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