“This must surely be in the running for the title of Spain’s most interesting white grape ….” says Oz Clarke. I found this comment after tasting the wine on Sunday evening – if I had read it beforehand the disappointment would have been all the greater. Waitrose’s Valdesil Godello from the Valderossa region in north-west Spain appeared a bargain when reduced from £16 to £12.50 but we both thought it had found its right price level.
The slight green tinge to its pale yellow colour hinted at an acidity that was evident in the citrus aromas, in addition to some mineral qualities. We anticipated a fresh wine and weren’t disappointed. It had a thickish mouth feel and a persisting acidity which was an interesting combination. It reminded us, to some degree, of our much-loved Greek Assyrtiko but without the intensity. Unfortunately, that’s where our interest stalled. It was short and, well, just a bit ordinary. Certainly not the grape that Oz Clarke described – perhaps he had a better one.
(I must declare an aversion to the Sauvignon-esque style of whites. Unless they are well-made, slightly aged and subtle – rather than underripe nettles on a stick – I’m not convinced. Perhaps I will be one day.)
[Richard: acidic rather than ‘possessing acidity’ and thus rather disappointing. On reflection the reduced price is perhaps a bit steep.]
Two wines tasted recently, blind. I had the much easier one – is Cabernet Franc the most easily identifiable of the red grapes? This was served lightly chilled and had a clear purple appearance, a ‘damp hay’ nose with soft fruits and some tannin. I guessed Loire which was correct. The wine is a Chinon from the Co-op, Domaine de la Noblaies, around £8. Very drinkable and recommended. (The other wine is in the next post.)
Geoff didn’t taste this one. Another from the Aldi Lot series and one of the best. Gres de Montpelier is a comparatively new (2002) appellation which I don’t recall seeing before. This is a Syrah/Grenache blend, very pure, quite refined, lots of fruit, very drinkable and excellent value at £9.99. I bought two bottles – grabbed one in mistake for another wine as I saw that rare thing in Aldi – an open till with no customers – and they were consistently good.
The two wines we tried last Friday night were not very impressive, despite being lauded by wine critics or having a premium price tag. One white, the Huber Family Selection Gruner Veltliner, was from Asda and had been greatly recommended as typical of its style by a national newspaper. (I honestly can’t remember who.) The price was £6. The red, Gruyere, a Mac Forbes Pinot Noir from the Wine Society cost considerably more at £29, so the disappointment was greater.
The GV’s colour was greenish, clear, bright whilst showing some degree of alcohol. Its nose was dumb, faintly citrussy with none of the white pepper aromas typical of the grape. The heavy mouth feel turned quickly into a cloying style and, after a sweet fruit start, was rather hard. Superficially attractive it soon bored and became quite ordinary.
[Richard: agree with all of this, nowhere near refined enough to be a recommendable Gruner Veltliner.]
The Yarra Valley red had a slight haze and a distinct brown tinge. The delicate strawberry nose had both sweetness and a vegetative quality which promised a good wine. But, on tasting, the wine was short, lacking in depth and, to be frank, a touch sour. There was no promise of improvement and, at £29, was just not worth the price paid.
[Richard: the disappointment was compounded by the fact that this wine was found in the WS Fine Wine Room in Stevenage. Mac Forbes has a good name for Australian pinot and I had high hopes for this – not realised. The was a peculiar, rather synthetic aroma in the bottom of the glass as well as the sour taste. The closure was an Ardea seal, never previously encountered, which may be a coincidence. However I’m pleased to say that the WS have refunded the cost.]
Useful benchmarks both but neither good wines.
Franciacorta is a small region that sits between the wine saturated area (mostly Pinot Grigio and Prosecco) of north-east Italy and the more up-market (?) north-west Italy, of Barolo, Gavi and Barbera fame. DOCG (gained 1995) status can only be used for sparkling wine made in the classic method and this has kept the quality at a good level. We just don’t see a lot of it in the UK so when M & S halved the price to £9.50, I grabbed the last three bottles.
‘I Due Lare’ – Franciacorta DOCG is 100% Chardonnay made by the Gatti family near Lake Iseo. Its appearance is a deeper than average lemon colour with an obvious mousse. The nose had that ‘old cellars’ whiff – slightly yeasty – but with a cooked apple undertone and a hint of honey. Lovely! The apple taste persisted on the palate which was dry, long with clean almond finish. I loved the richness of flavour that is missing from many sparkling wines and cheaper champagnes and it knocks spots off Prosecco. A bargain!
[Richard: just the wrong side of dry for me – not really a ‘brut’ – but Angie loved it. Clearly well made with lots of flavour and length. Lasted well into the third day and certainly better than most (all) proseccos I’ve tasted.
As it happens we were in M&S Tamworth yesterday – where the Franciacorta came from – and I actually found some more reduced wines. Usually, by the time I get there, all the 50% off stuff is gone, with only a ‘sold out’ notice on the shelf label. These were both about £16>£8.
The one on the left is our third Canadian recently. Bright, slightly sweet Cabernet, easy to drink (12%), well balanced, lacking in complexity, very attractive – but not worth £16.
The Land of Hope is a South African pinot, tasting, as they often do to me, as if a dollop of Pinotage has been added to the blend. Slightly tarry and smokey, with lots of grip and persistence. Pretty good and we both preferred it to the Southbrook.]