Friday, October 29, 2010

Wines of the Week 29 October 2010

Quelle surprise! All three wines are being shown at the Wine Gang Christmas Fair on 6 November at Vinopolis in London, TicketSoup: . And they’re all red and Rhônish – must be something to do with the darker evenings once the clocks go back tomorrow.

2008 Dolines de l’Hortus, Coteaux du Languedoc

Full and ripe, but beautifully elegant syrah/grenache blend made at the excellent Domaine l’Hortus 25km north of Montpelier. Aromatic blueberry fruit, stony syrah flavours, supple texture and a fine, dry finish. 13% abv. (Worth noting that Berry Bros & Rudd sells the excellent Bergerie de l’Hortus, a blend which includes mourvèdre, from the same stable).

£9.49, Laithwaites

2007 Domaine des Saumades, Châteauneuf-du-Pape

A very fragrant, stylish 100% grenache Châteauneuf from an excellent vintage. Herb-garden scents, cherry and dark chocolate flavours and a backbone of fine-grained tannins with a balance of delicate acidity. Delicious now or anytime over the next seven years. 14.5% abv.

£20.40, Berry Bros & Rudd.

Being shown on the Sopexa stand at The Wine Gang Christmas Wine Fair.

2007 Mayu Syrah Reserva, Elqui, Chile

Smoky and gamey with sweet, fresh raspberry fruit, lots of Rhône-like crushed black peppercorn flavours and well-balanced rich, chocolaty oak. Great value. 14% abv.

£8.97, Asda; £11.24, or £8.99 if you buy 2 or more from November 2nd, Majestic

Being shown on the Wines of Chile stand at The Wine Gang Christmas Wine Fair.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

WINES OF THE WEEK 22 October 2010

Wines of the Week 22 October 2010

Three wines from Waitrose, none of which, as it happens, is being shown at the Wine Gang Christmas Fair on 6 November at Vinopolis in London, but Waitrose has got a cracking line up for the Fair. Here's where you get tickets: TicketSoup . End of this week's shameless plug.

2007 Vincent de Vignaud Pouilly-Vinzelles

Unoaked white burgundy of impressive purity. Nutty, creamy, lightly buttery and honeyed flavours around a core of freshness and – courtesy of six months lees ageing and stirring – a fine, silky texture. The vines (chardonnay) average 25 years and are on clay and limestone. 13% abv.

£13.99, Waitrose

2008 Château de Bouissel Fronton Classic

Good on Waitrose for introducing a Fronton, one of the many fascinating wines from southwest France that are hard to find in the UK. This is a red (there’s no white Fronton, but there is rosé ) made from 50% of the local négrette, the minimum required by the appellation, and 25% each of syrah and malbec. It’s the négrette that gives the deep, inky colour, together with red berry and tobacco aromas and a chewy, medium-full palate with cherry fruit, hints of spice, leather and charcoal and some lightly grainy tannin. It’s unoaked, unfiltered and unfined, so you’re getting an authentic taste of Fronton terroir. 13% abv. I once had dinner with a group of Fronton producers in a local fish restaurant. Their choice. No idea why. Red Fronton doesn’t go with fish, but it does go well with red meat.

£8.99, Waitrose (about 60% of branches) and

2008 La Bastide Blanche Bandol, Provence

Another imaginative red from Waitrose. It’s very young for Bandol and deserves to be put away for anything from two to eight years, but it’s certainly drinkable now if you don’t mind a bit of chunky tannin and some acidity alongside the smoky, rich cassis fruit, spicy nutmeg and black tapenade flavours. Aged in oak barrels (small and large), but there’s too much else going on for the oak to intrude. 14% abv. Good with powerful meat and game.

£12.99, Waitrose and

Thursday, October 14, 2010

WINES OF THE WEEK 15 October 2010

Three wines from Sainsbury’s autumn tasting, all of which are being shown at the Wine Gang Christmas Wine Fair on 6 November at Vinopolis in London. Yes, another shameless plug for our brilliant event.

2004 Taste the Difference Vintage Champagne

Classy chardonnay-based vintage champagne at a non-vintage price. Seductive brioche, honeycomb and almond macaroon flavours layered with taut lemon fruit, a lightly creamy, chalky texture and fine acidity. Made for Sainsbury’s by long-time supplier Duval-Leroy.

£23.99, Sainsbury’s

2009 Taste the Difference Crozes-Hermitage

Textbook young Crozes – smoky, stony, peppery aromas and a meaty, savoury palate with crushed black-peppercorn flavours contrasting with sweet red-berry fruit and gently chewy tannins. You can drink it now (red meat, game, Manchego…) but it’ll be good for five years if you take care of it. A word of warning: there’s another Crozes-Hermitage in Sainsbury’s at the same price, but it’s 2007, it’s not Taste the Difference and it’s not made by M Chapoutier – and it’s not as good.

