Archives for category: Tasting Notes

The next Wine Dinner (the fourth – or was it fifth?) of our indulgent week in France took place in Bourgueil. One of a series of 12 through the summer in Bourgueil where a Wine Maker and a Chef collaborate to offer a 4 course meal at one of 5 participating hostelries.

On Tuesday 3rd July this took place at the Hôtel l’Ecu de France with wine presented by François Duvernay of Domaine de la Lande. This property is in the North of the Bourgueil commune, less than 2 km North of the town centre. The winery is based on the Coteaux, the ridge running east-west right along the top of the appellation, with a more tuffeau  in the soil and a South facing aspect. The Domaine is Biologique (organic) certified by Ecocert and Argriculture Biologique. All their Bourgueil are 100% Cabernet Franc, hand-harvested and sorted.

We started by sampling their Bourgueil Rosé on the terrace with a variety of meat and vegetable amuses bouches. The wine is made from young (<20yo) vines grown on clay-limestone soil. It showed pretty red fruit with a slight herb hint, very refreshing on a very hot early evening.

We then sat at the table for the starter: Profiteroles with mushroom and escargot with tiny red peppers in a Burgundy sauce. With this we had the Domaine’s Bourgueil “Les Pins” 2015, made from 35 to 45 years old vines grown on a clay-chalk  soil.

This had a very typical Cabernet Franc nose. The palate had red fruit but mostly notable for its herby and lively, grippy shape, with a hint of the mineral I think of showing limestone in Cabernet Franc. This went well with the substance of the dish but the baby peppers had such sharpness and the reduced Burgundy sauce such pronounced richness that almost any wine would have difficulty with the range. IMO this wine did better with the sharpness – less well with the richness!


We moved on to the main dish – a stuffed chicken dish with great, very slightly gamey, depth of flavour. With this we received Bourgueil “Prestige” 2014, made from 60 to 85 years old grown on clay-limestone soil. This fermented in wooden vats and raised in foudre.

This was a great match, the wine had darker deeper, but still a very Cabernet Franc, nose – tending to more earthiness. The palate was rounder with more plum notes and a more tannic package, spice elements near the bigger finish help with the food.


The next course was a cheese course including a creamy goat cheese. With this we were served Bourgueil “Prestige” 1989! This was staggeringly good, the nose showed mushrooms and sous-bois, compost and earthy notes with some fruit and Cabernet underneath, with a perfume developing later. The palate was balanced between depth and lightness showing, amazingly, a fresh red fruit blooming at the finish. A great wine.

We concluded with a raspberry based dessert, rather a challenge for Bourgueil. We were served Bourgueil “Les Graviers” 2017, made from 35 to 50 years old vines from gravel-on-clay soil.

This is quite an interesting wine showing red fruit and herbs then a round palate with soft tannins, obviously young but with real raspberry fruit  – but, of course nothing sweet.


The matching was interesting and mainly successful,  I’d score the matching, by course including the amuses bouches:  17/20 ; 15/20 ; 17/20 ; 19/20 ; 12/20…  but overall a lovely evening with good wines and food… and Happy Birthday Kim!

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On Thursday 17th May the ICC Group to taste some wines from Provence.

We tried wines from 3 famous small appellations: Cassis, Bellet and Bandol; a top Côtes De Provence Rosé and a Rosé and a Red from the slightly more International area of Aix.

Here are my notes:

CASSIS   CLOS VAL BRUYERE 2015 (Chateau Barbanau)   –   12½%   –   Wine Society (£12)
This is Marsanne, Clairette and Ugni Blanc with a little Sauvignon Blanc. Light soft fruit and floral nose, quiet but complex! Slightly herby and salty notes on the palate – almost vermouth, some fruit behind too and the many flavours pan out into a long, quite persuasive wine – rather good.
Ratings:        Quality:  16.5/20   Value:  17.5/20

