Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Another Wine writer takes a swipe at bloggers

Whilst reading the current (March 07) copy of Olive magazine (my wife's magazine subscription as opposed to my Decanter) I came across the wine column (how very surprising!). Headlined "Net Gains" Wine Nerds have always loved the Internet, and now they are busy setting up blogs to tell the world about their favorite wine.

Max Allen, starts by introducing the idea of wine websites, and the fact there are indeed spawns and spawns of wine related blogs out there, and admits that they do range from fascinatingly addictive to just plain awful (just, he says, like all other blogs out there). So far so perfectly fair. He then goes on to make generalisations - most blogs are either - what I drank last night or what a lark this would be I hope people send me some free wine. These, he says, are not the blogs he liked preferring blogs that give him an eye on another corner of the globe (has he never realised that everywhere is another corner of the globe to someone!) or "quirky" blogs!
He does recommend some good sites, and then goes on to remind us that most, general wineblogs are mundane - well I'm sorry Max - if you ever read any blogs anyway - which I somehow doubt - but most blogs aren't actually written for you to read anyway. You seem worried that anyone can do it - and immediately you're then telling us about Neal Martin and Jamie Goode - who are admittedly the two greatest bloggers out there in the UK scene - but I think you've given yourself away a bit - could it be that as a writer your concern is not that the writing is bad, or that it's just plain boring - let's face it - if they're bad then you have no worry about them because noone will read them - could it actually be that your worried that not being called Jancis yourself, not being well know that perhaps your services are under threat. After all if everyone can read what they like about wine online free of charge, why would anyone want to pay you to write something?

So I popped into Majestic...

... just to see what they had going on and found 20% off Chilean wines when you buy any 2 - great offer and they have some great Chilean wines out there from the Adobe Merlot - which in my opinion is the best sub £5 Merlot on the planet right now, through the Cono Sur and Concha Y Toro ranges up to the excellent Montes range and Casa Lapostolle Merlot at 20% off is a great buy.
On their tasting bench I found 2 Sauvignons and 3 Cabernets, Robertson Winery 2006 was pretty poor really (even at £4 a bottle on offer when you buy 2) as was the Cabernet from the same winery - I certainly wouldn't be thinking of buying these - and neither should you - you can buy cheaper if you want to buy rubbish!
Montes 2005 Cabernet was full on and fruity - everything you might expect from a Chilean Cab. and you know what - it really would be better if they gave it a bit longer before launching it - and I think I'd give it a little more in the way of oak - but there we go.
The buy for me however was amazing - I'm not normally one to promote a Bordeaux under £10, particularly Cabernet dominated blends - a little Lalande de Pomerol, or one of the Cotes or St. Emilion satellites perhaps but not a Medoc - BUT - this is a little gem of a wine - Château du Monthyl 2000, Médoc - wonderful almonds, cedar, rich fruit, supple but grippy tannins - I delighted in it - and you know what - I'd even go so far as to say that at £6.49 (£5.99 when you buy at least 2) you would be hard pushed to find something quite so refined, quite as smooth and complex as this with poise, balance and refinement for the price - if you do let me know! For now - go out and buy this - and -plenty of it. (87)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Summertown Wine Cafe

I ventured back to the Summertown Wine Cafe last night, with friends and it was the first time I'd been back in a long while to one of my favourite haunts, and had a very nice time indeed without spending a penny - certainly one of the best ways to spend a Sunday evening - and so onto the wines :-

Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Giustino B. 2003
Almost colourless with youthful green apple flavours - delicious and easy drinking a little perhaps like a dry alcoholic appletise! (82)

Bimbadgen Pinot Grigio 2005
Pears, almonds and perhaps a touch of apple, a little elderflower make this decent, drinkable PG though for my money overpriced at over £10. (81)

Domaine des Chezelles Sauvignon Blanc 2005
A Sauvignon de Tourraine with masses of gooseberry and astringent herbaceous character, no great finesses and perhaps lacking a little too much in ripeness. (80)

Glenwood Chardonnay 2005 Franshoek
Golden, oaked buttery Chardonnay, everything you might expect. Some nice smokey character that won't appeal to everyone, but I liked it and added into the mix were some lovely tropical flavours. (83)

