December 3rd: Tohu Sauvignon Blanc

Tohu Single Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc review

Wine Advent Calendar December 3rd: Tohu Single Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc  2015

Where should I begin with whites, this being the first one of my 24-day Wine Advent Calendar countdown. I’ve plumped for Tohu Single Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015  because I love a bit of a back story.

I took the wine as a warm-up for a fizz tasting with pals. (See December 2nd). I knew my pals liked sauvignon blanc but I wanted to see if they could spot the grape if I blind-poured the wine into their glasses. To be doubly mischievous, I also poured them a glass of Sancerre to sip alongside.

So we had two sauvignon blanc wines – one from NZ, the other a classic Old World French style from the Loire Valley.

Did my pals spot the connection – erm no.  We had a smiley, happy face on one of the Tohu notes; the downside my pal thought it was Liebfraumilch and worth £6.50. Oops. Sorry Tohu. But my pals are still learning …. my gentle wine mentoring has some mileage in it yet!

Tohu Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc notes

Tohu Single Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc  2015

What is it: It’s a white. A classy one.

Where’s it from: Marlborough is on the north-eastern tip of New Zealand’s South Island. It produces over 75%  of the country’s wine, with sauvignon blanc making up about 85% of that output. The Tohu vineyard and winery is in the Awatere Valley. Find out more about Marlborough wines here.

I’ll tell you some more: I mentioned the wine has a back story.

Tohu Wines was launched in 1998 as the world’s first Māori-owned wine company.  Which is pretty cool.

This is the heart of Tohu’s values … “as a Māori company we have a Tohu Marlborough Sauvignon Blancstrong spiritual connection to the land, to our culture and a tradition of kaitiakitanga, guardianship of our natural resources”.

The spiral on Tohu’s labelling symbolises growth, life and the natural world in Māori culture. Find out more about Tohu wines here

The grape:  Sauvignon blanc, which claims France as its ancestral home.

What of the taste? Well Tohu’s own technical notes describe this wine as “a bright, luminous pale golden green in the glass, it displays aromas of current leaf, citrus and sweet tropical fruits on the nose” with “flavours of juicy fruit, herbal notes and a distinctive minerality”.

Anything else?: Yes. This is what I thought. It is a splendidly fruity and elegant wine with limes and passion fruit on the nose, and a clean, bright, tight, acidity that shivers the tastebuds.

It is gorgeously lip-smacking with uplifting flavours of citrus and a slither of upright minerality.

The small print: Its 13% abv and has an RRP from £13.99. The downside to this 2015 vintage is it’s not widely available to buy online. Saying that – a quick Google a couple of minutes ago and I’ve found it here at Kwoff (liking the name folks) at £14.99.

A 2012 vintage is available at Rude Wines for £14.02 and Rude also sells a Tohu riesling.


December 2nd: Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura

philippe michel cremant du jura aldi wine review

Wine Advent Calendar December 2nd: Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura

Day 2 of this wine advent calendar for 2016 and I’m on the fizz already.  Give me fizz any day of the week …. but because today is Friday, and its an advent wine calendar theme, then Friday Fizz for a Festive Flourish is an absolutely brilliant get-out clause. I think.

Today I’m opening the calendar door on Aldi’s Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura.

High Five to this crémant which sits on the sparkling wine shelves comfortable and confident with its own attractiveness. Bit like a girlie on a bus who knows she looks perfect.

Anyway – so this wine I popped in a tasting for friends just the other week. I’ve reviewed it quite often in my print column; I was interested to hear what my girlies would say.  (I have my pals trained to perfection in the art of “concentrating” before “slurping”.)

Philippe Michel Cremant du Jura
There it is in the middle, with the red band, awaiting its fate with the label disguised

Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura

What is it: It’s a sparkling white fizz. I think I mentioned that.

Where’s it from: The clue is in the word Jura – it’s a crémant from Jura in the far east of France. Find out more about Jura wines with this guide by Wink Lorch.

Hang on then, what does this crémant thing mean? Is it Champagne? No – its not Champagne as only the Champagne region can make sparkling wine and call it Champagne.

Other parts of France can make sparkling wines using the same traditional method as Champagne producers and they will use the grapes native to their areas. They just can’t call it Champagne – it is known as crémant.Philippe Michel Cremant du Jura Aldi wine review

There’s only a handful of crémants in France. Possibly the  most well-known is crémant de Loire. Get the idea? Sparkling wine from the Loire valley.

The grapes:  This wine is 100 per cent chardonnay. Because it is made in the same way as Champagne, the fermented base wine will have been added to the bottle with yeast and sugar for a second fermentation, aged, then the spent yeast removed, and the wine topped up with a mixture of wine and sugar before bottling.

Never mind the techie stuff: Ok. What does it taste like.  If you want to know what Aldi says on the vin … Fantastically crisp and elegant with green apples, perfect acidity and persistent bubbles and it has  a sophisticated subtlety with stimulating fresh citrus notes and a lovely length.

Anything else?: Yes. This is what my girlie pals said  and they didn’t know anything about the wine, price or where it was from).

Vanilla. Makes me go woo-ah. Lots of flavour.
It’s like the open air, fresh clean and bright.
Loved it but don’t think I could drink alot of it!
Nice fizzy apples.
Lots of apples. Refreshing
Apple, vanilla, cleansing on the palate. Tastes lovely.

They liked it. I do too.

The small print: It is 12% abv and you can buy in-store at £7.49 a bottle or a case of six online here.
Oh, and my girlies thought it was worth about £17.