Archives for category: Tasting Notes

The Group visited Cropwell Bishop for a blind-Tasting party on Friday 23rd August, hosted by Sue and Johnny. The evening was a very convivial with lovely wines and food… I confess in the interval I have been distracted by the effort and organisation of transportation to France (not to mention the antics of a UK “Government” that seems entirely likely to re-introduce transportation to further climes!).

Here are my notes, first the whites:


SEGURA VIUDAS BRUT RESERVA HEREDAD nv                 Welcome Wine
Lovely tell-tale gluey nose of cava with a very fine mousse. Palate is lively and refreshing and (for a cava) long… citrus and some floral notes – slightly smokey and quite elegant – very good!

SOAVE CALVARINO 2014 (Pieropan)        Laurie   
Fresh and lively nose with citrus and a floral hint – some stony and herby notes too. The palate is very long and structured rather like a good Chablis with some oily character and a very late nutty hint – but wearing its richness with vivacity and lightness… lovely

CHABLIS  PREMIER CRU 2013 (Morrison’s “Best”, made by Les Chablisienne)      Ann  
And – as if by magic – the very thing to use as a comparison with the previous. Again citrus and nutty nose but a deeper fruit, apricot? Palate has a lot of fruit and some spice, good length and a mineral finish – a little richer than the Soave and a little less dashing but lovely too…

ARINTO  2018  (Lisboa)       Yvonne 
An uncommon grape also found in Vinho Verde (by the name of Pederna). This has fresh, slightly grassy, citric dash with other herbs and a slightly sappy feel. The palate has warm acidity and a nettle note recalling a light old world Sauvignon Blanc

On to the reds…


MARZEMINO DELLE VENEZIE 2017        Kim
Very Beaujolais profile – cherry and darker fruit but a light body and acidity. Slightly greenish herbal note – asks for a pasta / pesto dish IMO.

KNIGHTOR PINOT NOIR 2017   Cornwall           John
Red fruit nose with hints of Fenugreek. Palate has a red fruit base with an acidity tinged with grapefruit peel – moving to a leaf and indeed leaf-mould hint, herbal hints and a vaguely Alsace profile… clearly a cool climate Pinot with a light but food-friendly structure.

CHÂTEAU LA CROIX DE PEZ 2014  Saint-Estèphe         Johnny
Nose is quite hard with  later fruit and forest-floor flavours. Palate is dry with a red fruit line tannis and some acidity… A little young ( 2 or 3 years?) but very good…

ISOLA DEI NURAGHI BOVALE IGT “U TABARKA CIÙ ROUSSOU” 2015       Rob
Bovale is the grape in this clearly Italianate wine from Sardinia!  This is a bit confusing as Bovale Grande is Mazuelo/Carignan, whereas this wine is Bovale Piccolo which is Graciano. Both varieties came to Sardinia from Spain and here the wine has clearly an Italian accent – oily, warm plum and liquotice nose and a palate with firm tannin and a dried prune note: drying, satisfying and structured – very good!

L’AURA DE CAMBON MARGAUX 2016          Sue
This has a clear Cabernet flavour profile, but is much softer than that suggests – and in fact is a 50:50 blend with Merlot. Replanted in 2006 this is quite luscious with a classy Margaux profile. Definitely modern in style – but very well done.

TRAMINER  SPÄTLESE 2015 (Winebau Wartha)  Burgenland Austria                  Farewell Wine   
A very sweet fruit and honeyed wine with a dash of acidity. Just pleasure with cheese or dessert….

An interesting evening where I liked every wine – an uncommon occurrence. Thanks to all and especially Sue.

À Bientôt

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On Monday 5th August Kim showed the WING Tutored Tasting Group wines from Valpolicella.

Valpolicella is a Demoninazione in the Verona region of the Veneto in N. E. Italy. The area is about 70-100 kms West of Venice, and forms an arc of about 15kms radius North and North East of the lovely town of Verona. So its eastern border is with the Soave wine region.

Italia & Valpo redux.jpg
The area produces getting on for 80 million bottles a year in four styles, of which Kim showed a pair of each of the three most common.

