Tuesday, 27 May 2014

WSA 2014 Part 2 - Bodega Toro Albala

My second blog entry from the wines I tasted at the 13th International Exhibition of Wines & Spirits Asia (WSA) 2014 held in Singapore, 8-11 April 2014. We'll focus on Bodega Toro Albala and their wonderful range of sherries. The tasting notes appear in the order the wines were tasted.

Bodega Toro Albala

Fino del Lagar 'Electrico'

100% Pedro Ximenez grapes, unfortified (contains only natural fermentation alcohol), wine is on average 10 years old.
Green olives, raw almonds and a touch of iodine on the nose; the initial nose is very much how you would expect Fino to smell - acetaldehyde and 'flor' aromas, with some yeasty / baked bread notes too. Notably, the PX grapes does bring a slight fruity aroma on the nose, in addition to the flor. On the palate, its slightly saline and nutty (like salted raw almonds); feels as nimble as your average Jerez Fino yet this shows a wider, more rounded, altogether softer mid palate. Mouthfeel is thin and refreshing, not in a bad way, but in a way that encourages you to keep sipping. It may not be as sharp and focused as your average Jerez Fino, but serve this chilled and you could drink it by the bucket load.


Average age of 35 years; 10 years under flor followed by 25 years of oxidative aging. No fortification, shows an alcohol level of 21%.
Plenty going on the nose: initial impact is very nutty, think roasted almonds and hazelnuts, with polished wood and lacquer tones, hints of cloves and nutmeg too, some rancio. Oxidative wood aging clearly shows and done very well, to me it smells of Christmas without the dried fruits. On the palate, its heavier and generous; nutty and spicy (cinnamon, cloves, or thereabouts) flavours persist; hints of dried figs too, touch of salinity on the finish. Very well balanced.


At least 15 years of age, also unfortified.
Sweeter than the Amontillado on the nose; dried figs / quince and maybe caramel, with some clove, cinnamon and wood polish thrown into the mix. If the Amontillado was roasted (slightly salted) almonds, then the Oloroso would be honey coated roasted almonds. The sweetness lends more heft and mouthfeel on the palate and I feel the bit of sugar left in makes it a more versatile food match. Slightly chilled, this would make a fine accompaniment to cured meats, dried fruits, nuts and mature cheeses - a perfect Tapas wine.

Cream Pedro Ximenez

At least 10 years aging, a blend of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez.
Overtly sweet on the nose, with caramel and toffee, raisins and prunes, even chocolate and coffee coming through; not so much oxidative notes. On the palate, theres raisiny sweetness with some hints of nutty flavour too; sweet and lingering without being cloying, enough acidity to keep things going. Its not the most complex sweet sherry, but its balanced and very easy to enjoy. Serve chilled and it can be its own dessert, otherwise pair with creme brulee or chocolate and fruit combinations (thinking in particular of Sachertorte here) ...

Don PX 2010, Vino Dulce Natural

PX grapes are sun-dried after harvest to concentrate the sugars; the resultant raisins are lightly pressed. Fermentation is halted by the addition of neutral grape brandy. The resultant wine decants for at least one year in stainless steel tanks, then bottled without filtration. No oxidative aging.
Lots of raisin, prune and all kinds of dried fruits showing, with caramel and treacle - smells like Christmas Cake (brandy butter and all). Its so youthful it hardly shows any oxidative character, it smells like what it is - fortified raisin juice. The sweetness, all 464g/l residual sugar of it, shows quite powerfully and overwhelmingly on the palate. Its syrupy and heavy on the palate with just enough fruity acidity. Not the most complex, but this is unmistakably PX. A dessert on its own, drink chilled and wait for the sugar rush.