CÔTES DE PROVENCE ROSÉ 2016 (Domaine De Rimauresq – Cru Classé)   –   13%   –   Virgin Wines (£15)
This is Cinsault and Grenache based with about 8% – 10% each of 4 other grapes. Prickly nose with strawberry and slightly cherry fruit and a higher perfume. Palate is lively and fresh with a red fruit middle and a long line of acidity coming to a mineral finish, Structured and dashing this would make a good food wine, with fish, salad or even something spicy.
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  16/20

COTEAUX D’AIX EN PROVENCE ROSÉ 2016 (Chateau Vignelaure)   –   13%   –   Wine Society (£13)
This is Grenache, Cabernet and Syrah and has a pinker, slightly darker colour… the nose is simpler but more powerful with citrus and cherry fruit. The palate is rounder and heavier-seeming than the previous wine, mainly though through a shorter, warmer profile. Well made, but lack the dash of the previous wine…
As I write these notes 6 days later I have also tasted another 5 Rosés at home or in the Loire, including a Sancerre (Pinot Noir), and 4 other Loire: two from the Bourgueil area made with Cabernet Franc (at a quarter of the price!), one from Pineau d’Aunis, one a sparkler. The Sancerre was the clear winner, the Rimauresq next best and this, Aix, the least interesting!
Ratings:        Quality:  14/20   Value:  14.5/20

“HARMONIE DE PROVENCE”  COTEAUX D’AIX EN PROVENCE ROUGE 2014 (Domaine des Oullieres)   –   13%   –   Yapp (£19)
This is a similar (more Cab less Syrah) grape mixture to the previous Aix Rosé. Nose is rather Southern Rhone Garrigue, slight twist of red berry fruit. Blackberry and black cherry, slightly jammy, fruit a little too sweet and the tannins a little too soft for balance IMO – good for initial gulping but lacking complexity or shape… In many ways a parallel to the other Aix!
Ratings:        Quality:  14/20   Value:  13.5/20

BELLET: DOMAINE DE LA SOURCE ROUGE 2013   –   13½%   –   Yapp (£27)
Very intriguing nose of vegetal, smoke, spice, forest floor, dark berries… Open, succulent palate without being cloying, with fruit and a long line of warm acidity intertwined for a long complex wine. Very balanced and complete – many people made it favourite but a high price. Excellent though!
Ratings:        Quality:  17/20   Value:  15.5/20

BANDOL LA BASTIDE BLANCHE 2014   –   14½ %   –   Waitrose (£15)
Slightly brackish but fresh nose, with some high notes, over a brooding dark fruit element. Palate is powewrful and full bodied with sweet briar, blackcurrant fruit, and non-fruit component – liquorice (?). Big-boned, long and involving but lacking the lightness and charm of the previous wine. A good, not dazzling, Bandol, but very good value.
Ratings:        Quality:  16.5/20   Value:  16.5/20

Quite an interesting tasting, I think. For me the star was the Bellet, but close behind – and a real surprise – the white Cassis.  The first Rosé and the Bandol were very good, as expected. In fact all the wines were enjoyable, but I found – in this company – that the two Aix wines were… not bad but a bit pedestrian… chacun à son goût as they say in the Government (!?).

Talking of which… the group were very amused at receiving a letter advising on democratic processes from a certain  Pridirka Putat’, answering a query about American democratic “innovations”, from the Kremlin. I have tried to establish this person’s identity and bona fides… with little success. However transliterating the name into Russian characters, translating to English and using a Thesaurus gives a clue… ’nuff said!

À Bientôt

May this year is a strange Month: the end-of-Month Sock Party will be on June 1st; and the beginning-of-Month Tutored Tasting actually took place (due to an English Bank Holiday) on April 30th! Rest assured the middle-of-the-month May ICC Tasting will be indeed be in May….

So it was the WING group met to taste Mosel Rieslings guided by Andrew. Andrew had been partly inspired by a travels to Traben-Trabach very near the centre of the Mosel wine area. I too have stayed there and we both heartily recommend the area.

Regular readers will know my liking for Riesling, it’s probably my favourite white grape – especially in its traditional form from Mosel (or Mosel-Saar-Ruwer as the overall region was known until 2007). Andrew had noted the increasing propensity for Trocken and Feinherb (=Halbtrocken, sort of) wines in the area. When I first went there in 2001 only perhaps 10% of production was so labelled – last time (2015) I also had noted the change, then nearly half were.

