Monday, 6 July 2020

Chateau Fuisse Tete de Cuvee Poilly Fuisse 2017

I bought a case of this en primeur from Lay And Wheeler, so thought I would try a sample bottle from the 2017 vintage. It's very young for sure but most enjoyable even at this early stage of its life. If you want quality wine from the affordable end of Burgundy, then Maconnaise is the one to go for.. This is about the top chateau and this is their second wine which is a blend from selected high-quality plots. Beautifully layered and structured this is classic Burgundian Chardonnay - you get a real sense of the terroir here, a real sense of place - it's beautifully made and just perfect this will be excellent for the next 10 years I'm sure. 18/20. Drink from 2021. £26 incl tax and duty.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Escarpment Kiwa pinot noir 2010

This is a lovely wine and it shows that Pinot Noir from the finest estates in New Zealand is ageworthy.
This is the last of a six bottle case that I bought from Lea and Sandeman in 2012 when it was released and oh, how I wish I had some more!
Like most fine pinot noir from the New World, it tends to be more fruity and full-bodied when young but this has all the ethereal, elegant characteristics that you'd expect of a good burgundy. Now after 10 years it's nuanced, stylish with wonderful tertiary characteristics. The colour has changed to light brown. The nose is certainly farmyardy, cured ham, etc. It's dry and liquorice on the palate with a long finish of dried dark fruits and a hint of cinnamon. 18/20, drink now - 2022. £22 (at release) Lea and Sandeman.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Maison Roche de Bellene Bourgogne Rouge Vieilles Vignes 2015

From the great negociant Nicolas Potel comes a somewhat superior Bourgogne Rouge. This is an old vines blend from several of his holdings but it's 2015, so the five years of age pays off. This is very much there entry-level wine but at about £13 including duty and VAT et cetera from Lay And Wheeler this one is better then than most entry level red burgundy is that you can put your hands on. This is very much there entry-level wine but at about £13 including duty and VAT from Lay And Wheeler, this one is better than most entry-level red burgundy that you can put your hands on....
It's not incredibly complex or nuanced but is a wonderful example of an entry-level Pinot Noir from Burgundy at its best. It's very much French, dry, brick red with some brown tinges but there is lovely red fruit with just some judicious use of oak. After four hours of opening it has definitely improved. There was a hint of farmyard and charcuterie on the nose But ready now and matched superbly with my slow roast beef brisket. Drink 2020-23. 16.6/20

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG 2019

Santa Rita Medalla Real Carmenere 2018 Gran Reserva (Colchagua)

The usually reliable Santa Rita winery, which is quality driven and produces some of the best value wines in Chile, unfortunately comes up short this time. Okay, it was on offer for £8 reduced from a putative £12 at Majestic (as part of their 40th anniversary celebration) but I was expecting better. Didn't really taste like Carmenere much at all! It was very green and stalky and dominated by bell peppers on both nose and palate, which I associate with cheap South American Cabernet Sauvignon! Short finish and very angular tannins. It's only two years old so I'll store away my second bottle for a while to give it another chance. Disappointing. Drink from 2021. 13/20

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Barolo 2013 Peironte

There is a belief in the wine world that you should not pay less than £30 pb for a Barolo (and ideally more, much more in some cases) and I'm afraid that this is a living testament to that aphorism. I don't want to be churlish as this was a gift to me from a colleague two Christmases ago and it's Marks & Spencer's in-house Barolo for about £16. Though it had seven years of age, it was fairly uninteresting, a little bit thin and uninspiring. The wine's nose was non-descript and could have been any red wine rather than a signature of Nebbiolo. The palate was somewhat fruit forward with a short finish. Oh dear. 12/20

Manuel Marinacci Barbareso 2014

A lovely Nebbiolo from a fine producer. This is my birthday wine for this week and probably my most expensive but also honestly my best wine of my lockdown tastings so far. One day after opening, it is superb. The nose is gamey and dark fruits with hints of stewed plums. The palate is dry, nuanced, elegant with a very long finished. Great balance of fruit and tannins, good now but drink until 2030. Quite lovely. Well done Lay and Wheeler. 18/20