Don PX Gran Reserva 1983 

Single vintage PX, oxidatively aged in barrels until bottled for release.
Dark brown with golden hues, this is properly opaque. Aromas of coffee and dark chocolate dominates, with hints of sweet woody notes (sandalwood and mahogany) and touches of rancio, some raisins hiding behind all that. Palate still fruity with raisins and prunes, again evocative of Christmas Cake but this time doused in mocha, with notable treacle & burnt caramel notes, along with coffee and sweet licorice. Still very lively, generous mouthfeel and exceeding length - great effort indeed.

Don PX Seleccion 1962

Jet black in appearance with a dark amber rim, this is now the colour of espresso. The aromas of coffee and bitter chocolate are the dominant notes, with sweet wood and licorice too. These aromas follow though to the palate, strangely more reminiscent to me of sweet turkish coffee than sherry, its still fresh and persistent but lacks power; you might find some raisin characters if you try hard enough. Age has softened all the edges, everything is integrated and exudes a stately presence. A wine to savour and linger over.

A note on Toro Albala

Having been schooled in the ways of sherry mostly by producers from Jerez and Sanlucar de Barrameda, it was a delight in being able to taste a range of sherries from Montilla, and from no less an illustrious name as Toro Albala. The one previous encounter I've had with them is the Don PX Gran Reserva 1982, at the Taste of Gold tasting of the 2011 International Wine Challenge in London - I was impressed then, as I am impressed (perhaps even more so) now. These are very high quality and versatile wines, and given the guide prices I've been given, will be great value too. In fact, if aged PX is your thing, then might I suggest you look in envy at my old wine pal Tom Lewis aka Cambridge Wine Blogger who recently tasted a centuries' worth (almost anyway) of Toro Albala's PX, his blog post can be found here.

I have no idea where Toro Albala's sherries can be found in Singapore / Jakarta, but I'm sure their very friendly Asia Regional Manager, Sofia, can help you.

Bodega Toro Albala
Sofia Guindo Morales
Asia Regional Manager
+886 9 75479395

Sunday, 27 April 2014

WSA 2014 Part 1 - Cognac Audry

The 13th International Exhibition of Wines & Spirits Asia (WSA) 2014 trade fair was held in Singapore on the 8-11 April 2014. I spent two days at the trade-only fair and over the next few weeks will be writing up some of the wines (and spirits) which were particularly memorable. They appear on this blog in no particular order, except perhaps the order in which I fished out the tasting notes from my filing system.

First up is Cognac Audry, imported into Singapore by Wine Selection (contact details can be found at the bottom of this post) - pricing indicated is retail from Wine Selection, for a 70cl bottle, correct at time of writing.

Cognac Audry

Audry XO
40% abv | SGD$ 150

On the nose, sweet vanilla, wood varnish/lacquer and toffee apple, with honey too - smells fragrant, its on the sweeter side of things, wonderful volatiles too. Palate is mouthfilling with sweet notes of vanilla and dried fruits (apricots and peaches come to mind); smooth throughout the palate, nothing out of joint. Its rather lively for an XO, it has bags of flavour and character, which is more than you can say for your average insert-brand-name-here XO cognac. What is most unexpected to me is the length and persistence on the finish, we're talking minutes here - obvious high quality.

Audry Reserve Speciale
40% abv | SGD$ 172

Similar to the XO in the nose, except perhaps it has a tad more oakiness / wood varnish notes coming through; deeper notes of caramel, burnt sugar and mocha, just feels a bit heavier on the nose. Palate is similarly profiled, less fruity and tending instead to burnt sugar and sweet oak. Mouthfeel is wider and more generous than the XO, perhaps less exuberant but more width and heft. Long finish too.

Audry Memorial
42% | SGD$ 255

Lots more interesting volatile notes here, with wood polish and lacquer showing, along with vanilla and all kinds of spicy notes; quite heady aromas here - the intriguing kind that beckons you in for another sniff. Spicy notes come through on the palate along with a caramel sweetness; mouthfeel is settled but with a more pronounced grip. Long and very classy.

