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.