Happy New Year to our reader



One new year and two renowned wines.

My role was to blind taste the red wine which, I admit, I struggled to pick. The appearance was an intense, almost black colour rimmed with the tell-tale sign of aging – a brick red rim. The legs showed presence of some alcohol but not overmuch.

The nose was wonderful. A great combination of smokey sweetness mixed with tar and some vegetative notes. This wine had been opened, but not decanted, for 24 hours which showed the power of what we were drinking, something I should have picked up on when venturing a Pinot Noir. It certainly wasn’t. My next guess, hinted at by the sweetness (and because I like it) was a Syrah but it wasn’t that either.

The palate showed savoury notes, sweetness matched to acidity and some tannins but the dominant sensation was one of power. The long finish was dry. It also had the (positive) cough mixture notes that added to its complexity. This was a wine which could go on for years – 10, 15, 20 – and yet was approachable now, but it did need the 24 hour breathing period.

It was the second wine of Vega Sicilia, Bodegas y Vinedos; the rather detailed label also proclaiming Tinto Valbuena 5 (meaning 5 years in cask) and its DOC Ribera del Duoro of 2002 vintage and having 14% ABV. The grape varieties are Tempranillo, Merlot and Cab Sav.

This would accompany a rich Spanish stew – but it’s not a fruit brute of wine, despite its power, because of its leanness and attractive acidity. A very good start to the year.

[Richard: many years ago – around 1978 – just as I was getting into wine with my old friend John (who may well be the reader in the blog title above) – we decided, after much hesitation, to buy a bottle of Vega Sicilia. My memory is that is cost £12 (probably from Vintage Wines). I can’t remember the vintage but can recall being rather underwhelmed. These days mature examples of Vega Sicilia are over £200 a bottle and even this second wine was £75 (WS, no longer available). I’d always wanted to try it again so splashed out on this bottle in 2010. Worth it? As an example of absolutely top class Ribera I’d say yes. Unendingly complex on the nose and in the mouth, balanced, savoury with great length. Another of those rare wines where you wish the bottle would never empty. Just heard from John: ‘luscious thick and red, amazing oaky nose, lasted minutes on the mouth. Trouble was we/I had had a few drinks before and did not give such a legend its proper consideration’.]

Richard: the other wine was a white burgundy – which I knew before tasting. Didn’t identify it as a Meursalt (Buisson-Charles, 2010, from Tanners) but should have guessed as Geoff has quite a few bottles from the area. Obviously chardonnay, lemony nose – no matchstick that I could smell – yellow green, brilliantly clear, a rich opulent mouth feel with balancing acidity. Complex, intense and powerful – really a food wine – but totally delicious.






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