Monday, July 16, 2012

Wines of whenever, 16 July 2012

The observant among you will notice that I’ve renamed this slot Wines of Whenever. No need to explain why and no excuses for absence. Here is a selection of wines, as it happens all Spanish and French, that I’ve enjoyed over the last few weeks. The scoring follows The Wine Gang 100-point system: bronze, 85–88; silver, 89­–92; gold, 93–100.

First, some very good whites from Bodegas Terras Gaudas in Galicia:
2010 Terras Gaudas La Mar, Rías Baixas, Spain
Exceptional wine. Pale straw. Not a lot on the nose, but lovely, salty, fresh palate. Supple, round, textured, almost slightly oily, but firm structure. Lemon peel fruit, a slight nuttiness and long, sea-salty, citrus zest and white pepper finish. Very mineral. Desert island wine. 12.5% abv.  93/100
It’s made largely from caiño branco, a variety that Terras Gaudas, working with the Spanish National Research Council and the (slightly ominous sounding) Galician Biological Mission, has helped save from extinction. Terras Gaudas has more than 20 hectares of it, which is most the plantings. Apparently, it’s tricky and expensive to grow – hence its almost total disappearance in favour of albariño. Albariño makes up about 15% of this blend, loureiro the remaining few percent.
£26, Les Caves de Pyrène

2011 Terras Gaudas Abadia de San Campio Albariño, Rías Baixas, Spain
100% albarino. Very fresh, with white flowers and peaches on the nose, pears, lemon and a hint of spice on the palate. Light-medium body, reviving clean finish. 12.5%.  89/100
£13.50, Les Caves de Pyrène

2011 Terras Gaudas O Rosal, Rías Baixas, Spain
70% albarino, 20% caiño branco, 10% loureiro. Very aromatic: smells of very fresh pears and apples. Tastes of fresh, sweet pear with herbs (rosemary and thyme) and white peach. There's a succulence to the fruit, a smoothness and gentle roundness to the mid-palate texture then a fresh, lively, citrus finish. 12.5%.  91/100
£14.95, Les Caves de Pyrène

Terras Gaudas also owns Bodegas Pittacum in Bierzo, where it makes reds from old mencía vines. They’re impressive – monumental, concentrated, high in oak and alcohol – but as far as drinking is concerned they’re not really my style. The one I liked the most was the least oaky, least alcoholic, least expensive):
2007 Pittacum Mencía, Bierzo, Spain
Damson, blueberry spice and minerals on the nose. Rich fruit, thick texture, velvety tannins and smoky, vanilla oak on the palate, but then a long, fresh, black pepper and mineral finish. 14.5%.   90/100 
£12.75, Les Caves de Pyrène

2010 Valdesil Montenovo Godello, Valdeorras, Spain
Another wine from Galicia, but made from godello, a relatively little known and untravelled grape variety. Fresh as a breeze with lemon, apple and apricot fruit and a lovely wheaty character to give it substance in the middle. 12.5%.  90/100
£9.99, or £7.99 if you buy 2 bottles, Majestic

2008 Château Trillol, Corbières, France
Deep, youthful purple colour. Open, aromatic nose with spice, garrigue, wood-smoke and carignan’s perfumy, slightly varnishy notes. Full, ripe and smooth on the palate with black fruit, black pepper and touches of liquorice and leather. It’s grenache, syrah, carignan blend (38:34:28) and is ready now, but there’s no hurry. The property belongs to the Sichel family of Château d’Angludet in Margaux.  14%.  90/100
£8.95. The Wine Society; £9.75, or £8.75 if you buy 2 cases, From Vineyards Direct

2009 Domaine Aléofane Crozes-Hermitage, Rhône, France
A ripe, full-bodied style with a silky rich middle and fine tannins, but brimful of authentic Crozes character – smoke and black pepper notes, a long mineral finish, and violets and black cherry fruit. The vines are old, the yeasts are wild and it’s bottled unfines and unfiltered by Natacha Chave, founder, owner and winemaker of this jewel of a domaine. 14%.  91/100
£17.95, Roberson

2009 Château Barreyres, Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France
Dark in colour with appetising, dark, rich, black fruit flavours and a freshening lift of something green but not unripe. Balanced, clean and nicely rounded out with oak. A good example of a cru bourgeois from this excellent vintage. Perhaps not an obvious choice for summer, but it hasn’t been very obvious that it’s summer. 13.5%.  89/100
£11.49, selected Sainsbury’s