Sunday, 28 August 2011


Tasted on Saturday, 27 August 2011.

2010 Tiefenbrunner Turmhof Gewurztraminer. Sud Tirol - Alto Adige, Italy.

Majestic £19.99. A-

Nose has fragrant white flowers, sweet white peach and apples; also tropical fruits and ripe mangoes; smells quite sweet, has that botrytis-like notes. Palate is rather textured and thick, has a nice viscosity and weight on the mouthfeel; slight bitterness at the end, really rather like viognier. Has some residual sugar on it, perhaps 10g/l but without much acidity; feels quite lumbering. In all this wine reminds me of over ripe even rotten peaches (in a good way) with some minerality towards the finish. Classy, a food wine.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


A couple of nice affordable stuff from Cambridge Wines. Tasted Tuesday, 23 August 2011.

2010 Domaine des Lauriers Rolle, IGP Pays d'Oc
Cambridge Wine £7.99. A-

Nose shows notes of lime and green apples; really quite fresh, with perhaps some minerality even on the nose; some peach, then brine, even oysters; very attractive. Fresh, nice widton the palate; tastes like lemon sherbet actually, some unripe peaches. Decent length too. For the price, this is great for everyday drinking; classy in a cheerful kind of way.

2010 Sollione Primitivo, Salento.
Cambridge Wine £7.49. B+

Deep bramble and jammy nose; bags of black currants and black berries, really sweet ripe fruits; some vanilla and sweet spices too. Palate is big and juicy, its obvious the fruit was very ripe and this shows so much fruit, but not overly extracted. Still some acidic tinge, warmth, some woody tannic tones towards the end. Very plump; quite heavy in the mouth, probably not something you'd drink on its own.

Monday, 22 August 2011


Tasted Sunday, 21 August 2011.

2010 The Cooperative Argentine Fairtrade Torrontes Chardonnay


Nose is full of fruits - sweet apples and peaches, sweet white stone fruits, some lemons even; really fruit driven and vibrant. Palate is dominated by lemons, grapefruit and some pith; clean acidity, runs through on the palate, very easy drinking.

2010 Domaine Rimbert La Carignatora 'Le Chant de Marjolaine'. Languedoc.
Cambridge Wine £10. A-

Old vine Carignan. Nose: Plums, sweet berries and cassis, attractive damson and violet; then a slight meaty / earthy note. On the palate, theres plenty of ripe fruit; earthy, savoury notes again, with a nice mustiness to it Proper old school in style, sweet warming spice on the finish. Charming and rustic; nice length and complexity, brilliant stuff.

Sunday, 21 August 2011


Tasted Saturday, 20 August 2011.

2007 Le Monache Monferrato Blanco, Michele Chiarlo

Blend of Cortese, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Nose is fairly neutral, with citrus fruits and perhaps some sweet pears; no greenness. Palate is fresh, theres some width on the palate, gentle acidity; drinking well now, but probably just on its last legs, its probably going to dry out soon.

2010 Domaine Sainte Rose 'Les Derniers Cepages', Cotes de Thongue, Languedoc.
Majestic £7.99. A-

Blend of Petit Verdot and Mourvedre.
Nose is jammy, black berry fruit; some violets and cool mint, followed by sweet spice; quite attractive, bright fruit. Palate is mostly ripe fruit, blackberry again, some dark currants; textured, has rather thick mouthfeel; ripe tannins at the end. Feels sweet and ripe, but perhaps lacking a touch of acidity; slight alcoholic finish. Very purple in colour, bright, cheerful, and a lot of fun for not very much money.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

CWM - IGP Top 100

Tuesday, August 18 2011. Cambridge Wine Merchants @ Cherry Hinton.

A blind tasting of a flight of wines which were either South African award winners, or trophy winners from the IGP French Top 100 competition (full list of which can be found here). Event was hosted by Hal Wilson, MD of Cambridge Wine Merchants; many thanks to Lyndsey Spellman, their retail director, for the kind invite to the tasting.

17 wines were tasted on the night: 9 whites, 1 rose, 6 reds and 1 sweet; below are brief notes on each.

