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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Talker Reserve 2007 Szekszardi Bikaver

Every year we go away just before Christmas to do a bit of shopping and of course eating and drinking are normally involved somewhere along the line; this year we went to Budapest in Hungary. It snowed a little while we were there and the temperature was low, -5 C or less a lot of the evenings and I don't think it rose above 0C for all of the 5 days.
We ate a lot of hearty meals where a lot was paired with gnocchi, dumplings, pasta or potatoes and we indulged in mainly red wines. The first was a 2007 heavy hitter at 14.5% from Szekszardi and was a blend of grapes, or a 'Cuvee' as the waiter kept correcting me and was a Bikaver. The Takler Reserve had been matured in oak for 18 months with 30% of it being first use, ie. new oak and the remainder second and third use barrels, the oak will probably have been Hungarian Oak.
On the nose it was perfumed and elegant, packed with red fruits, this continued through to the palate, but WOW was it a heavy hitting wine, everything was big, the oak flavours, the alcohol, the extraction. Very New World in style, but maybe a little heavy handed, where the belief was ' more is better ' ?
It had fresh acidity in its favour which helped lighten the whole wine, and although we started it without food, it was easier to drink with! But I will say we did not finish the bottle...... First time in a while that we have not, this speaks for itself.
We ate at a lovely Restaurant called Cyrano's near Vorosmarty Square near some Christmas market stalls.
Great food, lovely atmosphere and the wine was fine. Score 83

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Beaujolais - as it is the season of Nouveau

For many of a similar age to me ( 60's child), Beaujolais (BN) is tainted by all the Beaujolais Nouveau that was around in the 80's, it was pink/red, it had a fizz to it and was sickly.... a candy floss and bubblegum combo!
For those who have never heard of had BN, then you have not missed alot. It is not allowed to be released until a certain date in November, the third Thursday of the month, and many years ago, there was a rush to be the one acquiring it for the first night..... Merchants who had it put chalk board notices outside to draw customers in. It was a big Event!

Well they do still make it, though now if you were to try and find it in the UK you would have to search hard - thank heavens for the internet. But you can find it in M&S, Waitrose and Majestic - if you want to give it a go for the first time - or live Retro.
The huge amounts made in the 70's and 80s, it was 58% of the whole production has now shrunk to less than 30%, with sales of the 10 'cru's' in the north of Beaujolais ( closest to Macon in Burgundy ) have increased along with the Beaujolais Villages and plain striaght Beaujolais.
It is the latter 2 that I tasted recently, we also ventured into the Beaujolais Blanc and Rose that I have never tasted before ( Not knowingly anyway ).

Beaujolais Blanc's - we tried 2. 
Domaine des Terres Dorees 2010 Jean-Paul Brun from Charnay in the south of Beaujolais from a 26ha site, made from the Chardonnay grape and it was as expected, pale lemon green, dry citric and apple on nose and palate, and a slight added whiff of melon and a touch of oak. Quite a charmer. £17.28  from Savage Selection.
Score : 85

Domaine Arnaud Aucoeur 2010 a Beaujolais Villages Vieilles Vignes Blanc from Morgon in Beaujolais, again Chardonnay was the culprit and this was perfumed, floral with a red apple edge, citric on the palate with a bitter pith finish, but the intensity of flavour was lacking, it was 'thin' but still a easy wine. Available from Yapp Brothers at £8.75.
Score : 80

Beaujolais Rose - we had only one, a Chateau de Grandmont 2010 from Blace in Beaujolais, a small site of 9ha owned by Jean Brac de la Perriere. This was a lovely pale salmon, aromas were not quite so tempting, 'sweaty feet' was my first note, hurriedly added to with 'cheese and sweeties', I also felt that this wine was tired already, on the palate there was a lack of fruit, it was a touch dusty, shame because this wine made from Gamay ( the grape that most red  is made from) was a stunning colour and looked swish and silky. Can be found at Christopher Piper Wines at £7.09.  Score : 75

Then we went onto the Beaujolais Red's - or Rouge if you want. The first was a straight Beaujolais,  Vieilles Vignes  2011 from Charnay in the South of Beaujolais and was a Clos des Vieux Marronniers. Purple in colour and baked red fruit on the nose - this did not tempt me in, but non the less I sacrificed myself as one has to do. The wine was silky, there was fruit, cherry, berry, but thin and baked slightly bubble gummy, chalky tannins which were soft and ripe, the length was good but thin acidic red fruits..... Not the best Beaujolais I have had..... but by no means the worst....
and you can buy this Gammay wine from the Oxford Wine company for £9.49.   Score : 76

The next was a Beaujolais-Villages, supplied by Bibendum at a cost of £7.30. It was Monmessin from the Quince-en-Beaujolais 2010  and this wine won a IWC Great Value Trophy 2006. Beaujolais-Villages means that the wine can come from a number of locations/Villages and then blended, there are often not the Cru's ( 10 named villages that are eligible to put their name on a bottle of wine, as they have more prestige /cost if the wine comes solely cru areas). It was a perfumed wine with bags of fresh red fruits and th e wine was fresh and zingy, the taste was juicy, slightly washed out but the acidity was zippy, the alcohol in balance  and the tannins chalky and slightly veiled. The length was good but there was an aftertaste of bubble gum, maybe due to the carbonic maceration. The price is good and so I scored it 78, and would be extremely happy to drink it!

The next wine was a Cru wine from the village of Brouilly, the year - 2011 and the maker - Domaine Georges Descombes. A light floral aroma, red juicy fruits and a slight candy floss aroma greet you, this follows onto the palate, where both red and black fruit intermingle and the tannins are chalky and ripe and the acidity was slightly lower than some, but still works well with the wine as a whole, length was good with sweet plum fruit with a slightly confected finish, but not unpleasant. A lovely wine with a price of £15.99 from the Caves de Pyrene. The winemaker is a well known good producer and this wine comes from a 11ha vineyard. Score : 80

We then moved on to another village wine, from appellation Chiroubles ( though the vineyard is in Fleurie) 2010 from the Domain de la Chapelle Des Bois and the makers are Chantal and Eric Coudert-Appert. Swirling aromas of flowers, red fruits and sweet liquorice intermingle with farmyard type nuances, on the mouth this has red and black fruits, spices play a role in its character with ginger, liquorice and vanilla all wrapped up together, all silky and supported by the ripe yet textural tannins, this wine has more body and alcohol than previos wines and the acidity also steps up a gear, a great wine with lots of length and character, a slightly bitter finish, but it does not spoil the overall wine. Score : 83 and is available from Stone, Vine and Sun for £11.25, not a bad price for a wine that would match with many foods, pate, chicken, meaty fish, terrine..... Enjoy!
Score : 80

And we moved on...... Chateau de Fleurie 2010 from La Chapelle de Guinchay in Fleurie, this is from the Oxford Wine Company and costs £12.35. On popping my nose in the glass, flowers, red and black fruits and a hint of anise spice all hit me, on tasting it cherries, plums and spice all fill the mouth, the tannins are textural, chalky and silky at the same time, finegrained and sort of chewy, they really added another dimension to this wine. The alcohol was enrobing and the acidity lifted the wine with its freshness, altogether a lovely wine with lots of food potential again, elegant and finegrained were my last thoughts. Oh.... and Yummy!
Score : 82.

