Geoff was at a Beaujolais tasting in Birmingham recently (spoiler: unimpressed) so we thought we’d try a couple of our own to see how they measured up.
First was a 2017 Morgon, Chateau de Pizay La Centenaire, purchased from Connolly’s, in Birmingham (£17). I’d tried another bottle last week and like it a lot, finding it rich and spicy. This bottle though, was a disappointment. Bright red/purple, no ‘banana’ nose – a good thing – in fact little aroma at all, rather spirity, but only 13%. Not much fruit or Gamay typicity – just a generic red wine, decent mouth feel, dry and with a faint ‘turkish delight’ taste. Underwhelming.
[Geoff: This was so underwhelming – and got worse – that I now think the bottle was faulty. No life, freshness or varietal definition. I hope R’s second will be better.]
The above, or a variant of, is a headline we’ve used before. Such is the number of grape varieties now available that it would be possible to drink a different grape on every day of the year – not that we would, being sensible drinkers.
Geoff confidently predicted I wouldn’t be able to identify this wine (Val de Souto 2017, Treixadura Ribeiro, M&S £12) and so it proved – I couldn’t even get the country, which was Spain. Very pale yellow, some chalk on the nose with a faint lemon/melon aroma, a rich mouth feel, despite being only 12.5%, not complex with no individual fruit identifiable apart from a rather bitter, grapefruit-like finish. Enjoyable but it needed food.
In fact Treixadura is not a new grape for us – we blogged on a similar wine from the same region early last year – and the comment made then still holds – the flavour, while pleasant, is not distinctive enough to recognise blind.
[Geoff: This was one of those M&S wines that had been reduced to probably somewhere near its true value. Yes, it did need food (asparagus risotto) and was interesting rather than more-ish. A cooler climate NW Spanish white that lacked a trademark taste. Okay.]
This is a style we don’t often blog – I can only find one other post (a Cono Sur) – but we have tasted this wine (Matetic) before. The label is very distinctive and we both recalled it, a 2007, I think. However this didn’t really say ‘pinot’ to me even though it was a classy wine, with smokey, cabernet franc hints and a sweetish rather lean but complex taste with lots of fruit. Best viewed as a halfway house between New Zealand and Burgundian styles, very drinkable and to be recommended.
[Geoff: I tasted, and was impressed by, this wine at a TWS Chilean tasting. It didn’t disappoint on Sunday. Middling acidity, cooked cherries, long and obviously well-made. The rim colour was very slightly brown, suggesting it’s in its drinking window but it was still fine on Monday.]
One of the great questions of the age, much beloved of wine critics when they have a column to fill is ‘what wine goes with chocolate?’ The above is a definite possibility, served with home made chocolate cake. A classic orangey dessert wine nose (I though it might be a Sauternes or a Barsac) with enough acidity to provide balance and interest. This was an eiswein (Darting Estate Fronhof Riesling 2012) and the flavour was beautifully concentrated. Very drinkable and only 8%.
[Geoff: M & S are selling this off at £13 (half bottle) and it’s worth a try. I love German sweet wines because of their balance and this was no exception. Later on it tasted like gentle lime marmalade. Gorgeous.]
Many years ago we had a few summer holidays in Tuscany. Trying the various wines on offer was always interesting, as was the food of course. Occasionally the two met when we had a dessert of cantucci (hard almond biscuits) dipped in vin santo, a sweet wine (probably named after Santorini where it is also made rather than any Holy Communion reference, although, as is common with wine, this is disputed). But I’d forgotten all about it and hadn’t drunk it since then, not least because it is quite expensive, something I don’t recall from those holidays.
So when Geoff presented me with a glass (Da Vinci 2010) on Sunday night I was stumped. A bit sherry, a bit Madeira but clearly neither. Deep orange/amber with a complex nose, hints of polish, as with some old sherries, a sweet/dry, tangy moreish taste with lots of body. Very good and something I’ll look out for, despite my increasing aversion to dessert wines.
[Geoff: It’s wonderful to try something for the first time; I’d never tasted ‘Holy Wine’ before now. It’s from Empoli near the Chianti region and made from the Trebbiano grape and has its own DOC. M & S were selling it off (not surprisingly) so it was relatively cheap. Lovely taste. There are lots of stories about how it’s made – and all readily available on the web. Go on, have a look.]
This (Riccitelli 2017) was one of the most colourless wines I can recall drinking, looking like a glass of water when viewed from above, side-on there was a very pale pink/grey tinge. Some lemon on the nose with a hint of farmyard and smoke. A long, complex, lemon based taste with a sweetish finish. Thin in the mouth but not unpleasantly so. My first guess was Old World, as it tasted rather ‘cool climate’ but, having been told that was wrong, I went for pinot gris, which was correct, to my surprise. From Argentina as it happens.
[Geoff: The Uco Valley is high, 2500 – 3200 feet, creating ideal conditions for white grape growing as the acidity levels make for a fresh wine, as this was. PG can be rather cloying but this certainly wasn’t and it had some attractive complexity. This was a find at Majestic – there’s no more at our local store but it’s worth looking for. Great label btw.]
This was a weekend of repeats. Last November I blind tasted a chianti but couldn’t identify it. This time round I was faced with bright, clear and deep red wine with a fine, acidic, slightly green nose. The taste had plenty of tannin and was rather raw and lacking in generosity. I had no idea apart from figuring out it was Italian, by a process of elimination. But, as before, I could not get any Sangiovese characteristics, like cherry. So I admitted defeat. Fifteen minutes later though (and despite the wine being decanted previously) a faint but rich cherry aroma appeared in the glass. This improved the wine (La Pieve 2016 Chianti Moriniello) but not enough to persuade me that it was worth purchasing.
[Geoff: I was recommended this Connolly’s wine and tried it in an attempt to restore my faith in Chianti. It improved over the evening, becoming more cooked cherry-like but only stayed short/medium in length and still overtly tannic. It certainly needed food. Not bad but I’m still struggling with this Italian region’s quality levels.]
We recently tasted a very good Chardonnay. This (2012 St-Aubin 1er cru, Vincent) was another.
The grape was unmistakeable just on the nose which was big with hints of lemon and matchstick. The taste was ‘thinner’ and sharper but with decent complexity and length. Very enjoyable. Not much else to say except that if you like the style – and we do – there is nothing quite like the Burgundian expression of this grape. A Chardonnay from Chile tasted immediately afterwards had its virtues but was ordinary by comparison.
[Geoff: St Aubin is a southern Burgundy village benefitting from the rapidly rising prices of its illustrious neighbours Meursault and the Montrachets. This may be behind the reason for replanting vineyards with the Chardonnay as opposed to Pinot Noir – white wine achieve higher recognition in this part of the Cote d’Or.
The wine changed considerably over two days. Day one’s flavours were all about freshness: citrus, Granny Smith apples, and green hazelnuts. The wine was lean, delicate, feminine with a long dry finish. Twenty-four hours then put some flesh on the bones whilst maintaining its fresh qualities. A lovely wine from my favourite area.]