Tuesday, 21 December 2010

General spirits

A few whiskies tasted at Cambridge Wine merchants lately, on the occasion of a book signing by Jim Murray.

Sainsburys Taste the Difference Dun Leire 8yo Single Malt. Cooleys, Ireland.

Flavourful for an Irish. Lots of notes of citrus, orange peel, oranges. Smooth (as all Irish should be). Ends rather abruptly, but hey, the rrp is below £20.

Octomore Orpheus 5yo. Bruichladdich, Islay.

Basically Octomore finished in Chateau Petrus casks, even the idea sounds insane. Colour is pinkish. Heavily peated, smoke is there, brine, seaweed, kelp and all that. Again the peat. Then theres some woody, fruit almost and even some tannins perhaps? It has a weird grip in the mouth, like an astringency. Sweet on the palate, weirdly fruity, I would say bubblegum but that sounds like heresy - strawberry and oranges? Lasts a while too. I feel that there is two things going on here - the peaty Bruichladdich and the Ch Petrus - but is it together? This is without doubt a crazy idea, but I remain unconvinced.

Chase Marmalade Vodka
Really citrus on the nose, honeyed, I could swear there is marmalade in this thing, bitter oranges. Actually sweet liquer, like cointreau perhaps? Its basically vodka and marmalade, put together. Would go well at breakfast I suppose. Or (more conventionaly) very cold neat / on the rocks.

Chase Vodka

Clean, straight through as vodka should be. Slight citrus notes perhaps (but that could be the leftover marmalade vodka talking).

Friday, 17 December 2010

12 Days of Christmas Tasting

12 wines, all tasted on Thursday, 15 December 2010.
Prices are retail, excluding any offers. At the moment Oddbins are running 25% off every 6 bottle purchase, making some of the wines below good value.

Cave de Lugny Cremant de Bourgogne NV
Oddbins £10.99 B+

Fresh clean, citrus fruits, lemon, maybe a touch of lime zest too. Not completely bone dry, makes it easier to drink really, forward fruit. Good expression of the style.

Cave de Lugny Macon-Villages 09
Oddbins £7.99 B+ (value)

Plenty of lime, citrus again on the nose, also showing hints of minerality, smells classy and complex. Palate is straightforward, clean citrus fruits. Wine is precise and great value for money too.

Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch 'Wild Ferment' Chardonnay 09, Australia.
Oddbins £16.99 A-

First time I tried this vintage is recorded here, when the wine has just landed in UK, must say this wine tasted completely different. Nice aromatics showing through, tertiary developed characters too, yeasty, even brioche notes that you normally associate with Champagne (must've spent some time on lees and in wood), definitely funky stuff. On the palate its full, juicy, lemons and lush acidity and with good texture, really incorporates the wood well, mouthfeel is excellent. Dont know how this wine manages to taste so different from the first time I tried it.

Dona Paula 'Naked Pulp' Viognier 09, Aregntina.
Oddbins £12.99 A-

Completely unhinged wine. Nose doesnt smell of Viognier at all - so much aromatics, honey, acacia, white flowers, lychee and ginger - if I had tasted this blind, I probably would have guessed Gewurz or Muscat. Smells sweet on the notes, really inviting. Palate is full of white fruits, plenty of acidity, still a touch of sugar too; texture is rather thick (in a good way). This is a full, take-no-prisoners wine and hides its 14.5% alcohol exceptionally well. Completely crazy, truly something else.

Forrest Estate 'The Doctors' Gruner Veltliner 10, New Zealand.
Noel Young £14.99 A

Allegedly first plantings to gruner in NZ, first proper vintage of this wine, hence very young vines. Smells quite green, mineral, slate undertones; fruit notes is tropical, apricot, lychee and pineapples, green unripe mangoes. So lifted, expresses itself so well tonight, really singing at the top of its voice. Palate is textured, still a touch of sugar too, roundabout the 10g/l mark, gives it a bit more body. The tropical fruits still there on the palate, lively; this is Gruner on steroids, much like what Marlborough did to Sauvignon Blanc.

Matahiwi 'Holly' Pinot Noir, New Zealand.
Oddbins £16.99 B+

Cherries, raspberries, violets, damsons too, touch of cinnamon, spices and some earthy / rustic notes too. Textbook nose for new world Pinot Noir. Palate is of sweet morello cherries, ripe red fruits, crunchy but quite fat acidity, everything is together. Well made wine.

Cline Cashmere, California.
Oddbins £17.49 B+

A rhone blend. Dark berries on the nose, touch of white pepper, quite lifted actually. Palate is large and full, but still smooth, really deserves to be called cashmere. Dark berries still. makes me wonder what happened to all the tannins.

Cien Y Pico 'Doble Pasta' Tintorera, Spain.
Noel Young £11.49 B+

Won gold at IWC 2010 - although I am hard pressed to see why. Really dark, properly extracted stuff; nose is of dark berries again, more heat and spice coming through. Palate is dense and full, oak shows too; some meaty character, in a way that shouts for red meat, I guess. Still quite tannic, should have probably decanted this a while. Nice structure though, acidity and all, will improve with bottle age.

Terra Andina Altos Carmenere Carignan, Chile.
Oddbins £10.99 B

Nose is quite woody and green (like smelling plants), touches of tar and sulphur (probably the Carmenere), green pepper and capsicum. Weird nose. Palate is rather disappointingly green and lean, tannins grips at the back too. Unimpressed with this wine, my guess is probably that it was struggling for ripeness / picked too early. Just not balanced.

Calem Quinta da Foz 1984, Vintage Port.
Tanners £20.95 A-

A delightful expression of mature vintage port. Fruits is soft and rounded, developed nose, chocolates, coffee, touch of licorice too. Palate is still lively with red fruits, but its subdued, doesnt jump at your face. Smooth and mature, this is drinking absolutely wonderfully now, at its peak. Great value too.

Borges Reserve Sweet Madeira
Oddbins £11.99 B+

Nice sweet madeira, good presence, with the characteristic burnt, oxidised tones. Still touch of acidity and tartness there, so its still balanced and in check. Will go wonderfully with mince pies so long as they're not too sweet. Good value.

De Bortoli 'Old Boys' 21yo Tawny
Oddbins £19.99 A-

An old friend, showing really well. Plenty of sweet fruits, raisins, sultanas, theres some spice there too, like candied ginger. Lovely texture in the mouth, just sits there and gives and gives. I've had this for several times across several years and its reliably wonderful. Again, will go well with mince pies.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Whisky Tasting

A diverse flight of whiskies, tasted on.

Balblair Vintage 2000, Highland.
TWE £30.75

Macallan Fine Oak 10yo, Speyside.
Oddbins £19.99

Compass Box Spice Tree.
TWE £34.49
Jim Murray Whisky Bible 2011 - 95.5pts Best Scotch New Brand

Blue Hanger 4th Release.

BBR £59.95

Ballantine's 17yo.

TWB £39.95
Jim Murray Whisky Bible 2011 - 97.5pts World Whisky of the Year

Highland Park Saint Magnus, 2nd Limited Edition, Islands - Orkney.

Highland Park £85

Nikka Whisky from the Barrel, Japan.

