Archives for posts with tag: Wine of the Month

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

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

Until next time


A monthly review of an easily obtainable wine that’s had a recommendation somewhere in a National newspaper. Always posted just before the usual monthly theme, this may be the latest post for only a few days… [see note at end]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A monthly review of an easily obtainable wine that’s had a recommendation somewhere in a National newspaper. Always posted just before the usual monthly theme, this may be the latest post for only a few days…

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


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

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

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

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

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


As the Monthly Sock Club gathering only preceded the end of the month by one working day another double post to mark the turn of the calendar.

First a (very) small and (very?) select group were hosted by Ann and John for the February Sock Party on Friday 26 February. Fewer wines in fact meant more time to appreciate them.

Here are my notes:
Tesco Finest Vintage Champagne 2005 (not pictured – oooops)   –   Welcome Wine
A light fizz with small bubbles in the glass, but producing a good mousse in the mouth. Bready and lemon nose, but a slightly gluey citrus on the palate with fuller fruit developing. Served (brilliantly) with a small bowl of chips, the wine sings and a red fruit richness comes out – showing hints of cherry and raspberry. I’m often laughed at for saying that the best wine to accompany chips is Champagne, this bore this out wonderfully. Inspired!

Viognier 2014 (Domaine Mandeville) Pays d’Oc   –   John
Pungent apple and citrus nose at first, but warms to show peach later. Palate has a sweet greengage fruit which deepens to a peach and peach stone – even slightly spicy – finish. Apricot aromas grow as the wine warms but (unlike some Pays d’Oc examples) never becomes blowsy. Sometimes it seems that the more you pay for Viognier the bigger it becomes, and only good Condrieu can do this without sacrificing freshness and dash. I have the same feeling about Gewurztraminer sometimes. This example has freshness and typicity in balance.

Chablis Premier Cru ‘Côte de Léchet’ 2011 (La Chablisienne)   –   Laurie
Nose has sappy, slightly nutty notes, and some lemon. Palate has lemon and yeasty touch with a strong but well integrated mineral line. Open and drinking very well with the Chablis “steel” under the velvet cloak of fruit, it all leads to a warm, slightly lemon pith finish.

Tbilvino Queuris 2013 (Georgia)   –   Yvonne
This wine uses Qvevri, (traditional, buried, amphora-style clay vessels) to ferment the Rkatsiteli grape. The wine’s nose is surprisingly closed but the palate shows long extraction with pear and citrus hints and a drying – almost tannic – quality. As it opens pear appears on the nose and a spiced honey note on the palate. File under weird and wonderful (at least for a month, as this wine is lined up to be tasted for April wine-of-the-month… watch this space.  [I’ve always wanted to write that]).

“Korem” Isola dei Nuraghi 2011 (Argiolas) Sardinia  –   Kim
Herby nose with a vesper of vanilla, a heavy floral note (lillies? violets?) and dark fruit. The palate has a fruit-acid frame and a dry herb and tannic middle, but an amazingly creamy (flavour as well as texture) finish. This is made from grapes known locally as Cannonau and Bovale Sardo – in Spain they would be called Garnacha and Graciano and the wine has a Spanish feel to it IMO. Very good.

Calypso 2013 (Snake & Herring) Margaret River   –   Ann
Nose has sour fruit with blackberry and black cherry with a brackish grainy note . This palate is centred on supple redcurrant fruit – reminiscent of old vine Carignan leading to a slightly bay leaf element at the finish. The wine opens a little and the acidity seems to lighten the grain – giving chocolate hints and a more plum fruit. This is mostly Cabernet Franc and Merlot but only towards the end do their characters emerge: leaf and chocolate. Perhaps a little young and not very like a right bank claret – but good!

San Colombano Chianti Riserva 2006   –   Rob
This has tell-tale cherry nose and a palate which shows sour cherry fruit building to a prune thickness. A very typical Chianti but without the richness and fruit-cake elements of an aged Riserva. Perfectly quaffable and worked a treat with the end-of-evening food.

A wonderfully enjoyable evening, partly due to taking more time with the wines but mainly due to the hospitality and bonhomie of the company. Despite so few wines we lingered an hour longer than normal – a testament to the pleasure of the evening in itself. Thanks so much Ann & John.

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Now on to March Wine-Of-The-Month

A monthly review of an easily obtainable wine that’s had a recommendation somewhere in a National newspaper. Always posted just before the usual monthly theme, this may be the latest post for only a few days…


Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Aglianico del Vulture 2011  – 13% –  £8

As we are trying some more Northerly, cooler, efforts from a warm country (Spain) this month, I though it a nice idea to try a more structured wine from an even hotter place: Southern Italy. The area is full of big and, it has to be said, sometimes blowsy reds made from Primitivo and/or Negroamaro. However Aglianico thrives on volcanic soil in Basilicata and produces some focused wines.

This example has an immediate – obviously Italian – nose of cherries and herbs with a hint of pepper. The palate has the sweet, and then sour, fruit flavours of plums – and then plum skins. The wine has a drying – slightly stalky, herby – tannic line and a warm finish. The non-fruit elements: warmth, herbs, tannins, sharpness; all suggest food very strongly.

With food (in this case a slow-cooked venison stew) the wine holds up very well, the body matching the strong, slightly “liver-ish” flavour of the meat and the dryness framing the liquid  elements of the dish. The slightly mineral gamey-ness make both the sweetness and acidity in the wine more apparent – “lifting” the wine’s refreshment against the food very well.

