Archives for category: WIne Tasting

On Monday 3rd December Ralph showed the WING Tutored Tasting Group red Spanish wines in 3 pairs. Each pair consisting in a basic and superior Cuvée from a grower in an interesting wine area.

Ralph made the point in his introduction that Spanish red wine might be considered as surprisingly lacking in variety – a fact he attributes to a relatively small range of grapes, and high heat values homogenising the wines offered. We shall see…

Here are my notes:

The first pair originate in Terra Alta DO – the Southernmost wine area in Catalunya; the centre of the area is situated about 40 km South-West of the centre of Priorat…. The producer is Herència Altés which makes wine at 420-500 metres altitude on “loamy soil with some calcerous and sandy components”.

L’ESTEL 2013
(50% Carignan, 25% Grenache, 25% Syrah). Plum hints on the nose with a slightly cooked fruit quality and something in the tarry, toasty, coffee liquorice spectrum. The palate is grainy but firm showing spicy warmth and earth-tinged fruit – redcurrant, blackberry and plum come to mind….Tannins aren’t overwhelming but a bit harsh…

LA SERRA NEGRA 2012
(80% Carignan, 20% Grenache).This has a much fuller rounder nose with more port hints, reminiscent of red berries or currants in cognac. The palate echoes the flavours on the nose but has a long line of integrated fruit acidity freshening the overall impression…

The second pair were from Bierzo. This DO is actually right at the north-west edge of Castilla y León but it has much more in common with Ribeiro Sacre a few miles to west in Galicia. Both areas have over 75% of their vineyards planted with Mencía. We tried two Cuvées from the grower here, Losada: the first 100% Mencia and the second predominately from old vine Mencia with 5%  other unidentified very old vines added. Bierzo is famous for slate soil but the vines here are grown at about 560 metres altitude on clay rich terraces, the wines are raised for 15 months in oak, 40% new for the second wine.

ALTOS DE LOSADA 2011
This has raspberry fruit on the nose, together with some herbal hints and a floral whisper emerging. Quite complex and reminiscent of a less green Cabernet Franc. Palate has a warm but mineral structured background to red fruit with long evolution in the mouth, showing suppleness and charm – Probably my favourite!

ALTOS DE LOSADA “LA BIENQUERIDA” 2012
This single-vineyard wine has slightly rounder aromas but is also slightly simpler than the previous wine: red fruit, less herbs and a spirity slightly oaky sweet note. Rounder, smoother but somehow narrower flavours on the palate – integrated fruit acid again but a little constricted at the finish.

The final pair comes from Ribera del Duero and are expressions of Tempranillo from Bodegas La Horra Corimbo. The grapes are grown on bush-vines, the first Cuvée is from 20 year old vines has 14 months in barrels, 80% French oak barrels and 20% American oak barrels; the second from 40 year old vines and has 2 months longer in oak.

CORIMBO 2012
Slightly brackish black fruit but quite a hard and unyielding nose – with little development, maybe young? Palate has sweet fruit with a – slightly hard – tannic frame, again seeming young. Quite long but tightening at the finish.

CORIMBO 1 2009
More open pungent nose with sweet fruit and a hint of sous-bois. Palate is a little more supple and nuanced than the previous wine, better integration and interest and not a bad Tempranillo, but rather big and rather pricey (£50ish – nearly double the previous wine and treble wine 3!). I’d expect this sort of quality for wine 5’s price!

A very interesting tasting,  showing that increased price, older vines, single site and “premium” winemaking is not always a big improvement. There’s a danger of getting just more intensity, more concentration of the flavours and no more (and sometimes less) breadth of flavour or interest. In general too I felt the wines (I’d exonerate wine 3 of this) did show a constricted palate of colours to paint their picture, or only a few chords to express their melody – depending if you prefer visual or musical metaphor?!

So perhaps that’s me agreeing with Ralph’s overall impression of Spanish wines expressed at the beginning of the night.

Thanks so much Ralph for a enjoyable and thought-provoking tasting.

