Monthly Archives: September 2015

Five unusual wines from Spain, and a beer.

malv fine beer gar cj sam

Back in Jerez. Angie visiting for the first time. We’ve been eating out every evening, tapas in various favourite places, so not much opportunity to evaluate local (non-sherry) wines, although last night we enjoyed a bottle of the lovely Barbazul tinto, a wine blogged on before.

Just off the Arenal square in Jerez is a bookshop (on c./Remedios) that sells a few interesting bottles as a sideline. The first two listed came from there.

Bermejo Malvasia Seco 2011

A very minimalist label – nothing on the bottle, only the neck. Can’t recall drinking either a dry Malvasia or a wine from Lanzarote, which this is. Ambitiously priced at €15, 13.5%. An interesting nose, grassy with a hint of melon. Very slight prickle on the tongue with a rich mouth feel. Quite long, dry with an early hint of sweetness, echoing the primary use of the grape in the production of Malmsey. No resemblance to any mainstream grape. Very nice but a little overpriced.

Fine Tempo 2010

Made by Zahara de la Sierra, within the Cadiz appellation, 14%, €12.50. This is a new bodega with only a few hectares. No information available in English that I could find. Syrah, Cabernet and Petit Verdot. Percentages not given although the first two are very evident. A classy wine with fruit and structure and a Rioja like savouriness. Instantly appealing but not a fruit bomb. Great value and I’d certainly buy again.

Garum 2013

Made in the Jerez area. Merlot 70%, Syrah 10%, Tempranillo 10% Petit Verdot 9%, Cabernet Sauvignon 1%. Had this in a restaurant, the excellent Reino de Leon, where it cost €14.5. Very well made wine, deep red,balanced, some spice, lots of depth.

Cortijo de Jara blanco 2014

Another Jerez wine with, I think, a unique blend of Gewurtztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc. The former is identifiable from the nose, the latter from the taste. Off dry, quite long and perfect with arroz de marinera and clams with garlic. About €13 in the restaurant so half that in a shop.

Destra Perlo Rubina Andalucian Pale Ale

Made in Jerez, the first beer I’ve seen from the town. We went to a very good tapas bar (Atuvera) in the St Miguel district and stopped at a neighbourhood festival on the way back. The beer was being sold by the makers from a pop-up bar. Quite spicy, refreshing, lots of flavour but not hoppy in an English pale ale way. €2.5, didn’t notice the ABV.

Samaruco 2013

From the same maker as the Garum (Bodegas Luiz Perez). Petit Verdot 40%, Merlot 30%, Syrah 30%. Unusually high percentage of PV. Another very good and appealing wine from this maker, spicy, well integrated, a hint of tannin (one year in oak). €20 at Antonio in Plaza Asuncion and a perfect accompaniment to an oxtail burger and some iberico pork steak.


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The right Sipp


Ribeauville contains two winemaker Sipps – Louis and Jean. This wine is from the latter and, as Richard will testify, the less easy to find, being further away from the large car-parks that dominate one end of the town. The wine is from 2009, named Les Terrasses du Clos and is also labelled H.D. Riesling. H.D. stands for higher density as Sipp’s website proclaims so, presumably, the potential yield per hectare is higher. That is certainly true of the ABV which is a lusty 14%, helped, no doubt, by the hot summer weather that year.

I tasted this blind and could not find any characteristics on the nose apart from a slight melon freshness. This did not change as it sat in the glass. The colours were a bright distinctively lemon yellow but its legs were not apparent. The palate was rich with the acidity staying high throughout the taste yet it was lacking in any fruit flavour (Richard called it ‘hollow’ in the mid-palate). What was almost unpleasant was its hardness, which was our abiding impression, unfortunately. The expected pronounced smell of petrol was nowhere to be seen – if that makes sense.

Richard was left with the majority of the bottle – he’ll report below.

