More than a month has gone by since my first Prowein experience and not a day passes that I don’t sit down and read a few lines of my tasting notes. It was truly difficult to make a top 10 list from 6870 exhibitors from 64 countries, but I succeeded somehow. On the side note, 60.000 people visited Prowein 2018 in just three days! Incredible. My attention was drawn by exotic wine countries such as Brazil, but I unfortunately did not hang out with tanned Brazilian girls. On the other hand, I did try some very nice wines that were skillfully made. Wines from Chinese regions such as Ningxia, Penglai, Changli and Shacheng made up for all the exhibitors’ clumsiness (some of them didn’t even know how to open a bottle). With this, the Chinese have proven to us that they will be knocking on doors and taking names very soon.
The most memorable experience was definitely the Mundus Vini Tasting Zone which had all its gold medalists on display. I can say with certainty that I’ve tried some of the best wines EVER here. With only three days, it was impossible to see and taste everything I wanted to, so I concentrated solely on wines that I couldn’t try back home. I admit, the love for the Old World was too strong, so at times I found myself tasting some incredible stuff from France, Spain and Italy as well. Here’s my top 10!
Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion 2014
Being faced with two serious authorities at one tasting was indeed a very intense feeling, probably the strongest of Prowein 2018. The first authority was Paolo Basso, Best Sommelier of the World 2013. He masterly presented 13 huge Bordeaux reds and whites, of which Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion 2014 stood out. The lowest score this wine has ever received is 95 points. Deep ruby red. Core aromas of blackberry, black cherry, black currant, raspberry, tobacco, cedar, vanilla, smoke, black pepper, mint and meadow grass. The aging potential of minimum 25-30 years was reflected in the perfect harmony of the extremely concentrated fruit-spice flavor and a solid, muscular body. Piercing tannins, phenomenally integrated alcohol and persistent acidity. I caught myself enjoying this wine for so long that I stopped listening to Paolo. Put simply, one authority completely established dominance over another. Damn!
Average price: 189 EUR
Marco Bonfante Bussia Barolo 2013
That the traditional style is still very much present in Piemonte and that some producers are ready to retaliate against the modern, impatient consumer is clear on the first smell and sip of this wine. We see a powerful and complex liquid of huge potential born and bred in the Bussia Hills, located just between Barolo and Monfordte d’Alba. The aromatic profile is very elegant, crystal clear and sophisticated, with fruit notes of black cherry, raspberry, liquorice, dry plum and figs. Hints of spices and rose. Full-bodied, with tannins that will have to be harmonized with the rest of the structure for years to come. Definitely a show-stealer.
Average price: 32 EUR
Stag’s Leap Fay Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
1. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
2. Chateau Mouton-Rothschild
3. Chateau Haut-Brion
This is how the historic Judgement of Paris 1976 ended, changing many trends and opinions on Cabernet Sauvignon being made outside of France. This legendary winery still holds its established course firmly and that can be seen in Fay 2014 which displays exceptional harmony and incredible complexity. Fruity spice on the nose with notes of blackberry, ripe raspberry, violets, cinnamon and vanilla cream>. Intense on the palate with a powerful body, creamy texture and nicely polished tannins. This shows all the potential of the Napa Valley region, a class for itself, worthy of the legendary reputation it has carried all these years.
Average price: 121 EUR
Domaine de Chevalier 1998
At a tasting of Pessac-Leognan gems, the strongest impression was left by the bourgeois king of elegance, the fully-developed Domaine de Chevalier. An enchantingly elaborate strucure of almost 20 years of age still has vibrant acidity, 12.5% abv, perfect integration of the two, soft tannins and a rich palate. Proper stuff. Notes of ripe red fruit, plum, overripe cherry, coffee, tobacco and marzipan. One of the best vintages from this property just showed what epic potential all young wines from Pessac Leognan have.
