Friday, November 18, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 18 November 2011

2010 Forrest Semillon, Marlborough, New Zealand
The first Forrest semillon for ten years. Normally, they get so little of it they blend it into the sauvignon blanc, but the 2010 semillon was exceptionally ripe and aromatic, so they kept it separate, fermenting 10% in old oak and all the rest in tank, and keeping it all on its lees for six months. The result is a full-bodied and nutty wine with ripe peach, fig and gooseberry fruit, a leesy richness to the texture, a touch of vanilla, and zingy acidity. Well worth the wait and the effort. 14% abv.
£14.99, Adnams

2011 Las Mulas Sauvignon, Central Valley, Chile
From the organic San Luis de Alico vineyard. Smoky, slightly flinty aromas and a vivid, grassy palate with hints of pineapple sweetness and mint. Lovely bite and freshness.
£8.99, Waitrose and

2009 Domaine de Mourchon Tradition, Côtes du Rhône-Villages Séguret , France
In this vintage I prefer the unoaked Tradition, Domaine de Mourchon’s original red, to the more expensive, older vine, oak-matured Grande Réserve and Family Reserve Grenache. The latter pair, made from very low yields (around 20hl/ha and 15hl/ha and vines aged 60–100 years), are impressive in a monumental way, but just a bit too ripe and alcoholic for my taste. There’s also a 2009 Châteauneuf-du-Pape but I won’t be tasting that for another month or two. Apparently the 2010 vintage is back to normal.
The 2009 Tradition, made from two-thirds grenache, a quarter syrah and a tenth carignan, all aged around 40 years and vinified and matured in concrete vats, has an alluring perfume – floral notes, blackberries and a fleeting whiff of ripe apricot. The palate, with its blackberry and black pepper flavours and hints of clove and licorice, is ripe, fleshy and smooth, but framed by soft, grainy tannins and enough acidity to give life and freshness. 14.5% abv. Drink over the next four years.
£12.99, Averys.
The Big Red Wine Company, which stocks the entire Domaine de Mourchon range, doesn’t have the 2009 Tradition yet, but does have the the 2007 (£11.25) which was very good when I tasted it a couple of years ago and should still be.

2009 Viñalba Malbec Syrah, Rio Negro, Patagonia, Argentina
An 80:20 Malbec Syrah blend, half of which was aged in French oak for 12 months. The oak gives polish and a fine, smoky, toasty edge to the dark, concentrated, beautifully fresh fruit and the spicy, more savoury flavours. 14.5% abv. Very good value. 

£8.48, Asda

Monday, November 14, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 14 November 2011

Having missed a few weeks while getting Gourmet off the ground and preparing for The Wine Gang wine fairs, I'm now throwing a few mid-week wines in. Dudley & de Fleury is well worth a look if you're after some well-chosen wines from small, family-run French operations. The focus is on the south of France, but they venture into other areas and countries too. Below are some highlights from last week’s tasting (sadly, Fanny Sabre-less – don’t ask). I didn’t like everything, especially not the bretty, volatile Garsinde from La Grange de Quatre Sous, and prices are highish, but mostly the wines are all about quality and individuality. Many people will know of Domaine Jones (below) but, for those who don't, it's the tiny (3.3ha) estate established in 2009 by Katie Jones, ex sales and marketing director of the Mont Tauch wine co-op. The vineyards are in Maury and Tuchan and the wines from her debut vintages are incredibly impressive (aka delicious).    

Froment-Griffon Brut Tradition NV Champagne, France
Champagne made from a high 85% pinot meunier at a tiny, family run co-operative in the premier cru village of Sermiers in the Vallée de la Marne. Lightly honeyed, peachy fruit, soft textured and well-rounded with a zippy, fresh finish. A crowd-pleaser, but well made and by no means run-of-the-mill.

2008 Virgile Joly Rouge! Coteaux du Languedoc, France
Organic, unoaked blend of syrah (50%), grenache (40%), cinsault and carignan. Juicy, raspberryish fruit with peppery, smoky flavours, soft tannins and a clean, dry, fresh finish.  Don’t serve too warm.  

2010 Domaine Jones Dry Muscat, Vin de France
Fragrant, grapy and gingery with perfumy white-peach fruit. Refreshing and dry and more substantial in the mouth than you might expect.
2010 Domaine Jones Blanc, Vin de France
Grenache gris with a smidgen of muscat. Rich but effortlessy fresh dry white with mineral, peach and citrus flavours. Delicious.
2009 Domaine Jones Rouge, Vin de France
Old-vine grenache with a touch of carignan. Sweet, but fresh, pure fruit with nutty, mineral and pepper notes and fine tannins.

2009 Lucien Lardy Fleurie Les Roches
Beautifully scented, pure red fruit and rose petals. Rounded and silky but with mineral length and fine tannin. Quite pinot noir-like. Could become burgundian with age.

2010 Gonard et Fils Viré-Clessé
Quite creamy and ripe, but with good acidity and lots of mineral, citrus and apple alongside the riper apricot. Structured and textured.

Friday, November 11, 2011

WINES of the WEEK, 11 November 2011

2009 Louis Jadot Marsannay (Blanc), Burgundy, France

Fresh, creamy nose with malty, light buttered Brazil-nut oak. Full, but quite tight and mineral on the palate with a creamy texture and zesty acidity. Fermented and aged for 14 months in French oak barrels. Eminently drinkable now, but will benefit from another year. 13% abv.

£17.99, or £15.99 when you buy 2 or more, Majestic

2010 Howard’s Folly Alvarinho, Vinho Verde, Portugal

From the subregion of Monção e Melgaço where Vinho Verde is allowed to be 100% alvarinho. This is David Baverstocks first white under the Howard’s Folly label, and very good it is. Ripe, sweet citrus and olive oil aromas. Intense, vibrant palate, with dried apricot and really zesty lemon fruit and a mouthwatering, slightly salty, sea-breeze finish. Good acidity and substance. Will take a bit of age. 13% abv.

£12.95, Hercules Wine Warehouse (

2009 Domaine des Crès Ricards, Alexaume, IGP Mont Baudile, Terrasses du Larzac, Languedoc, France

I’ve recommended this new red before (if not here, then in House & Garden or Gourmet), but I tasted it for a second time recently and was impressed again. Very spicy on the nose with some crisp black pepper, perfumed berries and an attractive hint of Carignan leather. Full, smooth, clean palate; spicy, nutty, slightly chocolaty and honeyed, with deep, blackcuranty fruit. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Carignan grown in soils with large Chateauneuf-type pebbles and it’s a Jean-Claude Mas wine. 13.5% abv.

£9.99, Majestic

2007 Viña Mayu Syrah Reserva, Elqui Valley, Chile

I must have recommended this Chilean syrah in the past too but, again, I re-tasted it recently and it deserves another mention. Sweet, ripe and blackberryish on the nose with a welcome herbal freshness and the vanilla and chocolate of oak. Weighty but fresh on the palate, with a savoury combination of pepper, smoke, tar and liquorice in harmony with sweet, fresh, red fruit and evident but not overpowering oak (60% of the wine was aged in new and used French barrels for five to eight months). 14% abv.

£9.15, Asda