On Monday February 4th the WING Tutored Tasting Group met for a Madiran Tasting, led by Laurie and showing wines from Domaine Pichard. The featured wines were their Traditional Cuvée from 2007 – 2011 and a special Cuvée from 2004: “Auguste Vigneau”.

Madiran is a wine area in South-West France, North of Pau and about 60 miles East, inland, from the Atlantic Ocean. It is approximately a 25 mile sided square, just South of the Armagnac area and comprises 38  communes and straddles 3 departments (Gers, Hautes-Pyrénées & Pyrénées-Atlantiques). A village in the centre of the area gives Madiran its name, but is the appellation for red wines only – whites from exactly the same area are called Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh.


The climate is warm and dry, although less so than further inland, in Gaillac for example. The area is made up of five large, parallel ridges that run roughly north-south, marking the transition between the foothills of the Pyrenees and the Landes, the forested coastal plains just south of Bordeaux. The most common soils here are limestone-rich clay (more to the West, producing robust long lived wines) and relatively free-draining silts, rich in minerals, along the valleys – giving supple more complex wines. Soils often studded with pebbles laced with iron and manganese oxide, which brings a reddish tinge to some vineyards, this soil is more to the East giving (relatively) more delicate wines.  The main river here is the Adour, which lies just to the east of Madiran village. The area has fairly high rainfall, mainly in in the spring, a hot summer, an autumn of still warm days combined with ideal cool nights creating a thermal variation favouring a full maturity of the tannins.

And tannins are the real story here – the main grape is aptly-named Tannat. It has to be 60% or more and it’s main blending partner is Cabernet Franc, although Cabernet Sauvignon and Fer Servadou are used… Ripe Tannat gives big tannic wines that take from 6 to 15 years to come round, and counterpointing or taming the tannins are the job of the winemaker. Small wonder the the practice of micro-oxygenation started here, although it has had more notable (and controversial) use in Bordeaux!

The Estate we tasted was Domaine Pichard – 12 ha (11 red) of vines situated in Soublecause in the East of the area. The soil here is quartz and clay studded with lydiene pebbles. The Estate produces structured long-lasting wines. Auguste Vigneau and then his nephew René Touchouere built up the Domaine from 1955 to 2005 but then sold to Jean Sentilles and his brother-in-law Rod Cork (a Lancastrian living in Paris). They modernised the winery with new foudres and barriques, and replanted some of the vines.

We tasted the last vintage made by René Touchouere – the 2004 Cuvée “Auguste Vigneau”, and a succession of vintages of the new regime: 2007-2011.

Here are my notes:


2004 Cuvée Auguste Vigneau  (13.5%)
This is  70% Tannat; 25% Cabernet Franc & 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.
The nose has a brackish quality with some hints of damson fruit, quite heavy… The palate has a sustained line of prominent tannins, not too hard but overpowering any fruit, there is a grainy quality and rather a dull finish suggesting the wine is a little too old.

2007 Cuvée Tradition   (13.5%)
This, and all the following wines, are more or less 60% Tannat / 40% Cab. Franc.
This nose is rather closed only revealing some slightly greenish plum notes later. The tannic “hit” of this wine is more striking but less enduring – forming a peak in the early-mid palate. This has higher acidity and is much fresher than the previous wine.

2008 Cuvée Tradition   (14%)
This has a pungent, vegetal, first nose with a vague dried fruit hint emerging. This is smoother and has acidity and tannins balanced and “smoothed out”. Relatively silky but still a big concentrated wine. Quite satisfying.

2009 Cuvée Tradition    (14.5%)
More open nose with a heavy floral perfume and then a prune note. Sweet (slightly over-ripe?) fruit then a massive tannic hit that persists into the rather harsh finish. This is big and seems much too young, but will any fruit disappear before the tannins soften? Judging by this very hot year’s performance in other areas – maybe!

2010 Cuvée Tradition   (14.5%)
Dark fruit on the nose and some floral notes. Good fresh acidity in a line right to the finish, balancing the high levels of  relatively supple tannin.  The is better integrated, firm but enjoyable and hinting strongly at food. Good – my favourite!

2011 Cuvée Tradition   (14%)
A fruitier nose leading to supple but less fresh palate. This is a slightly lighter style than all the rest, perhaps reflecting a difficult year – but still unresolved  and not that successful.

These are all really (I mean really!) tannic wines, but with the profile of the tannins differing between the wines. Some show the tannins throughout; some early and dropping off; some mounting towards the finish… For me the more successful wines (2008 & 2010) cry out for rich Gascony cuisine, and would be enjoyable in that setting – but otherwise they are too much for most occasions. An interesting venture into dark brooding wines though…

À Bientôt

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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

Biodynamic wine sounds quite ‘right on’ in our current age with all of our ethical, health and sustainability concerns. It is perhaps quite a topical tasting to be undertaking in the month that some are referring to as ‘Veganuary’ (whether or not the produce of biodynamic agriculture, with its burying of cow horns filled with cow manure, could be described as truly vegan is a debate for another time). Certainly, biodynamic farming does appear to show greater respect for the earth and responsibility for its conservation. But does it, as many of its proponents claim, result in better wine?

