An Introduction into Alsatian Wine with Etienne Sipp, by Lucy Rundle

Louis Sipp Wines Master Class with Etienne Sipp
Louis Sipp Wines Master Class with Etienne Sipp

Our host for this indulgent evening was none other than Etienne Sipp, the great, great grandson of the founders of the original Sipp vineyard, Louis and Louise. Etienne possesses all the qualities you would wish for from a wine-maker: a background in chemistry, extensive wine knowledge and an even greater passion for his subject, excellent English coupled with French charm, and a wonderful sense of humour.

Aiming for purity, authenticity and elegance in his wines, Etienne Sipp uses organic farming methods to bring out the very best in the fruit, the vineyards being awarded full certification by ECOCERT for the 2008 vintage. Louis Sipp is considered to be amongst the very top of the 1000 wine producers in the Alsace region. Wines from the area are often described as aromatic as they have such distinctive fruit aromas and flavours, such as lychee in Gewurztraminer, which combine beautifully with delicate rose petal fragrances.

These unique tastes and aromas often match very well with spicy food, so on this occasion our tasting menu was provided by The Red Fort, a sophisticated Indian restaurant in the heart of Soho, known for its Mughal Court cooking.

We started things off with a pop – a lovely, refreshing Louis Sipp Crémant d’Alsace. This sparkling wine is a blend of Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and is perfect as an aperitif.

Murgh Tikka Chicken from The Red Fort
Murgh Tikka Chicken – The Red Fort

Then came the Louis Sipp Riesling “Nature’S” 2008. This was the first vintage to be certified organic, and produced this fresh, lively Riesling, showing stone fruit on the palate and gentle, floral aromas on the nose. The ‘Nature’S’ range was created especially to demonstrate the result of organic wine production methods in the finished product. Etienne says this means ‘the fruit is laughing’ and if the wine is anything to go by, happy fruit makes great wine!

The next wine tasted was the Louis Sipp Pinot Gris “Nature’S” 2008, matched with a delicious Murgh Tikka chicken. The aromatic, pear nose and residual sugar on the palate balanced perfectly with the fenugreek and chili spices, and there was enough acidity in the wine for it to shine through, as opposed to getting lost in all those lovely spices.

Louis Sipp Gewürztraminer Nature's 2009
Louis Sipp Gewürztraminer Nature’s 2009

Louis Sipp Gewurztraminer “Nature’S” 2009 has all the typical qualities we know and love in a Gewurztraminer; an intensely aromatic nose showing rose petals and lychees, some sweetness on the palate and very moreish length! The Red Fort provided lightly spiced spinach & fenugreek patties filled with cheddar, onion and coriander which brought the best out of this delicious wine.

Next in line were two Louis Sipp Grand Cru Kirchberg Rieslings, one from 2008 and one from 1999. The latter was rich and a touch waxy, very smooth and a real treat, without the typical petrol aromas but still fruit-driven and fresh. The 2008 was livelier with a hint of green apples and a mineral note. Both will keep for a while, so ideal for adding to your Riesling collection, but no crisis if you can’t wait and drink them tonight, you won’t be disappointed by either of these vintages.

Spiced, roasted minced Devon lamb skewers accompanied the Grand Crus and were similarly subtle in flavour, again creating a great match.

Roasted rabbit was served with the Louis Sipp Pinot Noir “Nature’S” 2009. Pinot Noir is often paired with game, so this was a little different from the usual with the chili spices and tangy flavours to bring out the delicate, sweet cherry nose of the wine with its smooth, fruity palate.

We finished off with the Louis Sipp Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives 2007. This was extremely popular and delicious with mango Kulfi – an ice cream dessert. Etienne explained that despite being a vendanges tardives, or late harvest wine, the grapes are not picked too late so as to retain freshness and acidity, making a well-balanced, sweet wine, with good length and wonderful flavours including some refreshing, tropical fruit.

Buy your Louis Sipp here now >>>
By Lucy Rundle,
Amathus Drinks 

Introducing South Africa’s Finest Wines: Idiom & Whalehaven by Matt Smith

An idiom, or an expression with a figurative meaning; this is the aim of Roberto Bottega and his family when producing his award winning wines. By creating wines that capture the true meaning of the landscape, the culture and the heritage of the surrounding area, Idiom wines are gaining a reputation around the world for being some of the finest South Africa wines.

The winery, situated in Da Capo overlooking False Bay in Stellenbosch, was created as a retirement project by Roberto’s father, Alberto. Soon it became a project that would involve the whole family, with Roberto soon helping take the reigns as head winemaker. The philosophy behind the wines was to originally create a Bordeaux blend that would rival the great Bordeaux estates. As the winery evolved, they also began to pay tribute to their South African and Italian heritage by planting Pinotage and Italian grapes such Sangiovese. The wines have recently won Decanter’s best South African red wine in 2010.