Grapes for Valpolicella centre upon the Corvina, and to a lesser extent its cousin Corvinone. Recent regulations require 45% – 90% Corvina of which up to half can be Corvinone, so the regulations recognise the latter grape but only does so as a “version” of the former. Rondinella is the other main grape which can comprise 5% – 30%. Together Corina/Corvinone & Rondinella must make up 75% of the grapes. Other grapes which can make up to 25% (but rarely exceed 10% in better examples) include Molinara (which used to be compulsory); Oseleta; Dindarella; Rossignola and Negrara. “Other” in most cases below are varying amounts of these last 4.

Wine labelled as simply “Valpolicella”, “Valpolicella Classico” or “Valpolicella Superiore” are made as any other wine. Until early in this century the only other wines of note were made by drying the grapes for at least 2 but commonly 4 months after harvest and crushing the resulting dried grapes. This allows a potential alcohol of getting on for 16%. Most of the wine is fermented to dryness, emphasising the bitterness in the dried skin and labelled “Amarone della Valpolicella”. A small proportion of these wines have fermentation stopped at normal alcohol levels leaving substantial unfermented sugar and yielding Recioto, an impressive sweet wine – at impressive prices unfortunately; a sort of cherry-port wine with normal alcohol levels and some acidity.

Recently winemakers have taken to adding the lees (or “pomace”) of the Amarone or Recioto to the younger normal wine – as it were: re-passing over the lees and imparting some of the dried grape flavours. This is called Ripasso and now is the most common form of Valpolicella.

Wines produced in Valpolicella in 2018 vintage - millions of bottles [Source: Regione VENETO, AVEPA, SIQURIA] (click to enlarge)
Kim showed us 2 exampes each of Valpolicella; Ripasso and Amarone

Here are my notes:

VALPOLICELLA 2017 (ALLEGRINI)   –   £12 Wine Society   –   13%
Corvina/Corvinone 70%; Rondinella 30%.
This has a slightly spirit and oily note on the nose, quite a lot of red fruit, some of it cherry. Palate is warm with sharp cherry and plum notes, slightly bitter but tasty tannins and some toasty hints, a little simple but pleasing and chill-able.

VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE 2016 (TEDESCHI)   –   £12 Wine Society   –   13.5%
Corvina 35%; Corvinone 35%; Rondinella 20%; others 10%.
Rounder nose with some similarities on the nose, fruit more recessed and some woody notes. Palate has more non-fruit elements: leather? And more vinous complexity, more serious, more food-friendly acidity and very good value.

VALPOLICELLA RIPASSO SUPERIORE 2016 “CAPITEL SAN ROCCO” (TEDESCHI)   –   £18 Wine Society   –   14.5%
Corvina 30%; Corvinone 30%; Rondinella 30%; others 10%.
This nose has significant wood and alcohol on the nose, giving a slightly grainy note too. Palate is a bit bitter, shows a spirit element and a tendency towards muddiness again and sweet fruit not-quite-integrated in a drying palate. Too young and a little unbalanced right now, but may open.

VALPOLICELLA RIPASSO SUPERIORE 2016 “LA CASETTA”   –   £18 Majestic   –   14%
Corvina 65%; Corvinone 15%; Rondinella 10%; others 10%
Much fresher Ripasso nose – some red fruit, dusty herbs and plums… Palate is sweeter, a little linear but showing hints of fruit cake and round tannins. Very satisfying and well balanced – a cheese wine?


AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA “MARNE 180” 2015 (TEDESCHI)   –   £32 Fareham   –   16%
Corvina 35%; Corvinone 35%; Rondinella 20%; others 10%.
This has the full fruit-cake, Xmas-pudding nose, plum and a hint of alcohol. Palate has a big texture, warm with some spice and slightly grainy tannin, again an impression of youth and slightly unintegrated. A big wine with great food matching potential.

AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO 2013 (TOMMASI)   –   £48 Millisema   –   15%
Corvina 50%; Corvinone 15%; Rondinella 30%; Oselta 5%
Nose has a much softer fruit, berry fruits even blueberry! A better balanced range of vinous elements too – some sharper notes and some light spices. Palate is rounder and softer without unintegrated components, some spice again warm acidity, velvet tannins and a lovely twist of bitterness. The overall impression of the fruit recalls a summer berry fruit salad made a couple of days before and starting to show hints of fermentation. A well-integrated gentle giant of a wine – very impressive but quite expensive.

