Monthly Archives: August 2015

Blind Date (with history)

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This week’s ‘blind challenge’ was a giveaway on the nose – lovely, cherry notes presaged the Pinot Noir. But then came the more difficult ‘French or New Zealand?’ poser. I got it right, this time and even suggested Volnay.

This was a 2006 Volnay Les Grandes Poisots from the Domaine Louis Boillot, an established Burgundy family of winemakers. It had been decanted for about 45 mins which helped contribute to its distinctly red/brown tinge in the glass and its light depth of colour. There was some evidence of weight but not much (it was 13% ABV).

We both commented on how the nose was uncomplicated – classic Pinot but without much depth. This cherry hint was continued through into the palate but the wine ended dry and still had some firm tannins giving it structure. Of medium length, this was a lean and light Burgundy.

Interestingly, Volnay is thought to be the origin of domaine bottling in Burgundy as some producers ‘went alone’ after criticising the beefing up of their wines with those from other regions to suit the market for a fuller style. This happened in the 1930s and some people find the light style of Burgundy not to their taste even now. Personally, I prefer the lighter reds – so this wine suited me – but I do recognise how the leaner style would have its detractors.

[Richard: another from the burgundy ‘mystery cases’ that the WS no longer offer. Purchased in 2011, I think. Cost is a mystery as well but I’d guess around £25. I’ve hung on to this for a while as web opinion was that it needed a bit more time. Actually it doesn’t and is drinking well now, albeit in a simple, village burgundy, kind of way. Pretty sure there is no Algerian red in this. No improvement in the glass over the evening.]

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The best sherry

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Sherry from Equipo Navazos has featured a few times on this blog. Indeed this very wine appeared last December. Then I thought it ‘fresh with a saline tang’. Now it is still fresh but the salt has gone. More fino than manza. Very dry, a complex nose with hints of lemon and varnish – more appealing than it sounds. Lots of acidity, great length. Still ageing well with two bottles left. Stood up well to Lidl boquerones.

Bought from Darley Abbey Wines as a (£20 a bottle) bin end in November 2014, whilst on our way to Paris for a honeymoon. The advisory email arrived as we were travelling through France on Eurostar. These wines sell quickly I thought – and there aren’t many to start with – so I placed an order for six from the train. As it happens Darley still have six left. C’est la vie.

(Geoff – you have got to have some cojonas to place an order for sherry on the way to your honeymoon! I think Darley Abbey Wines should send Richard the other 6 FOC).

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Good with food

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(No link to the long haired Scottish bloke who did the voice-overs on Co-Op Supermarket tv ads intended).

Dave and Janet, Geoff and Claire round for a meal on Friday. These were the wines.

With the monkfish, lemongrass sauce, pickled cucumber, crushed potatoes:

Chante Cigale 2013, a white CdP. Bought from Worth Bros, a very good independent wine merchants in Lichfield, just up the road. About £23. Classic, complex CdP taste, lots of power. Nearly as good as the Clos des Papes blogged in the last post.

Gaia Wild Ferment Assyrtiko, 2014, from Strictly Wines, about £18. I’ve blogged on this before but Geoff hadn’t tried it. Still a lovely wine, conceptually similar to the Cigale, albeit with different grapes. I’ll leave Geoff to comment further.

With slow cooked (12h) Packington belly pork, apple soup, tarragon carrots we tried:

Domaine de Trevallon 2001. Another one that has featured before. From Leon Stolarski, four left in the case, all younger than this. Great wine, powerful, ever changing nose – it’s a cab/syrah mix – subtle, savoury taste.

Domaine de Chevalier 2000. Yet another reblog. That was two years younger. I’d written ‘double decant’ on the bottle but we only did it once. More recognisable as a claret on the nose than the taste but elegant with some oak and fruit. From the WS, not sure of the price as it was sold in a mixed case but Berry Bros have it at £50.

Finally with some local cheese – again from the Packington shop – we opened a 2006 Cote Rotie from Domaine Garon (WS £25). This didn’t make much impression on me but it was late. An unusual feature of the evening was that the last two wines were only 12.5%, so no hangovers.

