MOVIES & BOOZE: Wine for the weekend

Tomas Clancy reviews Fabre Montmayou Reservado Malbec, Argentina 2015 and Weingut Muller, Gruner Veltliner, Ried Kremsel Kogl, Kremstal Austria 2016

 

Weingut Muller, Gruner Veltliner, Ried Kremsel Kogl, Kremstal Austria 2016

Pricing : €14.95

Available : Thomas Woodberry, Middle Street, Galway and nationwide online at woodberrys.ie

This is a family affair, with three generations of the one family all working and living together on the banks of the Danube to the south of the small city of Krems, which gives its name to one of Austria’s most prized wine regions, Kremstal.

This is a piercingly precise and lip-smackingly delicious linear white wine made from Austria’s Grunner Veltliner grape. For about an hour back in 2012 it seemed as if Gruner Veltliner was going to overtake Sauvignon Blanc as the world’s favourite crisp and zesty white wine. Austria was over joyed as they had been suffering from 25 years of pain over the dreaded ‘anti-frost scandal’ when a very few, a tiny number of criminals in fact added anti-freeze to wines headed for the German Market to boost their perceived alcohol levels.

With that in the past, Gruner Veltliner began to sweep the world.

Unfortunately while the initial wines were of the very highest quality at very reasonable pricings, unfortunately soon it seemed  these fine wine houses soon dried up or perhaps began pricing realistically for the high demand market. Whatever happened, Austrian Gruner began to become expensive or very modest in quality. That seemed to set off a world wide rush to Gruner Veltliner production in the New World with New Zealand and Canada first, then many northern and unusual states in the US joining in.

Today Austria, side-lined again is striking back with Gruner Veltliner as ambitious, well made and delicious as Grand Gru Riesling and the very best Sancerre but with none of the pricing baggage, despite coming from 1000 years old, highly prized vineyard sites like this one, previously controlled by the Benedictine Monastery at Göttweig abbey from 1083.

As usual the monks knew a thing or two about terroir and the deep heavy soils of the Kremser Kogl posy alluvial slopes gives extra warmth to the growing period and the highly scented forests offer perfumed woods that also seem to be picked up here. Meticulous, no expense spared winemaking follows and at €14.95, this is wine playing at twice that pricing in ambition and delight, a bit of a steal to be enjoyed until everyone else finds out, again.

Fabre Montmayou Reservado Malbec, Argentina 2015

Pricing :  €14.95

Available :  Whelehans Wines, Silver Tassie, Loughlinstown, Co. Dublin and Nationwide from whelehanswines.ie

The Malbec grape has become Argentina’s unofficial emblem and rightly so, it is a hugely co0molex grape that offers deep fruit, spice and heady dark tastes and tones. However it has its origins thousands of miles to the north in the South West of France between Cahors and Bordeaux region where for centuries it was used as part of the complex Bordeaux notion of assemblage or mixing. 

The great Bordeaux wines are all blends and they ardently believe this is the best way to approach wine making, so a great Chateau like Lynch-Bages or Margaux will be based on say a good measure often 60 or 70 percent of Cabernet Sauvignon then they will season the wines with Merlot for sweetness, Petite Verdot for a bit of tannic heft and Malbec for deep dark weight and a little lusciousness when ripe.

It was a mainstay of Bordeaux in green years, however it is a very tricky grape to work with in cool years and very susceptible to disease. The Bordeaux producers have switched to Merlot in the main.

However in the late 19th century French explorers and entrepreneurs arrived in Argentina and at huge height, over 1000 metres in the air, in Mendoza they found a place where like a Swiss  clinic, weaker vines thrived.

This winery is owned and was founded by a Bordeaux winemaker, from a long line of Bordeaux Negociants, Herve Fabre. His insight was to recognise what very old vine Malbec could become at a time when Cabernet Sauvignon was Argentina’s main export. His 100 year old vineyards have won him many awards and he has adopted the very strictest organic, hand crafted , non interventionist winemaking. Hand harvesting, no chemical treatment and long cold ferments offers supple, clean, silky wines of real ambition. The sumptuousness of many Argentine Malbecs is tempered here by great acidity and restrained balanced alcohol. A leftfield voice of real quality from Argentina.