2010 Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc

Some green notes of tomato leaves and cut grass, balanced with a nice lemony citrus nose. On the palate its balanced, ripe fruit, fresh acidity, with distinct stony minerality almost. Nice mouthfeel, not overcooked, some restraint. One of the better South African Sauvignon Blancs I've had.
2009 Glen Carlou Chardonnay. Paarl, South Africa.

Deeper golden hue. On the nose theres lots of savoury notes of toast and bread, along with sweet vanilla, then giving way to white stone fruits of apricots and peaches. Mouthfeel is textured, plenty of lemony acidity which lingers; nice texture too, with decent finish. Its obvious this wine had plenty of treatment by way of barrel fermentation and/or oak aging, but there was plenty of fruit to carry it. Classy, balanced.

2011 Stellar Organics 'Running Duck' Chenin Blanc Sauvignon Blanc (Fairtrade).
South Africa.
Cambridge Wine. £7.75. B+

Lots of lemons on the nose, and some peaches too; fruit very forward and is carried to the palate. Fresh acidity, there is some width on the palate, but its mostly one dimensional. Feels a tad generic, but still well made; slightly alcoholic on the finish.

2010 Domaine Saint Andre 'Foie d'Ines'

Lime zest with green apples and unripe white stone fruits (peaches and apricots mostly). Palate is neutral citrus, fresh but rather bland; some minerality. Well made but forgettable.

2010 Les Caves de Commandeur Rolle

Citrus on the nose, lemons and limes, with some floral touches, and perhaps fennel too? Palate has decent width, theres a grapefruit-like pithiness to it; fresh acidity, ripe fruits. Balanced.

2010 Barton & Guestier Chardonnay Reserve

Very pale, almost clear in the glass. Very neutral on the nose, maybe a touch of citrus and white flowers. Palate is dominated by ripe fruits, to the extent of being slightly on the flabby side. Again, nothing technically wrong, but forgettable. Tasted blind, this really doesnt show any varietal characteristic; just plain neutrality.

2008 Domaine d'Estoublon Blanc, Vin de Pays des Alpilles

Golden in colour. Nose is definitely oxidative almost sherry like, with notes of botrytis and dried fruits, then maybe honey; bags of overripe peaches and white fruits; some nutty notes too, like Fino; and also a smoky, flint struck nose - confused yet? Palate has decent acidity, but the myriad of flavours on the nose, is there on the mouthfeel too; definitely nutty, almost drying sensation on the palate; quite long on the finish. This is a seriously crazy wine, I really wonder whether this has some premature oxidation going on - or is this a style they are going for? Simply unhinged.

Shorter notes on the rest of the wines. 2007 La Croix Gratiot Roussane (B+) was very lemony off the bat with limestoney minerality showing, some pith too; light, fleets through quickly. One white not from the Languedoc was the 2010 de Fournier 'Mmm...' Sauvignon Grande Cuvee, IGP Loire (A-) which showed the characteristic green tinge on the nose, tomato leaves and cut grass; firm minerality on the palate; restrained fruit, decent acidity, with lime on the clean finish. The only rose of the night was the 2010 Rive Haute Tannat / Cabernet Sauvignon Rose (B+) showed weird green notes of capsicum and leaves on the nose; moving to a sweet, almost confected palate filled with ripe red fruits; its lush and plump and therefore very easy drinking, uncomplicated.

The reds started with the 2010 Durbanville Hills Pinotage (B+) was very characteristic of the varietal with thick red fruits with plums, with a smoky tarry note too, the heat shows too; just on the right side of being overcooked. The 2010 Domaine Terra Vecchia Rouge (B+) was bags of red fruits, quite lifted on the nose; its not heavy on the palate, just fruit driven stuff, not very tannic, drinks easily. The best red of the evening was undoubtedly the 2008 Domaine Gayda Chemin de Moscou (A-), the virtues of which I have extolled elsewhere; really stood up to the plate again. The 2010 Paul Mas Estate Carignan Vielle Vignes (B+, pictured above) showed darker fruits on the nose, perhaps with freshly laid tarmac and slight heat; theres also a woody note to it; still quite tannic on the palate, the plentiful extracted dark fruit needs to settle; quite big.

