Tuesday, 22 December 2009

CUWS Michaelmas 09 – Les Hospices de Beaune

28th October 2009

A selection of wines from the famed (and I’m told, rather picturesque) charity Les Hospices de Beaune; tasting was led by Anthony Hanson MW, Burgundy expert and Senior Wine Consultant at Christie’s.

A short intro into Les Hospices de Beaune: founded in the fifteenth century as a hospital to the poor and needy, it has now become Burgundy’s most famous charity. Through many years of generous benefactions, they now own plenty of vineyards throughout Burgundy, most of which are classed Premier or Grand cru. The wines are then sold by the barrel, only a few weeks after vinification, in an annual auction in the middle of November – a must attend for the players in the Burgundy wine scene. Christie’s have handled the auctions since 2007; the last one in 2008 sold 553 barrels and contributed almost 3 million euros to the Hospice.

Unfortunately, no price estimate is available for the wines tasted this evening.

Pouilly-Fuisse Cuvee Francoise Poisard 2006

Light and lively nose of citrus and limepeel, some chalky minerality too. Old world in style, but very clean and is fleeting on the palate; body is rather thin, fruit and acid in balance. A charming little wine.

Meursault-Genevrieres 1er Cru Cuvee Phillippe le Bon 2006

More developed nose: quite yeasty, bready, mushroomy in character, almost like vintage Champagne; some white peaches too. Oak treatment on palate shows, a more substantial food wine; creamy, savoury notes fills the mid palate very nicely. Acidity will allow aging, but even now its drinking nicely. Mid to long finish, plenty of class.

Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru Cuvee Francois de Salins 2006

Lively and fruity nose, plenty of white fruits, green apples too; stony minerality also shows – all very inviting. At the moment, a bit out of sorts: fruit still lively; acidity is filling and minerality also pronounced, making it feel like a rather burly, confused wine. At the moment, it’s a bit lean and tight, only giving glimpses of potential. This wine will give lots of joy for those with deep pockets and plenty of patience, definitely for the long haul. Best white among the three tonight, by quite some distance.

Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru Cuvee Arthur Girard 2005

Lively Pinot aromas, jumps out really. Good red fruits on the palate, albeit slightly outshown by the green tannins and out of place acidity. Feels a bit tight and awkward, not showing well, perhaps needs a few years to really settle down. I think theres more to this than what it showed.

Beaune 1er Cru Cuvee Dames Hospitalieres 2005

Lifted nose, almost floral. Drinking very well – soft and elegant mid palate, showing crushed red fruits, damsons and ripe cherry. So generous on the palate, with the soft acidity holding everything together, really shows what a good Burgundy should be. Not for long haul, but why would you when its giving so much now?

Pommard-Epenots 1er Cru Cuvee Dom Gablet 2007

Very unusual colour: its light, almost Madeira like, amber / burnt copper. Nose is quite alcoholic, red fruits, sour cherry and even a touch of aniseed. Palate is light and fleeting, sour cherries and raspberries dominate; perhaps a bit short on body and mouthfeel, its just a bit too light for me. Great wine to drink on its own, though.

Volnay 1er Cru Cuvee Blondeau 2003
B(+), possibly B(++)

Rustic nose, farmyard greenness and slight cigar box spice; some deeper mysterious notes here, kirsch and chocolate were even mentioned during the tasting. Very well structured on the palate, proper tannin balanced by some piercing acidity; coats the mouth well. A bit too young to drink now, needs to settle down a bit, certainly tannins need time. Glimpses of brighter future ahead.

Corton Grand Cru Cuvee Charlotte Dumay 2002

Lovely nose, ticks all the boxes for proper Burgundy: rustic earthiness is there, so is some wood and touch of smoke. Deeper red fruits, even kirsch. Perfume already indicates class. Tannins quite drying towards back of palate; still lots of red fruits on the fore and mid palate. Everything holding together very well, but I suspect given time, this charming little number will have plenty more to offer.

Clos de La Roche Grand Cru Cuvee Georges Kritter 2005

A move up in quality from the reds so far in the tasting. Nose here is deeper, slightly more developed. Classic notes of smoke, wood and some spice are all there, along with darker currants. Still too young to show its true colours; tannins a bit too grippy at this stage. Mouthfeel and concentration of flavours is remarkable though, it literally coats every part of your palate; I have no doubts this will be an outstanding wine. One for the long haul.

Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru Cuvee Madeleine Collignon 2003

Un Pinot-like nose; almost meaty and Bordeaux like. Deeper darker fruits, maybe even licorice in there. Very unusual and quite hidden, makes you work a bit. Solid dark fruits on the palate, really full bodied wine; nice firm intensity of flavours. Tannins need to soften out, at the moment its dominating the finish too much. I’d put it in the same class as the Clos de la Roche above – another one for the long haul.

I must say that it was truly a joy to taste these fantastic wines; burgundy may not be cheap but if you get it right, nothing comes close.

