Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Tenuta Novarre Valpolicella Ripasso 2013

Tasted 01.05.16, 13.5% abv, cork closure, £9.99 Co-Operative stores. My wine merchant friend says you shouldn't pay less than £20 for a ripasso or amarone, so I guess he will be disappointed with my purchase here!
But for a tenner this co-op wine is altogether not bad. It is quite rich but foursquare though not bad value and a good food wine and certainly needs longer in bottle. Ruby coloured with a nose of dark berry fruits and violets. On the palate, tannins are quite smooth. The fore palate is approachable but the mid palate and finish rather short. No real typicity or sense of place - looks like my friend was right! From 2017. 15.5/20

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Sunday, 3 April 2016

Chambolle-Musigny Domaine Hudelot-Baillet 2011

Tasted 3.4.16. Cork closure, 13%. C.£25 from Howard Ripley. Opened 3 hours before tasting, no decanting. 2011 was a problematic year for many Burgundy producers but this wine shows that even at village level, good wine was made. Hudelot-Baillet is a respected domaine and this is an approachable wine that can be enjoyed now. Probably not an absolutely classic Pinot Noir style but lovely nonetheless. Really well made. Actually quite 'rich' for a supposedly thin year. Red fruits and just a hint of chacuterie on the nose. Dry on the palate, with smooth tannins. Long finish of berry fruits. Will improve over the next 5 years. From 2014, 17/20

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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Piccini Chianti Classico DOCG 2009

Tasted 29/03/16. Cork closure, 13% abv. Piccini 'green label'. About £8 UK retail. I suppose all expert opinion says you shouldn't expect much Chianti for less than a tenner and this one confirms that. Very disappointing. Piccini are a large company that make commercial wines, normally passably acceptable. This was poor - rather thin and acidic, probably too old for its niche - should have drunk it a few years ago. Not even any decent generic Sangiovese character. 13/20.

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Sunday, 20 March 2016

Baron de Ley Reserva Rioja 2010

This wine won Wine of the Year and 94 points in a recent Decanter Rioja tasting.
And at last my local Co-op had it at a bargain of just under a tenner!
It certainly ticks all the boxes. 20 months in new oak, Baron de Ley are very well regarded and this represents a very well made, modern style Rioja that is accessible now but will improve over the next 5 years. 2 hours breathing benefited the wine - a beautiful nose of cherries and oak, very smooth tannins and red fruits and berries on the palate.
An amazing wine for the price. 18/20 from 2016.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Priocca Barbaresco 2011

Tasted 22/5/15, 14% abv, cork closure, £11 Sainsburys Taste The Difference.
This is a co-op wine but a genuine Barbaresco that should not be as good as this for 11 quid! One would normally askew Barbarescos at this price but this is a cracker and as good as some merchant wines at £25.
Drinking well now - nice medium red colour the nose is attractive - red fruits, hint of vanilla with darker fruits too. The wine is quite well structured, elegant and certainly well made. I suspect this is made from younger vines and hence probably will not have a life of some of its more expensive cousins but this is a great wine to drink now. 17/20, from 2014.

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Sunday, 3 May 2015

Chianti Azienda Agricola Cignozza DOC 2009

Tasted 03.05.15, 13 % ABV, cork closure, c. £12 from Genesis Wines. A really good value Chianti from friends at Genesis. It is not Chianti Classico but it has all the features you would want of an ‘weekday’ Chianti that is a notch higher than average. Cherry red with slightly browning tinges. Lovely cherries on the nose, slightly tarry and dark fruits. The palate is very dry, with smooth tannins and great dark fruits on the finish. Good layer of vanilla and a little white pepper. Lovely wine. From 2014, 16/20


Roversi Pecorino Terre di Chienti IGT 2013 Abruzzo

Tasted 5.5.15, 12%, cork closure. £8 in Asda (currently on offer £6). Surprisingly elegant and structured white wine from Abruzzo. Pale yellow, citrusy and hint of tropical fruits on the nose. Off dry, a great light aperitif. Palate is reminiscent of a light southern French white. A true bargain. Drink now 16.5/20

