Either by coincidence (us) or because we were separated at birth (our wives) we both chose a low alcohol wine for a Sunday tasting. I was blind tested on the bottle above (Bouchon Pais Viejo 2018 £12, 12%), picked up by Geoff, from Connolly’s, a long established Birmingham wine merchant. This was yet another ‘never tasted before’ grape, namely the Pais from Chile. Very pale and bright, with a rather Pinotesque strawberry nose led on to a smokey, fruity/sappy taste. Not long or complex but very quaffable and a wine I enjoyed a lot and would purchase.
[Geoff: Ha ha, separated at birth, very good. Well, my brother, I’m pleased you liked this. It was good the following day too, especially having been kept in the fridge and taken out half-an-hour before tasting. It went well with cauliflower cheese, cutting the rich, fatty notes of the sauce. Refreshing style that would do well on a warm day and more interesting than most rose. Good find and great value, bro.]
We tried two dull white wines at the weekend from different countries made with different grapes and sold at very different prices.
The one I blind tasted was a Pinot Gris from Alsace (Pinot Gris Lieu-dit Muehlforst MWW at £15/£9 for a single bottle/six bottles), which I eventually recognised through a process of elimination. Pale straw yellow, limpid in appearance, shy nose. So far so good but on the palate – much too sweet for me, albeit with a rather bitter finish. I’ve found that, as I’ve got older, I’ve lost interest in sweet or dessert wines, especially if, as in this case, there was no balancing acidity, making for a simple, rather cloying drink which is not worth even the lower price. MWW claim the vineyard used is ‘approaching grand cru quality’ which is a considerable exaggeration on this evidence. A shame because the wine was produced by the Hunawihr co-op, one of the best in France. We had a memorable visit there in 2013 – Geoff bought a map.
[Geoff: Yes, I agree with Richard. The attraction of a richer/sweeter wine lies in the acidity otherwise it can be likened to drinking a sugar solution. The lack of refinement on the finish was also a minus point.]
…(apart from wearing perfume at a tasting), is to lose your notes. This happened to me after tasting this one, a Portuguese red (2016 Lisboa Behind Closed Doors), from MWW at around £9, depending on now many bottles are bought. A young wine, lots of red fruit, easy to drink. Unusually for a blend it was possible to get a sense of the different varieties used, including, as I recall, Touriga Nacional and Shiraz. Not bad but not worth a special trip to the shop.
Having just reached a significant birthday I thought it would be a good idea to open an old(ish) bottle of vintage champagne. This was Gratien’s 2002, purchased en primeur in 2010, delivered in 2012 (about £35 all in). Exactly my kind of champagne, powerful yet refined with plenty of life, lots of acidity but balanced with a richness that ageing brings. The cork didn’t have much gas behind it when opened – more a sigh than a pop. However the mousse was there and stayed during consumption. Last bottle unfortunately.
[Geoff: Drinking this wine was simply a great experience. The balance between the structure of fresh acidity and the broader cooked apple richness was, for me, the key to its finesse and quality. The mousse was present but not obtrusive, acting as a lift to the flavours. The finish was long. It was one of those wines that stay in the memory.]
This wine (Beaune Premier Cru Les Coucherias 1999 Colombier) was tasted on the 6th anniversary of this blog and Geoff produced something interesting (and considerably older) for our 522nd post. Tasted blind this was clearly an old Burgundian pinot. Brown rim, sweet, red fruit, rather spirity pinot nose. As is often the case the nose was better than the taste which was, at first, quite a shock, being sharp, sour and short. But this was not unpleasant and as the palate adapted nuances became apparent. The wine was still sound and in some ways tasted younger than the bottle age. Always fascinating to taste old wine and this was no exception.
[Geoff: I think the lean, gamey, umami flavour is a traditional European taste. The advent of big fruit flavours with high alcohol levels (this was 12.5%) has become more popular since Robert Parker started to publish reviews where he gave those styles high marks. This was savoury as much as sweet. We couldn’t find anything about a Colombier in Beaune but there is one in the Yonne (Chablis area). Anyway, an enjoyable wine which lasted the evening despite its age.]
Chateau Musar is probably my favourite red wine and one I was reminded of tasting this wine blind. Not so much the nose which was clean, sweet and pure, unlike the funkier Musar but on the palate there was a distinct resemblance we both noticed. It clearly wasn’t the same wine – and it’s not even the same grapes – but the resemblance was there. In fact a 100% Tempranillo – 2003 Bodegas Alejandro Fernández Ribera del Duero Tinto Pesquera Reserva Especial. In the mouth a smooth, silky texture and a complex taste which kept on developing. The best red I’ve tasted for ages. Thanks Geoff.
[Geoff: The wine was a gift from my daughter about three years ago and certainly repaid the keeping. The reviews on Cellartracker were generally positive. This had wonderful freshness which was, for me, the sign of quality – it didn’t taste like ‘old red wine’. I preferred it to many Riojas I’ve tried which can be over-oaked and rather simple. Very enjoyable wine.]
Pinot Grigio has become a favourite party wine in recent years and, as such, has a poor reputation among wine connoisseurs (or snobs, if you prefer). But there are some good ones out there, with the one tasted (Piota 1930 Vineyard from the excellent Hay wines in Ledbury) being of middling, rather than top quality.
Pale lemon, pellucid, some viscosity with a rather Viognier like nose – pear and stone fruit. A rich clean taste with good mouthfeel, medium length, sweet then dry on the palate, with a slightly hard finish.
And the PG tip? Buy the best you can afford.
[Geoff: Richard is right, this wine was neither a cheap, easy drinking PG or a high quality representation of that type. There was some richness present but not enough for me to be tempted to buy another. For me, the Fattori is a better PG but this wasn’t bad.]