ALKO

ALKO : Amalaya 2011 by Hess (Argentina, Salta)


Producer: Hess

Wine: Amalaya

Vintage: 2011

Grapes: Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tannat

Origin: Argentina, Salta

Price range: 10-12€ (Finland, Alko)

Available at Alko: Yes (01/14), 485797

Amalaya is a kind of trendy wine. It has hit the market in Europe this year, at the same time in different countries, and I must say that is it pretty successful.

The nose displays a fruity profile but nothing too extreme. There is a hint of oak, but very well managed. Fruit is black berries and little black cherries. And in the finish you find a bit of spices (paprika-like). The mouth is fresh and balanced with enough tannins to pass on food. Oak is coming in the finish with a pretty strong vanilla-coco component. Then it develops on black cherry again. It is not overwhelmingly complex but the wine is extremely enjoyable.

This is the archetypical well made wine. It fits perfectly its purpose: it is simple yet enjoyable and clean. Balance, the most important, is indisputable. It is a very successful wine and it has a wonderful value for money. Obviously the best wine in terms of value that you can get from Alko it the category 5-15€

Wineops’ rating: 72/100 ; 0 0

Jouluviinit. Alkon parhaat viinit jouluksi: Punaviinit


And finally… mostly to enjoy at New Year’s Eve, considering how late I post the article 🙂 : red wines. There is a lot of possibility in Alko’s selection, though I must warn you that choosing a red wine with Finnish Christmas food is a big risk. It will absolutely work with the pork, but it will fall short on the salmon, whether it is graavilohi or savulohi, it will also have difficulties with all the salads, peruna, rosolli… In case I would serve a fine red, I would split the dinner into two parts : first part with the salads and then with the joulukinkku and the various laatikkot.

This time, I give you a list split between medium and powerful wines and then by order of  increasing price.

MEDIUM BODIED (wines that I would favour for the pairing with Christmas food).

Spain: Pares Balta, Savia Viva 2010 (471587) 7,98€ : Simple but efficient.

Argentina: Amalaya 2011 (485797) 11,90€ : A surprisingly good blend from Argentina. Spicy and fruity but with a nice structure in the mouth. This is one of my nowadays « top buy » in Alko. Best served not too cool and can be drank right after opening.

New-Zealand: Brancott Estate, South Island Pinot Noir 2011 (466047) 11,99€ : Entry level and yet delicious Pinot Noir. Sure, it lacks a bit structure, but at that price point, it is a bargain.

Italy: Zenato, Valpolicella Superiore 2010 (450187) 12,99€ : Standard but elegant Valpolicella. Thousand times better than the ugly Masi example of the kind.

Chile: Leyda, Las Brisas Pinot Noir 2011 (475537) 13,98€ : Pinot Noir is definitely the best option when it comes to Christmas dinner. This is a good and affordable example. It will benefit from an early opening. (a couple of hours before drinking).

Austria: Rabl, Blauer Zweigelt Vinum Optimum 2011 (496847) 13,99€ : light, fresh and fruity. Almost no tannins. This is a dream of a wine for delicate palates. 2011 being an outstanding vintage in Austria.

New-Zealand: Vicarage Lane, Canterbury Pinot Noir 2009 (435547) 15,95€ : Much more dense. Spicy. Clean. A very nice Pinot Noir, more balanced and fruity than the Leyda Las Brisas.

Spain: Muga Reserva 2008 (449177) 17,61€ : One of the best Rioja of the selection. Surprisingly balanced and elegant.

Italy: Villa Antinori rosso 2009 (006861) 17,99€ : Modern, fruit and chocolate taste. A nice wine that benefits from an early opening.

Austria: Weninger, Blaufränkisch Hochäcker 2009 (407007) 18,14€ : One of the best value for money place in Austria. Spicy, with a strong character. And still very soft tannins. Very good wine.

Austria: Pittnauer, Pinot Noir Fuchsenfeld 2010 (452237) 19,96€ : Austria has started recently to produce Pinot Noir. This is an interesting example.

New-Zealand: Te Kairanga, Runholder Martinborough Pinot Noir 2009 (408487) 19,98€ : One of the good Pinot Noir from Alko. If you find 2007 this will be even better. 2009 will require a little bit of breathing time.

USA: Boedecker Cellars, Oregon Pinot Noir 2011 (455397) 20,40 : From the coolest climates of the USA. A very well defined and nice to drink Pinot Noir.

