Sunday, April 30, 2006

Villa Pani Frascati 2004

I drank this as part of the "required" drinks for the WSET qualification I'm heading towards - slowly - and I'll be totally honest - I'm not sure drinking it was worth it. With sour/bitter flavours of lemon it certainly doesn't stand alone to be drunk with anything except perhaps fish in creamy sauce - which might do it some favours but being brutal there are some fantastic wines out there - this isn't one of them so avoid it. If you must punish yourself - then you can buy this from Thresher ( but I can't see why you would. Try something less unpleasant instead - a glass of sand perhaps!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2000

Fantastic - this is everything an Aussie Cabernet should be, deep ruby coloured, aromas of blackcurrant, chocolate and mint and developing the extra complexity of leather in your mouth - this is wonderful, as often is the case with Cabernet, it will be even more wondeful given a bit further aging, but even now it is wonderful - if you try this give it a good few hours in a decanter first, and better still double decanter it to get as much air exposure as you can to really open it up - then you'll have something really lovely on your hands. Decanter magazine gave this 5* and I can't really fault them on this showing. I'd love to try it again in say 8-10 years to see how it had developed because there is just a touch of tightness to it and the tannins can be a little over zealous if you're not eating it with food. Available from (£19.99) (£26.50) (

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Cape Mentelle Shiraz 2002

Another wine tasted at the Moet Hennessy tasting organised by the Oxford Wine Company ( this was one of my favourite reds of the evening - this was very decent Shiraz for around £13 a bottle. Very complex it gave of strong aromas of pepper, blackberry plums and oak. This is definately a hefty wine, aged for 18 months in oak, a mixture of both French and American of which 30% is new - and the wine can certainly take it. Cape Mentelle themselves give this vintage the highest rating of any (5* - and yes they do rate their others as low as 1* (1997)) .
As you would expect from a Shiraz, this is full bodied and slightly purple in colour, with high levels of tannin (though these are softening off nicely) and it is high in alcohol and very full flavoured with oak, pepper, blackcurrant flavours - this is great now but would certainly keep for a while yet! Buy from , or have it with a meal at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen. Other vintages available elsewhere. (

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Coudy Bay Chardonnay 2003

Another wine from the famous Cloudy Bay stable. this is the less well known, and less in demand Chardonnay. Drunk older than the Sauvignon this is pretty decent stuff - I've certainly drunk a lot of much worse Chardonnay's in my time (not that it would be difficult). This is full bodied and has aromas of honey, tropical fruits and almonds and buttery flavours of tropical fruits and just a touch of minerality to give it some balance and finess. Certainly a step up from many New World Chardonnays and perhaps another one for the ABC crowd to give a whirl. Yet despite all that - it doesn't have me really excited, I don't feel as if I've been reunited with a long lost friend, nor do I feel like I've met someone who will be a lifelong friend - rather I've met a pleasant person on a train who I'd speak to again, but would not go out of my way to see! Available from

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

This was another stunning Aussie Cabernet - this time from the cooler Margaret River region - this was a 2003 vintage as was really very good indeed and at under £10 a bottle was a complete bargain from Tesco ( This exudes power ful aromas of blackcurrant, spice and leather - there are plenty of soft tannins to go around and I reckon you could leave this in a cool dark place and come back to it in 10 years and find yourself with something exceptional that you've forgotten about in the back of your cellar or garage. But... at the price it is why bother keeping it when youcan just drink it! The cassis fruit is complemented by eucalyptus giving it added complexity and a deliciousness more associated with wines that are £5 more expensive - this is a definite must try for any Cabernet lover and reminded me somewhat of the Cabernet from Cape Mentelle I tasted recently (more on that later though!) So for now this goes down as one of my best buy Cabernet's of the year so far and I reckon it'll still be in the running come the end of the year.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Veuve Clicquot Vintage Reserve 1999