(See my reflection on these issue in my post of September 17th 2015 – below>).


Andrew sought to explore the differences by showing 3 trocken wines  the first of each pair) against 3 more “traditional” wines with some residual sugar…

Here are my notes:

FINESSE TRABENER KRÄUTERHAUS RIESLING SPÄTLESE TROCKEN 2015 (Weingut Trossen)
Rich oily nose with elderflower and peach, and a later honey hint – all classic Riesling notes but seems a bit dull, by that classic standard. The palate has a zingy acidity, quite rounded by soft fruit – but a little short.

RICKELSBERG STEILLAGE TRABENER WÜRZGARTEN RIESLING AUSLESE FEINHERB 2015 (Weingut Trossen)
This is an interesting wine, with 26 g/l residual sugar and 12% alcohol…so right in-between a traditional Auslese (50 -75 g/l and 9% ish) and a trocken (1 g/l and 13.5%). So, IMO, if the “Feinherb” styling means anything this is it! This had spicy hints on the nose, I would say Fenugreek, with citrus and peach. Palate has warmth, some sweetness and a mineral note with a citrus peel, slightly bitter tinge. Longer and more satisfying in my opinion than the previous wine. This has the acidity / sweetness balance of a traditional Kabinett but over a much richer fulcrum.

 

VON BLAUEM SCHIEFER RIESLING TROCKEN 2013 (Heymann-Löwenstein)
This is an artisan curiosity from the very North of the Mosel, near its confluence with the mighty Rhine. This pays little service to the old style classifications and is just crafted to make a dry wine with depth added by a proportion of botrytis-affected berries in the press. It shows hints of diesel already and orange peel (from botrytis) and some herb notes… Palate is gingery and rather dry, with the acidity rounded and softened by the complexity and depth of flavour. Similar weight to the previous wine and successful on its own, less-well-trodden path…

GRAACHER HIMMELREICH RIESLING KABINETT 2012 (Joh. Jos. Prum)
This is a traditional style and probably has a bit more sugar than the previous Feinherb. However the nose is dumb and the wine a little recessed too, so this sweetness sticks out rather at the moment – especially when slightly warmer than optimum… Against this the acidity is stunning:  piquant, lip-smacking and very, very long – leading to some mineral, slate tones… Unbalanced right now (some traditional Rieslings do seem have a “dumb” period from 3 or 4 – 7 or 8 years from vintage) but give it 3 or 4 years to open up again ….

 

ABTSBERG RIESLING ALTE REBEN TROCKEN 2012 (Maximin Grünhaus)
This is a basic Qualitätswein fermented to dryness, but ripeness must have been between Kabinett and Spätlese levels. The nose has diesel and orange peel hints with some peach, but quite restrained. The palate seems a bit astringent – a thinner, more bitter acidity. This shortens the experience. Well made, clean… but my least favourite in this company.

ABTSBERG RIESLING SUPERIOR FEINHERB 2012 (Maximin Grünhaus)
This is a Große Lage wine and the Feinherb finished product is very like a dashing old fashioned Spätlese. So in many ways this is a counterpoint of the very first wine. Nearly diesel, vaguely furniture polish hint, some fruit blossom and herb hints. Palate has warmth, good supple acidity with soft fruit, long and lip-smacking it is well balanced and very pleasurable now.

I found this an incredibly interesting tasting. First I love this grape, and even my least favourite wine tonight would beat many other wines from many other areas – including, probably, the majority of New World Rieslings!

However the tasting re-enforced an issue I’ve had with German dry Rieslings since it began its forward march 20 years ago – I call it the trouble with trocken. This is the apparent effect of fermenting Riesling to dryness, particularly in cool areas like Mosel, doesn’t just reduce the sugar, but in some way also reduces the rounder flavours in the wine and the acidity. True the acidity, with less counter-balance, seems more fierce, cooler and more bitter – but those long, lip-smacking, zingy, zesty lines of warmer acidity seem curtailed.