As the next Tasting is the Xmas quiz there will not be a scene-setting post this month, but Nottingham based readers may be interested to know that Domaine de Cébène Les Bancels 2015 Faugères made Jancis’ recommended list this month as it’s available from Leon Stolarski (http://www.lsfinewines.co.uk/index.html)

À Bientôt

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The group met and Kathryn and Matt’s on Friday 23rd November to “assist” Kathryn in celebrating her Birthday and for the customary evening of blind Tasting…

Here are my notes:


CHÂTEAU DE GARBES CREMANT DE BORDEAUX         Welcome Wine
Slightly nutty nose to this Semillon based sparkler, some gluey notes and a touch of herbs. Palate has fresh acidity with some citric character, quite a warm light mousse and pleasant length – definitely an aperitif style.

“NOT YOUR GRANDMOTHER’S” EDEN VALLEY RIESLING, 2017 (Chaffey Bros.)          Matt   
Limey nose with some floral hints, rather light nose. Palate has a mineral sharpness and warmth with a restrained peachy fruit. Linear acidity which is good in itself but the whole package a little dilute…. Especially in (unfair?) comparison to…

“EXQUISITE COLLECTION” CLARE VALLEY RIESLING  2014 (Aldi)         Kim   
… this evolved and therefore diesel scented wine, with richer fruit notes on the nose. Palate has a rich peachy fruit and a stronger, sharper – lime and green apple – acidity… drying, longer and balanced…

PETITE ARVINE  2014, VALAIS SWITZERLAND (Mike & John Favre)           Sue  
Very interesting nose of sea-spray and honeysuckle. The palate has strong grapefruit acidity, some saline notes and green features which broaden with time to give a richer, oily note and a dashing finish. A wine that starts a bit like Chenin Blanc and ends up like a mature Chardonnay. Good!

CARPINUS HÁRSLEVELU TOKAJ 2017 (Bai)          Paul
Nose has earthy honey tones and a hint of aniseed. Palate is pliant with sweet fruit – over-ripe peach, warm but with sharp herby acidity. A good food wine…

CLEARWATER CHARDONNAY 2003 (Sherwood Estate Waipara NZ)           Carrie
Pungent nose – sweet fruit and an evolved oak tinge. Palate has pliant stone fruit with an integrated citric lift, with a more subtle vanilla creaminess… still fresh after 15 years, very long and very good…


CHANGYU NOBBLE DRAGON 2015 (Shandong, China)         Mike
This is made from Carmenère, under its Chinese (German?) name of Cabernet Gemischt! Actually, once you know anyway, it actually is rather like Carmenère, which I think of as a slightly spicier more herby Merlot – plum fruit with a herbal nose and the palate has some freshness but the fruit is quite sweet and simple although a spicy counterpoint helps…

ARUMA MALBEC 2016 (Rothschild / Catena)     Yvonne  
This Uco Valley Malbec has a fruity damson nose, and a warm palate showing the same fruit – rather juicy and a bit soft but good acidity for the style, balanced across the Argentinian Malbec divide between the citric food-friendly and the fruit bomb styles…

LES CÉPAGES OUBLIÉS 2014 (Marionnet)       Laurie
This wine from Domaine de la Charmoise in the Solonge, is from the Teinturier (dark fleshed) grape Gamay de Bouze. Very dark indeed, with sweet black fruits on both the nose and palate, it is like a black-fruit counterpoint to good (Morgon level) red-fruit, Cru Beaujolais. It has developed over the last 18 months to integrate the sweet fruit and acidity and seems better balanced – a very unusual wine that has some Gamay hints…

RED ROOSTER CABERNET MERLOT 2014 (British Columbia)       Kathryn
Plum fruit and some other Bordeaux ish hints… Palate is typical with dark fruit notes, some woody tones and a sharp fruit acidity, but rather simple for a £21+ wine… A 10 year old Cru Bourgeois (eg Cissac 2009 is at Tanners for £24) would be better…

EGGO BONAPARTE BONARDA 2015 (Zorzal)       John
As the name suggests this is fermented and then matured in concrete eggs. Very pliant red fruit – raspberry – nose, even a perfumed hint. Palate is very supple reminding one of softer Pinot Noir, lip smakingly juicy!

“CARESANA” RUCHÈ DI CASTAGNIOLE MONFERRTO 2017 (Gatto Pierfrancesco)       Anna
This grape: Ruchè comes from, and is almost entirely cultivated in this small DOCG in Piedmonte, near Asti, there are less than 50ha of it! This example has a slightly reduced nose, opening up to show peach, fruit cake and cherry. Palate follows with sweet fruit – supple, long, smooth and with a slight spirit hint at the end. Very good!