Another village - Julienas 2009, Georges Duboeuf, this wine is from Waitrose and is a bargain £9.01, it is spicy, juicy fruity, and silky throughout, elegance was a word I wrote down and this was from the first sip, well integrated! Score : 82

And then we had another wine from a different Cru or Village - Morgon, this wine was again a bargain at £7.30 from Bibendum and comes from Cotes de Py, a 13ha site and the label is Domaine Marcel Lapierre Morgon 2011, purple tints in the ruby wine give it away as young - as do the fresh fruits, red and black, the spice adds another dimension and fill in the gaps in the fruit, lots of vanilla and sweet cherries, all mixed up and well knitted together - a real charmer! Fine grained tannins, sweet black fruit and liquorice all got this wine a score of 84.

And finally the king of the Cru's, Moulin-a-Vent, one of the Cru's that can age ( Morgon can in some cases as well), Chateau des Jacques Moulin-a-Vent La Roche 2006 and is from The Wine Society at £21. This was a true garnet colour, rim and core. Sweet spices and red mature ripe fruit all vie for attention as do the tertiary notes ( wet leaves / farmyard..... whatever you want to call it), there is an aroma of well matured and cleverly used old oak, a sweetness to the spice and rounded at the same time. On tasting it - there was no disappointment, spice and fruit, aged to perfection, the tannins soft and silky, the length was good and exhibited sweet spices and gently vegetal nuances all the way with a finish of red fruit - a lovely wine.
Score : 89

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Blind tasting No 5 Result


Having tasted the wine last night, I later unveiled it to find that the wine was a Zinfandel from California, it was a Ravenswoods, Lodi Old Vine Zin 2009. I tasted it again during the evening and as the wine opened up so did the intensity of the woody flavours, in fact after 3 hours the wine left bitter wood tannins as an after-taste....... It did not stop me from drinking it, but I think the advice must be to drink it quicker.....?



The Moneyspider 2004 d'Arenberg Roussanne

At lunch we were having a roasted casperti squash with a stuffing of quinoa, chilli, ginger, garlic and spring onion and then it had a tahini and orange mix on the side, and we wanted to try this Roussanne wine from down under and this was our opportunity. It was quite old for a white wine but this still had lots of tropical fruit, a mouth coating texture and a whiff of petrol...... which was a surprise, it had a hint of tropical Oz Riesling!  It had quite a punch of alcohol but it was matched by the juicy fruit. The texture was nearly oily, reminds me of Roussanne from the south of France. And I think it's colour gave its age away along with the petrol aroma.  The length is great and there is a bitterness on the finish reminiscent of Seville Orange.
Score : 86




Friday, 23 November 2012

Blind Tasting Friday no. 5

Once more Peter has done his husbandly duties ........ and no ...... not what your mind slips to, but his duties are to descend to temptation and pick a wine he wants that I will then do a blind tasting. This of course means there are 2 big pointers already in place. 1) it is a wine that Peter will lik, but then not such a pointer as i can't recall at this point a wine that he does not like..... 2) it is something we have in our cellar.

So at first glance ,once poured - it is a red wine with a great depth of ruby colour and those slow fat legs draw you in ( great in a wine but not so good if he said the same about me.....) . When you have a quick sniff you are bowled over by lush black fruits, cherries, plums, blackberry..... Coconut and vanilla enrobe the fruit and there is a gentle waft of rich coffee and warm chocolate, I am now looking forward to the first taste, so I have a slurp....... The reward is rich black fruits, ripe and juicy, a hint of red fruits and the acidity stops all that sweet fruit from being too much. The alcohol as expected from those slow fat legs, is quite warming but not so high that it is detrimental to the wine, more that it is part of its make up. Again chocolate wraps itself around the fruit. Coconut and vanilla imply American oak used in the making of this wine.
Overall my thoughts  - this is a wine from a warm region, American oak is used, black fruits with a rich ripe feel and the tannins evident but ripe. Full bodied and full in flavour - juicy and lush, not a wine that you can drink a lot of, but I will try, a martyr to the cause, all in the interest of science.
Watch this space.
Nightie night.

Pinot Noir - Cono Sur biggest Pinot producer?

The last harvests from both New Zealand and Burgundy have been greatly reduced, New Zealands by 18% due to bad weather and Burgundy has seen its smallest harvest since the 1950's due to frost, hail, mildew and poor flowering.
Cono Sur launched its Pinot Noir project to champion its flagship variety in the late 90's and this year sees 292ha of Pinot Noir under vine, compared with its biggest rival, New Zealand's Brancott Estate, with 58ha, it  sold 34,306 9-litre cases o the UK off-trade ( shops etc...) in 2012, while its closest rival, Brancott Estate, sold 33,463 9-litre cases. In total it exported 51 000 9-litre cases to the UK which is its top export market and is followed by US, Canada, Japan and Finland.
Cono Sur's winemaking manager Matías Ríos has been at Cono Sur since 2000 and says the wine produced has been very consistant with little variation, good weather/climate plays a part in this. He described the Chilean style of Pinot Noir as "fresh and elegant, with ripe, complex tannins and delicate notes of black cherries".
He uses the Burgundian method of vinification to produce eight different versions of Pinot Noir in its portfolio including its entry-level Bicicleta range, Reservas, Organics, sparkling, an ultra-premium label called 20 Barrels and icon wine Ocio.
Cono Sur Reservas Pinot Noir from the Casablanca Valley in Chile is my mainstay wine - a good value drinking wine which seems to always give me a hug. This is on special offer in Waitrose at the moment for £7.99.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

J Bouchon Merlot Reserva 2011 Maule Valley Chile

I joined a local wine group this week for a tasting and David - one of the members had very kindly picked 6 wines to taste blind - some were easier than others, this was the last and sixth wine tasted that evening.
This was my least favourite of the wines we tasted, it had less to recommend it. It lacked intensity, any real personality and seemed to me to be a poor example of a Chilean Merlot. Drinkable but not memorable.
The fruit on both nose and palate was red, cherry, plum and  redcurrant, and the lack of freshening acidity, high alcohol and insignificant tannins, left this wine flaccid and lush, one that you will not come back to at a later date thinking you want more. Maybe time will allow to improve - though I doubt this due to the low acidity and tannins..... it will not age well.
It is a wine made in the Maule Valley in Chile and the maker is Julio Bouchon.
Score : 70 and the cost was £5.79 from Underwoods in Warwick.

Quinta El Refugio 2011 Toro Spain

I joined a local wine group this week for a tasting and David - one of the members had very kindly picked 6 wines to taste blind - some were easier than others, this was the fifth wine tasted on the evening. It had the look of a young wine with purple core and narrow purple rim, it had jammy aromas, baked black fruit with only a hint of spice having received 5 months in American Oak barriques. The jamminess continued onto the palate but was accompanied with a sharp blackcurrant which played well dry stalky tannins and fresh acidity. The wine is made from Tinto de Toro grapes - that is Tempranillo to you and me, and has warmth from the alcohol content, 14.5%. Felipe Nalda Jnr, son of Riojanas' master winemaker Felipe Snr is the maker here and the grapes are sourced from selected high altitude vineyards more than 2,000 ft above sea level. Situated in the north-west interior of Spain, and the conditions can be harsh - making the grapes more intense in flavour at times.
This is a wine that can keep for 2-4 years and the fruit may mellow to produce a more elgant wine, it has a muscular personality at the moment, this will stand it in good stead.
Score : 82 and d at Underwoods Wine in Warwick, (£5.79 to David - special price again - and a good price for such a wine).