More Champagne - Bliss! I tasted this alongside the '99 Moet and found it to be even better still - Pinot Noir dominates the blend in this Champagne style and it's a style I find most agreeable - this is certainly one of the better Champagnes I've managed to taste (though to be fair that's not a great deal at the moment - but we're working on it!). It takes me back to my visit to the Veuve Caves in Rheims a few years back - well worth a visit should you happen to be in the area - many of the great Champagne houses will charge you to go and visit - but not Veuve and you get to taste Champagne for free too! (Where I tasted a lovely '95 vintage)
- and should you happen to be in Epernay - then whilst Moet has all the grandeur and a fantastic tour - it costs a fair bit from what I can remember - pop a few doors along and go into the Esterlin house where you'll be sat down in exquisite surroundings - waited on hand and foot and giving a lesson in Champagne tasting all for the cost of asking - not that many darked their doors and their cellars (Caves) are off site but well worth it. Anyway - back to the Champagne in question! It's full bodied and flvaoursome with some biscuity and melon flavours long on the finish with wonderful creamy bubbles which dance across your tongue and waft aromas of melon, almond and dried fruits. So lovely that I went back for a second glass despite it being a "sophisticated" tasting! Available from Planet Wine ( ShJones ( and plenty of other places.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Zonte's Footstep Shiraz Viognier 2004

This is on the face of it an interesting combination, a mixture of the spicey and powerful black grape, Shiraz with a touch of fruity white Viognier added to give it extra complexity and it certainly does that. This wine has won awards all over the place, and is the same mix as found in many Cote Rotie wines from the Northern Rhone (and which sell for a seriously hefty price). In a wine this comes across as a little strange as there is a definate git of spicey black fruit from the word go, but as the wine develops in your mouth a soft apricot flavour starts to come through. Now I'm not a fan of apricots so for me this was where it started to go wrong, however just how this can win so many awards and be favoured by so many is something of a mystery - still it's not going to be to everyones taste - and certainly not mine - go out and buy something less digusting instead!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Blason de Bourgogne Montagny 2003

At full price this works out at about £12 a bottle - and at tht price it's quite steep and you'll find plenty of alternatives at better prices - however at just £5.49 on offer in Somerfield at the moment this is something of a bargain. A full bodied yet subtle Chardonnay it's buttery and crisp at the same time, has aromas of apricots, almonds and toast and cirtus flavours. It's a long wine that keeps giving pleasure long after you've swallowed and is a lovely golden colour that you might expect from quality Chardonnay. Finest Burgundy this may not be, but lovely it is all the same and a great introduction to the delights that Burgundy can offer without having to shell out over £15 a bottle. At this price this is seriously competing with mass branded Australian and Californian wines and knocks socks off a great deal of Macon at a similar price bracket. If you like Chardonnay (and are prepared to admit to it!) then this is very pleasing and gives you some added refinement that will rarely be seen in a New World wine at this kind of price. At £12 leave it alone but at £5.49 (or £5.99 in Tesco) then this is well worth it.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2003

Kiwi Pinot can be one of my favourite things, sadly it can also be one of the most disappointing things as well - one one hand there are some fantastic offerings out there like Mount Rosa and Shaky Bridge, but there are also some fairly placid wines that taste as if they were diluted with water before bottling, a bottle of Forrest Estates Pinot comes to mind when I think of that! Well this is Cloudy Bay and I expected great things, and to some extent it delivered. This was a solid first offering without being spectacular and I would judge that perhaps it was just a little too young right now, but that the overt acidity would have calmed down a little in a year or so. This bears many of the characteristics of a good new world Pinot - aromas and flavours of cherries, little in the way of tannin, but plenty of acidity to balance that out and stop it being squash! But I couldn't help marking this down as a "good first attempt - but must try harder" certainly it wasn't up to the standard one is led to expect from Cloudy Bay - not that I've drunk the Sauvignon as yet - there is a bottle of that in the wine rack waiting for some friends to come round before they depart for the wilds of Devon - but the reputation is such that I expected a much fuller wine than this. Time will tell if it turns out to work, or whether it will trade on the reputation of the Sauvignon.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Comments Comments Comments ...

In the last month over 300 different people have visited my blog... so thank you for coming - please do come back (though don't expect an update every day because I'm extra busy at work right now!) but sadly noone has left me any comments! Do you like what you see - is the site useful? Let me know and then at least I can pretend I have friends.

Moet et Chandon Vintage Brut Imperial 1999

Just in case you were concerned that I've started drinking far too much Champagne for my own good (or rather the good of the bank balance), I had probably half a glass of this - and jolly nice it was too. In a blend that is almost certainly Chardonnay dominated, with lesser amounts of both Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier this is - as you would expect from a vintage bubbly from a top champagne house - very decent indeed. It's crisp yet surprisingly full bodied with a lovely long finish and some yeast, biscuity flavours that complement the overall appley flavours very well giving it significant complexity which is very pleasing in the mouth.

