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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

Years ago, the most well-known wine-day to the general (rather than the oenophile) British public was the day that Beaujolais Nouveau was released. The popular press was concerned with reporting, and sponsoring, teams of drivers, pilots and even parachutists to win a race to get the wine to London. The evening was often marked by Beaujolais Nouveau parties. I think I attended one last in the early 1980s, and I recall nothing of that evening, although the next morning is one I haven’t been able to forget….

That date is the 3rd Thursday of November, so this year it’s 15th November 2018 – and (un-)coincidentally the occasion for a Beaujolais tasting for the WING group at the ICC.

The nouveau isn’t that great a wine, frankly – but it has contributed to an image for Beaujolais as light, chillable, wine best consumed young… which is only part of the story…

Red Beaujolias (about 1% of Beaujolais is Chardonnay) is made from the Gamay grape. Gamay is thin-skinned and light in colour giving light-bodied, fruity and aromatic wines. The grapes are typically trained in gobelet (or similar) and hand picking is compulsory. Experiments are done with cordon royat and machine harvest. The soil is mainly granite and limestone clay, with granite proportions increasing the further North you are.

Beaujolais produces pretty close to 100m bottles every year, there are 3 appellation (AOC/AOP) categories and 12 AOC/AOPs:

  • Beaujolais (about 35% of all Beaujolais, a little over half sold as Nouveau)
  • Beaujolais Villages, from 38 villages in the Northern half of the area, but without the village name on the bottle (about 27%, about a third Nouveau)
  • The Beaujolais Cru, 10 village areas on the best sites where the village is mentioned on the label, each with its own AOC/AOP (about 38%, no Nouveau).

These areas are located as shown on this map:


The area, as you can see, is south of the Mâcon vineyards of Burgundy, and the area counts as part of Burgundy for most general description. In fact there are some Chardonnay vineyards that are to the South of the most northerly Gamay vineyards of Beaujolais (e.g. around Saint-Vérand or Chânes where Macon, Saint-Véran, Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages vineyards form a entangled patchwork).

Really the Nouveau is a lower level wine, even if it comes from the Villages area. So a quality proportion is better shown in this Wine Folly graphic…


The issue with Beaujolais is this: while the description of fresh, fruity, chillable and especially youthful wine does fit the bottom tier, and some of the middle tier – it certainly doesn’t fit the Cru wines. They show the qualities of Gamay – freshness, fruit, suppleness… in a much more serious package, varying greatly across the 10 Cru, with wines that improve with age and in some cases last for 7-10 years…

Part of the reason for all this variation is the relatively uncommon method of making the wine called Carbonic Maceration. I say uncommon, meaning in the wine world – but it is a main way of vinifying Gamay in Beaujolais.

Carbonic Maceration does not use yeast to start fermentation. Whole bunches of grapes are placed in vats, which are then sealed and filled with CO2 to remove the oxygen.

This triggers a process within the grapes known as intracellular fermentation. Once alcohol levels reach around 2% abv, the grape skins split and release their juice. Carbonic maceration extracts some colour from the grapes but little tannin, generally creating red wines that are light in colour, low in tannin and which have a soft, fruity character.

Also the process produces esters such as ethyl cinnamate in higher quantities than normal, giving rise to flavours such as raspberry, strawberry, banana and bubblegum…

Wines made in this style include Beaujolais Nouveau and are often best when drunk young and sometimes even lightly chilled.

More serious wines are more likely to be made using semi-carbonic maceration. A similar method which does not include filling the vats with CO2. Here, the vat is filled with the whole bunches, the weight of the grapes on the top crushes the ones below, releasing the juice. Yeast ferments the fruit and releases CO2, kick-starting carbonic maceration in the remaining un-burst grapes.

Both carbonic methods only create a small amount of alcohol, so once it is completed, the grapes are pressed off the skins and yeast completes the fermentation process in the normal way. Again, some more serious makers might use some oak in making the wines.