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Monday, 6 April 2015

Robert Oatley Finisterre Chardonnay 2013, Margaret River

Tasted 3/4/15, 13% ABV, screw cap closure, ca. £18 - £22 UK retail (e.g. Waitrose, Wine Society). This is a top class wine from winemaker Larry Cherubino using some of the putatively oldest Chardonnay vines in Australia. This wine regularly receives 90 PP or 18+/20 for most vintages and it certainly can compete with many of the best (though perhaps not the best) that Burgundy can offer. Quality wise, it is certainly up there with a Grand Cru Chassagne-Montrachet, though a somewhat different.This is now one of my favourite New World Chardonnays, along with Catena Alta from Mendoza,
Firstly, let's get out of the way my usual hobby horse which turned me off Aussie Chardonnay for a long while - the excessive use of oak. This wine has had 9 months in new French oak (rather than American oak) which pays dividends, as though the oak is certainly more prominent than in a Burgundian style, it balances the richness and acidity of the wine. This wine is complex and elegant. There is an underlying palate of almonds, apricots and citrus but with a fine minerality. Finish is incredibly long and complex. A superbly balanced wine with a good life ahead of it. From 2015, 18.5/20

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Paracombe Pinot Noir 2009 Adelaide Hills

Tasted 15.02.15, 13%, screw cap, £20 UK retail, Amazon.co.uk
(First point to make here: Amazon have started selling wine in the UK but beware the pitfalls of a non-specialist retailer for wine - I ordered 3 bottles, wanted the 2013 and got 2 x 2009 and one 2011!)
Anyway, this wine lived up to its 17.5/20 billing in a recent Decanter tasting of Aussie Pinot Noir.
This a lovely cool climate example of this varietal. Hitherto I have not been too keen in Aussie PN - always thinking it a poor relation to Kiwi Pinot noir - but clearly progress has been made.
This is a rich fruity wine, dark pink in colour and bursting with strawberries on the nose. The palate is red fruits and vanilla, with a hint of Burgundian farmyardiness.
I would drink this now - a good fine wine alternative to classic Burgundy or Chilean Pinot noir. 17/20, from 2012.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2010

Tasted 7.2.15, 13%, cork closure, £9 UK retail (Asda Extra Special). This is a co-op wine from CSPA. Whilst perhaps not the most elegant or distinctive Chianti Classico that I've ever tasted, this does represent good value for money. It has all the hallmarks that one would expect of a good Chianti: bright mid-red colour, very distinctive cherries on the nose And a very dry mouthfeel. There are red fruits on the pallet and the wine has quite a lengthy finish. Whilst this does not represent the highest echelon of Chianti production, - it is basically a co-op blend after all - it is a decent every day wine. Drink now - 2016. 15.5. / 20

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Castelfelder Pinot noir 2011 Alto Adige DOC

Tasted 1.2.15. 13.5%, cork closure, £18 UK retail. I discovered this gem of a wine at Tuscan (sic) specialist Negozio Classico in Primrose Hill. This is made from the Blauburgunder grape from the Germany speaking region of the Sudtirol in the Italian alps. A great alternative to New World Pinot Noir if you want something different (and cheaper) than fine Burgundy.
This is a lovely wine, ready now but would benefit from some more time in bottle. Light pink in colour, classic rise hips on the nose with just a hint of farmyardiness. Quite acid but balanced by forward red berries fruit. Recommended and good value. From 2014. 17/20

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Croze-Hermitage AOC 2012 Pierre Gaillard

Tasted 30/08/14. 12 % ABV, cork closure, about £16 after duty and VAT (en primeur release from Genesis Wines). Just released from bond, I just broached a bottle from the full case I bought.
Bright purple in colour, peppery nose, black fruits and boiled sweets. Palate still very tannic and initially closed. Dry, with a long finish. One day after opening (sic) it had opened up and given a hint of its complexity to come. Nice dark fruits and plums on the palate. Still very young - visit in 18 months.
16.5/20. Drink from 2016?