Westbrook Pinot Noir (Marlborough) 2005
Lovely silky red, with wonderful texture and aromas of cherry garcia ice cream - however sadly the intensity of flavour is lacking - there is plenty of acidity, but not enough flavour or grip to make this really work for me. (80)

Mitchelton Preece Merlot 2005 (Victoria)
A very youthful Merlot - too youthful and there were too many herbaceous green characters in the wine to make it pleasant. Not sure what they've done here but I think it could be that the grapes never achieved phenolic ripeness, either that or they put too many stalks into the mix to generate a bit of extra tannin. (74)

Blasson D'Issan 2002 (Margaux)
2nd wine of Chateau D'Issan, and very drinkable, if not awe inspiring and also about £5 too much a bottle (£19). Tannins were still a little rough, but there is quality wine making underneath and this will be lovely in 2-5 years, it's just for £5 more you can pick up a bottle of Pavillon Rouge, or indeed a bottle of Reserve de la Comtesse for the same price from a better vintage. Still that doesn't make it a bad wine and it's one that it definately worth drinking. (86)

Le Clos de Caillou Cotes du Rhone 2004
Very decent peppery grenache based wine, everything you'd expect from a really decent basic level Cotes Du Rhone - quite why it's the price of much better wine is beyond me H&H Bancroft sell it at £7.75 a bottle. Bit of a rip off but decent wine again. (81)

Quinta de Lagoalva 2004
I loved this wine, it's the second time I've had a Portuguese wine in the SWC and it's the second time I've fallen in love with it, the last time it was the Esporao from Aletenjo this time it's from the Ribatejo. A blend of Cabernet, Syrah and an indigenous grape (I forget which but not one I'd heard of before) wild herbs, blackcurrants, raspberries, a huge wine, full bodied with those same flavours as Port without the depth, sweetness and alcohol. I loved it! (87)

Greenstone Vineyard Shiraz 2005
Well made Shiraz, but a little unexciting - tasted like a young Aussie shiraz - may well develop into something great and would still be around in 10-15 years if you wanted it to be! Tannins were struggling to integrate and the texture was more sandpaper than velvet. (81)

Henriques and Henriques Vintage 1995
A sweet Madeira, I never found out which grapes but I'd lay my odds on Malvasia (Malmsey) it did all the right things in the right places, a bit of a liquid Dundee cake (a fruit cake with almonds on top). Very good indeed. (88)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Musings on Chocolate

Last night whilst at an events at my wife's work - a chocolate evening I was left wondering - what to drink with chocolate. It's something that comes in so many guises - let's for a minute forget white chocolate which is completely lacking in any cocoa solids - yet from deep dark and bitter to creamy and sweet chocolate is a tough thing to try and match any wine to. The texture is something that is chocolates alone - so what can you drink? What will go well?
Forget drinking a lovely deep red Bordeaux or tannic red - no the thing to look for here is something sweet - but I'm not talking a Sauternes nor am I going to suggest Tokaji - no I'm going for a sweet red wine - ideal is one of the many Vin Doux Naturels produced, much of the time from Grenache, in Southern France and in the Rhone valley. Look for Rasteau Vin Doux Naturels (The Big Red Wine Company do a lovely one - www.bigredwine.co.uk) or perhaps something from the Languedoc, a Banyuls or look out for the lesser known Maury - particularly the lovely 1928 Solera Maury - a really stunning wine with the depth and flavour to cope with anything chocolate can throw at it - sumptuous doesn't say enough!
If you're tempted to try something from the New World - go out and hunt down an Australian gem of Liqueur Muscat - a speciality of the Rutherglen region and there are two that are worth looking out for in particular, Brown Brothers produce a lovely dark, wine with muscovado flavours and Campbell's is a stunning buy at around £6 a bottle (available I believe in Waitrose!)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

M&S Tupungato Cabernert/Malbec 2005 (26/1/07)