Also on tasting was Bottega’s other project Whalehaven in Hermanus. Named after the region in which the vineyards are situated, Southern Right Whales gather in the local bay to breed and is known to be one of the best whale watching areas in the world! The winery was taken over whilst the Idiom vineyards were planted and the reputation is growing for producing single varietal wines such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Pinotage. The vineyard also produces a range of whites, including Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, to complete a diverse and rich line-up.

Roberto introduced the Whalehaven range first, explaining the methods behind each of the wines; followed after was the three wines from Idiom.

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Whalehaven Sauvignon Blanc
Tropical fruit nose with a hint of minerality. In the mouth, melon flavours with green notes of passion fruit punch that is supported with a rich acidity. A perfect beach wine.

Whalehaven Cabernet Franc
A lifted perfumed nose with a hint of liquorish. A lighter style of Cabernet Franc that deliveries a rich raspberry punch and lightly toasted oak in the mouth.

Whalehaven Merlot
Plummy, smoky with a slight hint of bramble on the nose. A sweet tobacco and cherry mouth that is supported by supple tannins and a warming length.

Whalehaven Pinotage
Dark cherries with a cigar box nose. Rich plum fruit and light blackberries in the mouth. The boldest of the three reds that would well fantastically well with steak or other red meats.

Idiom Viognier
The grapes are picked three times in the growing season (early – middle – late) to achieve a complex wine. Apricots with a hint of buttercup and perfume on the nose. On the mouth, a creamy texture which delivers ripe apples that develops into apricots. A truly magnificent wine!

Idiom Cape Blend
Smokey, liquorish with sour cherries and cedar on the nose. Blackberry, cherry and dried red fruits that open up with a lush, velvety tannin. A cigar box finish with a long length.

Idiom Bordeaux Blend
The flagship of the winery. Aromatic dark cherries with a layer of lush concentrated raspberry. On the palette, velvety smooth tannins that evolve into flavours of blackcurrant, oak, spice and a hint of dark chocolate. Absolutely stunning!

 

By Matt Smith, Amathus Soho

Wine Buyer’s Spring Selection by Sarah Knowles

Hello! Sadly summer this year seems to be falling a little short of expectations following an amazing April… With grey skies, rain and clammy humidity yet no sun, it’s really driving me to drink! You too?

On the humid city evenings, I have been sitting outside on my postage stamp sized terrace with large glasses of chilled Caze Blanque Rose, (a great Provence look a like) and Louis Sipps Pinot Blanc.

However on the cooler rain filled nights I seem to be turning to winter warmers – Bordeaux (Chateau Vieux Tuquet) being my new bargain buy, Acrobat Shiraz still making me smile (and dream of sunnier climates) and, luckily, Le Chiantigiane’s spicy Sangiovese is available at my wonderful local (the Barnsbury, N1).

The “emergency biscuit” for me this summer though goes to our new Terra Serena rose prosecco – once the cork is popped, I seem to forget about the hit and miss weather, move the picnic indoors and celebrate the great English weather – at least the ducks must be happy!

Terra Serena Rose Spumante
Red cherry and cranberry nose, with delicate lively bubbles and a fruity crisp finish.

Louis Sipp Pinot Blanc
Mineral and lemon aromas, balanced by a rich chalk body and citrus fresh fruit flavours. A classic elegant finish, with flint and lemon rind developing.

Ewald Gruber Gruner Vertliner
White pepper and peaches are typical on the nose, fantastic pure lemon and sour peach fruit flavour on the palate, with complex spices developing. Very long mineral finish.

Granbazan Albarino Verde
Powerful peach and pineapple nose, with high natural acidity, crisp clean lemon and peach flavours on the palate. Long fruit driven length.

Caze Blanque Rose
Great fresh strawberries and sweet cherries, summer in a glass, but with a refined dry finish.

Carelli 34 Rose
Great strawberry and raspberry nose, with ripe fruit flavours on the palate. An easy summer drink.

Chateau Vieux Tuquet
Plum and blackcurrant on the nose with spice developing in the glass; firm but integrated tannins, well balanced by fresh acidity, and good depth of berry flavour continuing on the finish.

Le Chiantigiane Sangiovese
Sour cherry and bacon on the nose, with a great deep complex flavour of cherry, smoked ham, and plums. A juicy length and rounded tannins.

Acrobat Shiraz
Deep ruby colour with sweet spicy plums and blackberries on the nose, a rich blackcurrant and cardamon juicy palate leads to a long satisfying finish.

Palacio de Sada Crianza
Burnt strawberry and rich vanilla aromas entice. Great acidity and rich tannins are balanced well with redcurrant, plum, and white pepper spices. A generous depth of flavor and long length makes this a great traditional Spanish wine with a wonderful modern twist.

By Sarah Knowles, Amathus’ Wine Buyer