Our picks from the range of the wine importer Handpicked Wines
Handpicked Wines is one of the smaller niche importers in Sweden . It primarily focuses on small producers with individual and characterful wines, according to what they say themselves. BKWine’s reporter Carl-Erik Kanne was at their showing of their range of wines. Here is his selection of the best wines.
On a splendid late summer day had Handpicked, one of Sweden’s wine importers, had chosen to have its autumn tasting at PS Matsal, a restaurant on Nytorgsgatan in Stockholm.
Coming early made it easy to devote my full attention to the 150 wine and spirits that were on show to taste. Some 60 white and 70 red wines.
Small, characterful producers: Italy, Portugal, USA etc.
Handpicked is a relatively young and small business run by enthusiasts under the leadership of Margaret Lundeberg . They concentrate on smaller producers who make wines that are not “mainstream” but has their own character often focused on “terroir “.
The range on show confirmed this with many fun wines, often made from local grape varieties from both new and old wine countries. The main countries were Italy, Portugal, and the United States.
Many young winemakers with modern approaches were represented. From Portugal, for example, Sandra Tavares da Silva ( Wine and Soul ) and Cantina F.lli Zeni .
Italy. We start with Veneto
On site from Italy and from Veneto was Federica Zeni who represented the fourth generation of the Cantina F.lli Zeni in Bardolino. The wines, made from corvina, rondinella and molinara, traditional local varieties, were characterised by elegance and purity without overemphasizing either fruit or alcohol.
Do try their DOCG Bardolino Superiore Classico with a good pasta or their amarone from 2008 which with its freshness and elegance can be enjoyed also with other food than ripe Parmesan cheese.
Also worth mentioning from the Veneto is a white wine from Soave, Sandro de Bruno 2011, with its nose and taste of minerals and pears that with little finger food will be an excellent apéritif.
Of the wines of northern Italy I also particularly liked the Peccheninos Siri D’ Jermu from 2009, from the Piedmont, made from 100% dolcetto with a lot of red cherries on the palate but with good structure and a long finish.
From the Piedmont I also liked Barolo, Brico Pernice from Elvio Cogno from 2005 that had found its way out of the wine cellar and can now begin to be enjoyed: an abundance of red fruit, violets, liquorice, a lovely texture and a long, long aftertaste!
If you want something good from the nebbiolo grape that puts not too much strain on your wallet, in a friendly price range, you can try Agricola Gagliasso’s “Ciabot Russ” from 2011.
If we then move south in Italy, to Tuscany, we find a whole bunch of very nice wines, such as Turan 2012 from Silvio Nardi.
Rossodibrenno Maremma 2010 by Poggiopaoli is an IGT wine made from the ciliegiolo grape that is difficult to grow but that makes very nice wines with a hint of cherry, hence the name of the grape! Perfect for an autumn lamb fillet.
If we move closer to the centre of Chianti we find for example Fattoria Nittardi that was represented with some real powerhouse wines. For example the Chianti Classico Riserva 2008 which is only made in years when the weather is perfect. In addition to sangiovese it also contains a small portion of merlot. It has been aged 24 months in French oak barrels and has plenty of dark cherry fruit and vanilla tones from the barrel aging. Enjoy this with the autumn leg of lamb !
The Italy tour continues through Umbria to Campania that together with Sicily has some of the oldest grape varieties in Italy.
Here I found for example falanghina / falerna in both white and red wine and aglianico from several wine producers. ( Falerno was a wine that was drunk in ancient Rome. )
Try the Villa Matilde Carraci 2008 made from falanghina grapes from 40 years old vines grown in volcanic soil at 150m altitude. It has been aged for 5 months in French oak barrels. Lovely freshness with flavour and aromas of pears, citrus and with minerality that stays lingers.
From the same grape comes a cheaper wine vinified in steel tank: Falerno del Massico Bianco, which gives you a good idea of the character of the grape variety.
We have become accustomed to wines from Sicily often characterized by heat and not infrequently that one can wonder about some wineries hygiene which may lead to some defects in the wines. Not so here. All the wines felt clean and with exceptionally high freshness for the area and minerality from the volcanic soil of Mount Etna.
Try the Fessinas A Puddara Etna Bianco 2011, or the Erse 2011.
The latter is made from the very local grapes nerello mascalese and nerello cappuccio . The result is very similar to a pinot noir wine from Burgundy. Lingonberry fruit and a lot of freshness, a long finish.
