Monthly Archives: November 2016

Almost 3%.


Apologies for the photo – it was a normal size wine glass.

Dark purple, no rim, lots of legs (14%), a sweet vanilla nose leading to a dry long complex taste – tangy and smokey – with balancing acidity. Benefitted from being served cool.

I got as far as syrah, New World, but couldn’t get the country because, as you may have guessed from the blog title, hardly any syrah is grown in California. No doubt considerably less is exported. I can’t recall trying one before.

From MWW, about £16 (six bottle price), one of their ‘small parcel’ range. An excellent drink – recommended – but now sold out online.

[Geoff: I greatly enjoyed the Cline, layered, delicate fruit with a drying finish; Northern Rhone in style. This difference between the bigger, fruitier Syrahs from hotter climates and the lighter, restrained styles is recognised by the wines’ marketeers – hence the label. Each style has its adherents. Cline wines are also stocked by Tanners at Shrewsbury.]


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Three from Languedoc


Tried these two three over Thursday and the weekend. All fully mature, rich and savoury, well integrated with good mouth feel. Very enjoyable.

All from the WS. Mas Jullien bought in 2011 for £11, the Bebian en primeur in 2008 for about £19, the d’Aupilhac in 2009 for £13.

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“An oddity” from Colares.


“An oddity” is how Oz Clarke describes the Ramisco grape. Jancis Robinson is only a little more informative when she uses the adjectives “demanding” and “endangered”. Colares is the Portuguese wine made from this grape, grown in the defined region north-west of Lisbon. It’s unusual because the vines are ungrafted (the phylloxera bug can’t live in the sandy soil) but also demanding because it takes very many years for the acidity and tannins to soften so as to become a quite refined wine. In 2010 there were less than 60 acres planted in the world. And Richard tested me with a blind tasting of this! He’s a demanding task master. Needless to say I didn’t spot it but thought it rather Sangiovese-like with its sour cherry flavours. It has no relation to that grape.

With colours of intense ruby with a brick rim (it was 2005 vintage), this wine had a spice, gently sour, savoury smell and was intriguingly enticing. I thought the palate a little disappointing after such a layered bouquet because it was quite a simple wine of medium length. Robinson thinks it complex in flavour which hints of  better examples around. It would go well with spicy food. I liked it and it would be great to show at an unusual grapes tasting – but make sure it’s well-aged.

[Richard: bit surprised Geoff didn’t get this one, ho ho. As you can see from the dust I’d rather forgotten about this wine. Bought from TWS in 2011 for £22, no longer available which I suppose isn’t surprising given its rarity. Actually it was pretty good, if a little rustic in taste. Only 12.5% – another characteristic of the grape, apparently, so perfect for a Sunday night. Went well with a carbonade flamade.]

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More reds


We tasted, on Sunday that rare thing, for us, at least – a low priced red wine. This is Chateau Capitoul 2012, bought by Geoff from The Co-op in Lichfield. Not a place where I’ve previously found much of interest.

The wine is from La Clape in Languedoc, usually in my experience, a source of well made and interesting wines. This didn’t disappoint despite being opened since Friday, under vacuum. Clear, bright, some grenache strawberry flavour, lean, dry but well balanced and complex. The back label claimed ‘torrefaction’, a word I’ve previously only seen associated with coffee – but there was a slight roasted aroma on the nose. Excellent value at £6.49.

[Geoff This wine is remarkable value; fresh and full of herbal flavours when it was opened on Friday night.

I think I’ve said this before but the Co-op’s larger stores have an eclectic wine selection, as if a keen and knowledgeable amateur has made the selections. There is another 15% discount if you buy 4 botts – it really is worth seeking out and the shelves are not packed with the usual branded labels and thousands of varieties of Prosecco. Quite refreshing]



Also tasted was La Volte 2014 (MWW £18). This is a Merlot, CS, Sangiovese blend, 70/15/15. I didn’t spot the merlot. A very easy to drink, savoury, full bodied wine which I’ve always liked.

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Weekend wines (red)

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No Geoff this weekend, though he did taste one of the wines.