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Dourum Vinha do Vinteiro Douro Reserva 2011

Tasted 29.03.14. Cork closure, 14%. Tescos don't often get their Finest range selection wrong and this multiple award- winning £20 wine is no exception. This dark, brooding, concentrated wine is very youthful. Dark concentrated purple colour, glorious violets and berry fruits on the nose. The palate is long and full of dark berry fruits, blackcurrant being to the fore. Rather tannic which comes with its youth. Glorious future. From 2015. 18/20

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Chablis AoC Domain Louis Michel 2012 (Fortnum and Mason)

Tasted 29.03.12, 13%, cork closure, about £16. A good everyday Chablis, from the reliable (for whites) 2012 Burgundy vintage, just released to F & M. Nice unoaked style from this reliable domain. 
Light golden colour, citrus and almonds on the nose, pleasant apples and apricots on the palate with asparagus on the finish. Youthful, zesty, good to drink now. From 2014. 16.5/20

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Fortnum and Mason Bourgogne Blanc 2011 AoC

Tasted 8.3.14. 13%, cork closure. About £10 (case discounts available).
A lovely house wine from Domaine Roger Luquet at Fuisse in the Maconnaise from the solid 2011 vintage (for whites at least). No oak, pure Chardonnay nose of damp grass and dried fruits, excellent minerally backbone, dry with a good lemony finish. Just about as good as an 'everyday' white Burgundy can be at this price. Well done F&M. 16/20, from 2014.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Fortnum and Mason Chablis Premer Cru Butteaux 'Vieilles Vignes' 2011

Tasted various times, most recently 09.12.13. 13% ABV, cork closure, £24.50 F&M.
Winemaker Louis Michel. 2011 proved a better vintage for whites than reds in Burgundy and I have enjoyed some lovely young drinking Chablis from this vintage.
Pale straw colour, good mineral attack. Buttery and apricots on the palate - no oak used, apparently. Good depth in the mid palate, zesty. Youthful acidity but good grip. 
This is a fine example of a Premier Cru Chablis from a traditional winemaker, from vines planted in 1954. In the grand scheme of things, this represents very good value for money. Well done F&M. From 2013. 17.5/20

Monday, 7 October 2013

Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2011, Limari Valley (Concha y Toro)

This is a superb example of the South American wine making craft. This wine recently won International Chardonnay 'Below £15' International gold medal with the Decanter World Wine Awards and is difficult to imagine a wine that more justly be deserves a gold medal.
It is two years old and drinking well now but I'm sure it will improve with time.  It shows what can be done in the Limari Valley, which is dry and hot at low levels but at cooler altitudes with irrigation is producing a great white wine. Concha y Toro are a big hitter for sure, but don't produce 'cheap gluggers' - there wines are quality-driven at all price points.
Here there's a subtle use of oak which has moved away from the over-oaked style that is quite common in the New World but this South America example is a more sophisticated and all-round elegant and rounded wine. 
In fact is difficult to believe that there is a better value wine for less than £15 at the moment and this one is currently retailing at £9.99.
The nose is a complex one of apricots, raisins and lemon peel the palate is a complex melange of a variety of dried fruits spices. Buttery and with an extremely long finish this is amazingly well made wine. From 2013, 18/20

Monday, 8 July 2013

Palestra Rueda Verdejo DO 2011

Tasted 05.07.13 with Jean-Marc. 13.5% ABV, £7.99 Tesco's Finest. I tried this wine as it was recommended in a Decanter review, which I can say I thoroughly endorse. Lovely co-operative wine, well worth the money, grown on a prime site in Rueda. Light golden colour, apples and limes on the nose, zesty on the palate, long finish with citrus and lemon, but elegant and structured too. Drink young, 17/20: this wine is a bargain.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Chablis AC Domaine Vocoret Vieilles Vignes 2011

Tasted 09/06/13. 13.5% abv, about £16 UK retail. Well-regarded producer, this is a domaine bottled AC Chablis but at the upper quality end. This is from old vines, so still quite tight and closed. Needs longer. Rather restrained on the nose, hint of apples and apricots. Fresh grassy aromas but still has a lot to show yet. Rich on the palate. From 2014, 16.5/20