France: Chapoutier, Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers 2010 (429967) 21,00€ : A very good example of nordic Syrah. Great vintage. The wine is however very young and need 2 to 3 years to open. If you have it for Christmas. Either decant 2 hours, either open 24h before drinking (take a few centiliter away and leave the bottle opened).

Italy: Luigi Einaudi, Barolo Terlo 2007 (476267) 39€ : The top of Alko’s selection. This is an outstanding wine, not even expensive. This wine has years in front of him but it is already enjoyable. To be decanted 2 hours before.

New-Zealand: Felton Road, Bonnockburn Pinot Noir 2010 (429367) 50,30€ : A fantastic wine from New-Zealand. Felton Road is THE reference of the country. Still young but enjoyable.

FULL BODIED, POWERFUL WINES (for those who look for a big kick in the mouth!)

Chile: Tabali, Reserva Especial 2009 (407507) 15,99€ : Very concentrated, very ripe, very powerful. A decent to good wine, but it might overpower the meal. Still, very pleasurable if this is the kind of wine you are looking for.

France: Château Cesseras, Minervois la Livinière 2009 (424377) 16,99€ : Powerful and yet fresh with a hint of grassiness that often lacks in super ripe similar blends from Australia.

Argentina: Norton, Privada 2010 (432417) 17,89€ : Much more powerful and concentrated. It is not a wine with a strong personality but it compensates with its expressivity.

Australia: Rosemount, GSM 2010 (454607) 24,90€ : A southern Rhône blend from Australia. Rosemount is not the reference estate from the country but this wine is truely outstanding. Very complex and with a great balance. Not to be missed!

Australia: Yalumba, Hand Picked Shiraz-Viognier (463597) 28,70€ : An other Rhône blend (northern Rhône), the same that you find in Côte Rôtie. More concentrated, more generous with a more noticeable alcohol. An other very good wine.

Jouluviinit. Alkon parhaat viinit jouluksi: Valkoviinit


For Finnish Christmas dinner, when I am asked about wine, I always think « white » first. In my opinion, this is the colour that match the best all the traditional dishes. I will give you a selection of different style of wines, they might not match every single meal, but none will be totally out of place. I will sort them by type of grape. Enjoy!

Chardonnay

Chardonnay is a very versatile grape that make not too aromatic wines. As a result they are really easy drinking and pass on a huge variety of meals. Besides, it is can be cheap to produce and it can be grown almost everywhere. The selection of decent to good Chardonnay at Alko is big. Almost none are bad but, don’t be fooled, many are boring 😉

Argentina: Alamos, Chardonnay 2012 (570287) 9,98€ : A nice and pleasant wine. Rather on the exotic side. Not too oaky. Easy.

Australia: Penfolds, Thomas Hyland Chardonnay 2011 (534747) 12,99€ : Fresh and crisp. Easy drinking wine.

New-Zealand: Sileni, The Lodge Chardonnay 2010 (519767) 14,99€ : This starts to be more serious. Little bit toasty. Nice wine.

New-Zealand: St Clair, Pioneer Block Sawcut Vineyard Chardonnay 2011 (501427) 19,89€ : Extremely powerful and strongly toasty. Not the prefect example of elegance but it really delivers. A bit like a punch in the face. Should be a nice match to joulukinkku.

Austria: Tement, Morillon Muschelkalk 2011 (583807) 19,89€ : More balanced and fresh. This will do well with fish and salads.

Italy: Planeta, Chardonnay 2011 (525267) 19,98€ : A surprisingly balanced Chardonnay from Sicily. Will match most of the meal.

France: La Souffrandise, Pouilly Fumé 2011 (510217) 21,10€ : Powerful and yet delicate. It is a very fine wine, in a very good vintage for white wines in this region.

Sauvignon blanc

Sauvignon blanc is a very strong grape, producing wines with a clearly vegetal side. At its best they are powerful, aromatic and very fresh wines. Downfall is to get a too green and flat wine. Like many a white grape, it gives it best when grown in cool climates.

Chile: Leyda, Garuma Vineyard Sauvignon blanc 2012 (594677) 9,99€ : typical Sauvignon blanc. Grassy, fresh. A bit simple but nice to drink. Prefect match for the salads , cheese and fish.

Chile: Leyda, Kadun Vineyard Sauvignon gris 2012 (549837) 11,98€ : Sauvignon gris is a mutation of Sauvignon blanc. The difference is not huge. A bit more structure than the previous one.

