Monthly Archives: August 2013

Napa(lm) Valley

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Recently, our small group of strictly amateur wine tasters held a blind tasting of Chardonnays. One of the wines chosen was a 2010 Napa Valley chardonnay marketed under First Press label and sold by Waitrose at about £17. (This one was bought on offer at around £11.) In the tasting it performed poorly so I thought I would revisit it, tasting it without the distractions of a group of friends. Respecting its provenance, I decanted it.

It was bright in appearance, a very pale lemony green in appearance with slight evidence of viscosity. The nose was of moderate intensity, quite clean and as developed as could be expected but quite restrained in style – not buttery, rather fruity, if anything.

The palate was dry with balanced acidity. Their was considerable weight in the mouth, a richness that was quite attractive. But from here it went awry. It was hot – I mean really hot, almost unpleasant in its in-balance of alcohol. The ABV was 14.5%. I’ve drunk white wines of that ABV – and higher – before but they appeared balanced but this was definitely not. The decanting may have softened what was quite an unforgiving wine but the alcohol domination could not be disguised.

Checking with other on-line critics, they all mentioned its richness and restraint but no-one mentioned the alcohol level. I wonder if our reader has had similar – or even the same – wine? Views welcome, please.

[Richard: tasted this a day after Geoff. Not quite as hot but noticeably ‘hollow’ with little development in the mouth. Short too, so after a few moments the taste had vanished. Very forgettable and poor value at, I think, around £16.]

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Have you missed us?

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We’re back.

And the first wine is a Martinez Lacuesta 2010 white Rioja – I though we’d resume with a favourite. This wine was barrique fermented and had an ABV of 13%. We’ve commented before about the traditional vs modern styles of white Rioja and I’m not going to sit on the fence with this. My distinct preference is for the older style of wine – I find the newer wines rather bland and not very expressive of any region in particular. The older style of oak hints in the flavours – balanced by acidity in a well-made wine – seems to have more character.

Lacuesta is a traditional Rioja, deep yellow with slight green hints in the glass with a lemony, refreshing nose. It tempted you into tasting it but that acidity did not dominate the palate which was decidedly nutty. It was a wine that sherry drinkers would love and reminded us of the ‘en rama’ sherry that is released by a growing number of sherry houses. This Rioja was fresh but the acidity did not dominate, the flavours were pronounced and there was a beguiling fruit sweetness on the palate. I accept Richard’s comments of it appearing rather short and light but it was a refreshing drink that had been open 24 hours. Not expensive, at around £11 it was excellent value and a great accompaniment to tapas-style food. It is stocked (locally to Birmingham) by Conolly’s but I’m sure is available from other outlets.

A beautifully balanced wine with which to restart the posts.

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