A very interesting tasting, showing that the styles offer a series of different quality/price conundrums. The Tedeschi wines all seemed a little young to be fair, and all had a big-boned quality, that might mean time was envisaged by the makers.. The other 3 seemed more subtle – but sometimes that speaks of a shorter future. The exception is the – older – last wine which was just lovely, although not showing, what I have come to think of, typical Amarone size. I liked that wine best, then and there in the tasting – but the Tedschi Superiore was great value and the Ripassi (especially La Casetta right now) were a great compromise!

Thanks so much Kim for a thought provoking tasting.

À Bientôt

The Group met for a blind-Tasting party on Friday 26th July, hosted by Kathryn and Matt. A lovely evening with, as it turned out, a unusual link between half the wines…

Here are my notes:


KAIKEN BRUT nv   Argentina                       Welcome Wine
A citric nose with a frothy mousse. Nose and palate develop towards grapefruit acidity and open to a slightly sweet orchard fruit. A light and lively Brut with an aperitif profile!

GRÜNER VELTLINER 2012 (Holzmann)    Weinvertel          Anna   
Nose has some deeper fruit flavour – apricot? Green apple notes and the usual tell-tale pepper hint. The palate has richer, creamier notes showing its evolution, Good length and underlying refreshment…

PECORINO 2017 (Umani Ronchi)    Tuscany       Sue T  
Nose has pear fruit, and some floral notes that deepen to a hint of almonds in a very Italian style. The palate is rich with a, slightly mealy, fruit profile and warm, round acidity.

PIGATO RISERVA 2018  (Laura Aschero)    Liguria          Kathryn  
Pigato is a grape found quite commonly in Liguria, and DNA profiling shows it is the same grape as Vermentino despite finding their homes independently (Vermentino is also sometimes known as  Rolle in France). This example has a pungent nose with slightly pithy and oily notes. Palate follows the nose with a lifting round acidity and a slightly bitter note.

FIANO IGP 2017 (Maree d’Ione)     Puglia     Yvonne  
Fiano is perhaps better known from Avellino or the Sannio area of Campania. This shares those versions lightness and verve, making it a very fish-friendly wine – however this example has a slightly herby and exotic fruit tinge making it seem a little bigger flavoured. Crisp acidity and quite long lasting, a surprisingly poised hot-climate white!

JACKSON-TRIGGS OKANAGAN ESTATE RIESLING 2016   British Columbia          Paul
Forward diesel and elderflower nose – very reminiscent of some Oregon examples. It turns out this is not that far away to the North. Very Riesling with a Mosel style level of sweetness in a richer package – succulent, supple and lovely!

TRINITY HILLS MARSANNE/VIOGNIER 2017   Gimlett Gravels N.Z.         Kim
Very nutty, creamy nose, with a hint of oak in a very white-Burgundy style. But is isn’t that – the palate has an oily profile with some olive and herb notes and a rich, warm length. A Rhone-ish blend done well on the gravel in Hawke’s Bay.


VIGNETI DELLE DOLOMITI PINOT NERO 2014   Dolomites                       Ann
This has a light red-fruit nose with a light peppery tinge. The palate has fruit and a sharp-acid, food-demanding, line. This wine has the mark of some cooler growing sites, would be lovely with a roast pork dish.

CHIANTI RISERVA  2006 (San Colombano)    Tuscany           Laurie   
Red fruit but earthy nose, with fruit cake (spice and dried fruit) elements appearing. Palate has some liquorice and an echo of the nose. Clearly a mature, and very typical, Chianti.

“ALTITUDES” 2013 (IXSIR)    Lebanon       Sue Mc 
Another earthy nose, darker fruit and some warm spice. Palate has the same profile with sweeter-than-expected fruit and a wide tannic line.

VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2015  (Boscarelli)    Tuscany          John  
Herbs and cherry fruit at first with the fruit broadening into a softer note. The palate is similar with an acidic line, plum-prune fruit and a warm long finish. Some Chianti-like character and complexity with a rounder fruit base and a slight mineral hint lifting the very end… This is 85% Prugnolo – the Montepulciano clone of Sangiovese! And it’s lovely (my favourite of the night).