Chile: Leyda, Lot 4 Sauvignon blanc (587357) 12,98€ : a huge difference between this one and the two before. Powerful and aromatic. A real good match for the meal. With always the typical grassiness of Sauvignon.

New-Zealand: Jackson Estate, Sauvignon blanc Stich 2012 (586067) 15,99€ : one of the best Sauvignon from Alko. More exotic. Extremely powerful. At his best after one year of cellaring.

Riesling

Riesling is an other extremely powerful and noble variety. Some of the greatest wines are made out of this grape. It is often slightly sweet (to balance its acidity) and it is extremely sharp in term of acidity. Therefore it ages beautifully and it pass extremely well with quantity of food, including red meet (if fresh and structured enough). Best examples come from Germany (Mosel, Nahe, Rheingau), Austria (Wachau, Kremstal, Kamptal…) and France (Alsace).

Germany: Dr. Pauly Bergweiler, Blitz Riesling 2012 (524667) 8,69€ : uncomplicated. Fresh and aromatic. A pleasant wine, will pass on most of the meals.

Austria: Malat, Riesling Kellergarten 2011 (590147) 11,61€ : a more serious and dense Riesling. Still very young in a great vintage in Kremstal, Austria. To be opened and decanted 2 hours in advance.

Germany: Reichgraf von Kesselstatt, Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 2007 (582407) 20,10€ : SWEET! Very nice wine to end the meal and on desert.

Germany: Fritz Haag, Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling trocken GG 2011 (543897) 34,30€ : a great dry Riesling from Mosel. To be opened in advance.

Grüner Veltliner

The typical grape of Austria. Extremely aromatic, exotic and less sharp than Riesling. A very nice selection is to be found in Alko.

Austria: Rabl, Grüner Veltliner 2012 (599634) 7,52€ : simple but clean. A good pick.

Austria: Josef Jamek, Grüner Veltliner Ried Liebenberg Smaragd 2011 (599827) 24,20€ : an other great wine in a great vintage. Best cellared for 2-5 years. To be decanted two hours.

Austria: Rudi Pichler, Grüner Veltliner Terrassen Smaragd 2011 (509017) 24,80€ : same region than the previous one. Styles are slightly different, maybe more mineral for Pichler.

Others

Hungary: Oremus, Mandolas Tokaji Dry 2001 (598027) 16,50€

Spain: Gramona, Xarel.lo 2011 (505867) 19,84€

France: Château Doisy-Daëne 2009 (539404) 27,70€ (half bottle) : Sweet wine. One of the very best Sauternes in a great year for sweet wines.

Jouluviinit. Alkon parhaat viinit jouluksi: Kuohuviinit


Ok, maybe not all the best, but some of the best picks. And we start with the star of Christmas: sparkling wines.

Contrary to one can think, you can easily spend the whole Christmas meal with sparkling wines. If that is the case, aim at a more powerful wine. The good thing is that Alko selection of sparkling wines is really on the top. Diversity, quality and decent prices (comparatively). Let’s start.

Kuohuviini 1: light and aromatic, for aperitif, or simply to enjoy before the meal

Chile, Cono Sur Brut (548407) 10,90€ : Easy-drinking wine and one of the only value sparkling that I can advise. It is really fine for a glass or if you want to try a cocktail (by mixing it with lakka for instance).

Spain, Codorniu Anna di Codorniu (505457) 11,48€ : Classic Cava. Simple but nicely done. In my opinion it is a better buy than Cuvée Raventos, which is a bit of a clumsy wine.

Italy, Jeio Brut Prosecco (552007) 13,97€ : Prosecco are the perfect aperitif. They are light, aromatic, not too expensive.

New-Zealand, St Clair Vicar’s Choice (591767) 14,93€ : More original, the sparkling Sauvignon. Perfect for aperitif but slightly more difficult to pair with food. It will do good also to celebrate the New Year.

Kuohuviini 2: full bodied wines, that can be served on the meal.

Chile, Leyda Extra Brut Méthode Traditionnelle (536977) 20,10€ : Can also do well as aperitif. This is a 100% Chardonnay : pure, enjoyable and crisp… Typical party sparkling, but with still a high quality factor.

Spain, Seleccion Ravento Pinot Noir Brut (587077) 13,99€ : This is one of the good rosé from Alko’s list. Typically, the wine that can last over the dinner. At his best after one or two years of cellaring.

