“Nectar? No ta.”

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Sunday and the usual blind tasting rules applied, R. decanting 30 mins before pouring an inch into two glasses. Look, discuss, smell, discuss, taste, more discussion. “Well?” Richard inquired. “Old world.” Correct. “Is it Italy?”. No. “Southern French?” No. “Has to be Bordeaux, then.” Correct. Then we trailed off into Left/Right Bank source.

The wine? Chateau de la Grave Nectar 2010 14% ABV (90% Merlot, 10% CS)

Now my defence.

This was probably the most unlikely candidate for a claret that I’ve ever tried. Intensely black/red with a slight brick rim; very viscous, violet-perfumed with spicy black cherry notes, it yelled out hot climate from the glass. (2010 was a hot year; now being called a classic by some, controversial by others). The palate was a bruiser. Heavyweight, long, very concentrated, the tannins well-integrated but into the red fruit sweetness that dominated. Not a twig of cedar, a shaving of pencil or smudge of graphite could be detected. Great with a big stew, barbecue or cassoulet.

Absolutely nothing wrong with the wine but certainly not typical of the region. And, unfortunately, not for me. It might be more subtle given a few years but Merlot is not known for its ageing.

[Richard: every six months TWS send out a Fine Wine list which includes a page of ‘small wonders’ – the unnecessarily cute name denoting fine wines under £20. The above was only £12.50 which is low-end for fine wine although the heavy bottle and pretentious name/label seem to be an attempt to position the wine a bit higher up the scale. As did the taste – too sweet and international in style, with no sense of place. Given the way TWS promoted it I expected more than was delivered. Fine if you like Merlot, although you could probably better spend your money on something from Chile.]

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We also tasted the above – not blind as Geoff had to do a detailed note on it for WSET. A claret we both know well, although it’s only been blogged once. In terms of typicity this was the complete opposite of the Nectar. Unmistakably claret, even though the nose was more red fruit rather than black (it’s 50-50 cs/merlot). Complex, interesting, structured with ageing potential. All the things the Nectar wasn’t and at around the same price. No contest.

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