Friday, 20 November 2009

General, 15 Nov 2009

Three wines with dinner, all available from www.nakedwines.com

Raats Family Chenin Blanc 2008. Stellenbosch, SA.
£14 | A-

A gorgeous example of well made SA Chenin Blanc; shows really why there is all the hype for this varietal in SA. Very lively on the nose, with limepeel and tropical fruits leading the way; the fruity tangy palate is awash with plenty of crisp acidity, there is even some smoky and waxy notes (in a good, almost old world style, kind of way) at the back of the palate. Good level of minerality and zip (highly technical term that it is) helps keep everything together; overall, very well balanced and carries itself with much aplomb. I'd like to see how this will evolve with time, but for now, enjoy by the bucketful.

Ladies who shoot their lunch, Riesling 2008. Victoria, Australia.

£16 | B+

A very well made new world riesling - notes of kerosene and esters shows in the nose, as well as citrus fruits and some floral characters; overall lovely aroma. The oh-so-slightly off-dry palate is dominated by citrus fruits, most notably grapefruit (with the slightly tart flavours). The acidity provides a good backbone to the wine, as does some underlying flinty minerality, making this wine incredibly enjoyable. Overall, well balanced and presentable wine. Didnt give it higher rating for several reasons: (i) short-ish finish (ii) doubt as to ability to age - all top-notch rieslings should improve with age, not sure this will (iii) slightly pricey at £16.

Was had with: Roast pork, crackling and apple sauce. Went very well, especially with the apple sauce.

Domaine Cristia Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2006
£15 | B

Smells of tinned fruits (pears and peaches); nose is honeyed and sweet which unsurprisingly carries through on the palate. Wine drinks cleanly and isnt cloying (more like icing sugar than golden syrup) but is rather thin and lacks depth. The burst of sweetness is not balanced by any tangible acidity, leading to a rather unbalanced wine. This may sound stupid but it tastes fortified (spirit-like); I've had other VDNs that have managed to hide the alcoholic addition. Was unimpressed with this wine, and at £15, is not brilliant value.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

General, 8 Nov 2009

Two wines with dinner, both available from www.nakedwines.com

Domaine de Malartic Cotes de Gascogne Petit Manseng 2007
£11 (750ml) | A-

Lifted aromas of white fruits; on the palate, lots of sweet pears, apples and even grapes (quite unusual for wine, really). The honeyed sweetness is not cloying, balanced by soft, muted acidity. Overall, a very drinkable and versatile dessert wine that is refreshing when slightly chilled. Was had with cream of corn soup (very good match actually, sweetness complemented each other) and spotted dick with custard (again, no complaints here - good match). Would probably be better if sold as half bottles at half the price.

Castillo Catadau Gran Reserva Valencia 2002
£10 | B

Old world in style, musty / earthy notes on the nose, almost ashy. On the palate, its smooth but a bit timid, the remnant of dark fruits is just about clinging on, leaving a rather empty mid palate. The tannins still quite bitter at the back along with some fungal / herby notes, an underwhelming finish. Either I got a bad bottle, or this wine is past its best. Was had with roast beef (OK, could have done with a bit more fruit and body).

Saturday, 28 February 2009

General, 01 February 2009

Two wines with dinner.

Domaine JP Balland Sancerre Grande Cuvee 2005

~£15 | A- | Berry Bros

An impressively easy-drinking Sancerre, clean expression of muted fruit with a nice creamy elegance. The terroir really shows in this wine, with chalk, slate and flinty notes showing through. I suspect there is some oak treatment, but it wasn’t overpowering, if anything, it added a slight fatness to the wine giving it more weight on the palate. There is still some citrus fruits coming through along with the associated tartness. Overall, a well-balanced wine that is drinking brilliantly now.

Was had with: Warm goats cheese salad. Not the best pairing, I thought the wine would have been better on its own.

Domaine de Remizieres Crozes Hermitage 2004

~£8 | B | Individual Wines

A basic wine that shows some notes of red fruits; tannins has mellowed out substantially. Unfortunately, nothing remarkable or memorable; wine was disappointing overall.

Was had with: Roast Lamb.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

CUWS Lent 09 - Symington Family Port

CUWS Lent 09 – Symington Family Port
18 Feb 2009

A small selection of ports from the Symington Family stable, which includes marquee names such as Graham’s, Dow’s and Warre’s and the smaller houses of Quinta do Vesuvio, Smith Woodhouse, Gould Campbell and Quarles Harris. Tasting was led by Mr Tim Stanley-Clarke, a representative from the Symingtons. Prices indicated are approximate retail prices. First three ports are case matured; the rest, bottle matured and decanted prior to serving.

Warre’s Warrior Special Reserve
£7 | B

Nice fruit flavours, with sweetness and smoothness to the fore. Nose isn’t complex, just fresh bouquet. The relatively soft mouthfeel makes this a dangerously drinkable, easygoing everyday port – a definite step up from your standard ruby.

