Three wines with dinner and a fortified wine afterwards.
Stoneleigh Pinot Noir Rose 2006, Marlborough, NZ
Oddbins - £8 A-
Wonderfully fruity nose, full of raspberry and strawberry goodness; the palate is fresh, clean and leaves you wanting more really. It is quite alcoholic at 13%, but it still feels light and nimble on the palate, especially if you have it slightly chilled; the colour doesnt hurt either, a deep pink hue means its not only pretty to look at, but it also has substance and structure behind the wine. Not completely dry, some residual sugar balances the soft acidity. I cannot for the life of me find any fault with this wine; it wont keep perhaps, but rose isnt supposed to keep in any case. Drink slighty chilled with light food, think poached salmon salad with light vinaigrette dressing.
Was had with: Gazpacho (cold tomato based-soup, description can be found here). Complemented the soup really well; the acidity and sweetness was just right.
Independent adjudicator: 8.5/10. They loved it too.
Tenuta del Portale, Aglianico del Vulture DOC 2004, Basilicata, Italy
BBR - £10 B
Nose doesnt give much joy, seems rather closed when tasted. Palate was of light berries and cherries, slowly developing into cranberries at the end. The notable feature was the silky and supple tannins, much in the style of proper Margaux; mind you theres still enough structure in there for it to accompany anything but the most hearty of foods. Its a pleasant enough wine, glad I tasted it; but unfortunately, not one which I would buy again.
Was had with: Roast pork, crackling and apple sauce with mashed potatoes and sauteed provence-style vegetables. Went alright, could've been better.
Independent adjudicator: 7.5/10 (I think they're being generous here, or maybe its the 14% abv talking)
Campbells Rutherglen Muscat NV, Victoria, AU
Oddbins - £9 B-
Bought this because it won Decanter Gold and I cannot see why. It was incredibly sweet: I wouldnt stop short of saying that it was like drinking concentrated solution of brown sugar, like drinking alcoholic raisin juice (yes raisin, not grape). Funnily, it did have osrt of a bitter finish, like marmalade? I wouldnt be surprised if sugars were near the 200g/l mark. The nose only smelled of raisins and molasses. Mouthfeel was unbalanced, the cloying sweetnesss dominated on the palate with hardly any acidity to speak of, maybe it got scared off by the sugars, I dont know. And for the price, I would get BBR's Own Sauternes made by Ch Suduiraut any day. I really disapproved of this; read the winemakers comments here. Or better still, buy a bottle in your local Oddbins and leave me a note. I could however, imagine this as a sauce to drizzle over ice cream / waffles / pancakes; who needs syrup?
Was had with: Rasberry mousse. The desert felt light and refreshing compared to the wine; just downright wrong.
Independent adjudicator: 7.25 (again, being polite; or the 17.5% abv?)
Graf Hardegg 'Forticus' Port style Merlot 2000, Blauburger, Austria
NYW - £13 (bin end sale) B+
Fruit dominated, cherries and strawberries; very unusual style. It has the restrained, firm tannins like port but none of the associated licorice / blackcurrant nose. This had a lighter nose than most tawnies, let alone vintage port. Very unusual and yet so drinkable; I dont think it would go with sweet deserts just because it lacks the sugar; but with cheeses perhaps?