I’ve never been quite sure about the kind of wine drinker Decanter Magazine is aimed at but one thing is sure. It’s not people who buy wine from supermarkets. However even wine merchants, critics and plutocrats can’t drink first growths and grand crus every day so there is a column at the back which reviews a handful of ‘everyday’ wines, a few of which are widely available.
One such was a Jura chardonnay, from J Sainsbury’s, at £11. Wines from the Jura region of France are rarely seen in the UK. The WS list a few, but no chardonnay, which is not a preferred grape in the area.
So we thought it worth a punt. Not tasted blind. Pale lemon colour, typical of the grape. Typical nose too – just about – but rather hard and coarse. No oak which some may prefer. A rather ordinary one-dimensional taste, quite short (only 12%). For me there wasn’t enough varietal character.
[Geoff: I did not find it as ‘hard and coarse’ as my mate (bit austere maybe?) but it certainly wasn’t complex. Its light lemon notes were refreshing (only 12% abv) and it went well with some chicken piece and salad later. Certainly not a vin du garde, I can imagine it being swilled back quite easily in this eastern region. Full marks to J Sainsbury for finding it ‘off the beaten track’ – good value at £11 because of this fact alone. Try it.]
Wine-making in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula grew with the excitement around gold prospecting in the 1800s, a population explosion and the wealth that came with it. The subsequent fashion for fortified wines meant a decline until the 1960s when wines made from cool climate Burgundy grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, were re-discovered. And here we are, 50 years on, with what could be thought of as atypical Australian wine made an hour’s drive south of Melbourne.
Okay, Ocean Eight 2015. Let’s start with the ABV – 12.5%, that’s low for Oz. A colour of lemon-green and some viscosity hints at both acidity and sugars. At first, the nose was muted, slightly matchstick and lemon but this became more pronounced as it sat in the glass. The taste was layered – dry, long and full bodied with lemon and richer honey notes, quite rounded and deep. A complex wine, with almost too much going on which hinted that the wine might need more time. But it was still delicious – and very Burgundian.
[Richard: only 900 cases made and now sold out at TWS. A very good expression of cool climate chardonnay in the French style. Lots of flavour and complexity and very drinkable.]
Tonight’s wine (Pouilly Fuisse Vers Cras Chateau de Beauregard 2012) was deep lemon yellow in appearance with a seductive layered nose I was sure I had smelt before. Big, rich, mouth filling flavour, good length and an excellent sharp/sweet balance. Clearly well made and not at the bargain end of the market. Obviously old world which lead me to suggest chardonnay, France, Burgundy, southern end, Maconnais, all of which was gratifyingly correct. In fact I’d tasted this wine before, in the 2010 vintage, when it was around £20 from TWS. I can’t claim to have remembered the taste though this wine seemed to me much better.
[Geoff: Another good spot by R. Grape, region, sub-region all identified. I associate P Fuisse with wines broader than this sometimes almost to the point of a claggy quality. This, however, had some lovely lemon acidity to keep it fresh and focussed. Yes, it had the hallmark creaminess but it wasn’t overdone. Evidently, the Vers Cras is from limestone only vineyards which accounts for that acidity and elegance. Lovely wine, drinking well now, from the WS at about £17-20.]
Chardonnay from Australia got itself a reputation for over-oaked, alcohol-hot and clumsy flavoured wines which then spread to other areas which produced Chardonnay wines. The ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) club was born. The amount of people that I talk to at wine tastings that dislike Chardonnay but love Chablis is remarkable.
That is a precursor to tasting Paringa Estate’s Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay from Victoria which came with an ABV of 14%. There was some viscosity in the glass but it was a remarkably pale green, heralding the delicacy shown on the nose. Quite ‘multi-faceted’ (Richard), we both could detect spicy ginger notes. The palate was smoky, creamy immediately then changing to a lemon/lime crispness whilst finishing ever so slightly sweet. It was a layered, powerful wine in the linear style of a Puligny rather than the broader Meursault but that could be because of its relative youth. The alcohol was well integrated but that power suggests a long life ahead in which it will change. It’s drinking well at the moment.