Audry Exception
43% | SGD$ 407

Prominent spice of wood polish/lacquer, sweet vanilla on the nose, along with roasted / toasted hazelnuts - its quite obvious that this Cognac has spent a rather long time in wood; if you try hard enough, maybe some dried fruits too but definitely in the dried figs/plum range than the earlier peaches/apricots. Audry's own tasting notes indicate 'hints of rancio' which I am very much in agreement, adds a another dimension to the aroma profile. Spicy with a decent grip (note the slightly higher abv) with some wood tannins showing. Such poise and panache on the palate, generous and rich with caramel and spice coming through; persistently lingering (and surprisingly fruity) finish, just goes on and on and on. Exceptional, worthy of its name.  

A word on the house itself - admittedly, I'd never heard of Cognac Audry prior to this, but a quick google search seems to suggest that among the Cognac world, they are generally held in high regard. Based on the four Cognacs I tasted, it is a reputation well-deserved. Both the XO and Reserve Speciale are blended from spirit between 18-22 years old, the Memorial and Exception between 40-50 years old which is simply staggering. Its certainly a far cry from the financially-driven big name brand Cognacs commonly found in the market. 'Proper' and 'aristocratic' are two words I'd use to describe Audry, which granted is a rather strange descriptor for a beverage, but it conveys a certain sense of presence these Cognacs have.

Make no mistake, these are serious Cognacs and from the retail prices I've been given, rather excellent value for money too. These past weeks has seen the release of the 2013 Bordeaux en-primeur prices, an annual spectacle sure to arouse strong opinions from wine professionals - lets put it this way, per bottle, the Audry Exception costs less than most First Growth Bordeaux (and unlike its Bordelais friends, the Audrys are ready to enjoy now). That said, personally for me, the XO is the one that I'd spend my money on. Dont all rush in at once ...

Wine Selection
Sales Manager: Ghislain Moret (sales[at]wine-selection.com)
Tel: +65 83323069
Citimac Building, 605A MacPherson Road #08-03G, Singapore 368240
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wineselectionsingapore

For the record, Wine Selection also has an interesting selection of what seems like exclusively French wines, with particular emphasis on the stalwarts of Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone. Their selection of Bordeaux below the SGD$50 mark focuses on lesser known, smaller producers are certainly worth a punt.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Johnnie Walker Spice Road

Johnnie Walker Spice Road
March 2013

Launched in late 2012, the Spice Road is the first of three blends in Johnnie Walker's new Trade Routes Series of whiskies. Part of their Explorers' Club Collection, these three whiskies are supposedly only available exclusively on Global Travel Retail (thats duty free shopping in airports, to you and me). I picked up my bottle in March 2012 in Singapore Changi International Airport.

Johnnie Walker Explorers' Club Collection 'The Spice Road'
SGD$52.50 (1 litre) | A-

40% abv. Deep golden amber in colour, its visibly darker than your average JW. Off the bat, sweet oak vanilla aromas coming through; caramel, treacle and fudge also to the fore, then followed by sweet spices (mostly cinnamon and nutmeg); smells quite volatile for its abv (or that could be the rather hot 'room temperature' here in Singapore). Sweetness carries through to the palate, with a satisfying fruity hit in the beginning; the cinnamon/clove-like spice along with slightly woody barbecued but sweet smokiness really kicks in on the mid palate, and is the dominating flavour on the finish. Smooth, very clean on the palate, doesnt have the lingering power or depth but is surprisingly long on the finish. Yes, the name is slightly gimicky but I think its still very well-made, attractive, and relatively good value - I'll be buying another ...  

Note to Johnnie Walker: Whats with the screwtop closures with in-built steady pourers? It doesnt give me the characteristic and very warming 'pop' sound that the cork closures do ... We taste with all our senses, no?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Local Nose, Singapore

The Local Nose tasting
08 March 2013. Le Vigne, Singapore.

A wine tasting organised by The Local Nose group in Singapore. As far as I gathered on the night, they are group of wine enthusiast in Singapore who regularly organise tasting events, showcasing the wines of particular local, independent wine merchants that they support. This tasting featured wines stocked by Le Vigne, a small wine merchant focusing on good value, everyday drinking wines at around the $30-50 range mostly from the new world - though I did spot some rather smart Chataeuneufs lying around on the shelves.

