Tag Archives: big red

The upmarket crowd pleaser.



This is the wine for those that appreciate better quality wines and yet like to drink something not too challenging. It also  non-vintage because of being made – sherry-like – in a solara system, i.e. the casks are topped up with the newest wine. The blend will vary but is dominated by Zinfandel, with seven other grapes playing a part.

This is Bedrock Wine Co. (Sonoma, Cal.) The Whole Shebang, Eleventh Cuvee(14% ABV). It’s quite light in colour, oak and mellow fruit dominate the nose. The palate is slightly sweet, soft and rich. There is some residual heat and it finishes short and dry. Complex, it’s not; interesting, not particularly; attractive, probably. I know a few people who would guzzle their way through this – and probably regret it in the morning.

[Richard: from Vin Cognito as a substitute for an unavailable wine. Their choice. Not something I would usually buy but I liked it a lot and thought it good value at around £14. As far as I can recall the first wine we have tried (as opposed to sherry) made using a solera system. Upfront and easy to drink.]


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Clos Mogador 2006 by Isabelle and Rene Barbier


This wine comes from Priorat, a relatively small region inland from Taragona in north east Spain. Close Mogador were the first vineyard to gain the Vi da Finca award, essentially a provenance trail but one that’s taken seriously by wine growers. It tops the DOCa Priorat certification. (All this, and more, is available on the interesting Mogador website. It’s worth looking at.)

Four grapes make the blend – Garnacha, Cab Sav, Syrah and Carignan; it’s classed as a riserva so has had 20 months in oak before bottling. Again, their web site shows the tasting notes by the 08 European Sommelier, Isa Bal.

What did we think? No need to remind you, I’m sure, that neither R. or I have the expertise of Isa Bar – but here goes.

Colour: opaque, slight sediment, deep ruby red, showing age on rim, viscous.

Nose: red cherry, cooked , tertiary (ageing) notes, slightly spirity.

Palate: soft, spicy, lean, tannic, dry, medium/short length

Overall: Not a shy wine – quite the opposite, to me it lacked finesse, wasn’t rounded and needed food. Not my type of wine, sorry; it is well reviewed on Cellartracker – so it’s probably me.

[Richard: bought years ago from TWS. Can’t trace the price but it wasn’t cheap, even then. Rather Musar-like in taste and texture, without the added farmyard funkiness that wine often presents, so my kind of drink, in theory at least. Probably should have been drunk earlier, although it was better on day two.]

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“Chacun a son gout…”


“To each his own taste” – so if you like 15% ABV red wines, this is for you. Chateau Puech-Haut St Drezery ‘Tete de Beliers’ 2009 muscles its way in from the Languedoc AC, north-east of Montpellier. It’s hot. Its grapes are Syrah with smaller amounts of Grenache and Mourvedre and “a dollop of Carignan”. And, as I’ve already stated, it’s in the super-heavyweight division of 15% ABV.

There was a fine sediment which clouded the deep black/red hues but the black fruit aromas, including a pleasant fresh blackberry smell were clear. The palate was certainly sweet then cooked black fruits plus road tar and followed by a stewed finish. There was heat on the back palate (Richard) and some bitterness (Geoff).

Putting aside my (probably unreasonable) dislike of highly alcoholic wines for a moment, this certainly was a wine of character and would be an ideal match for a cassoulet, a big southern French stew or anything that can match its intensity and weight. Age will have its calming effect but it’s already ten years old.

There must be some out there that’ll love it.

[Richard: not me unfortunately. I foolishly bought a case of this a few years ago and have just poured half of my eighth bottle down the sink. Didn’t like any of the previous seven either. Too alcoholic, one-dimensional, too Grenache (note the faux Chateauneuf de Pape embossing on the bottle), ultimately too dull. Four bottles to go. Any takers?]



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Georgia on my mind – but not for long.


This wine got us leafing through Johnson’s Wine Atlas, searching for a. Georgia and b. the Kakheti Region. We found both which was interesting – more so than the wine, I’m sorry to say.

The grape is Saperavi, which Oz Clarke feels has lots of potential and even stated that 20/30 year old vines produce wines in the style of Paulliac. Well, in our experience there’s a long way to go yet before that potential is realised. The wine we tried was from humbler origins, Marani in Kakheti and from the 2013 vintage. The abv is 14%.

Deep purple colouring indicated youth (at seven years old!) which was reinforced by its herbaceous aromas and palate. This was dry, showing medium tannins and big in every sense. It was also lacking in any character or complexity and, ultimately, disappointing.

Maybe Oz Clarke can see something I can’t  – I hope so. We’ll come back in a few years’ time.

[Richard: from a Georgian deli in Bethnal Green – we were in London for the Doreen Fletcher exhibition and stayed at the fabulous Town Hall Hotel. I went out for a walk and as I can never resist a food shop, had a look in. All the wines were behind the counter and not accessible (and many of the reds were sweet) so this was a recommendation from the shop assistant. Georgia is often cited as the birthplace of wine but I didn’t sense 8,000 years of craft and tradition behind this one. Unremarkable.]


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A ‘Onesie’ wine


‘Decadent’ is how one taster described this wine. So does it reflect a state of moral or cultural decline? Or is it, more positively, a wine that is hedonistic, indulgent and voluptuary? It’s fascinating how these terms come to be applied to a drink but I can see the reason for them after tasting Richard’s last offering. Carried round in a decanter, the Wirra Wirra Maclaren Vale RSW Shiraz 2010 was then carried back – minus about two glasses – to accompany a meal.

