Monthly Archives: December 2015

Three Christmas Reds

1 1 (1) 1 (2)


The Megas 2010 (WS £23) is from Greece and we (the few that drank red) tried it on Christmas Day with roast pork. This wine has been very well reviewed but I wasn’t convinced. Well made, lots of fruit with character and depth, rather farmyard nose. However it had a raw, edgy feel in the mouth which I thought might disappear with time or on day 2 but it didn’t.

Despite being from a different country (Portugal) and vintage, with different grapes the Vinha Pan 2005 (WS £30) was very similar – even down to the edgy feel. Perhaps it’s me. This one could have been usefully decanted and/or kept a few years, although it is within the WS drinking window.

The Langhe Monti 2010 was a present but is from Laithwaites (reduced to £25). That rarity – a 100% Italian merlot, only made in good years. Too strong at 15% and rather one dimensional, as merlot can be. Clearly overpriced at the pre-sale level, less so now but the money would buy you a decent Chianti, even allowing for the vagaries of the area.


Conclusion – all interesting but none were exceptional or wines I would buy again.


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Special occasions – part 2




Another pre-Christmas blind tasting held at No 14.

Colour: light ruby, medium alcohol, brick red rim.

Nose: bold, smoky, ‘forest floor’,  sweet red fruits, some vegetal notes.

Palate: cherry/raspberry reds, long, soft tannins, savoury, light in weight. Ready for drinking.

The pinot noir qualities were obvious on the nose and yet not so dominant on the palate. I plumped for French burgundy and, because of its softness, ventured Beaune rather than further north. It was a well-made wine, very pleasurable to drink on its own; I think care would be needed with the accompanying food because of its delicacy.

This was Beaune 1er cru Les Teuron 2009 (Dmne. Gay)

A pleasure to drink – happy New Year.

[Richard: another from Yapp, around £30. Well made with some character. Sutton’s own ‘Mr Burgundy’ spot on with the identification.]



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Special occasions



Are wines for special occasions or do they make occasions special?

This wine was the first of two from Richard’s slowly declining stock and it was a joy. Laurent Perrier 2004 Brut Millesime is consistently well-reviewed so these few words will add to the praise.

The deep lemon colour and the lack of any green hues indicated age (it was tasted blind) and its fine mousse proclaimed a good pedigree. The nose was deep apples but still delicate. This delicacy was taken forward to the palate which showed light, refreshing and still sherbet-like qualities. The acidity was wonderfully balanced.

I had attended a vintage champagne tasting some months ago and was struck by the richness of each wine – so much so that I craved for the freshness that this LP vintage had. This is what stood out for me – 04 vintage yet still showing great youth and vibrancy. There is no indication of the blend; my guess is that the chardonnay percentage is high. Excellent.

[Richard: bit of both is my answer to Geoff’s question although I don’t need much encouragement to open a bottle of champagne. I bought 6 of these a couple of years ago (MWW, £30 each) and they’ve aged well. A decent champagne, rather too light for me as I prefer the pinot dominated blends. Drinking well on day two.]

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Pretty sure the future’s not orange…



Geoff hosting this Sunday. A rainy night and the first tried wine had often been on his mind, namely Tbilvino Qvevris 2012 from Georgia (M&S, 11.5%, about £10). Not tasted blind as I have no experience of Georgian wines or grapes. Not alone in that, I’m sure. But – this is not our first amphora wine. We tried this one, from Sicily, in March and weren’t much impressed. As it turned out the the wines were quite similar in the impression they left with the same phrase – ‘one-dimensional’ – reappearing. This was orange/amber, very bright, shy, rather musty, white-Rhone style nose. Medium length, low acidity, no recognisable grape variety you could latch onto. A bit similar to dry sherry and it certainly coped with with some smoked anchovies.




The second wine was tasted blind and I got as far as NZ chardonnay which is far better than my usual efforts. Half bottle of Kumeu River 2011 (WS, now out of stock). Light green/pale yellow, some ‘burnt match’ on the nose. A bit sweeter than the lemony nose leads you took expect but nowhere near an Aussie tropical fruit bomb – which is why I went for the cooler climate NZ. Good acidity. A classy Burgundian style drink.