KOLIOS “STATUS 99” 2014 (Cyprus)       Rob
This (apparently) is made from Maratheftiko, of which there are only 125 ha on Cyprus, mainly in Pitsilia and the much more widely planted workhorse Cypriot grape, Mavro. The wine has a slightly port nose. A sweet deep, dark fruit palate with a slightly “fat” texture and warmth.

DOMAINE PONTBRIAND PAYS DE VAUCLUSE 2015 (Merle)       Ann
More odd grapes – this is Caladoc; Marselan and Grenache, this has a heavy, herbal and slightly perfumed nose. The palate is also recessed at first but long and with mounting savoury and spice against the dark fruit.

CHÂTEAU LA SABATIÈRE 2015 (Monbazillac)         Extra Bonus Birthday Tarte Citron Wine
Flagging by this point, I confess… but a honeyed nose and palate and sweet fruit – lighter than some Monbazillac and with an acidic lift that offset the Tarte Citron… Lovely.. but no Birthday candles – Happy Birthday anyway Kathryn!

A lovely evening of wine and great food. Thanks for your hospitality Matt and Kathryn, and thanks for sharing your Birthday with us….

À Bientôt

On Thursday November 15th (Beaujolais Nouveau Night!?) the ICC WING group met to taste 6 Beaujolais Cru, all from 2015

We tasted wines made by Frédéric Burrier, the sixth Generation of the Burrier family to make wines at Château de Beauregard, which is located in Fuissé. Its vineyards cover 43 hectares and include 22 of Pouilly-Fuissé, 7 of Saint-Véran and 12 of Beaujolais.

Wines made entirely from their own holdings are marketed under the Château name; other wines under the name of their negociant business: Domaine Joseph Burrier.

The Beaujolais wines are all made at their property in Fleurie. The 2 Château wines are Fleurie and Moulin-à-Vent. The negociant wines include some grapes from their own sites in Morgon, Saint-Amour and Chiroubles but not the Juliénas (or their Chenas that we did not try).

All wines are made from 40-55 year old Gamay vines and see some aging in ‘Pièces’ (228 l Burgundian oak barrels), usually at least half the wine from 6 – 12 months.

Some of us had tasted this exact range of wines 19 months ago, and I had the impression then that they needed some time, and overall their showing now proved that to be right,

Here are my notes:


CHIROUBLES “SAINT ROCH” (Burrier)   –   14½%   –   Wine Society £15
Nose has herbal hints, then floral, quite heavy (violet?) notes. Palate has light, sweet fruit and a saline minerality but seems even heavier than 19 months ago. Darker, bigger, more brooding than most Bojo, let alone Chiroubles which I think of as a delicate but firm, slightly crisp Cru. Not a bad wine… but Beaujolais???
Ratings:        Quality:  14.5/20   Value:  14.5/20

CHÂTEAU DE BEAUREGARD FLEURIE “PONCIÉ”   –   14%   –   Wine Society £15
This is cooler and relatively restrained, floral elements and a red fruit note. Less drying, more open and supple than previously – with raspberry fruit, a fresh acidity and enjoyably balanced.
Ratings:        Quality:  15.5/20   Value:  15.5/20

SAINT-AMOUR “CÔTE DE BESSET” (Burrier)   –   13½%   –   Wine Society £17
Quite quiet nose at first with blackberry fruit opening out. Soft sweet dark fruit with a lively acidity and opens with time, a mineral dry feel rounds off a balanced, more typically Beaujolais, wine – Good!
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  15.5/20

JULIÉNAS “BEAUVERNAY” (Burrier)   –   14½%   –   Wine Society £17
Very dark plummy fruit nose, almost tomato, recalling big alcoholic Grenache. Palate is big, grainy sweet warm fruit, however without counter-point it seems “thick” and a little simple.
Ratings:        Quality:  14/20   Value:  13.5/20

MORGON “GRAND CRAS” (Burrier)   –   14½%   –   Wine Society £17
Nose has red fruit, with a crunchy, cranberry(?)  quality – later some soft stone fruit too emerges. Palate is structured with berry/cherry acidity and supple tannins, and a soft fruit just hinting at peach… with a velvet, almost Burgundian, fruity texture. Very good, my favourite.
Ratings:        Quality:  16.5/20   Value:  16/20