The Bubbles lend a creaminess to the wine that tell you that this is indeed top class fizz and if it's served to you - then get in there before it's all gone! This is truly lovely.

Available from Fine & Rare wines ( & other outlets for about £35-40.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Semillon 2005

From Margaret River, this is a Bordeaux style blend of white grapes and comes from one of the most temperate regions in Australia, whose temperature is regulated by the Indian Ocean and the cooling breeze associated with it (a maritime climate). This is a pale wine, with aromas of grapefruit and gosseberry with a slight honeyed character and has a slightly smokey flavour of citrus fruits. It's pretty good stuff, though personally I'd be more inclined to spend the same sort of cash and buy something perhaps a little fresher - it just seemed to lack that special zing, something that made me go wow, I want this again. It's one of those that I'd probably drink again, but I'd probably not spend my own money on it! Available from a host of retailers across the country, including and for around £10.50 a bottle.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Hollick Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

Wow! I was really impressed by this - fantastic Aussie Cabernet from Coonawarra. 2002 was the first vintage of this wine to be produced due to the excellent vintage conditions (up 'til then blends had been produced at this price point) - and what a good job they did it too! The vines producing this wine were planted in 1975 so they are starting to be fantastic. The wine itself is a bright ruby red, blasckcurrent and mint aromas and flavours of cassis and mint on a long finish. This is full bodied and excellent value for money at around £12-£13 a bottle - if more people tried stuff like this then Jacob's Creek could find themselves losing a significant amount of market share! Whilst great now - give it up to 10 years in the cellar and the firm tannins will soften out further - but I can't see myself waiting that long if there's only one bottle in the wine rack! I bought mine from S.H.Jones in Bicester ( but the 2003 is also available from .

Friday, April 07, 2006

Cloudy Bay Pelorus NV Brut

This is really not at all bad - I think on reflection that I'm still more likely to buy a Champagne rather than this in the future - but it's really not at all bad. It's made in the traditional method, with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and is aged for at least 2 years prior to release yet it still comes across as fresh and zesty, with a lovely appley charm, slightly less acid than perhaps a Champagne might have but overall it was delightful. It was however not in the same league as Champagne - top of the Championship certainly but no Premier League contender. What it lacks is that little "Je ne sais crois", the complexity and development that the French deliver - but at roughly half the price of a Moet NV you may find you want to consider it - if you like your sparkling stuff - and can't afford to drink it that often this makes a splendid alternative to Cava. Drink as an aperatif or as part of a celebration.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV

Ahh Champagne - simply delicious - this is all you'd expect from a Moet NV, small, creamy bubbles, bone dry with aromas of melon and tropical fruit which are matched on the palate - this is clearly a higher percentage of Chardonnay than anything else and is delicate yet full bodied and would go down well at any event, whether it's Henley, a Polo match or a wedding this is champers for sharing!

Rocca Alata Amarone della Valpolicella 2001

This is my first taste of Amarone, and it was certainly at the cheaper end of the scale at a penny under £10 from Tesco, however despite the reasonable price this was really not bad at all - not that I'm an expert, however it did everything that one would expect from an Italian Red, pronounced aromas of cherries and almonds lead into a soft, dry wine with plenty of acidity and a sour cherry flavour which may sound grotesque but marry it to a tomato based sauce, or something with loads of olive oil and you have a winner. Amarone is made by drying grapes on mats in barns in order to reduce the amount of water in them so that when pressed the flavours produced are more concentrated and the juice has a higher sugar level - and so a higher degree of alcohol can be produced. This won't be the last Amarone I drink although unfortunately many others are discovering it right about now too! On the other hand production has doubled over the last 5 years - which means quality is bound to have slipped as people try to make a superior wine out of inferior grapes in order to cash in on the new found popularity. My advice is to check what other people have drunk or what is recommended by other people first!

Reserve L'Oriflamme Chateauneuf-Du-Pape 2004

This is perhaps the worst purchase I have ever made - and the worst thing is that I tasted it before buying it. This is truly insipid rubbish that Carrefour had the audacity to be claiming to sell at €15, but put on a BOGOF offer - when tasted in store it was perhaps a little fruity and there was almost some sweetness to it - however on tasting at home it was an entirely different wine - to the extent that one wonders whether what I tasted was in fact the same or whether those Frenchies have pulled a fast one! That is something I'll never know - but for now - you have been warned!