Archives for category: Wine of the Month?

As the new Labour Party leadership battle is getting into full swing (or – to be honest – anyway), I thought an interesting wine to drink with Slow-Cooked Lamb would be a 2009 right bank claret. Specifically, and somehow appropriately, Château Corbin 2009!
Here are my observations:
Château Corbin Grand Cru Classé Saint Emilion 2009
Lovely complex aroma of plums, floral hints, herbs going towards forest floor, and some wood: not really oak or cedar but the notes from wood paneled rooms… and in no particular order – all mingling, The palate echoes the herby elements, with a strong plum/prune line framed with acidity going through a warm middle palate and  a long finish where liquorice and supple tannins come to the fore. Very good and absolutely perfect for slow-cooked lamb with a herb and garlic gravy.

That all emerged tasting the wines in Riedel claret glasses (below, left). Then we tried the same wine in “ordinary” large wine glasses (not those picture below right – but similar: slightly bigger and slightly more closed at the mouth)
The results were rather different, the nose and the palate – while having similar characteristics – both seemed narrower! The higher notes and the complexity seemed limited and the palate more tannic and less vivacious. This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed this slightly duller effect in non-Riedel glasses – though usually when comparing with ISO glasses, which seem to adversely affect the palate more than the nose. I’m pretty well convinced that occasions like this: good dinner and good claret merit the use of Riedel glasses – or something similar.

Until next time


I think I’ve remarked before that one of the great pleasure of a (semi-) disorganised cellar is that one happens upon forgotten bottles with unexpected age – which (I reckon about two times out of three) often reveal something interesting….

Actually it is only semi-disorganisation: I have a rack in the cellar of pre-2000 vintage claret. I was looking there for a bottle to wash down a roast-chicken dinner and lighted upon this bottle
… which interestingly still bore its (2000 ?) price tag: £8.75 (about £13.65 at current prices). The tag didn’t identify the place I bought the 1998, however one can get several vintages (2001 – 2010) from the Wine Society for £14.50 – generally they seem to think the drinking window is 10-15 years (rather formulaic though that might be).

Fourcas Dupré’s vineyards have a long history, and were mentioned on maps dating back to the time of Louis XV. The vines are on a relatively high point of the Médoc, at 42 metres, known locally as the ‘roof of the Médoc’, Château Fourcas Dupré lies between the appellations of Moulis and Saint-Julien. 46 hectares of vines in one large parcel make up the vineyard holdings, lying on a mixture of excellently drained gravel with clay and limestone. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot compose 44% of the blend, supplemented by 10% Fabernet franc and 2% Petit Verdot. The wines are matured in barriques, around a third of which are new each year.

This example is actually 18 years old, and from a year principally celebrated for the Right Bank. This however has a relatively high proportion of Merlot for a Left Bank Wine. In fact the wine was still bright with a deep garnet colour. The nose was full of non-fruit attack: cedar, mushroom, a hint of violets and a prune note. The palate was very supple and I think one would have guessed Right Bank, with quite a lot of plum, damson fruit still and mocha velvet tannin. A lovely framing fruit acid circled the food and the mere 12.5% alcohol allowed indulgence…. Very satisfying! I imagine the 2001 might be very similar…

Perhaps it goes to show even a relatively modest wine (for its sort) can gain interest with time.

On another note – Jonny Rudge left a comment that I thought worth putting out directly:

“… There is a charity wine tasting event taking place at Debbie Bryan’s Shop in the Lace Market in Nottingham this Saturday at 7.00 pm in partnership with a wine merchant from the Loire Valley who now calls Nottingham his home.

“All of his wines come from vineyards that he travels back to regularly and I thought that there may be some you haven’t sampled before. If any of your group would be interested, the tickets are on sale here:

I can’t make it myself, as I’ll actually be in the Loire – Bourgueil more specifically…  but if anyone goes and wants to write a note I’ll post it here eventually.

I’ll be back the last week of July – until then…

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… [see note at end]

Syrah de l’Ardeche IGP 2014  –  12%  –  (M&S – £7.50)

This month is focused on my favourite wines (although you’ll have to wait another 3 or 4 days to find out why – and what!) So, as counterpoint, I thought I’d concentrate on a very popular style that is much lower on my list of favourites than for many people: Syrah.

That’s a bit of an exaggeration and most of my objection relates to Shiraz (New World) more than Syrah (Old World) and comes from my sensitivity to salt. Although the grape is known for blackberry and pepper flavours I often find a salty tang in the wine that I dislike, rather more brackish than a, somewhat related, mineral flavour which I find quite pleasant.