The Glen Carlou Pinot Noir (B) at 14% abv typifies how South African Pinot can be so hit and miss - this was unfortunately a miss for me. The paler colour and sour cherry / raspberry note didnt match up with the heat on the palate, something weird going on in the phenolics too; it shows juicy briught fruit on the palate; all very disjointed. The 2009 Domaine Yeuses 'Les Epices' Syrah (B+) was a bit too hot and cooked for me; plenty of fruit, but felt rather stewed, theres also a blue cheese and vegetal note too, with a smoky note as well. Its decent on the palate, showing plenty of fruit, but there wasnt anything remarkable apart from it. The last wine of the night was the 2009 Domaine Chiroulet-Vent d'Hiver, VdP Cotes de Gascogne (B) which didnt show too well. Theres raisins and tinned fruits on the nose, perhaps some floral notes too; the palate just had sugar and maybe a touch of acidity; weirdly thin on the mouth, insubstantial and hollow even; just lacking in depth and complexity.

Formal Hall

A selection of wines with dinner.

2010 Prestige de Calvet Bordeaux Blanc
Tesco Wine £10.42. B+

Nice lush fruits on the palate, the semillon gives a decent fatness to it as well. Clean and crisp but not without substance. Drinks easily; well made.

2005 Chateau Lanessan, Haut Medoc.
Tanners (oddments). B+

From magnum. Classic nose: some woody tones, with spice, cedar, tobacco also; red fruits shows; quite muted actually. Palate soft and approachable, lots of fruit still, fat acidity; decent grip at the end, drying too. Finishes quickly. Nice but perhaps uninspiring.

2005 Saint Joseph 'Les Lauves' Jean Luc Colombo

On the nose mostly red berries and currants; plush acidity even in the nose, some white pepper. Palate is surprisingly soft, dominated by crushed cherries and plums, lush but rather bracing acidity, in a good way; not much by way of tannins. Lightish, cheerful wine.

1994 Tesco's Finest Vintage Port
Tesco Wines £20.89. B+(++)

Made by the Symington Family Estates.
Nose is heady and rich, full on dark fruits, some aromatic floral and mint; glycerol too; some dark chocolate and coffee after some air. Palate is big, really quite powerful still, fruit is very lively, feels young and feisty; and there's grip towards the end. Classy stuff, long finish and plenty of character; will improve for another 10 years with ease. An absolute bargain as well, all the qualities of a very good vintage port at half the price.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Downing College, Cambridge

A small selection of wines from the cellars of Downing College, Cambridge; many thanks to Richard Stibbs, Fellow Steward of Downing College, for providing them.

2007 Domaine Saint-Amant 'La Tabardonne' Cotes du Rhone Villages Blanc

90/10 blend of Viognier/Roussane.
Nice aromatic nose: plenty of peaches and apricots, white fruits; also some floral characters, daisies. Palate is generous and expansive; ripe white fruits with some citrus, quite plump. A filling mouthfeel with good balance; touch of minerality and pith towards the end. Well made.

2008 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough.

Nose is still rather pungent, dominated by citrus and lemons; this really has lost its greenness - all the asparagus, cut grass, leafy, gooseberry notes associated with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (pioneered by Cloudy Bay themselves) is just no longer there. Palate is just citrus, rather fresh acidity, nice streak of minerality still showing towards the end, with a slightly drying finish. I fear that the aging has not been kind to this wine. I'm curious as to whether this applies to all New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc; drink youngest available?

2008 Kumeu River Mate's Vineyard Chardonnay. Kumeu, Auckland.

Light gold in colour. A tricked out New Zealand chardonnay - on the nose, some creamy buttery note, sweet vanilla with savoury touches; then some citrus and very ripe peaches as well. Palate has plenty of ripe fruits, quite big and voluptuous mouthfeel; acidity is generous but still focused; grapefruit pithiness towards the end; lingering finish. Quite taut actually; and very classy, should age well - I can see why this can pass as a good Burgundy.