£8.49, Sainsbury’s

2009 Taste the Difference Barossa Shiraz

A wine that does what it sets out to do – ie deliver lots of ripe, briary, blackberry fruit and autumnal spice flavours wrapped around with vanilla-scented, toasty oak. Full and comforting – just like the sort of casserole it goes well with. Made by Toby Barlow at St Hallett.

£7.99, Sainsbury’s

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Nearly time for the The Wine Gang’s second annual Christmas Wine Fair – and certainly time to scoop up a ticket from TicketSoup

Vital statistics:
It takes place at Vinopolis in London SE1, right by Borough Market, on Saturday 6 November. There are 2 sessions: 12–3pm or 4-7pm. Just choose your time. Tickets are £20
There’ll be more than 600 wines open for tasting, from the tiniest of independent retailers to the giants of the high street, and many of them have been rated Gold, Silver and Bronze by The Wine Gang. Just wander round, glass in hand, stopping where you like.
Free Wine Walks: the five of us – Olly Smith, Anthony Rose, Tom Cannavan, Tim Atkin MW and me – will take you to taste some of our favourite wines.
Masterclasses from some of the great winemakers of the world at the giveaway price of £10 per ticket. Book them at the same time as you buy your ticket for the fair itself. The four, two in the morning, two in the afternoon, are:
1) Understanding Pinot Noir & Sauvignon with Dr Damian Martin of Ara, NZ;
2) The Sélections Parcellaires of Maison M Chapoutier with Michel Chapoutier, of the Rhône;
3) Languedoc, the Rubik’s Cube of Wine with Jean Claude Mas of Domaines Paul Mas. Languedoc;
4) Champions of Chenin Blanc with Ken Forrester of South Africa.

See you there.


Friday, October 8, 2010

WINES of the WEEK 8 OCTOBER 2010

Not many new wines at the autumn M & S tasting, but some good stuff all the same.

Okhre Natur Cava Brut, Penedès
Bone-dry cava made from the indigenous varieties xarel-lo, macabeo and parellada grown at 700 meters. That trio of grape varieties can so easily be a recipe for terminal dullness, but this is crisp and vivid with rich and lasting apple and pear flavours. 12% abv. Great value.
£9.99, Marks & Spencer.

2009 Craggy Range Te Muna Pinot Noir, Martinborough
Beautifully aromatic – roses and jasmine with a hint of bergamot and spice; fresh, pure raspberry and cherry fruit, with oak in the background giving polished smoothness and extra depth; clean, positively bright finish. 14.5% abv.
£13.49, Marks & Spencer.

2009 Popolino Rosso, Sicilia
You can’t complain at anything that tastes half-decent at this price. Easygoing, cheap pizza red, though it doesn’t actually need food. Fresh and soft with earthy cherry fruit and a food-friendly dryness. If you’re counting, it’s made from 70% nero d’avola and 30% sangiovese and is 13% abv.
£4.99, Marks & Spencer

Friday, October 1, 2010

WINES of the WEEK 1 OCTOBER 2010

2009 Paul Mas Vermentino, Pays d’Oc
Another good wine from Jean-Claude Mas’ Languedoc vineyard empire. It doesn’t give a lot away on the nose – that’s vermentino for you – but there’s plenty to it: fresh lemon-peel flavours with a touch of green olive and herbs, a smooth, lanoline texture and a lively, dry finish. 13% abv and food friendly.
£7.99, or £5.99 if you buy 2 or more, Majestic

2008 Château La Dournie, Saint-Chinian
An excellent follow-up to the 2007 which I recommended back in July of last year. The 2008 has the same mouthwatering stony, smoky smell and taste, with scents of the garrigue and spicy, sweet berry fruit – all beautifully modulated and balanced. It’s a syrah-dominated blend with carignan and grenache grown on schist. 13% abv. La Dournie has been handed down from mother to daughter for six generations, with Véronique Etienne currently at the helm.
£7.99, or £6.99 if you buy 2 or more, Majestic.

2008 Domaine Les Yeuses, Les Epices Syrah, Pays d’Oc
Expressive, pure Syrah in Crozes-Hermitage style. Smoky and briny aromas with flavours of crushed black peppercorns and fresh raspberries, supple tannins and a dry refreshing finish. 13.5% abv. The vineyards are on limestone hills close to the Mediterranean in the Thau lagoon area and the estate is one to watch. It’s been in the Darde family for several generations and the two brothers now in charge are doing good things.
£8.99, or £6.99 if you buy 2 or more, Majestic