However for producers of wine in the Cru areas little – if any – of the wine will be produced like this. Instead the wines will be vinified normally, showing the real character of the Gamay grape…

If you look at any source of reference for Beaujolais Cru Wines they will give you a list of the individual characteristics of the 10 Cru. However although there are general similarities they are all a bit different. For example here are four description of typical Chiroubles: “tart cherry, raspberry, rose petal and violet”; “elegant aromas of violets, peony, red currant and cherry”; “violet, orange blossom, peony and raspberry” and “delicate red berry fruit and violet notes”… You get the idea…

So here’s a typical – but not definitive – idea of each of the 10 Cru’s typical character (listed from North to South):

  • Saint-Amour: Elegant aromas of red currant, iris and plum
  • Juliénas: Bold aromas of strawberry, violets, cinnamon, and red currant
  • Chénas: Medium-Bold aromas of rose and peony and spicy woodsy notes with age
  • Moulin-à-Vent: Bold aromas of cherry, violets and black currant
  • Fleurie: Elegant aromas of black currant, peach, iris and violets
  • Chiroubles: Elegant aromas of violets, peony, red currant and cherry
  • Morgon: Bold aromas of cherry, peach, plum and violets
  • Régnié: Medium-Bold aromas of raspberry and black currant with a hint of spiciness
  • Côte de Brouilly: Medium-Bold aromas of iris, plum and fresh grapes
  • Brouilly: Bold raspberry, ripe peach and a touch of soil

In the November Tasting we are going to concentrate only on the Cru Beaujolais. We’ll try 6 all from the same year and producer. Notes will be posted in 5 or 6 days.

À Bientôt

On Monday 5th November – a smokey night in Nottingham – Anna & Paul led us through a tasting of six McLaren Vale Wines from D’Arenberg – all based on Grencahe and/or Syrah and/or Mourvèdre.

D’Arenberg  was established in 1912, and the winemaking is now in the hands of the fourth generation, Chester Osborn who says: “I aim to make the loudest, most aromatic, fruit-flavoured wines that have great palate texture and are free of obvious oak: I look for tannins that are long, lively, gritty and youthful with fragrant fruit minerality.”

200 hectares of vines are used to make d’Arenberg’s wines (both estate and leased vineyards) and they are all certified organic and biodynamic. This makes them the largest biodynamic grower in Australia. Furthermore, 50% of the estate’s own vineyards are more than 50 years old, which fits well with the estate’s “mission”.

Altogether d’Arenberg make 72 different wines (probably the largest range in Australia) from 37 varieties grown on over 400 different parcels.

Every white and red wine is pressed in old wooden basket presses, with each red ferment foot-trodden too. Red ferments take place in five tonne open fermenters with wooden hammer boards to submerge the cap.

Do the wines match the mission? Let’s see – here are my notes:


THE CUSTODIAN GRENACHE 2011
(85% Grenache with Syrah + 1% Viognier). Plums to the fore initially and some leaf-mould, vegetal notes, spice and a hint of sawdust…. The palate has supple fruit with a warm cherry-liqueur middle, quite long with sharper and savoury elements and a soft tannic frame…

THE LOVE GRASS SHIRAZ 2013
Darker than the previous wine, more blackberry flavours with a port hint – liquorice, baking spice… Palate has salinity and peppery sweet fruit, tannins and port hints re-surface – very big but wearing its size relatively well.

D’ARRY’S ORIGINAL SHIRAZ/GRENACHE 2013
This is pretty well 50:50 of its constituent grapes. 40 years ago this was launched as “Burgundy” and retains the bottle shape. Very intense dark fruit nose with woody hints. Palate is rich – one might say heavy – with sweet briary fruit with an earthy touch and not much to counter-point it, Big but not, strangely, really very vinous. Not at all like any Burgundy I’ve ever drunk (and there has been a bit….)!

THE BONSAI VINE GRENACHE/SHIRAZ/MOURVEDRE 2013
(GSM:: 48:46:6 from rock-based shallow soil). Very fruit driven nose – plums, damsons and black fruit… The palate is pliant with rich but quite firm tannins framing the long warm fruit. The tannins add balance but this needs food, in the same spectrum as a big S. Rhone village.