2005 Mercurey Premier Cru 'Clos des Montaigus', Jean Michel & Laurent Pillot

Nose is fruity, mostly raspberry and sour cherry and also quite floral, damsons and violets; slight farmyard and earthy note too. On the palate its juicy, sour cherries again, lush yet persistent acidity giving blackbone to the wine; hardly any tannins, just so velvety and light. A very correct, lightly extracted Burgundy; delightful.

1990 Chateau Leoville Barton, St Julien 2er Cru.

Nose shows sweet cedar, polished mahogany with varnish; some tobacco and sweet spices, cinnamon; lots of red fruit, plums and dark cherries; earthy and woody notes showing more prominently after some time in the glass. Very classic nose, typical of area and age. Palate so soft and smooth, acidity still vibrant, red fruits dominate again. Very poised and drinking beautifully now, very velvety; but then it has a soft grip towards the end showing that it still has life ahead of it. Drink now to 2020.

2007 Chateauneuf du Pape 'Preference' Caves Saint-Pierre

On the nose, theres a whiff of smoke and heat, perhaps tar too; plenty of crushed dark fruits and plums; a touch fo rusty iron too. Mouthfeel is quite heavy and thickish, extracted fruits, some grip; its full but perhaps rather closed and one dimensional at the moment. Nice extraction, but balance could be better, slightly lacking acidity for my liking.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Majestic Wine, Chiswick

A selection of wines tasted and/or bought at Majestic Wine branch in Chiswick, London. Prices are retail by the bottle, excluding any special offers.

2007 Cloudy Bay Riesling. Marlborough.
£25. B+(+)

A limited release Riesling by the iconic Cloudy Bay; I've never had a still / non-sweet Riesling from them; their late harvest Riesling is one of my favourite dessert wines from New Zealand.
Nose is leaping with lemons, mostly of lemon peel and rinds; this has a noted and distinct waxy feel to it; like the essential oils you get when squeezing lemon peels; also quite floral, hints of petrol and kerosene too; in all very aromatic and enticing. Palate is a touch off-dry, perhaps in the 10g/l range, only enough to be felt; acidity is quite piercing and very fresh, the lemoniness showing again. Mouthfeel is quite fat and filling, finish is lipsmackingly clean and refreshing. Classy, though I think it would be better with a bit more age, rather aggresive at the moment.

2010 Yalumba 'Y' Series Viognier. South Australia.
£8.49. B

Theres some white stones fruits, driven mostly by peaches, maybe a touch of floral too. Palate is quite full and rounded, ripe fruits to the fore citrus and graprefruit, has a nice pithiness on the finish. Certainly feels fleshy but unfortunately couldnt carry the weight, this to me feels a bit flabby.

2009 Marquis de Pennautier Chardonnay 'Terroirs d'Altitude'. Vin de Pays d'Oc
£9.99. B+

Some sweet vanilla and woody notes indicating some oak aging; then sweet ripe peaches, white stone fruits, even a hint of exotic tropical notes as well, passion fruits perhaps? Fresh acidity with plenty of citrus on the palate, and rather more texture, quite rich and filling actually, but still runs through, isnt heavy. Short finish; if not, it would have merited a higher score.

2010 Tokara Zondernaam Sauvignon Blanc. Stellenbosch.
£8.99. A-

Green varietal notes on the nose: capsicum, green peppers and freshly cut grass; then some citrus, with gooseberry thrown in. Palate is fresh, fat lemony acidity; theres some texture too. A clean citrusy finish, with mineral touches. Well made.

I also sampled the four reds that were on tasting but because of time constraints, the notes are very brief. The 2009 Banfi Mandrielle Sangiovese (£7.49) was fleshy and ripe, certainly showing nice Tuscan rustic charm and warmth, with slightly herby / woody notes. The 2009 Crios Malbec (£8.99) was well extracted and packed with dark fruit berries, compote and jammy flavours, maybe a hint of sweet vanilla, which I'm guessing comes from the oak; felt a tad hot. The 2009 Lirac, Vignoble Abeille (dont know how much this cost, not listed on majestic website) was surprising; couldnt remember where Lirac was and from the nose thought it was a Beaujolais; has the dark fruit extraction, some heat and some stewed cabbages / vegetal nose; drank well though. The 2009 Waimea Pinot Noir (£12.49) was very typical of new world Pinot Noir; plenty of sour cherry and raspberry, rather lighter extraction; fat acidity, well rounded and juicy.

