Author Archives: ricmmorris

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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Just enjoyed a week’s holiday in Sanlucar de Barrameda, home to manzanilla. I tried a few over the course of our stay, as follows:

After we arrived I went out to look for a supermarket and came across an Aldi. Totally different wine stock to the UK stores with just one manzanilla, made by Bodegas Baron. Most locals buy their manzanilla in bulk, from the local bodegas.

Very light and very cheap at around €2.49.

I read about a good wine shop in the town centre – Albariza –  and went there the following morning. Lots of interesting manzanilla with, as is customary, all varieties of sherry sold in bulk, from barrels:

This was their manzanilla, blended by the owner’s father and sold en rama (unfiltered). Rich, mouth filling and very long at a bargain €4.50 a litre. It was a very hot week (30C+ every day) so I kept the glasses in the freezer.

Next, from another new wine shop Mar 7, opposite the Argueso bodega, this very interesting drink:

Their own label with no information about the maker, this wine had a pronounced smell of almonds, something I’ve never encounter before. Quite light and a pleasure to drink. €10.

We tried two San Leon manzanillas. The one on the left is a special bottling and was very full with the characteristic woody finish, good value at €5.50 for 50cl. The other is their standard drink (37.5cl, around €3 from the bodega) and one of my favourites. Lots of character and obviously related to the white label bottle.

The en rama revolution has been evident in this country for a while and most of the big bodegas have followed the lead of Tio Pepe in offering a version. I’ve tried La Gitana before – Tanners in Shrewsbury sell it while the Gabriela, a new name for me, was probably the drink of the holiday (€11 for a bottle). Very balanced, complex and moreish. The bodega was only a few streets away and I’d have liked to have tried some of their other wines, but we ran out of time.

Finally two more old favourites (both 37.5cl and around €3) which I always like to retaste since they are not easily available, if at all, in the UK. Las Medallas is the premier wine of Argueso and is rich and complex. The Barbiana is much lighter and great with seafood – Sanlucar is renown for the quality of its prawns.

Finally, back home a manzanilla we haven’t blogged before – Equipo Navazos no. 59 – a pasada (aged) style, unlike any of those drunk in Sanlucar. Heavier, more aromatic and much more expensive. Very classy with great depth of flavour like all the wines from this producer.




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Tempranillo, twice

It struck me the other day that, for someone who usually picks (old school) Rioja as his favourite wine, I hadn’t drunk much of it recently, one blogged in February 2018 being the most recent.

But, this week I had a delivery of a case of La Rioja Alta 2013, ‘Seleccion 874’, ordered en primeur about 18 months ago. Opened on Thursday it had all the tastes and smells of a traditional Rioja (and Rioja Alta are very traditional) but in a slightly attenuated form. This was possibly because the blend was done for the WS and an old/new style balance was sought. Anyway, very drinkable, if fading a bit on day 2. Described as ‘mostly’ tempranillo, with some garnacha and mazuelo. A bargain at around £14.

In contrast the other (100%) tempranillo was definitely a day 2 wine and very different in style. This was a 2014 Torre Silo from Ribera del Duero. On first opening it was quite sharp/raw but eventually mellowed into a lightish drink with lots of sweet dark fruit, with integrated tannins and an attractive mineral back palate. Still going well on day 3. Rather more expensive and apparently made from some pre-Phylloxera vines. I think it came from MWW who now stock the 2015.

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Light and Heavy

No, not something you’d order in a Scottish pub, just two very contrasting wines.

The El Porvenir 2006 came via a Birmingham Wine School tasting of Argentinian wines, in, I think 2009. Around £16? The presenter was offering wines at reduced prices. Geoff may remember more. A rich, powerful (14.9%) wine saved by a refreshing acidity. A near Bordeaux blend (45% Malbec, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Tannat and 8% Syrah) with the last two grapes adding some complexity. Nearly 2 years in new oak but the tannins were well integrated and it was a pleasure to drink – not in the least heavy – but the bottle was, weighing 1.2k. Since supermarket bottles are normally under half that one can deduce that the producers wanted to add some gravitas, not that it was needed.

The Dolcetto (2016) is a grape we’ve only blogged once before and not a grape I could identify blind. Light, indeed pale in colour (12.5%) with a rather muted cherry fruit taste which was spoilt by a persistent ‘woody’ note. A shame since Burlotto is a respected producer. WS £11.50, out of stock.

[Geoff: The Argentinian tasting was by Ruta 40, the name comes from the main road that travels through the wine regions. The grapes are grown at 1750 metres in Cafayete in Salta Province where the cooler air height helps the acidity that Richard remarked on. The wine is kept two years in oak and then another year minimum in bottle. This one has had ten years in bottle – and it’s still fresh with an attractive mic of richness and acidity. It now costs £35, so expensive but if you like that style – and have deep pockets – it’s a good wine.]

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Whatever happened to Muscadet?

Forty years ago, if you wanted a drink a French white wine with a meal chances are it would have been a Muscadet. White burgundy was seen as expensive, Rhone and Alsace whites were hard to find in England and the production of white wines from southern France was small and not exported at all. But Muscadet fell out of fashion, swamped by the rise of less acidic whites like chardonnays from Australia. Then sauvignon blanc followed on, leaving Muscadet way behind. Beaujolais Nouveau suffered a similar fate, albeit for different reasons.

And now? Well, a 2014 article in Decanter claims it is ‘all the rage’, a massive overstatement, not uncommon in the wine press. A 2018 article in Wine Enthusiast talks about a ‘fresh start’. Searching this blog I find that, in six years and nearly 500 posts, we have tasted just one, also from MWW, as it happens. But, I’d tried one a couple of weeks ago, from Tanners, so it was easy for me to recognise the style (Dmne Haut Ferrie Monniere-Saint Fiacre 2014), with the chalky nose a giveaway. A very pale lemon, quite sharp and lemony in taste as well, medium length, gaining complexity as it warmed up – decanting might have been worthwhile – although given it’s age it wasn’t quite as interesting as one might have hoped. But a decent wine, if slightly overpriced at £16 (MWW).

[Geoff: It is interesting how wines go in and out of fashion. In a few years we might be asking whatever happened to Prosecco? Is it over-production leading to a decline in quality or not enough profit generated to incentivise growers. Is the market volatility always at the bargain end, where rewards are closely linked to volume?

Anyway, the Muscadet growers are aware of the need to produce fuller more complex wines whilst still maintaining the recognisable style. This came some way there but there is a fuller one in MWW named Le Pallet, which I found more enjoyable. However, this wasn’t bad and with the right food would be acceptable.]

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Not this time…

Having mentioned recently how easy it was to spot Gamay in a blind tasting I failed to identify it last night. Hardly any aroma on this wine – which is the usual giveaway, although after a few minutes there was the merest hint of a Beaujolais nose. Pale red too and obviously not Pinot, so another indicator missed. Strawberries on the palate which should have helped but didn’t.

Another of Geoff’s purchases from his recent holiday in the region and a very nice wine – fresh but with some character. A pleasing balance between fruit and acidity with some length.  Add in an attractive bottle and a 12.5% ABV and you have a perfect Sunday night wine.

[Geoff: I’m coming round to Beaujolais thanks mainly to the three bottles I picked up one a holiday visit to the area. The obvious Gamay notes that didn’t attract me have been muted and the wines subtly fuller than I can remember. This was in that mould and, as Richard has stated above, it was a wine of some character. It went well with some Italian meatballs in tomato sauce later in the evening.]

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