Firstly, what is meant by the term ‘biodynamic’? As the name suggests, broadly it is all to do with ‘energising life’. Biodynamic farming is a sustainable, holistic form of agriculture which sees everything in nature and our universe as being interconnected. The principles of biodynamic agriculture try to harness this interconnectivity, nurturing the land and timing farming activities to be in harmony with celestial rhythms. Some describe it as an extreme form of organic farming, but it actually predates organic agriculture by many years. It is based on the theories put forward by Austrian philosopher, Rudolf Steiner almost a century ago. The general idea is that the farm (or vineyard) should be treated as a self-sustaining living organism. This all sounds well and good, but some of the practices employed by biodynamic farming have attracted scepticism in some quarters and accusations of being a bit too ‘far out’, ‘hippy’ or just plain unscientific.

Although it was back in 1924 that Steiner first put forward the theories on which biodynamic agriculture is based, biodynamic winemaking didn’t actually take off in any significant way until the late 1980s. Francois Bouchet was the original biodynamic viticulturalist, having started using its practices on his vineyard in Touraine in 1962. However, it wasn’t until over 25 years later that Bouchet was called upon to aid other French winemakers in converting to biodynamics. Now there are hundreds of certified biodynamic producers all around the world, and many more who observe some of its practices or are in the process of converting.

So, what exactly does biodynamic winemaking entail? It does adhere to all of the principles of organic viticulture and vinification and is stricter than organic wine production in some of its rules and regulations. However, there are some very specific practices that are particular to biodynamics.

A major unique characteristic of biodynamic farming is the application of nine herb and mineral based biodynamic ‘preparations’ to the plants and soil. These nine preparations are numbered from BD #500 to BD #508; three of them are used in field sprays and the other six in compost. The three field spray preparations include horn manure, horn silica and horsetail herb. The six compost preparations are yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle, oak bark, dandelion and valerian.

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But it’s not just a case of spraying cow manure on the vines. Horn Manure and Horn Silica are prepared by burying cow horns filled with cow manure and ground quartz respectively in the vineyard for six months each (the manure is buried over the winter and the quartz over the summer). After the horns are exhumed, the material must be stirred rhythmically in water, first one way and then the other. When the direction of stirring is changed a vortex is created and the spray is ‘dynamised’ when the ‘formative forces’ in the material are transferred into the water. Horn manure is sprayed on the soil at specific times to stimulate microbial life. The Horn Silica is sprayed on vines at specific times in order to improve their health.

In addition to the use of these nine preparations, biodynamic viticulturalists are also bringing animals, such as sheep and chickens, back into the vineyard to aid its existence as a self-sustaining living organism.

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The other most significant feature of biodynamic winemaking is its timing of winemaking processes to a specific biodynamic calendar which observes the movement of the moon through the various signs of the zodiac. In biodynamics, the plant is broken down into four parts: roots, leaves/shoots, flower and fruit. Each of the four plant parts correspond to the four elements: earth, water, air and fire – each of which has three signs of the zodiac assigned to it. Vineyard processes such as planting, pruning and harvesting are all timed to take place on the days on which the moon is in front of an appropriate astronomical sign. So for example, any vineyard process concerned with roots, would take place when the moon is front in one of the three earth signs (Bull, Virgin, Goat). Work in the cellar, such as bottling is also timed to this calendar. It has even been claimed that the drinking of wine benefits from observance of this calendar. Fruit days are claimed to be the best days on which to drink many wines and benefit from their optimum taste, whilst it is also claimed that on flower days, aromatic white wines might be at their best. You’ll be pleased to know that I’ve checked the biodynamic calendar and whilst Thursday 17th January, unfortunately, isn’t a fruit day, it is a flower day so hopefully some of the whites we taste will be at their aromatic best!

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So does the burying of cow horns filled with manure and a bit of star-gazing, really make for better viticulture and better wine? Lots of established winemakers seem to think so and more and more are turning to biodynamics in their vineyards and wineries. I was lucky enough to meet a few of the makers of wines we’ll be tasting on Thursday when I went down to one of my supplier’s annual tasting events in London on Tuesday. They were very confident about the benefits of biodynamics. I’ll tell you more about their claims on Thursday evening and hopefully we’ll be able to judge for ourselves whether biodynamic winemaking really does allow the terrior to speak for itself and create a purer, more natural product that is both healthier and better tasting!