Tasted this just last night for the first time having heard good things about it for a while - thanks to a few chaps I occasionally read at online message boards (cheers Mark & Boo!) but as usual it's taken me a while to get around to trying something (I suspect it was about the 2002 vintage these guys were going on about!) it always seems that just when I'm about to buy one of these recommendations something else catches my eye. Anyway what was it like? Well for £6.50 you really can't complain about this - it's wonderfully put together for the price - as you'd expect being from the Catena Zapata stable full of blackberries and autumn fruit flavours, hints of cinnamon and a little stewed apple. Toasted almonds and vanilla - a wonderful winter warmer - with soft tannins and fresh acidity cutting through the wine to keep it on track - it is by no means too acidic but is well balanced. I can safely say I haven't tasted anything quite like it before and from that perspective it was really interesting. I guess my only issue is that I tend to buy better these days - 2 years ago it would have wowed my socks off - but today nice, drinkable, very gluggable but not for a special occasion. (82)

Ravenswood Old Vine Sonoma County Zin 2001

I tasted this in December 2005 - and such has been my lack of discipline that it's only now that I'm writing it up - which is a shame because this was lovely.

I'm a big fan of what Joel Peterson does at Ravenswood, he's set out to produce big fat juicy Zin as well as he can - and succeeds. The Vintner's Blend range is at the bottom of the tree, followed by the regional wines, which both Lodi and this Sonoma are part of and which also includes a very good Amador Country representative. This is the top of that particular range (and at £13 is also the most expensive) before we get into the single vineyard Zins.
Garnet coloured, with a full on nose of almonds, cloves, plums, cherrys and vanilla - a complex web beautifully weaved together - if more zin was like this then it certainly wouldn't receive the bad press it can get.
Once in your mouth, you know you're into a lovely zin, full bodied with firm integrated tannins and a touch of acidity balance the wine wonderfully. Leather, game black cherry, liquorice and figs flavours are warming and velvety. (88)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sainsbury's Online Offers

Whilst looking around for some offers on the web, I came across the Sainsbury's online wine sale, and found there were actually some decent things to be had.

Umberto Cesari Tauleto Sangiovese Rubicone 2000 - 6 bottles reduced from £148.14 to £108.14. Winner of Antorini Trophy for Best Sangiovese, 2004 IWSC.
"Deep red in colour with a ripe, perfumed nose of cherry and menthol mixed with spice. The palate is dry with firm structure and a long, spicy finish."

Castillo de Calatrava Gran Reserva 1996 La Mancha Spain - Half Price £29.94 for 6

Spy Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2002 New Zealand £34.09 for 6

Berberana Carta de Oro Reserva 2001 Rioja £28.44 for 6 (save £18)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Baden (Germany)

Baden is Germany's warmest wine producing region, (as well as the furthest South) and it is here that the best German red wines are made from Spatburgunder (which is Pinot Noir to you and I!). The best wines of the region come from Kaiserstuhl-Tuniberg where the mineral rich soil and vineyards in a large sun trap work together to give the wines extra body. These wines are however not cheap, both because of the quality and because of the strong demands of the domestic markets. It is common to use new oak barriques to age the wines and the pinot's are very fruity and full bodied. NameWins to looks our for include Bercher and Dr Heger.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Woodstock - The Stocks Shiraz 2001 (25/12/06)

Deep purple with raspberries, blackcurrant and white pepper spice on the nose with flavours of vanilla and blackcurrant. Grippy tannins and wonderful balance and poise - a big Aussie stunner that lets you know it's there and still has you coming back for more! A fantastic long finish and just enough acidity to keep the beast in check. (88)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

New Site Name

A few weeks back I revealed my plans to launch a new site as a sister site to this site - and I can now tell you that things are progressing. Up until yesterday I had fully intended to completely work on a site from scratch - however I am no web designer and it was taken a long time to comeplete and the finished product was not quite what I would have hoped for, so I'm now looking for an alternative way to work on it.
Sadly winepost.co.uk is already taken as a domain so I won't be able to use that for the new site - and so now comes the task of trying to think up a funky new name!
So far i've come up with "Vintasy" but please leave your ideas in the comments below this post. The person who comes up with the best title, will have names my new site, and will forever be able to lay claim to that, plus I will give them a 5% share in the site - that means if it ever generated a profit you would get 5% of an profit made.
You get the drift - give me some names, and if I ever make money, fame or wine out of it - you get your share!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mosel-Saar Ruwer