We take a flight to the northeast, ending up in Hungary with the producer Balassa Bor Kft who showed an interesting dry wine made from the furmint grape variety, Furmint Szent Tamás 2009. It had aromas of raisins and figs, but with a dry attack in on the palate with high acidity and a lot of fruit, long finish. The producer also makes a semi-dry and also sweet wines that deserve to be tasted.
Portugal, varied confectionery
On our way to the U.S. we make a stop in Portugal to enjoy the wines of the almost iconic Sandra Tavares da Silva and her different wines. First, she works with her parents’ vineyard in Extremadura, Quinta da Chocapalha, and then the vineyard Quinta do Vale Dona Maria as her day job, and on her left-over time with her own and her husband’s creating Wine & Soul.
Of the white wines from Chocapalha I like Quinta de Chocapalha Chardonnay with high acidity and minerality, not unlike a Chablis, or Quinta de Chocapalha Reserva Branco 2009 made from chardonnay, arinto and vital grapes, which have given the wine an aromatic nose of ripe apples and citrus; balanced on the palate with fruit and some barrel character.
Of the reds Quinta de Chocapalha Reserva 2008 Is a really good choice for autumn stews and can be compared with Wine & Soul’s Pintas Character 2010, which is made from a ” field blend” (ed. note: different grape varieties mixed in the vineyard) of some 30 different varieties of old vines and then aged 18 months in French oak barrels.
If Pintas Character is an impressive “second” wine, the “first” wine Pintas Red is absolutely fantastic with lots of dark fruit, a fine texture and a long finish.
Another excellent wine is Quinta da Manoella Vinas Velhas 2010 made from 20 different grapes varieties and very old vines, pressed in the ancient ways with foot trodding in large open stone vats ( lagares). Aging is done in new French oak barrels for 20 months. On the nose and palate you will find dark berries and ripe cherries. Tannins are very present and the wine will benefit from some years of aging. But with some aeration it will be enjoyable now.
If you want a less expensive wine from the same producer for the autumn beef stews you can choose Manoella 2010, which is made from the grapes varieties touriga nacional, touriga franca, tinta roriz and tinta francisca.
Read more about Sandra Tavares and Wine & Soul here on BKWine Magazine.
From Portugal we continue west to the USA and to Washington State where Charles Smith is the big name in Handpicked’s US range. He is a self-taught winemaker whose goal is to make wines that taste like the place where they grow. Charles Smith is also represented in a different constellation, Charles & Charles, where he and Charles Bieler since 2008 produce challenging wines, many with names just as spectacular as Charles Smith’s own wines.
Their jointly made wine Charles & Charles Red is made in equal parts from of cabernet sauvignon and syrah, where the former is aged in French oak barrels before blending with the steel tank stored syrah. The result has flavours of dark berries with hints of tobacco and chocolate, good structure and a long finish.
If you want a lot of fruit and syrah character I can recommend Boom Boom 2011 by Charles Smith. Another wine displaying a lot of varietal character, that would go well with an entrecote, is Chateau Smith 2010 made from cabernet sauvignon with a small touch of malbec.
Of the white wines from Charles Smith , I would like to mention ViNo Pinot Grigio 2011 as an interesting wine, typical for the pinot grigio grape. Even his Kung Fu Riesling 2012 can favourably be compared with the cousins from the Rheingau .
Read more about Charles Smith and his wines here on BKWine Magazine.
One more winery from Washington that was represented is L’Ecole No. 41 . Their white Chenin Blanc 2012 felt very typical of the grape variety and is comparable to the cousins rom Vouvray in the Loire Valley.
There was also a chenin blanc from South Africa, Anima, from the producer Avondale. It had been aged in oak, partly on the lees. The wine is organic and would be an interesting ingredient in a chenin blanc tasting.
Also worth noting, from South Africa, was the producer Bouchard Finlayson, particularly their Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2011, in many ways reminiscent of a mature Burgundy but with more heat on the palate. A beautiful pinot noir wine.
Finally: New Zealand
I will end the tour with a brief visit to New Zealand and the producer Greywacke in Marlborough which was represented by several white wines with plenty of character. Try for instance the Greywacke Wild Sauvignon Blanc 2011 that has a scent of grass / gooseberry and that is very fruity, with gooseberry and citrus notes, a good structure, acidity, and fruit and a long finish. Would be nice with late summer bass with herb sauce and lemon.
In summary, the tasting fulfilled the expectations with many fun and interesting wine experiences with made me forget my longing for some more summer weather.
Carl-Erik Kanne is a long time wine enthusiast and fervent wine taster. He reports from wine tastings and wine events in Stockholm for BKWine Magazine.
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