TWE £24.95 (50cl)
World Whiskies Award 2010 – Japanese Blend of the Year

Aberlour a'bunadh batch 31, Speyside.
Oddbins £31.99

Port Charlotte An Turas Mor, Bruichladdich, Islay.
TWB £34.99

Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Islay.
TWE £59.95

Jim Murray Whisky Bible 2011 - 96.5pts No Age Statement Single Malt Scotch of the Year
World Whiskies Awards 2010 – Best Single Malt of the Year

Sunday, 12 December 2010


Cono Sur Viognier 09
Oddbins £5.99. B+

Plenty of white fruits, apricots, nectarines, even some melon, its lifted and lively. Plenty of juicy fruits on the palate, quite sweet, slight touch of bitterness at the back. Fully correct. Good with light dishes, asian foods too.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Noel Young Christmas Tasting

Dandelion Vineyards 'Wonderland of the Eden Valley' Riesling 10, Australia.
£10.99. B+

99 yo vines, highly unusual for whites. Lime zest, citrus there, plenty of lifted fruits, tropical, some touch of petrol. Fresh, really racy, bone dry pretty much. Nice stuff.

Forrest Estate 'The Doctors' Gruner Veltliner 10, NZ.
£14.99. B+

2 yo vines, first plantings in NZ. Some mineral, white stone fruits, apricots, white pepper. Theres a nice sweetness, its actually off dry, 8 g/l, gives it some fatness and body, very drinkable. Some marzipan, almond. Short finish unfortunately. Really weird style.

Domaine Robert Denogent Pouilly Fuisse 'Les Reisses' 08, France.
£24.49. A-

Mineral, oak, really developed nose, quite funky, definitely some yeasty tones. Nice proper acidity, fat, full, and lingers for a long while; citrus, plenty of lemons. Excellent balance, consistent in the palate.

Moutard Pere et fils Prestige Rose Brut NV, Champagne France.
£24.99. B+

Auburn, golden, orange salmon colour. Nose is so fruity, strawberries really jump out, raspberries, red fruits, so forward. Palate is again fruit driven, attractive, drinkable, not the most sophisticated of champagnes, but hey, that's not what they were trying to aren't.

Juan Gil Petit Verdot Jumilla 09, Spain.
£9.99. B+

Young vines 4 yo. Violets, touches of green capsicum, fine wood, fruit is red cherry, not dark and extracted stuff. Not tannic, light style, almost burgundian. Cheerful.

Domain Grange Cochard Morgon Vielles Vignes Les Charmes 09, Beaujolais France.
£15.95. B+(+)

Rustic, farmyard, quite floral and lifted actually, violets, sweet cinnamon. Fruit is ripe, still good tannic structure, cherry, plums, darker berries. Good example of what Beaujolais can achieve in a good year. Will keep at least another 3 years.

Ernie Els The Big Easy 09, Western Cape, South Africa
£14.95. B+

Blend of Shiraz, Cabernet, Gremache, Mourvedre and Viognier. Plenty of red fruits, some white pepper, some smoke, tar. Vibrant lively palate, quite green, dark fruits, not heavy. Drinks so easily, not particularly tannic but still with some structure, nice stuff.

Schubert Pinot Noir 'Block B' 08, Wairarapa, NZ.
£27.95. A-

Rustic, farmyard, dusty, floral, lifted, woody, some spice, pepper, star anise. Such a lovely complex nose. Fantastic fruits, ripe cherries, nice acidity carrying everything together. Gorgeous now, will definitely keep a few years.

Paul Clover Noble Late Harvest Riesling 09, South Africa.
£12.50 (375ml). A-

Honey lime, passion fruit, tropical, candied apricots. Marmalade, can smell the botrytis. Palate is light, sugar should be roundabout the 100 g/l mark, balanced by lots of acidity to keep it from cloying. Fresh, zippy.

Seppeltsfield Grand Muscat
£16.75 (500ml). B+

Raisins, really sweet nose, PX style. Full on the palate, sugar treacle, golden syrup. Diabetic sweet. Will go well with mince pies, Christmas puddings etc.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Noel Young Wines Christmas Tasting - Reds

Tasted a whole lot of red wine from Noel Young Wines during their annual Christmas tasting. The following wines stood out among the rest, all getting an A- or were somehow remarkable or memorable. These are in no particular order. Notes are necessarily brief, had lots of wine to go through in a relatively short amount of time. Prices indicated are retail to Noel Young. Includes sweet wine too.

Pulenta 'La Flor' Malbec 09, Argentina. £9.49

Quite lifted for a Malbec, not heavy and dense. Blueberry, plums, maybe even touch of spice. Almost like a diet Malbec / Malbec-lite, very drinkable.

Pulenta 'Gran Corte' VII 07, Argentina. £21.49

Blend of malbec and Bordeaux varietals. Big presence, but not punchy. Palate is generous and wide, lingering and classy. Full of dark fruits, spice. Its sophisticated stuff, real good, a new world Cru Classe if you will. Excellent potential for aging.

Langmeil Hangin' Snakes Shiraz Viognier 07, Barossa. £12.99

Ticks all the right boxes for Shiraz, and goes that little bit more. Plenty of dark fruits, the Viognier realy lifts this, wine doesnt feel bogged down. Good stuff.

Langmeil 'Freedom' Shiraz 05, Barossa. £54.95

Made from vines as old as 1843, claims as the oldest in Australia. Concentration of fruit, classic shiraz expression. Good extraction, vibrant acidity. Mouthfeel is lingering, offering good depth and presence. Superb. Rare.

Allegrini 'La Grola' 07, Veneto. £18.29

Very juicy, lush dark fruits; cherries, touch of spice. Big warming wine, bags of quality and presence. Full-bodied but very approachable, even in its youth.

John Duval 'Plexus' Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 07, Barossa. £18.99

Another big wine, which carries everything together well, isnt clumsy at all. So much dark fruits going on, chocolate. Good depth, settled palate. Again approachable now, or will cellar with no problems.

Seghesio Zinfandel 08, Sonoma. £19.95

Big, expressive Zinfandel. Fruit is very ripe, succulent, jammy and maybe even slightly burnt (in a good way, like compote). Warming, I'm guessing this is upwards of 15% alcohol - doesnt detract from its quality.

Saint Clair 'Doctors Creek' Block 14 Pinot Noir 09, Marlborough. £15.49

Light, fresh, vibrant. Ripe red fruits, raspberry mainly, maybe some sour cherry; all balanced with a rather tart and crunchy acidity (like cranberry juice really), lip smackingly good. Such a lively, joyous little wine. Love this style.

SWEET WINES - the first is notable and certainly worth buying, an A- in my books. The next two are there for novelty value, both were B+.

Saint Clair Noble Riesling 'Doctors Creek Reserve' 09, Marlborough. £13.29 (375ml)

Touches of kerosene / petrol on the nose, honey, acacia and citrus fruits; really lifted nose, inviting. Palate is balanced, plenty of sugar balanced with fresh acidity. Very together, isnt cloying, enjoy with light fruit deserts. Excellent now, but will keep.

