Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Chateau Moncets 2001

This is a Pomerol taste alike from nearby Lalande de Pomerol and is made right up against the Pomerol border, this vintage is soft and succulent with a bouquet of almonds, chocolate, toasted vanilla and blackcurrent and has spice and red fruits on the palate. The 2002 which I have also recently tasted is less robust than this, is perhaps fruitier and less vegetal but I think is the poorer wine. Made by the team at Jean Pierre Moueix the kings of the right bank this has a long finish and is deep in colour and is medium to full bodied. (18/20)

Summertown Wine Cafe

The Summertown wine cafe in North Oxford (www.summertownwinecafe.co.uk) offers two different wine menus, a monthly selection and their "Superstars" list. For just £2 you can taste all 12 monthly wines, which I duly did (all in the line of duty!). Some of the wines tasted were : Mariner Pinot Gris 2004 is a subtle New Zealand number, light in body and flavour but with excellent flavour (16.5/20). Domaine Thibault Pouilly Fume' 2004 is quite frankly a poor example of this wine, it's astringent and lacks any of the gooseberry type flavours that Sauvignon from the Loire should posess, frankly it was a bit of an embarrassment being asked what I though about it (14/20). Kim Crawford Tietjen Chardonnay 2004 was toasty, perhaps a little too toasty in fact, it has too many burnt flavours, (15/20). Calera Pinot Noir lacked any intensity of flavour, it is clearly made in the Burgundian style, but lacks the flavours that Burgundians are so good at extracting. (15.5/20). Fayolle Crozes Hermitage Les Pontaix 2003 had lovely flavours but was being drunk 2 years too soon and had over active tannins which brought this one down (15/20 perhaps as much as 18/20 in 2 years or more). I also had the opportunity to taste a few of the Superstars, and briefly found Paul Jacqueson Rully 2003 to be a fine flinty example of a white burgundy (16.5/20) , Cuilleron Viognier 2004 smelt and tasted of peaches and cream and was fabulous (17/20) as was the impressive Poderi Aldo Conterno "Conca Tre Pile" Barbera D'Alba 2001 - this is probably the best wine I've tasted in 2005 - high praise indeed - and is easily worth 18/20 possibly up to 19/20 (I'll have to do a full tasting on that sometime!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Argento Malbec 2001

I've now tasted 3 vintages of this, and found the 2001 and the 2004 to be very different animals to the very disapointing 2002. This has bags of flavour, cherries, blackberries, cinnamon and nutmeg come through over slightly earthy undertones, but the fruit flavours burst forth with great power and the subtle tannins fold into the wine - it's a big brute of a wine and so is not to everyone's taste, but it is just what you want on a cold winter night and at just £4.39 from a great many outlets is worth a try, just to see what this great variety tastes like. (Incidentally Malbec was originally a French grape variety used in blending, but the Argentinians have made it their own - and I'm almost tempted to forgive them for beating us so often in the World Cup having tasted this! (16.5/20)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

35 South Sauvignon Blanc 2003

A very clean crisp dry wine, that is very fruity and not in the least bit tart, weith flavours of gooseberry and hints at tropical fruits - this wine from the Lontue Valley in Chile's central valley is simply amazing value for money - when bought is was just £3.29- This is because it is from the largest vineyard in South America - a 3,000-acre monster sited on the flat valley floor of Lontu√©, which lies in the third of the four Central Valley sectors, Curic√≥. It makes a decent variatal wine, though it needs drinking young and was bought in Sainsbury's - however the supermarkets have caught on that this is good stuff and the price has slowly risen over the last couple of years to around £5 a bottle, however at whichever price this is highly quaffable for drinking everyday or with starters requiring a dry white (17/20)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Marques de Casa Concha Merlot