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Chateau Rossenovo Bulgarian Cabernet Sauvignon

I joined a local wine group this week for a tasting and David - one of the members had very kindly picked 6 wines to taste blind - some were easier than others, this was the fourth wine tasted on the evening, and this is a wine that was definetly better tasted blind, it was a wine that would have been judged differently if you knew what it was ( well I am sure I would have judged it before I had tasted it).
This wine had a lovely garnet rim and indicated some age - 4-5 years plus, when we popped our noses in the glass - there were alot of satisfied 'ummms', cedar, spice and a good whallop of black / red fruits hit you, slight mustiness to start but alot of wines have this when tasted straight after opening and disappear after a few swirls.
On the mouth, silky texture, black fruit and cedar box were my initial write-downs, good acidity, keeps that big fruit fresh, the alcohol was bang on, warm but not out of kilter, tannins - well they were dry, stalky but savoury at the same time. I felt this wine was from a cool climate, had lots of elegance and some class!
The length was good but not great - I had judged this wine as a good quality Bordeaux ( sort of Cru Bourgeois quality from the left bank - Cab Sauv dominant) it was a varietal it was not going to come from Bordeaux - the land of blends......
On unveling the wine, David sheepishly admitted that this was a wine from Bulgaria, South Black Sea Coast,  and the cheapest wine of the night - and as we foulater at the end of the tastas alot of peoples favourites...... Brilliant!! I love a bargain!
Chateau Rossenovo can be found at Underwoods wine in Warwick at the bargain price of £4.98.
Score : 89

La Fetard Grenache Vella Frontera Cotes Catalanes 2007

Joined a local wine club this week for a tasting - had a great time, one of the guys, David, had put together a selection of wines to blind taste - and they were all different varietals, this was the third wine we tasted.
This wine had a wide rim and was quite deep ruby coloured, and on the nose was blackfruit, blackberry, black ripe cherries and a slight aroma of decaying meat and one that points at the wine having a little age this was confirmed by the cedar box aromas and sweet spices. On the palate, sweet black fruits- ripe and plump, lots of oak flavour, the acidity was low and the alcohol was quite high - slightly out of kilter with this wine for me, it was dry with a slight stalkiness and was quite an elegant fine chiselled wine, I guessed from southern France and a Syrah - and it turned out to be Grenache from the french/spanish border, and I went back and re-examined the colouring - I am still surprised that the colour was ruby and reatively deep for a grenache...... but hey ho - that is the fun with wine!
The wine costs £8.28 from Underwoods ( though David got a deal..... at £6.90), and I scored it 87.

Terrafirma Nero d'Avola from Sicily 2010

I joined a local wine group this week for a tasting and David - one of the members had very kindly picked 6 wines to taste blind - some were easier than others, this was the second wine tasted on the evening!

This was obviously a young wine, it was ruby with strong purple tints and a kind of blackness too it. On the nose it was perfumed, spice and red fruits figured in its makeup - sweet dried fruit (like christmas cake) and a slightly musty edge ( this said Italian to me, alot of their wines have a mustiness to it, not a negative, just part of the base composition ). Tasting it told me that it was silky smooth, had warm alcohol but in balance, and the tannins were quite low and smooth, the acidity was fresh but quite supportive of the structure of the wine.
I felt this wine was from a cool climate from the flavour profile, fine grained - chiselled, so it was a surprise when I found out that it was from Sicily( quite warm.... to say the least )and the Nero d'Avola grape......  On research I found that the fruit for this wine is sourced from two vineyards. The first is near Pachino, in the hottest part of Scicily and contributes a rich, mulberry character. The second is high in the Madonie mountains east of Palermo and gives elegant notes of red cherry and currant. And the wine is made by Michael Palij of Winematters of Oxford, a Master of Wine who runs wine appreciation and education courses.
The cost of this was £5.00 from Underwoods in Warwick or £7.75 from Oxford wine.
I scored this wine 82.

Deen De Bortoli Vat 8 Shiraz Australia

Joined a local wine club last night for a tasting - had a great time, one of the guys, David, had put together a selection of wines to blind taste - and they were all different varietals, this was the first we tasted.
It was a youngish red wine at first glance, ruby with a wide rim, on the nose it was black and red fruits with a bit of a twist, herbal notes, a little stalkiness and some vegetal mushroom, this points towards a wine with a little age. On the palate, again the fruit and herbal notes, the tannins were soft and slightly chalky, good acidity and the alcohol tasted quite high - so I would have guessed somewhere warm.
It turned out to be a Shiraz from South East Australia by Deen De Bortoli Vat 8 I id not guess it correctly, and it guessed southern Italian as it had the stalky nuttiness......
It cost £7.04 from Underwoods in Warwick and I scored it 83

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Blind tasting No. 4 Result

Well I was close on this one. The wine was a Amarone della Valpollicella from Bonazzi ...... And the year - 2001, so older than I thought. Still masses of fruit in there, though also lots of oak as the Italians often do!

Blind tasting No. 4

Blind tasting time again, and my better half once more obliged. After popping down to the cellar he whisked himself off to the utility room to open the bottle in secret.. He left the wine to gasp for 10 minutes in the glass and then I was allowed at it.
Immediately it was obvious that the legs on the rich ruby wine were slow and thick - and really obviously spoke of higher alcohol wine. The wine had garnet tints at the edge of the glass, and the core of the wine was deep ruby. Aromas of rich red fruits drifted from the glass, old mature spices enveloped them and there was a mushrooms edge that hinted at an aged wine ( along with the garnet tint).
The sweet red fruits continue on to the palate, bitter, sour cherries, spice once more plays a very strong role, with a bitter pithy edge to the overall flavour. The alcohol is slightly spirits and not well integrated and overplays its role, but the wine has great breadth, broad range of intertwined flavours and enough acidity to carry the fruit successfully. The texture is silky and mouth coating with the body being quite full and rich. Great length, red pithy bitter cherries but the alcohol leaves a memory of warmth and richness.
Overall the wine is rich, higher in alcohol than I would want, the bitter pithy fruit and a slightly nutty, mushroom flavour leads me to surmise that the wine is from an old world region, but warm as the alcohol is high and the flavour compounds full and rounded. It has some age, probably 6 years+ and has that sour cherry edge........
I would think that it comes from the veneto region in Italy and is a Valpocello Ripasso, or a Amarone della Valpolicello......
Watch out for the results posted later...... What do you think?

Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Sherry Revival

I have always loved sherry - it is just the type I love that has changed as the years have sped by...... as a student it was cheap, sweet cream I am embarassed to admit, and recently I tasted it again and cannot believe what I drank! But now the range of good sherry has never seemed better, and something for every occasion!
A couple of years ago I toured the Jerez region and enjoyed the Fino sherries avaiable at most bars and restaurants that we ate at, with nuts, with olives, with cheese, with jambon......we chose to eat and drink 'local'.
We toured the vineyards and winemaking facilities of Gonzales Byass, and did a tasting of the range under the expert guidance of their Marketing Director, Jeremy Rockett. Wonderful experience, and it opened my eyes to the possibilities for Sherry.
Last night we were luck enough to relive part of the experience, once more with  Jeremy Rockett who did a tutored tasting with a local wine group, and some of the sherries previously tasted were revisited, with some new additional gems.
Tio Pepe was where we started our tasting, this is the Gonzales Fino sherry, pale and dry with a near salty quality that reminded me of salted almonds with a touch of savouriness from some bacon mixed in. This is pale because Fino sherry undergoes biological ageing ( under a yeasty 'Flor' in the barrel which feeds on the alcohol and sugars that remain in the wine made from Palomino grapes) and no oxidative ageing takes place. Half a million cases of this are made/sold each year - this is a big business that runs like a well oiled machine. The barrels of 'Fino' are tested avery 3 months to ensure that the Flor that guards it against oxidative ageing are growing well and intact, this is done by inspection, and followed by testing the wine itself for the acidity and alcohol levels. The action of the Flor produces aromas and flavours that are quite unique and are due in the main to acetaldehyde ( a chemical that we never 'eat'orth remembering as it is also found in other wines ) , the flor consumes the glycerol contained in the wine so reducing the viscosity / silky texture in the wine, this was apparent in the Finos that we tasted.
If I thought the first, Tio Pepe, was a delight, the second knocked my socks off, it was a Una Palma Fino ( Fino Palmas ) and this started out as a better quality, finer style of Fino and then has been matured for at least an extra one and a half years extra with Flor, it is slightly darker, a more intense and yet finer aroma, the texture was silkier and the flavours were also more intense and concentrated, savoury, yet citric at the same time, the finish was long and had a salty end, stunning! The wine is neither filtered or fined and this adds another layer of complexity, yeast and bread notes intermingle with the fino aromas and flavours. You should taste it if you can, it is like the En Ramas - another unfiltered and fined wine that Gonzales Byas produces. It keeps for up to 6 months, though some who have kept it for longer insist that it keeps fresh well past the expected date due to the remenants of yeast. If you can find this, and that is unlikely as most places that had it have sold out - it will cost £12-15. There are other finer versions, Dos, Tres and Cuatro Palmas's, these go from £17 -53 depending on which you buy. They are available to taste from Calamino bar in London, near Kings Cross - I believe.
The evening continued with 2 Amontillados, which are in effect aged Finos after the Flor has died, they vary in age from 8-12 years old, the 2 we tasted were Vina AB (10 years old) at about £11.99 and Del Duque at £16.49 for a 30 year old gorgeous example. Both are dry as all Amontillado's must be, both with some brown/copper colouring, the added age of course brought added colour due to the oxidative aging that occured after the flor had died.  The Vina AB had floral, nutty notes and a feint dried fruit edge, while the older Del Duque had alot more dried fruit ( dates and figs), nuts in abundance, hazelnuts and walnuts, rich and complex, both had a dry finish with lingering dried sweet fruits.
And once more we moved on - to Palo Cortado, a sherry that I have always thought of as a failed Fino, but this is no more, Palo Cortado's are now produced regularly and in quanity under controlled conditions to order by most of the large companies producing sherry, and Gonzales Byass use the finer style of wine that would normally be used to make Fino then aged in the same way as an Oloroso......, so in effect it is a finer Oloroso style!
The first of the 2 Palo Cortado's (PC) was the Leonor at £11.99, and this was 12 years old, was dry with figgy aromas and dried fruits with spiciness on the palate, the second PC was the Apostoles, a 30 year aged PC with up to 10% Pedro Ximenez added as a sweetener, as it has about 60g/l residual sugar it should no longer ( due to rule changes on labelling) be called a Palo Cortado...... This wine was a dark copper brown with concentrated and complex aromas of figs, nuts, all rich and alluring, the length was long with sweet dry fruits all the way, but the acidity was higher than previous sherries tasted and this kept it fresh and had a dry finish, and it was a dream with the strong cheeses that were on our table ( and not too bad with the florentines either....).
So Oloroso's were next on our list, we started with a dry one called Alfonso at £11.99, it was quite full bodied, rounded and balanced, some dried fruit and salty nuts, quite joined up! The second Oloroso, Solera 1847,  was a sweet version with 25% Pedro Ximenez added before it entered the Solera where it spent 8-10 years on average so allowing it to integrate, the smell of raisins was extreme, it was brown in colour and a tarry blackness to the core, the figs and raisins in its character were sweet and rounded, dry at the finish but charming throughout. A 30 year old Matusalem Oloroso Dulce was the last Oloroso, with 120g/l of sugar but complex, concentrated and would be a stunner with chocolate, christmas cake and pud,the dried fruits, savouriness and fresh acidity made it feel young and vibrant and rich at the same time - this sells at £16.49 per half bottle, and it is a definite on our christmas table - for sure!

Finally we came to the real sweeties, Pedro Ximenez (PX), sweet through and through, the Nectar was a simple syrup of figs mix, deep and treacley, viscous and without alot of interest, just sweetness. The alcohol on this was about 15%, the legal minimium for something to be labelled a sherry, in fact the alcohol after a sluggish fermentation lies in the 7-8% range , but is fortified to get it up to the 15% required. The second PX was a 30 year old much more complex wine with a broader cross section of fruit, higher acidity (so not so sickly sweet), and a richness that drew you in, Neo is about £16.50 per half bottle, and the residual sugar lies in the 40% range, but had sufficient acidity and complexity to carry it off.
Quite a tasting - and it changed the minds of many at the tasting, some had not indulged in this varied and fortified wine much, but this has opened their eyes, and mine - well, there werises, and I have been searching out some gems to buy!

Monday, 5 November 2012

La Croix de Beaucailou, St-Julien 2009, Bordeaux, France

A wine we tasted at a Lay and Wheeler Wine Tasting in Birmingham was La Croix de Beaucailou, St-Julien 2009 from left bank Bordeaux of the Medoc in France. It is the second wine of Ducru-Beaucaillou and is a mix of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot.
 The enticing leather aromas intertwined with mainly black berry fruits and ripe cherry and plums tempt yo to taste,  and all follow on to the palate and then the tannins which are dry, ripe and chalky take a hold - the acidity and alcohol are integrating well and support this elegant powerful wine, it needs to age for 3+ years to reach its potential, and the complex savouriness and mineral liquorice finish will be a further delight.
Available from Lay and Wheeler at £32.28.
Score : 89

What has been written about this wine :-
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
 The grand vin is the result of an increasingly strict selection process, with approximately 50% of the production going into the final wine and the balance used in the Croix de Beaucaillou. The 2009 may be the finest example of this cuvee I have yet tasted. Up-front, precocious and generous, it possesses a dense purple color, a big, broad, unctuous texture and abundant notes of creme de cassis and black cherry fruit intertwined with hints of wood smoke, vanillin and earth. This nearly viscous-styled wine can be drunk in 2-3 years or cellared for 15+.  (2/ 2012)

89-92 points Wine Spectator
 Rose, mineral, currant and berries on the nose. Full-bodied, with firm and chewy tannins and a long finish. Polished and pretty. Could use a little bit more in the center palate, but very good indeed.