Andrew Quady 'Elysium' 09, California. £9.45 (375ml)

Black muscat, hence the wine looks like a deep rose. Plenty of acid, theres a tartness that feels like tannins, sweetness feels somewhat confected. Its alright, but somehow a a 'tannic' sweet wine just doesnt sit with me.

Greywacke Late harvest Gewurztraminer 09, Marlborough. £22.99 (375ml)

From much-hyped producer Greywacke. Nose is lifted, floral, beautiful sweet Gewurz, peaches, apricots. On the palate - dont think they got this one right to be honest - plenty of sweetness but lacks acidity, just sorts of sit in your mouth, making you wonder where the acid has gone? just lacking that extra dimension. Not cheap either.

Noel Young Christmas Wine Tasting - Whites

Tasted a whole lot of white wine from Noel Young Wines during their annual Christmas tasting. The following wines stood out among the rest, all getting an A- or were somehow remarkable or memorable. These are in no particular order. Notes are necessarily brief, had lots of wine to go through in a relatively short amount of time. Prices indicated are retail to Noel Young.

Au Bon Climat Chardonnay 08. Santa Barbara, California. £19.50

Nice acidity, lemon and citrus, nice astringency too. Full, still retaining good fruit focus. Lingers a while too. Good stuff.

Saint Clair 'Omaka' Reserve Chardonnay 09. Marlborough. £13.95

Somewhat developed nose, toast and barrel, even lees contact? Quite complex. Plenty of fruits still; all balanced by good acidity and fruits. Buttery, not completely dry. Delicious.

Saint Clair Riesling 10. Marlborough. £10.75

Doesnt smell like Riesling, lacking the petrol / kerosene notes. Plenty of tropical fruits, lychee, lemon on the palate. Not completely dry again, nice fatness to it. Easy to drink.

Ca dei Frati Lugana 'I Frati' 09. Italy. £14.99

Clean, fresh wine but with so much going on; plenty of white fruits, tropical. Lively, bursting with fruits, generous and expressive. Nice length to round it off. Really gorgeous, can't believe I've never had this before.

Tabali Reserve Viognier 10. Chile. £8.49

Fresh, plenty of white fruits. Quite floral, doesnt have the bitterness that you normally associate with bad Viognier. Good for the price.

Bodegas Naia 'Naiades' 07. Spain. £20.75

Grown up wine in style and age (pre phylloxera vines). Complexity, white fruits and citrus still there, but theres an extra layered, buttery complexity (could be the oak talking), but its all integrated and together. A serious wine to ponder.

Monday, 22 November 2010


Tasted Thursday, 18 Nov 2010.
Dont know where the wines came from or how much it cost.

The Lane Unwooded Chardonnay 08

Clean, nice, refreshing. White fruits, peach, some citrus, though not much; some layered organic notes too (which is weird since its supposed to be unwooded) which gives it good texture. Nice structure overall - a correct Chardonnay.

Six Tonner Merlot 09 Darling Cellars

Quite green, peppery, decent red fruits. Some minty there too, with woody and leafy tones. Tastes a bit too extracted and alcoholic. Somehow it feels hot but not ripe. Weird.

Coto de Imaz Rioja Reserva 04

Another correct expression of Rioja. Despite the age, plenty of acidity still evident, even tart and drying acidity, the good, lip smacking kind of acidity. Fruits are mainly muted red fruits, plenty of freshness in the palate; its a vibrant wine, lively, and needs food.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Formal Hall

Veuve Clicquot Demi Sec

Plenty of white fruits, green apple, pears even. Touch of yeast, biscuit, theres quite a bit if sugar there, maybe 20 g/l sugar. Nice together, clean, fresh.

Rolf Binder The Highness Eden Valley Riesling 09

Reviewed earlier in here

Luzzano 270 Rosso Oltrepo Pavese 03, Giovannela Fugazza

Plenty of dark fruits, woody, earthy notes, plenty of depth. Theres a bitterness, pithy, still quite tannic actually. Theres plenty of vibrant acidity as well, high notes starting to show through. Can't tell what grape this is, probably sangiovese and a few others, maybe cabernet, nebbiolo too? 20 pn, 75 barbera, bit of sangiovese.

Balthasar of the Barossa Shiraz 06

All the correct shiraz notes, mint, eucalyptus. Actually not over the top, but tannic, but still very big. Dripping with black fruits, blackberry, blueberry, plenty of depth. Concentrated, full.

Friday, 19 November 2010


Torre Oria Cava Brut
Oddbins £6.99. B+

Nice golden colour, apple, white fruit, quite floral, some alcoholic overtones. Decent palate, nice toast, biscuity, clean citrus. Good presence, overall good.

Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir 08 Central Otago
Naked Wines £17.49. A-

Plenty of red fruits, raspberry, cherry, touch of wood and vanilla. Good palate and presence, fat plump acidity, just plenty of ripe fruits, even hints of spice, cinnamon, clove. Balanced, very easy to drink and quite simply gorgeous.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Formal Hall

Tasted Sunday, 14 November 2010

Kimbao Sauvignon Blanc 09. Chile.
NakedWines, £8.99. B+

Full, fresh, plenty of fruits, not overly Sauvignon Blanc. Theres gooseberry, green, but not big and overpowering. Well balanced. Still drinking well but probably slightly past its peak.

Domain Jean Jacques Girard Bourgogne Cuvee Bastille 09
Noel Young, £13.99. B+

Violets, damson, feels red. Cherry, touch of farmyard, earth, wood. Fresh, vibrant acidity, expressive and yet soft, so much ripe fruit, its really juicy for a Burgundy - definitely not the muted type. Really lively, well made to be enjoyed young, delightful.

Mitchell Noble Semillon Clare Valley 06
Tanners, £8.10 (375ml). B+

Definitely botrytis on the nose, honeysuckle. Plenty of acidity on the palate and bitterness at the back, red grapefruit, candied lemon. Good balance, not cloying with good lingering finish.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Formal Hall

Tasted Friday, 12 November 2010

Cape Mentelle Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 06

Lively, vibrant nose, plenty of green leafs, gooseberry, green peppers, with some minerality too, the sauvignon really speaks. Palate is fresh, filling, here the semillon contributes to the body, making it bigger. Plenty of citrus still, lemon, nice texture, acidity is mouth watering, morish. Well made stuff.

Majella Coonawarra Riesling 06

Definitely some kerosene, organic notes, toluene comes to mind, sweet esters too, and lime cordial slowly coming through. Palate is rich, textured, settled, nice rounded acidity lingers in the palate like sucking on a lemon wedge, small amount of residual sugar but really doesn't show because of the gorgeous acidity. Feels mature, doesn't jump at you. Definitely better than when I had it two years ago.

Achaia Clauss Mavrodaphne

Nutty, raisin tones, honey, smells like tawny port. Body is light, some tannins still there, definitely oxidative notes, like solera sherry, there's the burnt toasted notes. Raisin, coffee, hints of chocolate. Plenty of acidity to balance it out, good balance. I'm guessing this is only 50 g/l or so. Dangerously quaffable, just flows so wendell.

