Monthly Archives: August 2016

Flying solo

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Last Saturday I had the very great pleasure of opening a bottle of Pernand-Vergelesses Les Combottes 2012 from Roland Rapet. M & S were selling them off relatively cheaply and I had bought some in a mix with other Burgundies and some claret. When M & S do this there are bargains to be had because they also throw in 25% discount for 6 wines; this cost about £15.

PV is a village west of Aloxe-Corton and thus one of the most northern of the Cote de Beaune. It produces both red and white wines and represents good value for money – if that epithet can be applied to Burgundy wines at the moment. However, speaking personally, I’d rather have one of these bottles than two wines of average quality.

The colour was pale yellow, very slightly green, beautifully clear with some viscosity showing. The complex smell was lemon and quince, pungent, concentrated and slightly smokey. The abiding impression from the palate was one of power. The very long dry finish came after the lemon/lime mid-palate and a rich quality that was balanced by the acidity. Freshness, finesse and full of flavour were all the ‘fs’ I could think.

The white Burgundy characteristic I struggle with is ‘hazelnuts’. I could never apply it to Burgundy I had drunk – until I bought and tried some green hazelnuts (cobnuts). And there it was, that Burgundy note. So, roasted hazelnuts are not applicable but fresh nuts are. The PV had this quality. A superb wine from a good vintage.

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Bank Holiday tomorrow…

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Round to Geoff’s – thus avoiding Songs of Praise, and we got into the bank holiday mood (even thought we are both retired) by trying three wines, all blind for me.

First was a methode champenoise – I guessed this from hearing the noise of the cork being released which was a loud pop rather than a hiss. Clear and bright with a fine, but not powerful mousse. Slightly chalky nose, slightly sweet, a little hard on the finish all led me to suggest a Loire, which was correct.

The Marsannay was easy to guess as a Burgundian chardonnay, just from Geoff’s body (and actual) language – it’s his favourite wine. Rather atypical nose, little matchstick, some oak, a little acidic. Good mouthfeel but again slightly bitter on the finish. Needless to say I had no idea where in Burgundy it came from.

Finally an Italian red, served lightly chilled. Light red, cherry, raspberry flavour, again slightly bitter, rather like a dry lambrusco. I guessed northern Italy and wondered if it might be from the Veneto as it tasted rather like wines I drunk in Venice, a few years ago. Unfortunately though, I kept that thought to myself so it didn’t count.

[Geoff: I’d just like to add, just in case our reader is a member of the medical profession, that we had less than a glass of each wine.

Richard was spot on by identifying Saumur, very impressive. We thought it was an acceptable, if one-dimensional, fizz. However, there are a lot of very ordinary champagnes around at the moment for a lot more money. This cost £9 from Sainsbury’s which was a similar price to the Marzemino red in their Taste the Difference range. The red was a good accompaniment to the salad/fennel salami/mozzarella starter that Claire and I had later. I thought the Marsannay was a tad past its best, but still good, and have got two more from a more recent vintage. It’s the most northerly AC of the Cote d’Or and probably better known for its rose.]

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Hamlet Act 1, Scene 2

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Oh dear, I feel like Hamlet in the second scene of the play. Everyone enjoying themselves in court, the king and queen of Denmark proclaiming great love for each other whilst a sullen teenage youth mopes in the corner. Looking at the reviews of this wine there is a universal admiration for its power, its potential and its Parker points.

I’m sorry to be the pooper but I didn’t like it – or, to be deferential, it didn’t like me.

Chateauneuf du Pape Vieux Telegraph Le Crau 2010, 14.5% H Brunier, the label proclaimed – although I tasted it blind.

Slightly brick coloured on the rim, the wine was a dense red, almost black colour with very thick windows. No particular fruit stood out (suggesting a blend) but the nose was a mix of the black fruits. The strongest smell I detected was figs. The palate was full flavoured and obviously powerful (I was convinced of Grenache with others by this stage) and tannic. There was also an earthy quality which didn’t appeal and it was relatively short. It certainly needed food to bring out some fruit which, for me, was distinctly lacking.

It may be that the wine is starting its ‘dumb phrase’ – like a teenager – and will emerge into an attractive adult but, from this teenager, it wasn’t for me. We had drunk Rhone wines that were more to my taste, I’ll let Richard provide the links.

[Richard: from Tanners, £33. This will be, I expect, my last attempt to understand why wine lovers bang on about Chateauneuf de Pape. I’ve previously blogged on this – occasionally coming across a good one, but mostly I find them too big and too heavy. I’d hoped that this wine, being from a very reputable maker might show some finesse and it wasn’t as unforgiving as some I’ve tried but ultimately it was a wine to respect rather than admire. Great if you like the style but I’ve come to realise I don’t, much. I was prompted to open it after reading an article saying that CdPs are at their best after 6 years. This was certainly mature and, as I’ve got 5 left I’ll keep them for a while.]

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Dao white

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This was a new one for me and, tasted blind, I was fumbling around the Mediterranean for its origins. Southern Italy, Sicily, Spain all received the thumbs down.