The tasting notes below are in the order I tasted them. The prices indicated are retail in Singapore Dollars by the bottle at Le Vigne, though they do offer 10% discount on all cash and carry purchases.  

Finca Flichman Extra Brut
$41.50 | B

An 80/20 blend of Chardonnay / Malbec made using the Charmat method, more commonly associated with the production of prosecco.
Golden, salmon tinge; strawberry and peach fruity nose, with slight bready / developed characters. Palate is fruit dominated, quite large but feels slightly thin and dilute; medium low acid, its passable as an aperitif. Lacks bit of brightness and zing for my liking.

2008 Bald Hills ‘Last Light’ Riesling. Central Otago, NZ.
$49.90 | B+

Lemon zest and blossoms on the nose, with a hint of petrol / kerosene; slightly waxy lemons too, with candied peel aromas, like air freshener. Gently off dry, perhaps in the 10-20 g/l range; fat lemony flavours with a grapefruit pithiness on the finish. High acidity makes it feel zingy and effectively dry on the finish, its got good fruit concentration to keep things interesting; a pretty, ageworthy wine.      

2011 Mount Brown Sauvignon Blanc. Waipara Valley, NZ.
$41.70 | B+

Served blind. Citrus and green guava, with a touch of tropical fruit sweetness coming through, subtle leafy / grassy undertones. On the palate, the greenness becomes more obvious; flinty, minerally and quite textured in style; not your usual opulent fruit-driven NZSB, more of a mature, ripe Pouilly Fume.

 2009 Mount Brown Pinot Noir. Waipara Valley, NZ.
$49.50 | A-

Dark cherry with sweet prunes, earthy and sweet spices, with star anise dominating; a lick of sweet oak and even cedar / incense woods completes a very polished nose. Fruit is bright, morello cherry and kirsch, with wild strawberries on the palate, nice ripeness of fruit with slight crunchy acidity; hint of blackpepper and sweet spice on the finish. A full bodied style with good flavour concentration and velvety texture. Its complete, very classy & poised.  

Castello Albai Joven. Rioja, Spain.
$26.50 | B

Dark fruit compote, quite sweet and cooked; very apparent oak treatment shows through the prominent sweet vanilla and coconut notes, bit too brash, somewhat unappealing for me. Fruit is sweet and juicy, large on the entry but fades very quickly; feels thin on the mid palate, gritty and rough on the finish. Rather simple flavours on show, somewhat agricultural in approach, not pretty.

2011 Finca Flichman Reserva Malbec. Mendoza, Argentina.
$37.50 | B+

Sweet dark fruit, blackberry and blueberry compote dominates along with fragrant violets and cassis notes; lifted aromas. Fruit shows dark plums and blueberries, its ripe but feels quite heavy and alcoholic; bitter chocolate on the finish. Medium low in acid, theres a rather unpleasant gritty / coal dust note on the finish; over extracted in my opinion, lacks balance.  

2010 Gran Bajoz Vinas Viejas. Toro, Spain.
$47.90 | B+(+)

Part of Pagos del Rey’s operation (same parent company as the Castillo Albai above), Gran Bajoz is their top Toro wine.
Dark fruit, blackberry, dark plums and bramble; dried herbs / garrigue, coffee and dark chocolate; with some hefty sweet oak notes, almost charred / BBQ notes; brooding, makes you expect a huge wine. Prunes and blackberry carry through on the palate; bags of fruit, nice concentration and staying power on the mid palate; obviously extracted, it is trying to be a big wine and just about pulls it off. Medium acid, ripe, sweet but chunky tannins, this will reward medium term cellaring; drink now – 2018+

2010 Vinaceous ‘Red Right Hand’. Multiregion blend, Australia.
$61.50 | B+

A blend of McLaren Vale Shiraz (79%), Grenache (15%) and Western Australia Tempranillo (5%), if not anything else, it is novel.
Sweet blackcurrant and blackberry jam, it is overtly (and intentionally?) sweet and confected in style; fragrant but a bit too brash for me. Fruit shows red plums and blackberry; its ripe, quite alcoholic and sweet; low acid, decent mid palate weight, finishes quickly. Drink young to capture the sweetness.