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Prieure de Saint Jean de Bebian 2008



We have written about this wine before [Richard: actually the 2007] and claimed that it was well-made but too young. It was, therefore, good to revisit the wine probably 30 months later. The wine is an AC Languedoc from a low lying commune north-east of Beziers. It comprises the classic southern Rhone blend of grapes – syrah, grenache and mourvedre. To be frank, I’m not greatly struck by many southern Rhones but, this was a wonderful exception.

Brick red in colour there was a lack of clarity in its looks but the 14.5% ABV was proclaimed by some fairly thick legs. A red fruit nose suggested Pinot but its richness confirmed the Syrah grape element. It was full on and fruity. The palate was powerful – rich and smooth with well-integrated tannins – and pleasure to drink. It had balance and, although not subtle, had good balance and harmony. Those 30 months had made a big difference to the wine – it was a pleasure to drink.

[Richard: this was part of a mixed case of southern French wines from the WS and probably the most expensive at around £20. The was very enjoyable, excellent varietal nose, more complex than many but with lots of fruit, clearly well made, nicely balanced. I have a few of the 2007s left and should revisit them sometime.]

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‘The greatest white wine commune on earth’.


Walter Pater, 19th century critic of the arts, coined a famous observation “All art constantly aspires to the condition of music”. He claimed that the purely aesthetic response that music generates is the goal for all other forms of the Arts. I would like to adapt Pater’s comment and state ‘All white wines constantly aspire to the condition of white Burgundy’ , especially after tasting Sauzet’s  Puligny Montrachet ‘Les Referts’ 2011. This premier cru vineyard abuts the Meursault AC to the north but the wine is significantly different the broader flavours of Meursault.

This pale yellow green wine had the aroma of ‘struck match’, a descriptor so loved by Burgundy critics but very appropriate in this instance. It was a wine that could be smelt at all evening and still find some nuances not experienced previously. There was lemon acidity but little evidence of oak, although it had been matured in oak barrels. The flavour – a wonderful combination of lemon and lime – was lean, persistent and focussed but, as it sat in the glass, also developed a subtle, floral quality which suggests that this wine would change for a few years yet. I think we drunk it in its youthful stage; it would be great to try it in three/four years time.

Clive Coates MW describes Puligny Montrachet as ‘the greatest white wine commune on earth’. The description hasn’t Pater’s eloquence but I might agree with the sentiments. I just need to test a few more for confirmation!

[Richard: bottle three from a case of six 2011s by Sauzet from six different parts of Burgundy. Fortunately Geoff has a very large book listing all the areas, in considerable detail. Bottle two, with a link to bottle one, is discussed here. Looking for the price (around £70 paid) I came across the WS tasting note, ‘broad and weighty Puligny from a vineyard towards the bottom of the slope with rich soils. 2014 to 2017.’ I think they have the drinking window right – the bottle developed well over the rest of the evening but the description is the exact opposite of what I tasted. Fine, detailed, not in the least heavy, delicate and not mouth filling, though persistent. Incidentally, this is the first time I’ve really got the ‘struck match’ aroma, quite marked here.]


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Pinot Noir at home


The village of Aloxe-Corton is at the northern end of the Cote de Beaune in Burgundy and, unlike the southern end of this sub-region produces more reds than whites. The reds are reputed to have the firmness of the Cote de Nuits which is where I placed this wine in Richard’s blind tasting. The wine was Francois Gay’s Aloxe-Corton 2009 (13%) and a compelling wine.

The colour was dark – for a Pinot Noir – with a brick rim. A slight mustiness on the nose came and went, and was not unattractive but the dominant aromas were that of ripe cherries. Woodiness on the palate was evident, but again did not detract from our enjoyment. The wine was savoury, quite weighty and had a drying finish. This was at its best, a full-flavoured mouthful – with depth that we haven’t found in New World offerings of the same grape variety.


[Richard: another from the Yapp ‘2009s are fabulous – you must buy some’ mixed case, about £30. Some suggestion on Cellartracker that this will continue to improve but we didn’t think so. Two bottles left so we’ll see. Very nice, soft pinot, lots of fruit, unmistakably French. (Geoff spotted northern Cotes de Beaune before seeing the label). The woodiness came and went but wasn’t a detraction.]


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