Monthly Archives: December 2017


The above (2012 Guillemot-Michel Quintaine, WS £19)  is from a Burgundy AOC, never blogged before and, in my experience, more likely to be found in French supermarkets than those in England, although I note than Tesco, MWW and M&S show stock from various makers. A quintaine is either a piece of wood placed in the ground by knights to hold their shield or a mannequin used in jousting. No idea why the wine is so named.

Easy enough to spot as a chardonnay from the region, deep yellow colour, some ‘matchstick’ on the (mature) nose and a rich lemony taste. However not a complex wine and one which became rather cloying after a while, although it seems that a rich style is something the makers aim for. These wines should never be served fridge cold but this one was perhaps slightly too warm.

An enjoyable drink but I think you could do better for the price charged.


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The Trouble with Dreams…




…. is the name given to the 2013 vintage English sparkling wine from Sugrue Pierre. It is made from grapes grown in Storrington Priory and Mount Harry Vineyards on the South Downs in Sussex. The blend is 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir. It has a sugar dosage of 6g/l. which would be classed, just, as extra-brut in champagne.

The colour is a light lemon and the wine has a fine mousse. The dominant aroma is of fresh green apples but it also has a very subtle vegetative note which suggests ageing and/or oak contact. This is corroborated by the web-site which states 50% of the wine is fermented in oak. The flavours echo the green apple aromas but there is also a relieving sherbet nuance which precedes the long, dry finish. We were left with a distinct impression of intensity and power which, with the acidity, suggests this wine has a long life ahead of it. It is drinking well know but is going to improve as it softens.

This is another classy English sparkling wine – not cheap, £38 Vin Cognito – but excellent quality. Sugrue Pierre’s web-site interestingly lists a 2010 vintage for £49 but sales are limited to two per person. These two wines can give any equivalently priced champagne a run for their money.

[Richard: I drink quite a lot of champagne/sparking wine – mainly the former – but it is a reflection on the state of the English wine industry that my two favourite wines from that genre this year have both been from this side of the Channel. This one and the Hambledon Premier have been superbly made and are testament to the skill of our indigenous winemakers, albeit with some foreign assistance. Neither were cheap –  the equivalent in price to the French marques but the quality is certainly there. Significantly both had a proportion of older wine in the blend. I’ve read that the secret of making good English sparking wine (we need a descriptor to substitute for that cumbersome phrase) is to control the acidity, which means older wine or bottle age or both. As Geoff says, this wine will age very well but is delicious now.]

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Cocktails for two.



A unique moniker for a unique wine. It’s non-vintage, a blend of five European grape varieties  – and not as cheap as you might expect given that pedigree. Alpha Box and Dice sounds like an on-line betting site – it’s the maker’s name – and then Kit and Kaboodle evokes memories of National Service.  The blend is Aglianico, Shiraz, Cab Sav, Mataro and Nebbiolo, the proportions not being given. So, it’s a posh cocktail from Langhorne Creek in Maclaren Vale, South Oz – and it does work as a big red.

Definitely an intense red (no blues of youth or browns of age), the appearance suggested good blending. The continually evolving nose was quite floral (violets), certainly complex, definitely smoky with a touch of vanilla. There was also high notes of acidity which were attractive.

The tannins were well integrated but there was a drying sappiness which stopped it falling over into a sweet fruit bomb. The wine gave a balanced impression of both strength and delicacy.

It needs food to match the intensity but I can see its attraction. Vin Cognito are the suppliers – but they have sold out.

[Discussing this wine with Geoff made us aware of an interesting fact – that with the exception of champagne/sparkling wine (and not always then), we never drink non-vintage wines. They exist of course, mainly blends at the lower end of the market. But it is rare to see a non-vintage wine at around £19, as this was. Geoff has captured our feelings about the wine which I really enjoyed. It was sold as in short supply so I’m glad I bought three bottles.]

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L’Ormeau again

Geoff doesn’t recall – and it wasn’t blogged – but we’ve tasted this wine (Meursault, L’Ormeau Coche-Bizouard 2010) before, albeit in a different (2008) vintage. It was from the WS, £29. Unfortunately, although I can recall tasting it I have no memory of what it actually tasted like. So onto the 2010: green yellow, very bright and crystalline (‘star bright’ as they say in the brewing trade), typical lemony Burgundian nose but with little ‘matchstick’. Good rich mouthfeel, very high acidity, rich, long, rather sour (not meant as a criticism) green apple taste, not that complex. A delicious classy drink.