Chablis AOC 2018

This is from the Sainsbury's Taste the Difference range and it's from the reliable and quality-driven UVC stable - the Viticultural Union of Chablis. They produce scores of in-house wines and own label wines for retailers across Europe. Sainsburys led the way with supermarket wines in the early 1980s, when there was a lots of snobbery about wines that didn't come from merchants. Before the likes of Waitrose or Ocado they were the leading lights of supermarket wines in the middle to lower level. Many of their wines complete favourably with merchant ones that I have higher prices.
But this one is disappointing. Even though the 2018 was a variable year, it should be better and at two years old should be a drinkable level now. Very generic, little minerality and not very distinctive. £10 13/20

Saturday, 30 May 2020

SRC Etna Bianco DOC 2018

My 30th-odd lockdown wine. This is a field blend of local grapes from the slopes of Etna in Sicily and produced from apparently one of the top estates, using wild ferment yeasts. It's just 12.5% alcohol, quite a curious wine but an interesting one nonetheless.
The nose is lemony, appley and a slight hint of mustiness (but not faulty). The palate is quite long and a real melange of flavours - apricots, lanolin, old sherry and quince. It's quite zesty too with a few bubbles CO2. A pretty unique wine but a good buy from Lay And Wheeler at £18.88. Drinking now to 2022. 16/20

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Domaine des Herbauges La Roche Blanc Muscadet 2016

Another lovely Loire lockdown wine from Lay And Wheeler. I have bought several vintages of this in the 2016 is perfect now. Very dry and understated initially as you would expect from Muscadet. But on the mid-palate and on the finish it is complex structured and a perfect accompaniment for seafood or light meat dishes or just as an aperitif on its own. This is my very good producer is the domaine wine and really punches above its weight. Drink now 17/20. £12

Berry Bros.& Rudd Malbec 2016

One of BBR's in house wines and frankly, very disappointing. This is the last of parcel of a sample of three that I received for testing. I first tasted it in 2019 and was hoping that he was going to improve but at four years old now it's really given up! There's not much information on the back label about the provenance of this wine but I can only say that if BBR are continuing with this house Malbec I just hope they change the supplier! Maybe it was off-vintage but I think thin and uninteresting and not the slightest bit engaging in terms of what a Malbec should be even at a low price end. 12/20. Drink now. ca. £12

Friday, 22 May 2020

Lulu l’Alouette Chinon 2018 cabernet franc

Another great lockdown wine from Majestic, an estate wine from the ancestral home of single varietal Cabernet Franc red wine! This is a classic Chinon red with some good acidity and tannins and a beautiful minty nose of red fruits. A dry, long finish excellent as a food wine. Well balanced now. Drink 2020-24. 16/20. Ca. £11 from Majestic.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Vouvray 2019 Denis Meunier ‘Expression de Silex’

A great expression indeed of of the Loire silex soil geology (Cretaceous flints and sands) and a fine sense of terroir for £10 at Majestic! Another one of my lovely Lockdown Wines' - 60% of which have been from Loire, both red and white. Classic chenin blanc tart apples on the nose. The palate is dry, flinty, with sour apples on the back palate and long finish. Hint of gooseberries too. Nice wine, needs another year. Drink 2021-24. 16.5/20. A bargain

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Saumur Le Bois Dore 2019 AoC

Another great £10 per bottle 'lockdown wine' from my good friends at the local Majestic. It's apparently a Chateau bottled wine and could probably do with another year but it's nice to drink now and comes with a screwcap which is quite a statement, I guess, from any French producer!
Not as distinctive as a typical Vouvray chenin blanc but still very accessible, dry with good acidity and good tart apples on the palate. There is a hint of some tropical fruits on the nose.
Superior quality everyday wine. 15.5 / 20 drink now 2022.

Vouvray Bernard Fouquet chenin blanc 2018

A classic interpretation of this varietal from its ancestral home and a real winner from Majestic at just £10 a bottle at the moment. This is fresh zesty and ready to drink now but will keep for a few years too. But this wind has some finesse and elegance to and all the classic notes that you expect of the grape Bramley apples on the palate and citrus notes on the nose. This doesn't have the steely bone dry minerality of some of the top of estates - this has a hint of sweetness.
But it's a lovely wine, complex and elegant and great value and gives any Chenin blanc from South Africa a run for its money at this price point. 16/20

