Sunday, 23 July 2017

The Supernatural 2014 Sauvignon Blanc

As a wine blogger, I’m aware that my palate preference is going to be quite different from many other people. Not better, not worse – just different. However, I think it’s very important for me to say that when I take the time to write about a wine, it’s because it has moved me in some way or resonated with me – besides the fact that I think it tastes good.

It’s been awhile since a wine has rocked my socks off, and The Supernatural Wine Company Supernatural 2014 Sauvignon Blanc from Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand did just that. It was so much fun for me.  It had all the appeal and expected flavours you would get from a NZ Sauvignon Blanc, but an added twist.  This wine has been made with a clear in vision and outcome in mind. This unique Sauvignon Blanc comes from a unique place, and made in a unique way. Here’s why I adore it….

The Region

Hawke’s Bay is located on the Eastern side of the north island of New Zealand.  Most of the vineyards in this area are grown on flat alluvial soil, but the vines in which the 'Supernatual' grapes grow face northward, having slopes of about 30 degrees. The soil consists of a combination of lime-rich clay, overlain with volcanic topsoil. This is quite distinct and plays a key role in contributing to the wine’s vibrant acidity and minerality.   

The Philosophy

The vines have been farmed organically since 2009 and in 2015, the company became certified organic.  Their goal is to make some of the world’s best sauvignon blanc organically and naturally, with minimal intervention. 

When you go out and snag a bottle of this awesome wine, you’ll notice that not only is the label cool, but it has a fun closure too. So….why the crown cap?  Gregory Collinge, owner and ambassador of the Supernatural Wine Company explains, “The practical reason is that it's a very effective seal for low intervention wines, preventing oxidation and infection, but still allowing the wine to develop in the bottle.  The other reason is style – when we were setting up the brand, we were not enamoured with screw caps which is the predominant seal here in New Zealand and we were taking our inspiration from the beer brands.  The crown seals are 29mm and used in Champagne for turning bottles.  Beer caps tend to be 26mm.” 

The Winemaking

With indigenous yeasts, a pied du cuve formula is used (putting grapes in a barrel to ferment naturally) to start the fermentation.  The 2014 vintage is predominantly Sauvignon Blanc, with a kiss of Pinot Gris.  Grapes were left on their skin for six hours before a gentle pressing.  It was then left overnight at 15°C before racking off heavy lees.  Finally, there was extensive lees contact and stirring for six months before being lightly filtered and bottled with the least amount of sulphur possible.   All of the 2015 skin- fermented wines in their portfolio are unfined.  These winemaking techniques give the sauvignon blanc atypical characteristics such as round texture, savoury notes, and candied lemon flavours.  Instead of the wine cutting right through to citrus, which is what you might typically get in a sauvignon blanc, this takes your palate on a little journey to some magical place where there is unlimited amounts of sunshine and lemon meringue pie.   How often do you find that in a wine, eh? 
(Photo: Winemaker Hayden Penny - Supernatural Wine Co)

The Supernatural Wine Company is an ambitious and dedicated team with a lot of love and passion for what they do.  The fact that they are trying to create beautiful products while at the same staying true to their values in allowing the terroir and grapes express themselves naturally, is noble and admirable.  I truly believe it is because of that love and discipline, that their wines shine. 

To find out more about this company, or where you can get other wines from their portfolio, click on the links following my tasting note.

(Photo: The Supernatural Wine Co)

The Supernatural Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Medium gold in colour, the wine has generous notes of gooseberries, lime and cream.  The supple palate is well supported by a lively acidity and concentrated passionfruit, citrus and apricot.  The creamy finish is long with a satisfying mineral touch that makes the wine so delicious to drink.  Awesome drinkability factor. Drink now or within 2-3 years. 

Grapes: Sauvignon Blanc (97.5%), Pinot Gris (2.5%)
Alcohol: 14%
SAQ: 12594521
Price: $28.30
Agent: Ward et Associates

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Wines of Greece: Part 2 : Domaine Thymiopoulos

The regions of Macedonia and Náossa are known for their reds, with Náossa being home to the rustic Xinomavro grape.  Náoussa is located on the south-eastern slopes of Mount Vermio with altitudes between 200-350 meters, and gets plenty of rain.   Grand Cru status has been awarded here, and there are two main categories : young wine from the lighter, sandy soils and more age-worthy wines from clay and limestone soil. 

Domaine Thymiopoulos is the producer to look out for here.   The family has been growing grapes for generations, but today the bold and charismatic Apostolos Thymiopoulos has taken the reigns and started producing biodynamic wines of his own that are outstanding.  Working with Xinomavro, his wines remain some of the most refreshing, and concentrated styles of this grape variety leading the drinkability factor to be through the roof.

Grapes are hand harvested around the end of September to early October and set to stainless steel tanks for a natural fermentation followed by spontaneous malolactic conversion in barrels for 18 months, though it can vary.  Wines are un-fined, unfiltered, and hand bottled. 

His Xinomavro rosé is my personal favourite. You can order cases of 6 via private import from Oenopole here in Montreal. (If there is any left.) Otherwise, the following restaurants will have this on their wine list in the next few weeks.  Check it out.

Damas, Monopole, Coureur des Bois, Buvette Chez Simone, Pullman, Lawrence, Hvor, Larry's, Soif, Furco, Alexandraplatz, Liverpool House and Nina Neopolitaine.       

Jeunes Vignes de Xinomavro Náossa 2015  
SAQ: 12212220  $17.10

Medium purple with ruby hues, this aromatic wine has notes of cherries, blackberries and plum.  The medium bodied palate shows concentrated blackberry and dark cherry fruit along with notes of wet earth, and is perfectly balanced with  high acidity and raspy tannins.  The finish is layered and complex. Totally refreshing, totally delicious.  Excellent quality for price.  Drink now or in the next 4-5 years.


Rosé de Xinomavro
IP: $22.80 Case of 6

Light yet deep ruby red in colour, this wine has aromas of cherries, strawberries and sort of a tomato-ey, dusty earth kind of thing going on.  The palate reflects the nose and has excellent, refreshing acidity and savoury fruit. It’s mineral, fruity, slightly vegetal.  It has lovely nips of tannin, adding to the complexity of this wine. Thirst quenching juice.  Charming. Persistent. Delicious.  It's unlike anything you've ever tasted before.  Drink now or within the next 2-3 years.