Austria, Szigeti Grüner Veltliner Brut (586117) 15,78€ : Easier than the next wines, more aromatic than Chardonnay based sparkling. Will do great on Christmas eve.

Spain, Freixenet Elyssia Gran Cuvée Brut (531257) 18,83€ : The competition of Codorniu in mass produced Cava. This is a very interesting cuvée. Fresh but with a very interesting complexity (for your information, if you fly once though Frankfurt Airport, it is on sale in the Duty free shop at 12€).

Germany, Barth Riesling Brut (513537) 19,89€ : Original Riesling based sparkling. A very very good wine. 100% worth the price. WIll do great on the graavilohi.

Italy, Ca’ del Bosco Cuvée Prestige (558057) 29,90€ : Until recently you could still find it around 25€… anyway… this is a very good wine, complex, powerful… a realy great Franciacorta. It develops a lot with a bit of cellaring (one-two years).

France, Jacquesson Cuvée 736 Extra Brut (588767) 44,00€ : We enter here the world of great Champagnes. To keep in the cellar for more emotions. 737 will be even more spectacular, but this is already a fantastic wine.

France, Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve (564737) 47,90€ : More full bodied than Jacquesson. An other reference in the world of Champagne.

Kuohuviini 3: a touch of sweetness, sparkling that can live through the desert.

France, Jaillance Grande Tradition (008821) 13,77€ : Are you looking for sweet and aromatic? This is your wine. A direct, very expressive and well balanced sweet wine. If you like sweet or if you want something to match the desert. A great value for money wine.

France, Pol Roger Rich Demi-Sec (578657) 44,90€ : Here comes THE reference of sweet Champagne in France. A MUST if you are lucky enough to find it. This is good but it will improve immensely if you cellar it 2…5…10 years!

So here were my suggestions in term of sparkling. I hope you will find your ideal Christmas companion among them.

ALKO: Gewürztraminer 2012 by Spy Valley (New-Zealand, Marlborough)


Producer: Spy Valley

Wine: Gewürztraminer

Vintage: 2012

Origin: New-Zealand, Marlborough

Price range: 10-15€ (Finland, Alko)

Available at Alko: Yes (04/13), 599237

Marlborough in New-Zealand is most famous for its Sauvignon Blanc and more recently for its Pinot Noir. Though, over the past years, experiments are increasing around other « nordic » grapes. These being Syrah, Riesling… and Gewürztraminer. On the paper this does not really look like a good idea. If you consider France, Sauvignon blanc favorable climates (Center France) differs widely from the Gewürztraminer climates. However, one must admit that results with Riesling (an other grape from Alsace in France or Mosel in Germany) are indeed positive…

The nose is not uninteresting, there is a hint of litchi, some stonefruit too. Nothing extremely expressive but decent. Good first impression. In the mouth however, the wine fells short. There is no complexity, only very direct and not longlasting notes of sweet peach only brought by the 12 grams of residual sugar. Otherwise, a not too unpleasant sweetness and some not too bad acidity. Overall pretty average wine. Not unbalanced though not astonishing. Slightly disappointing considering the price.

Wineops’ rating: 63/100 ; 0 0

 

Alko: Pääsiäisen Viinit – Wines for Easter


Last year I put a short article on line about wines for Eastern. My recommendation don’t change. If you plan on having the tradition lamb, you will want to look for red wines with a spicy side.

The ideal possibility in terms of style are Southern France Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Carignan based wines. Also, one good possibility is to be found in Italy, Piemonte with Nebbiolo. That being said, there are few wines that enter these categories at Alko. I would however try to avoid the New World wines (esp. Chile, Argentina and Australia) that will display too much ripeness to balance the flavour of the lamb. Of course, there are exceptions and the very good GSM 2010 by Rosemount Estate is one of them.

