over 2 decades. Do not touch over the next 3-5 years.

2011 Shafer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select

From the iconic winery, this Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Stags Leap district and famous Hillside vineyard located in the southern Napa known for its steep rocky slopes. Made in a very difficult 2011 vintage, this wine is an absolute stunner. On the nose it shows minty character with dark fruits and nice floral expression. Very seductive. The palate brings blueberries, leather and crushed stones with grippy  tannins and good acidity. Concentrated and opulent. Needs some time. Give it at least 5 years.

2013 Donelan Family Wines Syrah Cuvee Keltie

While it was interesting to talk to Mr. Joe Donelan, I found more pleasure in tasting his beautiful wines. I’ve tasted the whole range and Cuvee Keltie (named after his daughter) impressed me the most.  Donelan wines come from a cool climate vineyards situated in Sonoma. Cuvee Keltie represents a blend of three vineyards; Walker Vine Hill, Obsidian and Richards. There was no de-stemming used and the wine spent 20 months in used oak barrels. Wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Almost black in colour. Cuvee Keltie is appealing and seductive with classical  Syrah aromas of liquorice, blackberry, plum, game and leather. Very pronounced. It is full bodied and has powerful structure. Seamless and beautiful tannins. Long silky finish. This will require at least 5-6 years and could be enjoyed over the next two decades.

2013 O’Shaughnessy Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder

Great wine, from a great vintage. Situated on highly elevated vineyards 580 meters with rocky and volcanic soils. So much power here! Smoky and juicy. Loads of ripe dark fruits and depth. Very serious. Multidimensional. Possesses massive amounts of fine tannins. While 5 hours decant might work at the moment this monster should be cellared for a few more years and drink the following 20 years.

2014 Domaine Jean-Marc Bouley Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chenes

Awesome Volnay coming from 2014 vintage marked by incredible hailstorm. There were some whole bunches  used (40%) during the vinification for Clos des Chenes. It brings seductive bouqeut of fresh red currants and strawberries. Lovely mouthfeel, very balanced with medium+ acidity and smooth tannins. Nice precision and good value.

2014 Domaine Perrot-Minot Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru les Riottes

A bit shy on the nose but feels incredibly lively on the palate. A nice mineral spark of crushed stones and flint. More savoury than fruity.

2014 Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux Les Proces Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru

This is very good value here. It’s juicy and spicy. Goes in fuller bodied domain. Good fruit and vibrant acidity. Nicely done. Long finish.

2014 Domaine Christian Clerget Echezeaux Grand Cru

Fantastic Echezeaux! Pronounced fresh red fruits with a touch of green bell pepper. Round and elegant. Mineral, chalky and peppery finish. Superb.

2015 Chateau de Vaudieu Chateauneuf du Pape L’ Avenue

Still young but extraordinary Chateauneuf du Pape from one of the oldest Chateaux in southern Rhone run by Brechet family. One of the key elements in Pape L’ Avenue is 100% Grenache sourced from more than 65 years old vines. Aged in a demi muids for 18 months. The wine is gracefully elegant and rich. Silky and fresh mouthfeel with big rustic tannins that will require a few more years to resolve before the wine turns into a real beauty. Around 100 cases made!  They have amazing Gigondas too.

2012 Clos Saint-Jean Chateauneuf du Pape Deus Ex Machina

Beefy. Massive concentration. Very fleshy. But civilised. A blend of 60% Grenache (around 100 years old vines) aged in foudre and concrete tanks and 40% Mourvedre aged in demi muids. Blackberries, tobacco, garrigue, leather, liquorice, chocolate, all there. Loads of tannins, sensational fruits and good acidity level. All nicely integrated.  Sweet and spicy finish. Some alcohol heat too. It will require at least 5-6 years before it softens a bit and could be drink in next 2 decades!

2012 Domaine Stéphane Ogier Cote Rotie La Belle Helene

Big Stéphane Ogier posing with a bottle of La Belle Helene. A stunner. La Belle Helene was launched in 1995 and named after Michel Ogier’s wife. It is sourced from a small parcel of 0,5 ha in Cote Rozier. 100% Syrah with 50% whole bunches used. The wine was aged for some 30 months in new French oak and made in limited edition of 150 cases! This is a blockbuster Cote Rotie which is at the same level as La La wines from Guigal. Smoky with loads of black currants and  cedar. Structured with a finesse and tannins for a lifetime. Luscious with long lingering finish. Delicious, but boy it will require time.

2013 Alain Voge Cornas Vieilles Vignes

Essential Cornas from a great producer. Red fruits, rosemary and spring flowers.  This one is made in a more lighter and elegant style. A bit reserved at this point but looks promising future. Give it a few more years.

