Archives for category: WIne Tasting

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

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On Thursday 18th July the ICC Group met to compare Wines from Victoria and Burgundy – both white (Chardonnay) and red (Pinot Noir). This tasting partly followed an eye-opening tasting of Antipodean Pinot (see post of March 8th 2017) a couple of years ago, and the Jancis Robinson quotation cited in the Theme post last week. Both of these showed Australia can make wines in cooler climates from Burgundy grapes very well – but how well?

For each grape 3 wines were served blind one each from the Yarra Valley, Gippsland (both in Victoria) and Mercurey, (in the Côte Chalonnaise). The wines are all around £20 in UK. I chose the same wineries for both red and white wines.

Hoddles Creek Estate, established in 1997, is located in the Upper Yarra, which is higher, cooler and more marginal than the lower Yarra, The Estate is planted with 10ha of Pinot Noir (five clones), 6 ha of chardonnay, Being in a marginal climate, requires extensive canopy management. Over the last decade it has been focusing on minimal chemical use in the vineyard, and claim they are starting to see the benefits of health soils and vines with more balanced wines. It works the vineyards for low yields (below 33 hl/ha).

Wickham Road is a 8 hectare vineyard planted solely to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It is cool, free draining and the vines are 17 years old. During the winter months, sheep are used to reduce the reliance on chemical control for weeds and grasses. The resulting wines require no acidification or fining.

Domaine Pillot is a family wine business over 150 years old in Mellecey a village in the Mercurey commune. The domaine has 17 hectares throughout the appellation and practice La lutte raisonnée (a sort of minimum intervention) in the vineyard. Appropriately the wines have a reputation for lightness and delicacy.


The serving order was random – so the following notes follow the order in which the wines were served (before their identity was know). First, the Chardonnays:

WICKHAM ROAD 2017   Gippsland, Victoria   –  12.8%  –  Stone, Vine & Sun  – £19
Slightly nutty nose. Palate has fresh acidity with pithy note – seeming to tighten with time. There is orchard fruit, bright but slightly soft. Acidity persists and eventually becomes the main character.
Ratings:        Quality:  14.5/20   Value:  13.5/20

MERCUREY 2016 (Pillot) Côte Chalonnaise, Burgundy  –  13%  –  3D – £21
This has a more citric and lighter nose, some oak giving a creamy texture building to a slightly bitter mineral end. The fruit line is hidden in the acidity making the wine develop more in the glass than the other example. Less striking but more subtle???
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  14/20

HODDLES CREEK 2016  Yarra Valley,Victoria  –  13.2%  –  Stone, Vine & Sun  – £22
Nutty notes again, with a palate more restrained and lighter than the first wine, but clearly in the same style. Balanced, long and correct – very well made…
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  14/20

The popular vote had the Yarra Valley wine as best white (9 votes) followed by the Mercurey (7) and the Gippsland (6)

Secondly the Pinots:

MERCUREY 1er Cru “En Sazenay” 2015 (Pillot) Côte Chalonnaise, Burgundy  –  13%  –  3D – £21
Light and bright colour with a herb and plum nose. Quiet but insistent palate with soft red fruit (hints of cherry) a line of warm acidity and subtle grip with a spice note accentuating a very Pinot character. Very good and my favourite…
Ratings:        Quality:  17/20   Value:  16/20

HODDLES CREEK 2016 Yarra Valley, Victoria  –  13.2%  –  Stone, Vine & Sun  – £23
Darker with a herbal nose, red fruit too and again on the palate with a slightly bitter bay leaf twist to the acidity. To my taste a good but slightly one-dimensional red.
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  15/20

WICKHAM ROAD 2017 Gippsland, Victoria  –  13%  –  Stone, Vine & Sun  – £19
Slightly brownish colour and a quiet nose, fruity palate but little else. This had little vinous quality and as a consequence I would probably avoid it!
Ratings:        Quality:  12.5/20   Value:  11.5/20

The popular vote had the Yarra Valley wine as best red (10 votes) followed by the Mercurey (8) and the Gippsland (5). Though, funnily enough, no supporters of the Gippsland red followed through to choosing it a best wine overall – despite two-thirds of those present choosing a red. Clearly those that liked the last red are white wine drinkers!!??

Wine-of-the-night voting went (in serving order) 1 – 2 – 5 – 7 – 8 – 0

So the Yarra Valley estate won the night overall (as well as the separate white and red votes) with 13 supporters, the Mercurey 9 and the Gippsland 1.
For me the whites very much closer, although I can’t help thinking – for the price – a decent Chablis (or maybe a Pernand-Vergelesses) might beat them all. I thought the Yarra Pinot surprisingly good but lacking just a little subtlety and complexity compared to the Burgundy. The Gippsland red showed the worst qualities of New World Pinot, IMO although their white was much better. My scores have Mercurey leading 32 to 31 for the Yarra, with Gippsland trailing in with 27.

An interesting tasting – I was impressed by the Yarra – though not enough to seek Victorian wines out, especially considering one can get £20-in-UK wines in Burgundy itself at around the €13 mark… must go there again soon…

À Bientôt

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We all love a good dinner party: convivial company, several delicious food courses and of course, the wine. But when thinking about what food to serve up and what wine to go with it, are there really rules that must be obeyed? Is it a social faux pas to serve oysters with anything other than blanc de blancs champagne or premier cru Chablis? Must the roast lamb be paired with a good Pauillac or St-Julien? And is serving the stilton with anything other than Vintage Port likely to cause quiet outrage amongst your guests?