Made by the behemoth of Chilean wine, Concha Y Toro, I expected great things of this wine having been impressed with both the Cono Sur and Casillero del Diablo range from the same stable, yet I was left slightly disappointed. It's not that the wine was bad, but given that it was £9 rather than £5, I expected it to be a lot better than those named above - but to my mind it wasn't. It was very fruity, yet I found it to be both a little too acidic and a little too tannic - it probably needs a good couple of years more before it becomes any good. And with a quoted acidity of 5.48g/l (their Cabernet Sauvignon quotes 3.61) it's perhaps not surprising it was a little austere. The flavours themselves were good, but for my mind there are better ways to spend £9 than this. (16/20)

Ravenswood 2002 Lodi Zinfandel

This is glorious, made by California's "King of Zin" Joel Peterson, who certainly knows how to get the best from the grapes. This is one of the mid range Zins that Joel makes, (the top of the range are single vineyard, whilst the bottom of the range come from all over California) coming from the small town of Lodi. It's a lovely pink coloured wine, with a bouquet of vanilla, cinnamon, almonds, cedar and raspberries, it's full bodies, but incredibly fruity, yet complex and refined - this is no ordinary Californian Zinfandel. The finish is smooth and long leaving you feeling warm all over... and wanting another glass! (£8.49 Sainsbury's) (17.5/20)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Gerard Bertrand, Domaine de Villemajou Blanc 2004

Free Wine! Thanks to the lovely people at explore wine (see below) I now have 6 bottles of this lovely stuff to drink - fantastically vibrant tasting, off dry, youthful whilst being full bodied - this tastes of pinapples and melons and you can taste the heat of the summer in Corbieres. Available from www.explorewine.com at £7.19 a bottle. This is an unusual blend of 25% Marsanne, 25% Rousanne, 25% Bourboulenc, and 25% Grenache Blanc, harvested late to give it the extra sweetness (which in turn contributes to the hefty 13% Alcohol), barrel fermented and then aged for 6 months in new French oak barriques. This is simple wonderful stuff, and proof to me that the French can make really decent white wine in the very south of the country. (17/20)

Chateau Chevalier de la Garde 2004

This is totally different from the Medoc wine of Lalande D'Auvion, coming as it does from Fronsac on the other side of the Gironde and being 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc and of course just 12 months old. It's lighter fresher with just subtle hints of oak and vanilla, some pepper, leather and plums on the palate - it was again bought on a very decent buy one get one free offer and goes down very easily indeed. 16/20

Chateau Lalande D'Auvion 2001 - Cru Bourgeois Medoc

I bought some of this in France at E6.50 a bottle on a buy one get one free offer - and it's incredibly good at that price. Full bodied, and aging well it has bags of cherries, oak and coconut on the nose, with a pronounced flavour and smooth as you like tannins. I've tasted wines at £15 a bottle that taste similar - what a bargain and it would be superb with a rare fillet steak! Not a wine though for the timid, this is powerful stuff and Christian Bemillan the wine maker clearly knows his stuff and has gone all out for glory in a wine that lovers of oaked reds will love but many will find too much. If you see this - try it! 17.5/20

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Les Trois Mas 2002 -Paul Jaboulet Aine'

A joy to drink, from just by the Southern Rhone, Cote Du Ventoux wines are often as good as Cote Du Rhone Villages but at a lower price - this was beautifully clear and bright, just starting to turn from pink to red with a bouquet of chocolate, dried fruits and a boozy fruitcake and tastes of red fruits and white pepper. Silky smooth on the finish, wines by Jaboulet are invariably good and this is no exception. Available from Majestic at £7.49 a bottle - what a treat!17.5/20

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The London Wine Show Pt2

At the Wine Show, Explore Wine (www.explorewine.com) launched a fantastic new project - Speedtasting - you taste 3 wines from a selection of around 18 wines (you pick a number at each each tasting station) and have to identify the colour, grape, country and vintage of each of the three wines, whilst a clock is ticking knocking points off your potential score.
The downside to this was being in 2nd place overall and watching a group of lads send one through first to find out what the wines were (you are told the answer) and then passing the information to his two mates who then unsurprisingly won the prizes on offer.
However when I contacted the lovely people at Explore Wine to give them suggestions on how to fix this, they wrote back to thank me for my comments and are sending me a case of wine anyway - tasting notes to follow as and if they arrive!