Alvear Solera 1927 Pedro Ximenez Sherry
Oddbins, 12.99 (375ml). A-

Really sweet, seriously treacle, this is basically sugar syrup. Raisin juice, sultana, oxidative. This will leave you in a diabetic shock, its a desert in its own right. Hefty, full.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

CUWS M10 - Hungarian Wine

Tasting led by Mr Lucien Lanci of http://www.hungarianfoodandwine.com/ and all wines can be sourced from that website.
Apologies beforehand as the tasting notes are unusually brief - I've got a bit of a cold today. Can't be sure that I trust my palate 100% for this tasting.

Hungaria Grande Cuvee Brut

Mousse is a bit frothy, not refined, just bubbles away energetically without finesse. Good citrus, plenty of forward fruit, nice acidity too. Lasts a while actually. Not bad at all.

Frittmann Cserszegi Fuszeres

Mineral on the nose, almost chalky and loamy, touches of citrus. There's some wood there I think which the fruit isn't handling too well. Acidity is fine, but could have more fruit. Light food, chilled wine.

Archabbey Pannonhalma Sauvignon Blanc

Not new world nose, green apple and grass, some citrus, no gooseberry here, even oak on the nose. Plenty of acidity, really aggressive and pushes. Again there's some wood there, but takes it better. Not really balanced.

Boldogsagos Cuvee

Smells green, bizarrely so, mint leaves, parsley and cilantro, also mineral. Definitely oak there, too much in my mind, the palate lacks balance. Big style, needs more fruit, acid is there.

Frittmann Kunsagi Kekfrankos

Same as blaufrankisch, that bizarre grape grown mostly in Austria. Violets, quite woody on the nose. Fruit is thin, quite boring. Certainly not among the better blaufrankisch I've had. Green, leafy, tastes extracted but really lacks body and fruit.

Korona Ergi Bikaver

More traditional nose, lots of red fruit, and violets too, actually expressive. Bigger, but not as extracted, good fruit width, maybe slightly flabby. Generous on the palate though. Nothing remarkable again.

Heimann Szekszardi Barbar Cuvee 07

Plenty of fruits, dark, Palate is full and dense. Good presence, nice width, but not enough length. Everything is balanced, correct. This is the best wine of the night but not sure its worth the money.

Chateau Imperial Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos 01

Proper tokaji nose, lively given colour, nose is of marmalade, citrus, and the botrytis too. Good presence, has sugar but plenty of piercing, racy acidity which is the dominant tone. Fresh, lighter style even for a 5 puttonyos. Very clean, light and not cloying.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Formal Hall

Tasted on Sunday, 7 Nov 2010

Baron de Badassiere 09. Picpoul de pinet
CWM, £8. B

Nice fruit, fat, generous but short. Loamy, like chenin, nice acidity, not aggressive. Inoffensive, perfectly drinkable wine..

Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon 04
CWM, £11. A-

A very correct expression of cabernet. Plenty of dark fruits, mellowed by a touch of oak, some greenness, like peppers, maybe even some leafy notes still there. Fragrant on the nose, palate is full and generous, plenty there going on, good width. Tannins have largely resolved, certainly doesn't grip, nice acidity, unfortunately not a particularly long aftertaste. Good quality though, well made.

Seifried Sweet Agnes Riesling 09

Reviewed earlier in a tasting.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

CUWS M10 - Jorge Ordonez

South of Spain, near Malaga, the vineyards backs onto mountains and has views of mediterranean sea. Very steep slopes, all grapes are hand picked, sourced form very old vines with an average age of 70 years, some going back 100+ years. Vines grows straight from bedrock. All wines are made from Muscat of Alexandria.

Botani Seco 09

Very early harvest, late july, early august. Lifted, floral, white flowers and fruits, dainty, aromatic. Pineapple, tropical, even grape. Some oak treatment but really can't see. Palate is wide, oak treatment can now be felt, good acidity coming through. Fresh, lively, nice length and persistence. Drink young.

Victoria Conarta No 7 VDN 07

Again floral, lifted, smells sweet actually. Really intense, good depth. Seriously sweet, but extremely pure and clean. Lasts in the mouth for a long time. Very sweet but still lots of acidity, depth. Really like drinking raisin juice, with a good jolt of acid. Simply Superb.

No 1 Seleccion Especial 07

Not air dried, late harvest to achieve the concentration and not lose acidity. sweet fruits, dried fruits, apricots, blossoms. Candied fruits, so much acidity still runs through, cleansing, not heavy. balance.

No 2 Victoria 05

Slightly more alcoholic tones. All the right notes. Really good intense flavours, plenty of sugar again, feels heavier but still acidity runs through, thus not cloying. Concentrated by drying indoors. Really piercing pineapple acidity, more settled.

No 2 Victoria 06

Bit more jumpy, all the right flavours actually same as above but slightly more aggressive. Both absolutely beautiful. Both in excess of 200 g/l sugar.

Vinas Viejas No 3 06

Deep golden, more amber actually. Really old vines, 250 g/l, more grapes to a bottle. Smells of raisin, slightly more alcoholic nose, vanilla, dried fruits. Really pure fruit, apricot, quince, again plenty of acidity. Voluptuous, big, generous, so long. Really unbelievable intensity and such good presence, coats the mouth. Heavenly.

Superlatives all around, really pure fruits, all balanced with such good acidity, fresh, elegant and expressive of the place. Speaks volumes of the place, and of the people who make it. Superb.

Award winning wines

A tasting of award wining wines from both Decanter World Wine Awards 2010 and International Wine Challenge 2010. Tasted 28 Oct 2010.

Blanc Neuf la Bastide 2008. Rhone, France.
Decanter International White Blend under £10.

Laithwaites, £7.99

Reviewed earlier

Esporao Verdelho 2009. Alentejo, Portugal.
IWC Silver.
Cambridge Wine Merchants, £10. B+

Lime zest on the nose, chalky minerality, quite stony on the nose. Palate is clean, fresh, plenty of zip – grapefruits, lime. Refreshing, lively, good.

Weingut Turk Erlesenes Vom Gruner Veltliner 2008. Austria.
IWC Austria Dry White trophy, IWC Gruner Veltliner Trophy

Noel Young, £17. A-

Nice minerality comes through on the nose, chalky, granite; lots of green and herby notes (maybe basil / marjoram?). Palate is tingly, zesty; plenty of zip, though not much by way of fruits. Acidity is soft, wide and filling; palate lingers for a long time too. Class – top notch Gruner.

Vina Casa Marin ‘Cipreses Vineyard’ Sauvignon Blanc 2009. Chile.
Decanter International Sauvignon Blanc over £10 Trophy, IWC Bronze.
Noel Young, £14. A-

I dont normally like new world Sauvignon Blanc but this is an excellent example of the best. All the correct notes: green bell peppers, gooseberry, green tomatoes, leafy and herby. All very lively nose, very green notes, but not as over the top as some New Zealand variety. Theres plenty of citrus fruit; fat acidity, touch of sweetness even – all very much in harmony and very well balanced. Excellent mouthfeel and presence.

Peter Lehmann ‘The Wigan’ Riesling 2004. Australia.
Decanter Australian Riesling over £10 Trophy.

Noel Young, £12. B+(+)

A consistent performer. Kerosene, petrol on the nose, balanced with lime cordial, lots of organic notes which is unusual for an Aussie Riesling (the bottle age certainly doesnt hurt). Plenty of fat and aggressive acidity, the secondary characters are coming through also. Generous, yet precise, could use a touch more residual sugar, its a bit too punchy at the moment.

