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.