Tag Archives: chardonnay

Fifth out of six.


The numbers reference the fifth bottle out of a case of six white Etienne Sauzet Puligny-Montrachet Burgundies Richard purchased “as a single man” (his words). We’ve blogged them all and Sunday was the turn of  Les Combettes, a premier cru vineyard abutting the Meursault AC. The vintage was 2011.

A pronounced yellow, with a green  tinge, in appearance, the wine showed some languid viscosity in the glass as it swirled. A nose of fresh lemons was the initial hit but the longer it sat the more smokiness came through. The palate was of medium weight, long, rich with a beguiling aftertaste of honeysuckle and fresh green hazelnuts. These wonderful flavours started coming through after about fifteen minutes sitting in a broad bowled glass; the warmish late-afternoon temperature certainly helped. A refined wine, certainly.

Burgundy’s high prices are well documented and this premier cru wine certainly was expensive. In a restaurant I suppose we may not begrudge spending £50+ for a really good wine but that is certainly a top price in the retail market, in my opinion. Our discussion spun around ‘value for money’ of these wines and whether the demand has put these excellent wines out of range of many wine lovers’ budgets. My estimation of this wine’s true price (if there is such a thing) would be about £35. That’s not denying its undoubted quality but “too much money is chasing too little product”.

[Richard: wines like this are the equivalent of what, in the sightseeing context, has been described as ‘worth seeing but not worth going to see’. I’m certainly glad to have tried top quality white burgundy – and prices are even more expensive now – but I can’t see I’d ever buy another bottle of premier cru. From the nose through to the taste this was clearly a very classy wine which Geoff had no trouble identifying. For me there was rather too much richness and not enough acidity although the many and varied smells and tastes made it a very enjoyable ‘vino da meditazione’, as the Italians put it.]

Comments Off on Fifth out of six.

Filed under posted by Geoff

Le Matchstick (the French have a word for it).


A (man made), flinty aroma of freshly struck matches is, for me, the most instantly recognisable wine smell. As ever, Jancis Robinson explains it well. She quotes an Australian producer, ”over the last three to five years or longer we have seen winemakers of high-end Chardonnay actively seeking to emulate the reductive “struck match” characters found in so many Burgundian whites including Domaines Leflaive and Coche Dury.”

And so it was with this wine. Pronounced struck match nose which followed through onto the taste, a rich mouth feel, lots of tropical fruit flavour but slightly too sweet for me. I had no hesitation in identifying New World chardonnay, which was correct, from Australia, which wasn’t. In fact it was a 2015 New Zealand  from Dog Point, a wine I’ve tasted before, although I don’t remember it as being so sweet.

[Geoff: I have to admit looking forward to this wine because of my liking for well-made chardonnays. Only a few days before I enjoyed an excellent Newton Johnson chardonnay from South Africa; the Dog Point, I assumed, would be at least as good. Richard’s notes sum up my experiences, everything spot on until it came to the finish which was sweet and seemingly out of balance with the relieving acidity. Can’t help but think the Marlborough region must have been very sunny and/or hot that year. Even a spell in the fridge couldn’t up the acidity notes and Claire, my wife, remarked on the sweetness. I recall  having the same issue recently with a Pinot Gris from Kumeu River, so much so I returned it. What a pity! Got another bottle to go.]

Comments Off on Le Matchstick (the French have a word for it).

Filed under posted by Richard

Wine from the suburbs


I know we’ve done this before but I just couldn’t resist another taste. It is from Marsannay, the northernmost AC in the Cotes de Nuits and, as such, starts in the southern suburbs of Dijon. Traditionally famous for its rose, this area also produces red and white wines which, because of the spiralling cost of Burgundy, have been the focus of buyers looking for good value Chardonnays and PNs. It is made by Loius Latour, a well-established Burgundian name of some repute. The vintage is 2011, a good one especially for the white wines.

Pale green colours hinted at good acidity levels and the lack of viscosity also indicated a leanness on body. The nose was very slightly creamy as well as being fresh from lemony citrus. But the over-riding smell was one of fresh hazelnuts.

Dry and long on lime/lemon notes, this was a clean, crisp Chardonnay with very slight yoghurty/creamy flavours which developed as it sat in the glass. A well-balanced, well-made wine if not particularly complex but nicely tight but ripe for drinking now.  A ‘straight up and down’ white Burgundy which cost about £9 from Majestic (they were getting rid) and such good value. I had it with home-made fish soup, lovely.

Comments Off on Wine from the suburbs

Filed under posted by Geoff

A rather fine French sparkling wine


Cramant is a Grand Cru village on the Cote de Blanc, two miles south of Epernay. The limestone rock and Chardonnay grape help produce wines of delicacy and finesse and this was no exception. Part of Richard’s mixed case of growers’ champagnes from the Wine Society, it was a pleasure to try, made even more pleasurable by my relatively abstemious Christmas.

Suenen a Cramant (12% ABV) was an intense lemon yellow, with maybe a touch of green, in colour with a fine mousse. An elegant nose of bruised, rather than stewed, apple was easily spotted as was the yeasty notes that it seems only Champagne can give.

The palate was certainly dry and high in acidity but also with a richness underlying a lemon-sherbet taste. This richness wasn’t allowed to wallow self-indulgently but rather ended in a minerally, chalky flavour which gave it some pleasing firmness. This was full of character, distinctive and, for the host “the quintessential aperitif to stimulate the taste-buds”.

