Thursday, 31 March 2011

Around the World in 80 Wines with Wines of South Africa

The South African High Commission in Trafalgar Square was the venue for last weeks Wines of South Africa’s, around the world in 80 wines tasting. As you can see from the picture below it was a fantastic venue that almost felt like you were going back in time! On show were 152 wines, covering all the main grape varieties and blends which is easier to say what wasn’t in them, than what was, and one I’d never even heard of, Bukettraube.

Their were some fantastic wines on show, here are some of my favourites from the day;

Pongrácz Brut Rosé NV – This sparkling had a salmon pink colour with aromas and flavours of red berries, combine this with a refreshing level of acidity and a good length of flavour, it went on to produce a well balanced wine, especially for £8.99, available from SA Wines Online.

Lomond Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Cape Agulhas, 2010 – This is a blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Nouvelle, with an almost water white colour and aromas of melons, figs and hints of grass coming through. On the palate you got the aromas coming through with a touch of minerality thrown in for good measure. Combine these with a good level of acidity and a reasonable length; you get a beautiful and complex wine all for £9.99, available from Forth Wines Ltd.

Spier Private Collection Chenin Blanc, Western Cape, 2009 – A blend of 95% Chenin Blanc and 5% Viognier giving you pronounced aromas and flavours of stone and tropical fruit, a touch of cedar then came through from the oak vinification. It had a good level of acidity and a long length of flavour, you also got a very full, rich mouth feel again from the oaking. This was a wonderfully rich and full on wine with great fruit flavours and complexity, which is what you’d expect for £18.49; available from Henderson wines and SA Wines Online.

Springfield ‘The Work of Time’, Robertson, 2004 – This is a blend of 45% Cabernet Franc, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot which is just amazing. You got wonderful jammy flavours of dark fruit with a high level of ripe tannins and a good level of acidity, which produced a well balanced wine that would go beautifully with a Sunday roast, this wine could also age for quite a few more years yet as well. Excellent value for £14; available from Bibendum Wine.

Southern Right Pinotage, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Hermaus, 2008 – 100% Pinotage, which can be a difficult grape, they are either fantastic or absolutely horrendous, this one was the latter. It had an opaque ruby colour with breathtaking aromas and flavours of jammy berries with a touch of spice coming through from the background. Combined skilfully with a good level of fine tannin and you got an amazingly complex and delightful wine all for £11.99, which is just amazing; available from Waitrose.

Lourensford Noble Late Harvest Semillon, Stellenbosch, 2009 – Produced from 100% Semillon, they hand pick the Botrytised bunches which are then lightly pressed and barrel fermented. The wine had a deep golden colour which was lusciously sweet with flavours of honey and apricots, on the nose you also got the distinctive botrytis aromas. This was a stunning sweet wine that I could have sipped away at for hours; available from SA Wines Online, Taurus Wines, Well Wine W4 and for £8.99.

It was a fantastic tasting and there were many more great wines on show, these are just a few that really caught my eye, hope you enjoy them as I did.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Charming, charismatic, cool: Callooh Callay

I don’t usually blog about bars, but I’m making an exception, for a fantastic cocktail club I had the pleasure of going to at the weekend: Callooh Callay. Based in the heart of all that is trendy and cool, Shoreditch, when you first enter the bar, it seems kind of normal, and kind of small. However, when you book a table in advance – that’s when it becomes kind of special.

In the corner stands what looks like, a big old fashioned wardrobe. On closer inspection however, you discover it’s a door, which leads you another bar, giving you a feeling like you’ve just entered Narnia. The bar was, for want of a better word, amazing! There were baths that had been cut in half and turned into seats and other eclectic furniture. Even better, then there is yet another smaller, even further hidden, totally exclusive bar upstairs.  Thankfully, it didn’t turn out to be style over substance; the menu was phenomenal, it had all the usual cocktails you’d expect, with many more that you’d never heard of.

We started with a glass of Ruinart Rose, a stunning Champagne. Founded in 1729, the House of Ruinart is reputedly the oldest Champagne house. Originally created by the Benedictine Monk Dom Thierry Ruinart, he did so in response to the enthusiasm of the aristocratic royal circles for the tipple. The business was then taken over and developed by his brother and nephew, both of whom were called Nicolas, who moved the family business away from the cloth trade in 1735, to solely focus on the Champagne business.