La Dame Montrose, St-Estephe 2009, Bordeaux, France

We tasted La Dame Montrose, St-Estephe 2009  - left bank Bordeaux in France at a Lay and Wheeler Wine Tasting in Birmingham, it is the second wine of Chateau Montrose and is a truly elegant wine with style by the load, its savoury aromas mixed with red and black forest fruits, then a whiff of roses and spice,  are complex and draw you in. The fruit and savouriness continues on the palate with additional spice and distinct chewy, chalky tannins, all this with a silky mouthfeel and a freshness on the long finish, it should be aged for some time yet ( 4-6 years) and then will be a stunner ! Enjoy.
Available from Lay and Wheeler - £36.18

Score : 90

Paisaje de Barrancas Finca Flichman 2005 Mendoza Argentina

Over the weekend we had a bottle of  Paisaje de Barrancas  2005  from Maipu, Mendoza in Chile, it is a red wine made from 55% Syrah, 35% Malbec and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, all handpicked then fermented in stainless steel. After fermentation and 12 days maceration to improve the flavour character, the wine was matured in 50:50 American and French oak and then 6 months in bottle. All this leads to a wine that shows that it has been oak aged, the spice and bitter tannins are well integrated, the black and red fruits are mellowing with the 6 years it has aged in bottle, smokey coffee and chocolate play with cedar and ripe fruits, the overall finish is long but with a bitter edge and over extracted flavours, oak plays a big part in this wines makeup - and it does it no favours in this case, the fruit takes second place, the bitter tannins over power the mellowed fruit - shame...... but we still managed to finish the bottle, and enjoy it all the same.
Great with the stir fried spicy duck dish served with noodles, but I think this would be great with steak, pigeon, venison..... rich foods with some fat ! We still have another couple of bottles in the cellar....... I will sacrifice myself.


Finca Flichman is a winery in Barrancas, a part of the Maipu Valley of Mendoza, Argentina. It was named after a Jewish-Polish immigrant, Sami Flichman, a pioneering spirit who first planted grapes along the Mendoza river in 1873. The original winery at the foot of the Andes mountains was established in 1910, in 1998, the Portuguese wine company Sogrape ( of Mateus Rose fame) purchased the business to restore, expand and update it, with an effort to preserve the integrity of the traditional wines.
Score : 85

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Blind Tasting No. 3 Result - Hoorah!

Yes - it was quite easy..... but I did get it practically bang on.
The wine was......
 Les Corvees Domain Tortochot Gevrey Chambertin, 2002.

This was a wine we took a bit of a chance on - we bought it from a bankrupt stock sale and did not know where it had come from or how it had been stored...... the label was pretty damaged.

We paid £14.99 about 2 years ago, and this was a really lovely wine - so it paid off! Pleased as we bought quite alot of wine from the same sale, priced from £5 - 15, and all we have tried had been brilliant!!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Blind Tasting Friday No. 3

Friday again ! And Peter has once more magiced a wine from the depths below, and the first thing that I will say is that it is red, well quite a pale red with a definite garnet rim, and on swirling - slow silky pale legs, great promise!
Popping my nose in the glass, the aromas jump out, red fruit ( cherry, plum ) all sweet and perfumed, there is a sprinkling of spice, smoky cedar box and an underlying - and delicious - animal / vegetal aroma, which I associate with a wine that has aged well! I can't wait to taste...... and already I think I have an idea ( it is pale.... animal and red fruit.....Pinot Noir is what I think ).

Tasting it confirms my hopes, good acidity, alcohol that surrounds and supports the fruit rather than being too warm, the tannins are low, ripe and silky with a savoury quality. The same red fruits from the nose are evident, plum and cherry but elegant and fine boned, they go hand and hand with spice, smoke and tea chest sort of flavours, the length.... long, it went on and on with sour red fruits and sweet spice all wrapped up in silk.
The whole wine is  well structured, with fruit still apparent on the palate, minerality is part of this wines makeup, quality in the silky texture, firm and deep but low tannins, the restrained well knitted wine is a delight!

So - now I must commit......  Pinot Noir from a good cool area, and old World, it does not have the lushness of a New World Pinot Noir - so it has to be Burgundy, and the age is 8-10 years due to the tertiary aromas ( animal/vegetal) and the garnet rim whilst still having a ruby core. I would say before 2005, with 2003 being a hot year would have had a higher alcohol level noticeable on the palate so not that - 2002 or 2004.
I shall post tomorrow what the wine was - see what you think.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Estevez Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere 2011 from Aldi. Chile

Estevez Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere 2011 is a  wine is made by Chilean mega-producer Concha y Toro for Aldi spermarkets, and at £4.99 - I can only say - stunning value! The grapes for this wine came from the Valle de Maule in Chile. The wine has a deep ruby colour with a hint at purple at the rim - this is a young wine and you often find this. There is a blackness to its depth, and the glass when swirled has slow coloured dribbles called 'legs' or 'tears' by some, often but not always due to higher alcohol content.
On the nose, smokey tobacco, black fruits that include, plums, cherry and blackcurrant, there is a hint at a stalkiness, but not a main aroma.
When I tasted it, the smoke, spice and dark fruits all vie for front position, the fruit is ripe but not lush, there is a fine grained elegance, my only niggle is that the acidity seems out of balance, it zips about the palate as though it is not meant to be there.
The length is good with stalky fruit and woody spice right at the finish.
Overall I like the wine, would buy it again at this price, but feel that the acidity and stalkiness are the only things that let it down, but in its favour, it is elegant, fine tuned with stalky tannins that have a savoury element to it.
I would like to taste this wine in 18 months time and see if the acidity has settled down and integration has begun!
Score : 85

Tesco's Finest Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010 New Zealand

While at the Tesco's wine fair we sat in on a tasting run by Jane Parkinson - wine journalist who happens to write for Tesco's wine magazine amondst others.
The tasting was the many faces of Pinot, it included 3 Pinot Grigio's and 3 Pinot Noirs. The one real star for me, and first time tasting was Tesco's Finest Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010. I have tasted many Pinot's from New Zealand, the ones that have shone have been those from Martinborough ......( south of North Island, while Marlborough is north of South Island..... sort of opposite each other), the ones from Central Otago have been too angular and lacking in juicy fruits to balance the fresh acidity - well this one had the missing element for me!
There was fruit, animal nuance ( that so many of the New World Pinot's struggle with), there was elegance in abundance and a gentle fine grained meatiness sort of like salami. The tannins were low, ripe and silky, the alcohol really enrobing the cherry, salami, vegetal undergrowth..... A really well crafted wine - a delight, the cost £9.00 reduced from 11.94 - really good value I thought, its on my shopping list for Christmas!
Score : 88

Tesco Wine Fair London - what did we like

I went to Tesco's Wine Fair in London over the weekend - our 2 grown up boys came with us ( first-timers) with their girlfriends.
We all tried alot of wines, some of us remember alot of them, some recall few......But- life is a learning curve, lots of time and lots of things to learn along the way....... :)

What we liked -:


Firstly - Zinfandels - the Bonterra is an Organic Zin from California, full bodied, juicy, fresh and lots of character, the Ravenswood we have drunk for a number of years and admired the wines that Joel Peterson ( Ravenswood's founder) made - but since it was bought by Constellation Brands 2 years ago have felt that the quality and distribution has changed, but Tesco are now stocking the 'Old Vines - Lodi region Zinfandel again at a cost of £9.99 per bottle ( much better than their base Zin which lacks depth, character, length and is a poor example - but cheaper ), while the Bonterra one came in at £11, for me the Ravenswood was rich, juicy, sweet and fresh, ready to drink now, while the Bonterra one was slightly over extracted and would suit a food match better ( venison, beef, hearty stews, veggie dishes with punch..... all go well ). Another option would be Dancing Bull Zinfandel at £8 per bottle .
  • Tim Adams - such a delightful, down to earth, charming guy - and a brilliant wine maker, he makes wine from his heart - we tasted a few on his stand, my favourite that I have bought before ( and will buy again) is The Fergus from the Clare Valley 2007, it is a blend of Grenache, Tempranillo and Shiraz( or Syrah), it was a silky charming elegant wine which had amazing length and persistence, a stunner at £8.99 - a  wine to buy - great!
  • Other Tim Adams wines that are great - The Semillon 2008 - and the Pinot Gris 2009/10 - I loved them both - do go and try them.