The first of the Anbaugebiet of Germany that we'll look as is for many people the finest wine producing region in Germany, and certainly the best known region. All three names are rivers - the Mosel and it's two tributaries the Saar and the Ruwer.
Wines from this region tend are invariably white, low in alcohol and very refreshing. Many of the vineyards are on steep valley slopes of the three rivers and it is on the very steepest slopes that the best Riesling vineyards are to be found. Slate is the most important terroir of the region. Names to look out for from the region include :-
Von Kesselstatt
JJ Prum
Dr Loosen
SA Prum

Vineyards to look for include :- Erden Treppchen, Urzig Pralat, Piesport Goldtropfchen and Bernkastel Johannisbrunnchen.

Brown Brothers Tarrango 2002 (29/12/03)

A red that when chilled tastes surprisingly like a white wine! Light and fruity - an ideal Summer BBQ quaffer when chilled yet reduced so often during the cold winter months (I wonder why?!) All redcurrant and red cherry flavours - a little like Beaujolais without the pear drops and bubblegum. (80)

Wolf Blass Shiraz Cabernet 2002 (27/12/03)

Deep purple with a spicy bouquet, and tons of oak and spice in the mouth - just a little fruit - a little uninteresting. (76)

WSET Exam Results

After 8 weeks of waiting to see whether I would pass the Advanced course, I can now reveal that I managed a distinction in both part of the paper (that'll be distinction overall then!) which was what I had hoped for, but better than expected knowing that I messed a couple of questions up along the way by allowing reason to take over from my gut instinct for answering a couple - still no need to worry now!
I celebrated with a friend by drinking 3 Bowmore whisky's - darkest, 12yo & 17yo - really quite acceptable!

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Much has been said elsewhere of the demise of Rosemount - a couple of years ago I decided to find out for myself if it had all gone so bad.

Rosemount Shiraz Cabernet 2002 (3/1/04)
Now I remember the time when this was a very decent bottle, at a really decent price - that was 15 years ago and the price is now less than it was then so the wine inside the bottle must be a great deal cheaper. I had read of the demise of Rosemount - but I thought - maybe - just maybe it would still be ok - and that was what it was OK - it used to be lovely - now well I wasn't sick drinking it - and it wasn't offensive but good - no! Spice and black fruits - no real complexity and no real depth - all round disappointing. (78)

Rosemount Grenache Shiraz 2002 (19/02/04)
An old favourite - see above! Same problem here - just not what it used to be and now very much an also ran! Cherrys and Raspberries, smooth but a very short finish. (78)

Le Vin Maghani 1999 Domaine Canet-Valette (25/12/06)

Deep red, with a slightly brick coloured rim and a bouquet of raspberry, spice and a touch animally. The flavours are all there, wonderful "garrigue" herbs, black and red fruits smooth velvety tannins in a big wine that all at the same time managed to be refined and delicate. Decanted 5 hours before drinking, after 2 hours it was still a closed affair - I had imagined the age would mean it would need less time to open up - how wrong I was - open 6 hours before you intend to drink and sit down with some brilliant food and really enjoy. Evocative of summers spent walking, relaxing - pure sunshine in a bottle. There ought to be more wines like this out there for this sort of price!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Urbina Rioja Reserva Especial 1996 (6/1/07)

A big strong beefy brute of a wine, the oak in this was perhaps a little too much for my liking but it was certainly a better wine than an awful lot I drink. Deep brick red with a tawny rim, and oak, nutmeg red currant and cherry aromas developing into a complex palate of liquorice, dark cherry and roasted chestnuts. Some of the more complex flavours were probably hidden by the oak, this is no wine for the faint of heart and certainly needs to be drunk with good hearty food! (84)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Geographical Classification in Germany