Average price: 78 EUR
Georg Müller Stiftung Hattenheimer Schützenhaus Riesling Trocken 2016
Each word on this wine’s label indicates that this is pure aristocracy of German winemaking! Georg Müller founded his winery back in 1882 in one of the most prestigious German regions, Rheingau. As one of the founders of the reputable VDP association of producers, he confirmed his philosophy dedicated to the production of high quality wines in 1910. His dry Riesling has a moderately yellow color and aromatics of green apple, ripe lemon, nectarine, mango, rosemary and wet stone. The palate is marked by a colossal structure carried by powerful acidity and a well-rounded, full body. The astonishing crystalline clarity of all aromas, the consistency, the long finish and the good aging potential makes this Riesling a true Rheingau luxury.
Average price: 85 EUR
Lou Miranda Estate Old Vine Shiraz 2013
Barossa Valley, Australia
One of the strongest impressions from this year’s Prowein was definitely left by the well-organized Australian stand and their phenomenal hospitality. After a few words with them, I felt the pleasant, friendly vibe that calls you to visit all the Australian regions and experience something special. This Shiraz from Lou Miranda comes from a vineyard 106 years old. I expected a lot. And what did I get? I got a wine that painted me all the pictures I had in mind of what the ideal Shiraz is – warm, dry, thick, juicy, concentrated, rich, balanced. Soft tannins with a full, massive body and finesse that lasts long into the finish. Tons of blueberry, plum, black tea, pepper, eucalyptus, vanilla…a powerful wine that knocked me off my feet and gave me something to remember Barossa by!
Average price: 25 EUR
Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2008
Coastal Region, South Africa
Champagne followed all the great victories and defeats of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, but his tough exodus was marked by Vin de Constance, a wine from which he did not separate even on his deathbed. Muscat de Frontignan, the grape from which this wine is made, ferments for months and even years. It is then nourished in French and American 500L oak barrels for 4 years, creating a complex, structured sweet wine of dark color. Extremely attractive nose that features aromas of cloves, vanilla, coffee, cocoa, apricot marmalade, orange and honey. Rich palate with 14% abv, 150g/l of residual sugar and great acidity ensures this wine a long lifetime. On the other hand, I’m convinced that the Great Emperor had a sweet death, even in exile.
Average price: 102 EUR
Chateau Bouscaut Blanc 2014
The historical news of 2014 being a very bad vintage seems not to have reached Chateau Bouscaut, one of the six chateaux from Pessac-Leognan that has a Grand Cru de Graves classification for both red and white wines. A classic Bordeaux blend of 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Semilion has evolved and aged in French oak barrels. Pure aromas of basil, elderflower, apple, ripe lemon, butter, vanilla and a hint of fresh bread. Pleasant and soft texture with a long finish. A great potential for aging was built on the basis of a rich, massive body and steady, refreshing acidity well-integrated with 13.5% abv.
Average price: 31 EUR
Pondview Cabernet Franc Icewine 2015
The Sicilian family Puglisi transported its dedication and passion for winemaking to the Northern hemisphere in the 1960s to produce the world-class ‘cold nectar’ in Canada. The specific production of naturally sweet icewine made from frozen berries harvested at about -8C goes even deeper with the use of black grapes, unlike German and Austrian winemakers who use only white varieties. The nose of this wine is rich with red fruit, orange jelly and mild hints of vanilla. Dense and lightly syrupy palate with unbelievable acidity. A gentle touch of tannin adds to the structure. The finish is extremely long and stimulates the imagination – summer, Sicily, a Mediterranean dinner, the sea, my girlfriend, a well-chilled icewine…I think I have a plan!
Average price: 96 EUR
Spy Valley Envoy Johnson Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Marlborough, New Zealand
This grape’s kingdom was to be found at New Zealand’s stand which bursted with fresh, aromatic examples that precisely mirrored its regional typicity. But the Envoy was a bit different. An intense and complex nose guided me to a long fermentation and lees aging in French oak. Aromas of white cheese and biscuit, followed by a fruity-herbal character where notes of meadow flowers, freshly cut grass, nettle and peas play around. Hints of lime and grapefruit. The palate shows some fine creamy texture, but also tons of fruit and subtle minerality. Well-rounded and soft with crunchy acidity and beautifully integrated alcohol. Drink now or keep for 4-5 years.
Average price: 19 EUR
Written by Marko Marjanovic