(Geoff: the Gaia Assyrtiko was a step up from the Hatzidakis – which is still an excellent wine. The Gaia seemed fresher whilst still retaining the power of the wine that I so love. For me, Assyrtiko has been the find of the year. Wonderful depth, changes beautifully in the glass as it softens out. Very glad I bought 3 botts from R. recently.)

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Birthplace of AOC – with lots of grapes.

closnerthe Chateauneuf-du-Pape is where the first AOC area was delimited in 1923. It also has 18 permitted varieties of grapes that can make up the wines for that AOC and the majority of wine made is red (90%). The wines that we tried on Sunday were a white Clos des Papes 2011 and a red Chateau La Nerthe 2005. They are two kilometres apart, south-east of the town, on slopes dominated by sandy soil. The white was interesting for the fact that six different grape varieties, in roughly equal quantities, are fermented together. All six (Clairette, Picardin, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc and Picpoul) contribute to a fine blend, confirmed by our tasting the wine, but how the winemaker can commit to that mix before fermentation is amazing. We’d not heard of that before; the nearest example being a field blend of Alsace (blogged before). The colour of light lemon yellow with a very slight green hue showed the wine’s  comparative youth. There was a slight viscosity which belied its massive 15% ABV. The nose was citrus fresh but quite dumb and suggested a richness; I thought I could detect a slight almond note. The palate was definitely rich and had a big mouth feel; dry, with some acidity, this was a powerful, fruity wine which needed strong flavoured food. The red La Nerthe had only five grape varieties dominated by Grenache (55%) with Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Counoise. These produced a very deeply-coloured wine with plenty of viscosity and a brown rim. The nose indicated power, fruit and alcohol – all tinged with a slight sweetness. The palate was well-balanced with the red fruit sweetness finishing with a mineral edge. The tannins were present but softened and held in by a weighty mouth feel. This was an attractive wine, all the better for not ending on the jammy note that wines of this magnitude can have. We thought the ten year ageing helped us with this red. The art of blending in this area is well-developed and possibly quite unique in this age of drinking mono-varietal wines. Their continued – and increasing – popularity is a credit to those wine-makers who know the attributes and drawbacks of their grapes. Both wines were very enjoyable.

[Richard: both these wines came from the WS and both are no longer available. CdP is not an area I know much about, despite having stayed in the region a few times. Too big, too many growers, no obvious quality structure like the Rhone villages and, of course, too alcoholic. The Nerthe came from a mixed half dozen of CdP reds which I must have bought in a spirit of adventure. This is the last one, at about £29. Very fruity, well integrated, expressive nose. An excellent vintage, now ready to drink. Must better than the last CdP ‘big name’ we tried.

The white was equally good. I bought 6 of these plus 6 Vieux Telegraph whites. Around £36 a bottle all in. A lot of money – it would buy a decent white burgundy but if you like the style these are among the best, possibly the best, white CdP. Only about 1,000 cases of the Clos made each year. I wondered if the wine was too young – they age very well – but it wasn’t. Powerful, good mouth feel, plenty of nuance in the flavour.]

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Two Tanners blind

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We shared a red and white blind tasting on Friday, Richard supplying the white while I delivered the red. Both wines, it transpired, were purchased from that wonderful wine company Tanners of Shrewsbury, where good knowledge of the wines they sell is really evident and greatly appreciated.

Richard had decanted the white wine which, when in the glass, assumed a light yellow colour, beautifully clear and bright (some wines do stand out in this respect) with some viscosity, but not much. The nose wasn’t particularly strong but its lemony freshness dominated quite a complexity of aromas. There was a slight caramel hint to the bouquet.

In the mouth, there was still plenty of acidity which balanced the quite ‘oily’ weight of the wine. The flavours were certainly tropical – pineapple, peach, apricot – but the distinctive notes were that of white stone fruits. This was a lovely sipping wine – and at 14.5% ABV deserved to be treated with some respect. It would last for ages in the glass and keep changing; Richard will confirm the taste later in the evening.