This was aptly illustrated by the last trocken (my least favourite)… which seemed shorter, aggressive and bitter in comparison to the wines with some sweet impression, The very first wine suffered a little, much less, from the same syndrome. The middle trocken is – eccentrically – made with 10% – 20% botrytis-affected grapes in the press… and balanced the acidity with the flavour-twist that is thereby imparted: orange peel, ginger…

In contrast the acidity in the Prum is exceptional, long (the most enduring by far), round, warm, lip-smacking, dashing, dazzling… The wine is currently unbalanced by a closed nose and the higher sugar “sticking-out”; although I would guess that, after 4 more years’ development and served a couple of degrees cooler, it could be the best wine of the six?!

However right now the middle trocken and the two  Feinherb wines were lovely – with the last just shading it, IMO.

Thanks so much Andrew for a captivating tasting!

À Bientôt

On Friday 27th April 2018 we were generously entertained for a Sock Party at Ralph and Jill’s home. A wonderful evening with a dazzling supply of great food and wine…

Here are my notes:


JASNIÈRES “L’ECLOS” 2015 (Les Maisons Rouge)         Laurie
Jasnières is an enclave in the general Coteaux du Loir area, about 30 miles North of Vouvray. Pure Chenin, the wine showed some citrus and later peach and apple fruit on the nose. The palate has a hint of honey, and a fresh fruit peak in the centre but a long, strong but warm acidity and a mineral finish. Very clean, refreshing and precise and balanced between searing acidity and richness. Made by biodynamic viticulture on clay, sand and flint topsoil above the tuffeau base in West Jasnières.

COURS CHEVERNY “LE PETIT CHAMBORD” 2014          Yvonne  
This Romorantin wine from the Solonge has a slightly powdery nose with a warm note and a citrus peel prickle. Palate has a fruit start and then a kick-in of acidity, a slightly malic tinge and a ginger hints spicy element. Rounder and a little fuzzier than the previous wine, it’s Loire (50 mile away!) nieghbour.

PECORINO ABRUZZO “BIANCHI GRILLI” (Torre Dei Beati) 2014         Ralph   
Dark colour, nose is quite closed with a slightly spicy, woody, aged quality. Later some balsamic sweet sour elements emerge. Palate smooth, opening to show some rich woody flavours and a clear acidity with some mineral accents. Aged on lees in barrique for 9 months, deliberately to by-pass the vibrant-youth stage and go straight to the evolved complexity. Needs quite a lot of time in the glass still, despite decanting…

MEURSAULT 2013 (Caves de l’Orangerie)           Kathryn
Caves de l’Orangerie is the label of Château de Savigny-lès-Beaune’s own vineyards. This Mersault is almost text-book: slightly oily nose with hints of tropical fruit. Buttery palate with oak notes and a richness based on a hazelnut-oil kick – underpinned by a mineral, citrus backbone. Very satisfying and at good maturity now.

CAMEL VALLEY PINOT NOIR ROSÉ 2014          Ann
This is strawberry fruit straight on the nose with fresh-herb acidity and a hint of pinot character. The palate echoes the pinot line – lovely base acidity with lip smacking red-berry fruit. Well balance, fresh cool and under 12% alcohol. Would be lovely with spicy food!


RONSEL DO SIL MERENZAO “ALPENDRE” 2012 RIBEIRA SACRA           Ralph (again!)
This comes from 2 ha of vines on ancient Roman terraces on the steep banks of the Rio Sil. Merenzao is the local name for Trousseau, found in the Jura. This has a light colour. Nose is slightly herby with a pinot-ish soft red fruit and vegetal touch. Palate is more raspberry sweetness with a herby twist and a clean acidity. Easier to guess the location than the grape I think…

ST-ÉMILION GRAND CRU CLOS VILLEMAURINE 2009     John
This is dark and dense with a fruity – damson and fresh plums with an undergrowth hint. Slight graininess is appearing on the palate, which will soon be chocolate hints… structured, long with palate echoing the nose with darker fruit and warm hints appearing. Long and supple, this has opened a lot since I last tried it –  but, IMO, it will keep improving for a year or two and last another 6. It’s 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc.

