Claire and I visited Nuits St Georges during our recent Burgundian holiday. The D974 skirts the small, rather quiet shopping area which is given over to private shops and cafes; I guess most people are pulled to Dijon to the north or Beaune to the south.
The vineyards rise gently on the western escarpment and flatten to the south and east. Nuits has no Grand Cru (top Burgundy vineyard) but 147 hectares of Premiere Cru and 175 ha. of village Nuits vineyards. Jasper Morris’s Inside Burgundy describes the classic Nuits style as ‘chunkier’. We tasted Dmne. Chauvenet’s village Nuits (13% abv) from the difficult but lately proclaimed 2010 vintage.
Brown rimmed but with a core of medium intensity red, the wine had the aromas of cooked black cherries These tertiary notes suggesting bottle age; there was also an aromatic maturity to the nose. The mouth feel was soft, the tannins identifiable but not obtrusive being accompanied by a light acidity. It had an attractive sweet/sour then dry finish but the full flavours I would describe as tight rather than generous. A lovely wine, not particularly complex, but quite in keeping with Morris’s description.
I find these pinots more interesting than the NZ because of their restrained quality but I can appreciate why they cause not a little frustration. Over to you, Richard.
[Richard: from TWS whose offer brochure said ‘lovely dense and soft Burgundy offered at a remarkably low price basically because of the sheer volume he has to sell. He has over 6ha of this wine! Take advantage!’ The last sentence, being, I assume a translation of ‘profitez-en’, often seen in French supermarkets under special offers. £18 in bond which is indeed a reasonable price for village burgundy. I’ve sometimes thought that WS tasting notes prefer enthusiasm to accuracy but ‘dense and soft’ sums it up. Not especially varietal but unmistakably pinot noir and nice to try one that didn’t disappoint. On a hot evening the wine started to become ‘soupy’ but 15 minutes in the fridge when halfway down the bottle helped considerably, something I can remember a Beaune restauranteur doing during the 2006 heatwave.]
Richard’s passion for ‘a good sherris sack’ (Falstaff, Henry IV part 2) is well-documented on these pages. The Wine Society recently promoted, at the relatively high price of £24, a manzanilla made by Bodega Alonso named ‘Velo Flor’. Sherry, like champagne, is chiefly about process rather than the raw materials and part of that process is the marketing. As the photograph shows, this wine was dressed in a low-shouldered bottle with a waxed cork stopper, quite different from the more conservative look.
The wine had a light gold colour, some viscosity and was bright and clear. The usual floor polish smell along with roasted nuts was obvious on the nose, as was the relieving fresher lemony high notes. We had the impression of an intensity, more so than normal. The palate showed the difference from previously tasted manzanilla styles. Yes, it had the trademark dry saltiness but this was rounder, richer and very long. A bigger flavoured wine than normally is the case, this could not be called a fresh style from the taste alone. (It had been opened 72 hours)
To return to Sir John F. (in The Merry Wives of Windsor). ‘Wilt thou, after the expense of so much money, be now a gainer?’ It’s a fine drink, but I question its VFM.
(Exeunt stage left)
[Richard: one of the golden rules of fino or manzanilla drinking is that it should be consumed as quickly as possible after opening, because of the speed of oxidation. This wine was unusual, in that it improved after three days in the fridge becoming more aromatic, more full flavoured. A very classy manzanilla, I’ve seen it suggested it is a pasada (older) style – which it tastes like – and that it is en rama, but neither is claimed on the label.
Clearly vinified with care but I did wonder if it was made up to a price – cork closure not a stopper, waxed capsule – very rare, unusually shaped bottle with a designer label. At £15 throughly recommendable but at £24 I think I’ll be sending my other bottle back.]
Richard is much more prepared to try different wines than I am. Recent Sunday tastings have involved organic and biodynamic wines from France in particular and this was another of those. Tout Nature Sans Soufre Ajoute (transl. Totally Natural No Added Sulphur) by Xavier and Mathieu Ledogar is a wine from the Languedoc, classed as a Vin de France – the lowest classification. Vintage 2014, it’s a blend of Carignan, Grenache and Mourvedre and has 14.5% abv.
That’s the intellectual part dealt with – how did it fare sensually?
Opaque (fine sediment) with a slightly purple/red rim, it had a high viscosity and was an intense colour. The nose was pure, with no varietal qualities and very slightly oxidised. Considering it had been opened only the day before – as well as having 14.5% abv. – perhaps the lack of stabilising sulphur means it ages prematurely. Highly tannic and fresh fruit notes of unripe plums and damsons, it had that fresh quality which shone through the oxidised notes. This freshness is the hallmark, to me, of organic wines.
Whether it’s worth the price paid, I’m not so sure.
[Richard: we often talk about wine tasting better on day 2 – this one tasted worse, despite vacuum sealing and storing in the fridge, although there was no change three days on from that. So Geoff didn’t taste it at it’s best. On opening it was fruity, vibrant and quite complex. An enticing wine which Angie really liked. Value is a always problem with natural wines – they are invariably more expensive – this was £20 (Buon Vino) – and, as Geoff suggests, you could do better for the money, although I’m glad I tried it.]
I taste and drink a lot of wine in a professional as well as unpaid capacity. I enjoy many, dislike fewer and can’t remember most of them. Occasionally – and it is occasionally – some stick in the vinous memory. These are individual bottles that evoke an immediate ‘wow’ response followed by ‘This is good!’. Sunday’s wine was one such wine. Trimbach’s Clos St Hune 2004 was generously supplied by Richard and tasted blind.
Piss-coloured with some viscosity, it sashayed round the generously sized goblet releasing the subtle Riesling nose. I had a sense of restrained power and richness with lovely floral hints. (Why is it that excellent wines encourage extravagant – or overblown – language?)
The palate was a meld of furniture polish, beeswax, honeysuckle and jasmine flavours but overladen with a wonderful acidity which kept all fresh and prevented the cloying that the richness could bring. An extremely long finish and medium-heavy weight were my other noted qualities. In one word – superb.
Clos St Hune is a Trimbach estate in the Grand Cru Rosacker area in Hunawihr, north of Colmar, Alsace. The ageing potential is 10 – 20 years, which accounts for the restrained power this wine had. 04 was a bit of a challenge, being very wet, but it takes a good wine-maker to make good wine in a poor year. Thank you Richard – and Trimbach.
[Richard: we’ve tasted this before, in 2015. That review has a lot more information about the wine. Three years on, I felt it was heavier and more powerful. Another lovely drink on a summer evening.]
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.]
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.
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.]