Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Coop Christmas Offers

There are a couple of great offers at Coop right now, which are really well worth taking note of -

Rully BLANC, CLOUX L'OUVRIER 2004£9.99 - £5.99 until Dec. 31 - a lovely white Burgundy - priced well at £10 so at £6 well worth getting some for Christmas.

MERCUREY ROUGE, LES VARENNES 2004£9.99 - £5.99 until Dec. 31 - a red Burgundy that as yet I have to hunt down so I can't personally vouch for it - but the word is that it is pretty good!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wine Personality of the Year

This award, goes for the first time to Jancis Robinson - a serious wine critic who gets it right more often than not - and who has dared to challenge Robert Parker Jr. - I'm not saying that I necessarily agree with Jancis - however I do feel that RP has far too much influence over the price of a wine - his opionion is probably valid - and it may be that he has not sought out to be the most influential wine critic - but somehow he has ended up in a position where what he says is taken as gospel truth with massive implications on the world of wine - and even he must have off days! So not for the argument - I don't know who was right - and probably don't care - but because someone needed to say "hang on a minute - we need to be careful not to decide the price and quality of wine on one persons say so".

Monday, November 20, 2006

Champagne for Christmas

It's that time of year, many of us buy champagne for Christmas, and the stores put a lot of fizz on special offer - so what is out there? Those with the lowest prices I've found (and that are recognisable producers) are highlighted in red

Sainsbury :-
Champagne Piper-Heidsieck*£21.99 - £16.99
Taste the Difference Vintage 2000 Champagne£22.99 - £17.99
Laurent-Perrier£25.99 - £20.99
Lanson Black Label £22.49 - £17.49
Canard-Duchene£19.99 - £14.99
Nicolas Feuillatte£19.99 - £14.99

Piper-Heidsieck NV Brut*£28.98 - £23.98
Laurent-Perrier Brut£25.98 - £20.98
Nicolas Feuillatte£19.99 - £14.99
Moët et Chandon Imperial Vintage Brut 1999£33.94 - £29.94
André Carpentier£19.99 - £9.99
Heidsieck Monopole Rosé£23.99 - £18.99
Jacquart Brut£19.99 - £14.99

Mumm Cordon Rouge Non Vintage*£22.99 - £18.99
Lanson Black Label Brut Non Vintage£22.49 - £18.99
Champagne Trudon Cuvée Tradition NV£18.99 - £13.99
Piper-Heidsieck Brut Non Vintage*£21.99 - £17.99

PIPER HEIDSIECK BRUT CHAMPAGNE NV*£21.99 - £14.66 until Dec. 31

Moët et Chandon NV£23.99 - £18.99
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label£26.99 - £21.59
Charles de Villers NV £23.99 - £11.99
Jean D'Eperon NV£10.99 - £9.89
Heidsieck Monopole Brut NV£19.99 - £14.99
Heidsieck Monopole Demi-Sec NV£18.99 - £14.24
Heidsieck Monopole Rosé NV£23.99 - £18.99
Nicolas Feuillatte Vintage 2002£25.99 - £12.99
Nicolas Feuillatte NV£19.99 - £14.99
Jacquart Brut Tradition NV* £19.99 - £13.99
Lanson Black Label NV£22.49 - £17.99 (November 13 – December 3 only)
Bollinger NV£29.99 - £26.99 (November 13 – December 3 only)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wine of the Year 2006

And so my wine of the year, well there were a few contenders, from Margaret River the fantastic Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon, from St. Chinian Les Vielles Vignes from Domaine Maurel Fonsalade and Le Vin Maghani from Domaine Canet-Valette. From Bordeaux Chateau La Tour Figeac '98, from Portugal Herdade do Esporao but after much deliberation I decided to go with another Australian Cabernet, this one from Coonawarra made by Holllick and at about £11 the cheapest on the shortlist - which was one reason for choosing it. A wine of this quality, depth, structure, balance and complexity for as little as that is a great achievment - the Esporao certainly came close but the Hollick won out in the end. La Tour Figeac may have been the finest wine I tasted, quite possibly the most delicious - but I can have 2 bottles of the Hollick for the same price and is almost certainly not as widely available.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Winemaker of the Year 2006

My winemaker of the year 2006 goes to, Marc Valette of Domaine Canet-Valette in St. Chinian - a man who literally threw the rule book away, was ridiculed by the established winemakers when he started making wine in the early 1990's for doing things his own way. What he has managed to do however is produce wines of the very finest quality in a small appelation, somewhat off the beaten track. He is a great character, regularly jumping into vats of grapes to press them himself by foot, spraying his crops with what are in essence herbal teas to combat problems that others would reach for the nearest bottle with a heavy duty health warning on. His top dry wine Maghani is magnificent, his lower cuvee "Une et Mille Nuits" is powerful, complex expression of all that St. Chinian should be and his "special" wines made from old, low yielding (15 hl/l) vines such as Ivresses are an experience in themselves. As for "Les Galejades" words cannot express the joy that this brings to the drinker - old, low yielding vines that others would use for making a top cuvee - which he then harvests in December - unorthodoxy is certainly common but the results have turned him from a curiosity in the locality to a man seen as being a true genius.

