Imbibe Live! 2018 Day 1

What we love about Imbibe Live is that it always seems to bring the sun with it, and this year was no exception, in fact, it was a bit of a scorcher inside as well as outside of Olympia. Now, we are not talking about heat here on the inside, though the sun did shine brightly, no, we are talking about the fine wines, sake, spirits, and beers. This year, things seem to have stepped up a notch, and with so much to do in so little time, how much would Guest Wines get to tick-off their ‘to do’ list?

To find out, read on…

A spot of German wine tasting seemed to be a way in which to get the show on the road, and why not add to this a bit of German wine history, German wine law, and then throw in the ways and workings of the VDP?!? Sounded good to us, so we did just that!

Now, it would seem that almost everyone we have spoken to in the world of wine, can for some reason get their knickers in a bit of a knot whenever German wine laws are mentioned. Ok, they can be mystifying at times, but in reality no more so than any other country (by by country, we really mean to say France).

Our heads still go onto full spin cycle whenever Bordeaux is mentioned! Be it the 1855 Classification (Grand cru based on an estate as a brand and not the land and set in stone), Cru Bourgeois (reviewed yearly or will that be 5 yearly? Is it simply a stand alone all-in-one or do we need to consider Exceptionnels, Supérieur and straight Bourgeois?!!?), Cru Artisan, Graves classification, Pessac-Leognan, St-Emilion Grand Cru (based on an appellation not an estate) and St-Emilion Grand Cru Classe (based on an estate but reviewed every ten years or so, with some moving up and down into an ‘A’ section or a ‘B’ section or even into the ‘regular’ section, in reality C but nobody wants to be in a C category – also, a producer can even get knocked out all together (more likely that A & B get demoted or promoted, whereas ‘C’ can lose its place altogether), giving the opportunity for other non-CB producers to apply and get on the ladder, Pomerol (no classification whatsoever, but sell some of the most sought after and highest priced wines in the world), Côtes de Bordeaux  plus the other satellites, Entre-des-Mers, AOP Bordeaux and AOP Bordeaux Supérieur (which can contain wines that are dredged literally from the bottom of the tank, to wines of high quality), and finally (we’ve probably missed some!) Crémant, and then add all the legal wrangling’s – quick, help! Get us to a darkened room…

So, let’s get back to German wines and the VDP shall we… they appear not so bad after all.

Presented by Jan Konetzki and entitled: Grosse Gewachs – Breaking The Code, Jan gave a very concise history of German wine, the development of the the 1971 German Wine Law (based preliminary on grape sugar levels), and the existence of the VDP, including how this organisation has itself evolved over the years, leading to its present form and rules on wine growing (that is based on a terroir-driven ethos designed around the Burgundian appellation and cru model). It was with the VDP we were going to focus on today with a selection of wines from the various wine producing regions of Germany, in order to demonstrate the ‘terroir-effect’.

The wines were:


2014 Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett Grosse Lage, Von Hovel (Saar) 8% – 35g/l RS. Perfumed, with saffron, crisp red apple, a hint of honey and herb

2013 Niederberg Helden Kabinett Grosse Lage, Schloss Lisen (Mittelmosel) 8% – 35g/l RS. Mineral, flinty with plenty of lime zest and malty textures, a touch spritzy on the palate adding to its zippiness


2014 Winkel(village name)er(from), Schloss(chateau)berg(hill) (vineyard site), Riesling (grape variety), Grosses Gewächs (Grand Cru standard), Schloss Vollrads (producer7g/l RS 9TA, which makes this a dry wine under German wine law. Quite a subtle nose that gives way to lemon and lime citrus with a touch of fresh herb. Very clean and pure with a dry finish – nice


2014 Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling, Grosses Gewächs, Emrich Schonleber 12% – 5.5g/l RS. Floral and fragrant with ripe apple, saffron and juicy ripe pineapple – cor blimey!


2015 Würzburger Stein Riesling, Grosses Gewächs, Juliusspiptal 14% – Just look at the abv again! Yes, this is a German wine! 1g/l RS – and you can see why! Ripe, rich and giving, with loads of tropical fruits, and a tight pithy body – now then!


