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.