CHÂTEAU DE BEAUREGARD MOULIN-À-VENT “CLOS DES PÉRELLES”   –   14½%   –   Wine Society £18
Firm nose with dark fruit and a hint of forest floor. Palate is tight at the moment with black fruit and tannins but already pliant, long and still evolving. Good but a little grippy – I imagine the wine would merit another half point or so in a couple of years.
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  15.5/20

A very interesting tasting, showing well made, well flavoured wines with qualities above that of most Beaujolais. This was, in a couple of cases (the Chiroubles and the Juliénas), at the expense of typicity – they were very big wines with a hint (or more in the case of the Juliénas ) of “thickness” and little real lifting acidity or structure. This is a pity – especially in the case of the Chiroubles, which should have been the lightest, freshest and shown more delicate charm, in fact it was a heavyweight!

The two Château wines (Fleurie and Moulin-à-Vent) had indeed opened up over the last 19 months. The Fleurie was coming into its own, but the latter wine felt as if it needs another 2 or 3 years. The St. Amour and the Morgon won the day IMO: the former on grounds of typicity and charm; the latter on grounds of pleasure and complexity…

The December ICC Tasting in 4 weeks will be the Xmas quiz – so no Theme notes before the Call My Bluff tasting itself…

À Bientôt

The group met and Kim’s on Friday 26th October  for an evening of blind Tasting…

Here are my notes:


EGLANTINE ENGLISH SPARKLING WINE         Welcome Wine
This is from very near Nottingham, and made from Madeleine Angevine with Seyval Blanc and a little of the trio of Champagne Grapes. Nutty nose with savoury undertones and some gradually developing citrus. Slightly gluey with a bitter sweet pithy palate and a citrus lift also growing, quite light with a sherbet fizz….

ALSACE RIESLING “LES PIERRETS” 2004 (Josmeyer)          Laurie  
Quite a dark, evolved colour, showing just a hint of apply oxidation on the nose – but pale in comparison to the nutty and diesel aromas with hints of elderflower and peach. Oily palate with a round dashing acidity – quince and lime, underlying a sweet evolved stone fruit peak – long and quite warm. Lots of secondary flavours but still some youthful dash – rather nice!

“LÁGRIMAS DE MARIA”  2016 (Rioja)         Sue Mc   
This is 90% Viura with Tempranillo Blanco (a mutation of the red). Very light nose with hints of pear and a herby/woody note. The palate follows the same line as the nose – with a citrus hint and little more stone fruit.

“LES IV PIERRE” 2016 (Domaine d’Archimbaud)           Ann
This is from Saint-Saturnin, a little inland from Montpellier. The nose is peach (from 70% Viognier) with pithy and green herb hints, richness and some warmth show too (it is 20% Grenache Blanc and 10% Muscat!). The palate is quite oily and viscous with spicy warmth and good acidity cutting through, rather a good Viognier+!

ROERO ARNEIS 2017 (Marco Porello)          Mike
Slightly sweet fruit nose with an apple sharpness a little reminiscent of some Chenin. Palate has orchard fruit, warmth but quite stringent acidity. I rather liked this and thought it would match a smoked salmon starter very well…


GRANAT ST. LAURENT 2017 (Pfaffl)           Yvonne
This wine, from Niderösterreich, has a big red-fruit nose with Germolene hints and some herbs. The palate has more herbs with damson, sour cherry and raspberry fruit. Good acidity and green notes lift the big fruit making a vibrant and fresh red in the Cabernet Franc / Mencia spectrum. I rather liked this, refreshing and food-friendly…

TIERRA DE FRONTOS TINTO 2014         John
This is a Tenerife wine made from the Baboso Negro grape (the Spanish synonym of the Portuguese grape Alfrocheiro Preto, better known in the Dão and Alentejo). This has a big red fruit nose showing damsons, spice and a greener herbal element. Palate has an acid-fruit line with a slightly sour plum impression. Decidedly in the slightly saline Syrah-ish spectrum a surprisingly fresh, good example.