2014 Forster Ungeheuren Riesling, Grosses Gewächs, Georg Mosbacher 13.5% – 5.5g/l RS. Camomile and fresh, ripe yellow fruits, clean and refined


2015 Niersteiner Pettenthal Riesling, Grosses Gewächs, Kai Schaetzel 11.5% – Biodynamic. 2g/l RS. The ripe melon fruits really give an impression of sweetness, bringing balance to the crisp clear acidity, throw in a few herbs and wild flowers, what’s not to like 

And so it was time for a wander around the main floor. And what better way to start than by continuing with a bit of German heritage by stopping off at the Blue Nun stand!

Yes, that sophisticated tipple of the 1970’s, revamped and remodelled would you believe! And here we had the gold standard, yes literally with the Blue Num 24K Gold Edition! And d’ya know what? It ain’t bad at all! Simple, fresh with a touch of roundness, worked quite well on such a sunny day! Who’da thought!?!

With that revelation truly under our belts, it was great to also come back to familiar territory albeit erring more towards finer wine, but nonetheless, a country that we are just beginning to know that bit better, yes, we are talking about the wines of Canada. Enjoyed was:

Golden Hill Chardonnay 2018, Okanagan British Columbia 13.1% – Fresh, clean with plenty of ripe fruits

Bench Winery 1775 Merlot 2014, Okanagan British Columbia 14.5% – 12 months in French oak. Broad, big and juicy with ample spice

You can read more about Canadian wines HERE

Now in the pink, so what better than to join Elizabeth Gabay MW who was Making the most of the Pink Revolution, with a rather good selection of rosé wines. She’s even written a book all about the subject 

And it is true that rosé wine has finally stepped out of the shadows, it is no longer seen as an after-thought or not really a true wine (yes, we have been told that), so it’s great to see this style of wine getting some well earned recognition, and just to make a point that these type of wines can be as varied (including colour) and terroir driven as other wines, the wines we had today went out to prove that.

There were:

Yealands Pinot Noir Rosé 2017, Awatere NZ 12% – Made with a herbal zing to it – we might of suspected that a drop of sauvignon had been used, but apparently not

Anne Jouet-Tessier La P’tite Annie 2017, Loire 12% – Made from Cabernet Franc with 7.5 g/l RS – a rosé that can age we learned, as the sugar does not have to mean cheap and cheerful, but can be utilised much like fine white wines for balance and structure, enabling the wine to evolve as it ages. Light red currant and blackberry notes with leafy undertones and a fresh body – nice indeed!

Avantis Estate Falcon Hill 2017, Evia Greece 13% – Made from the local Mavrokoudoura grape, and with 6.4 g/l RS produced this very balanced tipple with its floral, lifted nose with leafy thyme and bright fruits

Illuminatti, Campirosa, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo 2017, Italy 12% – The darkest of the selection, and probably  what we would consider the ‘traditional’ notion of rosé wine. However! Despite its appearance and the current trend for very pale styles, it was a dry wine (3g/l RS 6g TA) rather than the perceived sweet wine, expected due to the colour, well, there you go! Sour red fruits pucker your lips leading to a dry fresh finish

Huber Zweigelt Rosé 2017, Traisenthal Austria 11.5% – This wine spent just two hours on its skins, coming out very pale and light, with crunchy red fruits, and a pleasing freshness – a delicate little number

Quinta do Vallado Touriga Nacional 2017, Douro Portugal 12.5% – With 1g/l RS and 5.4 TA this pale orange offering was dry and fresh, with pyrazines on the nose, leading to underlying soft red fruits on the palate with enough tension to give lift

Out on the floor we also sampled a couple of other interesting rosés:

Garage Wine Co, Old Vine Pale 2017, Maule, Chile 13% – A ‘naturally’ made with from a blend of Carignan and Mataró. Wild ferment and barrel aged for a few months. Slightly cloudy, pale pink with a nice balance between the sweet fruit and tangy rhubarb acidity. A little on the tame side for a natural wine for our liking, but pleasant nonetheless

Denbies Stepping Stone Rosé 2017, Surrey England 12% – A blend of Reichensteiner, Müller-Thurgau and Pinot Noir. If we had tasted this blind, we would have probably assumed that it was a white wine! Lime citrus fruit and hedgerow leafiness, followed by hints of sour red fruits, and rounded body lifted by the acidity

Kir-Yianni, Akakies Xinomavro Rosé 2017, PDO Amyntaio, Greece 12.5% – Confected red fruits embraced by soft candied tones and kept fresh by crisp acidity

And what other way was there to make Day 1 complete than by a masterclass with non-other than Johann Henschke! Yes indeed! And this also included a personal greeting and handshake from the man himself, by getting himself amongst us mere mortals prior to taking us all on rather a nice tasting of his family’s wines!