As well is the quality wine classification German wines are split in a similar way to the wines of Burgundy. At the smallest level is the Einzellage - an individual vineyard and the most important classification for quality German wines, equivalent of a premier or grand cru in Burgundy.
Then comes the Grosslage, a group of adjoining vineyards - this is a somewhat unnecessary classification which makes life difficult for consumers, the names of grosslagen are often particularly misleading having taken a name from a nearby village that has given it's name to an Einzellage. So Bernkasteler and Piesporter appear on the labels of both some of the finest wines in Germany, but also on some of the label of bland, sugary wines made from grapes grown in inferior vineyards at high yields.
A Gemeind is a commune, the equivalent of a village wine, such as Volnay in Burgundy, the name of a commune can either appear alone on a label - in which case the wine comes from vineyards immediately surrounding the village, however it is often attached to the name of either a grosslage or an einzellage.
A Bereich is a district within a Quality region consisting of several communes, this is similar to Cote de Beaune in that a village can give it's name to an einzellage or grosslage wine, it can also give it's name to a Bereich.
Finally an Anbaugebiet is a designated quality region, of which there are 13 - we will look at the different regions in more detail next time!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

QmP Wine Classification

Once again it's time to try and de-mystify once little part of German wines - and today it's time to look at the whole Pradikat clasification. In short all the wines classed as QmP are then given a second classification based on the amount of potential alcohol in the grape juice (which essentially means the amount of sugar in the grape). Starting from the lowest to the highest -:

Kabinett - wines are the most delicate and will be light in body with crisp acidity and either citrus or green apple.

Spatlese - literally a late harvest wine - more concentrated and with more flavour and body than a Kabinett. Riper fruit flavours - less likely to be green apple and more ripe citrus and perhaps even hints of tropical flavour.

Auslese - made from individually selected bunches of grapes - chosen for being extra ripe and can be from dry (this is the last classification commonly found as a dry wine) but can equally be a sweet wine. Harvested at the same time as Kabinett and Spatlese - but the selection goes on in the winery or at the vineyard.

Beerenauslese - rare expensive wine made from grapes that are individually selected from bunches of extra ripe auslese grapes - these will often have been affected by Botrytis - that is noble rot which drys out grapes and concentrates flavours and sugars to make luscious sweet wines.

Trockenbeerenauslese - produced in minute quantities from individual grapes that have shriveled to tiny raisins as a result of noble rot. The grapes have the potential to make wines of 21.5% alcohol but with high acidity. They will of course never get this far - they will rarely have alcohol in excess of 8%abv.

Eiswein - Wine made from grapes that have been frozen (naturally not in a freezer!) The grapes are left on the wines and have the same sugar levels as a Beerenauslese but with no noble rot. During the winter the water in the grapes freeze but the sugars don't so they can then be pressed so that a very sweet juice can then be fermented. The wines produced in this fashion are generally expensive with excellent richness, acidity and wonderful purity of fruit.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Chilean Archives

As I look to make more and more notes available online - here is the latest in a series of notes taken from my early days of wine appreciation.

Casablanca Sauvignon Blanc 2002 (22/5/05)
Picked up in a bargain bin, straw coloured with aromas of apricots and just the very slightest hint of gooseberry. Rich and relatively full bodied with grapefruit and lime flavours, I found this to be a little on the sharp side and a little too sour suggesting the grapes never quite made it to full ripeness. (72)

Trio Red 2002 Concha Y Toro (30/11/04)
Made from 3 grape varieties and then blended by Ignacia Recabarren. This is the Merlot, Cabernet, Carmenere version with a raspberry and toasted vanilla nose and a hint of spice but which delivers both red and black fruit on the palate. A big, full bodied wine with plenty of structure though perhaps lacking a little in elegance. (80)

Montgras Merlot Reserva 2002 (5/12/04)
Well this is what started it all for me, the first time I tried a Chilean wine was a bottle of this very wine and it was the first time I realised there was more to life than cheap Aussie plonk! (that was affordable!) Ruby coloured with sweet raspberry aromas and a touch of vanilla with a plummy taste and a smooth mouth feel it's not the finest wine in the world ever - but what do you want for £3! Really decent value at that price!(80)

Louis Felipe Edwards Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (3/9/2004)
Very disappointing - not a lot to write home about here and certainly I'd be less likely to buy anything from him again - hard to put finger on what exactly went wrong - but I think that too much oak has been used against too little fruit character leading to something that verges on the unpalatable. Spicy with rough tannins. (74)

