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It’s Pinot Noir, Jim…

…but not at all as I know it, so I was completely baffled, despite having tasted the grape in champagne, either alone or in a blend.

Haltinger Pinot Noir Blanc de Noirs Trocken.

Pale yellow – I couldn’t see the hint of pink Geoff claimed, big floral, chalky nose which soon faded, rather oily in appearance which led to a thickish mouth feel, some acidity and a slight caramel sweetness, although it was definitely dry. No champagne notes for me. I also found it a little cloying on second taste. So, an interesting curiosity.

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Manzanilla

Just enjoyed a week’s holiday in Sanlucar de Barrameda, home to manzanilla. I tried a few over the course of our stay, as follows:

After we arrived I went out to look for a supermarket and came across an Aldi. Totally different wine stock to the UK stores with just one manzanilla, made by Bodegas Baron. Most locals buy their manzanilla in bulk, from the local bodegas.

Very light and very cheap at around €2.49.

I read about a good wine shop in the town centre – Albariza –  and went there the following morning. Lots of interesting manzanilla with, as is customary, all varieties of sherry sold in bulk, from barrels:

This was their manzanilla, blended by the owner’s father and sold en rama (unfiltered). Rich, mouth filling and very long at a bargain €4.50 a litre. It was a very hot week (30C+ every day) so I kept the glasses in the freezer.

Next, from another new wine shop Mar 7, opposite the Argueso bodega, this very interesting drink:

Their own label with no information about the maker, this wine had a pronounced smell of almonds, something I’ve never encounter before. Quite light and a pleasure to drink. €10.

We tried two San Leon manzanillas. The one on the left is a special bottling and was very full with the characteristic woody finish, good value at €5.50 for 50cl. The other is their standard drink (37.5cl, around €3 from the bodega) and one of my favourites. Lots of character and obviously related to the white label bottle.

The en rama revolution has been evident in this country for a while and most of the big bodegas have followed the lead of Tio Pepe in offering a version. I’ve tried La Gitana before – Tanners in Shrewsbury sell it while the Gabriela, a new name for me, was probably the drink of the holiday (€11 for a bottle). Very balanced, complex and moreish. The bodega was only a few streets away and I’d have liked to have tried some of their other wines, but we ran out of time.

Finally two more old favourites (both 37.5cl and around €3) which I always like to retaste since they are not easily available, if at all, in the UK. Las Medallas is the premier wine of Argueso and is rich and complex. The Barbiana is much lighter and great with seafood – Sanlucar is renown for the quality of its prawns.

Finally, back home a manzanilla we haven’t blogged before – Equipo Navazos no. 59 – a pasada (aged) style, unlike any of those drunk in Sanlucar. Heavier, more aromatic and much more expensive. Very classy with great depth of flavour like all the wines from this producer.

 

 

 

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Tempranillo, twice

It struck me the other day that, for someone who usually picks (old school) Rioja as his favourite wine, I hadn’t drunk much of it recently, one blogged in February 2018 being the most recent.

But, this week I had a delivery of a case of La Rioja Alta 2013, ‘Seleccion 874’, ordered en primeur about 18 months ago. Opened on Thursday it had all the tastes and smells of a traditional Rioja (and Rioja Alta are very traditional) but in a slightly attenuated form. This was possibly because the blend was done for the WS and an old/new style balance was sought. Anyway, very drinkable, if fading a bit on day 2. Described as ‘mostly’ tempranillo, with some garnacha and mazuelo. A bargain at around £14.

In contrast the other (100%) tempranillo was definitely a day 2 wine and very different in style. This was a 2014 Torre Silo from Ribera del Duero. On first opening it was quite sharp/raw but eventually mellowed into a lightish drink with lots of sweet dark fruit, with integrated tannins and an attractive mineral back palate. Still going well on day 3. Rather more expensive and apparently made from some pre-Phylloxera vines. I think it came from MWW who now stock the 2015.