Overall: Interesting selection of wines, but this being my first review from Singapore, its clear that I must recalibrate my scale for value for money. Wines aren’t cheap here: at the moment, the Finca Flichman Reserva Malbec is being offered by Waitrose in the UK for £6.99 or approx. $14 (down from £8.99, approx. $18). Similarly, the Mount Browns retail in the UK for £10-15; its more than twice that here. That said, it was great getting to know some of the Local Nose crew - it was a fun, convivial occasion all around. I even managed to pick up some interesting bottles from Le Vigne ...

The Local Nose – tasting organisers
Le Vigne – tasting venue and stockists for all the wines above
72 Namly Place, Singapore 267220
T: (65) 64620053 E: le_vigne@singnet.com.sg
Open 7 days a week 12-18.30

Saturday, 2 March 2013


Some notable wines I tasted in November - December 2012, all of which were enjoyed over dinner.

2009 Pieropan, La Rocca, Soave Classico
A- | Cambridge Wine Merchants £ 23.99

White floral notes with white stone fruits, honey and hints of candied almond; its lifted, fragrant and opulent. Palate is textured almost slightly mealy like oat porridge (in a good way), white fruits dominate, quite sweet with balancing acidity; mouthfilling and shows great presence, leading to a minerally finish. Focused yet generous, excellent stuff.

2005 Condrieu, Les Terrasses du Palat, Francois Villard

Quite heady still, overripe peaches and nectarines mingle with honey on the nose. Palate is rich and full, stone fruit flavours dominate to the fore with a hint of grapefruit; low acidity, sustained mid palate flavours, slight drying grip on the finish. Not the most showy / opulent Condrieu, but shows decent complexity and impressively long finish.

1996 Jim Barry 'The Armagh' Shiraz, Clare Valley

Top of the tree at Jim Barry wines, 'The Armagh' Shiraz is one of the iconic wines of Australia, right up there with Penfolds' Grange and Henschke's Hill of Grace; from a really good vintage too.

Still primary fruits on the nose, blackcurrant cordial and pastilles, still plenty of minty eucalyptus showing; fragrant and lifted, incredibly fresh. On the palate, flavours of blueberries and blackcurrants dominate; still primary but not overwhelming; theres purity and sweetness of fruit at its core; the oak has melded into the wine, tannins are resolved - everything feels together, all supported by the fruit. This is a stunning wine, probably close to its peak, but will continue to evolve, drink now - 2023+.  

1996 Elderton 'Command' Shiraz, Barossa

First made in 1984, this is another iconic Barossa Shiraz with a stellar reputation of being one of the region's best; always a high scoring wine among the wine critics, if you are into point-counting.

Primary fruits on the nose, ribena pastilles, quite sweet and lifted, think cough syrup medication; lovely eucalyptus / mint nose also coming through; very voluptuous and ready to please out of the bottle. Palate is textured, blackcurrant fruit still at its core, but its not brash, its mellowed and rounded; savoury and gamey hints too, has an oiliness like streaky bacon. Great mouthfeel, complex flavours with all components integrated; its probably at its peak, but should still hold for a while, drink now - 2018+. An absolute joy to drink, one of the best Australian Shiraz I have ever tasted.

2004 Magpie Estate 'The Gomersal' Grenache, Barossa
A- | Noel Young £24.99 (for the '09 vintage)

Magpie Estate is a joint venture between Trumpington, Cambridge-based wine merchant Noel Young and winemaker Rolf Binder from the Barossa (who also makes wine under the labels JJ Hahn and Veritas). 'The Gomersal' is their top end Grenache, only made in the best years; typically a small percentage of their premium Shiraz (called 'The Election') is blended into the Gomersal, in 2004 it was 3%.

