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.