XINOMAVRO 2016 (Alpha Estates)     Amyndeon, Greece     Matt 
Sweet plum nose, leading to a grenache-like sweet plum tomato line, offset – at least in part – with a supple acidity. If the Pinot Nero showed its cooler origins this speaks of warmth!

PISANO “CISPLATINO” TANNAT 2017    Uruguay          Mike
Pungency with nutty elements, some prune and spice notes underneath. The palate is very supple and rather different from Madiran tannic monsters, with a little woodiness and a blackberry fruit within a (relatively) gentle tannic frame.

CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2015 (Sertosso)   Tuscany                   Rob
Rather leather/liquorice, typical Italian, nose with a Xmas cake hint – baking spice more than dried fruit at this stage. Some sour fruit and a warm tannic frame persisting longest. A food wine that maybe needs another year or two.

PAULINSHOF RIESLING SPÄTLESE 2014     Mosel                  Farewell Wine   
A diesel, peach, sweet fruit and honeyed wine with that lovely lifting Riesling acidity. A pure pleasure and a fitting vinous conclusion to a lovely evening.

An interesting evening when Italy played a surprisingly large part: not a single French wine and seven Italians! Three from Tuscany, three Italian whites and a North Italian Pinot. Very unexpected and very enjoyable…

Partly because I have been unable to attend a Sock Club Tasting since February, I particularly appreciated and enjoyed this one. Faultlessly welcomed by our knowledgeable and generous hosts, it was a real pleasure to indulge in the sociable hedonism of the group – my profound thanks to everyone and especially to Kathryn and Matt.

À Bientôt

The W1ng group met at the ICC on Thursday 18th April to explore the theme of ‘Dinner Party Wines’. Here are my rather belated notes on the evening and the wines.

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Caves S. João 2016 Reserva Brut. 12.5%. Brigitte Bordeaux £14.45
A really great aperitif wine from Barraida in Portugal. Made using the traditional method, this wine is a blend of Bical, Chardonnay, Maria Gomes and Arinto. Aromas of citrus, pineapple and peach. On the palate, as well as the fruit, it has some lovely biscuit and brioche notes.  A fresh and creamy attack and a beautiful acidity that gives it structure and persistence. On its own, this was the favourite wine of 4 group members on the night. Paired with a smoked salmon canape on Irish soda bread with crème fraiche and chives, it was the favourite pairing of 6 people.
Quality: 16/20                    Value: 17/20

nv-manzanilla-papirusa-lustau-04f

Lustau NV Manzanilla Papirusa. 15%. Brigitte Bordeaux £20.50
A light and dry Manzanilla which paired very well with gazpacho and anchovy stuffed olives. Almond, apple and a slight salinity. Some tanginess and herbal notes too. The sherry was the favourite wine of two of the group, whilst the gazpacho pairing was favoured by 3 people.
Quality: 15/20                    Value: 15/20

Trimbach 2016 Pinot Blanc. 13%. Brigitte Bordeaux £14.95
A lovely medium bodied wine with citrus, stone fruit and a hint of apple on the palate. Well balanced with good acidity. Paired very well with a cheddar and caramelised onion quiche. The wine had 3 votes for wine of the night; the food and wine got 5 votes for best pairing.
Quality: 16/20                    Value: 17/20

Domaine Du Vissoux, Chermette, 2017 Brouilly. 13.5%. Brigitte Bordeaux £19.50
Pronounced cherry and redcurrant with some herbal notes. Very smooth and well rounded. Paired perfectly with charcuterie. The wine was the most popular of the evening with 11 votes and its pairing with Milano salami, coppa and beef chorizo was the most popular pairing with 8 votes.
Quality: 17/20          Value: 16/20

Chateau La Sabatiere 2015 Monbazillac. 13%. Brigitte Bordeaux £14.50
Rich honey and marmarlade with dried fruit and caramel. Very well balanced: like drinking nectar! A very good, less expensive alternative to Sauternes. Paired with a crème caramel. The wine was popular with 5 votes for favourite of the night; the pairing had no votes.
Quality: 16/20                    Value: 17/20

Barao De Vilar 10 Year Old White Port. 19.5% Brigitte Bordeaux £18.70 for 50cl.
Lively acidity and great freshness with pronounced flavours of nuts, dried fruit, orange peel and caramel. On its own it didn’t get any votes for wine of the night, but its pairing with hard goat’s cheese was favourite with 3 members of the group.
Quality: 16/20                    Value: 16/20

A really interesting evening with some great wines and pairings. Interestingly, only 2 people in the group voted for the same wine as that of their favourite pairing.
See you next time,
Brigitte. x

While the UK Government could not decide if the whole nation was to shoot itself in the head – or merely the stomach, Corkmaster and Kimberley Kabinett took themselves off to a civilised country for the duration – although of course it might not be the duration.. or it might… or not…. FFS!

