Monthly Archives: December 2016

Buon Natale

Completely unplanned but this Christmas we were mainly drinking Italian reds, as follows:



Chianti Riecine 2014, £18 from Tanners. The best chianti around under (and possibly over) £20. Rescued from the recycling, not drunk in the garden. Pure, delicious cherry fruit. I’m tempted to say linear but I’m not totally sure of what that means in a wine context. Blogged before and liked just as much.



Angehi Donnafugata 2012, £20 from Waitrose. Described by their own website a ‘a soft red with an international taste’, which would have put me off had I seen it before purchase. It’s merlot and CS, which I think explains what they mean. Not the least bit Italian but a lovely mature wine. Very drinkable.



Chianti Brolio 2013, also from Waitrose, about £22. Harder with less fruit than the Riecine so not as enjoyable and rather overpriced. You’d be better off with the chianti that Ricasoli make for Waitrose’s own label, at half the price.



This was a Christmas present from Geoff, sourced from MWW. Rather surprisingly I tried a different vintage (1991) about five years ago, as part of a mixed WS case of Italian reds. Very tarry/leathery on first taste – the wine is kept in barrels until a few months before bottling –  but it soon comes round to deliver another easy-to-drink red yet with some complexity and depth. No DOCG classification because of the long barrel ageing.




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Garagistes, meaning people who make wine in garages, or similar, were a phenomenon of the 1990s. Not seen so much now, although in Alsace we visited a couple of growers who would qualify. However after the recent post on old cava and this post – we can propose a new meaning, namely people who drink wine found in garages. This latest was a present from Liz. No one has any idea how long it had been stored among the garden furniture and the half empty tins of paint – like many people Liz doesn’t actually keep her car in the garage. Incidentally her garage is part of the house structure and thus has, I would think, a more stable temperature which has helped keep the wine in very good condition.

Nor has anyone any idea where the port came from or the cost, although a 2001 article in The Scotsman shows the 1987 as costing £16, from Oddbins. There is also a Cellartracker review of the same wine in the same year. So it’s probably been garaged for at least ten years. Not a make I’ve ever seen before. There is some (conflicting) information on the net but it seems to be grapes selected by de Zellaer (who he?) and vinified by someone else.

After all that, a medium weight vintage port, very smooth, light red, fruity nose, rather one dimensional but very drinkable.


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The gift bearer …


Christmas Eve eve and Richard arrived bearing a gift. Neither frankincense nor myrrh, but gold in the form of Chambolle-Musigny 2012 by Domaine Hudelot-Baillet. (Okay, that’s it with the Christmas references). CM, as every reference book seems to say, is the most delicate of the Cote de Nuits reds but – as all reference books also say – there is a multitude of different styles from the commune. Logically, the second statement appears to negate the first. Anyway, our tasting showed the following.

A clean, bright wine, it had an intense, but light red colour with a brownish rim. As usual with good Pinot Noir, the smell was magnetic, each sniff revealing something interesting. The strong primary fruits were black cherry and cranberry but overlaying a slight vegetal note. Richard remarked on the deeper, beefier note. We also detected some spice – presumably from the oak ageing – and the firmer, herbaceous qualities of under-ripeness. This was so much more complex than a NZ Pinot.

The palate had grippy tannins which made it firm mouthful with the acidity keeping it lean. Light in weight, the under-ripe quality was still there, with Richard picking up a floral, violet note. Not a lush wine, this was beautifully restrained, and, yes, delicate. There was loads more development in this (village) wine as the tannins and acidity hinted. A lovely drop which confirmed my preference for lighter reds.

[Richard: a generous Christmas present from my father-in-law. Nothing much to add to Geoff’s very full and accurate description. A lovely French pinot which I really enjoyed drinking.]

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Jeepers, creepers…


…where did you get the champagne? (Actually MWW, £29).

I though I knew a fair bit about grower champagne but I’d never heard of this one, tried at Geoff’s, last night. The website reveals the most of the wine made is sold in the USA. Also, rather curiously, there is no location shown on the website, which merely says that the company is centred in Faverolles-et-Coëmy commune near Reims but that they have different production sites.

A blend of 37 parcels, 60% chardonnay. The winemaker post WWII used an American jeep to work in the vineyards, hence the name.

As the photo shows, a light mouse, though it was lively in the mouth with a shy nose. Quite dry, some complexity but after a while the taste became firm suggesting the wine needed more time – see next post.

When I lived in Nottingham in the 1980s I was fortunate to have a good friend (hi John), equally interested in wine, who had a cellar. Much of the wine we bought en primeur was kept there along with other odd bottles I thought would benefit from ageing. Among these was some Waitrose NV champagne, which I eventually finished off after we moved to Birmingham. And, as expected, the wine was greatly improved.

Thus I was very interested to try the above, found by Geoff at his Mum’s. Looking at the codes on the back label we think it was bottled in 1995. I tried it on day 3 and it was still lively in the mouth, of medium length with a rather rich, slightly sweet, stewed apple taste, with none of the harshness you sometimes get with cava. I’m not a Cava fan – too many dull bottles drunk in Spain – but this was fascinating and enjoyable.

[Geoff: there was a great contrast in the two sparklers. The Cava was fresh but with a roundness that comes with bottle age, more akin to bruised apples on my palate. The Jeepers had a more delicate and focussed style, possibly because of the preponderance of Chardonnay over the richer red grapes or the use of younger reserve wines. I’ll look forward to see how the other Jeepers mature over the next two years. It’s a good idea to buy NV champagne and sit on it whilst it develops a fuller style more like a vintage. By the way, 95% of champagne sales are NV]


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Four years on…


This blog has now been running for exactly four years (first post 19/12/2012).

Geoff and I had a vague idea about celebrating with something special and I hoped to do a retaste of our first ever wine but they are all gone so we tried – since a 2001 Rioja was the subject of our fist post –  a 2001 Roda 1, first blogged in 2014. Pretty good – much improved from our first try. Old Rioja nose, texture and flavour. Thumbs also from Steve, a friend, neighbour and Rioja fan.


I also opened another 2001, Baron de Chirel, first blogged in 2013 and then in May this year. An excellent wine, now at full maturity, savoury, meaty intense, very old school Rioja. Only a couple of glasses drunk and I expect the remainder, under vacuum to be still drinking very well on Thursday.

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I’ve been listening to modern jazz longer than I’ve been drinking wine. Jazz lovers are in a musical minority and are subject to a mixture of incredulity – ‘how can you listen to that?’ – and ridicule, as the (very funny) Fast Show sketch demonstrated. But, as Thelonious Monk once put it – ‘you’ve got to dig to dig it – you dig?’

All this is a precursor to the wine shown – spotted in Tanners recently when Geoff and I made our annual visit. A fresh and harmonious blend of the usual grapes (35% Grenache, 25% Carignan, 20% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre/Cinsault) with not a bum note in sight. More mainstream jazz than avant-garde, more Lester Young than Ornette Coleman, if that helps. Good value at about £11.

I’m sure we’ve mentioned Tanners before as a great place to buy wine but if you are in Shrewsbury , the excellent CSONS bistro is the place for lunch. Fabulous pork belly with salt roasted celeriac and a carrot/chorizo ragu.

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Four day wine.


Opened this on  Sunday but Geoff and I never got round to it and I only tried a small glass. Thought it fruity but not very interesting. Vacuum sealed then finished off the following Thursday when it was really very nice, in a New World syrah kind of way and greatly improved. Much more complexity and depth – a well made, classy wine. Expensive and possibly overpriced considering what £34 would buy you from Côte Rotie. From the WS, now out of stock.

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