Schubert Wines ‘Block B’ Pinot Noir 2008. New Zealand.
Decanter International Pinot Noir over £10 Trophy. IWC New Zealand Pinot Noir T
Noel Young, £27.95. A(+)

Nose is quite something, like an aged Burgundy – earthy, manure, almost metallic coppery notes, woody, even some peppers. Theres also a touch of green-ness, like grass. Palate is lush, lots of sweet fruits, cherries everywhere, raspberries. Gorgeous wine, so much mouthfeel and presence; really fantastic, so together. I can only salivate at the potential this wine might have, a few more years, just to peak. I now know how this wine won all the awards – entirely justified.

Vina Chocalan Merlot Seleccion 07. Maipo, Chile.
Cambridge Wine Merchants, £8.50. B

Plenty of red fruits, some tannin starts to grip at the back. Green, leafy, quite raspy. Nice for a Merlot, does have presence and certainly plenty of wine for the money.

Vina Falernia Antakari Carmenere Syrah 2008. Chile.
IWC Gold. Decanter Silver.
Laithwaites, £7.50. B+

Again, lots of fruits, theres a bunt edge, tar maybe? Correct wine, nothing really wrong with it. Well put together. Good value.

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Rouge 2007. Rhone, France.
Noel Young, £19.50. A-

Second wine of famed Chateaunneuf du Pape icon Ch. Beaucastel. Lots of fruits, spice, cinnamon, quite fragrant notes, even some violets, nose is brilliant and has everything you'd want. The palate is good, settled, and expressive – certainly more so than when I had this last year – red fruits, good intensity. Now starting to drink well, an dmost importantly, expressing itself.

John Forest ‘Collection’ Syrah 2006. New Zealand.
IWC New Zealand Syrah Trophy.
Noel Young, £17. A-

Plums, red fruits compote, almost floral, damsons. Really mature nose and old world, peppery. The palate is full with fruits but not overwhelming, nice density; some tannins start to grip at the back. Its a real grown-up take on Syrah, nicely poised. Lovely.

Heartlands Director’s Cut Shiraz 2007. Australia.
IWC International Shiraz, IWC Australian Red, IWC Australian Shiraz Trophies.
Noel Young, £16.50. A-

Big, bold and forward. Menthol, winegums and pastilles to the fore; ribena and eucalyptus notes. Heady stuff. Palate is filling, generous and has good presence; plenty of dark fruits, extracted but not immediately tannic (only starts to grip at the back). Big wine, if you like the powerful style of Aussie Shiraz, but its still carries itself well and with balance. Very good overall, certainly rivals d'Arenberg's Dead Arm, for example, and will probably age with grace.

Seifried ‘Sweet Agnes’ Riesling. New Zealand.
Decanter International Sweet over £10 Trophy.

Nakedwines, £18 (375ml). A

Quite something. Touch of keroesene on the nose, smells like a Spatlese, not something really sweet. Lemons, lychee, floral notes abound too, nicely expressive. Plenty of acidity in the palate, like sour mangoes and citrus, really tangy, but balanced by lots and lots of sugar, I suspect this is way in excess of 100g/l. Good coating in the mouth; this is not shy, its a supercharged desert wine if I ever had one, really pumped up; but yet, not without poise. Truly remarkable, I'd like to see if this develops.

Fonseca bin 27. Portugal.
IWC Reserve Port Trophy.
Noel Young, £10. B+

A correct port, plenty of sweet fruits, yields well. Doesnt have the overly-fortified feel. Good value.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Formal hall

First two were tasted Sunday, 31 Oct 2010. Second two were tasted Monday, 01 Nov 2010.

Botani Moscatel Seco 07

Made by Jorge Ordonez (great sweet wine maker). Floral, really soft and lively, white floral, daisies. Palate is soft, lime, touch of sugar, maybe even grape. Will be brilliant chilled on summer evenings.

Ch de Saint Cosme Gigondas 1998
Tanners. A-

Gamey, bacon, meaty nose, smoky, mouldy, earthy, wet leather, boots. Musty, wet, damp. Mature, settled, palate is rounded. Fruit still there, acidity still there, everything in check. Mature now, drinking well, probably at its peak.

Burge Family Winemakers Vintage Port 03
Noel Young. A-

Smells like port, all the correct notes, feels mature and doesn't shout at you. Palate is full, good depth, plenty of sweet black fruit there, lush and ripe. Alcohol feels integrated, normally cheap port can feel fortified, this doesn't. Not much tannins either, decent length, well made and balanced overall. Gives port a run for its money.

Ciconia Vinho Regional Alentejano 09
Oddbins. B+

Bright orange label, can't miss it. The syrah really speaks here; black fruits, some mint, almost like a weak port; good nose. Soft fruits, nice presence, good mouthfeel. Good for its price.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

CUWS M10 - Cambridge Wine Merchants

Tin Pot Hut Pinot Gris 09 Marlborough

Lifted aromatics, white fruits, touches of solvent. Nice fruits, width there, clean acidity, nice fat palate. Some sugar, not completely dry, should be versatile food wine. Well made.

Bouchard Finlayson Blanc de Mer 09. South Africa.

More zing to this, bit aggressive, touch sharp at the beginning. Tropical, white fruits, theres some phenolic notes at the back. Palate is rather one dimensional, flat and wide. Has it seen some oak? Blend of mostlyViognier (hence the phenolic bitterness at the back, I suppose), Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling

Vina Arboleda Sauvignon Blanc 09. Aconcagua. £10.

Pithy, nose is distinctly green, leafy, green bell peppers. Good fruits is there, maybe some gooseberry, really forward. Nice intensity with minerality, other than that quite similar to New Zealand Sauv Bl. A food wine.

Carrick Unravelled Pinot Noir 08. Central Otago.

Not fully extracted, pale, quite green, peppery, leafy, violets, earthy too. Attractive, old world style, but theres a weird alcoholic overtone. Sour cherry, strawberry, bit woody. Slightly flabby, could have more mouthfeel and presence, on the light side of things. Love the nose though.

Colonia las Liebras Bonarda 08.
£7. B+

Large, alcoholic, deeper colour and extraction, jammy. Plenty of fruit, big, bold and chunky tannins. Not exactly complex, but its generous. Probably should be had with food.

Von Siebenthal Parcela #7 07

Jammy compote, darker fruits, alcoholic, musty, solvent, some smoky burnt notes. Plenty of fruits there, good acid backbone, tannins are not as gripping. Nice actually, food wine.

Heartland Dolcetto Lagrein 07
£11. B+

Lifted, floral, violets, some alcohol, looks deep and extracted but the palate is quite nifty, fleeting. Sour cherry, Plenty of acidity, crunchy, bit of grip at the back. Weird.

l'Aventure Syrah 02. Paso Robles.
£30. B+

Winegums, pastilles, mint, blackberry. Big and expressive even at this age. What is this? Tannins are unresolved, grabs you all over the place. I think the fruits is still there but isn't showing well; its like its hidden somewhere. Everything is in excess, the oak, the acid and the extracted fruit. No balance, shame.