Last, and definitely not least was the 1991 Dorsheimer Pittermannchen Riesling, Weingut Michael Schafer, Nahe which was a special purchase at £6.49 - frankly, at that ridiculous price and quality, they might as well be giving it away at the shop front. Packed with zesty lemon and citrus flavours, with tinges of petrol, really had a classy nose, hallmark of good aged german Rieslings. Palate was probably on the Auslese level with about 25g/l sugar; so very poised, lemony zing, still fresh and lively with nice tautness about it; was nowhere near getting tired. I cannot commend this wine enough - now go to Chiswick and buy this wine by the truckload.

Also another notable thing, they had two bottles of Tio Pepe En Rama Sherry (£11.99) on their shelves; theres now only one left. Absolutely beautiful Fino, which I have raved about previously here. In all, a very happy and fruitful visit to this particular branch of Majestic. Bravo Chiswick!

Thursday, 4 August 2011


2010 Cono Sur 'Vision' Bio-Bio Valley Single Vineyard Riesling
Slurp £7.60. B+

Fresh zesty lime and lemons, zingy on the nose, very aromatic; even some peaches, but mostly citrus; some mineral too. Palate exceddingly fresh and limey and quite light, acidity is fat and lip-smackingly mouthwatering, slips through on the palate. Refreshing and very easy drinking.

2008 Canepa Reserva Privada Sangiovese Carmenere
Naked Wines £12.99 (current vintage). B

Jammy, cooked dark fruits, some violet and floral notes; fresh bitumen and tar also; but mostly dark fruits dominated by blackberry and black currants. Palate is fresh, lots of acid which is out of place, slight spice; feels hot, slightly overcooked and alcoholic; where is the ripe fruits that I get on the nose? Disturbingly low in tannins, threw no sediment whatsoever. Feels weird and disjointed, most unexpected.
This was better after being opened for a couple of hours; lost the harsh acidity.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Cambridge Wine - Languedoc Roussillon

CWM @ Cherry Hinton. Monday, 01 August 2011.

A tasting of Languedoc-Roussillon wines stocked by Cambridge Wine Merchants; 30 wines was tasted on the night, below are the notable ones. Prices are retail by the bottle. Many thanks to Cambridge Wine for the invite.


2010 Domaine Gayda 'Flying Solo' Grenache Blanc Viognier. IGP d'Oc.

Plenty of aromatics; ripe peaches and white stone fruits, white flowers, nice lifted nose. Mouthfeel is rather thick and textured, does fill out the palate nicely; fleshy yet not flabby, acidity in check.

2010 Domaine Gayda 'Cepage' Viognier. IGP d'Oc

Very similar to above except that its lost a bit of the ripe white stone fruits, instead having notes of citrus coming through. Filling mouthfeel, with notes of peaches and grapefruit. Refreshing.

2008 Domaine Gayda Cuvee Occitane Blanc. Vin de Pays d'Oc.


48% Grenache Blanc, 28% Marsanne, 16% Roussanne, 8% Viognier.
Some oak on the nose, again nice aromatics leading the way, notes of apples and white stone fruits. Palate is noticeably fuller, very generous; plenty of ripe fruits, acidity is more persistent, as is the finish. A more complex wine.

2009 Chateau Rives-Blanques 'Cuvee Odyssee' Chardonnay. Limoux.

Rather neutral nose, touches of wood and citrus showing, not particularly expressive. On the palate, its generous and filling, rather complex actually; nicely textured, with vibrant acidity, notes of grapefruit again on the finish. Probably better with food.


2008 Domaine du Grand Cres 'La Cadela'. Corbieres.

Red fruits compote on the nose, crushed fruits, lifted. Palate is full of very attractive lush red fruits, with balanced acidity; its not overly extracted, hence retainig freshness, not bogged down, just full of bright fruit. Charming, balanced. Slightly fuller and fleshier than the 2006 vintage I tried here.

