Author Archives: wineyg

Hungarian wedding night wine


Juhfark are not just the letters that may be seen in a line on Specsavers’ eyesight testing poster but the name of an old Hungarian grape variety which, translated, means ‘sheeps tail’. It’s the shape of the bunch, evidently. The wine we tasted on Sunday was from the Somlo region (in north Hungary) which is dominated by the volcano’s soils. Somloi Juhfark 2015 made by Kolonics is 14% ABV and available from The Wine Society at about £17.

Light gold with green hints – some acidity there – and quite viscous in the glass it had a dumb nose initially. This later developed lemony, smoky notes and something like slightly burnt rubber. It reminded me of the southern French whites which also have the burnt smell (from the Bourboulenc grape, I think). ‘Interesting’ was our word. The palate was a repeat of the nose but with a touch of richness/sweetness at the finish. It was short/medium in  length.

The Wine Society don’t do the wine or themselves any favours by liking it to a “good Meursault”. It builds expectations which are not fulfilled. It’s an interesting wine that certainly needs decanting, not served too cold and strong food flavours. Link to wedding nights? If you drink these wines you’re more likely to father male children. What’s the result if your partner also drinks it I dread to think.

[Richard: another wine recently discussed and admired on TWS Community Forum and, once again, we are in a minority. Given the praise I expected something more and I’m struggling to get past ‘interesting’, despite Geoff already having used the word. It has made little impression 24 hours on. Perhaps ‘restrained’ could be added. Apparently Queen Victoria was a fan although, given that she had five female and four male children it didn’t have the desired result.]



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Process driven


Sherry is like champagne in so much as the way it’s made is the major contributor to its style. The Palomino grape’s fast fermentation produces a bland wine which is then fortified with no more than 15.5% alcohol and the yeasty flor develops on the wine’s surface. It’s this flor that gives its unique flavour.

This wonderful, subtle collection of smells and flavours was very much in evidence in Equipo Navazos No 32 “La Bota de Manzanilla”. A delicate orange in colour but somehow luminous, this intrigued from the first pour.

The complexity of delicate orange, tangerine and polish aromas reminded us of very expensive marmalade; the analogy continued into the taste where the flavours became broader and took on a more citrussy note. This was some wine.

What was really interesting was the lack of any impression of the 15% alcohol. A light white wine at this level of alcohol would be big, rich and powerful – this was the complete opposite. Presumably the solera ageing process helped its lightening but it also maintained its delicate intensity. That’s an oxymoronic statement, I think, but it somehow describes it for me.

[Richard: this particular manzanilla has now been blogged on four occasions, which is a record for Talk the Cork. When I bought six (from Darley Abbey Wines, for the bargain price of £20, in 2014), I was advised it would age well and so it has. Still fresh, tangy and very moreish. Last bottle unfortunately.]



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Plain English speaking.


We have to give credit to Richard’s wine supplier, Vin Cognito. Their wine descriptions leave all the rest in the deepest shade. And this is some accolade, given the propensity of many wine lovers/sellers/makers to revel in purple prose, never eschewing the florid and rococo style that adorns ….. ok, I’ll shut up.

2016 Versante Nord is made by Eduardo Torres Acosta from vineyards on the north slopes of Etna in Sicily. It is described by Vin Cognito as ” ….. this truly amazing wine. Not for the faint-hearted, but a wine that will leave you wide-eyed and trembling from the astonishing G-force of its flavours.” Well, I must be faint-hearted, for I still blinked but didn’t quiver when I drank it.

Gold yellow, clear with a slight viscosity, the wine’s aromas were very muted lemon when we tried it. I found it rather ungenerous in taste, short, dry with an almond finish and certainly not complex – let alone possessing G forces.

Richard said it improved and thought it would have been better decanted to open it up.. So, a message to Vin Cognito’s writer: to advise, clearly, how to enjoy this wine at its best. Decant for an hour, chilled (but not too much). It is young, fresh, clean and crisp,  but not worth £26.

[Richard: an interesting wine which, uniquely as far as I can recall, changed colour – becoming more orange – as I drunk it. The taste changed as well, becoming more complex as it oxidised and warmed up, although the earth didn’t move. Geoff is right – it would have been helpful to have had some serving information. Organic and a small production (2,000 bottles) undoubtedly added to the cost but the price charged is very ambitious for what you get and certainly high enough to deter a repurchase. Another new grape incidentally – Minella Bianca]

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Rioja, pronounced Ree – oaker


This is another notable area from whence are emanating a lot of average wines, at the moment. Some producers seem to be mixing up the two words ‘old’ and ‘quality’, even inferring they are synonymous in meaning. They aren’t. (btw have you tried Faustino I Gran Reserva 2005 – available from Tescos and Asda? And you can get the 1996 from Amazon. There’s much of it around, obviously).

Anyway, we tried the much less flaunted Contino Reserva 2007 – another old rioja. But this was different, it was good. Dense in colour with a slight brick rim and with the vanilla/coconut aromas which told of oak maturation. However, there was a delicate fresh red fruit aroma with higher acidic notes balancing out the older notes. The palate was dry and long with super freshness – an old wine but made yesterday.

