Author Archives: wineyg

A bully of a wine

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I think it must be a function of my ‘advancing’ years that my liking for big red wines has waned. However, this is not happening to my fellow sipper who just happens to be more ‘advanced’ than me. Richard has stash of these wines and he’d decanted this 14.5%er for Sunday’s tasting 24 hours beforehand. Domaine Lafarge’s Bastide Miraflores 2015 is hewn in Roussillon (it has a Cotes Catalans AC) from Syrah (70%) and Grenache (30%). The flores part of the name seems a misnomer as there are no floral notes to this chunky brute.

The expected intense ruby colour with distinct viscosity was to be expected as was the ripe black fruit aromas with deeper notes of chocolate, suggesting some early maturing elements. What was surprising was picked up by Richard; a slight underripe, green, sappy quality which was its saving grace for me. The palate had weight and obvious alcohol as well as the expected tannins and some spices. There was also a tarry quality to the long dry finish – no hint of sweetness, thankfully.

Without a doubt this wines needs food and big flavoured food too – cassoulet would be perfect. It was a well made wine and, although not something this wimp of a wine drinker would pick, I appreciated its quality.

[Not so much of a bully for me – that would be any Chateauneuf-de-Pape – more a rather assertive, sure-of-themselves individual. I liked the purity of the plummy fruit and the complex nose, not so keen on the alcoholic strength. From Vin Cognito (£15) who sent out a ‘must buy’ email, now sold out.]

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A myth in the making?

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Vin Cognito is an on-line wine supplier who can both supply good quality wines and, nearly as important, write about them in an engaging way. But you have got to be in the mood to sit and read the cleverly crafted screed. The essay that accompanied Decelle Villa’s Bourgogne 2014 re-worked Jason and Golden Fleece fable, i.e. initial disappointment followed by a wonderful, last minute find of white Burgundy at a (just about) affordable price. And it was good, as we found on Sunday night.

A weighty-looking green with hints of lemon, the wine proclaimed youth – and body – but it was an initially shy youth. It started to come out 15 minutes after being poured (needed decanting, I thought) and started to reveal some very classy notes of lemon zest with a slightly creamy (oak?) aroma. This, to me, smelt of a quality white Burgundy – lovely. The flavour was intense, long and dry. All fresh lemons backed up with green hazelnuts, this wine was “not a sipper”, it needed food, the flavours were so intense. I thought it still had plenty of development to come and Richard later decanted it – but he can write about that. It was a very good for an entry level Burgundy

One small statement in Vincognito’s thesis about the wine was worth noting. They said of the producers Decelle Villa,  “Well, here’s a producer whose wines defy that logic, at least for the time being, while they are making a name for themselves.” A touch of realism in the myth-making, perhaps?

[Richard: we’ve blogged on wines from Vin Cognito before and they are a reliable supplier, especially if you want something different. I purchased a couple of bottles of the above after getting an email saying how good the wines were, limited quantity, hurry, hurry, hurry, etc. Experience with The WS has taught me that such emails can often be a little over-enthusiastic  – but not in this case. A classy wine which improved with decanting becoming rounded and creamier, as you would expect. Worth keeping the other bottle for a couple of years, I think.]

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A delicate Aussie?

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This wine exudes power – its most significant characteristic. Kooyong chardonnay 2016 from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia is made from grapes grown on sandstone and ironstone, as the website states “adding a characteristic firmness and masculinity to structure already present”. Sand, loam and clay are also present in varying quantities and the wine certainly reflected this complexity. It wasn’t all Aussie machismo. It was very enjoyable – a good find by Richard.

Pale lemon green in colour with medium viscosity, there was a delicate, floral note to the understated nose which took a while to open up and reveal some typical match-stick notes. The ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’ analogy was exhibited on the long, dry palate which showed after some initial fruit sweetness. Then the power was turned on – intense, focussed and battery-charged for a long drinking window which will show more pleasing complexities. The wine had no hint of the fat buttery notes of the out of condition old-style Oz chardonnays. It was really enjoyable.

[Richard, from TWS as part of a mixed red/white Mornington case. Geoff deduced the location once he realised it was a New World wine. A very classy wine with some Burgundian overtones.]

 

 

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At home with a Rhone

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In Crozes-Hermitage, the largest appellation in the northern Rhone, the focus is on Syrah whose vines occupy the best granite terroir. However, the two white grapes, Marsanne and Rousanne, are also grown and blended or produced as the mono-varietal Marsanne. They are relatively easy to spot and this Sunday’s offering was no different.

Domaine Belle’s Les Terres Blanches 2014 (13%), comprised 70% Marsanne with 30% Rousanne, had been aged for 10 months. Interestingly, only 20% of this was new oak, the rest being old oak and stainless steel. I assume that this was to maintain acidity levels which can be an issue for white grapes in the south.

The result was a delicate wine, a very bright, pale straw in colour. An elegant bouquet of stone fruits and blossom with lemon acidity was very attractive. The palate confirmed its refreshing delicacy and lightness. Medium length with a slight yoghurty creaminess, lifted by lemon acidity, the wine was not quite bone dry and would make an ideal – and unusual – aperitif or pair well with fish.