MUDGEE CHAMBOURCIN 2012 (Savannah Estate, Aus.)      Rob
This had a slightly gummy, minty (tell-tale Australian!?) nose with some plum fruit. The palate has the same sweet fruit, some oak and an earthy hint… but a tannic line that somehow is both rich and hard. Not quite together…  yet?

“ES LO QUE HAY” GARNACHA 2013               Yuan
An old-vines high-altitude Garnacha from Aragon, NE Spain. The name is a Spanish expression meaning something like “that’s how it goes” – the International translation of a shrug! The wine is pretty big – closed nose at first with dark berry fruit emerging and hints of herbs and some perfume. Palate is fruity with a mineral line and prune, tannin and some suppleness. The altitude airs and lifts the potential Granacha thickness…

BAROLO “CERRETA DI PERNO” 2007 (Sordo)     Kim
This Castiglione Barolo has a nose of soft fruit and a fragrant perfume – possibly even the renowned rose, later hints of cherry appear. Palate has a higher-than-expected acidity with lower-than-expected tannins and tar, although they are present. Rather lip-snacking long and non-fruit flavours. Maybe still a year or two young but getting there!

20 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT (OHSOMM)       Farewell Wine
Ohsomm is a trading name of the parent company that own Offley’s and Sandeman. This Tawny has a big fruit-and-nut complex nose. Palate has some sweetness but in balance with a long line of fruit acidity. Lovely!
 

Thanks to Ralph and, especially, to Jill for providing such wonderful food, great company and hospitality.
Thanks too to Yuan for the wine photographs.

À Bientôt

On Monday 9th April Yvonne showed the WING Tutored Tasting Group some Hungarian Wines sourced from the Wine Society.

Hungary is a diverse wine country producing only two-thirds of 1% of the worlds wine, mostly from indigenous grapes. They are  little known among UK wine-drinkers beyond Tokaji (famously sweet but recently dry versions too…) and Bull’s Blood – now labelled Egri Bikavér (from its original region Eger) or just Bikavér, a Kékfrankos based blend with other Hungarian or French grapes.

However Hungary has well over 20 wine regions and produced about 70% white wines. Nearly half the wine – mostly dry white plonk – comes from the South East areas of Hajós-Baja, Kunság & Csongrád, near the Sebian border. Many little-known grapes from little known areas are starting to appear in the UK now – we saw some examples together with a dry Tokaji and a couple of Bikavér.


Here are my notes:

SOMLOI JUHFARK (KOLONICS) 2015
Juhfark is a grape now almost exclusive to the small Hungarian appellation of Somló (pronounced shomlo). In North-West Hungary, Somló is a volcanic hill, with unique basalt soils, north of Lake Balaton, though this is grown on more loamy soil. The nose has citrus and oily tropical fruit notes, reminding some of Gewurztraminer. The palate too is oily and rich – dried and balanced by the bitter gingery finish.

DONGO FURMINT (SZENT TAMÁS) 2015
This dry Tokaji has a cleaner citrus nose with a slightly cereal or mealy hint. The palate is clean with a sharp lemon peel, slightly bitter, zing which persists under the fruit and saline touch to a long finish. Complexity evolves with time and the wine opens into a very satisfying package… Very good and by a good couple of points (/20) my favourite, justifying the £27 price tag?!

KADARKA (TIBOR GÁL) 2016
Kadarka is a quite pale Pinot Noir-like grape praised for its gentle qualities and its ability to produce Rosé. It occupies about 1% of Hungarian vineyards. This is a translucent ruby “half-Rosé” wine from Eger. It has the slightly rubbery hint of carbonic maceration and some rhubarb notes. The palate is light, fresh with a slightly drying quality and hints of strawberry and sour cherry that bring to mind (my mind at least) Rioja Rosado. Quite liked this and would be better on a summer afternoon.

KÉKFRANKOS RESERVE (HEUMANN) 2013
Kékfrankos is the same grape as Austria’s Blaufränkisch and Hungary’s most important red, about a third of Hungary’s red-grape vineyards are planted with it. This comes from Villany, in South West Hungary near the Croatian border. This has a pungent, oily nose with a slight eau-de-vie hint and some bright red fruit. The palate is grainy with a slight alcohol burn, some dark fruit eventually subdued by a grainy grappa finish.