See you then,
Brigitte. x

… and on the phone…

 

The telephone rang – it would not stop
It was Jeremy Corbyn calling me up,
He said “my friend Cork,
what do we need to make the country grow?”
I said “my friend Jez: Brigitte Bordeaux,
country’ll grow….”

(apologies to Bob Dylan)

No wifi makes one a little bit crazy!

On Thursday 13th December the ICC group met for the fifth Call-My-Wine-Bluff Xmas Quiz. As usual 6 wines are served blind with “my 3 lovely assistants” each providing a claim as to what the wine was. Although the wines described are all real, two are bluffing and only one telling the truth. Everyone has to guess who’s telling the truth…

Here are my notes for this year:

The first round was “Famous Otherwise” – 3 white grapes not usually found in normal dry still wine.
This wine had some pear and peach fruit nose, leading to a softer floral hint ? Palate has a pithy slight bitterness, some acidity, more warmth – mounting to a slightly burning mineral finish.
But was it: a Hungarian dry Tokaj? A Xarel-Lo from Catalunya? Or a New Zealand – Hawkes Bay – Verdelho?
The warm minerality combined with richness tells of a more New World Style IMO.

The second round was Chenin Blanc.
Nose is of over-ripe apple with some honey notes and some wood. Palate has a warm acidity, with passion fruit hints. The wine has some weight countering the acifity, but rich with a nutty component. But was it from: South Africa? Old Vine Saumur? Or from Otago, New Zealand?
This has obvious oak and may send one towards South Africa, but the Saumur could be oaked too. I think the hardest of all 6 to guess…

The third round was Classic French Rosé.
Very Pale, onion skin pink… This has light red fruit notes, but also a heavier vegetal element. The palate is a little rinsed out but a sweet fruit tinge.
But was it a Sancerre? from Provence? Or from Tavel?
The colour and lightness on the palate rule out Tavel surely, could be Pinot Noir from Sancerre but Provence seems more likely IMO…

The fourth round was Red Bordeaux (Left Bank; Right Bank or a New World Copy)
Plum, some woody notes and a mocha hint. Palate is drying with firm tannins and a spirity cherry hint at the finish. A bit young and definitely needing food.
But was it  Ch. Chantgreve 2015 from Graves (Left Bank)? A Susana Balbo 2014 from Argentine? or Ch. Puygueraud 2013 from Cotes de Francs (Right Bank)?
This is quite difficult too – a little lacking the charm of Graves, maybe. Has the depth and flavours of an Argentinian but the plum nose and the need for time might indicate Right Bank Merlot?

Three “Lovely Assistants” reveal the one true answer….

The fifth round was Southern Italian Red 
A slightly brown tinged colour and a slightly burnt first nose, giving way to forest floor and forest fruit notes. Palate seems evolved with leather, cedar non-fruit notes… rathe renjoyable.
But was it:  2014 Negroanora? A 2008 Aglianico? Or a 2014 Nero d’Avalo based wine from Planeta in Sicily?
I think the evolution and colour of the wine point to some age – it has to be the 2008!

The last round was Off-Dry Fortified Wine!
Nose of fruit peel, some baking spice and toasted nuts. The palate follows suit with some sweetness and a warm alcohol note.
But was it: the original model Palo Cortado Sherry? Secco Superiore Marsala? Or a (Generic) Dry Madeira?
Too sweet for the sherry I think, and lacking the acidity to lift the wine that Sercial would provide – but could be generic Madeira or Marsala.

The correct answers were:


Esk Valley, Hawkes Bay Verdelho 2017
Langlois-Chateau – Saumur Vieilles Vignes, Chenin Blanc 2015
Lycastre Rose Côte de Provence (Porquerolles) 2017  Domaine de la Courtade
Château Puyguéraud 2013 Francs Côtes de Bordeaux (75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec)
Cappellaccio Aglianico Castel Del Monte D.O.C. Riserva 2008 (Rivera)
Marsala Superiore Secco (Lombardo)

Only one person managed to reach the dizzying height of 5 guesses correct! So Helen is this year’s WING Call-My-Bluff Champion. Congratulations to her and thanks to my “three beautiful assistants” in conducting the quiz.

 

Finally, I’m off to France any day now and will not be on-line again until sometime in the New Year. So any posts on Tasting in early or mid-January will be by my esteemed colleague Brigitte Bordeaux!

Speaking of whom…

It will be of great interest to know that she has opened a new “Wine Emporium”: Wine Shop and Wine-Bar; of the same name in Sherwood, Nottingham.  Check it out if you are Nottingham based!

Have a look at this – still developing – website https://www.brigittebordeauxwine.co.uk/

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All that remains is to wish all my readers a peaceful, happy, complex, elegant, long-lived and pleasurable Festive Season and New Year.

À Bientôt

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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