So, Portugal it turned out to be and made from a rare grape variety – proclaimed as Portugal’s best white – called the Encruzado.  Quinta de Saes 2013 Reserva Encruzado is from the granite-dominated Dao region in the centre of Portugal, probably better known for full, tannic red wines (though that is now changing/has changed). There are not many acres of Encruzado because it’s difficult to manage and prone to oxidise. However, when looked after, these wines have tremendous ageing potential.

The colours of lemon-yellow with green tinges suggested the freshness of acidity and this was confirmed on the nose of lemon mixed with a ripe peach. This was a rich smelling wine with a slight whiff of oxidisation but not unattractive for that. There were herby notes on the nose – all very complex.

The palate was medium length, dry initially but, as it sat in the glass, developed a sweetness. The vanilla flavours suggested oak contact, something which suits Encruzado I established later, and there was a heavy feel to the wine. Again, research showed that the wine develops well on its lees which would account for the richness and the almost Burgundian notes.

[Richard : from the WS, £13. Selected because of two good reviews by WS members. Very nice drink, plenty going on. The sweetness we noticed faded on day 2.]

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Another obscure grape (or grapes)

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Táganan 2014 (Canary Islands), £20.

We both did a blind tasting on Friday. Mine was a white with a deep yellow colour and a fabulous Burgundian like nose with hints of matchstick. Obviously it wasn’t Burgundy – too easy – so like Geoff I was baffled as the taste wasn’t anything I recalled. Nice viscous mouth feel, ripe, long, high acidity, slightly salty/bitter finish. Later it became rather sour and was always lacking fruit. I preferred it more than Geoff, just as well since I’ve actually got a bottle – we bought one each from the same supplier (Vin Cognito) recently. Another irritating wax top completed the conceptual similarities between the two wines taste.

[Geoff: it’s definitely ‘grapes’, Richard (see title). It is what’s called an ‘indicative blend’ i.e. indigenous grapes in varying quantities, possibly a field blend. The only grape I recognised out of a long list was Malvasia. As regards the taste, I wasn’t so convinced as my drinking chum. Later on, the wine’s sulphur started to dominate (overused perhaps, to keep stability?) and the lack of real finesse started to detract from my enjoyment. In more prosaic terms – it became a bit ordinary. At £20, rather expensive for ordinary.]

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Baga grape – all controversy

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The red wine we tried on Friday is made from the challenging Baga grape by a controversial wine-maker’s daughter.

The grape’s challenging because, traditionally, its dominant tannins made it unpalatably raw when young whilst softening to a fruitless taste when drinkable. Lovely. This meant the grape was used less as Portugal, and the Dao and Bairrada in particular, searched for larger markets for their table wines. Its decline was arrested, in Bairrada, by anti-authoritian Luis Pato, whose daughter Filipa makes Nossa Calceiro Tinto 2011, my blind challenge. The Bairrada is west of the Dao region, south of Porto and subject to a lot of Atlantic damp which can create mould on the thin-skinned berries. As the name implies, it thrives in limestone soils.

Purple-rimmed and black in colour this was a wine smelling of vanilla, coconut, wood and a gentle hint of blackberry. The legs promised much weight. The palate was attractively fruity; tannins were present but nicely so, the mid-palate being pleasantly fruit-sweet. Fortunately, it dried on the finish which made it rather-moreish and a pleasant, but not a particularly complex, drink.

I had no idea, by the way, of the variety or region when challenged, as Richard is wont to do. The best I could muster was a fruity Grenache from the south of France.

[Richard: from the WS, at a rather ambitious £25, not least because, as Geoff indicates, there’s not much complexity. I’m reminded of Samuel Johnson’s (or Mark Twain’s) statement – ‘worth seeing but not worth going to see’, translated into wine tasting. I served it slightly chilled but not decanted. It came with a wax top for no obvious reason as I couldn’t see it would benefit from further ageing.]

 

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Never before blogged (2)

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No, Richard and I are not financed by the Greek wine industry but here is yet another interesting wine from the Peloponnese – Nemea Reserve 2011 from Semeli Wines, north of the town of Nemea. It is made from the Agiorgitiko grape, Greece’s most widely planted red variety, but better grown at higher (cooler) altitudes where the resultant acidity gives some structure. It’s the only variety allowed in the Nemea appellation.

So much for the background. What did it (blind) taste like?

The colour was a consistent block of black/red and it showed its viscosity and weight in the obvious tears. The smell, faintly menthol, was of plums, damsons and liquorice which later changed to cherry as it sat in the glass. This was an attractive nose which promised much. The palate was tannic structured, polished and rich but with a lean finish, so much so I ventured a traditional Rioja for its origin. There was an alluring spiciness to it; we both admired it even though it was a little on the short side.

There was a caveat, however. After about 30 minutes opened and sitting in the glass, it lost its sophistication and became distinctly raw, with the tannins barging their way to the forefront. Whether this was its age or an underlying lack of quality it is difficult to say but we would have liked it to maintain those lovely deep fruit tones of the initial tasting.

So, overall, good but not brilliant, initially wonderful but then declined. (There goes the sponsors’ money.)

[Richard: or maybe not since the raw taste had passed when I tried the wine an hour later. The wine was back to its previous state with the characteristics Geoff describes. Very drinkable over an evening with a homemade pizza bianco. I picked up the wine at Rhodes Airport Duty Free for €12.]

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