This is an Austrian blend of Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt. We tried the latter grape recently but the former has been missing in action since 2014. This was a good Sunday drink – not too alcoholic at 13%, responsive to chilling – it was a warm evening – with light raspberry flavours, juicy, a little spicy and Cabernet Franc-ish and very drinkable. From TWS, no longer available.
I have a memory of buying Chateau Citran en primeur, in the 1980’s when it was reckoned to be a reputable non-classified maker. This wine (the 2005) had an unmistakable cabernet – claret nose, albeit not as full-on and ‘cigar box’ as some, perhaps because it is 50% Merlot. Deep red with a brownish rim, austere but with a rich taste, balanced, savoury, still some tannin. A very nice drink which made me think – I must try more reds from Bordeaux.
Maranges is the last appellation – actually three small villages – before leaving northern Burgundy and entering the Chalonnais. The three villages had separate appellations until 1988 and its rather tannic reds was used to firm up softer regional Burgundies, such as Cote de Beaunes. 95% of the production is red.
Richard has blogged Maranges previously but I have never tried it. I bought this from Connolly’s in Birmingham and, in anticipation of its tannins, decanted it two hours before trying it. It accompanied some home-made beef/pork burgers.
The usual light red colour had a slightly brown rim and the smell was red fruits typical of the Pinot Noir grape. It was attractive and fresh, of lighter notes rather than depth. I anticipated something simple and wasn’t disappointed. It was a good match for the burgers’ intensity of flavour. The only strong characteristics were a rather stalky, slightly green quality which made the wine tight – but it wasn’t unpleasant. Good value at circa £17 – a simple village Burgundy.
[Richard: I tried a bottle from Maranges in 2014 (different maker) and wasn’t impressed. This was better, more pinot like, some fruit, not ungenerous. A decent everyday Burgundy.]
We’ve blogged a few wines from Leon Stolarski over the years. He specialises in wines from Languedoc, not Burgundy, so I wasn’t expecting a lot from this bottle, especially as, at £23 it is towards the bottom of the price range for decent pinot noir. Paradoxically it is one of his most expensive offerings, despite being, on paper at least, the lowest quality. Such is the pricing within Burgundy.
Actually, pretty good. Pure fruit nose, lots of cherry/redcurrant on the taste with a balancing acidity. Very enjoyable and only 12.5%.
What is a beautiful wine? Is it one that is intense, complex and serious? Or is it a wine that “creates a peal of laughter at the table?” (‘L’eclat de rire a la table.’ says the neck label of a Chateau Thivin Beaujolais). Is this the Beaujolais makers’ conundrum? These ideas are not mine but come from an engaging book by Andrew Jefford entitled The New France; however it did encapsulate what I thought after a recent ‘Beaujo Tasting’ (their words) in Birmingham.
We tasted eight wines, six of which were cru Beaujolais – Regnie, Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly, Moulin au Vent, Chenas and St Amour – covering three vintages (2015-17). I was hard pushed to identify any major differences. All purple in colour, all slightly tannic (maybe the MaV more so), all acidity plus and red fruit flavours. The speaker was keen to promote the region’s wines so if she could get just one to be memorable she had succeeded, I assume. Well, sorry, they were all okay but not one stood out. Neither peals of laughter and nor complexity. Perhaps she needed to show ……
Cote de Brouilly 2011 from Roger Peguet which Richard provided on Friday. The age had robbed its purple robes and left a low intensity ruby colour and the nose was rich, sour cherries. But the palate was delightfully fresh, sweet in the middle and bowing out with a balanced, long dry finish. A lovely wine and a big step up from the Beaujo Tasting wines.
So, maybe there is a difference. It starts with cru quality – plus a bit more – and needs some time to show its best.
[Richard: this is the old Beaujolais referred to in the last post – the wines were tasted together. Mature Gamay is often supposed to take on Pinot Noir characteristics and the producer does make a lot of red Burgundy but this, while rich and savoury, was not a pale imitation of the more prestigious grape. Very moreish with lots of character. From Vin Cognito and only little more expensive than the Morgon, below.]
Geoff was at a Beaujolais tasting in Birmingham recently (spoiler: unimpressed) so we thought we’d try a couple of our own to see how they measured up.
First was a 2017 Morgon, Chateau de Pizay La Centenaire, purchased from Connolly’s, in Birmingham (£17). I’d tried another bottle last week and like it a lot, finding it rich and spicy. This bottle though, was a disappointment. Bright red/purple, no ‘banana’ nose – a good thing – in fact little aroma at all, rather spirity, but only 13%. Not much fruit or Gamay typicity – just a generic red wine, decent mouth feel, dry and with a faint ‘turkish delight’ taste. Underwhelming.
[Geoff: This was so underwhelming – and got worse – that I now think the bottle was faulty. No life, freshness or varietal definition. I hope R’s second will be better.]
I struggle with Sauvignon Blancs, especially from those from the New World. Their overt notes of freshness, grass, high acidity and elderflower can, to me, taste harsh and lacking in depth or richness. I know that’s a negative opening but you should be able to guess the opposite sentiment that follows. I really enjoyed this 2017 SB – from the Springfield Estate, Robertson in the Breede River Valley of South Africa. This estate has been farmed for five generations of the same family and are proud of their heritage – “Made On Honour” appears on the label. They use natural yeasts.
The colour was really pale yellow with slight greenness and it had the smell of SB but very subtly. The palate, unlike many New World SBs, was rich (good!) as well as being gentle and more Old World Loire (eg Sancerre, Pouilly Fume, Reuilly Quincy). There was also an attractive sourness which, strangely, manifests in quality dry Rieslings.
As Richard so aptly put it, this wine “gets away from the cliche” with its restrained quality. It’s very good value at £12.49 – if that still is the price.
[Richard: from Waitrose and a wine I’d buy again. An excellent halfway house between New and Old World sauvignon styles.]
The above, or a variant of, is a headline we’ve used before. Such is the number of grape varieties now available that it would be possible to drink a different grape on every day of the year – not that we would, being sensible drinkers.
Geoff confidently predicted I wouldn’t be able to identify this wine (Val de Souto 2017, Treixadura Ribeiro, M&S £12) and so it proved – I couldn’t even get the country, which was Spain. Very pale yellow, some chalk on the nose with a faint lemon/melon aroma, a rich mouth feel, despite being only 12.5%, not complex with no individual fruit identifiable apart from a rather bitter, grapefruit-like finish. Enjoyable but it needed food.
In fact Treixadura is not a new grape for us – we blogged on a similar wine from the same region early last year – and the comment made then still holds – the flavour, while pleasant, is not distinctive enough to recognise blind.
[Geoff: This was one of those M&S wines that had been reduced to probably somewhere near its true value. Yes, it did need food (asparagus risotto) and was interesting rather than more-ish. A cooler climate NW Spanish white that lacked a trademark taste. Okay.]