With pizza on Thursday night Angie and I tried another from Aldi’s Lot series, no 17 – Australian shiraz, at the usual £9.95. Despite a claimed 14.5% it was very quaffable with some decent acidity and was still going strong on Sunday night. Recommended.

On Saturday the neighbours came round for a meal. Steve is a Rioja fan so I opened a magnum of Conde de Valdemar GR 1994, purchased from MWW for a bargain £20 in early 2013. Wine writers are usually keen to stress that the wine they are tasting is from a larger bottle – ‘en magnum’ – as they invariably say. This is because the larger bottle size slows the ageing process as there is roughly same amount of oxygen for double the amount of wine. I’ve no idea since you’d need an identical 75 cl bottle as a comparator. Anyway the Rioja was nicely mature and very drinkable with a lean fresh feel. I forgot to vacuum seal it until 12 hours on so by the time Geoff tried it, it was, he reported, fading quickly in the glass.

Steve also likes port so we tried two half bottles from a mixed case I bought a few years ago. Previously blogged on here. The Graham’s was clearly the better wine though there was a woody nose which persisted in the glass and detracted somewhat. The Dow’s was pleasant but lacked complexity. Probably drunk too young to get the best from the bottles thought they were both very attractive.

Finally a Ch Vignelaure, a cabernet/shiraz mix (70/30) from Provence (WS £16). Lots of fruit, plenty of depth and body, a very savoury wine.

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Birthday wine (part 2)


Following my white Burgundy, Richard supplied a red wine from about 150 miles further south, namely the Cote Rotie in the northern Rhone. We have blogged this before but it was great to rekindle an old flame.

The ‘roasted slope’, centred on the left bank town of Ampuis, has south-east facing vineyards that rise vertiginously, sometimes with as much as 60% incline. This makes working the granite based soils very difficult and there is often only two or three vines in the width of the terracing. The slope does get ‘roasted’ but can produce some very fine Syrahs, delicate and perfumed, rather than the heavier styles – although it can produce those as well.

Cote Rotie ‘Ampodium’ 2010 from Rostaing has an ABV of 13.5% and is pure Syrah. The medium intense ruby colour was lighter than I expected. The nose I can best describe as smelling a raspberry-ripple ice cream – all vanilla and light red fruits. There was a warm, comforting feeling about this smell (probably thanks to the vanilla) but little of the expected pepper. The delicate notes changed to blueberry as it sat in the glass. The mouth feel, as Richard stated, had an attractive leanness and purity helped by the acidity which was maintained throughout. I had an immediate flavour of almonds but this did not last. The relative youth of the wine came through in all the attractive fruit but this was underscored with the maturing notes of vanilla; its tannins were present but not obtrusive. This was a really enjoyable wine which will go on for a few years yet.

[Richard: interesting that the white pepper nose Geoff remarked on two years ago has, for him, vanished. I thought it was still there, but only just. Age or bottle variation – who knows? Check back here in 2018. Still a lovely balanced wine  – and my favourite syrah –  though I marginally preferred it on first tasting.]

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Birthday wine


It’s easy to remember Geoff’s birthday – the whole country celebrates with fireworks. He was in London on the day but we got together on Sunday evening with some wine befitting a such an auspicious occasion (he’s 64, since you ask). As you can see it was a white burgundy (Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet Folatieres) with some bottle age. The rather tatty state of the bottle is due to the Waitrose ‘reduced price’ label being (partially) removed.

Tasted blind, from a decanter. Bright straw yellow in the glass – more New World than Old, on the nose a rich toffee aroma, almost sweet with a hint of struck match. This last enabled me – not very confidently – to suggest southern Burgundy. A long, powerful, lemony, complex taste, the richness being well balanced by some acidity. Geoff’s attempt to auto-suggest lime didn’t work for me. A classy, mature wine with plenty of life which went well with some soft cheese and walnuts.

[Geoff: I was surprised by the lime notes of this wine, which, for me, dominated the lemony elements. It was more delicate than I expected it to be but I believe that is the style of a Puligny. Benjamin Lewin MW regards its “steely minerality, the precision in the fruits, the sense of backbone” as being the “quintessence of white Burgundy” – and who are we to argue.]

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