November 2015 Meeting - Wines of 2013

Our November meeting was hosted by John and Patricia, who chose wines from a single year 2013, on the face of it not a promising year, but read on...



Journey starting in England and moving roughly East and South and ending in Bulgaria and Italy.

Start with English Three Choirs Rosé and while you are drinking that I will talk a bit about 2013.

When I was researching 2013 my heart sank.  It was not a great year.  It was characterized by low yields and highly variable reds, much better whites. 

The key to 2013 wines seems to be is to choose wines where the producers were rigorous in their triage and prepared to sacrifice of quantity for quality.  All our wines today are from the wine society: we are hoping they have done a good job in pre-selecting the producers!

The weather played a big part in defining 2013 wines. 

The season started well enough: a warm, sunny Autumn 2012 was followed by a cold, cleansing winter – just what the growers wanted. 

April, May and a large part of June were cool, dark and wet.  Parts of France had one of the coldest, wettest starts to a growing season in over 40 years.

Early June was disrupted by heavy rain storms that affected fruit set and quantity. 

Summer finally arrived in late June, and fine weather followed in July and August.  

But this was not seen everywhere: a massive storm in late July left many Bordeaux vineyards flooded; there were hail storms in Burgundy in late July and again in early August in Bordeaux. 

But mid-August, things were looking better and there were several weeks of uninterrupted, warmth and sunshine with temperatures around 30°C (85°F).  This was the saviour of many – as we will see later the Gamay grapes of Bordeaux need at least 3 weeks of real warmth to ripen properly and develop their full flavor.

More heavy rain at the end of September raised the fear of rot and many growers picked earlier than expected.

Overall, the harvest was the smallest since the early 1970s.  Out of the major grape varieties, Merlot suffered the most.  At least one of our wines today is a Bin End emphasizing the limited quantities.

The general assessment of 2013 wines, both whites and reds, seems to be one of “balance”:

Lots of color, pure red fresh fruit, really clean and elegant

Not like the ‘thick’ wines from 2012: less concentrated but more pleasant

The 2013s have great texture – as in 2008 and 2010, for instance

If you chewed the skin of the reds, there was just a hint of green – a bit like 1993 – but these days we can work in a finer way than 20 years ago. I’m happy with my reds, but I’m excited about my whites.

1. Three Choirs Rosé 2013


Three Choirs Rosé is a fruity, off-dry pink.  Produced from seyval blanc, triomphe and regent grapes, this delightful English pink has ripe cherry and raspberry aromas with a crisp palate of red-berry fruits.

Grape: Seyval blanc, Triomphe and Regent

Drink: Now to 2016

Alcohol Level: 10.5%

Style 2 (of 9): Dry

Price £7.95

Three Choirs Vineyards is situated where the three counties of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire converge and is the second largest wine estate in England.

Winemaker Martin Fowke has studied the techniques of New World producers such as those in New Zealand, working in cooler climate areas and has successfully tailored the winemaking processes to the prevailing English climate.

A variety of well-suited grape varieties including pinot noir is planted and each year, red, white and rosé styles are produced along with sparkling whites.


2. Neuweier Riesling Alte Reben, Schloss Neuweier 2013

Fresh bone-dry appetising Riesling packed with aroma and flavour from old vines grown on weathered granite soil just south of Baden Baden. Great value for this quality.

Grape: Riesling

Drink Now to 2020

Alcohol Level: 12.5%

Style 2 (of 9): Dry

Price £8.50

Robert Schätzle owns a vineyard with a grape growing history going back to the 12th century and a castle which is only a little less old.  Schlossberg is planted solely to Riesling. The soils are uniformly a mix of weathered porphyry and granite from the foothills of the Black Forest upon which they sit.

He has adopted a biodynamic approach which, with its organic, homeopathic and astrological principles, aims to increase the strength and vigour of the vines and the microbial life of the soils beneath them.


3. Pinot Blanc, Cave de Turckheim 2013

Crisp and dry with a touch of melon-like fruit and just a hint of roundness. Perfect for drinking on its own or with lunch.

Grape: Pinot Blanc

Drink Now to 2016

Alcohol Level: 12.5%

Style 2 (of 9): Dry

Price £6.50

The Cave de Turckheim co-operative was founded in 1955, and has been a leader in bettering the reputation of Alsace wines.

For many people, Gewurztraminer represents the quintessential taste of Alsace wine, and Cave de Turckheim grow this with passion and expertise. They also grow several other classic Alsace varieties such as Riesling, Sylvaner, Muscat, and Pinot noir and blanc.

