Maranges is the last appellation – actually three small villages – before leaving northern Burgundy and entering the Chalonnais. The three villages had separate appellations until 1988 and its rather tannic reds was used to firm up softer regional Burgundies, such as Cote de Beaunes. 95% of the production is red.
Richard has blogged Maranges previously but I have never tried it. I bought this from Connolly’s in Birmingham and, in anticipation of its tannins, decanted it two hours before trying it. It accompanied some home-made beef/pork burgers.
The usual light red colour had a slightly brown rim and the smell was red fruits typical of the Pinot Noir grape. It was attractive and fresh, of lighter notes rather than depth. I anticipated something simple and wasn’t disappointed. It was a good match for the burgers’ intensity of flavour. The only strong characteristics were a rather stalky, slightly green quality which made the wine tight – but it wasn’t unpleasant. Good value at circa £17 – a simple village Burgundy.
[Richard: I tried a bottle from Maranges in 2014 (different maker) and wasn’t impressed. This was better, more pinot like, some fruit, not ungenerous. A decent everyday Burgundy.]
We’ve blogged a few wines from Leon Stolarski over the years. He specialises in wines from Languedoc, not Burgundy, so I wasn’t expecting a lot from this bottle, especially as, at £23 it is towards the bottom of the price range for decent pinot noir. Paradoxically it is one of his most expensive offerings, despite being, on paper at least, the lowest quality. Such is the pricing within Burgundy.
Actually, pretty good. Pure fruit nose, lots of cherry/redcurrant on the taste with a balancing acidity. Very enjoyable and only 12.5%.
What is a beautiful wine? Is it one that is intense, complex and serious? Or is it a wine that “creates a peal of laughter at the table?” (‘L’eclat de rire a la table.’ says the neck label of a Chateau Thivin Beaujolais). Is this the Beaujolais makers’ conundrum? These ideas are not mine but come from an engaging book by Andrew Jefford entitled The New France; however it did encapsulate what I thought after a recent ‘Beaujo Tasting’ (their words) in Birmingham.
We tasted eight wines, six of which were cru Beaujolais – Regnie, Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly, Moulin au Vent, Chenas and St Amour – covering three vintages (2015-17). I was hard pushed to identify any major differences. All purple in colour, all slightly tannic (maybe the MaV more so), all acidity plus and red fruit flavours. The speaker was keen to promote the region’s wines so if she could get just one to be memorable she had succeeded, I assume. Well, sorry, they were all okay but not one stood out. Neither peals of laughter and nor complexity. Perhaps she needed to show ……
Cote de Brouilly 2011 from Roger Peguet which Richard provided on Friday. The age had robbed its purple robes and left a low intensity ruby colour and the nose was rich, sour cherries. But the palate was delightfully fresh, sweet in the middle and bowing out with a balanced, long dry finish. A lovely wine and a big step up from the Beaujo Tasting wines.
So, maybe there is a difference. It starts with cru quality – plus a bit more – and needs some time to show its best.
[Richard: this is the old Beaujolais referred to in the last post – the wines were tasted together. Mature Gamay is often supposed to take on Pinot Noir characteristics and the producer does make a lot of red Burgundy but this, while rich and savoury, was not a pale imitation of the more prestigious grape. Very moreish with lots of character. From Vin Cognito and only little more expensive than the Morgon, below.]
I struggle with Sauvignon Blancs, especially from those from the New World. Their overt notes of freshness, grass, high acidity and elderflower can, to me, taste harsh and lacking in depth or richness. I know that’s a negative opening but you should be able to guess the opposite sentiment that follows. I really enjoyed this 2017 SB – from the Springfield Estate, Robertson in the Breede River Valley of South Africa. This estate has been farmed for five generations of the same family and are proud of their heritage – “Made On Honour” appears on the label. They use natural yeasts.
The colour was really pale yellow with slight greenness and it had the smell of SB but very subtly. The palate, unlike many New World SBs, was rich (good!) as well as being gentle and more Old World Loire (eg Sancerre, Pouilly Fume, Reuilly Quincy). There was also an attractive sourness which, strangely, manifests in quality dry Rieslings.
As Richard so aptly put it, this wine “gets away from the cliche” with its restrained quality. It’s very good value at £12.49 – if that still is the price.
[Richard: from Waitrose and a wine I’d buy again. An excellent halfway house between New and Old World sauvignon styles.]
The majority of CdP produced is red and, very unfortunately, has developed into a brand. Brands attract customers, customers demand lower prices and, inevitably, something has to give. That something is quality. However, white CdP is not a brand and prices reflect the true costs of making good wine and the result was experienced on Sunday.