A group of 9 of the people remaining (no pun intended) attended a Sock Party graciously held by Ann and John. This was rather “off piste” with the white wines following the reds and by all accounts an enjoyable and rather rowdy party. Ann reports: “I for one found it refreshing to move on to whites after food including a palate cleansing lemon sorbet, though it wasn’t a great test as we only had 2 whites and then a bonus dessert wine. Can’t say the hangover was any less, though hopefully the reds got more thoughtful consideration than they usually do?!”

Ann also generously supplied the following notes, and photos from John:


ABEL CHARLOT BRUT NV CHAMPAGNE (Welcome Wine)
50% Chardonnay, 25% e@ Pinot.  There is some reserve wine blended in for extra richness. Found to be punching above its current price. A good mousse, light lemon flavour with  some butteriness and pleasing length which was satisfyingly dry.

VARVAGLIONE,  “12 e mezzo” ORGANIC PRIMITIVO , IGT PUGLIA 2015  (Mike)
Bramble fruit and violets on the nose, powerful but smooth.

PAMUKKALE SARAPEILIK , ANFORA TRIO, AEGEAN REGION, TURKEY 2016   (Yvonne)
Blend of indigenous Turkish grape 40% Kalecik Karasi with 40% Shiraz and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon
Honey on the nose, dark cherry coffee low tannin unoaked.

CHÂTEAU LA POINTE, POMEROL, 2013, BORDEAUX, FRANCE  (John)
From wine society en primeur.  Plum and earthiness on the palate with a lovely complexity and length  Merlot 85% Cabernet Franc 15%

CONO SUR,  20 BARRELS LIMITED EDITION PINOT NOIR- 2016. FROM EL TRIANGULO ESTATE,  CASABLANCA VALLEY, CHILE.    (Sue Mc)
Not a typical pinot, had some of the cherry and strawberry but complexity with leather and tobacco. 20 best barrels from the harvest bottled on their own.

CHÂTEAU PRADEAUX BANDOL ROUGE, 2006   (Rob)
95%+ Mourvedre from old vines. Lovely dense  flavour of macerated plums and blackcurrants, ripe tannins.


VENUS  LA UNIVERSAL, DIDO , MONSANT 2015   (Yuan)
Grenache as majority, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Syrah Purchased from cellar door on a weekend in Catalunya, Thanks Yuan. Montsant surrounds Priorat “like a bangle on a wrist” Delicious fruitiness with length.
Per Decanter A blend of Garnatxa with Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot, organically grown on decomposed granites near Falset.  The appeal is less primary and less fleshy than for many of its Montsant peers: calm, fine-drawn plant and stony earth scents with an elegant, layered style, though open-textured and accessible.   91

MASTROBERANDINO, LACRYMA CHRISTI DEL VESUVIO ROSSO  2015    (Mark)

100% Piedirosso from Campania, on the slopes of Vesuvius the “tears of Christ on Vesuvius” Jesus’ tears dropping at the foot of Vesuvius  ultimately sparked the miraculous growth of the vines. Piedirosso is the second most planted red after Aglianico. Floral spicy and powerful.

FALERNIA ELKI, PEDRO XIMINEZ 2017, ELQUI VALLEY, CHILE  (Sue T)
2016 vintage given 90 points and Highly Recommended by Decanter  as festive buy.