Well, not according to Tim Hanni MW, who has recently dismissed the concept of food and wine pairing as ‘bullshit’. Speaking at the International Sauvignon Blanc celebration in Marlborough at the end of January, Hanni said “A perfect wine pairing doesn’t exist. We’re doing a lot of damage the way we’re matching wine and categorising it. We need to start a campaign to stop wine and food pairing as we’ve created a lot of bullshit around the idea… We need to celebrate the diversity of consumers, not make them feel stupid. You can serve Sauvignon Blanc with steak – why not?”

When Hanni’s comments were reported in an article in The Drinks Business, they unsurprisingly provoked many responses and much debate on the subject. Another Master of Wine, David Bird, agreed with Hanni’s comments, stating ‘it’s all about personal taste. I am doing some lectures for a sommeliers’ association and they spend hours on this subject, as if there is only one possible right combination. They were shocked when I told them I drink Sancerre with roast lamb! It’s perfect!’

Some of those responding to Hanni’s comments disagreed, whilst others agreed to a certain extent, but to me, the sensible standpoint seems to be that whilst tastes are, of course, subjective, and there may be some people who like nothing better than to wash down their fish and chips with a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, there do exist some food and wine combinations that are generally found to complement one another well and make the experience of both the food and the wine more enjoyable. There are undoubtedly also combinations that are less successful. Whilst I wouldn’t object at all to quaffing a Sancerre with my roast lamb, I’d personally try to finish my glass (or two) before making a start on my sticky toffee pudding dessert.

So whilst I don’t believe there are any hard and fast rules that always need to be adhered to or that there is only one possible perfect wine match for any dish, there is certainly some advice that can be followed to help you find wines and foods that have a good chance of complementing each other on the palates of the majority of your dinner party guests.

As a starting point, the website ‘Wine Folly’ provides these 9 handy tips:

  1. The wine should be more acidic than the food.
  2. The wine should be sweeter than the food.
  3. The wine should have the same flavour intensity as the food.
  4. Red wines pair best with bold flavoured meats (e.g. red meat).
  5. White wines pair best with light-intensity meats (e.g. fish or chicken).
  6. Bitter wines (e.g. red wines) are best balanced with fat.
  7. It is better to match the wine with the sauce than with the meat.
  8. More often than not, White, Sparkling and Rosé wines create contrasting pairings.
  9. More often than not, Red wines will create congruent pairings.

There’s clearly a lot to think about in terms of trying to create successful pairings but I do agree with Tim Hanni that we shouldn’t be too prescriptive or get too bogged down in searching for the perfect match. A lot of fun can be had in creating interesting food and wine combinations which hopefully enhance the experience of consuming both, but one person’s ‘match made in heaven’ isn’t necessarily another’s.

Puligny-Montrachet and Beef and Tomato Pot Noodle, anyone?

See you tomorrow,

Brigitte. x

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

We met at the ICC on Thursday 17th January to taste wines that had all been made biodynamically. The tasting generated some interesting discussion on the topic and we tasted six very different and interesting wines. Here are my notes:

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Loimer 2017 Kamptal Grüner Veltliner. 12%. Brigitte Bordeaux – £17.35
This Austrian Grüner Veltliner has a good balance of fruit and acid with lots of fresh green apple and white pepper on the palate. It was the most popular white wine of the evening and had two votes for overall wine of the night.
Quality: 16/20  Value: 16/20

Cullen 2015 Cullen Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Semillon. 13%. Brigitte Bordeaux – £23.20
This white Bordeaux blend from Margaret River in Western Australia has great flavour complexity. Although the grape composition is 74% Sauvignon Blanc and 26% Semillon, the wine has quite a strong Semillon character with pronounced notes of lanolin and beeswax. In addition, the palate has flavours of cut grass and stone fruit along with some more spicy and tropical notes. Like the Grüner Veltliner, this wine also got 2 votes for wine of the night.
Quality 17/20  Value: 16/20

Domaine De La Pinte. 2012 Arbois Savagnin. 13.5%. Brigitte Bordeaux – £26.50
This is a really interesting wine made from the Savagnin grape that is native to the Jura region of France. Flavours of sour apple and burnt toffee come through on the palate with some beeswax and a long mineral finish. This very distinctive wine split opinion with some not so keen but it got 4 votes for best white of the night and 2 for best wine overall.
Quality: 16/20  Value: 15/20

Clau de Nell 2015 Cabernet Franc. 13%. Brigitte Bordeaux – £29.90
Lots of raspberry and cherry on the palate here with barnyard notes adding complexity. Well balanced with integrated tannins and fresh acidity. Marginally my favourite of the night, and getting 3 votes in total for favourite wine of the evening.
Quality: 18/20  Value: 16/20

Bill Downie 2015 Petit Verdot. 13.5% Brigitte Bordeaux – £16.20
Another single varietal with good flavour complexity. Dark, inky colour with flavours of dark berry fruit and aniseed. Confectionary and liquorice notes and an overall herbal character. Good value and the overall favourite of 5 people.
Quality: 16/20  Value: 16/20

Domaine Cazes 2017 Ego. 15% Brigitte Bordeaux – £17.50
Overall favourite wine of the night with ten votes, this blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre from Roussillon has great balance and flavour complexity. Bursting with red and black fruit, good acidity and integrated tannins, the wine also has notes of liquorice and a long peppery finish.
Quality: 17/20  Value: 17/20

In conclusion, these are all really good wines but whether of not that can be put down to biodynamics would be very difficult to prove. They were certainly all expressive and characterful and if they’ve been produced using fewer chemicals, less intervention and more respect for the land, then surely we can agree that biodynamic wine production is no bad thing!

Brigitte. x

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

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

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