Monthly Archives: May 2016

Aldi – that’s your Lot series

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Although a small range of thirteen wines, Aldi’s Lot series takes on Tesco’s Finest and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference ranges. The neck tag of Chateau Fauzan proclaims ‘This wine is unique’ and emphasises both topography and the vinification from the 10 hectare of vineyards north-east of Minervois in the Languedoc.

The grapes’ blend was 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 10% Carignan.

So, how was the wine? Colour, an intense red with purple rim and significant alcohol indicated. The nose was dominated by fruit, brambles mostly which were quite sweet to smell and low in acidity. There was a structure provided by some tannins which also helped dry the finish which was long. The wine was medium weight and not overly jammy on the finish. In style, this was more like a New World Syrah rather than the lighter Old World style. A good value wine, well-made and with some layers of complexity.

[Richard, I think the latest wines from the Lot series are the best yet and have enjoyed all the reds including the Metairie Du Bois which hasn’t been blogged. Still £9.99.]

 

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Now, not so (V)In Cognito

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Another wine from Vin Cognito, this time a white Priorat (north-east Spain, inland from Tarragona). I thought Priorat was an entirely red wine region [see below] but Blei, Clos Martina 2012 is made from the white Garnacha grape (86%) with some Xarel-lo and Pedro Ximenez. 14% ABV means a powerful wine but this wears its strength very lightly, there were hardly any tell-tale windows above a very deep lemon colour. The wine was exceptionally bright and beautifully clear.

On the nose, there was a strong presence of lemon overlaying a richness and very slight honey quality. Priorat is a hot area (accounting for the richness) but also mountainous, so I guess that the grapes are grown at altitude to maintain their acidity levels. The palate was a delight; dry, yes, but also very soft with a long finish. This was a very well-integrated wine where fullness and acidity were in balance. Six months in oak have probably helped smooth out the edges but there was not much of the tell-tale vanilla; the tropical fruit flavours were still in evidence. Richard and I really liked this and thought it ‘a find’.

[Richard: not cheap at £18 but still excellent value. As it happens we have tasted a white Priorat before – another classy wine.]

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A new supplier

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Geoff was looking for suppliers of Greek wine and came across Vin Cognito which has an interesting looking collection of wines from small and lesser known makers. The website is either quirky or irritatingly cute depending on your tolerance of things like ‘writing about wine is like dancing about architecture’, to be found on the home page. Ironically, as we say these days, the descriptions of their wines are extensive and tempting.

 

Thus one of my purchases was Mad Dog Shiraz which promised no jamminess (which I dislike) but ‘fruit ripeness and the vibrancy of tangier grapes’. Well, I’ve had jammier – from the Mont Ventoux area, for example, and this was a very easy to drink, very fruity wine (Angie loved it) but for me the lack of structure made it rather uninteresting and I’d prefer a decent Rhone at the same price – £18. Of course there are plenty (too many?) not very good Rhones at that price which aren’t as accurately described either.  And, although this was 14.5% I had no fear of a morning headache, which isn’t always the case with a village Gigondas, say.

Summary, good wine, well made, fair description, decent price – just not really to my taste.

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Geoff round for dinner

A convivial occasion so no notes taken. These were the wines.

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The Au Bon Climat was a  – rather expensive –  pinot noir from California. We found it easy to drink but disappointingly bland with none of the grip you would expect from an equivalent Burgundy. Opinion on Cellar Tracker, which Geoff checked this morning, was much the same.

Much better, and cheaper was Les Yeuses, a Pays D’Oc syrah from a vineyard roughly halfway between Montpelier and Beziers. From MWW, £9. Much more complex than the pinot, with lots of fruit. Very good value.

Geoff’s dislike of Sauvignon Blanc rivals my dislike of Gewurtztraminer so he should really comment on this. In essence it’s the perfect SB for people who don’t like SB in that it has none of the well known characteristics of the grape. Much more Burgundian in style (especially in the Section 94 cuveé) and it could pass for a chardonnay. A very classy wine. 2015 Dog Point Section 94, from WS, about £20.

Geoff – on the SB. Richard summed it up precisely as being perfect for those who dislike SB. Dogpoint claim extended contact with the lees when vinified and this must make a lot of difference. The wine loses those overt grassy/gooseberry notes and its acidity becoming more hay-like, broader and restrained. The question is why is it made like this? Too much SB around  at low prices? Is this style needed to be able to charge more? Whatever the reason, it was lovely.

Disappointed with Bon Climat – well made but just a nice sweetish red wine that was broad and a ‘crowd-pleaser’.

Les Yeuses was really good value, firmly structured, with hints of Syrah in the taste, powerful but not overly so and finishing dry and focussed. Excellent.

 

 

 

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Does too much wine affect your memory?

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Geoff claims I gave him the burgundy (Boussey, Monthelie, 2010) as a present. No memory of that whatsoever and I can’t see any purchase info in my emails or in my rudimentary – and out of date – wine database, so one of us must be wrong and/or losing it. A Google search doesn’t throw up any UK supplier or price, either.

Anyway – a very nice ‘luncheon burgundy’, not that the phrase is ever used. Brownish rim, faint pinot nose, not complex, a bit austere with some tannin but the wine does draw you in and you look forward to taking another sip.

The manzanilla (widely available, about £9) was a disappointment. I’ve visited Sanlucar – home of the wine –  several times and have some wonderful memories of great manza, especially from Osborne. This was very simple, initially sweet but that faded. None of the characteristic salt hint you expect. Just a generic fino really. Sanitised for the English market? Or not fresh enough? Who knows?

The Chirel has been blogged on before and just keeps getting better. It was still drinking very well 6 days on, under a Vacuvin seal. Rich, savoury, classic ‘old Rioja’ nose, terrific wine. Think it was about £20, from MWW and, as such, a bargain.

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The Odyssey

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Like Odysseus, we return to Greece after travels around other wine regions. And back to our old comrade Assyrtiko, the white grape grown on Santorini. The more I read about this island and its wines the more I’m fascinated by what the vineyard owners have to do in a difficult environment. The vines are low-trained like nests to protect the grapes from the winds; the vine is cut back to the root stock after 75 years and a new graft made (this makes some of the roots hundreds of years old therefore able to find water); the soil is volcanic and limestone hence the wines’ minerality; no phylloxera louse took hold here.

The wine we had on Sunday, Thalassatis, was from three vineyards on the island. In ancient times, the wine was mixed with sea water and although now discontinued that salt/mineral quality is still evident – rather like manzanilla sherry. Limpid (I love that word), light green in colour with medium alcohol, this wine smelt of greengage fruit but it wasn’t a strong nose. The flavours were both lemony acidity and rich with pronounced minerality so we had the sense of it being bone-dry but rich – a lovely combination. It’s recommended to be decanted for at least an hour but, as we’ve noted before, this is a day two white wine – the minerality softens to reveal rich, powerful flavours of stone fruits.

Not quite as fresh as the Gaia wild ferment but still a lovely wine.

[Richard: from the excellent Greek deli, near New Street station, about £18. Classy wine which I’d buy again.]

 

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