[Geoff: I was in two minds about opening this, thinking it may be too young, but I had four so it was a bit of a tester. And, as I thought, it was still a teenager, although not an awkward one. Edgy, yes, but the acidity was focussed; it was just lacking that broader quality I love in Meursaults. Still very intense, it will be worth waiting another two years. I am delighted that Richard – that Bourgogneophobe – enjoyed it.]

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Equipo Navazos Fino sherry no. 54


Tasting this sherry was a singular reminder as to the relative sensitivities of my nose as against my palate.  This is a high quality fino from Darley Abbey wine merchants who seem to have the UK monopoly on this range. We tasted it just after a en rama fino which, although very good, did not come anywhere near the Equipo in terms of complexity.

The colour was an unprepossessing light brown and not quite clear (it was unfiltered) with orange light reflections. Leaving the aromas until later, the palate was lemony, long and dry, of medium weight and certainly intense.

The nose, however, was fantastic. One you could sit and smell repeatedly; it reads like a list of distinct oddities rather than those of a glass of sherry. Here goes – orange zest, spices – both burnt and fresh, shoe polish, lacquer, furniture polish, citrus.

As I say when conducing wine tasting classes – our noses are much more sensitive than our mouths. Here is the living proof. As someone recently asked “Why do we rank tasting over smelling?” Exactly. Is it because, by imbibing it, we somehow own it? Whereas a smell is more ephemeral, something we can’t possess, perhaps?

[Richard: these wines are getting very expensive now but Darley had a good price (around £25) for this and a manzanilla, as yet untasted. We blogged on a few in the past from Equipo Navazos and this one is as good as ever. Given the nose, as described by Geoff, you can see why the bodega suggests drinking from a conventional wine glass (as we did), rather than a copita.]





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The Pearl of the Cote


The title refers to a book about Vosne-Romanee by Allen Meadows which undertakes an in-depth analysis of the village and its wines. It has been regarded for centuries as the finest wine-producing village in the Cote d’Or (it contains six grand cru vineyards) and was originally planted by monks from the Abbey of St. Vivant in nearby Vergy in the 11th century. They leased the land to local growers. These religious origins seem apt for a Sunday tasting.

This was Dmne. Jean Grivot’s village VR, decanted an hour previously, from the tricky 2010 vintage which, belatedly, has been acclaimed as excellent.  Richard used his Pinot glasses (from Reidel) which was a giveaway as to the wine’s origin.

Appearance: Definitely brick-red/brown rim, light in colour, medium viscosity. The colour made me think it was older than 2010.

Nose: Vegetative, beefy smell, stewed fruits – cranberries but more strawberries, lots of tertiary (aged) notes.

Taste: Initially sweet, high acidity, structural tannins, very long complex dry finish. I said strawberries were the dominant fruit, Richard claimed red-currants but there was also an attractive earthy quality to the wine. Thinking back, I believe the wine, although looking old, still had bags of power and acidity; it’ll just get more elegant and finer as it ages.

This style of PN is so uniquely French which I think comes from the traditions that only a 1000 vintages can bring. It is ‘only’ a village wine but what a myriad of nuanced tastes it delivers.

[After the cranberry juice of last week I thought I ought to redress the balance by offering Geoff some of the good stuff. Excellent wine, perfect to convert a burgundy sceptic like me, If it was £10 a bottle I’d drink it every day. Which leads on to a mystery – I can’t trace where this wine came from, or how much it costs. I don’t buy much red burgundy which makes me wonder if it was a gift. Edit: it wasn’t. Purchased as part of a mixed 2010 case from TWS in 2012, delivered May.2013. There were two bottles but I can’t remember drinking the first one, although it was blogged in 2015 when I liked it just as much. Don’t think Geoff tasted it then. About £25 which is a bargain in Burgundian terms. ]

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No idea

I was completely baffled by this wine, firstly thinking it New World, secondly French. Wrong and wrong.

A deep red/purple young looking wine with a very vanilla nose which carried onto the taste. Lots of acidity with a touch of greenness, rich, with a highly textured mouth feel. Rather spicy but there was nothing I could latch onto to identify the grape. In fact an Italian Sangiovese, which was, to me, completely atypical.

Geoff picked this up from Vin Neuf, one of his favourite wine shops, in Stratford.

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