 ÁLDÁS EGRI BIKAVER (ST ANDREA) 2015
This is: Kékfrankos 33%, Merlot 28%, Cabernet Franc 18%, Pinot Noir 11%, Syrah 4%, Cabernet Sauvignon 3%, Kadarka 2%, Turán 1%. This has some obvious oak on the nose, berry fruits and peppery tones. The palate has a fruity slightly jammy attack, then a drying, slightly thin, middle and a spirity rather spicy finish. Better than the previous wine but a little incomplete or unbalanced somehow.

HANGÁCS EGRI BIKAVER (ST ANDREA) 2013
This is half Kékfrankos with Merlot and Pinot Noir and just a little Kadarka and Cabernet Franc, and a step up.
This has a very fruity – almost confectionery, jelly-making – first nose, spirit notes and some herbs later. Palate is fruit-driven too but with some evolved flavours (forest-floor, mushroom, chocolate…) later. More elements here, better balanced and evolving, and quite satisfying although the fruit is a little jammy…

A very interesting insight into a little known country. The dry Furmint won hands-down for me, but I quite liked the almost-Rosé… and the last red.

Thanks so much Yvonne.

À Bientôt

On Friday 23rd March the WING Sock Club company visited Yuan for her first hosting of the event. An enjoyable evening with many interesting wines.

Here are my notes:


JACQUES BRUÉRE CAP CLASSIQUE BRUT RESERVE 2008 (Robertson, S.A.)          Welcome Wine
This wine is 60% Pinot Noir, with 40% Chardonnay – with 10% of the Chardonnay barrel fermented. It has a pungent fruit nose, with some nutty and bready notes. The palate has nut-oil creaminess, grapefruit acidity and and a sherbet mousse – then darker fruit (Pinot?)… A quite complex and mouthwatering package, a good New World champagne copy!

BOSMAN “FIDES” GRENACHE BLANC 2015 (SA)         Sue  
A bush-vine version of this S. Rhone grape. Nose is recessed with hints of quite dark soft fruit emerging and a nutty element. The palate has some spicy bitterness and a slightly sherry-ish drying salinity. The wine seems to balance more with time, into quite a warm resolution. Maybe (2 or 3 years?) too young?

SOAVE CLASSICO “MOROGNE” (Zeni)  2013          Kim   
The “Morogne” label is a step up from their basic Soave Classico, using hand selected bunches from the hillier sites in the Classico. Garganega (95%) & Trebbiano (5%) is aged in barriques. Nose is quiet at first but opens to show some herby and nutty elements along with a caramelised pear hint. Palate is rich and creamy with stony fruit hints and a long pear fruit finish. A lovely Soave at the rich end of the spectrum….  If Pieropan Calvarino (see post of 22 Oct 2017) is the “Chablis” of the Soave world – this is more the “Mersault”. Very good, my favourite!

QUETZAL MALBEC 2015 (Tijuana, Mexico)           Mike
This is leavened with 10% Petit Verdot, giving it a lighter style showing a Germolene note at first then plum fruit. The palate is warm with spice and some sweet plum fruit, a dryish grainy tannin and a prune finish. Not a monster Malbec, but a little soft.

CAIRANNE ANTIQUE 2001         Laurie
This is 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre and 20% Syrah, from when Cairanne had only Côtes du Rhône Villages status (it’s a Cru since 2016), and this wine justifies the upgrade. Dark but shiny with a slightly brown aged rim, the nose is all black fruit with a slight vanilla / cardamom tinge and a floral (Mourvedre?) element later. The palate is powerful but supple and still fresh with a black fruit acidity and evolved non-fruit hints. Very satisfying with some complexity.