Mas Champart Clos de la Simonette 2004

A very deep purple colour, with vanilla, spice, raspberry and cherry flavours, wonderful silky smoothness, fresh acidity. A wine of great balance and that will age for the 5-7 years but is truly winderful when served correctly now. Fresher and less powerfuil than some other wines from the same region, it is made to their Champarts own style.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Debut - Xavier Vignon

A wine made from more than one appelation and more than one vintage and crafted by Xavier Vignon (and bought from the Big Red Wine Company) this was tasted in Feb 2005. Deep blood red, cloves, cinnamon, orange and toasty oak aromas - with flavours of dried fruit, liquorice and chocolate on the palate. Very Good.

Ming of the Year

And the first award, at the first ever winepost awards goes to .....

Reserve L'Oriflamme - quite how this ever managed to get to be called Chateauneuf du Pape I'll never know - quite disgusting and more beaujolais than bold. Light bodied, overly accidic, sour, and not at all nice. And I tasted a few bottles to make sure. Quite possibly the nastiest wine I've ever had - that wasn't faulty (and nastier than some that were!)


I've added a few links to the right hand side - a couple of excellent Languedoc estates, a brilliant wine bar in Oxford, and a new wine distributor to me, Sullyvin, who were kind enough to send me a bottle of wine from an appelation in France that I'd never come across the Cotes du Frontonnais. Looking at their website Sullyvin appear to sell an interesting range of wines, certainly the sort of things you can't get elsewhere. I'll be drinking the wine sent through in the next few days or weeks and will report back.
All the links listed across are independent of me, however I do recommend them all. If you would like a link added then please do contact me and I'll see what I can do - (I will however not just add anyone, not will I add people I cannot recommend - equally if I think a link needs removing I will do so if I am no longer able to recommend the individual or company. So for instance SullyVin are linked at present - however if I really hate their wine, the link will be removed, or if I hear that people are having trouble with the company.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Austrlian Harvest likely to be low

Reports coming in from Australia suggest that the next harvest is likely to be significantly depleted due to frost and drought in various grape growing parts, however this is not all bad news - wine production is expected to be 375 million litres lower this year than in an average year - however Australia currently sits on a lake of 900 million litres of excess wine and as such we in the UK will probably not see much difference in the short term. However in Australia small growers already under pressure from low prices may find that this year is one step to far and either leave or be forced from the business. In the long term this may have a beneficial effect on the Australian wine industry as less grapes and less growers may lead to an increased need to vinify well and buy the best grapes - however it could go the other way with the best growers being the ones to suffer. We shall see...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

To blog or not to blog

A lot has been written by established wine writers over the past few months on the rise of wine blogs, and the fact that more and more people are doing - most comments have not been complimentory. However in our defence - when on earth did we ask these people to read them, when did we inflict ourselves on them? Do I detect that the odd writer is concerned that if people spend their time reading blogs on the internet, they're less likely to buy their books and the newspapers in which they write?
I know my writing is not up to the standard of the "establishment" the problem is that they assume I'm trying to - when in fact all I'm interested in is writing for my own pleasure and keeping a record of my drinking - far more searchable that a note book! If other people read what I write, well that's great - if they enjoy it - excellent - even better. If they come back that is really great and the best thing is if it's ever useful - but none of these is the reason behind it - as with most blogs the reason is self gratification. If a wine writer wants to take a pop - let them - because bloggers are not competition - unless is means a writer will actually have to work for his money in order to keep things going. Enough said on that - rant over!

Les Mouliniers - AOC St Chinian

Having seen the price of this in the local wine merchant, (25 Euros for the top cuvee) I decided to head out and give this a try - it has to be said that I went on my own and whilst the lady on duty was friendly enough I wouldn't go so far as to put this in one of the top experiences of the holiday - though this might have had something to do with me being on my own!
Starting with the 50% Tradition Rouge 2004 - a simple red fruit wine with hints of aniseed with a slightly closed mouth feel and some fresh acidity. The 70% Syrah, Les Sigillaires 2002 had vanilla notes, a touch of spice and some lovely forest fruit aromas - in the mouth it was .... narrow in the mouth - fine acidity and freshness giving way to a slightly one dimensional wine - with just hints of liquorice on the palate. (Some wines are big fat wines some are narrow and clean - this fits the latter category.)
The final wine tasted was Les Terrasses Grille's 2000 - the top cuvee from the estate again made from 70% Syrah with 50% aged in 1 year old oak and 50% in new oak (French of course!) a deep mahogany coloured wine, complex and open with cassis and pepper aromas. However despite being 6 years old it was still tannic (that'll be Syrah for you then!) but had good fresh acidity, liquorice flavours in abundance with black fruit and oak showing well. My issue with this winery was that I was told the red wines ought to be served at 14 degrees, which given it was seriously hot outside one could kind of understand - however what it meant was that the wines were far too closed and didn't allow their undoubted talents and complexity to shine through - I would really love to taste these again at 18 degrees - and maybe I'd be proven wrong and they'd be fat and flabby - but to my mind unless they work out how best to serve their wines they won't make the big impact they're hoping for. The terroir around the domaine is definately good enough and the winemaking is there so it's a shame they've made a decision and are sticking to it rather than perhaps allowing wines to be tasted at both temperatures in order to either make or break the point. Rant over - - stick with nicer wines!