This is an estate with many old vines, with many over a 100 years old, and still making a decent tipple, from vineyards that are either organic or being converted to biodynamic practises. What’s more is that Henschke also bottle all their wines either screw-cap or by vinolok (for their more prestigious wines).

Entitled Henschke 1868-2018: 150 Years of Family Winemaking in Australia, here’s what we had:

2016 Julius, Eden Valley Riesling 11.5% – Made from vines dating back to the late 19th Century, and with a PH of 2.92 and a TA of 6.76 g/l, this had all the bone dry typicity of the region, but with so much going on! A lifted mineral nose, wild flowers and crunchy ripe apple giving this wine a bit of broadness within the linear and purity of its structure, melded with an interplay of spices and aromatics – oh go on, we’ll have another…

2015 Johann’s Garden, Barossa Grenache, Mataro, Shiraz 14.5% – 70% Grenache, 25% Mataro and 5% Shiraz produced from low-yielding, old, gnarled, dry-grown bush and trellised vines on limestone soils from selected vineyards. Deep ruby with an abundance of blackcurrant and dark cherry fruit, throw in is some clove and juniper spice, a dash of liquorice, and with fresh acid lifting the fruit making it really shine on the approach, bolstered with the finely grained but firm tannins bringing things to a pleasant close towards a long finish

2013 Mount Edelstone, Eden Valley Shiraz 14.5% – The Mount Edelstone vineyard, situated in the Eden Valley, was planted in 1912 by Ronald Angas, a descendant of George Fife Angas, who founded South Australia would you believe! The name Edelstone refers to ‘precious stone’, so named after the initial gold rush in the 1800’s which came to nothing in this area but even so, it was recognised for being something special. This is what we would term an ‘ethereal’ type of wine, delicate but at the same time quite powerful with bright raspberry fruit, floral tones, crisp acidity and very fine but firm tannins

2012 Cyril Hanschke Eden Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France, Merlot 14% – 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and 7% Merlot. Matured in 38% new and 62% seasoned French oak hogsheads for 18 months prior to blending and bottling. Deep garnet with savoury, meaty, animal overtones with underlying liquorice spice, balsamic and peppery notes, throw in a bit of tobacco and herbal tomato, and then along comes an undercurrent of dark fruits! By-heck! Lifted by fresh acidity which helps carry the fine tannins

2013 Keyneton Euphonium Barossa Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc 14.5% – Matured in 15% new and 85% seasoned (85% French and 15% American) oak hogsheads for 18 months prior to blending and bottling. Medium garnet with a lifted volatility and freshness, showing off spicy dark fruits and a long finish

2013 The Rose Grower Eden Valley Nebbiolo, Barbera 12.5% – 99% Nebbiolo and 1% Barbera co-fermented and matured in French hogsheads for 12 months. The wine is named after the pioneering Roesler family, who managed the property as a dairy for generations. In the German language, Roesler is an occupational name for ‘rose grower’, and of course rose is often an aroma descriptor of this particular variety. Described as a work in progress, the vines are currently young but it is hoped that with time, these vines will produce Nebbiolo fruit that makes very fine wines. However, that being said, let’s not throw this baby out with the bathwater, as even though it did not have the complexity of a Barolo, it did provide us with a glimpse into possibilities for the future. For now it was quite simple with a pale garnet/orange aura with lifted red fruits and orange zest. It has to be said that the tannins were quite tame for this variety

So there we have it, Day 1 complete and a very happy Guest Wines. Tomorrow our goal was to allocate some time to focus on Sake, as well as to continue with all the best that can be found in wine. Talking of goals, we also hope that England manage to pop one or two in at their World Cup 2018 game tomorrow – now that would be a winner!

In the meantime, if you want to know what we got up to at Imbibe Live 2017, the click HERE