PETITE PETIT 2015 (Michael David – Lodi)     Sue T  
Made from 85% Petite Sirah (which might be Durif) and 15% Petit Verdot. This is about as “petite” as the elephants on the label. Soft fruit-driven nose, with some oak hints, leads to a (very!) sweet fruit palate – supple, even soft – warm, concentrated and only slightly counter-pointed by some tannins.  Rather too typically sweet, “Californian” for my taste.

RINGBOLT CABERNET SAUVIGNON  2017 (Margaret River)       Rob
Very Cab. Sauv. nose: pencil lead; blackcurrant; cedar; forest floor…. Palate has sharp dark fruit (suggesting but not really resembling blackcurrant) and round tannins – quite supple for its youth though I think a year or two would improve it!

CHARDONNAY DULCE ALB 2013 (Chateau Vartely – Moldova)       Kim
Nose has apricot, honey and passion fruit with some citric lift. The palate is very sweet – with a butterscotch tinge and a freshening lemon acidity, served with a choice of patisserie – for me it worked best with the tarte au citron…. Yum!

A great evening of wine, it’ll be no surprise to anyone that I preferred the wines that suggest food!! There was (though I say so myself) quite nice food, and it was very good to see people again after 7 weeks in France. Thanks for your hospitality Kim.

À Bientôt

On Thursday 19th July the ICC group met for the last Tasting of this season. This time we visited Alsace. It’s about 9 years since the group tasted an entirely Alsace selection, although frequently Alsace Rieslings, Gewürztraminers or Pinot Gris have appeared in varietal comparisons. This time we decided to taste (with one exception) wines that missed out the noble grapes: the above 3 and Muscat. The one exception was an – also less common – Vendanges Tardives Gewürztraminer.

Here are my notes:


CRÉMANT D’ALSACE BRUT CUVÉE PRESTIGE (Kuehn)   –   11½%   –   Virgin Wines £12
This is made predominantly from Pinot Blanc, grown on clay-limestone soil near Ammerschwihr. The nose is light showing hints of stoney peach fruit, citric pith and a touch of toast… The palate is frothy with a grapefruit bitter twist, slightly short but a crisp dry finish. Very much an aperitif style.
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  15.5/20

SYLVANER VIEILLES VIGNES 2015 (Bruno Sorg)   –   12 %   –   Tanners £13
Usually a fresh young, slightly apple-touched, wine – this version is made from old vines with no malo-lactic fermentation. This has a surprisingly heavy, honeyed nose, with only light hints of florality. The palate is spicy, warming right to the end, and a little thick showing round acidity only at the finish. I’m not sure this V V, rich treatment suits this grape, it comes over a bit dull!
Ratings:        Quality:  13.5/20   Value:  14/20

PINOT BLANC RESERVE 2015 (Turckheim)   –   12½%   –   Virgin Wines £10
This comes from granite and gravel soil, and may (or not?) have 20% Auxerrois in it. This is fresh, lemon hints, floral and obviously Alsacienne, The palate has freshness, some linear simplicity, but quite long, balanced and enjoyable.
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  16.5/20

AUXERROIS VIEILLES VIGNES 2014 (Paul Blanck)   –   13½%   –   Waitrose £15
Made from 40 year old vines grown on both gravel and sand soil or on clay-limestone soil, gentle pressing, slow fermentation and 12 month large oak barrel élevage… The nose  is light but with a exotic fruit perfume, almost a Gewürztraminer-lite! Also some complexity later: floral; citrus; cardamom…Palate is off-dry, warm with spice and spirit with open mineral mango fruit, some ginger, some mineral dryness. Long, with wonderfully food-versatility and very good
Ratings:        Quality:  16.5/20   Value:  16.5/20

PINOT NOIR 2015 (Paul Blanck)   –   12½%   –   Waitrose £15
Wild thyme immediately on the nose with a clear Pinot cherry-berry fruit. Palate is light, showing the same flavours but little development. The quality of the year has given this more colour and depth than a usual Alsace PN, lean, showing typical PN character, but still simple and might be better slightly chilled.
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  15/20

