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Where is Toro?

With the increased interest in wine has come a greater exposure to new regions and grapes. Looking back forty years ago to when we drank Liebfraumilch and dull blends like Hirondelle, when supermarkets carried little stock and when wine merchants were seen as elitist it would have impossible to envisage the massive choice now available. It is very easy to try something new, as this wine shows. I’ve been to Spain many times, I especially like Rioja but I’ve never tried a wine from the Toro region and couldn’t say with any certainty there it is located.

In fact it is in the north west of Spain, near the Portuguese border. A sandy soil means that there are still some pre-phylloxera vines.

This wine (Pintia 2007) was made by Vega Sicilia, one of Spain’s most respected bodegas, using old vine tinta de toro as tempranillo is called in the region. Certainly not an rioja lookalike, in fact I was reminded of a Chateauneuf (it’s 15%) although the taste is purer and ‘thinner’ in the rioja style. After decanting lots of spicy fruit was evident with the tannins integrated. A classy drink which I enjoyed. The bottle was a present, several years ago but I’m pretty sure it came from Laithwaites where it is now sold out, despite mine being bottle number 115,613. Toro wines (not to be confused with Concha y Toro, from Chile) are hard to find in the UK so it may be a while before I try another.


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They used to make chairs…

The name means “ravine of the Boekenhout” which is an Cape beech tree used for furniture making.
Nothing woody about this (2004 Boekenhoutskloof Semillion, WS, out of stock) wine, though. Dark yellow with some green, ‘shoe polish’ nose gaining floral notes, sweetish and waxy, with a burnt, rather hard finish and little complexity, which you might expect from the bottle age. This grape is much more to Geoff’s taste than mine and I found it enjoyable without being compelling.

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The above (2012 Guillemot-Michel Quintaine, WS £19)  is from a Burgundy AOC, never blogged before and, in my experience, more likely to be found in French supermarkets than those in England, although I note than Tesco, MWW and M&S show stock from various makers. A quintaine is either a piece of wood placed in the ground by knights to hold their shield or a mannequin used in jousting. No idea why the wine is so named.

Easy enough to spot as a chardonnay from the region, deep yellow colour, some ‘matchstick’ on the (mature) nose and a rich lemony taste. However not a complex wine and one which became rather cloying after a while, although it seems that a rich style is something the makers aim for. These wines should never be served fridge cold but this one was perhaps slightly too warm.

An enjoyable drink but I think you could do better for the price charged.

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No idea

I was completely baffled by this wine, firstly thinking it New World, secondly French. Wrong and wrong.

A deep red/purple young looking wine with a very vanilla nose which carried onto the taste. Lots of acidity with a touch of greenness, rich, with a highly textured mouth feel. Rather spicy but there was nothing I could latch onto to identify the grape. In fact an Italian Sangiovese, which was, to me, completely atypical.

Geoff picked this up from Vin Neuf, one of his favourite wine shops, in Stratford.

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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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