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Return to Kefalonia

After four years, back to the Greek island of Kefalonia, this time to Fiskardo, a pretty (and upmarket) fishing village on the northern coast. Unlike Crete, last year, the wine scene on the island is unexciting and it was not easy to find interesting wines, especially if one had self-imposed restrictions of indigenous grapes and Kefalonian vinification – rules I broke just to get some variety. No wine shops, just a couple of supermarkets with similar stock and pricing. A peculiarity was a lack of medium priced wines. Plenty around €6-8 and €16-20, not much in the middle. This might be explained by the presence of some very posh boats in the harbour. None of the wines were especially interesting but here are a few:

We tried a few wines made from robola, the workhorse white grape on the island – this was probably the best with a rich complexity the grape doesn’t always achieve.

This was the first bottle I bought, misreading the shelf price and thinking it was €8, which would have been good value. Actually it was €14 – not so much. Gentilini Notes 2017 60% agiorgitiko, 40% mavrodaphne, 6m in oak 13%, light, savoury, moreish and lasted well into a second day. Gentilini is the upmarket winemaker on the island – this was one of their cheaper bottles but not stocked at the airport duty free, unfortunately.

We had a wonderful boat trip to Ithaca one evening with a taverna meal at the end of it. This was the local rose, made, I think, from mavrodaphne or a local variant. Very drinkable – even from the smallest wine glasses I have ever encountered –  with a slight bitter note. Sold by the kilo, rather than the litre, at a bargain €4.

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Finally another Gentilini Notes, this one mainly sauvignon blanc with 20% tsaoussi, another grape I’ve never heard of and a Kefelonian speciality. Quite low acidity so a good match for SB. Nice wine with clean flavours, around €12.

Conclusion: lovely people, fabulous weather, good and interesting food – didn’t have a bad meal – just rather dull wines.

 

 

 

 

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Boxed wine.

Wine in a box (BiB or bag in a box) has always been popular in France – the co-ops sell their own wine in them, as well as bottles and Calais Carrefour lists 34 different ones. This hasn’t stopped French farmers overturning lorries carrying imported Spanish BiBs but that’s another story. As is the attempt by some sherry producers to market fino in boxes – not allowed as against the regulations.

Anyway, in Waitrose last week I saw a display of a dozen or so wine boxes. I went for When in Rome’s Nero D’Avola at £20.99 (£5 off). Actually from Sicily. The box holds 2.25 litres or three bottles. We’ve tried this one before and it’s a favourite of Angie’s. Bright red, very young and fresh, uncomplicated, easy to drink but with a bit of character. At £7 a bottle good value as well.

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You need the bad…

I was walking with friends at the weekend, around Bradfield, west of Sheffield and then in the city centre. We had some great beer from, among others, Bradfield, Thornbridge and Kelham Island. But one beer was poor. This was a pint of Sam Smith’s Old Brewery bitter at the Traveller’s Rest in Oughtibridge, served much too cold via an electric pump which gave it a one-dimensional taste, although it didn’t improve as it warmed up. A shame as the pub has an interesting, unspoilt, interior. At, least, being Sam Smiths, it was very cheap and, as someone remarked, you need the poor to appreciate the special.

Anyway, on to the wine which was another chardonnay (Hill-Smith, 2015, reduced from £12 to £9 at Waitrose), as last week. It wasn’t bad – not as poor as the beer – but it was nowhere near as good as the Ocean Eight, which was twice the price, admittedly. Decent burgundian nose in a cold climate style, lemony, but way too acidic for me with the three years bottle age having had no effect, that I could taste. It made me realise how good the wine last week was.

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Not from Alsace

This was a riesling from northern Italy. Bright green/yellow, slight struck match – I thought it might be chardonnay –  which faded to be replaced by a recognisable riesling aroma. Initially off dry – which was probably caused by the food we had just eaten – but as the palate cleared the wine was clearly dry with lots of acidity, rather short and simple but a pleasant enough drink which grew on us. Clearly not from Alsace – not enough body – but I only guessed Italy after some prompting, since I’ve never tasted an Italian riesling before.

[Geoff: The Langhe hills in Piedmont give lots of different growing conditions for vineyard owners and the Langhe region DOC has become innovative, importing well known international grape varieties. (This has echoes of the success of the Supertuscans around Bolgheri further south).  Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier and Riesling are now DOC Langhe white wines which can be enjoyed; I wonder how the traditional Italian grape growers view this ‘invasion’. Not particularly complex – but not expensive – this needed food as it started to lose its cleaner mouth flavours after a while. Purchased from Martinez Wines in Ilkley, it is also stocked by The Wine Society].

 

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