[Richard: I have a clear memory of buying this wine. I asked the vivacious serveuse – a woman d’un certain age – which was her favourite riesling and she recommended the above. It was, I think, the most expensive as well, maybe around €14. Perhaps the two things are related. Given that 2009 was a good year in Alsace this wine was a disappointment with all the negatives Geoff mentions. Perhaps the first Sipp was the right one after all. The bottle has been vacuum corked so more to come.

Tried again on Thursday: more riesling character on the nose, increased lime flavour, smoother, less hard. An improvement.]

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Lack of Lidl surprise


Lidl and Aldi certainly have been creating lots of  column inches between them since their respective assaults on the supermarket wine business. All credit to their marketing departments who have got critics such as Bampfield, MacQuitty, and Goode et al. to rate their wines in the dailies. As Wilde wrote “There is only one thing worse than being talked about, that is not being talked about”. So, we thought, this week we’d add to the cellar full of words and review Lidl’s Minervois Domaine L’Estagnol 2014 from Jean d’Alibert.

Evidently, there are six local partners from Rieux contributing to this mini-co-operative. Minervois is a relatively large area north of the river Aude in the Languedoc, and is well known for producing inexpensive but interesting wines. 85% of the production is red but there are considerable variations in the styles with the more interesting coming from higher up and further away from the Aude valley.

I’m guessing that Lidl’s wine must have come from the flatter landscape. It was all very pleasant – purpley-red in colour with a nice raspberry fruit nose. The taste was one of spice and tannins, light in body (R., tasting blind, thought it was Cab Franc); this certainly was not rugged and characterful. It was the type of wine you’d find in a French supermarket when on holiday where it would wash down the local pates and cheeses. Not expensive, at 6.99 it’s good value, but we defy anyone to label it as ‘Outstanding’ and award it 90 points, as Lidl has.

[Richard: I couldn’t get any of the GSM grapes in this, either on the nose or in the mouth although it seems there is no mouvedre. Alibert is a bottling operation and I certainly formed the impression that the wine was made to Lidl’s specification rather than being crafted in a co-op and presented as the finished product. The label is a bit of a giveaway and I suspect there is no real Domaine L’Estangol in the area.  I’m not so sure about the value – I think you could do much better (from the WS for example) for the money.]

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Douce et Forte


We’ve blogged about wines from south-west area before, remarking on their distinctive nature and their quality. This Wine Society purchase is no exception. It is the Comte Philippe Nazelle 2009 Cabidos made from Petit Manseng grapes with an ABV of 14.5%. It’s a Vin du Pays Pyranees Atlantique which locates it somewhere around Pau.

The Petit Manseng, being a thick skinned grape, is resistant to rot and can therefore be left to hang well into a damper autumn. A long ‘hang time’ means more flavour, possibly  more sugars – hence the hefty ABV. (I love the  cause and effect of the viticultural processes; it sounds so simple but I’m sure it’s not, in practice).

The deep lemon-yellow colour reflected heralded its age but the legs were lighter than expected. The nose took some time to develop but the honey started to come through along with melon and then underripe peaches. It was nicely complex. The mouth feel was surprisingly soft, certainly weighty but with mouthwatering acidity as a balance to its richness. It was dry but without the bone-dryness that comes from minerality.

Well-made as it was, we both agreed we couldn’t drink a lot of it as the richness would be quite overpowering. It would be a fine match with a rich starter or possibly strong cheese at the end of a meal. Again, another interesting south-western wine.

As a footnote, Petit Manseng, despite its low yields, is attracting growers around the world because of its distinctive style. Has anyone seen others?

[Richard: another purchase from our trip to the Mothership earlier this year. No longer in stock (although they do a very well reviewed late picked sweet version from the same grape). About £10 I think. Interesting wine with sweet overtones yet piercing acidity. Very full on so, as Geoff suggests, a sipper not a quaffer. Stylistically it reminded me of certain beers – like JHB or Citra – which are lovely for one pint but overbearing for two.]

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