The estate’s web site is very informative and professional which suggests a good operation. It’s worth a visit – the web site, I mean. And the estate, of course, but it’s a long way.
[Richard; from a mixed case of wines from the Mornington area, about £25 and worth the money. Nothing much to add to Geoff’s comments except to say it showed a slight tendency to coarseness as it drank. Not tasted blind and I think we both would have struggled to identify the country of origin.]
Geoff doesn’t recall – and it wasn’t blogged – but we’ve tasted this wine (Meursault, L’Ormeau Coche-Bizouard 2010) before, albeit in a different (2008) vintage. It was from the WS, £29. Unfortunately, although I can recall tasting it I have no memory of what it actually tasted like. So onto the 2010: green yellow, very bright and crystalline (‘star bright’ as they say in the brewing trade), typical lemony Burgundian nose but with little ‘matchstick’. Good rich mouthfeel, very high acidity, rich, long, rather sour (not meant as a criticism) green apple taste, not that complex. A delicious classy drink.
[Geoff: I was in two minds about opening this, thinking it may be too young, but I had four so it was a bit of a tester. And, as I thought, it was still a teenager, although not an awkward one. Edgy, yes, but the acidity was focussed; it was just lacking that broader quality I love in Meursaults. Still very intense, it will be worth waiting another two years. I am delighted that Richard – that Bourgogneophobe – enjoyed it.]
Vin Cognito is an on-line wine supplier who can both supply good quality wines and, nearly as important, write about them in an engaging way. But you have got to be in the mood to sit and read the cleverly crafted screed. The essay that accompanied Decelle Villa’s Bourgogne 2014 re-worked Jason and Golden Fleece fable, i.e. initial disappointment followed by a wonderful, last minute find of white Burgundy at a (just about) affordable price. And it was good, as we found on Sunday night.
A weighty-looking green with hints of lemon, the wine proclaimed youth – and body – but it was an initially shy youth. It started to come out 15 minutes after being poured (needed decanting, I thought) and started to reveal some very classy notes of lemon zest with a slightly creamy (oak?) aroma. This, to me, smelt of a quality white Burgundy – lovely. The flavour was intense, long and dry. All fresh lemons backed up with green hazelnuts, this wine was “not a sipper”, it needed food, the flavours were so intense. I thought it still had plenty of development to come and Richard later decanted it – but he can write about that. It was a very good for an entry level Burgundy
One small statement in Vincognito’s thesis about the wine was worth noting. They said of the producers Decelle Villa, “Well, here’s a producer whose wines defy that logic, at least for the time being, while they are making a name for themselves.” A touch of realism in the myth-making, perhaps?
[Richard: we’ve blogged on wines from Vin Cognito before and they are a reliable supplier, especially if you want something different. I purchased a couple of bottles of the above after getting an email saying how good the wines were, limited quantity, hurry, hurry, hurry, etc. Experience with The WS has taught me that such emails can often be a little over-enthusiastic – but not in this case. A classy wine which improved with decanting becoming rounded and creamier, as you would expect. Worth keeping the other bottle for a couple of years, I think.]
This wine exudes power – its most significant characteristic. Kooyong chardonnay 2016 from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia is made from grapes grown on sandstone and ironstone, as the website states “adding a characteristic firmness and masculinity to structure already present”. Sand, loam and clay are also present in varying quantities and the wine certainly reflected this complexity. It wasn’t all Aussie machismo. It was very enjoyable – a good find by Richard.
Pale lemon green in colour with medium viscosity, there was a delicate, floral note to the understated nose which took a while to open up and reveal some typical match-stick notes. The ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’ analogy was exhibited on the long, dry palate which showed after some initial fruit sweetness. Then the power was turned on – intense, focussed and battery-charged for a long drinking window which will show more pleasing complexities. The wine had no hint of the fat buttery notes of the out of condition old-style Oz chardonnays. It was really enjoyable.
[Richard, from TWS as part of a mixed red/white Mornington case. Geoff deduced the location once he realised it was a New World wine. A very classy wine with some Burgundian overtones.]