As the Sock Club gathering, the weekend and the new month all crowded together in the last 3 or 4 days, we have a two-for-the-price-of-one posting.

First – November Sock Club.
We met for a Sock Party at Kathryn’s (thanks for the hospitality) on Friday November 28th.

Here is the Wine List with some comments from me…

Champagne Comte de Senneval Brut nv       (Welcome Wine)
Toasty nose with sharp and slightly herbal notes. Palate has a sherbet quality with good citrus and apple acidity and a slightly “gluey” finish. Very text book Champagne – good!

Binifadet Chardonnay 2013 (Menorca)       (Mike)
Perfumed nose with a slightly spirity – schnaaps – hint. Palate has warm, ginger, flavours with a pear fruit and bitter twist. Very odd, a bit like an Italian Gewurz. blend, but with a warm, digestif, finish.

Château de Schengen Riesling 2004 (Dmn. Thill – Luxembourg)       (Laurie)
Lemon sherbet nose, a hint of a nutty element but no diesel yet. Palate has sweet peachy fruit, with typical honey and elderflower-tinged long acidity.

Memoro Italia (Piccini)       (Mark)
Rubber tinged nose with spicy and prune notes. Palate has warmth, hints of liquorice and warm sweet fruit, in the prune and dark cherry skin range. Very obvious Italian – and in fact a blend of Primitivo, Montepulciano, Nero d’Avola and Merlot – four corners of the country !

Fetească Neagră 2012 (Budureasca, Romania)       (Kathryn)
Fetească Neagră (the name translates as “Black Maiden”) is an old Moldovan grape, now found in Romania. Black fruit, wood, aromatic herbs on the nose. Palate is sweet black plum fruit with a bitter-sweet herbal tinge, big – even syrupy!

Château Durfort-Viviens 2ème Grand Cru Classé Margaux) 2003       (Kim)
Pungent, famryard nose – giving way to black fruit. The palate is more powerful than usual from this commune and slightly hot, with blackberry and plum flavours. The wine has a big, slightly leafy finish. A classy claret that is a bit forward and – by the high standards of Cru Classé – has slightly unresolved opposite indications: greenness and heat. A very hot year though and an approachable effort, drinking well now.

Cadet de Ka 2010 (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon)       (Yvonne)
Cabernet, Syrah and Merlot. Sweet fruit nose: blueberry and raspberry. Palate has warm dark fruit – more plum than blackcurrant – and a spicy and slightly woody finish. Very satisfying.

Gigondas 2013 (The Exquisite Selection)      (Sue)
Raspberry nose with stones, herbs and farmyard hints. Sweet fruit, with an earthy hint and aromatic warming herbs. Good balanced acidity, giving a lighter than expected balance for this appellation. Good.

Château Gaillard de la Gorce 2011 St. Emilion Grand Cru       (Matt)
Plum skin nose, with forward fruit and hints of spice. Palate has a grainy quality, with sweet plum fruit and a warm aromatic herb finish. Quite alcoholic and a little overdone, but with typical profile.

Thanks Kathryn and Matt.

Next – Wine of the Month:
Stonier Pinot Noir 2012 (Mornington Penninsula – Victoria)
– 13% – Waitrose £15

Christmas is coming so I decided a Pinot Noir might be in order, and I thought I’d try out a less usual (for me) source of this beguiling grape. This comes from Mornington Peninsular, South of Melbourne and about 60km South of the better-known Yarra Valley. It is just about the most Southerly wine area in mainland Australia, and Stonier is a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir specialist in the South-Eastern corner of the area. It has a (relatively) cool maritime climate, more like NZ than much of Australia, and should be able to cope with producing Pinot Noir.

The 2012 is an IWC Silver Medallist.

The wine is a limpid light red, and has a typical, very expressive nose: with a hint of farmyard at first and then sweet but firm red berry fruit.

The palate had immediate plum fruit and some warm, but not really that spicy, woody hints. The finish – which is rather good and long – has pleasantly bitter, earthy character. Good overall typicity.

With time the farmyard note recedes and floral hints emerge on the nose. The palate seems sweeter on the attack and more sour in the middle, with some cherry flavours colouring those impressions.

With food (roast guinea fowl) the wine seems less sweet and a good line of acidity counterpoints the meal well. This is very drinkable, very typical and bang on value. Although the palate has several good components, the wine reverts to its original balance after the food, so there isn’t too much development in it. But that said; an approachable, honest Pinot with lightness and balance.

Ratings:  Quality: 15.5/20        Value: 15.5/20

Finally, there is no Theme for the ICC December Tasting, as the Tasting will form the Xmas Wine Quiz – modelled on Call My Bluff! There’ll be a report on that in about a week. So instead I thought I’d share some thoughts I had on….
              what are the best glasses to enjoy Champagne
.                                                                           …or any other bubbly.

At the 17th November Duval-Leroy Champagne tasting we sampled the wines using usual ISO glasses, which emphasised the vinous, as opposed to the effervescent, qualities of the wine. However there was debate about the merits of various glasses. For the party setting a grape that accentuates the bubbles – flutes – has its merits. I noticed last time I was tasting in Champagne, the houses themselves offered samples in a style that closed more at the neck. Just for the sake of argument I’ve included a photo of an example – from the Mailly house – alongside the usual flute and standard ISO.

Whichever glass you use – enjoy bubbly this month.

Until soon…..