Friday, 15 May 2020

Cent Visage Cot Jean Francois Merieau Touraine 2017

A lovely wine for less than £14 from Lay and Wheeler. This is made from cot aka malbec and is possibly the ancestral home of the grape. This is not your big, bold, fruity Argentinian malbec - like most red wines from Loire it tends to be restrained, a little tannic with more understated fruit. This is a tad off-dry rather than dry but is otherwise a lovely wine. Ready now, it's elegant with lovely dark fruits and the nose but with more red and cherry-like fruit on the palate. Well balanced and very well made. 16/20

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Goldwater Marlborough Wairau Valley 2019 Sauvignon Blanc

Unfortunately this was a big disappointment from my usually reliable friends at Majestic. Probably last time I pay around £10 from New Zealand Sauvignon blanc as it simply unfortunately not worth it. Possibly I'm drinking it very young and I'll keep the second bottle I bought for a year or so before I try it but as it stands at the moment this is unfortunately kiwi Sauvignon blanc at its worst. As we know as its best it can be superb. This is very acid and overpoweringly gooseberries on the palate and little else. The nose similarly so. I suppose if you like your wine like this then you'll like it but unfortunately I prefer a rather more subtle approach from the Loire Valley or the top NZ Estates. Drink now -2021. 13/20

Albarino Caixas (Codax) Rias Baixas 2018

A lovely wine and one of my bargains of the lockdown! This is from the always reliable and highly regarded Martin Codax stable and represents an entry-level wine from him from the region of Northwest Spain just north of Portugal border and Minho.
Good acidity and beautiful notes of melon and lemon on the palate and a really zesty apply nose, off dry but very refreshing.
Drink now -2021. £7.99 Majestic

Friday, 8 May 2020

The Great Red 2015 Stellenbosch

Another nice Lay And Wheeler, from a reliable South African winery. This is essentially a Bordeaux left bank blend with some Cinsault added. It's about £20 from the above merchant and always very reliable. This is benefiting from a few years of bottle age and has beautiful blackcurrant and sandalwood notes but with the freshness and hints of capsicums that you'd expect from a non-French Cabernet blend.
Lovely. Drink now - 2025. 17.5/20

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Domaine Bousquet Tupungato Uco Malbec 2019

Bitterly disappointed with this £12 wine from my usually very reliable, organic grocery provider Abel & Cole. This is the domaine gets good reviews but that tends to be for the reserva wine rather than this entry-level. I suspect Abel & Cole is a little bit overpriced on this one as the usual retail seems about £8 but you expect a lot more for £10 also from a good producer in South America these days. It should at least taste like Malbec ! It is very young for sure but it's very generic and not even generically Malbec - it could be any cheap fruity red blend from Argentina. It's unstructured, it has angular tannins, too sweet and though it has some hints of dark fruit, I wouldn't even say it was noteworthily Malbec.
I'm afraid this one will be destined to be the cooking wine for the casserole tomorrow. At least as a screwcap! 12/20.

Cabernet Franc 2015 Domaine de Brau

This is one of my favourite everyday wines from my organic grocery provider Abel & Cole. This is an unusual wine in that it's a French wine marketed by its varietal grape rather than its domain or region. I love Cabernet Franc wines from Loire Valley but this one is from Pays D'Oc in Languedoc-Roussillon. This is from a small organic producer. Has absolutely pure CF fruit, minty with wonderfully restrained blackcurrant fruit with some gamey notes as well. This I bought recently and I was very happy when they delivered the 2015 vintage as it had some useful bottle age but they seem to have run out now maybe because of Covid supply problems or this was the last of that vintage they had. I will try to get some more. £12 from A&C, 16/20 drink now

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2017 Casablanca, Chile

This wine is consistently one of my favourite weekday wines and shows what Chile is capable of at this price point. This would be able to compete with many Chardonnays from the Old World as this is considered to be more of a premium wine but of course a very different style to a Burgundian one. This is widely available for about £11 in the likes of Majestic and Tesco's.
Beautifully balanced with judicious use of oak but the fruit is very different to what you would expect from the Old World - It's tropical fruits like lychee and papaya and off-sweet in some ways - there is certainly no 'steely or flinty minerality' as of Chablis or Macon. A great wine for the price. Drink now. 16/20

Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2014

From a top producer, one of my favourites, this is their entry level Riserva (a blend, essentially, rather than single estate). Now though it's from the modest 2014 vintage, it's beginning to sing now - it was rather closed when I tried it last a year ago. For younger drinking for sure but it's got the classic traits that you expect - beautiful black cherry fruit on the nose and palate, dry, a little acidic but with smooth tannins. Fantastic food wine and a very good direct import from xtraWine of Italy - about £14 per bottle I think. 16.5/20 drink 2020-24

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay 2016 Western Australia

This is consistently one of my favourite New World Chardonnay is from a great producer in Western Australia. This is the second from bottom entry level wine punches above its weight at about £ 14 per bottle from Majestic and other retailers. Well made with some judicious use of oak but not too oaky for sure. The four years of bottle age has definitely benefited. Zesty nose and a buttery pallet with restrained vanilla.
Really lovely wine and at this price point gives AOC Chablis and Macon Villages a run for their money. 16.5/20 - drink now.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Cotes du Rhone Les Peyrouses 2017 Alain Voge

A great wine, courtesy of my merchant, Lay and Wheeler.

It's lovely, good now and screams of Rhone. I assume it's a GSM blend though it does says 30% Carignan and I suspect it errs toward Syrah. CdR is so often disappointing and I don't buy much Rhone generally (if I do, it's southern Rhone like CndPape) but this is lovely, elegant and well balanced - a good mouthfeel of soft tannins and lovely dark fruits on the nose and on the palate.

A good sense of place - well made - could only be from this part of the world.

A long, peppery finish. Ca. £18 from L&W, drink now 2024. 16.5/20




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Saturday, 18 April 2020

Giovanni Almondo ‘Roero’ DOCG 2015

A lovely wine supplied by Lay And Wheeler. A fine Nebbiolo from Monta d'Alba in Piedmont from a well regarded producer. The five years of bottle age has paid dividends. It is perfect to drink now. Light brick red in colour, the nose is classic for the region - hints of tar and black fruit on the nose, the palate is dry and long with lingering stewed plums and liquorice. The fruit is still prominent and it's not as concentrated or tannic as some of the more classic Nebbiolos but at about £15 a bottle this is an absolute bargain. Drink now - 2025. 16/20

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Domaine Alain Chavy Bourgogne 2016

From a top producer, this is a Domaine-driven Bourgogne Blanc and represents excellent vslley and quality from the fine merchant Howard Ripley.
This is so unmistakably chardonnay from Burgundy as opposed to anywhere else! Beautifully balanced with judicious use of oak, quite buttery and rich on the palate but balanced with good acidity. Vanilla and citrus on the nose. Punches above is weight and price! 16/20. Drink now - 2022.

Luis Pato vinho tinto Beira Atlantico 2012

The great winemaker Luis Pato (and now his daughter Filipa) pioneered viticulture in the less favoured region of Barraida, to much international acclaim. This lovely table wine, forgotten in our household stock, and hence 8 years' old, was excellent with a pasta supper and a roasted meat lunch.
Not too alcoholic at 12%. A mixture of the local Baga grape and Touriga Nacional. Great farmyard, gamey and forest floor notes in the nose. The palate is dry, a touch tannic and with lovely character of cured ham. Reminiscent of a good village Burgundy with some age.
A bargain at about €5 in Portugal (when bought in 2016). 16/20. Drink now.

Emiliana Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon / Carmenere 2015

From a top Chilean producer, this is a fine wine that illustrates that at this price point (about £12) the New World punches much better than the Old World. Five years of age now it's drinking beautifully. This is from a producer that has gone increasingly organic (but thankfully not biodynamic or natural!).
This is well-balanced and elegant, beautiful black fruits, cassis and pepper on the palate. The nose has a hint of age and the colour is slightly tinging to brown. Well worth the putative 92 points. And it shows that there is value in keeping the South American wines for a few years from the good producers - they're not all early drinking fruit bombs!
18/20. Drink now 2022.

Friday, 10 April 2020

Traboules Coteaux du Lyonnais, G.Clusel 2017

Almost in the Rhone, the very name C du Lyonnais unfortunately conjures up images of 1980s cheap red wines, when people didn't want to pay the price for proper Burgundy or Rhone.
But you'd be greatly mistaken if that was your judgement on this wine and these wines today.
This is the Lay And Wheeler wine and hence has that good pedigree, from a good producer and actually uses the gamay grape.
It's fruit forward for sure but very balanced, well-made and a fantastic food wine and not too heavy. 16/20. Drink 2018-22.