2008 Domaine Treloar Three Peaks. Cotes du Rousillon.

Again plenty of fruit on the nose, fruit compote again, smells fresh; theres abit of woody /savoury note too. Palate is full, again fruit forward but not clumsy, nice acid still; theres more extraction and body, its a fuller wine, with decent concentration; slight grip at the end, but nothing to worry about. A food wine.

2004 Domaine Combe Blanche 'La Chandeliere'. Minervois La Liviniere.

Lots of darker fruit on the nose, along with some sweet oak; sherbety almost; also some heat shows in the form of cedar and sweet spices, even touch of smoke. Palate is full, generous on the fruits; what I would call rustic / earthy; still rather tannic, does grip a bit, needs either food or time to resolve. Classy.

2009 Domaine de Cebene 'Les Bancels'. Faugeres.

Sweet red fruits; raspberry, currants and dark cherries; then some sweetish spice and woody herbs, perhaps cedar and leather; complex and interesting. Palate carries the bright and juicy red fruits, its a big and filling wine, really coats the palate; decent extraction, has some depth to it; the savoury notes linger as well; some grip towards the end. Long-ish finish; this complex and balanced wine develop with time.

2008 Domaine Gayda Chemin du Moscou. Vin de Pays d'Oc.

Full on dark fruits on the nose, jammy heat showing as well; then theres the spice showing, led by cinnamon, cloves and some tobacco. Palate is full-on dark fruit bramble, decent extraction, really quite rich but not heavy; theres a lush roundedness to it, almost a sherberty feel to it. For a big wine, this hardly grips.

2009 Domaine de Cebene Ex-Arena. Vin de Pays d'Oc
£29.99 (150cl Magnum)

Red fruits on the nose, cherries and currants mostly; but theres so much sweet spices, cloves, five spice and star anise; weird thing to say but its a fragrant wine. Palate is so juicy and plush, plenty of fruit, its not fully extracted so its not heavy; the savoury herbyness carries through the palate. A more rustic, mature style of wine. Delightful.

2009 Domaine de Cebene Felgaria. Faugeres.

Top end wine from Brigitte Chevalier of Domaine de Cebene; a blen of 50% Mourvedre, 30% Syrah and 20% Grenache.
Dark fruits on the nose, brambles and blackberries, theres a plummy note too; then the spices again, which are more woody, licorice-like; some of sweet spice of cinnamon and cedar as well; very attractive. Palate is fuller, fruit is deeper and more extracted; depth and weight on mouthfeel is more noticeable; rounded, somewhat chunky tannins still; great length. A fantastic wine now, and will no doubt develop with time. Superb.


2006 Chateau Rives-Blanques 'Lagrema d'Aur' Vendange d'Hiver. Vin de France.
£18.99 (50cl)

A blend of late harvested 60% Chenin Blanc and 40% Mauzac; Limoux appellation doesnt allow sweet wines form these varieties hence the declassification all the way down to Vin de France.
Nose is of sweet mandarin oranges, tangerines and also grapefruit. The lightness of the palate belies the 70g/l residual sugar, it doesnt cloy nor is it overly flabby; acidity and sugar in balance. Mouthfeel wise, this is in the middle end of sweet wines. Has the nice marmalade-like bitterness on the finish. An interesting wine.

Amrut Fusion

Amrut Fusion. Bangalore, India.
Batch no 2, Nov 2009. 50% abv.

Lots of sweetish oak going on; like bourbon, vanilla; some dried coconuts, aromatic spices and citrus; also some peat coming through, but little smoke, none of the iodine / brine. Warmingly generous on the mouth, does coat thoroughly; plenty of spice, even some fruity citrus touches coming through, ending in a peated, slightly burnt notes. Well integrated.

Monday, 1 August 2011


2008 Galpin Peak Pinot Noir, Bouchard Finlayson. Walker Bay, South Africa.
£20. B+

First South African Pinot I've had. Plenty of red fruits currants, slight sulphury nose; a bit of burnt and hotness showing, some spice too. Palate is crunchy, nice fat acidity; fruit is lush, sweet and ripe, mostly currants, cherries and raspberries. Quite big in style, but still balanced; but rather weird finish. Bit pricy for what it is.