Now that’s how I like my rioja.

[Richard: Geoff had lent me the latest issue of Decanter and flicking through  I noticed that Tim Atkin had complied a list of his favourite Rioja producers. Contino was one of these and it’s a maker I also like and one we’ve blogged on three times, though not this vintage. This bottle came from a half case purchased in 2011 for about £22. Not the best year – quite a cold winter, in Spanish terms, which meant the wine has stayed fresh – see Geoff’s comments above. I liked it a lot – not super old school like López de Heredia – and probably all the better for that, having both fruit and savour.]



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We’re really trying.


It must appear to our reader that we’re waging a two-man campaign against Chateauneuf du Pape. On this site and on the Wine Society web-site we have both posted negative comments and, to be fair, others have done the same. To possibly right a wrong (and before we are banned from the southern Rhone region of France), Richard smuggled in a decanter of 2006 Raymond Usseglio’s offering. It had been decanted on Friday – so it had 48 hours breathing time. I was tasting it blind.

The appearance was a dense and slightly opaque black core with a brick rim and evidence of viscosity. The aromas were an intriguing mix of meat, soy sauce (really strong, for me) but not much fruit was in evidence. There were black fruits on the palate, light/medium tannins and evidence of oxidisation.

So, it was a twelve year old wine which needed double decanting and 48 hours to become approachable. That tells of some power to be dissipated but if you like your wines big, beefy and bold CNdP is the wine for you. It was a blend of 80% grenache, the remaining 20% divided between mourvedre, syrah, cinsault and counoise.

[Richard; a second bottle of this wine and vintage – Geoff missed out on the first one. From Big Red Wine Co, about £22. Not a ‘great’ vintage – too cold and wet, which probably worked to our advantage as the wines would be, you’d expect, lighter and fresher. But this is CdP so those are relative terms. Certainly not as ‘porty’ as a 2005 Usseglio I really disliked but still big, heavy and powerful, even after a long decant. As with the previous bottle I could find qualities to admire but I didn’t finish the bottle and I’d be surprised if I ever drink another CdP, once I’ve finished off the 3-4 left in the cellar.]



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Hegarty Chamans ‘Les Nonnes’ 2013


I can’t remember having ever tried a white Minervois before last Sunday. That’s not surprising because only 3% of the production is white (85% is red, before you ask). The Hegarty Chamans vineyard is in the north-west of the Languedoc, high in the foothills of the Montagne Noire. Generally speaking, the higher the vineyard the better quality the wine; the lower, flatter Minervois vineyards produce that lower shelf, flatter red wine that can be found in French supermarkets. This generality was certainly proven with this 14% beauty from Vin Cognito (15.95).

Grenache Blanc, Rousanne and Clairette (40/40/20%) is the blend, the colour beings solely yellow rather than green-tinged, possibly indicating a hot climate and lack of acidity. This was followed through on the complicated nose which told of stone fruits particularly apricot, burnt honey and some honeysuckle. Gradual exposure produced more aromas – fascinating. The palate was big mouthful of flavour, dry, long and rich rescued by some acidity. Again, there was a slight caramel note which Richard picked up.

I’ve tried whites with these same full-on characteristics, notably Costers de Segre from Spain; they are wonderful kaleidoscopes of flavours with some power behind them. Great.

[Richard: a classy wine, well worth the asking price, which went well with some prosciutto wrapped haddock and romesco sauce. Lots going on, in a harmonious way. A pleasure to drink.]

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A wine critic’s wine


I remember reading somewhere about a car which was described as ‘a car driver’s car’. An intriguing quote and one easy to add to with some sarcastic remark. Well, I’ve borrowed this quote to highlight Jancis Robinson’s remarks about Sunday’s wine – from Ribeiro, north Spain – Teira X 2015. It is made from a blend of four Iberian grapes, all vinified separately then blended, Treixadura, Alvilla, Loureira and Albarino.

Our notes mentioned the unctuous appearance (Richard – “gloopy”) and bright lemon, slightly green colours. It was difficult to get much varietal character from the nose (the usual issue with blends) apart from ripe melons, fresh greenness but low acidity. The intense palate was long, dry and complex with a good blend of the rich and the balancing acidity. It was, in Richard’s words, “made with care”. But, for me, there was a distinct lack of any hallmark flavour, nothing on which to hang my hat and say “Aaah, you can’t beat the distinctive flavour of…’

Jancis Robinson said of this wine: ”I am left wondering what more one could ask for in a wine, after tasting this.” Can I suggest a bit of character, Jancis?

From our friends Vin Cognito, again, or rather their Sutton branch at Richard’s house.

[Richard: I think we would probably have enjoyed this more on a warm August evening, perhaps with food, rather than a chilly, snowy January. As I think back to last night I’m struggling to remember the wine – no notes taken – so it didn’t make much impression. However, I’ve vacuum sealed the rest of the bottle to retaste on Thursday.]

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