Old Boys 21 year old tawny
£16. A

An old favourite, like meeting an old friend. Treacle, sultana, raisins, the alcoholic nose is inevitable. Marmalade, excellent length, so much mouthfeel and presence, good weight and the complexity for a wine that's below £20 is remarkable, lasts a surreal amount of time. Simply outstanding.

Overall, another eclectic tasting by the effervescent Brett Turner from Cambridge Wine Merchants. The Tinpot Hut howed well, as did the Von Siebenthal; I'll probably remember the Heartland Dolcetto Lagrein for its weirdness and the American Syrah for its over-the-topness.


Blanc Neuf la Bastide
Laithwaites, £7.99. B+

Lots of white fruits, peachy, nectarines, lifted, really forward on the nose, lively. Acidity is good, touch of bitterness, like solvent notes at the back - is this the minerality trying to show? Palate is generous enough. Good value.

The Show Stopper Durif
Laithwaites, £6.99. B+

Menthol, mint, pastilles, wine gums, deep berries, blackberry. Deep fruits, quite extracted. Like an aussie shiraz but lacks the balance, almost trying too hard. Fruit driven, some tannin grips at the back. Lacks balance, unfortunately, not something I would drink on its own.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


Short notes on a few wines which were, very fortuitously, opened and available in Noel Young Wines when I was there to pick up some wines for a tasting. These wines were opened for a whole day on Saturday and wine-saved. I tasted these Monday lunchtime, went through 8 wines but I'm only putting up very brief notes and impressions of the ones I particularly like / was memorable - dont have time or inclination to write out full notes for all the wines.

Bodegas Baigorri Rioja Reserva 05
£21.95. A-.

Lots of spice, smoke on the nose, almost salty; meaty, like cured meats, bacon, I can just imagine this going so well with jamon iberico or something of that nature. Palate was dense, dark fruits, full and generous, definitely a cut above your basic Rioja Reserva. I can see why this stable did well in Decanter and IWC.

Plantagenet 'Omrah' Pinot Noir 09
£10.99. A-.

Nice red fruits, raspberryish, that kind of thing; appealingly soft and flowing. Well balanced, with acidity in check; not fully extracted. So easy to drink.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Formal hall

Bishops Leap 09, Marlborough
Noel Young, £7.99. B+

Made by the folks at St Clair, this is a classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, bags of fruits - Gooseberry, tropical, leafy, green. Plenty of zing and fresh acidity running through, really fruit driven. Everything you'd want in a NZSB; decently priced, to boot.

Clos de Gat Har'el Syrah 03, Israel.
Tanners. A-

Quite spicy, plenty of heat and fruit. Settled, done its aging. Plenty of acid still though. Smooth, forward fruit, nice presence, good weight, lasts a good few seconds. Rustic feel, earthy, must. Very french, actually.

Roc de Lussac 07, Lussac St Emilion
Sainsbury's. B

Was on half price offer in Sainsburys a while back. Fruity stuff, straightforward. Nice, not very complex but certainly very drinkable. Probably merlot dominated, not very bordeaux in style

Escarpment Hinemoa Riesling 09.
Noel Young, £9.29 (375ml). B+

For a long time we could not get New Zealand dessert wines - hence why I picked this up at a recent visit. Supposed to be high residual sugar >100g/l but really doesnt feel like it. Plenty of acid still there, masking the sugaryness. Honey, citrus, touch of bitterness at the back too. Good for light fruit-based desserts; had this with a lemon tart and it was brilliant, the acidity coped well and added a nice layer of sweetness to the dessert.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

CUWS M10 - Horeau-Beylot

First proper tasting of the term for CUWS, a selection of right bank wines from Bordeaux, all made by Horeau-Beylot.

Ch du Fort Pontus 06, Fronsac.

Really closed nose, not yielding much. Palate is quite bricky, metallic. Fruit is good and forward, generous enough on the palate, tannins still grippy. Just not expressive enough at the moment, could be good but really can't tell. Don't think there's enough acid to carry this too long.

Ch du Fort Pontus 01, Fronsac.

More leather, tobacco, cedar and cinnamon, beautifully rustic on the nose, proper older more settled. Some floral touches too, alluring. Smooth, well aged, drinking nicely now. Nice red fruits, acidity nicely evident, tannin quite resolved.

Ch La Renaissance 06, Pomerol

Nice, straight forward, not particularly expressive, substantial weight on the palate which is good to see. Full width, wider and filling on the palate. Tannin needs to resolve.

Ch St Pierre 05, Pomerol.

Fuller, more depth to this, acidity more prevalent. More serious wine, integrated flavours, but currently still quite taut, not fully opened up. Expect this to be good, given time. Only sold on trade, which is a shame.

L'Esprit de Bellevue 07, St Emilion.

Straight forward, somewhat confected nose, plum, red fruits. Nice, pleasantly fruity, but not substantial enough, unimpressive, lacklustre. Under £10 and it shows.

Ch Bellevue 07, St Emilion Grand Cru Classe

Deeper expressive nose, tobacco, woody, some leafy, cedar, nice red fruits and even touches of violets. Good depth of flavour, nice width, fine grained tannins which shows even now. Weight good and concentration too. 98% merlot.

Ch Bellevue 03, St Emilion Grand Cru Classe

Ripe nose, almost sweet, quite alcoholic. Gumdrops, pastilles, cassis, ribena. Palate is ripe and wide but not as intense, bit flabby, finish could be longer.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Formal Hall

Chateau Montus Cuvee Prestige, Madiran, 2000

Feels old and farmyard, rustic, earthy notes, not much by way of fruit there, quite burnt and hot, smoky bacon, savoury. Tannins still haven't fully resolved itself, still a bit of grip in places. Where is the fruit? Acid and tannins there, but no fruit. Done a good deal of aging, so don't think it will improve much with time.
On opening, it was a decidedly poor wine, but after some time in the glass, it tremendously improved, flexing its muscles, much more expressive. The tannins even slightly gave way. Probably needed some decanter time, its shame it didnt have a chance to fully show what it was.

Katnook Estate Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Oddbins. A-(+)

Full on, dark fruits, classic new world cab sauvignon, berries, currants, pastilles, touched of mint. Good filling mouthfeel, generous, wide. Still good acidity and grip, though. With some air time, really opens and softens. Good food wine, class, will early keep easily five years.

Kapellenhof Riesling Beerenauslese 2008.

Light honey, really, in a glass; plenty of candied sweetness, with good acidity running through it. A touch of bitterness at the back, showing the botrytis. Excellent example of a lighter beerenauselse, and will partner any light, fruit-based desserts.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Magpie Estate and Rolf Binder

A tasting of the current release Magpie Estate wines as well as those by Rolf Binder, at Noel Young Wines in Trumpington. Tasted Friday, 15 Oct 2010. RB denotes Rolf Binder Wines; ME denotes Magpie Estate wines.

RB Highness Riesling 08

Really lively lifted white fruits, lime, citrus, tangy zing there. Apricot, nectarines, really fruity and rounded. Some residual sugar here (7g/l), slightly off dry, gives nice fatness to it. Really drinkable on its own and will go well with food. Seriously lively stuff, luscious and quite simply delightful. Sourced from high-altitude vineyards in Eden Valley.

