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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Mateus Expressions 2013

A review of the new Mateus Expressions range from Portugal

Why do you have to go and make things so complicated?
- Avril Lavigne, Complicated

Many years ago, my 19 year-old self wanted to impress a girl at my northern university, so I cooked her a meal and bought a bottle of wine.

It was a Mateus in that nicely shaped bottle, as I figured that after we'd drunk the wine, it would look good with a candle in it and some wax dripped down the side - a schtick beloved of Italian restaurants of the time and a look I wanted to copy.

I don't think I've ever had a bottle of Mateus in the two-and-a-half decades since and in some ways I'm slightly disappointed that the new Mateus Expressions range comes in high-shouldered Bordeaux bottles with a contemporary sort of label.

The wines themselves - three rosés and a white - are equally modern and pleasing, each a blend of native and international grapes.

Fresh, clean and fruit-forward, there's nothing to be afraid of here - these are light, modern, uncomplicated easy-drinkers.

The range is priced at £7.99 and the descriptions - dry, delicate, fresh, fruity - are a reliable guide to the style.

Overall, a lot less complicated than my teenage relationships; the girl and I went out for a few weeks at the end of which the relationship did not so much implode as spontaneously combust. These have a more pleasant, less dramatic finish.

With their screw-cap tops and easy style, they are ideal summer sippers or picnic wines.

Widely available and priced at £7.99; provided for review.

Other related articles
Six Rosés For Summer‏
Spanish Rosé from Gonzalez Byass‏

Mateus - website

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Vega Sicilia Dinner with Cambridge University Wine Society

Cambridge University Wine Society's annual dinner this year was a celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Vega Sicilia with owner Pablo Alvarez and winemaker Xavier Ausás.

Vega Sicilia is located in Spain's Ribera del Duero; growing mainly Tempranillo, its wines are consistently rated as not only the best in Spain, but indeed among the very best in the world - as well as among the most difficult to acquire. Production of the flagship wine, Unico, is fewer than 7,000 cases per year.

The dinner was also attended by Serena Sutcliffe MW and was organised by the Society's President, David Beall.

We started in the Back Paddock of St John's College with a Pol Roger blanc de blancs 2002 - fresh, poised and elegant.
The college dates to 1511; founded by the last will and testament of lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, the dining hall features a C16th hammerbeam roof and linen-fold panelling.
We started with a dry furmint from Vega Sicilia's Oremus estate in Hungary.

I have been a fan of Hungarian wines for many years, but it came as a revelation to many there - perhaps accustomed to more-traditional college-wine fare from better-known and more obvious classic regions.

In any case, it matched perfectly with the starter of salmon fillet, jamon iberico and charred courgette.
A flight of the second-tier Alion wines was impressive:
But the star of the night was a vertical of Unico - the flagship wine of Spain's flagship winery; the 1994 was mature and complex, reminiscent of an aged Médoc.

However, the 2004 was quite different - a incredible blast of pure, intense, concentrated, freshly-squeezed black cherry and sour cherry that belied its decade of age.

Winery owner Pablo Alvarez addresses the group:
We finish with an Oremus Tokaji 5 puttonyos:
It matches well with dessert:
Finally, CUWS President David Beall wraps up, thanks the speakers and sings - whilst wearing his military uniform (form an orderly queue ladies.)

An incredible evening, I attended as a guest of CUWS.

Other related articles
A Most Particular Taste: Haut-Brion 350 Years Celebration Dinner (CUWS 2013 annual dinner)

CUWS - website
Vega Sicilia - website

Monday, 7 April 2014

2009 Château Laville Sauternes - WineTrust100

A dessert wine from WineTrust100

Bordeaux's reputation rests mainly on its red wines - but it produces some stunning dessert wines that impress more for their finesse and elegance than by sheer full-on sweetness and intensity.

The best Sauternes have a lithe deftness that few other dessert wines can match.

Deep golden with blossom, musky baked peaches in butter and sweet marzipan.

Rich, waxy and concentrated with tropical, heather-honey sweetness, cut through with citrussy freshness; long and savoury, bitter-almond underpinnings. Almost limoncello-like.


Match with lemon tart, crème brûlée or mature Cheddar.

Technical details
85% Semillon, 12% Sauvignon Blanc, 3% Muscadelle.

