Semplicemente red


One of the delights of our tasting blind – apart from the fun – is the shock element, especially on revealing the wine. Well, the shock came earlier this time, when I actually tasted it. I’d looked and noted colours of red with a tinge of brown (aged – wrong), smelt rich plummy to dark fruits (New World – wrong) and then put lips to glass. It had a fizz – and was deliciously savoury, sweet mid palate, dry finish, slightly tannic and very gluggable. Okay, Lambrusco – wrong.

This was Belloti Rosso Semplicemente red 2015 from Tassarolo, south of Turin, in Piedmont. It’s a blend of Barbera and Dolcetto grapes and has an ABV of 13.5%. It’s another wine from the Buon Vino natural wine suppliers and has that purity that I noticed in the rioja blogged recently (auto-suggestion, perhaps?). Anyway, I am a lover of good Lambrusco, such a great match with pizza and antipasto, so this was right up my strada.

Oh, I nearly forgot the other surprise – it had a beer bottle top!

[Richard: three wines from the Buon Vino selection now tried (one not blogged) and they have all been good. This one was very low sulphur – none added –  and our first ever crown cap as well, something rarely seen on wine but there was a slight frizzante effect to justify it. This soon dissipated in the glass and the wine is not as lively as a Lambrusco. Lots going on in the glass, very drinkable and a wine I’d buy again.]


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Not this time…

Having been pleased with my ability to spot Cabernet Franc I was completely fooled by this, a South African version (Warwick Estate 2013).

Medium intensity in colour, a rich, rather sweet smell – vanilla, Turkish Delight  – which didn’t really carry over into the taste. Quite long and drying on the finish. A pleasant drink but with none of the characteristics you would find in a bottle from the Loire. In particular the ‘green’ grassy note was completely absent.

[Geoff: R. needn’t be too self-critical, this is Cabernet Franc – but not as we know it. My feelings are ambivalent about this wine. On the one hand, it’s a very well-made, polished, complete, rich, full-flavoured mouthful. However, my liking of this grape comes from the fragrant raspberry aromas, the herbaceous, underripe tastes and the edgy tannins – none of which this had. Mind you, CF’s home in the Loire can throw up pretty raw, unpolished wines sometimes and this was way more enjoyable than those. This did exhibit the difference between a New World, warmer climate style and the Old World style. £20.50 from the WS.]

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Organic wine


R. has bought a case of organic i.e. low (or no) sulphur/low intervention wines and, initially rather sceptical, I have enjoyed this offering. It is a widely available, not obscure, wine which has earned some high praise, both in terms of VFM and its quality.

Gran Cerdo 2016 by Gonzalo Grjalba is a red Rioja (ABV 13.5%) which has a delightfully pure taste. The colour is a vibrant ruby red of medium intensity with a slightly purple rim. I smelt sour red fruit and immediately placed it as an Italian red (right continent, at least) but there was also a lingering smokiness. All the aromas were very pronounced. Although not a complex wine, its freshness and purity were delightful, the tannins gave a good structure and a pleasing dryness.

The wine had not seen any wood, only stainless steel and the sulphur dosage was very low. Fermenting wine does produce its own sulphur in small quantities but I assume that little extra is used. I was very impressed with this and it represents very good value.

[Richard: Ange has expressed an interest in low intervention/organic (the terms are not completely synonymous) wines and opinion on the WS Forum was that Buon Vino were the best suppliers. They had a 10% discount on low/no sulphur wines so I picked a selection of well-reviewed (by customers) bottles. This was the cheapest at around £8 and, as Geoff says, it was pretty good. Interesting to taste the Tempranillo grape vinified in a totally different way. Nothing like Rioja but none the worse for that. I forgot to take a photo so that above comes from the seller’s website.]


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Anaemic Bull’s Blood


The Wine Society have recently been promoting Hungarian wines some of which we have tried and blogged. Whilst not being poor wines I have found them a little underwhelming and certainly not living up to the hyperbole generated. This wine was another example.