ONDA NOVA VIOGNIER, 2014, ALGARVE, PORTUGAL    (Ann)
This was purchased following a tasting at this estate owned by Cliff Richard which happened  to be very near our villa. This was surprisingly rich with a taste of peach but sufficiently dry to not be cloying,

DOMAINE  HAAG, GEWURTZTRAMINER GRAND CRU ZINNKOEPFLE, VENDAGES TARDIVES 2008, ALSACE   (Bonus Dessert wine, John)
This was a medium sweet wine not cloying and went quite well with our lemon tart.
Fun story to this one- we were at Carcassonne airport and a slightly panicked man approached us with two bottles of this. He’d been gifted these by his landlady but only had luggage booked for his flight home. We offered to take them off his hands and managed to squash them into our case with 4 other bottles already packed in! We did look for him at East Midlands airport but couldn’t see him as we would have offered to return one!

Ann thanks everyone for coming along, “it was a great night” – and I thank her for providing these notes!

À Bientôt

A small but very discerning group made their way to darkest Burton Joyce to partake of Yvonne’s hospitality and sample wines, as is our custom.

Here are my notes:


CHAMPAGNE NICOLAS FEUILLATTE VINTAGE BRUT 2000  Welcome Wine
Nicolas Feuillatte is actually a co-op at Chouilly in the Côte des Blancs vineyards. This has a slightly oxidised note and slightly darkened hue, but underneath the sherry hints are some signs of ripe peach. The oxidation seems to have, more than anything else, taken out the acidity which is limited and warm feeling, but leaves a very sweet soft fruit and a short but creamy mousse.

“WHITE ON GREY” MOSHOFILERO 2017 (Mitravelas)          Yvonne   
Slightly peach-tinged citric nose, quite creamy too but with a brackish element. Palate is similar, with a creamy texture, a saline mineral prickle and a vaguely Alsacienne profile: richness and a slightly spicy, smokey hint… Good

SANTENAY BLANC “SAINT-JEAN” 2013 (MARK HAISMA)      Laurie
The wine has 12 months in old oak with fruit from a named parcel just above (north) of Le Haut Village in Santenay (see June 14th 2015 post for an earlier note). Quite an aromatic nose – richer than earlier with a ripe white peach note and some citrus. The palate has a warm minerality and long acidic – grapefruit? – backbone, but a substantial, rich, soft stone-fruit succulence that makes a satisfying, well balanced, and probably at-peak wine. Rather good!

VAU JAUMIER 2015, ST. NICOLAS DE BOURGUEIL (Domaine de la Cotelleraie)           Kim  
I’ve followed this wine for 3 or 4 vintages now, and it’s my favourite SNdB. Quite sharp when young, this now has a herby nose with a bay leaf element, and red fruit with an earthy under-note… very Cabernet Franc. Palate is rich with a lovely supple red-fruit acid, raspberry or redcurrant and a hint of spice at the finish. Still young but much more developed than a year ago and already deeper and more complex than the (pretty good) 2014. Excellent!

“ORFEO” 2010 (Prieure La Chaume – Vix, Vendée)          John  
This is from the Vendée, where the AOC/AOP is Fiefs Vendéens. The department is part of the Loire although the wine areas are 70 miles South or South-West of Muscadet and Anjou respectively. This is 60% Merlot (+35% Cab. Sauvignon & 5% Negrette) which I think is the reason it is an IGP. Nose has very ripe dark fruit – slightly pruney dried fruit character with a cherry spirit hint, all rather Italian-ish! The palate too is rich and earthy with a fruit acid line echoing the nose and some non-fruit leathery hints… I’d guess at Ripasso, certainly not a Loire Merlot!? … but a luscious wine nevertheless!

HERDADE DOS GROUS 2016           Ann
This wine, from Alentejo, is (apparently): Aragonez (35%); Alicante Bouschet (30%); Touriga Nacional (20%) and Syrah (15%) – fermented in lagares and aged in new French oak barriques. One can detect the oak on the nose as both a woody and a creamy hint underneath red and plum fruit. The palate has firmer oak frame and some spicy  tinges under a slightly earthy plum, prune tannic shape.

“MARQUES CASA CONCHA” SYRAH 2016 (Concha y Toro)         Rob
Quite classic Syrah notes: blackberry, salt and a hint of wood. The palate has a sweet fruit line – more blueberry than blackberry and the slightly spicy tannins close with the oak to form a drying, food-needing finish… which is exactly what we gave it!

A very enjoyable (and wonderfully well-paced with a smaller number) evening of company, wine and food. Thanks for your hospitality Yvonne.