After the meal and a little time the wine seems to take on a richer texture, with the beginning of chocolate hints, and cherry fruit appears closer to the surface.

Altogether a very good effort and an exceptional price.

Ratings: Quality: 14/20     Value: 16.5/20

A monthly review of an easily obtainable wine that’s had a recommendation somewhere in a National newspaper. Always posted just before the usual monthly theme, this may be the latest post for only a few days…

Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling 2014 (Aldi £7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to 2016!

I saw in the turn of year with a wine party (what else) with the Sock Club stalwarts, who each contributed food too.  A lovely evening with – as usual – wines served blind. But the increased consumption and a longer evening meant my objective attention to the wine, and my note-taking, were diminished. Nevertheless here are some remarks about the wines:
Quetzal 2014 (Kim) is a Chardonnay, Chenin blend from Valle de Guadalupe. Soft fruit nose with a soda-ish hint. Palate is dry and mineral with a honey tinged middle palate.

Laudun Cotes du Rhone Villages 2013 (Boulas) (Carrie), is mainly Grenache Blanc. The nose has a lot of herbs and a peachy fruit, while the palate is very dry, clean with a warm acid line complementing cream cheese and smoked salmon blinis well.

Givry Blanc “Champ Pourot” 2010 (Ragot) (Laurie). Typical Burgundy nose with a sharp citric hint. Firm palate but opening nicely with its former strongly lime acidity integrating with a peachy, melon fruit. Lovely with a lemon-zest tinged aubergine bake – (from a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe)

Waimea Pinot Gris 2015 (Nelson NZ) (Sue T) – a 2015 vintage to see out the year! Pear drops and honey on the nose, with a similar palate – far from dry with a slight petillante quality and tell-tale smoky hints.
Marcillac ‘Lo Sang del Pais’ (Domaine du Cros) 2009 (Rob) Marcillac is a small red Appellation, about 60 miles east of Cahors, making wine from Fer Servadou. The nose is pungent clearing to a slightly cedar-wood tinged raspberry fruit. Palate has secondary claret-ish flavours, herbs, even slightly bay leaf hints and a woody bitter chocolate finish. A wine that might cope with chilling…

Saumur-Champigny Vieilles Vignes 2005 (Langlois-Chateau) (John) Has clean raspberry and an earthy note. Palate is velvety and clean suggesting Pinot, but the depth and substance are aged but supple Cabernet Franc. A lovely wine

Frontos Tinto (Calidad de Las Islas Canarias) (Ann). A Tenerife – volcanic soil wine, with Syrah and Merlot. The nose is floral with hints of violet (?) and chocolate. Palate is dryish with blackberry fruit and a supple firm finish working with the Sausage Casserole…

St Chinian 2014 “Terrasses De Mayline” (Cave de Roquebrun) (Mike) a GSM blend has a slightly dilute blueberry nose with a warm supple palate with lots of herbs and even a minty hint.

“The Ned” Noble Sauvignnon Blanc 2014 (Waihopai River, Marlborough) (Helen). Getting late when this was broached but the butterscotch sweetness was powerfully supported by a line of warm acidity. Great with Xmas cake…

And at midnight Champagne Billiot Millesime 1996 – as the wine “became” 20 years old. The moose was weakened but the dashing grapefruit acidity and a yeasty finish hadn’t – Cheers!

So onto

Wine of the Month

A monthly review of an easily obtainable wine that’s had a recommendation somewhere in a National newspaper. Usually posted just before the usual monthly theme, this may be the latest post for only a few days….

Exquisite Collection Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2014 (Aldi £7.50)

Very typical PN colour – bright and translucent. The word “typical” occurs regularly when evaluating this wine – nose is herbs, raspberry, hints of farmyard and a dusty sweet baking spice note. Palate is light (despite 14% abv), with a sour-cherry but slightly dilute attack. A warm peppery middle then sweet fruit finish.

Later violet and redcurrant tones appear, and the palate’s spicy-ness has a metallic hint. With food (a spicy Shepherd’s Pie) the acidity plays well and the pepper note interplays with the spice in the food.

Quite a simple and four-square Pinot but everything is in place and what a price!

Ratings:   Quality: 14/20          Value: 17/20       

This is the first post of the New Year – so
A Happy Healthy and Peaceful 2016 to all readers!

A monthly review of an easily obtainable wine that’s had a recommendation somewhere in a National newspaper. Usually posted just before the usual monthly theme, this may be the latest post for only a few days….

This month, however, the December tasting will be the “festive” Call My Wine Bluff  Quiz. So there will be no Theme post this month, and you’ll have to wait (for about a week) for the next post, which will be the notes of the Quiz.

Chablis “La Réserve” 2013 (Blason de Bourgogne) – 13% – Sainsbury’s £13 (but on offer for £10)


The wine has an obvious Chardonnay nose of citrus, some sweet floral – maybe fruit blossom – notes and a herby melon hint later. The palate is clean with quite warm broad citrus – lime? – acidity, a mineral slightly chalky but creamy texture and a warm long finish. With time and warmth the floral note on the nose broadens to give honeysuckle and even honey tinges and the palate broadens too to show buttery notes, a hint of woody herbaceous-ness rather than oak and a rather nice apple-skin fruit.

With food the depth and focus of the acidity becomes stronger and the wine shows advanced integration.

Rather interesting for a Supermarket Chardonnay but broader and richer than a typical Chablis focus. Made to be forward and drinkable I think, but rather successful at that unless you are looking for Chablis austerity and precision. Good.

Ratings:   Quality: 15.5/20          Value: 16/20        but at the reduced price  17/20

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