This was a very pleasant, gently attractive white wine.

[Richard: very well made wine with lots to interest the nose and palate. From The WS as part of a mixed white Rhone half case, no longer available so I’m not sure of the price but decent white Rhone is never cheap.]

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Two oldies – no, not us – the wines

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The Wine Society had recently made available some 1994 Argentinian Malbecs from Weinart, a traditional producer based in Mendoza.  Richard and I tasted some on Friday evening. The wine had been decanted.

The colour was an intense ruby with a brick-tinged rim and some viscosity. The dominant aromas were plum, vanilla and tertiary notes of licquorice. There was both acidity and a slight spirit smell. The palate was repeat of the above with the addition of spiciness and some alcohol heat.

WS’s claim of complexity was interesting – we must have been missing something. To be fair, the sellers did claim the drinking window to be in 2019 so it might be still too young which may account for the presence of alcohol. In other words the wine may not have ‘settled down’ yet. However, 23 years is a long time and I would have thought that some more interesting notes might be beginning to show.

I’m wary of old red wines that have been ‘unearthed’ by buyers. Some of them taste just what they are – old red wines. Not all wines age graciously – or indeed gain more layers of flavour – we both hope this isn’t one of those.

[Richard: I bought 6 of these, en primeur, on a whim having failed to spot the 15.1% alcohol. The WS say ‘can be drunk soon after bottling’ and also ‘drink from 2019’ which is rather contradictory since the wine must have been bottled about three months ago. As Geoff says, the WS claim ‘remarkable complexity’ which passed me by. Nor can I see that holding it for another 15 months will make much difference. Come back next year…]

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Talking of older wines improving – or not, as the case may be – I grabbed two bottles of Cluver Elgin chardonnay 2011 from a basket of discontinued wines at Vin Neuf in Stratford. These were a bargain and had improved.

Very bright, intense, deep lemon in colour, the aromas of lime, sweet melon and pineapple were fabulous. This was New World chardonnay at its best – rich tropical fruits balanced by acidity for the freshness with a little vanilla cream providing the bass notes.

I’ve the other bottle left, I don’t think there’ll be any more. What a pity.

[Richard: quite a while since I’ve tried a non-French chardonnay and this was a good one. Tropical but not too tropical.]

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Upside down wine

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The title is apt for two reasons. One, in that it comes from the Antipodes (literally, from the Classic translation of feet the other way up) and secondly because it uses a Medoc/Bordeaux blend but in the opposite proportions. It’s Petit Verdot 47%, Merlot 37% and Cab Sav 16%.

The wine is Plane Turning Right 2013 which Richard bought from Vin Cognito (£27). The high proportion of PV is only made possible by the heat which is needed to ripen this grape of high tannins and high acidity. It is becoming increasingly planted, but always in hotter areas (I had a mono-varietal PV from Spain, via Aldi, about ten days ago). When PV does ripen it has a distinctive violet smell as well as intense colouring.

From the intense, consistent red colour it was just right in its development – no blue or brick colours here. Very fruit-forward – and violet scented – on the nose, there was high acidity and a slight sappiness which could come from either the PV or CS. No wonder it needed the softening Merlot.  The palate was savoury, soft in tannins, very rich and heavy but with a lot of power. It had a medium length. I’d have been interested to see the changes after two hours decanting, which I think it needed.

A lovely wine, needing food. Needless to say, I didn’t spot it but picked the violets and stabbed at Nebbiolo.

[Richard: a fascinating wine with lots of complexity both on the nose and in the mouth. Good mouth feel, rich and savoury, quite high toned, lots of acidity with plenty of balancing red fruit. Really interesting and one I’d certainly buy again.]

 

 

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Beer or wine?

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I’d seen this in Waitrose and, to be frank, thought what an unfortunate handle. It reminded me more of a low-alcohol beer rather than a wine, but maybe that’s just me. Anyway, Richard presented the last of the bottle on Sunday and  …… I was rather impressed.

It hails from the Loire, Anjou, and, more precisely the Coteaux de Layon, an area more associated with sweeter wines from the later-harvested Chenin. The grape is the same but picked earlier, maintaining acidity and with the sugars fermented out. I like Chenin in its multiplicity of forms and enjoyed this also.

Made by Domaine Cady from the 2015 vintage, it is organic and costs £16 (£12 on offer) from Waitrose. The colour is deep lemon with some viscosity (the Chenin does develop sugars easily) whilst the nose repeats the lemon acidity with the addition of a chalky note, also reminiscent of the classic Chenin ‘wet wool’. The palate was complex – almonds, acidity, richness with bags of character and the ability to develop in the bottle.

Getting a thumbs up from me, this wine would be great with veal, chicken, river fish or a quality cheese.

[Richard: no thumbs up from me, more a shrug. Too sweet and I didn’t find it as complex as Geoff did. Worth a punt but I wouldn’t buy it again, even on offer which this was.]

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