Category Archives: posted by Richard

A (very) pleasant Pinot

This (2005 Savigny-Les-Beaune Camus-Bruchon) was a fine example of mature pinot noir. Pale red, light brown rim, an appealing nose which said ‘drink me’, fruity, still quite tannic, some length and complexity. In the glass it became deeper and darker with an attractive cherry note. A pleasure to drink and a reminder that there is nothing quite like a French pinot noir with some bottle age.

[Geoff: If last Sunday’s wines were disappointing, this Sunday’s were a joy. Both French, both classic regions and both red. And they were drunk in the right order! This was a lovely Pinot – even agreed by Pinotphobe Richard -which later went beautifully with pork chops. Very generous, gentle and, although a generic Beaune, it developed character as it breathed. I can’t remember where it came from, but there’s no more alas.]

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Something wrong?

We don’t taste many wines made from the Semillon grape and I never recognise it when we do. And so it proved on Sunday, despite me knowing in advance the wine was from Australia (Lehmann 2010 Margaret Semillon), where the grape is widely planted. There was a rather generic bouquet and the wine was very dry and acidic, without the richness and complexity you might expect from an eight year old wine. In addition there was a peculiar taste in evidence, rather like sour milk which made me wonder if the wine was faulty. Over to Geoff.

[Geoff: One of my often fruitless searches is Semillon. It’s not stocked, as a mono-varietal, in many outlets but can be found blended with Sauv. Blanc. As a single grape it needs time, probably ten years, before it starts developing the richer, lanolin notes that I, and others, find attractive. This was a part-bottle left from a wine tasting two days earlier and had been vacuumed.

When young Semillon is almost unpleasantly acidic that is why Lehmann will not release the wine until it’s had five years’ ageing in bottle (it never sees oak) and they recommend it can go for another ten years i.e. fifteen years from vintage. The ABV is only 11% so we can assume that the high acidity is critical to its ageing well.

This wine was still way too young but was just beginning to show lemon curd i.e. creamy lemon notes (Richard’s ‘sour milk’ perhaps) and needed more time. I quite liked it but it wasn’t at its best, by any means. I’ve got some older vintages of the grape as well as other winemakers, notably Mitchells from the Clare Valley and Elizabeth from the Hunter Valley. We’ll open those in a few years time and report back.]

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If this is Sunday…

…it must be a Cabernet Franc. and so it proved. A 2012 Domaine de Bel Air from Bourgueil. Old looking, brownish rim, not especially grassy or green but with a touch of farmyard on the nose. A big, pure taste with acidity balancing richness. A refreshing wine which was a pleasure to drink. Further proof that, providing it is well cellared, vintage Cabernet Franc is worth seeking out.

[Okay it was CF – but a good one from Tom Innes of Fingal Rock merchants in Monmouth, remarkable value at about £10. This developed nicely over the course of the evening; it certainly wasn’t one of those one note CFs that you come across all too often. Bourgueil and its neighbour St Nicholas de Bourgueil are the stand out communes for CF and this did not disappoint. No more CF for a while and if I do succumb I won’t report on it.]

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A different Cabernet Franc

I was tempted to reuse the title of the last post as this was a very different cabernet franc to those encountered in the Loire. So much so that I thought it was a claret blend since the typical green herbaceous nose was quite muted. A deep colour, cherry red, some vanilla on the nose, quite dry with lots of fruit, good mouth feel and well balanced. A very drinkable wine which I look forward to retasting as has Geoff sold me one of his bottles.

[Geoff: This wine offer was spotted by Richard, and being Cabernet Francophile, I couldn’t resist. My only concern was whether its SA origin would move it away from the Loire style that I love. My fears were unfounded. It had just enough tannic rasp for me whilst the forward raspberry fruit flavours did not diasppoint. Although quite light in style there was bags of flavour and room for development – which is good news as I’ve another four.]

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Light and Heavy

No, not something you’d order in a Scottish pub, just two very contrasting wines.