The grape is Kadarka, eastern European in origin, and a constituent of the (in)famous Bull’s Blood wine. The wine is Gal Tibor (2016) and anything less like bull’s blood it is difficult to imagine. Very pale red with a watery rim, the wine had a really pronounced pure strawberry fruit smell so strong and sweet it could be mistaken for a fruit wine. The palate was dry with some tannins (it needed them) of medium length but very one-dimensional.  The ABV was 11.5%.

To do it justice it may be termed a summer wine but it would be very difficult to find a food match – cold meats possibly. It will be interesting to read the WS members’ opinions of this.

[Richard: I liked this rather more than Geoff did, deceptively savoury given the appearance but there isn’t a lot more to say as the wine is so simple. Lightly chilled on a hot day it would be very appealing, less so in chilly March. About £11, WS.]





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Low on alcohol – big on flavour


We have tried a few wines recently which have been rather old-fashioned in that the alcohol levels were low – 12.5% – but there was an abundance of flavour. Not being a lover of wines high in alcohol they really appealed to me and Friday night’s selection was one of those. Melaric les Fontanelles 2014 hales from the Saumur and is pure Chenin Blanc. It had spent 12 months in barrel and a further 8 months bottled in a cellar. The result being an impressive wine.

Deep yellow with some viscosity, it had a spicy nose (ginger?), lemony with richness – R. thought beeswax polish. There was a clean minerality, and some fruit sweetness balanced by acidity. The finish was dry, persistent and gave the impression of power. This is a well-made wine from two growers committed to organic farming on chalk soils in an area more noted for sparkling wines which can be a bit anonymous. This certainly wasn’t. Available via Vin Cognito, it costs £27.95.

[Richard: rather more than I would normally pay for a Chenin Blanc – a grape I rarely drink – but the reviews (from the Jancis Robinson website) were spectacular and I hope it would make for an interesting tasting. A very powerful wine which was unchanged on day 2 and which shows that you don’t need lots of alcohol to give power and persistence on the palate.]

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Process of deduction

Tonight’s wine (Pouilly Fuisse Vers Cras Chateau de Beauregard 2012) was deep lemon yellow in appearance with a seductive layered nose I was sure I had smelt before. Big, rich, mouth filling flavour, good length and an excellent sharp/sweet balance. Clearly well made and not at the bargain end of the market. Obviously old world which lead me to suggest chardonnay, France, Burgundy, southern end, Maconnais, all of which was gratifyingly correct. In fact I’d tasted this wine before, in the 2010 vintage, when it was around £20 from TWS. I can’t claim to have remembered the taste though this wine seemed to me much better.

[Geoff: Another good spot by R. Grape, region, sub-region all identified. I associate P Fuisse with wines broader than this sometimes almost to the point of a claggy quality. This, however, had some lovely lemon acidity to keep it fresh and focussed. Yes, it had the hallmark creaminess but it wasn’t overdone. Evidently, the Vers Cras is from limestone only vineyards which accounts for that acidity and elegance. Lovely wine, drinking well now, from the WS at about £17-20.]

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Clos du Marquis 2009


This claret, from St Julien in the Medoc, has certainly earned plaudits in wine reviews. It is the second wine of Ch. Leoville Las Cases, often heralded as the finest St Julien wine. So you can imagine the prices, even for a wine from off “the subs’ bench”. It is a blend dominated by Cab Sav (70%) and Merlot (20%) with some Cab Franc and Petit Verdot to make up the brew. It’s ABV is 13.5%.

It had an intense ruby colour – with some viscosity – and had lost the purple bloom of youth but was nowhere near the tell-tale brick colours of ageing. The nose was layered-loveliness – coconut, smoky, black fruit, vanilla, sweet plums (I’m beginning to sound like a real taster) – which changed at each sniff. The palate was all of these but with some licquorice thrown in. The tannins gave some real structure to the long, dry finish. This was some classy wine.

Richard had decanted it but even well-aired it had plenty of power and was obvious that this wine would last for years to come. A great wine from a great vintage.

[Richard: this was a present, some years ago, sourced from Laithwaites, where it is now sold out. Opinion on Cellartracker was that it was ready to drink, which it was but I could have kept it for a while yet. Anyway a lovely wine which showed how good claret can be. Geoff is too modest to say but he correctly identified the grapes, the country, the region and even the sub-region, which does indeed make him a real taster.]

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