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Crittenden Estate, Mornington Peninsula 2008 Victoria

Tasted 4/6/13. 13.5% abv, about £19.50 UK retail (Fortnum and Mason - case discount available). Recommended to me personally by F&M's wine buyer Jamie Waugh. Lovely wine - showing the best that the New World can offer. Much better than the over-priced (or under-priced), over-oaked Aussie chardonnay that we are exposed to rather too much. This is single estate, 100% estate grown wine, using older vines and a mixture of old and new oak. This wine has both richeness and a subtlety. Lovely toast on the nose but not too over-powering. Zesty and buttery on the palate with a long finish. Apricots and apples! Very well made wine, drinking very well now. From 2013. 16.5/20

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Chablis Premier Cru Montmain Cuvee Vieille Vigne Denis Race

Tasted 18/04/2013, 13% ABV, cork closure, possible n/a UK, bought about £11 ex-cellars in Chablis, directly from the producer. This is the first bottle tasted.
The variable 2011 vintage in the Burgundy has blessed the whites more than the reds, it is argued.
Denis Race is a very well regarded producer and this old vines premier cru is a fine example of his craft.
Pale straw colour, nose a little closed. Well structured palate, still very young and not showing its hand: acidic and minerally for sure but the fruit is still hidden. Great potential. Needs longer. From 2014. 17/20

Chablis Domaine Gilbert PICQ et fils

Tasted 21/04/2013, 12.5% ABV, cork closure, possible n/a UK, £7 ex-cellars in Chablis, bought directly from the producer. This is the first bottle tasted.
The variable 2011 vintage in the Burgundy has blessed the whites more than the reds, it is argued. This 'ordinary' Chablis would benefit from little more bottle age but it is very good now, very accessible for young drinking. The acidity worked well with the penne pasta I had with a creamy sauce.
Pale straw colour, there's the classic Chablis nose of damp grass, green fruits and a hint of butterscotch. The palate is tart and zesty - mouth puckering acidity - showing its youthfulness but with a good depth of minerality and a fine finish. Great with food now, drink 2013-15. 16.5/20

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Wine Ramblers tasting #3

Introduction to Wine 2 - 27th February at Fulham Wine Rooms
Information to follow shortly.....

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Wine Ramblers tasting – Cederberg Winery of South Africa, 5th February 2013

Wine Ramblers tasting – Cederberg Winery of South Africa, 5th February 2013
Tasted at Fulham Wine Rooms

Cederberg Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Western Cape)
Light golden colour. Classic and elderflower gooseberry nose, but not a heavy style – very fresh and zesty. Group score.  3.8 / 5
Cederberg Cellars Chenin Blanc 2011 (Western Cape)
A pleasing style from a country that produces some radical interpretations of this French varietal. Pale straw colour, this wine was fresh, tart on the palate with greengages and mint on the nose. A short-ish finish but very pleasing overall and a great food wine.
Group score 3.5 / 5
Cederberg Cellars Ghost Corner Elim Semillon 2009 (Western Cape)
A premium wine. Very different in style to a Bordeaux Semillon. Light straw colour, green bell peppers on the nose, off dry and very crisp on the palate, zesty, long finish and fresh acidity. Lovely wine with a lot more life yet. Group score 4.1 / 5
Cederberg Cellars Bukettraube 2011 (Western Cape)
A fine wine from a rare grape varietal. Light golden colour, apricots and a hint of stewed fruit on the nose, slightly sweet and raisined on the palate. Juicy. Needs longer. Best white of the night. Group score 4.3 / 5
Cederberg Cellars Merlot Shiraz 2009 (Western Cape)
An unusual blend. Medium purple colour, gamey nose with spicy plums on the palate. Youthful, with firm tannins but an elegance. A good future. Group score 3/5
Cederberg Cellars Shiraz 2009 (Western Cape)
Another very well made red wine. Ripe black fruits on the nose, with coffee and pimento, blackcurrant on the palate. A cut above many Southern Hemisphere shiraz. From 2103. Group score 4/5
Cederberg Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon V Generations 2008 (Western Cape)
The best red of the night and the best wine too. Inky colour, dense and concentrated. Firm tannins that need longer but a beautiful palate – a melange of cassis, pimento and dark fruits. Needs longer but lovely now. From 2014. Group score 4.3 / 5