This example is obviously light-bodied with a nose of red fruit, garrigue herbs and an olive note later. The fruit deepens a touch to give stewed blackberry and damson.

The palate has a sharp attack – almost citric – with a sweet bramble fruit. The acidity gives the grip with only slight dry, woody, herby tannins. The wine is light and simple with sweet fruit and sour acidity separated. With food (Roast Lamb) the wine is improved (rather than improves!).

Overall a light, slightly thin, cheap (actually very cheap) and reasonably cheerful summer tipple. It has little Syrah character (if I had had to guess I might have thought of a Southern French quaffing Carignan made in a light style – from a local VRAC in Roussillon?!) but for this money what can one expect?

Ratings:     Quality:  13/20   Value:  14/20

This will be the last “Wine of the Month” in its present form – i.e. posted at the beginning of the Month and concerning an easily available Wine. From now on there will be occasional “review” postings of individual wines, but they may be at any time and indeed more than one may appear in any one month. Just follow the Corkmaster!

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…

“Pure” Malbec 2014 (Trappiche)   –   14%   (Co-Op – £9)

This wine comes from the Uco Valley in Argentina, home to many a Malbec. In fact, through a variety of circumstances, this is the fifth Malbec in a similar price range that I’ve tasted in the last few weeks…

This has quite a purple colour and a fruit led (damson) nose with a slightly herby hint.

The palate is initially very big and soft with a warm black fruit line leading to a grainy finish. Definitely a fruit-driven wine with a peppery frame which holds the wine together. At this stage: quite simple, but with time a slightly vegetal, savoury flavour emerges which offsets the sweetness and balances the wine.

With quite spicy food (nachos and chilli) the development continues, the grainy finish becoming smoother and more chocolate – a lovely foil against the fiery food. A warm citric acid line also helps.

A deceptively simple package with some hidden depth – the best of the Malbecs I’ve tried recently.

Ratings:  Quality:  14/20   Value:  16/20

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…

Tbilvino Qvevris 2013  –  12½ %   –  (M&S – £9)


This wine hails from Kakheti in Eastern Georgia, where it is made from the Rkatsiteli – the country’s most widely planted grape (It is also widely found in Ukraine, Moldova and Bulgaria). The wine is aged partly in Qvevri, buried clay amphora, following an 8,000 tradition, which prolongs skin-contact beyond that found usually in white wines… Sometimes wines of this style – with or without amphora – are called “orange” for that reason.

This does have a deep colour and a more open nose than when tasted a month ago (see Feb 29 post) with a slightly powdery perfume hint with a note of over-ripe exotic fruit, mango or passion fruit maybe. The palate has a salty tang, with drying and mineral quality. The wine is warm with a tannic quality and shows high levels of extraction, with a warm salt-caramel finish.

With time pear appears on the nose, and later still the palate, and the caramel hint develops honey and spice turn. With food (a pork with prunes Raymond Blanc recipe) the sweeter and deeper notes are balanced against the food and a quite strong citric line appears – which makes for a reasonable balance.

All in all rather an oddity with depth and grip not often associated with white wine. Decidedly weird!

Ratings: Quality: 13.5/20     Value: 15.5/20


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:
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.

–    –    –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –

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…


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

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…

Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling 2014 (Aldi £7)

A very red month coming up with the focus on Nebbiolo, so we start February with a white – in some ways – at the other end of the wine spectrum: Riesling. The grapes do have some things in common though – acidity, age-ability, and if you chose well, complexity!

This wine won the “Great Value Champion White” accolade at the 2015 IWC. It is light with an immediately beguiling nose of orange-blossom florality, a little of the hallmark diesel aroma, citrus hints, and as it warms – peachy fruit. The nose fades a little and doesn’t have the open pungency of many lime-fuelled Clare Valley Rieslings. You might regard that as either good or bad however…

The palate has a sappy acidity, citrus with a slightly grainy texture. The citrus is more lemon and lemon pith than lime again and warm – and slightly reigned in. There is a sweet peach element in the centre which grows in volume as the other flavours recede. Later the bitter-sweet lemon pith finish shows mineral hints.

With food (a chicken in spicy sauce) the sweet peach fruit core helps but the acidity surrenders, making the wine appear shorter.

All in all a slightly restrained or, if you’re feeling harsh, dilute Clare Valley Riesling. It has many elements of a good dry(ish) Riesling but they appear sequentially rather than in integrated complexity.

Still this wine costs £7… that criticism, if criticism it be, could be lived with…

Ratings: Quality: 13/20     Value: 16/20

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