ME 'The Salvation' Gewurztraminer 09

There is lively notes, but slightly greener on the nose, bit of lychee and ginger. Light, fresh, focused not flabby, straight running. Bit of semillon thrown in to fatten up back palate. Good acidity there, some mineral, drinks well on its own. Again, slightly off-dry at 7g/l residual sugar - feels drier than the Riesling though. Asian food or seafood.

RB Halcyon Cabernet Merlot 08

An interesting vintage, apparently very hot growing season. Stewed flavours, quite green/leafy, bit of cabbage? Raspberry, candy, menthol. Nice acid and tannin is fine. Drinks well now, need food.

ME 'The Fakir' Grenache 07

Quite light actually, not fully extracted. Crunchy acidity which is fat, fruit is wide and generous but not overly heavy. A soft wine and very attractive one too. Will partner any light dishes, apparently goes well with thai food. The lightness makes this an unusual wine and works very well.

RB 'Heinrich' Shiraz Mataro Grenache 06

More spice there, white pepper, bell peppers. Plenty of fruit, menthol, ripe red fruits, generous. Acidity is crunchy, really shows brilliantly, good balance. Nice, well made stuff; the blend obviously works, and drinks well now.

ME 'The Black Sock' Mourvedre 07

Spice, licorice, peppers. Fat red fruits, width on palate is admirable, bigger in flavour and character, nice acidity. Tannins still quite chunky, could soften with time. Its big, will keep and develop for a few years. Needs food.

ME 'The Sack' Shiraz 07

Proper shiraz nose, nice depth. Full palate, a lot of extracted fruit, but not over done, darker black fruits. For a run of the mill flag bearer, this is seriously good stuff, good acid running through out and well-balanced.

RB Heysen Shiraz 06

Good solid shiraz nose, mint and menthol more notable, pastilles, currants and some leafy greenness which is weird and unexpected - does have small addition of cabernet sauvignon. Quite savoury notes, really full on the palate. Tannins still chunky and grainy, plenty of acid to last a long long time. Serious length, will age with ease, would open up too, this still feels quite taut and strung.

ME The Election Shiraz 06

More serious stuff, immediately obvious; some woody, savoury notes on the nose, gamey. A touch of grenache thrown in. White peppers, some meaty, smokyness. Dark fruits, pastilles, some mint. Still plenty of acid and fruit, and again will age beautifully to open up and soften. Still chunky tannins, give it time.

ME The Malcolm Shiraz 06

Double new oak, french and american, with a properly heavy bottle (dont ask me why, the bottle felt like it was lead-lined). Lovely voluptuous, big wine, so generous on the nose. Plenty of the traditional shiraz flavours, dark fruits, menthol, peppers, vanilla from oak also shows on the nose. Palate is seriously extracted, rather astringent and taut at the moment, needs time to open and soften. Its the big parker style, but still enough acidity in the background, so I cant fault the balance. Honestly, this is almost undrinkable today despite the obvious quality, patience will be much rewarded, a wine for the long haul.

Overall, I really enjoyed the tasting. Ended up buying the RB Riesling (because I adore the style) and the ME Fakir Grenache (because its unusual lightness and fat acidity, weirdly, reminds me of a Chorey-les-Beaune). The last few Shiraz was impressive; particularly ME The Sack Shiraz, which at its price point is still relatively good value.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Formal Hall

The Society's Exhibition Cairanne 2007
The Wine Society, £20 (Magnum). A-

Plum, cherry, red fruits galore. Compote, berries, bit of smoke and tar on the nose too. Filling palate, mouthfeel very nice and wide, a generous wine. Acidity is pleasantly there, tannins ripe. This was decanted an hour before serving, it did soften the palate and allowed the bouquet to open up. Good solid rhone, excellent ripeness in vintage shows; will develop another 2-3 years but drinking well now.

Royal Tokaji Ats Cuvee Late Harvest 2007
The Wine Society, £10.95 (50cl). A-

Honey, acacia, floral, sweet citrus, valencia oranges, some marmalade, with a touch of bitterness towards the end. Plenty of acidity running through, sweet but not cloying; feels really light, fresh and lively. Excellent light dessert wine, really fruity stuff.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


Joseph Drouhin Chorey-les-Beaune 2006
Tanners Wine. B+

Lifted floral notes, light red fruits, cherry, violets and raspberry. Palate is light and fleeting with plenty of crunchy acidity; not much primary fruits left here, replaced instead my a more mature and settled palate; earthy and rustic. Nice refreshing little wine.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

A miscellany of wines

A miscellany of wines, all tasted in one afternoon. An eclectic mix, I think you will agree.
First off, the new vintage of Ladies who Shoot Their Lunch - was a big fan of these last year, specially the funky Chardonnay.

Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Chardonnay 2009
Oddbins, £16.99. B+(+)

Lemony citrus all over here, some yeasty notes too; a friend I tasted this with vehemently insists he can pick up notes of sweet popcorn. Go figure.
Good amount of oak there, well integrated, the wine certainly has enough body to cope. Feels old world, quite burgundy like, class, clean and rinsing.
Preferred the previous vintage, which was more funky and slightly less serious. Still a very good wine, though.

Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz 2008
Oddbins, £16.99. A-(+)

Deep purple, violet, tinged with menthol and eucalyptus. Plenty of red fruits, cherry, wild berries. Good stuff, plenty of fat acidity and tannin to keep it going for a while. Good weight and mouthfeel, filling but not overpowering. Nice, punches above its weight in terms of price and quality. Will keep well, but can be enjoyed now.

Short notes also for two affordable and decent Chardonnays stocked by Oddbins:

Carta Vieja Chardonnay. Chile. £4.99. B+(value)

An excellent crowd pleaser this, nicely balanced between fruit and acidity; very consistent too, I've tasted the past three vintages and none of them disappoint. Highly quaffable and very affordable.

Baile Out Chardonnay. Hawkes Bay, NZ. £9.99. A-

Plenty of white fruits, some citrus but also more peachy, melony notes too. Slightly sweeter than your average Chardonnay, gives it that little bit more body; acidity is nice and fat, not too piercing. Overall, its clean and precise with a more than decent, filling mouthfeel, certainly a well-made wine and should go nicely with food (though I would be quite happy drinking it on its own).

And a bottle bought as part of a mixed half case from Naked Wines.

Domaine O'Vineyards Trah Lah Lah 2005
Naked Wines, £17.99. B+.

This was quite a bizarre one, a mix of 65% Merlot and 35% Cab Sauv. Its big, bold and quite chewy; plenty of dark fruits here, along with some savoury notes of bacon, ham, that kind of thing. Despite the significant bottle age (and presumably some oak treatment), there was an edginess in the wine, the tannins felt somewhat out of place, quite chunky in places. It did open up more in the glass, revealing a more perfumed depth, but it still doesnt convince me to part with £17.99 (Okay, I got this case on advance order so I paid something like £10 per bottle). I'm afraid the winemakers havent got this one right yet.

