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Rare and rarer

Two things distinguish this wine (Norman Hardie unfiltered Pinot Noir 2015, WS £22). Firstly it is a Canadian pinot noir. Red wine from Canada is rarely seen, let alone a pinot – although we have blogged on Canadian chardonnay. This is from the same maker, Norman Hardie in Niagara. Secondly it is only 11.9%. I can’t recall the last time I tasted a red wine under 12.5% and even those are unusual.

Tasting the wine rather split opinion. I liked the delicate red-fruit style which, to me, looked like, smelt and tasted typically pinot. Not complex, certainly but very drinkable. Geoff also had a Burgundian pinot open which was heavier and more to his taste.

[Geoff: It did split opinion. Whilst liking its delicacy, I didn’t find the wine particularly complex. To me it tasted like alcoholic cranberry juice and reminded me of wine still undergoing fermentation. It lacked development which may come later, of course. Again, it’s interesting to taste these wine but I would not be tempted to buy.]


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Another week, another blogger…

…gets a sparkling wine wrong. This time it was my turn to confidently assert ‘not champagne’ and be proved wrong. To me, at first, the nose was atypical and the taste rather sweet and lacking complexity. I thought it might be an upmarket prosecco or similar. On the other hand it looked like a champagne with lots of fine, persistent. bubbles and a dark gold colour. A second glass was drier which perhaps says more about my palate than the wine. Enjoyable and easy to drink. Now on sale (M&S) and worth looking out for but I don’t think it is good value at the full retail price.

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Mellow yellow


This was meant to be a blind tasting but the foil round the bottle didn’t quite cover the capsule and I recognised ‘Louis Latour yellow’, having bought quite a few similar bottles in the eighties, though none recently.

Quite yellow in the glass as well, not a very typical chardonnay, with a faint nose and a rather sweet taste I’d have had difficulty picking as Burgundian. Slightly too sweet an aftertaste for me, as well. From MWW, around £13.

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Back to Jerez…

Just had a week in a (very hot) Jerez. What follows is some of the more interesting bottles with some minimal tasting notes.

All wines tried were from the local region and all were bought, bar two, from Licores Corredera, an excellent wine shop in the middle of town, with an extensive stock and reasonable prices.

Firstly, sherry and manzanilla.

La Ina remains my favourite of the widely sold sherries, even better with a plate of jamon. €4 for a half bottle in a local tabanco. The ham cost more.

Of the manzanillas we tried, including Solear and La Gitana, I preferred San Leon – just a bit more intense. €3.10 for a half which makes it slightly more expensive than the other two.

A new sherry shop had opened round the corner to our apartment. The stock, including wine, was rather ordinary in range – nowhere near as good as Licores –  but they did sell Urium which I’ve never tried and one which is promoted in the UK. Pretty good and the equal to any other en rama tried in England, like Tio Pepe.


Out for a walk one morning I spotted a ‘despacho des vinos’, (shown below) open in what used to be, as I recall, a Lustau bodega. The old boy in front of me was buying five litres of fino from the barrel, at €2.75 a litre. I went for a half bottle of Bertola for much the same price. Rather ordinary, I’m afraid.

The final sherry tried was the best. This was a Colosia en rama, from El Puerto, another sherry town. Very pure, powerful yet refined and elegant. A pleasure to drink and a bargain at €12.60 for 50cl.

Red wines:

This was another El Puerto wine – the vineyard once belonged to someone called Forlong – and was an assemblage of syrah, merlot and tintilla. A good drink but not especially distinctive, around €8.

The next was highly recommended by the equally recommendable Jerez-Xeres-Sherry blog but I found it uninteresting despite it being Tempranillo, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Tintilla with 11 months in oak (€6.40). Made by Barbadillo who supply many restaurants with their very drinkable white Castillo.

The next was a very interesting wine, made from 100% tintilla de rota, as it happens the subject of one of our early blogs, nearly 5 years ago. This grape is usually blended and, on it’s own, made for a powerful, complex drink. Perhaps a little young (this was the 2014). Best slightly chilled, as are all the reds, €10.

The final red of interest is Cortijo de Jara, tried twice, in the same restaurant, the excellent Riva, near the cathedral. (The white was blogged a couple of years ago).

Tempranillo, Merlot and Syrah, very soft and fruity, easy to drink. €13 in the restaurant, so about half that retail.

Next some white wines:

These were both chardonnay but neither was easily identifiable as such. Both very good, clean and crisp with the Barbazul just preferable, having a bit more body and character. (they also make an excellent red). From Licores the Barbazul was €6.60 (€15 in El Almacen, a good tapas bar, as shown) and the Entrechuelos €4.28.

The final white was a lovely wine, Ojo de Gallo made from palomino, the sherry grape. Very rich, stone fruits, hint of bitterness, very elegant, about €8.

I also tried a couple of bottled beers. The first, from Valencia, supposedly made with sea water, was bottle conditioned. Couldn’t detect any sea water. The second (below) was much better, made in Jerez, although I’d have preferred more hop and less malt. About €2.50. Given that a small glass (cana) of Cruzcampo is around €1.10-20 in the bars you can see why craft beer production hasn’t really taken off in southern Spain.

Conclusion: Jerez remains a great place for a holiday (I’ve been about 10 times), especially as Ryan Air didn’t cancel our flights. Lots of interesting wine and food. The town has been through a rough time recently and still has massive debts but there were some signs of a revival. Always good to go back.






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North or South?

I knew, in advance, that this wine was a pinot noir from Burgundy – and the nose was absolutely classic, being more nuanced than a similar wine from, say, New Zealand. Sweet, cherry, a little ‘forest floor’, very attractive. You can see why people are so forgiving of Burgundian wines. However the taste was drier than expected, rather firm, short and tannic. It improved a little in the glass despite being decanted for 2 hours. Definitely a food wine.
All I had to do was determine whether the wine was from the north or south of the region. The firmness suggested north, which was correct.

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Does anyone listen to wine critics?

Every paper and most magazines these days have a wine column. The critics (misnamed because they never actually criticise, unlike, say film critics) recommend a range of wines, usually on some feeble premise. I saw ‘wines for autumn’ the other day. It’s rare that I find these columns of any use. Firstly the wines recommended are not ones I want to buy and, more importantly they aren’t easy to get hold of. It could be a recommendation for a supermarket you don’t shop at or an independent wine merchant who wants a £100 minimum spend and charges for delivery.

One exception is Janice Robinson and her staff who I’ve always found worth reading. They recently reviewed a lot of wines from Vin Cognito. We’ve tasted wines from this supplier before and the wines are invariably interesting. So I took a punt on a few of which this is the first: Cortezada Fedellos do Couto, Ribeira Sacra, 2015, £20.

This was a lovely wine, smokey and peppery, well integrated tannin, lots of fruit, very fresh, very long. 100% pure Mencia – not a grape we’ve ever mentioned before, nor have we ever tasted a wine from Ribeira Sacra, a small region in Galicia. A real find and I wish I’d bought more.



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Some more vintage port

Steve was round for a meal last night and I know he likes port so I went back to my case of 2007 half bottles and picked a couple for us to try. We previously tried two different bottle from the case a couple of years ago.

This time I went for Warre’s and Graham’s which are reckoned to be superior houses to those tried – Smith Woodhouse and Gould Campbell –  in 2015. In addition the extra 2 years maturation has helped a lot as these were both very nice. Fresh, well integrated, lots of fruit, savoury and long. We both marginally preferred the Warre’s.

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