Warmth on the nose, mulled spices, cloves with red plums and cherries compote, slightly cooked fruit nature to this; theres also secondary notes of game and cured meats, even slightly dirty / earthy characters too. Palate is soft and rounded, fruit is still bright, red cherries and red berries with damsons; medium-high acidity, it feels vivacious and nimble; textured mouthfeel, all components integrated well. Probably at its peak, but should keep yet, drink now - 2018+

Comments: All the wines above are classics, icons even, in their own rights, a short word on each. The Pieropan La Rocca is perhaps the benchmark for quality Soave Classico, the 2009 here is the current vintage which I picked up from Cambridge Wine Merchants. Yes its not cheap, but in my experience, the La Rocca never disappoints; Pieropan also do a basic Soave (less exciting but still good) at about half the price of the La Rocca. The Condrieu and Magpie Estate were acquired from the cellars of a Cambridge College, both ageworthy wines showing the benefits of some cellaring time. The two mature, iconic Australian Shiraz, the Jim Barry Armagh from Clare and the Elderton Command from Barossa were picked up at auction. Both came with huge reputations and correspondingly high expectations, which I am glad to say it met with flying colours - these premium-end Australian reds certainly worth cellaring as much as Cru Classe clarets.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

CUWS M12 - Paritua Wines

CUWS M12 – Paritua Wines
Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A tasting of Paritua Wines at Cambridge University Wine Society, presented by its winemaker Jason Stent. This relatively new winery was established in 2001, with their first vine plantings arriving in 2003 focusing on the noble grape varieties of the world. The name ‘Paritua’ comes from the local name of the stream that runs through this Hawkes Bay property. Its current winemaker, Jason Stent, was keen to stress that while at Paritua he generally tries to practice minimal intervention in the vineyard, there are some rather nifty high tech gadgetry including a heated water sprinkler system for frost prevention that covers most of his vineyards. While based in Hawkes Bay, two of Paritua’s wines (their Pinot Noir and Riesling) are sourced from Central Otago. In addition, they also incorporate another label within their stable, called Stone Paddock.

The wines are presented below in the order they were tasted. I have included their RRP (according to Paritua), but a quick google search soon reveals that most of these wines can be had for slightly less from Imbibros or Hennings Wines.

2008 Paritua Riesling, Central Otago
£18.99 | B+

Lime rind and peel on the nose, with grapefruit and hints of kerosene; whilst pleasant and attractive enough, it lacks a certain zestiness for me. The citrus fruit is gentle on the palate, generous acidity but lacking in flavour concentration; its correct but feels a touch flabby / dilute, lacks focus. Cant help thinking it could be more precise and nervy.

2009 Paritua Chardonnay, Hawkes Bay
£18.99 | B+

Attractive peachy nose, with overripe stone fruits, tending towards passionfruits and mangoes, quite sweet; significant oak treatment here, but the buttery creamy notes integrate well with the other aromas. Fat acidity, fruit is ripe and generous if a tad simple / one-dimensional, slight savoury hints too; rather short finish. I like this, its well made and quite attractive, but I feel it’s a but too pricy for what it is.

2008 Paritua Pinot Noir, Central Otago
£21.50 | B

Bright cranberry and red cherry fruit, with warming mulled spices, earthy notes and a lick of sweet oak – pretty, polished and attractive nose, great start. Sweet red fruit on the palate, medium acidity, but feels somewhat tired and flat, just isn’t bright and its lacking in concentration. The palate such a disappointment after the nose, could be a dodgy bottle?

2008 Stone Paddock Syrah, Hawkes Bay
£14.99 | B+  

Red plums and blackcurrant cordial, quite sweet on the nose, with a hint of sweet spice. Bright red fruit on the palate (red berries and plums), a lighter, easier drinking style; smooth and polished. A little too commercial for me, correct but unexciting.