“AYNI” MALBEC 2014 (Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza)            Yuan
Bigger than the previous Malbec with lots of black fruit on the nose and a baking spice aromatic notes. This uses oak and enables the depth of fruit to be complimented by a slightly drying structure with a soft citric acidity which adds freshness and elegance. For me, a more refreshing package, with more going on, than the first Malbec; and a top drawer example… 

JUMILLA MONASTRELL 2014 (Juan Gil)     John
This is very dark with a rich prune, slightly port nose. Palate has slightly bitter young tannins with very long pastille plum fruit and a warm spice and alcohol lift. Plenty here but perhaps a little fragmented as yet, needs another year?

“LA CASETTA” VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE RIPASSO 2014      Rob
Similar depth of colour and pungency to the previous wine but more sweet, and redder, fruit, and a cherry and aromatic “fruit cake” hint. Palate has plum fruit with a slightly woody or herby lift, rich and quite soft. A text book Ripasso hinting at the depths of an Amarone at a much lighter level…

Thanks to everyone for a lovely evening, and especially to Yuan for extending generous hospitality from such a raucous bunch….

À Bientôt

On Thursday 15th March the WING group met at the ICC for a Tasting of wines from the Pacific Northwest. We had three whites and three reds; two from Oregon and four from Washington and six different varietals.

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These are my notes:

Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2015 – 12.5% – ND John – £13.95
This was the first wine of the night, the cheapest and fairly unanimously, the favourite. The wine has a typical Riesling nose of lime and hints of petrol. On the palate it is off dry, with the touch of sweetness balanced by good acidity. Flavours of fresh lime, peach and lychee with hints of elderflower and honeysuckle. Well balanced with good length on the finish.
Quality: 17/20          Value: 17/20

Firesteed Pinot Gris 2014 – 13.5% – Slurp – £15.95
This Pinot Gris has hues of copper-pink in appearance. On the palate, the predominant flavours are white peach and melon with hints of pear. The 13.5% abv is not as integrated as it could be as is in evidence from a slight alcohol burn. The finish falls away fairly quickly. Drinkable but, it was generally agreed, not worth the price tag.
Quality: 14/20          Value: 13/20

L’Ecole No.41 Semillon 2013 – 14.5% – The Good Wine Shop – £19
This Bordeaux blend is in fact 87% Semillon and 13% Sauvignon Blanc. The wine split opinion with some people not too keen. I, on the other hand, liked the wine at the tasting, and liked it even more when I returned to it afterwards, so much so that I think it was my favourite of the night. Some found it lacking in fruit and suspected it could be a bit too old. I found it to be interesting with an appealing range of flavours from pineapple, mango and honey to fig and lanolin with a biscuity, buttery edge coming from the barrel fermentation and lees ageing.
Quality: 17/20          Value: 15/20

A to Z Pinot Noir 2014 – 13.5% – ND John – £16.95
Red fruit and earth on the nose. On the palate there’s lots of red fruit, particularly raspberry and cherry and some herbaceous raspberry leaf. Some earthy minerality, firm tannins and crisp acidity. The wine is balanced, the finish is quite long, but lacking some of the flavour complexity of a more interesting Pinot Noir.
Qualiaty: 15/20          Value: 15/20

Ste Michelle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 – 13.5% – Slurp – £16.95
This wine is 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 4% Syrah and 1% respectively of Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It was aged for 14 months in American and French oak (32% new). It’s from Washington’s largest producer, Ste Michelle Vineyards, who are actually responsible for two-thirds of the commercial wine produced in the state. This wine proved quite popular. Lots of dark black fruit such as black plum and blackcurrant, some liquorice and well-integrated vanilla from the oak ageing. Quite reminiscent of an Old World Cabernet Sauvignon and drinking well.
Quality: 16/20          Value: 16/20

Charles Smith Boom Boom! Syrah – 13.5% – ND John – £17.50
96% Syrah, 3% Viognier and 1% Grenache. Although more expensive, this wine didn’t prove quite as popular as the Charles Smith Riesling we had at the start of the evening. More New World Shiraz than Old World Syrah. Lots of dark fruit, particularly blackberry and hints of cinnamon, cedar and tobacco. I didn’t really get any of the meatiness that some tasting notes suggested. Very drinkable but perhaps not as complex as you might like for the price.
Quality: 15/20          Value: 14/20

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