The El Porvenir 2006 came via a Birmingham Wine School tasting of Argentinian wines, in, I think 2009. Around £16? The presenter was offering wines at reduced prices. Geoff may remember more. A rich, powerful (14.9%) wine saved by a refreshing acidity. A near Bordeaux blend (45% Malbec, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Tannat and 8% Syrah) with the last two grapes adding some complexity. Nearly 2 years in new oak but the tannins were well integrated and it was a pleasure to drink – not in the least heavy – but the bottle was, weighing 1.2k. Since supermarket bottles are normally under half that one can deduce that the producers wanted to add some gravitas, not that it was needed.

The Dolcetto (2016) is a grape we’ve only blogged once before and not a grape I could identify blind. Light, indeed pale in colour (12.5%) with a rather muted cherry fruit taste which was spoilt by a persistent ‘woody’ note. A shame since Burlotto is a respected producer. WS £11.50, out of stock.

[Geoff: The Argentinian tasting was by Ruta 40, the name comes from the main road that travels through the wine regions. The grapes are grown at 1750 metres in Cafayete in Salta Province where the cooler air height helps the acidity that Richard remarked on. The wine is kept two years in oak and then another year minimum in bottle. This one has had ten years in bottle – and it’s still fresh with an attractive mic of richness and acidity. It now costs £35, so expensive but if you like that style – and have deep pockets – it’s a good wine.]

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Whatever happened to Muscadet?

Forty years ago, if you wanted a drink a French white wine with a meal chances are it would have been a Muscadet. White burgundy was seen as expensive, Rhone and Alsace whites were hard to find in England and the production of white wines from southern France was small and not exported at all. But Muscadet fell out of fashion, swamped by the rise of less acidic whites like chardonnays from Australia. Then sauvignon blanc followed on, leaving Muscadet way behind. Beaujolais Nouveau suffered a similar fate, albeit for different reasons.

And now? Well, a 2014 article in Decanter claims it is ‘all the rage’, a massive overstatement, not uncommon in the wine press. A 2018 article in Wine Enthusiast talks about a ‘fresh start’. Searching this blog I find that, in six years and nearly 500 posts, we have tasted just one, also from MWW, as it happens. But, I’d tried one a couple of weeks ago, from Tanners, so it was easy for me to recognise the style (Dmne Haut Ferrie Monniere-Saint Fiacre 2014), with the chalky nose a giveaway. A very pale lemon, quite sharp and lemony in taste as well, medium length, gaining complexity as it warmed up – decanting might have been worthwhile – although given it’s age it wasn’t quite as interesting as one might have hoped. But a decent wine, if slightly overpriced at £16 (MWW).

[Geoff: It is interesting how wines go in and out of fashion. In a few years we might be asking whatever happened to Prosecco? Is it over-production leading to a decline in quality or not enough profit generated to incentivise growers. Is the market volatility always at the bargain end, where rewards are closely linked to volume?

Anyway, the Muscadet growers are aware of the need to produce fuller more complex wines whilst still maintaining the recognisable style. This came some way there but there is a fuller one in MWW named Le Pallet, which I found more enjoyable. However, this wasn’t bad and with the right food would be acceptable.]

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Not this time…

Having mentioned recently how easy it was to spot Gamay in a blind tasting I failed to identify it last night. Hardly any aroma on this wine – which is the usual giveaway, although after a few minutes there was the merest hint of a Beaujolais nose. Pale red too and obviously not Pinot, so another indicator missed. Strawberries on the palate which should have helped but didn’t.

Another of Geoff’s purchases from his recent holiday in the region and a very nice wine – fresh but with some character. A pleasing balance between fruit and acidity with some length.  Add in an attractive bottle and a 12.5% ABV and you have a perfect Sunday night wine.

[Geoff: I’m coming round to Beaujolais thanks mainly to the three bottles I picked up one a holiday visit to the area. The obvious Gamay notes that didn’t attract me have been muted and the wines subtly fuller than I can remember. This was in that mould and, as Richard has stated above, it was a wine of some character. It went well with some Italian meatballs in tomato sauce later in the evening.]

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