Red Wine of the Year
Marchesi Di Barolo, Barolo ‘Cannubi’ DOCG 2008
Country of origin: Italy
From local distributor: Indoguna
Ripe fruit with silky tannins, a gentle finish and excellent length – these are just some of the highlights of the Marchesi Di Barolo Cannubi. The estate was acquired by the Abbona family in 1929 when the last marquis of Barolo died without an heir.
Made with the nebbiolo grape variety, a third of the vino is first aged at least two years in small French oak barrels and then finished with the rest of the wine in Slovenian oak. “By ageing it first in French oak, there is a greater exchange between the wine and the wood that gives a little vanilla cherry flavour to the (resultant) wine,” says Ernesto Abbona, sixth-generation owner of the Marchesi Di Barolo estate. The wine pairs well with pork marinated in dark sauce and served in a vermicelli-noodle soup, Abbona shares. While the bottle is ready to be enjoyed now, it can be cellared for a further two decades.
White Wine of the Year
Van Volxem, ‘Alte Reben’, Riesling 2012
Country of origin: Germany
From local distributor: Wein & Vin
A dry yet juicy wine, the Alte Reben Riesling from Van Volxem in Germany impressed judges with its tight citrus palate – it is produced from ungrafted vines between 50 and 120 years old. “Low yields of less than one bottle per vine are extremely important for us,” says Roman Niewodniczansk, owner of Van Volxem estate.
Grapes used in this vintage were picked at the end of October after hanging for more than 130 days. “The cool rainy summer followed by a golden autumn we enjoyed in October that year gave us fully ripened grapes with low sugar content and the perfect ripe acidity,” says Niewodniczansk. The full-bodied riesling goes well with classic seafood pairings like fish, crayfish or lobster, but also marries well with veal.
Sweet Wine of the Year
Shaw Vineyard Estate, Premium Botrytis Semillon 2008
Country of origin: Australia
From local distributor: World Wine Vault
When it comes to a good sweet wine, balance is especially important – lest the wine leaves a cloying aftertaste. In the case of Shaw Vineyard Estate’s Premium Botrytis Semillon 2008, the complex combination of baked peaches, apricots and sticky dates on the nose is in perfect harmony with the wine’s acidity.
Winemaker Graeme Shaw says the high sugar levels and rich fruity notes aptly reflect that season’s hot weather conditions. Semillon grapes were left on the vines for six weeks past the rest of the estate’s harvest, to allow Botrytis cinerea (a necrotrophic fungi) to form noble rot. This process is what produces sweet wines. Grapes were hand-picked and pressed, then aged in French oak barrels for around 10 months, prior to bottling under stelvin (screw) caps for longevity. Pair this wine with soft or blue cheeses, or a spicy curry.
Cantine Sant Agata, ‘9.99’ Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG 2011
Country of origin: Italy
From local distributor: Wine Tatler
When tasting the Cantine Sant Agata Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato 2011, panellists agreed that a new category, “Gem Unearthed”, had to be created to celebrate this unique vino which is made with the unusual variety of ruche grapes from Piedmont, Italy, and processed in the Old World style. One out of the two winners in this category, the Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato 2011 is a light and dry red wine with soft tannin structure and notes of mint, rose syrup, violets and blackcurrants.
“While spring 2011 saw heavy rain, a constant rising of temperature after that helped these grapes hit the right level of acidity and maturation so the natural colouring substance in these grapes was unaltered,” says Franco Cavallero, CEO of the estate.
While game meat will be perfect for this vino, Cavallero shares that it has gone down well with Sichuan food. He recalls a dinner which he hosted that featured the cuisine. “We Italians had tears in our eyes and our mouths were numbed by the spices. But every time we had a sip of the wine, it released incredible aromas and flavours to show that these two go well together.”