Friday, October 28, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 28 October 2011

Continuing from where I left off, below are some of the reds at under £10 from the annual tasting of The Bunch, a group of six independent merchants whose slogan is ‘for wines less ordinary’ – a fair claim. There’s also another Symington single quinta port – one that wasn't at the London tasting, which is why I forgot to include it last week. First, though, something else I failed to mention last week: the Spanish white wine taste-off in London between two estates – the all-Albariño wines of Pazo de Señoráns (Rías Baixas) and the wines of Can Ràfols dels Caus in Penedès. Each showed 11 vintages going back to 1996. I gave my equal highest scores to three wines: 1996 and 1999 Pazo de Señoráns Seleccion Añada ­– thrillingly fresh on the nose, deep and complex on the palate; and the 1999 Can Ràfols dels Caus, a wonderfully, rich, intense and steely 100% chenin blanc from a single vineyard. So I gave my highest scores to the two oldest wines and one that was only a little younger. Who says Spanish white wines don’t age?

1999 Quinta da Senhora de Ribeira

Lovely single quinta port that can be drunk any time over the next 15–20 years. Fragrant, intense and densely flavoured with black fig, cassis, violets, spices, a touch of eucalyptus and ripe, rounded tannins. When a Dow’s vintage is declared, this quinta’s wine goes into it.

£65, The Wine Society.

2009 Gonnet, Ventoux, Rhône, France

Perfumed, ripe and spicy with juicy, raspberryish fruit. A sort of baby Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the family that owns Font de Michel. 14% abv.

£7.50, Adnams

2010 Domaine des Filles de Septembre Tradition, Côtes de Thongue (IGP), Languedoc, France

Youthful, juicy, spicy, earthy Mediterranean red with a herby garrigue accent and some carignan grip and dryness. 14% abv.

£8.50, Yapp

2009 Domaine Camp Galhan, Les Pérrassières, Duché d’Uzès, (IGP) Languedoc, France

Full-bodied, full-flavoured, warm, spicy, grenache-based red with succulent fruit and balancing dry tannins. 14% abv.

£9.50, Yapp

2010 Bodegas Monteabellon, Avaniel, Ribera del Duero, Spain

Richly fruity, unoaked tinto fino (aka tempranillo) with flavours of chocolate-coated, wine-soaked cherries, a minerally, peppery undertow and some useful ripe tannin in the background. 13.5% abv.

£9.75, Berry Bros

Friday, October 21, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 22 October 2011

Wines of the Week resumes its normal, erratic service today, at the end of a week when, maddeningly, I had to miss the tasting of 2009 Grands Crus Bordeaux in London, but made up for it by attending the Symington family’s tasting of single quinta vintage ports from seven of their 26 quintas. It was a tasting that demonstrated the longevity and quality of these single quintas and their very different and distinct characters.

We started with all seven 2006s: there wasn’t a weak link, but the star was the dazzling Quinta do Vesuvio which, without question, has 50+ years ahead of it, if anyone keeps it that long, and we went back to an absolutely glorious 1950 Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos. Three bottles of the 1950 were opened for this London tasting which means the Symingtons now have only three bottles left. They would have had four, but someone dropped one a couple of weeks ago when it had been brought up from the cellar for the joint MDs (Team Sym?) to taste for the first time… Glad it wasn’t me. The other five quintas are Dow’s do Bomfim, Warre’s da Cavadinha, Graham’s do Tua, Dow’s Senhora da Ribeira and Cockburn’s dos Canais.

Berry Bros & Rudd has the 2006 Quinta do Vesuvio at £82.

Back to earth. Below are brief notes on some of the whites from The Bunch’s annual tasting last month. I had no voice and the mother of all colds, but worked my way through a respectable number of wines, including the two dozen on the Under-£10 table. Overall the latter was an impressive group – and varied, too, despite the fact that more than half were French, all 11 of the whites were European and all but two of the 13 reds were European. I’ll cover some of the reds in the next installment.

The Bunch is a group of independent wine merchants, the membership of which has changed a bit over the years, but currently the six are: Adnams, Berry Bros & Rudd, Corney & Barrow, Lea & Sandeman, Tanners and Yapp Brothers. Long may they survive and, even better, flourish.

2010 Petite Gasconne Blanc, Côtes de Gascogne (IGP), France

Vivacious, juicy, light white with zesty peach and apple fruit. Made (and wisely screwcapped) by the excellent Producteurs Plaimont co-operative group. 11.5% abv.

£6.49, Corney & Barrow

2009 .COM Branco, Estremoz, Portugal

Sappy Portuguese white with herby lime flavours, good weight in the mouth and a fresh finish. It’s made from indigenous varieties with a little viognier by Tiago Cabaçao and it really is called dot com. 13.5% abv.

£7.50, Adnams

2009 Château Grinou, La Combe de Grinou, Bergerac Sec, France

Delightful semillon/sauvignon blanc blend with aromas of elderflower and fresh minted peas. Gives similarly priced white Bordeaux a run for its money. 12% abv

£8.29, Corney & Barrow

2010 Domaine Félines Jourdan, Picpoul de Pinet, Languedoc, France

Apples, herbs, and a zesty, salty, mineral freshness. Textbook Picpoul from this consistently good estate. 13.5%.

£8.95, Berry Bros & Rudd; and even more tempting £7.75 from The Wine Society

2010 Terras d’Alter, Terra d’Alter Branco Reserva, Alentejo, Portugal

Another great value Portuguese white. Vibrant, fresh pear, apple and herb aromas and flavours and pithy acidity. Made by Australian Peter Bright. 13.5% abv.

£9.95, Lea & Sandeman