Finally, although she’s much to modest to tell you herself, Kathryn, long time stalwart and now co-leader of the WING group, is featured in the latest Wine Merchant magazine – on the front page and on pp 20-21. If you’re Nottingham-based worth trying the shop / bar “Brigitte Bordeaux”.

À Bientôt

On Thursday 14th February the ICC group met for a Tasting of wines from Lebanon, backed up with other E. Med. offerings from Cyprus, Santorini and Israel. The question relating to this tasting is if we can discern anything specifically Eastern Mediterranean about the wines.

Here are my notes:


“PETRITIS” (KYPEROUNDA WINERY, CYPRUS) 2017   –   13½ %   –   TheDrinkShop £13
This wine, 100% Xynisteri, has and slightly oaked nose – with melon fruit and a vaguely Chardonnay weight. The palate has sweet fruit – Galia melon and the same structure as a richer Chardonnay too, some acidity but the sweetish balance offset more by a gravelly minerality and some spice… a little plump IMO.
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  15/20

THALASSITIS (GAIA, SANTORINI) 2017   –   13 %   –   TheDrinkShop  £18
Citrus nose with a light salty impression. Palate is clean and refreshing and a line of grapefruit acidity and hints of a sour peach… rather food friendly with a saline minerality…
Ratings:        Quality:  15.5/20   Value:  15/20

MASSAYA BEKAA VALLEY ROSÉ 2017   –   13½ %   –   Tanners  £16
This is the onion skin pink of a good Provencal Rosé, and it resembles it in many ways, being 100% Cinsault!  This has a genuine hint of strawberry fruit (rather than a suggested metaphor) and lovely fruit acidity and some mineral… very balanced and very enjoyable!
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  16/20

MASSAYA “LE COLOMBIER” BEKAA VALLEY 2017   –   14½ %   –   Tanners  £15
Hints of mint / eucalyptus / menthol on the nose and a warm dark fruit. Palate is rich with a chocolate texture, some spice and mineral supporting a plum – prune fruit… developing herby notes later in a rather Southern Rhone style (Syrah, Cinsault and Grenache make up 85% of the assemblage, together with Tempranillo!) and rather a good version!
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  16/20

CLOS DE GAT HAR’EL JUDEAN HILLS SYRAH 2013   –   14½ %   –   Tanners  £21
Big blackberry, salty, prune notes. Palate has a sweet fruit, some woody notes and alcohol burn in a rather Californian big Shiraz style. The fruit resolution is slightly sweet with salty counterpoint making the overall impression a bit cloying and “heavy” – that said the wine’s lack of development makes it seem somehow insubstantial.
Ratings:        Quality:  14.5/20   Value:  13.5/20

CHÂTEAU MUSAR (HOCHAR, BEKAA VALLEY) 2010   –   13½ %   –   Tanners  £29
This was a very hot dry year and Musar lost about half of its Cabernet to drying out. So the mix is about equally Cinsault, Carignan and Cabernet with – especially the last – contributing dried berries. The result is amazing with hints of oily Amarone-style bitter cherry, some prune and some savoury notes in a sprity package. The palate is balanced by lovely supple acidity with some Italianate leather hints, very ripe plum fruit and some spice. One would probably guess at a, very good, Amarone – but this has a slightly wild complexity. Just fabulous and worth the money IMO…. I wish I’d bought more
Ratings:        Quality:  18/20   Value:  15.5/20

A very interesting tasting, with the Lebanese wines all out-shining the other examples – making them look a little simple or clumsy or both.

To the original question – is there anything specifically E. Mediterranean-ish about the wines – the answer is an unsurprising No!
The Island wines were rather specific and might well work with very specific food. I, at least, can imagine drinking the Santorini well-chilled while eating grilled sardines on a beach… The Israeli wine was big and very… well… New World in style, whereas the Lebanese wines were decidedly old world: two French and the Musar (very memorably) rather Italian.
Musar is a phenomenon!  I have probably tasted 15 or so vintages over the last 20 years and they are always different: different blends; different styles but always good, a sign of a great winemaker. I have to say, though, that this 2010 was the most impressive of all – an early contender for wine-of-the-year. Mmmmmmm

À Bientôt

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