THE DERELICT VINEYARD GRENACHE 2011
From old vines, this has open fruity nose, plums again recalling wine 1, but fresher, longer and subtler even though there are woody hints. Palate has supple fruit with a good acidity and spicy tannins giving a cool three-way balance… Lovely!

THE DEAD ARM SHIRAZ 2013
This is from vines that have lost branches to a vine disease caused by Eutypa Lata. One half, or an arm of the vine slowly becomes reduced to dead wood. The grapes on the other side, while very low yielding display amazing intensity. The nose of this is brooding black fruit, tight with slight tarry and woody hints. The palate is also tarry, showing sharp fruit-acid with mineral earth notes, spices again and a big structure in recess… Behind all this there is a very sweet fruit and (to my palate) a hint of that saltiness waiting to evolve. Tried again an hour later that proves true: a very big, very well made, relatively balanced version of big McLaren Shiraz.

These are very interesting wines, which certainly fall in with the winemakers aims. They are big  (they are all 14.2 – 14.6 % abv!) and to my palate some area bit too big. Certainly within the Australian vernacular, if you like that, these wines have a lot to recommend them. I appreciated all the wines – except for D’Arry’s Original – but the wines I really liked were the Grenaches. With the Derelict winning the night.

An excellent tour around this part of the wine world! Thanks so much Ann and Paul…

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

The ICC group met on Thursday 18th October to taste wines from the Balkan region. It was an interesting tasting with a good range of wines from Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and the Macedonia region of Greece, all made from grapes indigenous to the Balkan peninsula. All wines were sourced from Novel Wines.

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Here are my (very late) tasting notes:

Damjanic Malvasija Istarska 2016 – 13% – £14.95
I really liked this wine. It was quite grapey with some salinity as well as some honeyed and floral notes. It was well balanced with complexity and a long finish.
Quality 17/20              Value 17/20

Budureasca Premium Tamaioasa Romaneasca 2017 – 13% – £11.95
An interesting wine. Some sweetness but not too much and balanced by good acidity. Floral notes similar to Gewurztraminer. Well balanced and enjoyable but not as complex as the previous.
Quality 15/20                          Value 15/20

Terra Tangra Tamianka Muskat 2016 – 14% – £15.95
Like the last wine, this is also made from a local clone of the Muscat grape. Similar sweet character to the last wine. Flavours of grape, peach and honeysuckle. Slight warmth from the alcohol but not unpleasant.
Quality 14/20                          Value 13/20

Chateau Purcari Maluri de Prut 2015 – 13.5% – £17.95
This Moldovan wine is made from local the local grapes Feteasca Neagra (90%) and Rara Neagra (10%). Quite soft and velvety on the palate with some plum and raisin along with vanilla and spice. This wine divided opinion with some enjoying its soft fruit, spice and vanilla notes and others finding it too oaky. Whilst it was probably my least favourite red, I did find it very drinkable though may have gone for something else at that price.
Quality 14/20                          Value 12/20

Franc Arman Teran Barrique 2013 – 13.5% – £19.50
I was slightly nervous about this wine after reading that Teran doesn’t age well and can turn flat and bitter after a year or so. However, this 2013 Croatian Teran was actually pretty good, made better by the knowledge that Novel Wines are now selling it on their website for £25.99! Full bodied with flavours or cherry and vanilla along with some herbal, earthy notes. Smooth tannins and a long finish. An enjoyable wine!
Quality 16/20                          Value 16/20 (in view of its later price increase)

Alpha Estate Hedgehog Single Vineyard Xinomavro 2012 – 14% – £18.50
This was my favourite red. For me it had good flavour complexity with black fruit and plum complemented by black pepper and leather. Well balanced with smooth tannins and a long finish.
Quality 17/20                          Value 16/20

Apologies for the lateness of these notes. See you all soon,

Brigitte. x

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