Having banged on last week about the ever increasing price of Burgundy I find myself saying much the same about the wines of my blind test on Sunday, a Barolo – not that I was able to identify it.
TWS lists eight Barolos with a price range of £25 to £115 a bottle. They are also offering the 2015s em primeur at similar prices and you have to wait till around 2030 to start drinking them. I should live so long.
The bottle shown was not as exalted as most those noted above. It had a sweet, spirity nose and I couldn’t get any variety from the aroma – no smell of roses, for example, a nebbiolo characteristic. The wine was quite sharp and thin, still tannic, slightly smokey but without much complexity. Not bad though, as the palate adjusted. Barolo is one of those wines – like Chablis and Châteauneuf – that supermarkets offer hoping, we have always thought, to sell on the name, rather than the quality, which is often disappointing. This wasn’t in that category, just ‘ok’.
[Geoff: Four years ago, I wrote on the label ‘Good vintage. Keep 2019 – 2030.’ I don’t know where that information came from but the ’09 Barolo vintage reports are now mixed. I’m glad we drank it now. This was made by Ascheri for Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference range and, whilst the wine’s style wasn’t clumsy, heavy and tannic there was little subtlety. The nose was delicately floral with a slight mushroom note but the palate was one-dimensional. I’ve another ’09, time to drink it, I think.]
This was a very pale lemon yellow wine, with a hint of matchstick aroma, a rather sour (in a good way) lemony taste, rather blowsy – but not in an Australian style. A decent mouthfeel and some mid range acidity completed the experience. So – not French, therefore New World. Not full-on enough to be an Aussie and South America is not known for chardonnay (which this obviously was). Conclusion – might be a South African, which was correct. (JH Meyer Elgin 2014).
[Geoff: “The boy done good!” In 2000 Elgin had one winemaker (Cluver) surrounded by apple orchards. Windy and wet, two adjectives not associated with South Africa, means more European-style wines – as this proved. A very small production of unfiltered wine, this was light-Burgundian in style. Lemony, delicate and without the heft, it was, for me, lacking in some richness but I appreciated its quality. It had thrown a sludgy sediment over the two years I’d kept it so required some deft decanting. Bought from Loki Wines in Birmingham.]
Now and again you taste a wine which is ‘best in class’. This was one such – bright honey yellow, pellucid, some ‘matchstick’ with caramel on the nose, a rich complex taste with a dry, fairly long, finish. Unmistakably French (Viré Clessé Les Hauts de Ménards 2012 Bonhomme) and totally delicious.
[Geoff: This was the first of six bottles of 2012 Bonhomme wines purchased from The Wine Society. I wanted to see how they are developing and the answer was provided by R’s comments. I would say it’s now in its ‘drinking window’ but will still improve. The nose was intriguing with its slightly toffee/honey notes and there is still plenty of power in the palate. I agree with it being of medium length. I’m looking forward to the next five!]
This (Hermanuspietersfontein Swartskapp 2013) was an interesting blind tasting since the aroma from the glass – with some blackcurrant and sweet vanilla suggested an oak aged cabernet sauvignon. However the lean, dry, savoury, mineral taste, with a sweet/dry finish and some complexity inclined me towards cabernet franc, which was correct. An instantly appealing wine, with a silky texture that was very moreish. We don’t often blog wines from Laithwaites since their mail order offerings never appeal but this came from their shop in Solihull and is recommended.
[Geoff: An interesting find. Reduced from £25 to £15, this is a layered offering from a premium site in South Africa. Whilst it has lots of up front fruit there is a leaner core which acts as a brake on the richness. It’s been aged in French oak for 16 months and although fuller than the Loire-style of CF, its ancestry is recognisable. It’s set for a long drinking window.]
Either by coincidence (us) or because we were separated at birth (our wives) we both chose a low alcohol wine for a Sunday tasting. I was blind tested on the bottle above (Bouchon Pais Viejo 2018 £12, 12%), picked up by Geoff, from Connolly’s, a long established Birmingham wine merchant. This was yet another ‘never tasted before’ grape, namely the Pais from Chile. Very pale and bright, with a rather Pinotesque strawberry nose led on to a smokey, fruity/sappy taste. Not long or complex but very quaffable and a wine I enjoyed a lot and would purchase.
[Geoff: Ha ha, separated at birth, very good. Well, my brother, I’m pleased you liked this. It was good the following day too, especially having been kept in the fridge and taken out half-an-hour before tasting. It went well with cauliflower cheese, cutting the rich, fatty notes of the sauce. Refreshing style that would do well on a warm day and more interesting than most rose. Good find and great value, bro.]
We tried two dull white wines at the weekend from different countries made with different grapes and sold at very different prices.
The one I blind tasted was a Pinot Gris from Alsace (Pinot Gris Lieu-dit Muehlforst MWW at £15/£9 for a single bottle/six bottles), which I eventually recognised through a process of elimination. Pale straw yellow, limpid in appearance, shy nose. So far so good but on the palate – much too sweet for me, albeit with a rather bitter finish. I’ve found that, as I’ve got older, I’ve lost interest in sweet or dessert wines, especially if, as in this case, there was no balancing acidity, making for a simple, rather cloying drink which is not worth even the lower price. MWW claim the vineyard used is ‘approaching grand cru quality’ which is a considerable exaggeration on this evidence. A shame because the wine was produced by the Hunawihr co-op, one of the best in France. We had a memorable visit there in 2013 – Geoff bought a map.
[Geoff: Yes, I agree with Richard. The attraction of a richer/sweeter wine lies in the acidity otherwise it can be likened to drinking a sugar solution. The lack of refinement on the finish was also a minus point.]
…(apart from wearing perfume at a tasting), is to lose your notes. This happened to me after tasting this one, a Portuguese red (2016 Lisboa Behind Closed Doors), from MWW at around £9, depending on now many bottles are bought. A young wine, lots of red fruit, easy to drink. Unusually for a blend it was possible to get a sense of the different varieties used, including, as I recall, Touriga Nacional and Shiraz. Not bad but not worth a special trip to the shop.