The wine was Rostaing’s La Bonnette Condrieu 2010, from a vineyard directly north of Condrieu village itself. The books state how this area – and its Viognier grape – has gained popularity since its near extinction in the 1960s, when only 30 acres were being planted, to the 405 acres of 2011. The wine is meant to be drunk young as, I suppose, its freshness is a beguiling part of the experience. A lovely wine.

[Richard, yes, delicious wine which continued to improve during the evening. Very typical viognier. Our second wine by Rostaing and another winner – actually both bought at the same time. Condrieu is never cheap, so £35.]

Richard: I took notes on the red, a Langhe Nebbiolo by Bocchino. Tasting it blind I found the nose recognisable but couldn’t place it. Annoying since I’d drunk this wine before, also bought from Tanners at the same time as Geoff. And we’d tasted a few Barolos at a recent WS Italian tasting in Brum (Tanners describe our wine as a ‘Barolo lookalike’). Brown rim, rich warm savoury on both nose and palate, full with a slight hint of alcohol. Some tannin giving structure. Excellent wine from an underrated region, which I’d buy again.

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Gigondas AC

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The wine is Domaine Les Pallieres ‘Les Racines’ 2010, a big Gigondas of 14.5% ABV. Gigondas, in the southern Rhone area, was the first of the villages to earn its own AC, back in 1971. The rugged, stony vineyards  ‘looks down on’ (the words of the Gigondans) its better known neighbour, Chateauneuf du Pape and has more calcareous-based rock. Up to 80% of the blend is Grenache with Syrah and Cinsault sharing 15% and Clairette making up the remaining 5%. For this wine, the average age of the vines is 65 years. The colour was dense black with a red rim but the most striking appearance was that of its viscosity. The nose was initially quite dumb but later developed gentle mint notes, suggesting Syrah, and some strawberry bouquet. The palate was one of dark fruits – particularly damson – and a surprising lack of tannin made the wine quite gentle, which contradicted our expectations. Although lacking in finesse this was still enjoyable, if a little rustic, and would best accompany food with pronounced flavours.

[Richard, from a WS mixed case of 2010 Gigondas, bought en primeur, around £19 all in. This wine made little impression on me – I didn’t take notes –  and is not a type I’d buy anymore. Too alcoholic and too long to mature. Not unpleasant of course, just a bit ordinary. I’ve another bottle to try next year so we’ll see.]

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Many a Sipp …

sipp

…… were purchased by Richard on 13th April 2013. Grand Cru Kirchberg de Ribeauville 2002 by Louis Sipp was purchased as part of a case of Kirchbergs from vintages between the years 1999 and 2009. This purchase was made direct from the outlet in the very pretty wine town that typified the region of Hansel and Gretel houses.

The colour was a deep yellow with no trace of green, bright and clear with some viscosity evident (13% ABV). The nose was very complex and shouted stewed fruit to me which moved to honey the longer it sat in the glass. It smelt fresh with the slight undertones of the expected kerosene and we could also detect melon.

This was not carried through into the palate, however, which was disappointing. The dominant taste was that of acidity but with slight honey notes. It didn’t carry much weight in the mouth.

The wine was an anti-climax and we both thought that there was a lack of intensity in the flavour, which is non-typical of an Alsace wine. Vintage conditions were variable with hot sun in early summer and rain and cold temperatures closer to picking time. Although well-made we said the wine was disappointing, not surprising considering the weather.

{Richard: we parked up in Ribeauville and walked up through the high street, with caves on every corner. Having heard that Sipp was a good maker we were pleased to find it immediately. A very welcoming (and generous) tasting room with three Germans getting stuck into the gewürztraminer with great enthusiasm. I bought a mixed riesling case (although not sold as such) of 6 different vintages. Only on leaving the cave and walking on further did we realise (you may have heard this before), that there was another Sipp, which we have yet to blog on. After all that this wine was a let down. Classic riesling nose I thought which didn’t follow through onto the taste which was dull after the first glass. Must try a later vintage soon.]

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