Sunday, 3 October 2010


De Bortoli Estate Grown Yarra Valley Shiraz Viognier 04

Very lifted nose, lively bouquet jumps out from the glass, violets punctuated with floral notes. Some earthy notes, white and bell peppers, fruits still very much to the fore, cherries, compote. There is a nice matureness to this, farmyard, mustiness, and still has enough acidity and tannins to keep for a few more years. Drinking very well now, though, very pleasing.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

First Drop Wines @ Cambridge Wine Merchants

A visit by First Drop winemaker Matt Gant to CWM Cherry Hinton, followed by a tasting of their wines. Prices reflected are retails prices at Cambridge Wine Merchants, all wines will be available from mid October.

Bella Coppia Adelaide Hills Arneis 09
£13. A-

Really lifted white stone fruits, floral and pineapple, grapefruits and some solvent nose too, very nice appealing. Good fat acidity, also nice minerality and pith running through. Feels quite old world to be honest. Good refreshing stuff, highly quaffable for summer evenings.

The Big Blind Adelaide Hills Nebbiolo Barbera 08
£19. A-

Plenty of red fruits, though the colour is quite light, ethereal pinot-like almost. Savoury, white pepper, bell pepper, rounded fruits on the palate. Soft approachable stuff, slightly unripe cherry giving really fresh acidity, little tannins. Light foods, salads, that kind of thing. Well made, not extracted and rather unusual. I find this style of wine quite appealing, like a light Chorey-les-Beaune; soft, rounded and crunchy acidity.

Minchia Adelaide Hills Montepulciano 08
£19. A-

The name apparently refers to bodily appendages (male or female, depending on where you are in Italy). Deep dark and rather brooding, black currants, blackberry, spice, smoky, cinnamon and white pepper. Really firm palate, nice acidity again, really settled. Feels grown up and classy, poised.

Mothers Milk Barossa Shiraz 08
£15. B+

Deeper more alcoholic nose, a typical Aussie shiraz? All the right notes, plenty of fruits, currants and berries. Not overly extracted, low in tannins, which is good, and still plenty of acidity to balance it out. Nice, quaffable and technically correct but forgettable. And certainly you can get plenty of other really good Aussie Shiraz at this price point.

2% Barossa Shiraz 07
£19. A-

Their reserve level shiraz, with 2% albarino in the mix (or savagnin to be more presice), I thought they would have gome for something like viognier. Lifted nose, more expressive than normal, all the right notes for a shiraz is still there - currants, cordial, black fruits. Palate is still soft and approachable. I'm missing the slightly minty notes that I like about Aussie shiraz.

Fat of the Land Seppeltsfield Shiraz 06
£40. A-(+)

Nice ripe and dark fruits there, feels deeper and more brooding than the previous wines, alcoholic too (didnt check the alcohol levels but I suspect its hovering on the 15% mark). Big, quite muscular, palate feels rather taut and highly strung (maybe needs time?). Lots of fruits there, with plenty of acidity still running through, doesn't punch you out. Was left to breathe for 6 hours and is showing well. Class and poise is obvious.

Fat of the Land Ebenezer Shiraz 06
£40. A-(+)

Alcoholic nose with plenty of new oak there. Rich, full, opulent, and very forward, but still rounded with that acidity. Has all you ask for in a Barossa Shiraz. Approachable even now, with abit of air time, perhaps more so than the seppeltsfield - at the moment, I would probably drink this in favour of the seppeltsfield

The Cream Barossa Valley Shiraz 06
£50. A-(+)

Big stuff even in the nose, quite alcoholic, perhaps overly so? Very ripe, smoky, good spice. Palate is full and yielding, really fills the mouth, generous, so much fruit. Good tannic structure shows in this one (first time I've noted tannic structure in this tasting), along with plenty of fresh acidity, this will age for a long long time if you can wait. An excellent expression of the best Barossa Shiraz can offer.

General impressions

Truly interesting tasting, exciting stuff and all very well made. First Drop is a virtual winery, they do not own any vines and buys fruit from growers whom they like. As such the quality should be high - they arent under any pressure to produce certain amounts of wine every year and will probably only make stuff when they feel the fruit is good enough. Love the balance in all the wine, all had good acidity that keeps these wines fresh and doesn't knock you out, and leaves you wanting more. Innovative varietals, certainly unusual, quality of the terroir and wine making clearly evident. The price is slightly on the high side (dont think I can afford many bottles), but hey, they make very good wine.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Everyday drinking

Vina Labarta 2008. Rioja Crianza, Spain.
Laithwaites. B+.

Good example of simple Rioja Crianza. Dark berries and fruits tempered by nice use of oak, creating a smooth and enjoyable palate. It is easily likable and will do well specially with a hearty meal. As one expects from laithwaites, good wine but not memorable.

Long Terrace Chardonnay 2009. Australia.
Laithwaites. B.

Nice ripe white fruits showing; citrus, tropical fruits, quite zesty too. Its fresh, juicy and generally very pleasant. Nothing wrong with it but can't say I'll be buying another bottle,.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Everyday drinking

White River Chenin Blanc 2010. South Africa.
Laithwaithes. A-

Plenty of white fruits, peaches, apricots, even pineapple. Quite stony too, really forward and lively on the nose. Gorgeously full and fruity on the palate. So ready to give, would be an excellent crowd pleaser. A great everyday wine.

Campanula Pinot Grigio 2008. Hungary.
Laithwaites. B

Stony white fruits with good minerality coming through. Fresh and juicy on the palate, gentle acidity. No faults but also unremarkable, an everyday wine.

McPherson Family Series Andrew's Shiraz 2008. Australia.
Laithwaites. B.

Big, full bodied Shiraz in a typical Aussie style. Chocked full with red berries, hints of spice and plenty of alcohol to bring it all together. Ideally a food wine. A well made example of an Aussie Shiraz - what you see is what you get.

Il Papavero NV. Italy.
Laithwaites. B+.

A non-vintage red wine normally makes me very suspicious, but this example is probably towards the better end. Nice round red fruits, plums and cherries; juicy and with very little tannins, this wine feels soft and approachable. I can't fault it and its unremarkable but then again I probably wont refuse a second or third glass.

From the cellars of King's College, Cambridge

Josmeyer Grand Cru Hengst Riesling 2000

Clean, flinty almost mineral. Very acidic, lime zest, citrus, deep. Nose some kerosene but not overwhelming. Excellent length and depth, very well structured wine, with progressive layers of flavours. Still an adolescent, another ten years or so.

Ch Ferriere 2003

Properly bouquet of Margaux, seductive yet not without grip and poise. Nice fat acidity, tannins have softened slightly but still there. Berries, touches of wood and spice; given time, produces a wonderfully rounded and filling mouthfeel, beckons you for more. Good class, with at least 5 years to peak. Classic of the appellation, a little gem.

Coteaux du Layon St.Aubin de Luigne, Cuvee des Forges, Domaine des Forges, Branchereau, 1996

Golden colour, deep. Slight alcoholic nose which slowly fades, honey, nectar, acacia. Intensely sweet but good solid acidity running in the background, carries it through and holds it together. Botrytis can be felt, luscious and full but not cloying; may not be as intense as a ripe Sauternes or a TBA, but should be taken seriously. Mouthfeel lasts ages, so balanced, one bottle is not enough. Drinking beautifully now and dare I say it, will probably last forever. A winner.