Dow’s LBV 2001.
£9 | B+

Bottled 2007. Nose slightly more complex, touches of sweet spices and pepper. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, flavours reminiscent of the spices in mince pies; sweet and not overpowering. Theres a touch of dryness at the finish, a rather ‘masculine’ port, according to some.

Warre’s Otima Ten Year Old Tawny
£11 | A-

Fresh, rather lifted port; not heavy and bogged down. Palate shows some integrated nutty flavours; balance is everything in this tawny, superbly composed. The fruitiness almost tingles on the palate, delicious when chilled. Again, very very drinkable.

Graham’s Crusted Port.
£15 | B+(+)

Bottled 2001. Both nose and palate seems like a step up from the case-matured ports above. The flavours are deeper, more complex. Expected port flavours of dark berries, spices and licorice are all there. Tannins still grips quite a bit, not quite refined yet; could do with a few more years to fleshen out. Drinks well now, but will be showing best between 2012-2015.

Warre’s Bottle Matured LBV 1999.
£17 | B(++)

Bottled 2003. Rich, spiced nose that’s incredibly attractive; theres hints of menthol / eucalyptus (like coughdrops) hiding behind the red fruits. The palate is quite light, apparently a virtue of the Warre’s house style; which makes the lively tannins seem out of place. I suspect that this port has greater potential than was tasted; worth a look at a later date. Drink now-2020.

Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim Vintage Port 1998.
£25 | A-(+)

Bottled 2000. Deep, concentrated flavours, as expected of Vintage Port. The nose is elegant even seductive, doesn’t jump out at you; one might even call it elusive. Red fruits and spiciness has married rather well, giving a very balanced and structured port. Tannins are softening out, allowing enjoyable drinking now, albeit slightly gripping. 1998 was not considered to be an outstanding vintage for Dow’s, probably even limiting its aging potential; this port will show its best roundabout 2015-2020, with further enjoyment till mid 2020s.

Smith Woodhouse Vintage Port 1983.
£50 | A

Bottled 1985. Fully matured port, with highly developed characteristics. Nose gives an impressionable nutty and toasted tinge, along with coughdrops and an almost floral note. On the palate, its incredibly silky smooth, tannins has softened out completely, leaving the port with a more tawny complexion. The weight of mouthfeel is very well distributed, giving a satisfyingly long finish. Showed superbly in the tasting, and undoubtedly ready for drinking. Brilliant; drink now.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

General, 9 October 2008

A general wine tasting, prices indicated are approximate retail prices.

Vinas Las Ninas Chardonnay 2006

£5 | B

Clean, pale, basic Chardonnay. White fruits, with fresh acidity but not too racy. A good palate cleanser, nothing remarkable.

Bestheim Gewurztraminer 2006, Alsace.

£7 | B+

Lifted floral nose (white lilies, elderflower and the like), perhaps a touch of honeysuckle; energetic aromas. Balanced wine, acidity is masked by the freshness. Hints of kerosene like that of an oily mackerel. Well made, to be drunk now.

Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2007

£5 | B+

Standard, reliable drink. Nose is vibrant and lively. Lots of fruit jumping around on the palate; herbaceous, grassy, gooseberry notes are evident. Ticks all the right boxes for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. At this price point, its good value too. No technical faults, but common and unremarkable wine otherwise.

Cono Sur Reserve Pinot Noir 2007

£6 | B+

Soft, seductive notes of light red fruits (raspberry, light cherry). Palate is balanced and ready to please. Its like a well made, ready to drink Burgundy - less the complexity and class, but a lot less price too. Very drinkable.

Chateau Beaumont 2003. Haut Medoc Cru Bourgeois Superieur.

£12 | A-

Large property in Haut Medoc, making good reliable claret; 2003 generally regarded as a good to v. good year. Attractive nose of classic claret; damp earth / musty characters. Dark fruits still there and tannins have mostly fleshed out, though several more years won’t be amiss. Well made and ready to drink claret (3-5yrs max).

Bodegas Arrocal 2006. Tempranillo, Ribera del Duero.

£8 | B+(+)

Lots of dark fruits, typical of Tempranillo; blue/blackberry notes, with some sweetness and smokiness, Tannin is there but does not overwhelm the wine; very much a food wine. Well balanced and would keep for several more years (5+ years).

Clos Baudoin 1990. Vouvray.

£20 | A-(+)

Apparently owned by a Polish Prince that is not quite interested in making or even selling wines; actual vineyard now run by locals. Nose of honeyed white fruits (peach, apricot); fantastic uplifted floral notes. Residual sugar is relatively high, but still refreshing and not cloying. Wine is matured and v. classy, acids has softened out. This wine is delightful now; age could add more complexity (anything up to 10 yrs). Excellent stuff, though not quite in the same league as top Vouvrays.

Lindeman’s botrytis Riesling 1994.

£5 | B+

Thick, treacle-like caramel; hints of eucalyptus/menthol, cough syrup. Plenty of acid to go around, fresh and will go well with fruit-based desserts. Different character to a TBA.