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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Mondial Wine - An Offer

An Offer from Mondial Wine
 
Mondial Wine, an Italian specialist importer that has been around since 1985, made me an offer I couldn't refuse:

1) have a trawl round their website and pick a couple of interesting wines to review
2) in the meantime, take a money-saving offer for readers of this blog
 
I hadn't heard of them previously either, but Miss Bouquet recomends a couple of their wines here.
 
So, for 20% off your first order, just enter the code PREMIUM-READER at the check-out stage before October 31st.
 
I'll be posting my review of their wines shortly, but Miss B recommends:
 
Batasiolo Barbera D’alba Sovrana 2011, Piedmonte
Damilano Barolo ‘Lecinquevigne’ 2002, Piedmonte
 
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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Te Mata - Great Whites Tasting

A tasting of Te Mata wines
 
Te Mata is New Zealand's oldest family-owned estate and one of its most prestigious producers; its wines combine an old world structure with a signature New Zealand freshness.
 
With a classic approach and old money prices, Te Mata's wines are deft, elegant and sophisticated.
 
Estate Vineyards Range
 
Not many wineries can price their entry-level wines in the high teens - these were all precise, elegant and scored a Good; however, I felt they would be a more compelling purchase if priced in the mid-to-low teens.
 
Sauvignon Blanc 2013 textbook classic zesty NZ Sauvignon.
 
Chardonnay 2012 clean, precise, fresh.
 
Gamay Noir 2013 classic varietal raspberry and pinewood, fresh.
 
Syrah 2012 mulberry, dark fruits and spice; freshness. Clean and pure.
Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc
 
Impressive wines impressively priced - mid-twenties pricing gets you one of these more complex and structured barrel-fermented blends of Sauvignon, Semillon and Sauvignon Gris. All scored a Very Good.
 
2010 a good year; complex aromatic and mineral nose with pungent hints. Ripe tropical fruits, waxiness and salinity. Starting to feel mellow. Long, elegant and very accomplished.
 
2011 from a cooler year, feels rather oakier and less knitted-together at this stage.
 
2012 again a cooler year; shows as more fresh green herbs, zestiness and lime marmalade with a persistent minerality.
 
2013 a great year and a great wine; less aromatic initially, but amazingly powerful, concentrated  and intense. Very long and saline.
 
Elston Chardonnay
 
Burgundian style and Burgundian, mid-twenties prices; tip-toes elegantly between warm-climate softness and a nervily cool tautness. All scored a Very Good.
 
2007 fresh, complex harmonious and mellow with ripe fruit. Long and saline.
 
2010 toasty oak, ripe tropical fruit balanced with freshness and savoury leesiness.
 
2012 cooler, more focused and precise; the fruit is more orchard and white peach.
 
2013 complex and balanced, mineral and savoury. Initially, there are aromas of something akin to botrytris, minutes later it's gone and the lime zestiness dominates. Persistent finish.
 
Flagship Wines
 
Zara 2011 (£22.99) a barrel- fermented Viognier; floral, delicate, fresh, peachy and long. Very elegant. Very Good.
 
Awatea 2010 (£26.99) Hawke's Bay Cab / Merlot blend; blackberry, cassis and plum with a supple and mellow palate. Very Good.
 
Coleraine 2010 (£48.99) Bordelais blend of CS, Merlot and Cab Franc with an amazingly complex and densely-structured texture. Muscular yet deft, savoury and mineral. Very Good Indeed.
 
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Friday, 17 October 2014

Chablis - A Guide

A guide to visiting Chablis

With a modest-but-pleasant riverside and a few historic buildings in a relatively flat part of northern France, the small market town of Chablis is interesting enough, but hardly a must-see destination.
It is, however, a Mecca for oenophiles with a fondness for the sharp, strong, important wine that bears its name.
 
For holiday purposes, it is convenient to divide France into the northern part (mostly dull) and the southern part (mostly interesting). This means a minimum six-hour drive from Calais to get to somewhere nice and therefore a stop-over is required.
 
Depending on the eventual destination, the most obvious stopover points include Chablis - as well as Champagne, northern Burgundy or Jura.

Stay
The Hostellerie Des Clos (18 Rue Jules Rathier, 89800 Chablis, France) is a smart, sophisticated hotel in the centre of this little market town, next door to William Fevre.
 
Set in a former church and hotel de dieu, it is both luxurious and characterful; there is a courtyard with seating for drinks and breakfast is served in a former church.
 
Duplex rooms sleeping up to four cost around €180.
 
Eat
 
The restaurant at the Hostellerie Des Clos has a Michelin star, an extensive wine list, focusing on Chablis, and an oenomatic machine.
Set menus start at €45 for four courses, but the amuse bouche, pre-dessert and petits fours make it virtually a tasting menu in its own right.
 
Also recommended is the more contemporary Au Fil du Zinc.
 
Vineyards
 
Chablis is surrounded by vineyards with the seven Grands Crus sites just to the north of the town centre.
 
But to visit properly and understand what makes Chablis unique, take the 3-hour vineyard tour and tasting with oenologist-turned-guide Eric Szablowski of Au Coeur du Vin in his 2CV.
 
Stroll
 
The centre of Chablis is small but pretty and makes more for a pleasant stroll than somewhere to be explored in depth.
 
Taste, Drink, Buy
 
There is no shortage of bars and cavistes proffering their wares on tasting in the town centre, but the best value wines we found were in the village of Chichee 3km away.
 
Domaine Ellevin, 3 Rue du Pont, Chichee.
 
Getting there
 
Chablis is about a four-hour drive from Calais - a handy stop-over point if heading south and just about manageable as a long weekend.
 
Children
 
Chablis is not especially child-friendly, but the CWB children found enough to explore and keep them occupied for a 24-hour stopover.
 
