Thursday, 22 September 2011

A Very Disappointing Bordeaux

I’ve not posted a wine from Bordeaux so far on the blog, so I thought it was about time that I rectified that, unfortunately it’s not as I would have liked it to be. A little while ago I managed to come across one in my local supermarkets fine wine selection, it had been reduced as they were a bin end, which I decided to take full advantage of and bought two bottles, with the view that if I liked it I’d go back and get some more, if they had any left. I have to admit it was a good reduction, they were originally £19.99 and had been reduced to just £4.99, bargain, or so I thought.

The bottles in question were a 2005 Medoc from Chateau Le Lescot, which is a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend, which I looked forward to tasting. We had some friends round for dinner and I thought this was the ideal opportunity to bring it out.

In the glass it had a deep ruby/garnet colour, which is what I would have expected given its age, on the nose it had quite pronounced aromas of dark fruit, predominantly blackcurrants, so far so good, but that’s where it started to go downhill. On the palate you got the fruit and a good amount of ripe juicy tannins, but it had a searing acidity with it, which just did not go with the rest of the components of the wine, and made it for me an unbalanced wine and a disappointment. I thought it actually may have been slightly oxidised, so i opened the other bottle to see if that was any better, unfortunately it wasn’t. I may have been very unlucky and got two bad bottles, but I doubt it.

This unfortunately is not a wine that I would recommend, the later vintages may be better; I’d like to hope they are, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend or buy this wine myself again without tasting it first.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

TerraVin - A Tasting with Jascots Part 2

Following on from my last post, A Wine Tasting with Jascots, there was one vineyard that I felt deserved a post of their own, TerraVin. Based in Marlboro, New Zealand, which if you’ve ever read my blog before you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of New Zealand wines, I did however nearly miss them, as while I enjoy drinking them I’m always on the look out for something different to write about. These guys however have managed that, and I’m glad that Ben from Jascots insisted that I try them, I also had the pleasure of meeting Mike the winemaker from TerraVin and really get an understanding of what he was trying to create with his wines and the attention to detail he put into them. They had three of there wines on show for us, two Sauvignon Blanc’s and a Pinot Noir.

The first we tried was there 2009 Marlboro Sauvignon Blanc, which was a very typical Marlboro Sauvignon Blanc to be honest, loaded with green fruit aromas and flavours, the tart acidity which you’d expect, but not to over powering, they combined well and produced a well balanced and enjoyable wine, it was exactly what you’d expect.

They also had there 2009 Pinot Noir, which really was quite beautiful, plenty of red fruit on the palate with great integration of oak going to produce a more meaty/smokey flavour to it, great fine tannin and just enough acidity to make your mouth water, the flavours lingered for a long time. This was a stunning example of great Pinot Noir, well balanced and enjoyable, would go brilliantly with something such as bar-b-que’d meat or roast lamb.

For me though, the star of the show was there 2009 Te Ahu, which again was produced from Sauvignon Blanc, not that you’d have known without being told before hand. This wine spends 11 months maturing in oak before spending a little longer in the bottle before release. I know most people say Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t like being oaked, but done well, it can produce an absolutely stunning wine, as with this one. The initial project started with just five rows of vines and has expended row by row over the last couple of years, combine this with low yielding vines you can see how they only produced 250 cases in total.

On the Palate you get some real crisp green fruit flavours, but that’s where its similarities stop with other Sauvignon Blancs, you also get a real creamy/buttery mouth feel, more what you’d expect from an oaked Chardonnay, there was a touch of Vanilla and a little minerality in there as well. It had a tiny amount of acidity, but just enough to cut through the rich mouth feel, combine this and the flavours together and you a wine that the only way I can think to describe it as breathtaking.

Would I recommend there wines, in one word, absolutely, they show great flavours and characteristics across all the wines they produce, but if you can find a bottle of Te Ahu, don’t hesitate or think about it, just buy it, there will only be 100 cases to reach our shores. 

Friday, 16 September 2011

A Tasting with Jascots Wine Merchants

Last week saw an abundance of tastings happening around London town, and of course I attempted to attend as many as I could humanly possibly attend in one day, I love my wine but I can still only drink so much before it everything blurs into one. My final port of call for the day was the Jascots Wine Merchants tasting in Cavendish Square, I arrived mid afternoon very wet and probably not really in the mood, (I’d been up all night with two very poorly kittens) but I’d been invited and it would have been very rude not to turn up. On arrival I was introduced too Ben who was a member of the Jascots team and would be my guide around the tasting, I have to admit I was great to have someone to go around with and talk about the wines too, and not just make notes on my own.

Despite my initial lack enthusiasm, as we went round I was pleased to find that there was still a lot of wines that really caught my eye, well actually my taste buds, but there was one vineyard that really stood out, TerraVin from New Zealand, who I nearly missed had it not been for Ben insisting that I taste them. They also had Mike Weersing on hand who is their winemaker, after spending a good half an hour talking to Mike and tasting his wines we had to push on, I was so impressed with his wines they deserve a post on there own, which will be coming soon.

Getting back to the rest of the wines on show, there were so many that I could talk about, but here are the five that stood out to me;

2010 Three Choirs ‘Winchcombe Downs’, Gloucestershire – Yes, I  know an English wines starts us off, but this is really a fantastic wine, with loads of green fruit and a touch of white pepper flavours and aromas, a rich and rounded mouth feel and well balanced level of acidity, really enjoyable.

2008 Bolfan Primus Riesling, Croatia – Again a country not really known for producing great wines, but they’ve managed one with this. With plenty of green fruit, citrus and loads of acidity, it really was showing all the classic Riesling traits, as opened up a little you started to get the faint aromas of petrol in the background, which you only tend to get from aged Rieslings, it really was quite stunning.