  • If you are looking for some wines to see you through the Christmas period - we found 2 that we all loved and nearly fell over at the price, the first was Aguila Coleccion Reserva Carinena 2007 at £4.50 a bottle, and Gran Fabrica Carinena Gran Reserva 2001 at £5.00 a bottle - and this won a silver medal at the IWSC and 91 /100 Parkers wine guide - amazing value - but you have to like Oak in your reds ( though this was not oak heavy I felt, balanced, but the oak was part of these wines character).
  • We also tried a McLaren Vale 2009 Wirra Wirra Church Block blend, it was Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot mix and the price was £10, full bodied, juicy fruit and lovely oak in the spicy mix, well balanced, but the alcohol was high - as they often are from this area.....14.5%, but a lovely rich wine!

Toward the end of the day we tasted 2 delish wines - but at a higher price - sorry - but it had to be done!
  • Villa Antinori Toscana 2008 - basically a SuperTuscan ( though not called so on the bottle/site) , Sagiovese and then Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, there were lush black and red fruits, juicy and full on the palate, like a new world Chianti, great fresh acidity, amazing long length with dark fruit and spice at the finish - charmming elegant, crafted..... all words that could be used in this wines description..... £14.99 a bottle - but worth it - I think!
  • Tesco's Finest Hermitage 2007 - a wine that was silky, fresh but had grippy tannins, lovely syrah character and the length was amazing, fine tuned, elegant and gentle, lovely - at £20.99 - a treat! Enjoy!









We tried many more wines - but these are the ones that stood out - and the ones that I will think about when I order, there were some lovely Pinot's especially the Tesco's Finest Central Otago Pinot Noir, smooth, fresh, fruity but with that great animal nuance that alot of the Pinot's have - and what I like, we also had some lovely Rieslings.....Alsace, Clare Vally......Too many wines to mention, but it is a great way to try lots of different wines in an easy atmosphere, try and walk away - or ask questions, or......


Saturday, 27 October 2012

Blind Tasting Result - MmmmH..... Not quite right....!

Well - I was quite surprised when I saw what it was - but there again maybe not!

I said Italian / Spanish at a first snifter - and you should always go with your first thoughts ( esp when you find out they were right later.......) !



The wine was a Supertuscan ( actually not so super in this case), and was a mix of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot......
It was ' Piccini Supertuscan 2008 IGT' made by Antonella Conti, who is a good maker. It came from Tesco (and is exclusive to Tesco's I think ) on a special offer at under £5 when I bought it.
A Super tuscan wine is a relatively new concept, and it is a Chianti wine ( made in Tuscany's Chianti wine region ) but uses grapes that have not been allowed within the wine rules of the region, they use  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and / or Syrah in alot of the cases. The see a more detailed description of the term SperTuscan follow this link. There have been alot of very, very good and expensive SuperTuscan wines that can age for decades, but I am sad to say this was not one of these. It was a watered down version where alot of the fruit was overshadowed by the clumsy oak used in the maturation of this wine - what a shame. When the fruit did show through it was a fresh cherry with a hint of plum, but thin in flavour.

I guessed a right bank Bordeaux - so Merlot dominant - but with Cabernet ( Sauvignon and /or Franc in it as well)..... So nearly there - I think as it often said on my report - 'must try harder' and  'a bit sloppy in the final details'.....How the truth hurts!

A bit about IGT on the label - what does it mean.
The letters IGT mean Indicazione Geografica Tipica and this certification fits producers who were not creating wines within the standard DOC ( Denominazione di Origine Controllata ) and DOCG ( Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita  ) regulations. Many producers who did not agree with the rules that the regulations imposed on them when producing DOC and DOCG wines, chose to make wine their own way ( often involving non-Italian grapes ) and now the IGT designation has become a well respected certification, and it is definitly one I look for when wanting something a little bit special in Italian wines - and I will say a few Italian waiters in Italy are impressed that we drink IGT wines knowing that they may be a bit of a 'find'!
Similar moves have been made by Southern French wine producers, they have moved out of the Vin d'Appellation d'Origine Controlée ( AOC or AC ) regulations and make wine under the Vin de Pays more relaxed rules.

This wine currently retails at about £6 at Tesco's - when in stock. But if you like Italian wines - try Piccini Memoro, it is an interesting wine made in a New World way, grapes from different areas brought together to make a homogenous un-Italian blend ( I feel ) - do try it and email me with what you think.
It is again the same wine maker Antonella Conti, and the blend of grapes is Montepulciano, Nero d'Avola, Primitivo and Merlot, all grown in different Italian regions. It is also non-Vintage cuvee, this means that the grapes have come from different vintages, stored carefully and used when needed. Described as ' 12 months oak casked Montepulciano from Abruzzo, the solar Nero d’Avola from Sicily, the colder climate (Veneto ) merlot and the Primitivo wine from Puglia ( some of this has been made in the passito way ) ' and was produced by Tenuta Piccini to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italian unification. It has fresh and plush red fruits, ripe and tasty tannins, juicy and delicious - and goes really well with alot of Italian / meat / vegetarian dishes.

Enjoy!!





Friday, 26 October 2012

Blind Tasting Friday No. 2 (26/10/12)

 
Once more Peter ventured down to the cellar to oblige me - he loves choosing something difficult for me to guess, and I normally miss the mark - just to oblige him.....of course.
This wine chosen is red - with  ruby core and a ruby rim which was wide and had Garnet glints to it, the core was not that deep either as you can see below. On swirling it - there are slow pale legs - so this wine has some body / viscosity and probably good alcohol content.
I popped my nose in the glass and immediately said - Italian or Spanish, I then wrote down, red fruits, cherry, cranberry, red currant...., also some serious wood maturation aroma, cedar, smoke, spice, and there is a stalkiness and maybe even wood shavings to reinforce that woodiness! And those aromas are quite jumpy - you notice them! Quite pale - see the pics.
On tasting it - again the red fruits dominated by spice, wood shavings and a herb edge. The acidity is quite high, as is the alcohol, the body is enrobing and silky in texture, the tannins quite soft, chalky and savoury.
Having had a few sips and swirls in the mouth, I had done all the sucking in air.....making the wine mix across all surfaces....and then left the flavour to develop once swallowed......The length was long, pithy, red fruits especially sour cherries and the spice enveloping all there, overall the flavours that dominate are the woody aromas, they are responsible for the bitter pithy tastes, and the spice on nose and palate.
So, what did I surmise.....
Cool climate, the fruit is sour and linear, quite thin, not lush like a ripe New World wine, the acidity is also highThe sour cherry aromas and flavours would send me to the Loire ( though this wine had more body than a Loire wine and also more woody flavours and aromas than I would have expected from here), or Italy - the cherry flavours are reminiscant of some Chiantis, or Valpolicella wines, though again the later tends to be lusher. Bordeaux wines tend to have more colour - the cherry red medium(-) colour makes me think that it is a medium quality Chianti, but the the wine is silkier than I had expected, and fatter, so maybe I might opt for a lower quality right bank Bordeaux....Bordeaux Rouge..... Generic Bordeaux Red. Year - 2006 , maybe 2007, a bit of garnet, but no real tertiary notes....A maker who used wood heavily - and the fruit was from a cool wet year ( so neither 2006/7....)
I will be told tomorrow morning what it was, Peter has gone out for the evening, so I will report tomorrow!
Nightie - night!