Casillero del Diablo Carmenere 2002 (6/9/04)
Much more decent this - aromas of blackberry, oak and spice with lovely chocolate, coffee, oak and plum flavours leading to a long smooth finish. Full bodied. (82)

Valdevieso Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 (19/11/04)
Deep ruby coloured with a slight tawny rim and a bouquet of vanilla, blackcurrant and just a hint of cloves and all spice. Rich and creamy on the palate with soft red berry fruit - my only question is - why is this the reserve - as is often the case I preferred the non reserve with a little less alcohol and a slightly more reserved character! (81)

German Wine Part 2

So... German wines eh? Bit complicated if you ask me - they are of course classified in several different ways - firstly basic quality - there are "Table Wines" and "Quality Wines" - table wines are placed in two categories - Deutscher Tafelwein (lowest classification from one of 4 designated regions) and then Landwein - similar to the French Vin de Pays from one of 17 regions which mut be shown on the label. Wines must be either "Trocken" (dry) or "Halbtrocken" (Off-Dry).

Quality Wines are also in two categories - QbA (Qualitatswein bestimmer Anbaugebiet) - which is literally wine from a designated quality region (an "Anbaugebiet). Often these wines will just show Qualitatswein on the label. To give you an idea Liebfraumilch fits in this category, as does Niersteiner Gutes Domtal and Piesporter Michelsberg (Hock is not a quality wine - it's a tafelwein.

QmP wines (Qualitatswein bestimmer Pradikat) which is again from a single Anbaugebiet but which also must come from particular district from within an Anbaugebiet (called a "Bereich").
QmP wines are then categorised by their "must weights" that is the specific gravity of the grape juice - which is in reality the amount of sugar in the juice.
So... when choosing a German wine - look for QmP on the label - it's no true guarantee of quality - but it will help it!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Want to know?

Is something holding you back? Do you want an area of wine demystified - let me know and I'll answer questions and try and give you the lowdown - with a bit of luck I'll learn something at the same time. German wines are first up!

German Wines

If there is anything in the world of wine that is certain, it is that German wines are to the non German market a complete mystery. Complex laws, and complex labels make life very difficult - wines are labeled not only by maker - quite possibly the single most important piece of information on the bottle - but also the sugar ripeness of the grapes - which determine where in a hierarchy the wine sits. In addition where the grapes for the wine come from is put on the label - which would be fine if the Germans hadn't come up with several different levels of classification from single vineyard site, through a group of vineyards, to a commune, a group of communes and so on. This is further complicated by the very fact that a town may give it's name to both single vineyard sites - the equivalent of a grand cru - capable of producing fantastic wines - but also give it's name to what the Germans call a "Grosslage" or a group of communes. So Piesport lends it's name to both Piesporter Goldtropfchen a vineyard site by the town of Piesport that is on a steep slope and is capable of excellent wines from Riesling only and also to Piesport Michelsberg a large area under vine producing wines from poor vineyard sites from poor grape varieties such as Muller Thurgau.

Inexpensive German wine has forever been tainted in this country by three names : Blue Nun, Black Tower and Liebfraumilch - none of which anyone should use for anything other than washing paint brushes in.
But there are some real bargains out there - one name particularly to look out for is Dr Loosen - a brand created by Decanter Man of the Year 2005 Ernst Loosen - who makes some really wonderful Riesling that is becoming more and more available in the UK all the time. Look out for his Dr L Riesling all over the place - absolutely ideal with a Chinese meal, or on a hot Summer's day as an aperitif or for drinking during the afternoon - the low alcohol won't knock you out either.
Ernie has also invested in buying the JL Wolf winery in the Pfalz (Dr Loosen is just for Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) which tend to be less expensive, slightly less expressive - but definitely worth looking out for.

Over the coming weeks, I'll be trying to help de-mystify German wines a little (though they are still something of a mystery to me!) and hopefully point out some wines to try. For now it's Dr. L - or look out for "The Naked Grape" Riesling from Waitrose - also worth a go!

