Thursday, June 29, 2006

Herdade do Esporao Reserve 2003

I've had very few Portuguese wines (other than Port) but on the whole the ones I've has have been excellent - the watch word from what I've been told though is care - as with many places for every good bottle there are several of complete rubbish. I am however happy to report that this is in fact excellent - so much so that it's one of those that I've had during a tasting that is going to become one of my personal family favourites - it's kind of New World in style, but old world in flavour is you get my drift. It's very fruit led, yet beautifully complex and it's easy to spot the use of indigenous grape varities a mile away - the wine tastes porty - and is everything I would hope for in a Portuguese wine yet it contains a good portion of Cabernet Sauvignon which adds finesse and complexity without turning the wine into something rather international and bland. It comes from the Aletanjo region - which again at this stage in my life is a complete unknown to me - yet on this showing I'll be looking out for more! It is very powerful - but you kind of get that with European wines from the 2003 vintage when August temperatures on the Med were in the 40's and people were dying fast enough from the heat in Paris to call a state of Emergency!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Roc de Cambes 1996

Roc de Cambes is as good as Cote de Bourg gets, and this is pretty blooming good - a premium wine in every sense of the word. From the left bank of Bordeaux this was supple and soft yet complex with excellent balance, finesse and aromas to die for. There are times when you sniff a wine and you know you are in for a treat and this was one of them. My only issue was that I'd been through 12 other wines first (in short measures, jettisoning several of them on the way!) meant that perhaps my palate was not quite up to appreciating the finer notes of the wine - just after a huge Argentinian Bonarda and a wapping South African Cabernet based blend. However despite all that - this was without a shadow of a doubt the stand out wine of the evening and well worth the money spent on it and at £25 a bottle a decent price for decent claret. (

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Domaine de Thalabert 2000 (Jaboulet)

This is a Crozes Hermitage, and was once considered one of the very best examples of it's kind from the Northern Rhone - sadly I have read reports of it's demise and on this tasting I have to concur. To me, expecting a full, rich Syrah and finding instead a watery dull wine was a huge disapointment. Sure the pepper you'd expect was there, as was some of the fruit flavour - just not very much - Jaboulet can do much better and I think needs to if this wine is going to keep selling - customers will not be fooled for long into thinking this is the real deal. At best this was medium bodied, with a short length, too much acid and not enough fruit - an unbalanced wine with high pretentions. If you are tempted, then by all means give it a go - it may just have been this year - my advice would be to get hold of a 2003 and see what that holds and only then move into cooler years.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Castillo San Lorenzo Gran Reserva 1988

I bought this wine having been amazed to see a 1988 vintage Gran Reserva in my local Tesco store, and priced at £15 it was really looking like being much of a muchness as far as Rioja goes, however despite the length of time it had spent in American oak, this was completely delicious, the years in storage having clearly brought out the very best in it. For £15 it was beautifully complex and balanced with wonderful cherry and strawberry flavours - I can't praise the Tesco buyers too much for this one - for an huge company who need to buy big it is nice to see, that although this comes from a big winery, they've managed to stay true to Rioja in what they've produced. Let's get one thing clear - this is never going to win any awards, but served with (undercooked) rack of lamb on a hot Summer's day it was wonderful - the age helping to damp it down a little - just the thing for a day like that! It was nice to see a wine made with Graciano and Mazuelo rather than Garnacha too, a great many of the producer's in Rioja are turning to Garnacha to make a more "international" style of wine but personally I think that it also affects the quality of the wine - the traditional varieties may not be such high quality grapes - but when blended with Tempranillo my opinion is that they work much better. So at for £15 you can get a wine which will probably impress and wow your friends - assuming of course they're not massive wine buffs themselves - or a wine which fits somewhere between that very special occasion and an every day wine. Check it out - you might just like it!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Society's Exhibition St. Aubin 2003 Prudhon

A really light and fruity Burgundy and certainly the bet I've seen for £8 - it may lack the intensity of some of the big names, but as a summer drink I'd be hard pressed to fault it - immediately pleasing it's full of raspberry, cherry and gamey characters on the nose and a mouth full of red fruit notes, balanced beautifully with a touch of acidity and a little tannin (a really little tannin!) Completely ideal for Summer drinking - the delicateness of the wine means I might not serve it at a BBQ, but as a red alternative to go go with a cool salad it would be lovely.