Global Champagne Day - Celebrate!!

As if we need a reason to celebrate - today is Global Champagne Day - so I think it would be unfair not to treat ourselves - don't you? And I have just received an email with some amazing offers from Majestic - :
  • Bollinger Special Cuvée £42 now £32
  • Taittinger Brut Réserve £38 now £26
  • Canard-Duchêne Brut £26 to £18
I think it is time to go shop!!
Enjoy.
I am doing a blind tasting tonight - hope you will drop back to see if you can determine what the wine I taste is......

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Château Sociando-Mallet tasting with Pascale Roby and Richard Bampfield MW

We went to a tasting of Château Sociando-Mallet presented by Pascale Roby and Richard Bampfield MW at BANK Restaurant in Birmingham, UK. Pascale works for Château Sociando-Mallet and had flown over to the UK to present these wines for the Midlands Wine and Spirit Association, Richard Bampfield MW co-presented ( Laura Clay introduced the evening ). We tasted Château Sociando-Mallet 2008 / 9 / 10 and 1996, and before this we had tasted La Demoiselle de Sociando-Mallet 2006 / 9 / 10.
At the base of the page is a potted history of the Château Sociando-Mallet Estate.

La Demoiselle de Sociando-Mallet  is the second label of the Sociando-Mallet Estate and we were lucky to be able to compare 2006 / 2009 and 2010, and it was in this order that we tasted them. The make up of grapes in the wine is 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon sees 65-75%, 11-12 months in new oak.
Down to the wines......
2006 - This had a deep ruby core and slow legs when you swirl the wine in the glass. Popping my nose in the glass - sharp red fruits that include cranberry and sour cherry, along with a herbal edge and a smoky cedar - this wine has had contact with new oak - and it seems to be holding its own, aromas are balanced. It has some aged, tertiary or animal aroma - which makes you want to taste it - great!!
On the mouth, keen acidity, well integrated but bolstering alcohol which means the body is quite full, tannins are quite green and gripping with a chalky sort of texture. The flavours that are immediately obvious are sharp red fruits, stalky green herbal flavours and a pithy finish which is long and mixed with red fruit all the way.
This is a well joined up wine, where everything is in the right place and makes sense, it was a cool vintage hence the stalky flavours and the sharp red fruits - a great food with alot of foods, vegetarian dishes, meat dishes.... etc It is a wine that needs food to balance and work on those tannins!
Score : 86
2009 - Ruby core again, but surprisingly a smaller rim, slow legs which are coloured appear when the glass is swirled. On the nose are darker berry fruits, blackberry, cherry and plum as well as the red fruits seen in the 2006, the green vegetal aromas are less obvious but there is more distinct spice and cedarbox aromas balancing the sweeter riper fruits. On tasting it there is a silkier texture, smoother and mouth-coating, the red berry fruits are overpowered by the sweeter riper black fruits on the palate, there once more is good acidity and the alcohol is bang on, the tannins again are chalky but less intense and drying.The length was long with a green pithy finish intermingled with sour red fruits and a little liquorice twist right at the end. This is a plumper, riper wine than the 2006 and is great to drink now, it could remain in bottle and improve for the next 5 - 8 years, but could I resist ...... I think not!
Score : 88
2010 - again a good medium deep ( you can see your fingers on the glass stem through the core of the wine ) ruby core with narrow rim. The aromas on this wine are more fresh fruit - baked and black, but spice also plays its part. On tasting it - silky mouth-coating and textural with flavours of black ( more than red) fruits, spice, cedar with a little stalky ( green) edge, the acidity is fresh and zippy keeping this wine light and elegant, and the alcohol seemed lower than previous wines but at a good body enrobing level, or maybe better integrated already? This wine really improved with food, it seemed extremely well knitted together, balanced, elegant and one to keep for 5-10 years at least.
Score : 90

Château Sociando-Mallet  is the primary / main wine produced at the Chateau, it has a grape make-up of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, with the grapes coming from the better vineyards. The yields are relatively high - at about 80hl/ha but this is due in the main from the density of planting ( up to 9000 vines/ha), the yield per vine is low, 1 bottle per vine on average.
We tasted 5 vintages, 2007 / 8 / 9 / 10 and 1996, and agin in this order, and so to the wines :-
2007 - A medium to deep ruby core with black tints especially in the core. When sniffed the predominance of black( blackberry, cherry and plum) over-ride the red with additional aromas of coffee, chocolate and nuts is a complex array and leads you on into taste! Silky black fruits which were rich and ripe, sour red fruit, nuts and liquorice all elegant and well intertwined with the coffee and chocolate found on the nose, the acidity was fresh and elegant, the alcohol was in balance and kept the body of the wine silky and weighty. The tannins were chalky but fine grained and had a savoury edge.
Overall this wine was plump and soft - great to drink now, it had been a difficult vintage where the work done in the vineyard and at the sorting table made the difference!
Score : 86
2008 - the medium deep ruby core with black tints at its deepest had a narrow ruby rim, and on swirling the legs were slow and pale ruby coloured.  Aromas on this wine was red and perfumed, elegant and finely balanced, a touch linear maybe?
On the palate the black fruit was more obvious and the oak flavours were not so well integrated, this is a wine that is not yet knitted together entirely, the acidity was great and counteracting the slightly higher alcohol, still well balanced and  warm. The tannins were dry and chalky, with some way to go in their development/integration.
This wine was well structured, elegant and fine grained in its makeup, it is further back in its development than the previous wine, but has much to give, a great futute, it needs to be kept for at least 5-10 years.
Score : 88
2009 - Again a medium deep ruby core with those black Cabernet Sauvignon tints, and a narrow rim. Aromas of black more than red berry fruits exude from the glass with smokey cedar and herbal notes which intertwine with hazelnuts. Once again the fruit character that the aromas promised, followed by a whip of leather and cedar which were concentrated and ripe. Acidity keeps the mix fresh while the alcohol is slightly warming ( not out of the balance scale - but noticeable ), the tannins were silky and ripe. Overall - a beautiful, silky rich Bordeaux wine with some improvement still to come - ripe and juicy with lots to offer. Great to drink now with food - Enjoy!
Score : 89
2010 - the core on this wine is deep ruby with a rim that was narrow, those black tints once more obvious. On the nose perfumed, elegant black fruits intermingled with cedar and smokey cigar box. Black fruits - elegant and fresh dominate the palate, ripe, juicy  and pure. The acidity keeps the wine clean and bright and where it should be, enrobing but not overpowering. The tannins were ripe, fine grained and savoury and the finish was long with fresh fruit driving it and a cedar box end! A wine to keep - with lots of potential, nice now but I feel has a long way to go and will offer much at its peak - 10 years+. Has the potential to be a star!
Score : 91
1996 - This is a wine to enjoy - right from the start - peering into the glass, ruby with garnet at the rim, not as deep as the others, but still with lots of colour. On the nose a complex mix of black fruits, dried fruits ( prunes, dates, sultanas) and nuts are all vying for their place, it is rich and still has a fresh edge, we could not wait to taste.
Rich flavours hit the palate, and wow is it mouth-coating.....not in a heavy weight way, more that it sneaks up and then it is there wanting to be noticed. Great acidity, the alcohol integrated and offers gentle support for this complex and delicious wine with its silky, ripe and tasty tannins Dates, nuts, black cherry are all intertwined, cedar and chocolate/coffee play with each other and the long, long finish is left to both fruit and cedar - dry but fresh at the very end!
This is a delightful rich, complex wine with tertiary flavours that are mixed with the fresh fruits that still exist in the wine, the silky texture and fine tannins along with  its freshness and acidity can be kept for a short time, and enjoyed!
Score : 95
This vintage recently had some cases for sale at auction at Sothebys (24/10/2012), 1 case sold for £423, while the lots of 2 cases  sold for £881 ( sold in Bond ).



