Angie had the church singing group round on Sunday afternoon so we moved our semi-regular tasting to Geoff’s, down the road.
First was a Delicado Fino (Waitress £14 for 50cl). I blogged on the very good Delicado Amontillado recently so I was pleased to retaste this. Powerful, room-filling nutty nose, tangy, musty flor taste (a good thing), lots of depth and complexity, appealingly bright. A step up from a Tio Pepe, also made by Gonzalez Byass.
Next was a claret I know quite well having drunk several vintages (including this one) as part of various WS mixed Bordeaux cases. Chateau Beaumont 2010. (The wine is a WS favourite). First time from a half bottle though. Big red fruit nose, some blackberry, full tangy taste with balancing acidity. Roughly 50-50 cabernet and merlot. At 14% too powerful to be described as a ‘luncheon claret’ but in that style. It would be interesting to try with food and/or after a few years.
Finally, that rarity, at least for me – Italian red. I hardly ever buy it, for reasons previously explained. So this was an interesting opportunity. The wine was a 2010 aglianico from Vesevo (M&S, about £10). First impression was a strong vanilla nose. Some chocolate on the taste, thin mouth feel – like Rioja but in a good way. Rich and interesting at first but it faded quickly in the mouth and finished slightly sweet, perhaps because it had been open 24 hours. Glad to try it but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
[Geoff. Good to host Richard for a change. How evocative are smells and flavours! The fino took me straight back to Jerez and the dark, intimate bars dotted around the town where you can buy fresh, very light fino and manzanilla accompanied by manchego or an equally salty dish.
As regards the two reds, I was pleased I liked them. I admit to preferring white wines to reds but these restored my faith somewhat. I bought some half bottles to prevent the half-drunk bottles losing their freshness and the claret didn’t disappoint. Certainly full flavoured but still well-structured and fresh in the mouth. I have ‘found’ the southern Italian reds relatively recently and really enjoy their tangy, tart flavour without the thickness/jammy quality that wines of this richness can have. Aglianico and Negroamora are great value wines, more attractive and consistent than many Chiantis (see Down at Heel). They’re better on day one – but with some bottle age – because of the low acidity and high tannin.]
Third week in November – must be Beaujolais Nouveau. Some people are a bit snooty about this wine – people on Twitter pointing out the WS (who have never sold Nouveau whilst I’ve been a member) sell ‘proper’ Beaujolais for a few pounds more. I think this misses the point, especially if you regard wine as an experience as much as a taste. ‘Taste of summer’ is a cliche but true, nonetheless. Quality can be variable year on year but this vintage is very drinkable. No banana, lots of fruit. Probably a coincidence but for the first time that I can remember the wine is not supplied by Duboeuf but by Bartier – not a name I know. From Waitrose £7.99.
We also tried a 2009 burgundy [Nuits Saint George Aux Murgers, Misset], part of a mixed case from Yapp [£35] who were very enthusiastic about the vintage. Several years cellaring was advised but opinion on Cellartracker was that this was ready and so it proved. Soft, lots of fruit, strong varietal character, good mouth feel, easy to drink (only 12.5%) with the only negative being a slightly murky appearance not evident in the photo. Classy label, as well.
Chile has a lot of things going for it as a wine region: a range of climates, both north to south and east to west; a lack of pollution; irrigation; and no phylloxera louse. The Aconcagua region is NW of Santiago; this wine being made from vines grown on sand just 7km from the cool coast. It obviously suits the Pinot Noir, a fussy vine at the best of times. The Clos des Fous, Pucalan Arenaria, cost £21 from the Wine Soc. and is another of Richard’s finds. The wine had been opened for 2 hours before tasting.
The rim colour was heading to brick-red but still intense in its depth. The nose was of bramble fruit rather than the red fruits typical of, say, an NZ Pinot but it had more subtlety. The palate showed tannins which lent the wine a structure, offset by the slight berry sweetness – yet it dried nicely at the finish. It had an attractive tangy quality.
The alcohol is a strapping 14.5% but the wine wears it lightly. A step up from the usual Chilean Pinot offerings and there is no bicycle on the label! Good with duck, mushroom dishes, ham – lovely.
[Richard: can’t claim much credit for this as it was well reviewed on the WS site by another member. Geoff identified grape and continent without much trouble. Excellent, pure pinot, more spicy than a burgundy, which lost some of its varietal character as the evening progressed.]
Nice to be back and to resume with a rarity from Castilla y Leon, namely Ermita Del Conde 2013 (Wine Soc. £11) The Albillo grape is confusing in having three different varieties, all very similar. This is the Albillo Mayor and the wine comes from a small vineyard (16 hectares) just outside the Ribero DO. As such, it is classed as a Vino de la Tierra.
Watery yellow in appearance, the nose had attractive fresh lemon and apple aromas – a little bit sherbet-like, as well. It had great mouth feel, the flavours being ripe melon with richness drying to a mineral finish. It was not unlike an un-oaked Burgundy, with that cliched ‘seam of acidity’ beloved of wine-writers. The finish was of medium length.
This is excellent value, a really well-made wine that would accompany stronger fish/shellfish flavours but also can be drunk, well-chilled as an aperitif. One of Richard’s rarities – well spotted!
[Richard: I had a credit at the WS – they are meticulous in refunding the cost of dodgy bottles – so looked for something interesting, as this proved to be. Never heard of or tried the grape before. Nothing to add to Geoff’s tasting note, just a good value, classy wine.]
I’ve never been much interested in food and wine matching, even when I’ve tried the ‘matching wines’ which restaurants which sometimes offer to accompany a tasting menu. The explanations of the sommelier as to how the taste of the wine complements the food never quite convinces. At home I just pick I wine I fancy, irrespective of the meal. But steak normally means claret and on Friday we had Chateau Cissac 2010 (WS, about £10) alongside a salad with cote de boeuf and chips. This was smooth and approachable, lots of fruit, not very tannic, 79% cabernet. But it didn’t really say ‘Bordeaux’ to me, as it used to – no ‘cigar box’ aroma. In the eighties we bought this wine en primeur a few times and my memory is that it had more sense of place then, although I’m sure it was also more tannic and less ready to drink after 5 years.
I also opened a 2008 Contino Rioja (WS, about £23), unusually made from 100% Garnacha. Geoff had passed on an unfinished bottle of 2011 Ogier Chateauneuf (M&S £20) which he didn’t rate. The main component of this wine is Grenache so I thought it might be an interesting comparison. In fact – very different. The CdeP showed lots of bright fruit but was rather anonymous. The Contino was much heavier (although it faded badly on day 2) and definitely Rioja in style. A curiosity but, as last year I’d rather have tempranillo.
Finally on Sunday, with chicken salad, a nice light burgundy, Beaune Premier Cru Teurons Domaine de Bellene, 2010 (WS, about £28). Soft and round, very easy to drink, little complexity (despite 50% new oak) but good of its type. Enough acidity to complement a dressed salad. Made by Potel, a WS favourite. I’ve never seen a back label with so much information. What it doesn’t tell you is that the grapes suffered from 80% millerandage (uneven berry size, reducing yield), not a word we have ever used before, I think. It may be the cause of the small production – only 2336 bottles.