Since the 1980s, Michel Lihrmann has masterminded operations in the cellar, where he practices his passionate belief that the extensive range of Turckheim single-varietal wines should be delicate, and dryer in style.


4. Domaine Mallory et Benjamin Talmard, Mâcon-Villages 2013

Round, succulent, unoaked Mâcon from the rich 2013 harvest.

Grape: Chardonnay

Drink Now to 2016

Alcohol Level: 13.0%

Style 2 (of 9): Dry

Price £8.75

The Talmard family name has been involved in wine production since the 17th century, and it was the current generation’s grandfather that planted some of the current Talmard vineyards many on well-exposed slopes, which moderate yields and maximise ripening potential.  

The grapes are pressed, clarified, and then cool-fermented in stainless-steel tanks and kept on their lees for two to four months.  In the spring following the vintage, after chilling and filtration, the wines are bottled as quickly as possible so they have time to develop.  Talmard wines are a brilliant example of the ripe, round style of unoaked chardonnay the Mâconnais has to offer.


5. Domaine Montangeron, Fleurie 2013

Made from a number of different vineyard parcels (Chamilles, Champagne and Rochaux) situated mid slope, this is a beautifully balanced wine.  Floral and pretty but with a sensuous silky texture too.

Grape: Gamay

Drink: Now to 2021

Alcohol Level 13.0%

Style Medium Bodied

Price £9.95

At its best, there is little that can match Beaujolais’ fragrant, sappy, fruity flavours. 

At one time more than half the crop of this region was hurriedly fermented and sold as Beaujolais Nouveau, but quality suffered and Nouveau fell out of fashion in the face of new world competition.  But another kind of Beaujolais continued to be made, often using traditional methods of production and reflecting a complexity of terroir.

The vast majority of the region’s 18,500 hectares is planted with a single red grape: Gamay, or to be more precise, gamay noir à jus blanc.  Often densely planted to help control the vines vigour, and therefore yields, trained low and pruned hard, they need at least a short spell of real heat to ripen properly.  In terms of soil, gamay does not do well on sedimentary rock types. Much of Beaujolais is granite with outcrops of schist.

6. Gamza Black Pack, Borovitza 2013

Bright, juicy and succulent with attractive natural sweetness of ripe fruit. Comparable with a successful cru Beaujolais and made to match similar dishes. Winemaker Ogi is a master with the Gamza grape (aka Kadarka), so popular in Bulgaria but usually much less well made.

Grape: Gamza (Kadarka)

Drink: Now to 2018

Alcohol Level: 13.0%

Style: Medium Bodied

Price £10.95

The range of wines produced at Borovitza are a benchmark of the quality that can be achieved in Bulgaria.  This highly regarded winery in north-west Bulgaria produces a range of wines that have done their bit in helping to raise the profile of the re-emerging Bulgarian wine industry.

In 2004, Dr. Ognyan Tzetanov bought and refurbished a 1960s-era winery and vineyard near Borovitza.  He planted a wide selection of vine varieties, both local and international, to complement those already in situ.  Despite a setback in 2011 when a severe frost caused substantial damage he now makes more than 20 different wines from a number of varieties.


7. Morellino Di Scansano 2013

Morellino is the local name given to the Sangiovese grape, thought to relate to the ‘morello’ colour of the local Maremmano horse used by the Italian army. The aroma is fruity and spicy with notes of ripe red fruit, vanilla and liquorice; the taste, fresh and soft, balanced and persistent.

Grape Morellino (aka Sangiovese)

Drink: Now to 202

Alcohol Level: 14.0%

Style: Full Bodied

Price £9.95

Tuscany more famous for Chianti and Montepulciano.  Morellino di Scansano is one of its less well known DOCGs (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita).  It can produce stunning fresh red wines and the prices are held down by the fame of its neighbours.

Simone Castelli planted the vineyards of plot 414 for the creation of a single line of wine: Morellino di Scansano.  It is shining example of the quality that organic farming can give wine.  In his bottles he focuses the character of the wild terroir, where nothing is contaminated by man and nature follows its ancient rhythms.  Morellino di Scansano of Podere 414 is a full-bodied wine, vigorous, in which the scents of the land of the horses are tamed by the skillful use of the barrel, which softens them without losing its vitality, and transforms them into immersive notes of spices.  A beautiful and intense red wine, that is able to evoke the Mediterranean summers, and which can become the perfect companion for a delicious Tuscan dinner.