Author Archives: ricmmorris

JS Jura

I’ve never been quite sure about the kind of wine drinker Decanter Magazine is aimed at but one thing is sure. It’s not people who buy wine from supermarkets. However even wine merchants, critics and plutocrats can’t drink first growths and grand crus every day so there is a column at the back which reviews a handful of ‘everyday’ wines, a few of which are widely available.

One such was a Jura chardonnay, from J Sainsbury’s, at £11. Wines from the Jura region of France are rarely seen in the UK. The WS list a few, but no chardonnay, which is not a preferred grape in the area.

So we thought it worth a punt. Not tasted blind. Pale lemon colour, typical of the grape. Typical nose too – just about – but rather hard and coarse. No oak which some may prefer. A rather ordinary one-dimensional taste, quite short (only 12%). For me there wasn’t enough varietal character.

[Geoff: I did not find it as ‘hard and coarse’  as my mate (bit austere maybe?) but it certainly wasn’t complex. Its light lemon notes were refreshing (only 12% abv) and it went well with some chicken piece and salad  later. Certainly not a vin du garde, I can imagine it being swilled back quite easily in this eastern region. Full marks to J Sainsbury for finding it ‘off the beaten track’ – good value at £11 because of this fact alone. Try it.]

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Basic Beaujolais

Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Domaine de Sandar 2017, purchased by Geoff in the region.

Pure Gamay nose, distinctive and identifiable even as the wine was being poured, bright, clear ruby red, supple mouth feel, juicy, some length. Perfect summer red.

[Geoff: Yes, purchased from a roadside wine outlet (Cave Mathelin, resembling a converted petrol station) in the southern Beaujolais area. The range of choice was  quite remarkable and it could have been an expensive visit. This wine was made by the family who owned the outlet so I felt duty bound to buy some of their wine. I also bought a Beaujolais (Gamay) Rose and wished I’d bought more of it – really flavourful and nicely dry. I thought the above wine was great value and fuller than the light, bubble-gum flavoured wine I associate with the area. I also bought some Moulin au Vent and Cote de Brouilly which I’m sure we’ll blog about.]

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Food and Wine

Both our spouses were at an outdoor ‘concert in the park’ last Saturday so Geoff and I got together for some food and drink. No notes taken.

Is there anything more pleasant than drinking a quality white burgundy, in the garden on a warm summer evening? This was the last of a mixed case by Sauzet, all of which have been blogged previously. Took a while to come out but when it did it was very classy.

The chianti accompanied some homemade pissaladiere and lamb pide, done in a Big Green Egg and was very good being flavoursome despite a pale appearance. Even better on day 2.

We also ate some scallops in pancetta and a cured cod dish with butter beans and chorizo. The Finca Racons was a great accompaniment having enough character to stand up to the strong flavours.

Finally, the Pink Pound, by Patrick Sullivan, a natural low sulphur, vegan wine. Mainly Pinot Noir with Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurtztraminer. Naturally cloudy and not to everyone’s taste but I enjoyed it – at base an uncomplicated rosé.

[Geoff: Many thanks, Richard. Lovely food cooked in the barbecue accompanied by some distinguished wines. The Sauzet Puligny Montrachet 1er cru ‘Les Folatieres’ (to give it its full moniker) was gorgeous. Sauzet’s vineyards have been farmed organically since 2006 and bio-dynamically since 2010 (according to Jasper Morris’ Inside Burgundy book). Sauzet own parts of the Folatieres plot and supplement with grapes from other growers in the same plot. It’s interesting how the French inheritance laws massively complicate the vineyard ownerships which are incredibly fractured.]

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Return to Kefalonia

After four years, back to the Greek island of Kefalonia, this time to Fiskardo, a pretty (and upmarket) fishing village on the northern coast. Unlike Crete, last year, the wine scene on the island is unexciting and it was not easy to find interesting wines, especially if one had self-imposed restrictions of indigenous grapes and Kefalonian vinification – rules I broke just to get some variety. No wine shops, just a couple of supermarkets with similar stock and pricing. A peculiarity was a lack of medium priced wines. Plenty around €6-8 and €16-20, not much in the middle. This might be explained by the presence of some very posh boats in the harbour. None of the wines were especially interesting but here are a few:

We tried a few wines made from robola, the workhorse white grape on the island – this was probably the best with a rich complexity the grape doesn’t always achieve.

This was the first bottle I bought, misreading the shelf price and thinking it was €8, which would have been good value. Actually it was €14 – not so much. Gentilini Notes 2017 60% agiorgitiko, 40% mavrodaphne, 6m in oak 13%, light, savoury, moreish and lasted well into a second day. Gentilini is the upmarket winemaker on the island – this was one of their cheaper bottles but not stocked at the airport duty free, unfortunately.

We had a wonderful boat trip to Ithaca one evening with a taverna meal at the end of it. This was the local rose, made, I think, from mavrodaphne or a local variant. Very drinkable – even from the smallest wine glasses I have ever encountered –  with a slight bitter note. Sold by the kilo, rather than the litre, at a bargain €4.

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Finally another Gentilini Notes, this one mainly sauvignon blanc with 20% tsaoussi, another grape I’ve never heard of and a Kefelonian speciality. Quite low acidity so a good match for SB. Nice wine with clean flavours, around €12.

Conclusion: lovely people, fabulous weather, good and interesting food – didn’t have a bad meal – just rather dull wines.

 

 

 

 

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Third opinion

A few weeks ago when we were staying in Spitalfields, at the fabulous Town House we had a meal in La Chappelle. Not being able to afford a bottle of Hermitage La Chappelle, from which the restaurant is named (cheapest – the 2005 at £387) we went for a 2014 Faugères, “Les Bancèls”, Domaine de Cébène.

I really enjoyed the wine – 60% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre – during the meal so bought some from Leon Stolarski, a wine merchant we have mentioned before. This was the 2015, not the 2014. My enthusiasm was infectious and Geoff also had a couple of bottles – see below.

However it wasn’t quite the same. The peppery syrah notes were absent and, although it was a perfectly decent wine, I felt slightly disappointed. The seller claims it will improve on day 2. I’m not so sure. [Edit: it didn’t, although still a very nice drink. I didn’t get the bitterness Geoff tasted.]

[Geoff: Richard’s report and the fact it was a French Syrah meant I was looking forward to this wine. There was quite a difference between the rich, mid-palate which was fruit sweet and the final taste which, to me, was distinctly bitter. So much so I thought it had a fault. It did not improve with more ‘air-time’ so I though it was a characteristic of the area. The second bottle was the same. As R has written it had no peppery Syrah notes either. I wonder if there was either a vintage difference, some manufacturing issue or it was me being very sensitive to this style. Sorry, not for me.]

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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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