Clos des Papes 2011 is made from five grape varieties in equal measures – Roussane, Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Picpoul and Bourboulenc – being first produced in 1955. (There is also a red version which has been made for over 100 years.) Only four hectares are used to make the white, accounting for 10% of their production – about a thousand cases each year. The wine does not meet oak at any stage of its production or ageing.
This was a very good wine with a gently lemony nose and of mid-yellow colour. Not strongly varietal (five grapes, remember) but with a rich, slightly almond mid-palate and a fresh, floral finish. I find Rhone whites difficult to characterise – stone fruits has become a cliche – but there was a notable final taste of delicate fruit (quince?). Whatever it was it finished the wine beautifully. The feel was weighty.
Great white wine – I’ll look out for the red.
[Richard: bought en primeur from TWS six years ago, around £35 which is expensive but the wine is quality and in high demand, being one of the best CdP whites available. It is maturing well (blogged once before, in 2015) and should last for a few more years yet (4 bottles left). Lots of complexity married with subtlety, even at 15%. We, or possibly I, have tried a red Clos des Papes but it didn’t get blogged.]
It’s vaguely troubling to read that, in this age of changing norms, wine production, normally so conservative, is not exempt.
The Cote Roannaise – and its neighbour Cotes de Forez – are in the upper reaches of the the long river Loire, close to where it rises in the Massif Central. The two regions are 50 miles south west of Beaujolais and, not surprisingly, use (solely) the Gamay grape for their AC reds and roses. This wine is technically a Loire red showing all the hallmarks of a Beaujolais, right down to the banana smell of carbonic maceration. Domaine Serol’s Perdriziere 2016 was a challenge to place, and I didn’t succeed as I was fumbling round with the Ardeche (further south, different river). I got France, though!
Colours – very purple, light red core. Smells of bananas and fresh red fruits, slight strawberry/raspberry with a high sour acidity. The palate was tangy, fresh, savoury, gentle with an attractive unripe flavour as wells being very pure. Intriguing and great with light food, slightly chilled. You could close your eyes and believe you were in the rolling hills of Beaujolais.
[Richard: unlike Geoff I thought this tasted nothing like Beaujolais – and I knew what is was. Lots of red fruit but, yes, we have no bananas. That very characteristic Gamay aroma was not something I could pick up. Nevertheless a decent drink with lots of flavour accompanying the 12% alcohol. Not much complexity though, which leads me to suggest it was overpriced at £16 (TWS). I think a Beaujolais at a similar price would offer better value.]
There are some wines which hint at how good they could be, but …. and this was one of them. Mourvedre is a difficult grape to grow successfully, needing high temperatures, supplies of magnesium and potassium as well as limited but regular water supplies. It also seems attract a variety of pests. So, not a lot going for it, then. The Mourvedre was supported by Grenache, Cinsault and a smidgeon of Syrah.
The wine we tried was Domaine Tempier’s 2007 Bandol from Provence and we could sense this was a quality wine. It had a lovely deep colour and slight strawberry aromas that, on the palate, showed some tertiary notes (ageing) of cooked black fruits. This wine had been well-made and showed great development over it’s 12 years.
So, what spoilt it? A smell and taste of woodiness that persisted in addition to hazy sediment. What a shame because had been quality there. I think Richard has got some more – here’s hoping.
[Richard:, yes, got a few left. From a mixed half case of Domaine Tempier. A bottle blogged in 2015 was fine, without the wood taint, nor did it have, as I recall, the sediment. Perhaps the two are linked? Anyway, a classy wine, allowing for the fault. TWS refunded the cost (£28) saying they were sorry the wine was ‘corked’, which it wasn’t.]
Jancis Robinson’s grape bible describe this wines grape variety (Kalavryta) as not only “a minor variety” but “a very minor variety” coming, as it does, from the village of Kalavryta in the northern Peloponnese in Greece. It comes from four mountainside hectares, is organic and reached Richard via The Wine Society. It’s 12.5% ABV.
A low intensity red with a slight brown rim in appearance it had obvious red fruit aromas with notable acidity but also a deeper note of cooked red fruits – strawberry in particular. The palate reinforced the bouquet with the addition of cherries and a pleasant bitter finish which may benefit from being slightly chilled.
This is a light Greek wine, probably great with moussaka, not particularly complicated but one you would drink in local taverna. Interesting to try.
[Richard: we’ve blogged this winemaker before – a retsina – but never this grape. Apparently there are only four hectares grown worldwide. A decent, unpretentious drink, especially after exposure to air, with lots of fruit, a little spice and some structure. Good value at £9.50.]