As the Monthly Sock Club gathering only preceded the end of the month by one working day another double post to mark the turn of the calendar.

First a (very) small and (very?) select group were hosted by Ann and John for the February Sock Party on Friday 26 February. Fewer wines in fact meant more time to appreciate them.

Here are my notes:
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Tesco Finest Vintage Champagne 2005 (not pictured – oooops)   –   Welcome Wine
A light fizz with small bubbles in the glass, but producing a good mousse in the mouth. Bready and lemon nose, but a slightly gluey citrus on the palate with fuller fruit developing. Served (brilliantly) with a small bowl of chips, the wine sings and a red fruit richness comes out – showing hints of cherry and raspberry. I’m often laughed at for saying that the best wine to accompany chips is Champagne, this bore this out wonderfully. Inspired!

Viognier 2014 (Domaine Mandeville) Pays d’Oc   –   John
Pungent apple and citrus nose at first, but warms to show peach later. Palate has a sweet greengage fruit which deepens to a peach and peach stone – even slightly spicy – finish. Apricot aromas grow as the wine warms but (unlike some Pays d’Oc examples) never becomes blowsy. Sometimes it seems that the more you pay for Viognier the bigger it becomes, and only good Condrieu can do this without sacrificing freshness and dash. I have the same feeling about Gewurztraminer sometimes. This example has freshness and typicity in balance.

Chablis Premier Cru ‘Côte de Léchet’ 2011 (La Chablisienne)   –   Laurie
Nose has sappy, slightly nutty notes, and some lemon. Palate has lemon and yeasty touch with a strong but well integrated mineral line. Open and drinking very well with the Chablis “steel” under the velvet cloak of fruit, it all leads to a warm, slightly lemon pith finish.

Tbilvino Queuris 2013 (Georgia)   –   Yvonne
This wine uses Qvevri, (traditional, buried, amphora-style clay vessels) to ferment the Rkatsiteli grape. The wine’s nose is surprisingly closed but the palate shows long extraction with pear and citrus hints and a drying – almost tannic – quality. As it opens pear appears on the nose and a spiced honey note on the palate. File under weird and wonderful (at least for a month, as this wine is lined up to be tasted for April wine-of-the-month… watch this space.  [I’ve always wanted to write that]).

“Korem” Isola dei Nuraghi 2011 (Argiolas) Sardinia  –   Kim
Herby nose with a vesper of vanilla, a heavy floral note (lillies? violets?) and dark fruit. The palate has a fruit-acid frame and a dry herb and tannic middle, but an amazingly creamy (flavour as well as texture) finish. This is made from grapes known locally as Cannonau and Bovale Sardo – in Spain they would be called Garnacha and Graciano and the wine has a Spanish feel to it IMO. Very good.

Calypso 2013 (Snake & Herring) Margaret River   –   Ann
Nose has sour fruit with blackberry and black cherry with a brackish grainy note . This palate is centred on supple redcurrant fruit – reminiscent of old vine Carignan leading to a slightly bay leaf element at the finish. The wine opens a little and the acidity seems to lighten the grain – giving chocolate hints and a more plum fruit. This is mostly Cabernet Franc and Merlot but only towards the end do their characters emerge: leaf and chocolate. Perhaps a little young and not very like a right bank claret – but good!

San Colombano Chianti Riserva 2006   –   Rob
This has tell-tale cherry nose and a palate which shows sour cherry fruit building to a prune thickness. A very typical Chianti but without the richness and fruit-cake elements of an aged Riserva. Perfectly quaffable and worked a treat with the end-of-evening food.

A wonderfully enjoyable evening, partly due to taking more time with the wines but mainly due to the hospitality and bonhomie of the company. Despite so few wines we lingered an hour longer than normal – a testament to the pleasure of the evening in itself. Thanks so much Ann & John.

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Now on to March Wine-Of-The-Month

A monthly review of an easily obtainable wine that’s had a recommendation somewhere in a National newspaper. Always posted just before the usual monthly theme, this may be the latest post for only a few days…

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Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Aglianico del Vulture 2011  – 13% –  £8

As we are trying some more Northerly, cooler, efforts from a warm country (Spain) this month, I though it a nice idea to try a more structured wine from an even hotter place: Southern Italy. The area is full of big and, it has to be said, sometimes blowsy reds made from Primitivo and/or Negroamaro. However Aglianico thrives on volcanic soil in Basilicata and produces some focused wines.

This example has an immediate – obviously Italian – nose of cherries and herbs with a hint of pepper. The palate has the sweet, and then sour, fruit flavours of plums – and then plum skins. The wine has a drying – slightly stalky, herby – tannic line and a warm finish. The non-fruit elements: warmth, herbs, tannins, sharpness; all suggest food very strongly.

With food (in this case a slow-cooked venison stew) the wine holds up very well, the body matching the strong, slightly “liver-ish” flavour of the meat and the dryness framing the liquid  elements of the dish. The slightly mineral gamey-ness make both the sweetness and acidity in the wine more apparent – “lifting” the wine’s refreshment against the food very well.

After the meal and a little time the wine seems to take on a richer texture, with the beginning of chocolate hints, and cherry fruit appears closer to the surface.

Altogether a very good effort and an exceptional price.

Ratings: Quality: 14/20     Value: 16.5/20

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