I’ve never been quite sure about the kind of wine drinker Decanter Magazine is aimed at but one thing is sure. It’s not people who buy wine from supermarkets. However even wine merchants, critics and plutocrats can’t drink first growths and grand crus every day so there is a column at the back which reviews a handful of ‘everyday’ wines, a few of which are widely available.
One such was a Jura chardonnay, from J Sainsbury’s, at £11. Wines from the Jura region of France are rarely seen in the UK. The WS list a few, but no chardonnay, which is not a preferred grape in the area.
So we thought it worth a punt. Not tasted blind. Pale lemon colour, typical of the grape. Typical nose too – just about – but rather hard and coarse. No oak which some may prefer. A rather ordinary one-dimensional taste, quite short (only 12%). For me there wasn’t enough varietal character.
[Geoff: I did not find it as ‘hard and coarse’ as my mate (bit austere maybe?) but it certainly wasn’t complex. Its light lemon notes were refreshing (only 12% abv) and it went well with some chicken piece and salad later. Certainly not a vin du garde, I can imagine it being swilled back quite easily in this eastern region. Full marks to J Sainsbury for finding it ‘off the beaten track’ – good value at £11 because of this fact alone. Try it.]
Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
Domaine de Sandar 2017, purchased by Geoff in the region.
Pure Gamay nose, distinctive and identifiable even as the wine was being poured, bright, clear ruby red, supple mouth feel, juicy, some length. Perfect summer red.
[Geoff: Yes, purchased from a roadside wine outlet (Cave Mathelin, resembling a converted petrol station) in the southern Beaujolais area. The range of choice was quite remarkable and it could have been an expensive visit. This wine was made by the family who owned the outlet so I felt duty bound to buy some of their wine. I also bought a Beaujolais (Gamay) Rose and wished I’d bought more of it – really flavourful and nicely dry. I thought the above wine was great value and fuller than the light, bubble-gum flavoured wine I associate with the area. I also bought some Moulin au Vent and Cote de Brouilly which I’m sure we’ll blog about.]
Both our spouses were at an outdoor ‘concert in the park’ last Saturday so Geoff and I got together for some food and drink. No notes taken.
Is there anything more pleasant than drinking a quality white burgundy, in the garden on a warm summer evening? This was the last of a mixed case by Sauzet, all of which have been blogged previously. Took a while to come out but when it did it was very classy.
The chianti accompanied some homemade pissaladiere and lamb pide, done in a Big Green Egg and was very good being flavoursome despite a pale appearance. Even better on day 2.
We also ate some scallops in pancetta and a cured cod dish with butter beans and chorizo. The Finca Racons was a great accompaniment having enough character to stand up to the strong flavours.
Finally, the Pink Pound, by Patrick Sullivan, a natural low sulphur, vegan wine. Mainly Pinot Noir with Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurtztraminer. Naturally cloudy and not to everyone’s taste but I enjoyed it – at base an uncomplicated rosé.
[Geoff: Many thanks, Richard. Lovely food cooked in the barbecue accompanied by some distinguished wines. The Sauzet Puligny Montrachet 1er cru ‘Les Folatieres’ (to give it its full moniker) was gorgeous. Sauzet’s vineyards have been farmed organically since 2006 and bio-dynamically since 2010 (according to Jasper Morris’ Inside Burgundy book). Sauzet own parts of the Folatieres plot and supplement with grapes from other growers in the same plot. It’s interesting how the French inheritance laws massively complicate the vineyard ownerships which are incredibly fractured.]
A few weeks ago when we were staying in Spitalfields, at the fabulous Town House we had a meal in La Chappelle. Not being able to afford a bottle of Hermitage La Chappelle, from which the restaurant is named (cheapest – the 2005 at £387) we went for a 2014 Faugères, “Les Bancèls”, Domaine de Cébène.
I really enjoyed the wine – 60% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre – during the meal so bought some from Leon Stolarski, a wine merchant we have mentioned before. This was the 2015, not the 2014. My enthusiasm was infectious and Geoff also had a couple of bottles – see below.
However it wasn’t quite the same. The peppery syrah notes were absent and, although it was a perfectly decent wine, I felt slightly disappointed. The seller claims it will improve on day 2. I’m not so sure. [Edit: it didn’t, although still a very nice drink. I didn’t get the bitterness Geoff tasted.]
[Geoff: Richard’s report and the fact it was a French Syrah meant I was looking forward to this wine. There was quite a difference between the rich, mid-palate which was fruit sweet and the final taste which, to me, was distinctly bitter. So much so I thought it had a fault. It did not improve with more ‘air-time’ so I though it was a characteristic of the area. The second bottle was the same. As R has written it had no peppery Syrah notes either. I wonder if there was either a vintage difference, some manufacturing issue or it was me being very sensitive to this style. Sorry, not for me.]
This wine (Château de Montfaucon, 2012, Lirac, WS £13.50) was highly recommended but we were both unimpressed. An attractive, clear, bright red, young looking wine led into a cassis nose which I was sure was cabernet sauvignon – it wasn’t. Rather tannic, medium length, one-dimensional, lacking in generosity with a rather bitter finish. I couldn’t identify any of the constituent grapes – Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Carignan and Mourvèdre.
The writer of the above blog claims it would be good value at £20. It wouldn’t.
[Geoff: Not much more to add to Richard’s comments. It did not improve or even change over three days. It also gave me a headache – twice, in fact. Not impressed. Why would you need to use five grape varieties to make a blend? The grapes are not very different instyles, either.]
Which country has the most indigenous grape varieties? Possibly a question with no definitive answer but Italy must be a possibility. Here’s another new one, from MWW – Albarossa. Apparently a cross between Nebbiolo and Barbera although it didn’t taste anything like the former to me. Anyway, slightly soupy appearance, rather spirity nose with a hint of acetone and red fruit. Fruit – MWW claim cherry which is too specific for me – also on the palate but a rather simple taste with no development in the mouth and rather short. The sort of wine you find on holiday at a bargain price and drink loads of. For the money (£9 if you buy 6) good value.
[Geoff: As Richard has written, an okay (not oakey) red, easy drinking, crowd pleasing, pasta accompanying, slurping red. A hybrid grape made in 1937; not strictly Nebbiolo.]
Tonight’s wine (Pouilly Fuisse Vers Cras Chateau de Beauregard 2012) was deep lemon yellow in appearance with a seductive layered nose I was sure I had smelt before. Big, rich, mouth filling flavour, good length and an excellent sharp/sweet balance. Clearly well made and not at the bargain end of the market. Obviously old world which lead me to suggest chardonnay, France, Burgundy, southern end, Maconnais, all of which was gratifyingly correct. In fact I’d tasted this wine before, in the 2010 vintage, when it was around £20 from TWS. I can’t claim to have remembered the taste though this wine seemed to me much better.
[Geoff: Another good spot by R. Grape, region, sub-region all identified. I associate P Fuisse with wines broader than this sometimes almost to the point of a claggy quality. This, however, had some lovely lemon acidity to keep it fresh and focussed. Yes, it had the hallmark creaminess but it wasn’t overdone. Evidently, the Vers Cras is from limestone only vineyards which accounts for that acidity and elegance. Lovely wine, drinking well now, from the WS at about £17-20.]