It had wonderfully youthful aromas of Strawberries, Raspberries and Red Currants; you got all these on the palate with a great level of acidity and wonderfully fine bubbles. A blend of 45% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs and 55% Pinot Noir from Montagne de Reims, it has a bright Salmon Pink colour, which was a little bit difficult to tell in the club, but didn’t take away from the wonderful taste. Even the bottle screamed class and individuality, instead of a traditional Champagne bottle; it was a shorter, dumpy bottle adding to the overall allure of it.

Is this a Champagne that I’d recommend? Absolutely! It was beautifully balanced with wonderful flavours that I could have kept drinking all night long and I definitely will be next time I go!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A New Zealand White that's not Sauvignon Blanc

Having written quite a few reviews on New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, most people could be led to believe that this is the only grape they grow, which is not the case. With the climate being much cooler than their Australian neighbours, they don't do so well with growing the likes of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. They do grow with great success Pinot Noir, Merlot and Chardonnay, producing some absolutely stunning examples of these wines.

I know this isn't the right bottle!
Having reviewed Villa Maria’s Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, I thought I would also review there Private Bin East Coast Chardonnay 2008, and the fact that a friend bought a bottle with them when they came to dinner the other week made it an ideal opportunity. The wine itself has been allowed to go through Malolactic fermentation, and certain parcels of the blend have also received some oak ageing, to add some depth and complexity to it.

On pouring the wine, it had a bright lemony gold colour with reasonably pronounced youthful aromas of Peaches, Pears and strangely enough, wet wool, which isn’t as bad as it sounds. On the palate you got the fruit coming through with eucalyptus/medicinal flavours following. It had a good level of acidity that worked very well with flavours making it a well balanced wine with just the right level of oak.

This was not a bad wine, it was well balanced, not over oaked, with a short length of flavour making it an enjoyable drink, but would I recommend it? If you like your new world Chardonnays then you’d enjoy this, but personally and for the price I’d rather go for their Sauvignon Blanc.

Friday, 4 March 2011

A Trip Round the South of France with Seabright and Seabright

The other week I had the pleasure of being invited to Seabright and Seabright’s Languedoc and Roussillon tasting at the Maison de la Region Languedoc-Roussillon. They specialise in regional wines from across the whole of France, sourcing from small producers and lesser well known appellations. On show for this tasting were wines from eight producers across the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France.

There were some fantastic wines from across the region at all price points and styles; here I’ve just picked out a few from the day that really caught my eye.

Domaine de la Tuilerie Celebration Viognier 2009, this had wonderfully pronounced aromas of Stone fruit with floral notes coming through. These all come through on the palate and lingered for some time, combine these with the good level of acidity and you got a very nice and enjoyable drink all for £7.95.

Domaine Morin-Langaran Cuvée Prestige Blanc 2009, this is produced from 100% Roussanne and had a bright lemon/gold colour with aromas and flavours of stone fruit. The flavours lingered around for some time, combine these with a great level of acidity that really made your mouth water. All this produced an excellent wine coming in at £12.95.

Chateau de la Tuilerie Eole Rouge 2007, this is made from 100% Syrah (Shiraz) and had an opaque purple/red colour, with the aromas of Dark cherries and Blackcurrants, coming through from the background you then got a cigar box aroma which was just stunning. These all came through on the palate layer after layer with great complexity, the level of tannin was perfect, didn’t over power the flavours at all. There is only one way I could describe this wine, Stunning, but at £26.95 you wouldn’t expect anything less.

Domaine de Cabrol Vent d’Ouest 2006, a blend of Cab Sav, Syrah and Grenache, with aromas of Jammy Forest fruit’s, Cassis and Cedar. These all came through on the palate, with the Jammy Forest fruit being the most pronounced, matched with just the right amount of tannin; you got an excellent wine for £13.95.

Chateau de Mattes-Sabran Cuvée Chevreuse 2007, a blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache, you got aromas of Dark fruit with a touch of spice coming through. These came through on the palate beautifully, well balanced with the tannins and again for £13.95, excellent.

Château de Segure Fitou 2007, from the Mont-Tauch cooperative in the Pyrenean foothills; this is a blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah. With a wonderfully deep ruby colour, and aromas of Dark fruit and Cigar box, on the palate these came through in waves which rolled over your tongue beautifully. With just the right amount of fine tannin, this was an excellent, well balanced wine, which is well worth its £16.95 price.

There were two other wines that caught my eye, both excellent wines with lots of Red Fruits in them, but it was their labels that really made them stand out.

It was a fantastic afternoon tasting my way around the south of France, all of these and many more great wines are available to order from Seabright and Seabright.