2010 Maison de la Paix Old Vine Carignan, Vin de Pays d’Oc, France – An entry level wine with lashings of dark fruit, fine tannins and a good amount of acidity all combining to make a well balanced and great drinking wine, one I shall definitely be keeping my out for.

2006 Cellar Cal Pla, Priorat, Spain – A wine that I’ve really only just found and started to enjoy, this is a blend of Garnacha, Carinena and Cab Sauv, producing a wine with a deep ruby/garnet colour and pronounced flavours and aromas of plums, damsons and spice. With these were the perfect amount of tannins and acidity which, when all combined together produced a stunning wine, shame about the bottle label though!

2003 Rocca Rosso, Angelo Rocca & Figli, Puglia, Italy – This had I have to say one of the biggest and  heaviest bottle I’ve seen for a long tine, probably also not the most environmentally friendly, but the wine was delicious. With baked dark fruits, oak and loads of sweet spice, a tiny amount of fine tannins and enough acidity to go with the fruit and spice, all combining to produce a really interesting wine. 

I must say, there were a lot of very good and enjoyable wines on show, a lot more than I’ve written about, these were just a few that really stuck in mind, but don’t forget to keep an eye for my post on the wines from TerraVin, which should be up very soon.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A New Australian Wine Brand from DeBortoli Wines

Earlier in the year I had the pleasure of meeting many winemakers from Australia’s great wine making families at the Australia’s First Families of Wine bloggers lunch at Vinoteca, one of which was Leanne DeBortoli, obviously, from DeBortoli wines. Then a couple of weeks ago I received a message from her inviting me to join them for an online tasting for their new BellaRiva range of wines, I have to admit it sound a bit odd doing a tasting online, but thought I could be very interesting. A couple of days before the tasting I received the wine, a bottle of Vermentino/Pinot Grigio, and a bottle of Sangiovese/Merlot accompanied by the obligatory press release.

On the morning of the tasting, as usual I was keeping an eye on Twitter to see what was being said; when I noticed that a few people were talking about the wines already, which got me panicking, had I missed the tasting! So I rushed home, switched the laptop on and signed into ustream, which is the live video streaming site they were using, to find a blank screen saying please wait for the video to begin. Which I thought was a little odd, till I realised that they were doing them at several different times due to the number of people they were hoping to get joining in, then if by magic the screen started to buffer, and up came Leanne and her husband/wine maker Steve Webber.

They went through the idea behind the new brand, BellaRiva and the site they had used to grow the fruit, in the King Valley. The name BellaRiva in Italian means beautiful river bank, which it quite apt as the site sits along 3.5km of King river frontage, after watching a promotional video and listening to the ideas behind the wines, we moved on to tasting them.

We started with the Vermentino/Pinot Grigio blend, in the glass you got a bright straw colour, with nice aromas of pears and apples, you these coming through on the palate as well, with a slight nutty characteristic coming through from the background. There was just enough acidity to go with the fruit, but not too much that it spoilt your enjoyment of the wine. The Vermentino really gave the wine quite a full mouth feel and help to give the Pinot Grigio some real structure, which is something it’s usually lacking, I must say that I actually quite enjoyed this wine; it wasn’t what I had been expecting.

The Sangiovese/Merlot had a deep ruby colour, with plenty of red fruit aromas; these came through in abundance on the palate with a touch of spice thrown in for good measure. There was a small amount of fine tannin and a good level of acidity all combining to make a very enjoyable and easy drinking wine, which is what Steve had said was the aim for this wine.

Both of these wines were very enjoyable, and with the price point of £9.99 are good value, definitely worth giving serious consideration too if your looking for a good drinking wine that everyone would enjoy.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

A Supermarket Tries Something New

I was sent a press release and two samples from Sainsbury’s the other week, telling me that they had introduced 5 new wines to their Taste the Difference (TTD) range, and that they were the first major supermarket to sell the indigenous grapes, Marzemino and Brachetto. Having read the press release I got quite excited and had a look at the samples I’d been sent, I was surprised (and a little disappointed) to find that I’d been sent the TTD Verdicchio Classico dei Castelli di Jesi and TTD Barbaresco, not the Marzemino or the Brachetto, but never mind, I still had some interesting wines to taste.

As you do, I went for the white first, which had been billed as an alternative to Pinot Grigio, which for me at this price point, is a great place to start, as there are far too many one dimensional and uninteresting Pinot Grios on the market. Produced in the Marche region of Italy on its Adriatic coast, it’s vinified in stainless steel to help keep its freshness.

On pouring you got a pale straw colour, with the fresh aromas of apples and cut grass, on the palate these all came through, with a good level of acidity making a really refreshing wine. It was an uncomplicated, but very pleasant wine which I have to agree is a good alternative to Pinot Grigio.

Moving onto the Barbaresco, this comes from the Langhe hills in the Piedmont region of northern Italy, produced from the indigenous grape Nebbiolo, which is also used in one of the great wines of Italy, Barolo. For its DOGC status it must be aged for a minimum of two years, with a minimum of 12 months must be in oak.

In the glass it had a deep red colour, not quite as dark as I’d have expected being Barolo’s “baby brother”, it did have quite pronounced aged aromas of red fruit, cherries and currants, after the fruit you got the sweet spice of liquorice. On the palate you got the fruit and spice coming at your taste buds in waves, combined with fine, silky tannins and a reasonable amount of acidity, this was all combined perfectly.

These were two interesting wines, the Verdicchio; fresh, fruity and a great alternative to Pinot Grigio all for £5.99, while the Barbaresco was rich and starting to show real signs of complexity for the princely sum of £9.99.