And so to the reds... I have to say that generally speaking the standard was high - some in my party were wowed by just a few - but then if you taste a £25 blockbuster wine and compare it to something at £8 the contest is perhaps unfair - value has a large role to play and certainly I found myself surprised by the price of many of the wines I tasted expecting them to be more expensive. And so I came first to the L'Orangerie de Pennautier Rouge, VdP D'Oc 2004 a soft slightly rustic wine by really not bad at all and for £5 a bottle you can buy a lot worse and a lot less interesting than this. Chateau de Montmirail 2003, Gigondas is full and rich and almost Australian tasting coming from an extremely hot Summer - I spent some time in the region and visited Gigondas and the area around it was frequently over 40C and didn't get less that 30C for the two weeks I was there until gone 10 in the evening. This resulted in the vines producing small grapes with very little water content which in turn produced a concentrated must which gives these exceptionally rich wines. Opinion was split from those who really liked this to others who complained it was cooked - for my mind if "terroir" includes climate then I want to see differences in wines from one vintage to another and if I found a watery washed out 2003 I'd be very disapointed - instead I want to see concentrated fruit flavours, soft tannins and probably a wine that won't age for as long as some vintages but which is highly drinkable from the word go - and this is just that - if you like Aussie Rhone blends or if you are a fan Southern Rhone wines this is the sort of thing you ought to be giving to friends to drink with a nice red meat or even over the Summer home made burgers, cooked slightly rare on the Bar-be-qe. Of the other wines from France, I have to confess I was a little disapointed - by the time I reached many of them my palate was begining to feel the strain and it is perhaps a little unsurprising that many of them tasted flat as I was probably 20 wines in before I got to them, had tasted some "Big" wines and so could not appreciate the subtleties - Chateau Tour de By should have been a lot better than it was though I thought the Chateau Mayne d'Imbert from Graves was a very good wine indeed - I wasn't sure I wanted to pay £12 for the privilege.
I was however quite taken by the Barocco Primitivo 2003 from Puglia, I'm finding more and more really good Italian wines, however often the nice ones can be a little pricey, but at £7 a bottle this represents excellent value, and was deep, dark and fruity as you would hope it would be. The wines of Puglia are coming around and this is the second I've had recently, both of which have been really good and excellenty priced - and ideal wine for an Summers evening with lamb chops! The Marteletti Barolo 2001 was for me just too light and watery to get the real depth I'd hoped for, Barolo should be full bodied and full flavoured and for me this might be very well priced at £15, but it fell short of the mark - I think I'd rather pay more and get more.