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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.