2010 Chateau Pontet-Canet

With 2010 Chateau Pontet-Canet went 100% biodynamic, being first Chateau in Pauillac to do so. Owned by Tesseron, a well known Cognac family. A blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Deep inky colour. Concentrated and dense with pronounced aromas of casis, pencil shavings, graphite, cedar, forest floor and tobacco. Big entry. Thick mid palate and wide mouthfeel. Big fine grained tannins. A true “iron fist in a velvet glove”. Do not touch for at least 5-10 years!

2010 Chateau Giscours

Giscours from 2010 delivers Margaux freshness and elegance from a super concentrate vintage. A bit tight but more approachable than many other wines from 2010 vintage. Quite floral with some mintiness too. Well balanced with higher acidity and complexity. A charmer!

2009 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron

Exceptional Pichon from a spectacular vintage. Feels a bit closed at the moment but displays massive ripe fruits and sweet polished tannins. Sweet and sexy finish.

2009 Bodegas Roda Roda I Reserva

A blend of 95% Tempranillo and 5% Graciano and aged for 16 months in a combination of new and used French oak barrels. Plenty of dark ripe fruits and garrigue here. Elegant, ripe and spicy touch.

2007 Torres Grans Muralles

This comes from a single vineyard in Conca de Barbara DO and is composed of Monastrell, Garnacha Tinta, Garro, Samso, and Mazuelo. The wine was aged for 18 months in new French barrels. It shows amazing structure and balance with nicely integrated oak. Lush fruit and velvety tannins.

2005 Recaredo Reserva Particular de Recaredo 

Amazing Cava with zero dosage (brut nature) from a 2005 vintage. A blend of 55% Xarello and 45% Macabeo sourced from 50 years old biodynamically farmed vineyard. This was on the lees for long 126 months! Complex with tonnes of brioche, bruised red apples and orange zest. 11,576 bottles made! Great value!

2011 Susana Balbo Nosotros Single Vineyard Nomade

Sourced from only the best sites of Malbec in best vintages, 2011 was only made from Nomade vineyard. Aged for 18 months in new French barrels. It delivers lots of smoke, pepper, black jammy fruits and kirsch. Tannins are smooth and meaty. Juicy finish. 12,000 bottles made.

2013 Superuco Gualta

Awesome Juan Pablo Michelini with his Superuco, a private project between Michelini brothers and their friends which comes from extreme Gualtallary terroir in Mendoza region. The grapes are vinified as 100% whole bunches in concrete tanks and macerated for 6 months in demi muids. It is a blend of 2/3 of Malbec and 1/3 of Cabernet Franc. Perfumed and seductive. Very floral. The palate shows elegance and precision with crisp acidity. Very sexy. Only 1,110 bottles made!!!

2013 Familia Zuccardi Finca Canal Uco

From only 2,900 bottles produced comes this lively Malbec with some power. Loads of garrigue and spring flowers on the nose. Ripe but not overripe. Good mouthfeel and fine chalky tannins.

2012 Bodega Colome Altura Máxima Malbec

From the World’s highest vineyard at 3,111 meters comes this 6 barrels (cca 1700 bottles) limited Malbec called Altura Maxima meaning the highest altitude. Aged for 24 months in used French barrels. Floral and flinty but with quite ripe fruits. Suave finish.

1931 Toro Albalá Don PX Convento Selección

This heavy weight from ’31 which comes from a small family drive winery created in 1922 from Cordoba province and it is still full of life. ‘Vinos olvidados,’ as they like to call these wines, meaning forgotten wines. With 403 gr/L of sugar and 18% of alcohol the wine becomes a sweet bomb. Lusciously sweet and concentrated. It shows aromas of cigar box, cedar, old books, plums, liquorice and sage. Extremely complex. 9,650 bottles made and bottled in 2015.

1946 Toro Albalá Don PX Convento Selección

One of my favourite wines in Zurich. The 1946 clearly surpasses the 1931 in quality. The most sensational example of Pedro Ximenez by far! The wine is terrific on the nose, with pronounced aromas of plums, roasted walnuts, cardamon, mocha and espresso. The palate is so wide and textured. It coats your mouth with huge amount of concentration. Velvety mouthfeel and extra-long luscious finish. Exceptional. Bottled in 2011 with only 825 bottles made!

NV Barbadillo Reliquia Palo Cortado

This NV Palo Cortado comes from a family reserves and it is between 80 – 100 years old! Made by Barbadillo, the leading bodega of Sanlucar de Barrameda dating back to 1821. Pronounced aromas of seaweed, roasted walnuts, almonds and coffee beans. Complex. Palate is very dry and full bodied with a tangy almost salty finish.