Wine Ramblers Tasting #1 - January 22nd 2013

Wine Ramblers tasting – Introduction to Wine  #1, 22nd January 2013
Chateau Moulin Caresse 2010 Montravel sec (Bergerac)
Great oily nose of gooseberry and ‘cats pee’ for a classic Sauvignon blanc. Fruit forward with zesty notes of tart apple. Drink now. Group score 4.1 / 5
Luc Pirlet Chardonnay 2010 (Languedoc)
Good vanilla on the nose, classic buttery and citrus notes on the palate. A youthful, fruit forward Chardonnay for early drinking. Rtaher restrained at the moment – could do with another 6 months of so in bottle. Group score 2.8 / 5
Godello, Bodegas Gargallo 2011 (Galicia)
Fragrant and elegant, a lovely Galician wine that turned out to be the best white of the night and universally loved. Blend of local Teixadura and Godello, 50:50. Good acidity to give it some longevity.
Group score 4.3 / 5
Alba Matusevic – Malvasia 2011 (Croatia)
Very interesting wine from Croatia, on the Italian border, made from this ancient grape variety. Raisins on the nose, hint of apricots on the palate. Toasty nose, off-sweet and rich on the palate.
Group score 4.1 / 5
Gran Cerdo 2011 (Rioja)
A softer Rioja for early drinking, not too tannic. Red fruits and cherries on the nose and strawberry on the palate. Blend of Tempranillo and Graciano grapes. From 2013.
Group score 4.1 / 5
Chateau de la Negly, Pavillon Rouge 2011 (Languedoc)
This is the Vin de Pays d’Oc of Negly, a high quality blend of local grapes. Ripe black fruits on the nose, earthy hints and a dark fruits on the palate. Group score 4.1 / 5
Le Fleur Morange Mathilde 2007 (St.Emilion GCC)
The great second wine of the Le Fleur – the leading wine of the ‘garage wines’ of St. Emilion.
Great balance of plummy fruit and acidity, classic austere nose that opens up of uncorking. Red fruit and pencils on the nose. The best red of the night. Group score 4.3 / 5

Friday, 18 January 2013

Vina Mayu Reserva Syrah Elqui 2007

This review was first published on the Wine Behind the Label website as their Wine of the Month

Tasted 17th March 2012 with Neville Blech. 14% ABV, 75cl, cork closure, about £12 UK retail. I kept this wine for about 2 years and this has paid dividends. It is drinking extremely well now.
Deep purple, almost inky colour. Grilled meat, pepper and spice on the nose. Spicy thyme and cassis, brambly, dark fruits on the palate. The sweet oak shows through but does overpower. Full bodied but with a great balance, elegant. Truly lovely - one of my best wines of 2012, so far. A great winery from Chile’s ‘hottest’ region (actually, one of the coolest). From 2013, 18 / 20.