A couple of offers to check out

Whilst stocks last! - Waitrose January sale has a couple of interesting pieces that are worth having a look at - but be quick it is only whilst stocks last (and as I have no Waitrose nearby it's probable that I will be one to miss out!)

Blanc de Blancs 2004 Vin d'Alsace, Cave de Turckheim*£5.99 - £4.99
Riesling 'Vieilles Vignes' 2004 Cave de Turckheim £7.99 - £5.49
Saint-Chinian Cuvée des Fées 2003/04 Château Cazal Vie£6.99 - £5.99

the Cazal Viel is very good at that price - quite new world in styling - but fresher and with a lot more finesse and complexity than a similar priced Aussie - definately worth trying.

As for the Turkheims - these should be interesting at the price.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Books Books Books

I've just been given my Christmas presents by my in-laws - and wonderfully have received the latest edition of the Oxford Companion - what a reference book that is - there is always something to look up and it has just about everything covered - for the first time I now have some grasp of what micro oxygenation is all about and why people might want to do it (a la M. Rolland).
I also got "The Hedonist in the Cellar" by Jay McInerney - which so far is excellent - a wonderful mixture of wit, stories about particular wines places and styles taken from his column of the same name from House and Garden magazine in the US. Perhaps my only issue with him so far is that it appears he has been bet he can't mention Julian Barnes' name in every little story as it appears with considerable frequency to the extent of becoming a little labourious - this though may change as I'm only just into the book - which has lots of very small chapters meaning it is very easy to read just a little at a time - except when people around you want attention!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Constellation's Sales Drop in Europe

European sales by US mega drinks group Constellation have tumbled this year - the group which owns nearly 300 wine brands including names such as Hardy's, Mondavi, Ravenswood and Banrock Station say that it is largely the UK market, for which Australian brands are a significant portion that has been hit. This has been laid at the door of the Australian grape glut forcing prices lower meaning retailers are making more own brand wines, less expensively which are then directly competing with some of the groups largest selling UK brands such as Hardy's (sales down 16%).
Personally I think that these brands doing less well is a good thing - I'm quite fed up with shopping in a Supermarket and looking at the US/Australian section and seeing massive swathes of Gallo/Blossom Hill/ Hardy's/ Rosemount type brands and often nothing more interesting at all. Occasionally it is possible to find something - but largely the brand it king.

Argentinian Wine Archives

I haven't got a great deal of experience of Argentinian wine, and these tasting notes come from my first ever wine journal - the first time I started to try and record what I was drinking and whether I liked it - hence the notes are neither very detailed or indeed particularly good - but they will at least give you some idea of whether to trust something or not! Of course my palate is now more tuned and my tastes have changed a little as I've started to drink better wine - so I'm almost embarrassed to publish these -but for the sake of completeness!

Argento Malbec 2001 (25/12/03)
Very decent Malbec for less that £5, a definite winter warmer of a wine with blackfruit, cinnamon and nutmeg and an oaky, earthy backdrop. Very full bodfied with well integrated tannins. (84)

Picuan Peak Bonarda 2003 (2/3/2004)
Oh dear! A complete disaster of a wine! (65)

Finca Las Higueras Pinot Grigio 2003 (14/05/04)
Grapes and lychees on the nose, over ripe melon, peach and apricot on the palate - a summery wine - deep and smooth. (82)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Mas Champart Causse du Bousquet 2005

Deep purple with vanilla, spice, blackberry and bilberry with a large backbone formed by strong tannin and great acidity - this is definately one to keep for up 8 years. Yet somehow it also manages to be fresh and fruity in the Mas Champart style. Deeply flavoured with dark black cherry and white pepper flavours and long long finish. (85)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2004

From the wonderful Villa Maria stable, well fabled for the brilliant Sauvignon they produce - this is really rather good too. Overwhelmingly cherry and vanilla on the nose - with subtle spice hints and a slightly gamey aroma, it develops wonderfully in the mouth to sour cherry and smokey cinnamon a finished long and thin. Beautiful acidity keeps the wine long in the mouth and holds the whole thing together whilst keeping it fresh and fruity. A brilliant example of what can be done in Marlborough with Pinot and one of the best bargain Pinot's out there. (85)