From France, you can aim at :

– Jaboulet, Côte du Rhône Parallèle 45, 11,58€

– Pech-Latt, Corbières 2011, 13,50€

– Chapoutier, Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers 2010, 20,00€

– Ogier, Cornas Les Reillots 2006, 31,90€

From Italy,

– Ugo Lequio, Barbaresco Gallina 2009, 21,90€

– Luigi Einaudi, Barolo Terlo 2007, 39,00€

From Spain,

– D. de J. Palacios, Petalos 2011, 15,10€

– Muga, Reserva 2007, 17,58€

– Aalto 2008, 39,00€

From Austria,

– Trapl, Tilhofen 2009, 25,10€

ALKO : Pinot Noir Las Brisas 2011 by Viña Leyda (Chile, San Antonio)


Producer: Viña Leyda (belongs to Viña San Pedro)

Wine: Las Brisas Pinot Noir

Vintage: 2011

Origin: Chile, San Antonio & Leyda, Leyda Valley, Las Brisas

Price range: 10-15€ (Finland, Alko)

Available at Alko: Yes (02/13), 475537

Today I change a bit the presentation to make it more clear. Tribute to many a wine blog I know… I must acknowledge that this is more practical and easier to read.

Las Brisas Pinot Noir by Viña Leyda is a classic from Alko. The earliest vintage I tasted is 2008 (not the best vintage ever). It has always delivered and it consistently got better. This bottle is however a little bit problematic as there is a strong reduction in the nose at the opening.

Reduction (as a defect) is not an accurate word but it describes, by opposition to oxidation, the state of a lack of oxygen. Reduction happens in young wines, with specific grapes or specific winemaking… It is usually not « lethal » to the wine, the wine just needs breathing through decanting or just ageing. This reduction issue is more and more common with the growing number of red wines bottled under screwcap. It is all the stronger with reductive grapes (Pinot Noir and Syrah). If reduction is due to the screwcap, it can sometimes be almost unfixable: I had one bottle which required three (!) days of decanting before getting rid of the smell. In the present case, the bottle needed a lot of breathing (maybe a night) but it was drinkable after a couple of hours of decanting.

Besides this very strong smell of wet socks, one could find a very nice red fruit and slight spices (pepper). The wine is well balanced and structured enough. The mouth was much better a nice balance of cherry, aromatic herbs and discrete earthiness. Very balanced in terms of alcohol, acidity and sweetness. In the mouth, it is one of the best Las Brisas I have tasted. This is an inbetween classic and modern style Pinot Noir. It is not over ripe and over extracted as sometimes Pinot Noir can be in Chile (like Ocio 2009, by Cono Sur, which tasted like a Syrah a few month ago) but it is far more fruity than a Burgundy version of the grape. I can only advise this wine and recommend cellaring it for a year or two to get the best out of it. It already improved greatly since the original release.

Wineops’ rating: 76/100 ; 5 + (the rating would probably have been higher without the reduction)

 

ALKO: Muga Reserva 2007 by Bodegas Muga (Spain, Rioja)


Bodegas Muga is a Spanish wine producer located in the Rioja Alta. La Rioja is actually divided in three parts: la Rioja Alta, la Rioja Alavesa and la Rioja Baja. The later is the easiest to cultivate, the soils are rich and the climate is warmer… therefore the wines are in general less refined. The two first subregions however are the real deal. Like many regions in Spain, Rioja is mostly planted of the local variety of Tempranillo but they have started to replant other local grapes that have long been underestimated or underused: these are Graciano, Mazuelo (Carignan) and the most known Garnacha (Grenache). Bodegas Muga is a 200 ha estate and buys grape from an extra 150ha. Therefore it is an medium sized to average wine producer of the region (the estates in Rioja are rather big, Marques de Riscal sources from over 1 500 ha).

This Muga Reserva is a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Grenache and a mix of Graciano and Mazuelo to finish. The ageing is 24 month in a mix of barrels from France, USA… then, according to the Rioja rules, it is aged for a minimum of 12 more months in bottle (this, contrary to the compulsory oak ageing is a very good rule).

When opened, the wine displays a very unpleasant charred nose. It is a mix of burned gum and charred oak, probably the smell of the slightly too long oak ageing. This imposes decanting. Half an hour does the trick. Then, this bad note disappears. The wine has a beautiful nose of black cherry, pepper and tobacco. There is also a hint of old wooden furniture… extremely soft and pleasant. The mouth displays the same harmony and somehow peacefulness. We find back the black cherry alongside a hint of strawberry and raspberry (especially in the finish). Spices are stronger and the black pepper brings a good balance. The wine is well integrated, not dominated buy the oak, with a very nice freshness. The finish is long, fruity. This is not a huge and fantastic wine but it is pretty delicious. I recommend it.

Wineops’ Rating: 78/100 ; 5 +

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Muga Reserva 2007 by Bodegas Muga

Muga Reserva 2007 by Bodegas Muga