The Château Sociando-Mallet  Estate ( http://www.sociandomallet.com/site.php?langue=en )

The propoerty of Château Sociando-Mallet  sits on the left bank of Bordeaux, in the Haut-Medoc which is north of the Medoc and sits on the river bank of the Gironde enjoying breezes off the river, in the commune of St Seurin de Cadourne and not far from Lesparre-Médoc, just a few minutes drive north of St Estèphe and 10 km north of Pauillac.

The property dates from the early 17th century, the estate was the residence of a Basque nobleman named Sossiondo which has been translated since as Sociando - the first part of the name  The later part of the name comes from when the Estate was inherited by a naval captain by the name of Achille Mallet , and thus the property was renamed Sociando-Mallet.

It was purchased by Jean Gautreau in 1969 for francs 250 000 after working for  Jean Miailhe for a few years before heading out on his own venture, and was in the area looking for a vineyard for a wealthy Belgian client. It was a dilapidated property and the purchase was  the heart ruling the head. The vineyard had been reduced to just a 5 hectares of vines, and several buildings were derelict and there was no cellar, but it was the terroir stood it apart, it had the same band of gravel that runs beneath the vineyards of Cos d'Estournel, Pichon-Lalande, Léoville-Las-Cases and numerous other leading properties of the left bank. These gravel croupe slopes away from the buildings at the top of the estate.
He vinified his first vintage with help from an old employee of the estate - and the rest is history!
Over the years more land was purchased financed by his négociant business (which he sold in 2003) eventually exceeding 110 hectares, of which about 90 hectares are planted with vines, though this has been reduced by about 10ha over the last decade keeping the best and replanting has taken place to reposition the Cabernet Sauvignon at the top of the slope (where it has a better chance of ripening - it was at the base of the slope to protect it from the frost).
Today he is joined be his daughter Sylvie and Vincent Faure, Sylvie's husband who is technical director of Sociando-Mallet. Vincent studied oenology at the lycée at Latour Blanche and then took up a post at the Pauillac first growth in 1992 where he remained there for six years. It was1998 that he left to take up the position of technical director at Sociando-Mallet.
The varieties planted are 48% Cabernet Sauvignon and 47% Merlot, the remaining 5%Cabernet Franc. The planting is denser than in many other Bordeaux vineyards (although many are catching up), with 8333 vines per hectare, the vines pruned to leave just 6-8 bunches per vines. This means yields per hectare are higher than are found elsewhere, but Vincent Faure is keen to point out that this reflects a normal yield per vine and a high number of vines per hectare, rather than the over-cropping of each vine. A typical figures may be 80 hl/ha, proof that there is more to ensuring quality than mere numbers

Other interesting observations are :-

  • The soils are ploughed rather than grassed over.
  • There is no deleafing, despite this being common practice throughout much of Bordeaux, the aim being to increase exposure of fruit to the sun and to help the ventilation of the leaf canopy around the fruit, thus reducing the likelihood of rot.
  • In addition there is no green harvesting here, despite this being another common practice to encourage ripening of the fruit towards the end of the growing season, and to increase concentration in the eventual wine.
  • And there is no fungicidal spraying at Sociando-Mallet, despite some of these other policies - especially refusal to deleaf - perhaps increasing the likelihood of mildew or rot in the vineyard
  • The harvest is manual, and goes over twin sorting tables, each one having a vibrating section and then conveyor belt on which the fruit is hand-sorted. ( Though this was not in operation for the 1996 vintage - see tasting notes )
  • The fruit is then mechanically destemmed and pressed before going into the fermentation vessels.
  • Natural yeasts are used to increase the character profile of the resulting wines.
  • When Jean Gautreau started out in 1969 the fermentations were carried out in the concrete vats that came with the estate, although much larger stainless steel vats were added when the facilities were extended first in 1998 and again more recently in 2008.
  • There is temperature control, but  temperatures are allowed to climb as high as 33°C to encourage the extraction of tannins.
  • The wine is macerated for several weeks before going into oak.
  • There are two blendings, one after fermentation when the varieties are blended together, then another after the aging in oak in order to create the final assemblage.
  • During the élevage, the wines are racked every six months.
  • None of the free-run wines are filtered, although the press wines, if they are used, are lightly filtered.
  • The oak regimen at Sociando-Mallet is different to some properties, the grand vin Château Sociando-Mallet (typically 20000 cases per annum) going into 95% new oak, the remaining 5% being left in stainless steel vat - where the portions left in cuve are intended to bring a sense of freshness to the wine. La Demoiselle de Sociando-Mallet, sees 65-75% new oak, with 25-35% left in vat again to keep the wine fresh.  Jean Gautreau has a strong preference for new oak,  and after one use, the barrels are sold off.
  • Other wines in the portfolio include a special cuvée named for Jean Gautreau seeing its  first vintage in 1995 has 100% aging in new oak  with malolactic fermentation occuring in oak, and in 2010,  100% Cabernet Sauvignon was used, making this a rare example of a pure Cabernet Sauvignon wine from Bordeaux.  In addition there is also L'Autre de Sociando, a special cuvée made for the L'Esprit de Bordeaux range put together by négociant Yvon Mau.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Stanton and Killeen Rutherglen Topaque NV Rutherglen Australia

Stanton and Killeen Rutherglen Topaque NV Rutherglen Australia is a sweet fortified wine made from 100% Muscadelle grapes from Rutherglen in Victoria, Australia.
It is rich, luscious and sticky - yummy!Ooh and it is not sickly..... no fear there.
It is a deep, rich golde garnet and green tints, has aromas of baked nectarine, tangerine all fresh but with a marmalade edge and all mixed up with dried fruit and honey. Tasting it again the citric tangerine comes through, toffee and biscuit also show themselves, the acidity is fresh and the alcohol high - but fits with the style of the wine and feels balanced. A long length and finishing with honeyed oranges - a delight!
I would probably have this with a baked fruit pudding or a fruit tart - or just on its own after a long hard day, cool from the fridge, the perfect unwinder!
You can buy this from Corking Wines at a cost of £11.90.
Score : 90