Chateau Laville has 14 hectares of vineyard in Sauternes, in the commune of Preignac, on gravel soils underpinned with limestone. The best plots are used to make the Grand Vin of Laville. The vines are approximately 35 years old.

£17 (half-bottle) from WineTrust100; provided for review.

Other related articles
Taste The Difference Sauternes, 2005 - Sainsbury's

WineTrust100 - website

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Pascal Bouchard Chablis Grand Cru 2010 - Waitrose

Recommended to me by Waitrose's Anne Jones, this Pascal Bouchard Chablis Grand Cru is made from a parcel of mature Grand Cru vines from Pascal Bouchard’s own domaine. One of only seven Grand Cru sites in Chablis, Vaudésir produces wines of great finesse and complexity.

Golden in the glass, zesty citrus and oaky spice; complex, savoury baked apples, creamy toasted Brazil nuts and honeyed richness with sweet spice - fresh, precise, harmonious, really lovely.

Very Good Indeed - and will only improve with age; drinking it now is almost oenological infanticide. Decant before drinking or, to see it at its best, buy a case now, put it away for five years and then drink one bottle a year.

£29.99 from Waitrose; provided for review.

Other related articles
Truly Irresistable Chablis Premier Cru 2011 - The Co-Operative
Food Matching With Chablis at Inder's Kitchen‏
M&S Chablis

Waitrose - website
Anne Jones - twitter

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Champagne Taittinger - World Cup Edition

A review of Taittinger Brut Réserve NV

In my mind, Champagne is more associated with Formula 1 podium celebrations than football; however, as Taittinger is the official Champagne of the 2014 World Cup, it is entirely appropriate that the company should release a limited edition souvenir bottle of their Brut Réserve NV with a Gift Box.

Pale sandy yellow in the glass, there are aromas of orchard fruits and melonskin; the palate is delicate, fresh and creamy with fine, pale gold bubbles, linear acidity and some leesiness.

Subtle, light and elegant, it has all the composure of minor royalty, making a statement through refinement, not ostentation.

Unlike most footballers.


Available from late spring priced around £38.99 from Waitrose, Morrisons and independents; provided for review.

Other related articles
Substance and style - Champagne
Bollinger from The Co-op‏
Les Pionniers Champagne NV - The Co-op‏

Taittinger - website

Image credit: http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2014/02/taittinger-gets-new-look-for-world-cup/

Monday, 31 March 2014

La Grand Barrail Lamarzelle, St Emilion Grand Cru, 2006 - Sainsbury's

A review of La Grand Barrail Lamarzelle, St Emilion Grand Cru, 2006 from Sainsbury's

The sign of a great wine is its ability to age; older wines have a quality that nothing else possesses, and mature Bordeaux is one of the benchmarks.

This is a textbook mature right-bank Bordeaux.

Distinctly brick red tones in the glass with some paleness around the rim; this is approaching full maturity. Aromas of dried red berries and dried rell bell pepper with woodsy, mushroomy undergrowth.

Red fruits and cool mint; lithe and mellow yet fresh with good underpinnings and a persistent, well-balanced finish.

Very harmonious and drinking well now - a good example of what mature right-bank Bordeaux is all about.

Really comes into its own with food, and specifically roast beef. Good.

£20.99 from Sainsbury's; provided for review.

Other related articles
Wines of a Certain Age‏
A Most Particular Taste: Haut-Brion 350 Years Celebration Dinner
Troplong Mondot 1998

Sainsbury's - website

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Taylor's Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port, 2001

A review of Taylor's Vargellas 2001 Vintage port

At just over a decade, this vintage port from Taylor's is still very youthful; only just starting to harmonise and integrate, it feels like it will hit a peak in decades, not years.

There are raisins, prunes and molasses, eucalyptus and some peaty whiskey; the sweetness of brown sugar and candied peel, dark dried fruits, sweet peppery spice and medicinal eucalyptus is cut through with a gentle freshness.

But above all, there is concentration and a dense texture, with an elegant and deft complexity.

Very Good - and will only improve with time.

Complex and assured, it is almost a dessert in its own right - match with petits fours and an espresso at the end of a particularly good meal.

It is also included in The Independent's Top 50 wines.

£30 from Majestic, Waitrose, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason; provided for review.

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Taylor's 10 Year Old Tawny Port
Dow's Vintage Port 1975‏
Noval Dinner at Cambridge Hotel du Vin‏
Victoria Moore on port in The Telegraph

Taylor's - website