Technically interesting, the label proclaimed a base wine from 2012 (richness), degorgement in March 2015 and   a dosage of 3 grams of sugar per litre, giving it the Extra Brut classification (between 0 – 6g/l).

I prefer this Blanc de Blanc style to the Blanc de Noir because of its finesse but think that it has to be well-made otherwise it can be unforgiving and aggressive. This was certainly neither of those.

[Richard: from a WS ‘growers mixed case’, about £25. We’ve being working through these over Christmas and I think this is probably the best. Unfortunately, now out of stock. Pure and very drinkable, and, even though the acidity is high, the accompanying balancing richness makes for a lovely drink.]

Comments Off on A rather fine French sparkling wine

Filed under posted by Geoff

Flying solo


Last Saturday I had the very great pleasure of opening a bottle of Pernand-Vergelesses Les Combottes 2012 from Roland Rapet. M & S were selling them off relatively cheaply and I had bought some in a mix with other Burgundies and some claret. When M & S do this there are bargains to be had because they also throw in 25% discount for 6 wines; this cost about £15.

PV is a village west of Aloxe-Corton and thus one of the most northern of the Cote de Beaune. It produces both red and white wines and represents good value for money – if that epithet can be applied to Burgundy wines at the moment. However, speaking personally, I’d rather have one of these bottles than two wines of average quality.

The colour was pale yellow, very slightly green, beautifully clear with some viscosity showing. The complex smell was lemon and quince, pungent, concentrated and slightly smokey. The abiding impression from the palate was one of power. The very long dry finish came after the lemon/lime mid-palate and a rich quality that was balanced by the acidity. Freshness, finesse and full of flavour were all the ‘fs’ I could think.

The white Burgundy characteristic I struggle with is ‘hazelnuts’. I could never apply it to Burgundy I had drunk – until I bought and tried some green hazelnuts (cobnuts). And there it was, that Burgundy note. So, roasted hazelnuts are not applicable but fresh nuts are. The PV had this quality. A superb wine from a good vintage.

Comments Off on Flying solo

Filed under posted by Geoff

Bank Holiday tomorrow…



Round to Geoff’s – thus avoiding Songs of Praise, and we got into the bank holiday mood (even thought we are both retired) by trying three wines, all blind for me.

First was a methode champenoise – I guessed this from hearing the noise of the cork being released which was a loud pop rather than a hiss. Clear and bright with a fine, but not powerful mousse. Slightly chalky nose, slightly sweet, a little hard on the finish all led me to suggest a Loire, which was correct.

The Marsannay was easy to guess as a Burgundian chardonnay, just from Geoff’s body (and actual) language – it’s his favourite wine. Rather atypical nose, little matchstick, some oak, a little acidic. Good mouthfeel but again slightly bitter on the finish. Needless to say I had no idea where in Burgundy it came from.

Finally an Italian red, served lightly chilled. Light red, cherry, raspberry flavour, again slightly bitter, rather like a dry lambrusco. I guessed northern Italy and wondered if it might be from the Veneto as it tasted rather like wines I drunk in Venice, a few years ago. Unfortunately though, I kept that thought to myself so it didn’t count.

[Geoff: I’d just like to add, just in case our reader is a member of the medical profession, that we had less than a glass of each wine.

Richard was spot on by identifying Saumur, very impressive. We thought it was an acceptable, if one-dimensional, fizz. However, there are a lot of very ordinary champagnes around at the moment for a lot more money. This cost £9 from Sainsbury’s which was a similar price to the Marzemino red in their Taste the Difference range. The red was a good accompaniment to the salad/fennel salami/mozzarella starter that Claire and I had later. I thought the Marsannay was a tad past its best, but still good, and have got two more from a more recent vintage. It’s the most northerly AC of the Cote d’Or and probably better known for its rose.]

Comments Off on Bank Holiday tomorrow…

Filed under posted by Richard

1er cru white Burgundy


I was trying to explain to a colleague why I prefer wine to spirits and cocktails. The two aspects of wines which I find most interesting are subtlety of flavours and its evolving quality. For me,  as nice as a cocktail is on first tasting, I think that’s it, I understand it and like it – or not – but it will be the same for the next sip. Spirits likewise but I am ignorant of these drinks and recognise the gin market is now so popular that there must be more to it than I’m realising. Whilst uninteresting wine is wine that never changes or has no depth and subtleties, good wine changes in bottle and glass making the next taste different to the previous one. This dynamic quality compels me to pay attention and think about what I’m experiencing.

Puligny-Montrachet’s subtle and changeable qualities were in very much evidence in Sauzet’s PM 1er cru Champ Chanet 2011. The lemon colour, tinged with very pale green hinted at acidity and freshness and the nose continued that theme. Melons and matchsticks were the immediate impressions but that moved to a slight oakiness the longer it sat in the glass, whilst it still maintained its citrus appeal.

The layers of flavour came through in the palate. Fresh, soft lemons, very slight oak with good length this was a wine worth sipping. The overall impressions were of refinement, delicacy and balance – three lovely qualities.

[Richard – the fourth of the (increasingly expensive) bottles from a mixed Sauzet case. All the others have been blogged. Of the four I was least impressed by this one. Good but not great, rather forward with just a bit too much ripeness for me.]


Comments Off on 1er cru white Burgundy

Filed under posted by Geoff