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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Two Loire Reds

Two Loire reds from Waitrose and Stone, Vine and Sun

If the main characteristic of the Loire is wines of freshness and lightness, we might expect that to apply more successfully to white wines more than to reds.

And yet the Loire's light, fresh and distinctively appetising reds are a real hidden gem; these two are both Cabernet Franc.

La Croix de Chaintres, Saumur Champigny, 2012 ((£11.99, Waitrose) vibrant purple, varietal raspberry, violets and pine wood with some spice; soft red berry and red cherry fruit with a savoury freshness and supple texture.

Focused, long and well structured; pleasantly assertive and persistent. Good.

Chateau de Putille, Anjou, 2011 (£10.25, Stone, Vine and Sun) aromas of red and black cherries; pencil shavings, red and black cherry fruit. Long freshness and savouriness with a deft, supple texture. Good.

Match both wines with rare tuna steak, paté or duck.

Provided for review.

Other related articles
Loire Masterclass at Berry's
Matching Loire Wines and Food‏ - with Fiona Beckett

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Harveys 12 Year-Old Signature Sherry

A cream sherry from Harveys

- "I'm bringing sexy back", SexyBack (Justin Timberlake)

Sherry is sexy again - first it was pale crisp fino, then the darker, more complex styles; finally it's time to reclaim the sweet stuff.

Sherry's much-vaunted and oft-delayed eventual revival has inevitably spawned various one-offs and special editions - from En Rama to vintage.

Now Harveys is relaunching its cream sherry - a slightly sweetened dark sherry with an average age of 12 years. With just 20% PX, it feels more off-dry than fully sweet and has a balanced freshness and bitterness.

Golden topaz, the nose is tangy and complex with dried fruit, roasted nuts and spices. The initial sweetness is balanced by freshness, leading to flavours of vanilla, butterscotch, salted caramel and roasted hazelnuts with more roasted nuts and spices on the finish.

Long, savoury and complex. Very Good.

Match with blue cheese, turkey with chestnut stuffing or wild boar.

£11.99 for 50cl at Tesco; provided for review.

Other related articles
Sherry Institute: Cadiz Wine Dinner - Almadraba Tuna and Jerez Wines‏
Harveys at IWC Taste of Gold‏
Harveys 30 Year-Old PX Sherry‏

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Jackson Estate

Two ambitious wines from New Zealand's Jackson Estate

Grey Ghost Sauvignon Blanc (£18, Majestic, Ocado, Tesco) oaked Sauvignon is something unusual - especially from the New World, which specializes in crisp, modern aromatic styles produced in temperature controlled stainless steel.
 
This oaked Sauvignon is a mixture of modernity and tradition; pale straw yellow, with varietal Sauvignon aromatics plus some oatmealy-cashew, lime zest and toasty oak.
 
Sweet ripe pineapple, guava and citrus fruit with zesty freshness leads to a savoury, buttery, brazil-nut mid-palate with a long finish.
 
Complex and impressively constructed. Good.
 
Match with monkfish in a herb broth.

Vintage Widow Pinot Noir 2012 (£19.99, Majestic, Ocado, Tesco) Surprisingly dark for a Pinot, mostly toasty oak on the nose, rather smothering the Burgundian vegetal / farmyard underneath. Ripe black cherry fruit, sweet, oaky spice, tobacco leaf, mocha and freshness - good precision, texture and length.

A class act for certain, but a more androgynous style of Pinot than a willowy, waywardly naturally-beautiful Burgundian - a made-up, stomping, Bowie-esque Jean Genie.

Technically Very Good, but somehow lacks the ethereal elusiveness of a really compelling Pinot.

Match with duck or other dark game.

Provided for review.

Other related articles
Jackson Estate Stich Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Marlborough
Hallowed Ground Tasting

Image credit: http://banditblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/52590035108803a8858c9dfeea16fafd.jpg

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Errazuriz Estate Series

A tasting of Four Estate Series wines from Chilean producer Errazuriz with colleagues

Chile is an oenological big blowsy tart-with-a-heart; with complex geology, no Phylloxera and a combination of altitude and cooling sea breezes, it should make great wines.
 
Yet if in practice all too often the results are unsophisticated attention-seekers, at least some producers, including Errazuriz, are starting to make more interestingly nuanced wines.
 
These four are somewhere between those two extremes - fault-free and expressive with occasional complexity, they are crowd-pleasers with some ambition.
 
Estate Series Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Aconcagua Valley, RRP £9.99, Waitrose, Majestic, Budgens, Morrisons, NISA; various independents.

Textbook generic New World SB, aromatic gooseberries, nettles and cut grass. Tropical fruits and fresh acidity. Light, uncomplicated, expressive.

Estate Series Unoaked Chardonnay 2012, Casablanca Valley RRP £9.99, Tesco, Bargain Booza, Fresh & Wild

Ripe tropical fruits, clean acidity and some textural complexity from wild yeast fermentation and lees aging. Granitic soils add a hint of minerality.
 
Estate Series Merlot 2013, Curico Valley RRP £9.99, Tesco, Majestic, Budgens, NISA, Booths, various independents

Expressive varietal nose of red fruits, coffee and spice with some toasty oak. Juicy and refreshing, uncomplicated.
 
Estate Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Maipo Valley RRP £9.99, Waitrose, Morrisons, Booths, various independents

Complex nose of cassis, oak and spice; supple palate with ripe bramble fruit, a touch of cool mint and vanilla. Good concentration and balanced freshness.
 
Long, ripe and plump - slightly drying tannins on the finish, but some food might fix this.

***
 
Sealed under screwcap, all these wines benefitted from some aeration. For me the most assured overall was the leesy, textured Chardonnay; the group's favourite was the Cab.
 
Provided for review.
 
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