GEWÜRZTRAMINER VENDANGE TARDIVE 2014 (Turckheim)   –   13½%   Virgin Wines £30
This has big obvious Gewürz perfumes: tropical fruit; rose; ginger – with a baking-biscuits note and honey. The palate is enormously rich and that gives an impression of greater sweetness than it’s 50-60 g/l of residual sugar, maybe half that of a full dessert wine. Luscious, honey mango, passion fruit palate that goes on forever – just wanted some blue cheese or a passion fruit Crème Brûlée. A lovely thought to end this season’s ICC Tastings…
Ratings:        Quality:  17.5/20   Value:  15/20

A tasting showing – apart from the dull-ish Sylvaner – an Alsace typicity over this range of less than usual wines. A pity about the Sylvaner, I once had an (accidentally) aged bog-standard Sylvaner and it showed more in secondary flavour and complexity, while still retaining fresh acidity, than this example. Oh well – an overall enjoyable tasting for a warm summer evening!

Preparations for the next season are under way – more in about a month. In the meantime other posts will appear as usual…

À Bientôt

On Monday 9th July Janine showed the WING Tutored Tasting Group wines from DOMAINE GAUBY.

This is a biodynamic Domaine of around 45 hectares of vines near Calce in Roussillon. They are mostly between 150 and 200 meters of altitude in wild, arid, steep and hilly terrain, with some influence from the sea – less than 20km to the East. The geology is composed of limestone, marl and shale – with limestone more in the North and primary schists further south, they are sometimes intimately mixed, arranged in vertical strata, which allows a deep rooting of the vine. The wines are hand picked, low yielding and only use indigenous yeasts.

Janine showed us 3 whites and 3 reds.

Here are my notes:

LES CALCINAIRES BLANC 2015
This IGP Côtes Catalanes is made, with low yields, from Muscat 50% (15-50 yo); Macabeu 20% (30-50 yo); – Chardonnay 30% (20 yo) grown on limestone soil. It has 8 months in vat before bottling.
The nose is slightly spirit with floral and citric hints, quite clean and linear. The palate has a chalky feel underneath some lighter touches – acidity and stone fruit. Fresh and with developing interest

LES CALCINAIRES BLANC 2011
This has a much deeper nose with citrus and an oily perfumed nut element. Both higher acidity and more richness on the palate, more interesting than the 2015 and showing both subtlety and secondary characteristics. Good

LE SOULA BLANC 2011
This is made principally from Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino and Grenache Blanc but there are eight varieties in total, grown at even higher altitude on poor more granite soils.
This shows oak and a slightly oxidised note reminiscent of old Burgundy. Palate is creamy with a spicy melon hint and some sherry-ish notes and goes over a little into white Rioja territory. Long and interesting but rather too many secondary-flavours for great versatility.

LES CALCINAIRES ROUGE 2015
This is a Côtes du Roussillon Villages made from 10-20 yo: Syrah (50%); Mourvèdre (25%);  Grenache (15%) & Carignan (10%) grown on Limestone, clay-chalk and shale soils aged 10 months in barrels (20%) or vat (80%).
This has rather a Syrah nose with blackberry slightly hot fruit. Palate is quite simple with a tannic undertow and spicy woody elements too much to the fore IMO. Rather like a Syrah-heavy Southern Rhone from (say) Cairanne?

LES CALCINAIRES ROUGE 2014
This has a more perfumed nose with oak showing through, but not as prominently as the younger wine. The palate is better integrated with some cinnamon hints. More supple than the 2015 but a little less acidity.

CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON VILLAGES ROUGE VIEILLES VIGNES 2004
This is made from 125 yo Carignan (35%); 55 yo Grenache (25%); 25 yo Mourvèdre (10%) and 20 yo Syrah (30%) grown on sedimentary limestone and shale. Aged in barriques for 24 months.
Nose is mature with slightly sour plum with some sous-bois notes. Palate is well structured with a long acidic and slightly jammy plummy fruit, some start of leather and non-fruit hints. Rather nice but again seemed rather like a good Southern Rhone – Gigondas for example at almost Chateauneuf price.

An interesting tasting – these are well made wines with some poise, but the whites speak of the area more eloquently than the reds, and were – in general, much more interesting. The reds although enjoyable, especially the last, seem more generic Southern France: Rhone; Languedoc… rather than anything specifically Roussillon.
My favourite was the 2011 Calcinaires Blanc.

Thanks so much Janine

À Bientôt

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

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