2008 Paritua Syrah, Hawkes Bay
£21.50 | B+

Jammy red & dark fruit, stewed fruit / compote nose; theres fruit liquers and cassis, almost tending towards being too sweet and confected – heady stuff, slightly over the top for me. Blackcurrant fruit on the palate, theres concentration and nice texture here, medium low acidity, hint of spice and savoury touches, some sweet oak too. Correct, but again, unexciting.

2007 Paritua Red, Hawkes Bay
£21.50 | A-

This is their Bordeaux lookalike, with a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon / 32% Merlot / 9% Cabernet Franc / 5% Malbec; significant new French oak used, approx. 2500 cases made.
Dark fruit, cassis and brambles, with a hint of leafiness, fragrant spice and sweet oak; brooding, attractive nose. Plenty of ripe fruit on the palate, nice extraction and concentration; black plums and brambles, medium acidity with decent tannins. Structured and ageworthy, drink now – 2018+

2007 Paritua 21.12, Hawkes Bay
£37.50 | A-(+)

Paritua’s flagship red, a blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon / 28% Merlot / 21% Cabernet Franc; significant new French oak used, approx. 700 cases made.
Dark fruit compote, cassis and bramble notes, with hints of coffee and dusted cocoa, bit of sweet oak too; more brooding, less open and overtly fruity than its ‘Red’. On the palate, dark plums and blackberries, feels extracted; quite a large mouthfeel and heavy texture; a big wine, carries the sweet oak well. Medium acidity, plenty of fine tannins; big boned, quite muscular at the moment, certainly ageworthy; drink now – 2020+

2009 Stone Paddock ‘Isabella’ Late Harvest Semillon, Hawkes Bay
£13.99 (37.5cl) | A-

Golden amber in colour. Sweet, honeyed nose of tinned peaches and ripe mangoes; quite thick, full on, aromas. Tastes of tinned fruits again, quite intensely sweet (I’m guessing 150-200 g/l residual sugar);  texture is quite thick and hefty, but with a nice streak of acidity, alleviating the cloying feel – makes it all taste like tinned pineapples. Not shy.    


Monday, 18 February 2013

Cambridge Tasting Pt III – Seven Springs Wines

Cambridge Tasting Pt III – Seven Springs Wines

Sunday, 20th January 2013.
West Lodge, Downing College, Cambridge.

The third lot of wine at this tasting were from Seven Springs vineyards from the Western Cape in South Africa. Their UK importer is listed on the back label as Belle Epoque Wine, The Mead Barn, Coltishall, NR12 7DN. As far as I am aware, they currently do not have a UK stockist so I can’t provide retail prices. However, Tom Lewis assures me that they would be around the £10 mark.

Seven Springs Vineyards, Western Cape, South Africa

2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Correct varietal notes of citrus, hint of leafy greenness / cut grass and gooseberry, not as pungent as some Marlborough Sauv Blancs. Fruit on the palate is sweet with good acidity, quite generous in flavour but one-dimensional. A simple, well made wine - does what it says on the label.

2011 Pinot Noir ‘Young Vines I’

Fragrant, sweet red fruit, ripe strawberries and red cherries with a sweet wood / polished cedar nose too (I’m guessing theres some oak here?). Fruit is juicy yet with some crunch, ripe red cherries; forward, easy to understand but quite simple.  

2010 Syrah

More akin to Barossa Shiraz: mint / eucalyptus, with ribena pastilles, dark fruit compote and licorice – fragrant, quite heady nose. Palate lets it down, tart, unripe black cherries, lacks a bright juiciness you expect from the nose; feels fresh though.

I thought these three wines were technically well made if not slightly boring, it does what it says on the tin but doesn’t excite. I would be surprised if they were trying to retail this for much more than £10. Of the three, I was most impressed by the Pinot – I often find that entry level South African Pinot can feel cooked / hot, which this one manages to avoid.