Wine of the Month and rise of Chilean Syrah

I have a passion for Chilean wine. This passion grows as I buy more, taste more and learn more about their wines. So much so, that I would like to make a Chilean Syrah my Wine of the Month.
About half my cellar is now from Chile. ‘Why?’ many of my Old World-loving friends ask. They cite fruit-forward varietal styles, derivative wines, young vines, ‘no reflection of terroir’, etc as reasons why they would rather have a Rhone Syrah or a Left Bank Cabernet Sauvignon. Curiously, I partly agree but only partly. I think this is a very old stereotype – in much the same way that many people believe that you can only have a good German wine if you pay a fortune, or that the Portuguese cannot make good table wine. Yes, there are very fruit-forward styles from Chile but even the ‘£4.99 glugger’ bangs-for-bucks will be better than many other New World wines at that price point. However, I want to focus on the quality sector. Viniculture and viticulture are now of the highest order and the industry is beginning to move away from targeting the lower end of the market and producing a range of wines at all price points and qualities. It is certainly very difficult to pay three figures for a bottle of Chilean wine or get one with much age but, the market is changing. Chile is now competing increasingly successfully in the middle market, with wines of longevity and distinction and a sense of terroir. Harpers recently reported that the UK is the second biggest market in terms of volume for Chilean wine and the biggest in terms of revenue. Most of the quality Chilean Syrah that I pay £11-£15 for at UK retail prices would need to be matched against £20-£30 Rhone wines to find equivalence. However, we are not just talking about value-for-money issues. We may not be talking Rayas or Cote Rotie yet but there is a quality and distinctiveness emerging, with many of the cool climate Syrah from Limari, Elqui or Bio Bio being truly inspirational wines. Some the loveliest wines I have had over the last two years have been Syrah or Carmenere from Chile. If Chilean Merlot (Carmenere) is their signature red grape, Syrah certainly has the potential to become their truly noble grape. Production is small at the moment but some fine examples are emerging.
ViƱa Mayu won the Decanter Regional Trophy last year (DWWA Best Value Syrah) for their 2010 Syrah Reserva. Elqui is Chile’s most northerly region (about 30oS), on the southern edge of the Atacama Desert - the world’s driest place. Just 29 hectares are currently planted with Syrah, in terraces that rise up to 2000 metres (6500 feet) into the Andes. Hence, the ‘cool climate Syrah’ comes from the altitude factor rather than the latitude – the sun is very intense here, being just a few degrees south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Mayu was formed as recently as 2005, with a mission statement to focus on fine wine. Winemaker Mauro Olivier Alcayaga was the first to introduce Syrah into Chile (in 2000). The grapes for the current Syrah Reserva come from two vineyards only - El Tambo (550m above sea level) and Quebrada de Talca (350m above sea level) and the has 8 months in French oak barrels before being bottled.

Matetic EQ Chardonnay 2009

 I tasted another bottle of this recently and haven't cahnged my opinion from my last review

Matetic review

other than I might now score it 17/20

Long Trek Pinot Noir 2008, Central Otago

Tasted 05/01/13, 13% ABV, cork closure. Archangel Winery. About £12 UK retail, available from Vintners.co.uk. Archangel is a new but highly regarded winery from Central Otago - the region that really is on the up and is producing superb Pinot Noir. I had two bottles of this vintage which I bought in 2009. I drank the first one young and had this one recently. I was very impressed with the quality. It was vibrant and seemed to have come into its stride. Light purple in colour - great nose of cherry, cedar and boiled sweets. Lovely red fruits in the mouth. Excellent finish. Great now. 16.5/20, from 2012.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Escarpment Kiwa Pinot Noir, (Martinborough), 2010

Tasted 20/10/12, 13% abv, cork closure. About £22 UK retail (Lea and Sandeman). Escarpment is a highly regarded up-and-coming winery in the new territory (for Pinot) of Martinborough. The entry level wine is widely available but the award winning Kiwa is much rarer. Quote: 'The Escarpment “Insight Series” allows individual vineyard expression from exceptional sites within the Martinborough Geographic Indication. This wine was grown on the Cleland Vineyard Cambridge Street, Martinborough from 29 year old vines'.
This is huge wine. We tasted one bottle from the case but have now decided to put the rest away for a while. This is not like an old world Pinot Noir by any stretch of the imagination. It is a big, tannic wine, with a large mouth feel of red fruit, spice, pimento and vanilla. However, it is clear that there is great potential here for development. This wine has real depth and elegance. It needs to be re-tasted in 2014, or so! From 2015, 18/20

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Champagne 2002

Tasted 08/12/12. 12.5% ABV, cork closure. About £35 UK retail. Thanks to Chris Tew for bringing it back from France at considerable below UK retail price. Paillard's reputation is well earned and this 50 / 50 pinot / chardonnay blend really hits the spot. The nose is creamy, apply patisserie, with a pleasant yeastiness. Good acidity but very well balanced with many years left. An elegant wine. Drink 2010 - 2020. 17.5 / 20