Monthly Archives: October 2018

….. then it must be a wine I couldn’t identify.


We’re getting back into the Sunday evening routine, readers, so you can look forward to some more ‘ahead of the curve’ tasting notes from Richard and myself.

Sunday’s wines were both a delight in their different ways. Richard had the (inevitable) Cab Franc to comment on while I had a white whose grape I got nowhere near identifying after having guessed the location i.e. the Languedoc. Mas Coutelou’s origins are close to Beziers and this wine is made from 100% Macabeu aka Viura (in Spain). It was the 2015 vintage and had been oak-aged which had not left the tell-tale notes of vanilla.

The colour of light gold suggested an older wine and it had some viscosity. The nose was of gentle stone fruits but with a honeysuckle bouquet. I noted it as quite intriguing especially as the acidity was quite muted. By this stage I’d started firing out varieties such as Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussane, Vermentino but was nowhere near the Macabeu.

The palate was big in flavour and the citrus acidity (a hallmark of the Macabeu)  started to come through along with a oooked apple sweetness although it finished dry. There were spicy notes in the mix which made it a complex wine to savour and one you could drink sans accompaniment.

Both this wine and the red were a pleasure to drink, even more so considering they are not from hugely fashionable areas of France. You could almost call them good country wines but that would be doing them a disservice. It’s available from Stolarski in Nottingham (only 2 bottles left), which has an interesting selection of wines.

[Richard, from a mixed case of Mas Coutelou, around £18.  A very interesting wine with lots of flavour and balance and one I’d buy again when the new vintage arrives.].


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If this is Sunday…

…it must be a Cabernet Franc. and so it proved. A 2012 Domaine de Bel Air from Bourgueil. Old looking, brownish rim, not especially grassy or green but with a touch of farmyard on the nose. A big, pure taste with acidity balancing richness. A refreshing wine which was a pleasure to drink. Further proof that, providing it is well cellared, vintage Cabernet Franc is worth seeking out.

[Okay it was CF – but a good one from Tom Innes of Fingal Rock merchants in Monmouth, remarkable value at about £10. This developed nicely over the course of the evening; it certainly wasn’t one of those one note CFs that you come across all too often. Bourgueil and its neighbour St Nicholas de Bourgueil are the stand out communes for CF and this did not disappoint. No more CF for a while and if I do succumb I won’t report on it.]

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A “pretty” Chianti


Isole e Olena 2015 Chianti Classico was Sunday night’s tasting, following the SA Cabernet Franc. That was a mistake, the Chianti should have been the first wine. However, in our defence, the Italian wine was unexpectedly light – an opinion shared by quite a few other tasters, “pretty” being the most used descriptor.

Opened 90 minutes then decanted, the wine’s most obvious smell was vanilla followed by red fruits. As a classico this wine has had to spend a minimum of 12 months in oak, hence the vanilla, and red fruits, especially cherry, is  typical of the Sangiovese grape. The colour was a low intensity red.

The palate was fresh, light and pure with a pleasing grip of tannins – the red fruits’ aroma being replicated in the taste. It had a medium length and finished dry. So far, so good. The disappointing aspect was a lack of complexity and typicity – although there are lots of different Chianti styles, not to mention qualities. It was a well made wine but just not very interesting to either of us. It was a red wine.

“The 2015 vintage in Chianti Classico is the best since 1997. The wines show more black fruit flavors than the typical red fruit flavors at this early stage, and are very structured, with both vibrant acidity and dense, sometimes muscular tannins.” (Bruce Sanderson, Wine Spectator). Well, this wine couldn’t have been more opposite.

[Richard: from a mixed half case of 2015 Chianti and easily the most disappointing. My main complaint was that it didn’t taste of Sangiovese. I also thought it a little raw without the smoothness one would get with, for example, a 2015 Riecine, one of our favourites. I published a negative review at TWS and the cost was refunded.].

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A different Cabernet Franc

I was tempted to reuse the title of the last post as this was a very different cabernet franc to those encountered in the Loire. So much so that I thought it was a claret blend since the typical green herbaceous nose was quite muted. A deep colour, cherry red, some vanilla on the nose, quite dry with lots of fruit, good mouth feel and well balanced. A very drinkable wine which I look forward to retasting as has Geoff sold me one of his bottles.

[Geoff: This wine offer was spotted by Richard, and being Cabernet Francophile, I couldn’t resist. My only concern was whether its SA origin would move it away from the Loire style that I love. My fears were unfounded. It had just enough tannic rasp for me whilst the forward raspberry fruit flavours did not diasppoint. Although quite light in style there was bags of flavour and room for development – which is good news as I’ve another four.]

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It’s Pinot Noir, Jim…

…but not at all as I know it, so I was completely baffled, despite having tasted the grape in champagne, either alone or in a blend.

Haltinger Pinot Noir Blanc de Noirs Trocken.

Pale yellow – I couldn’t see the hint of pink Geoff claimed, big floral, chalky nose which soon faded, rather oily in appearance which led to a thickish mouth feel, some acidity and a slight caramel sweetness, although it was definitely dry. No champagne notes for me. I also found it a little cloying on second taste. So, an interesting curiosity.

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