Monthly Archives: May 2018

The naked truth

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An interesting name for a wine. Radford Dale Nudity 2014, from the Voor-Paardeberg region in South Africa. Why Nudity? Because it hasn’t any added sulphur and just the bare wine, I presume. The grape is Syrah and it has 12% ABV.

To look at it appeared right where it should be, i.e. no brown or purple rim – just red and an intense red at that. There was some viscosity. The aromas were pleasantly complex; fragrant, perfumed and very much cooked strawberries, suggesting some ageing. It had a thin mouth feel with both acidity and tannins. The dominant notes were strawberries (prompting my Grenache guess) and lighter cherries but there was bags of flavour. It had slightly sweet notes which tended to pall after a couple of mouthfuls. For me, it lacked a bit of bottom (nothing to do with its name, you understand) and gravity.

It wasn’t cheap and, although good, I question its VFM.

[Richard: yes, £18 (TWS) and not really worth it. A decent wine with some interesting nuances, which drunk very easily – amazing how much difference a reduction in alcohol from, say, 14% to 12% makes. However if you very looking forward to some typical syrah tastes and flavours, I’m afraid they’d been stripped away and the result was a bit Emperor’s new clothes, a phrase used on TWS website, where it has three bad reviews.]

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Most tasted?

We’ve tried a lot of cabernet franc recently so when Geoff poured a glass of something very red – stain the glass red – with a rather green, sappy taste I was pretty sure what we were drinking. Yes, that grape again – but not from the Loire, I was sure, but New World. After that I was stumped. The wine had a rather tarry, smokey taste with some fruit, not unpleasant but not classic CF. in fact – from Chile and a combination never before tasted. And never again I think since we both preferred the way the grape is vinified in France.

[Geoff: Okay, no more CF for a while. Promise.The wine was okay but had transgressed the boundaries of a Loire CF and had lost some of particular style. It became another beefy, fruity, slightly tannic red wine.

It’s interesting that we become (or is it just me) fixated on a style of wine and see any variation on that style as an aberration. For me, the home of CF is the Loire and I like the wine it produces; though not all of it, by any means. I suppose this is what happens when Chardonnay lovers compare all wines to white Burgundies and make it difficult for new styles to establish themselves.]

 

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Boxed wine.

Wine in a box (BiB or bag in a box) has always been popular in France – the co-ops sell their own wine in them, as well as bottles and Calais Carrefour lists 34 different ones. This hasn’t stopped French farmers overturning lorries carrying imported Spanish BiBs but that’s another story. As is the attempt by some sherry producers to market fino in boxes – not allowed as against the regulations.

Anyway, in Waitrose last week I saw a display of a dozen or so wine boxes. I went for When in Rome’s Nero D’Avola at £20.99 (£5 off). Actually from Sicily. The box holds 2.25 litres or three bottles. We’ve tried this one before and it’s a favourite of Angie’s. Bright red, very young and fresh, uncomplicated, easy to drink but with a bit of character. At £7 a bottle good value as well.

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Warm climate – chilled wine.

 

 

Pinot Noir is a grape more suited to a cooler environment; it was a surprise, therefore,  to see one from the village of Magrie in Limoux near the French Pyrenees. This was the 2015 Solaire, Domaine de la Metairie d’Alon from a 25 hectare site of steep, limestone (loved by PN) slopes. It was also organic and hand-harvested and weighed in at 14% ABV. All this was gleaned from the very informative back-label, which included a small map. Provenance is all, so it seems.

It had the expected light colour, medium viscosity and a distinct purple rim. The nose had fruit-forward cherry and raspberry aromas which carried through into the palate. Of medium weight, it had a long, dry finish which at first seemed slightly bitter, but this faded. The lack of tannins – PN is a thin-skinned grape – made my tasting sample seem unstructured, which, when added to a spicy, jammy- fruit quality was not particularly attractive. However, I do acknowledge a personal preference for more leanness is reds. My response changed when I chilled it slightly and drank it with a steak and bistro salad; I enjoyed it much more and it was an excellent accompaniment.

This was a pleasant wine and needed chilling. It was also interesting to try a warmer climate Pinot Noir which, on reflection, was more in the New Zealand style.

 

 

 

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You need the bad…

I was walking with friends at the weekend, around Bradfield, west of Sheffield and then in the city centre. We had some great beer from, among others, Bradfield, Thornbridge and Kelham Island. But one beer was poor. This was a pint of Sam Smith’s Old Brewery bitter at the Traveller’s Rest in Oughtibridge, served much too cold via an electric pump which gave it a one-dimensional taste, although it didn’t improve as it warmed up. A shame as the pub has an interesting, unspoilt, interior. At, least, being Sam Smiths, it was very cheap and, as someone remarked, you need the poor to appreciate the special.

Anyway, on to the wine which was another chardonnay (Hill-Smith, 2015, reduced from £12 to £9 at Waitrose), as last week. It wasn’t bad – not as poor as the beer – but it was nowhere near as good as the Ocean Eight, which was twice the price, admittedly. Decent burgundian nose in a cold climate style, lemony, but way too acidic for me with the three years bottle age having had no effect, that I could taste. It made me realise how good the wine last week was.

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After the Gold Rush

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Wine-making in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula grew with the excitement around gold prospecting in the 1800s, a population explosion and the wealth that came with it. The subsequent fashion for fortified wines meant a decline until the 1960s when wines made from cool climate Burgundy grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, were re-discovered. And here we are, 50 years on, with what could be thought of as atypical Australian wine made an hour’s drive south of Melbourne.

Okay, Ocean Eight 2015. Let’s start with the ABV – 12.5%, that’s low for Oz. A colour of lemon-green and some viscosity hints at both acidity and sugars. At first, the nose was muted, slightly matchstick and lemon but this became more pronounced as it sat in the glass. The taste was layered – dry, long and full bodied with lemon and richer honey notes, quite rounded and deep. A complex wine, with almost too much going on which hinted that the wine might need more time. But it was still delicious – and very Burgundian.

[Richard: only 900 cases made and now sold out at TWS. A very good expression of cool climate chardonnay in the French style. Lots of flavour and complexity and very drinkable.]

 

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Cabernet Franc from Italy

We’ve drunk (and blogged) a few cabernet francs from the Loire, over the years but I don’t recall an Italian version (Mazzolada, La Cantina del Falco, Venezia). Bright red, intriguing, spicy nose with a hint of tobacco, sweet ripe red fruits – raspberry but with enough of a tannic grip to make it interesting. Hardly any of the grassy tone which is a characteristic of Loire produced wines. A perfect drink for a hot summer evening (12.5%), especially if lightly chilled.

[Geoff: Purchased from Worth Brothers in Lichfield. Cab Franc is one of my ‘go to’ grape varieties and certainly did not disappoint. Two days later (kept vacuumed in the fridge) it was still fresh and showing blackcurrant leaf flavours. Lovely. Yet another northern Italian wine I’ve been impressed with.}

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