Shiraz is the most planted grape variety in Maclaren Vale – indeed in Australia – providing a whole range of qualities and quite different to the leaner, peppery offering from its northern Rhone birthplace. It’s very popular in the tastings that I run, possibly because of its alcohol levels, slight sweetness and weight. A true ‘Onesie’ wine. (see below)

Very intense, almost black in colour with a ruby red rim, this smelt of cooked blackberries but with acidity that maintained some freshness. Attractive to smell, that acidity was still present in the taste with the addition of a silky smoothness and structured tannins which kept it dry rather than jammy. There was also a greenness, a herbaceous side to which I was drawn, again preserving its freshness. Not particularly complex, this is a popular drink and it’s easy to understand why.

‘Onesie wine’ was a term used for a bottle of wine drunk in front of a whole day’s TV watching on Christmas Day when you don’t even get out of your nightwear. My God, what’s the world coming to !! Moral decline?

[Richard: from TWS over five years ago at a chunky £30 which makes it overpriced, I think, for what you get. Nevertheless a good wine, well made and if you like the style – which I do less and less – you’ll find plenty to enjoy. Vacuum sealed and finished off 4 days later it was completely the same. I’d rather have a Rhone shiraz at an equivalent price. I’ve never heard the term ‘onesie wine’ before but I’ve got one bottle left and will be sure to drink it in my pyjamas.]


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Light and Heavy

No, not something you’d order in a Scottish pub, just two very contrasting wines.

The El Porvenir 2006 came via a Birmingham Wine School tasting of Argentinian wines, in, I think 2009. Around £16? The presenter was offering wines at reduced prices. Geoff may remember more. A rich, powerful (14.9%) wine saved by a refreshing acidity. A near Bordeaux blend (45% Malbec, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Tannat and 8% Syrah) with the last two grapes adding some complexity. Nearly 2 years in new oak but the tannins were well integrated and it was a pleasure to drink – not in the least heavy – but the bottle was, weighing 1.2k. Since supermarket bottles are normally under half that one can deduce that the producers wanted to add some gravitas, not that it was needed.

The Dolcetto (2016) is a grape we’ve only blogged once before and not a grape I could identify blind. Light, indeed pale in colour (12.5%) with a rather muted cherry fruit taste which was spoilt by a persistent ‘woody’ note. A shame since Burlotto is a respected producer. WS £11.50, out of stock.

[Geoff: The Argentinian tasting was by Ruta 40, the name comes from the main road that travels through the wine regions. The grapes are grown at 1750 metres in Cafayete in Salta Province where the cooler air height helps the acidity that Richard remarked on. The wine is kept two years in oak and then another year minimum in bottle. This one has had ten years in bottle – and it’s still fresh with an attractive mic of richness and acidity. It now costs £35, so expensive but if you like that style – and have deep pockets – it’s a good wine.]

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Miles Mossop’s Max 2008 (and Malbec)


Following the two Italian reds last week we tried another duo on Friday, this time from the New World – an Argentinian Malbec and a ‘Bordeaux Blend’ from Stellenbosch in South Africa.

Miles Mossop is a noted wine maker in South Africa; this wine was his Max 2008. He brings in grapes to the Tokara winery and vinifies them under his own label – an arrangement he has with the owners of the winery. His grapes can be drawn from good sites in the Western Cape but the wine we tried was from grapes solely from the Stellenbosch region. Cabernet Sauvignon made up half of the blend, the other two grapes were Petit Verdot (27%) and Merlot (23%). Richard’s comment “everything you hope for in a claret” pretty well summed the wine up.

Ruby red with some ageing evident, this had slight menthol notes but the dominant aromas were of non-specific dark fruits, but a well-balanced blend of plums, blackcurrant and blackberry. The ageing had introduced a cooked, concentrated quality which was really attractive. There was also a “hint of volatility” (Richard) which was beguiling. The tannins were just right, providing enough drying ‘grip’ to prevent the jamminess. This had big, rich flavours and a good mouthfeel; I detected slight heat at the finish (14% ABV).

This was a quality wine which was drinking well just now; ideal for the steak which was to accompany it.

[Richard: Geoff has encapsulated how we felt about this wine. A very nice drink which did, indeed, go well with steak and chips. We blogged another vintage of this wine (the 2006), 18 months ago and weren’t quite so impressed, perhaps because I didn’t decant for three hours, as here. From the WS, now out of stock, about £20 and certainly as good as a similarly priced claret.]

From Max to Malbec. We don’t try Malbec on this blog and those we have tried – all comparatively upmarket – have not impressed.

I tasted this one (Vinalba Gran Reservado 2014) blind and was unable to recognise the grape. A very different appearance to the Max with the colour a glass-stain purple. A green nose with some fruit, leading into a supple, rich, smooth taste and good mouthfeel, albeit one with no real defining characteristics. I’m not sure what ‘Gran Reservado’ means in an Argentinian context – the Vinalba website has no information.

[Geoff: I believe (but can’t confirm) that Gran Reservado entails a minimum of two years ageing but agree that the terms ‘reserve’ and ‘grand reserve’ seem to be used with no actual legal definition of ageing, yield, alcohol levels etc.

I find Malbecs a little uninspiring unless they have a whack of acidity and freshness (which means high altitude vineyards) to balance their full and leathery qualities. This was a better one, and reasonably priced at about £12. The usual blueberry notes came through as it developed.]




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