Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A question about politics

Disclaimer: this is not intended as a party political post.

Does a government which goes back on a manifesto pledge (which may have helped it win a considerable number of votes, after all) still have a mandate to govern?

Is this behaviour one of the (many) reasons why so many people who start adult life fired up about politics become so disillusioned with it by their forties? Frankly, I am surprised that it is young people who are joining the Labour party to vote for Jeremy Corbyn - I would expect more of my generation to be inclined to hand over their £3 (which, after all, is less than the price of a pint, let alone a decent glass of wine) to put the wind up the establishment.

It's been a quiet day - too much admin. I'll stop now.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Some new wines

Domaine de la Charite's 100% Mourvedre cuvee 'Dame Noire' from the excellent 2007 vintage is beginning to show well at last. Typical of the variety, it has taken seven or eight years to get past 'muted' and start revealing plenty of sweet black fruit character. Next stop leather!

I realise that, having been very quiet on the blogosphere of late, I never triumphed the wines of Poggio al Gello in Tuscany! Very remiss, especially asthat one of the wines has sold out already. On a recommendation, I agreed to receive samples from the estate (I know it sounds odd, 'agreeing' to samples but so much of what people want to send promises so little that I have to say no - my house is only so big after all). That was a year ago and, tasting the wines then, I found the 2010 Rosso good but, perhaps a little underwhelming, and the 2011 Pugnitello exciting but, probably, uncommercial.

Fortunately for me, them and you, there were two bottles of each wine so I re-tasted these in January. I opened the Rosso at around 7pm on a Sunday evening, intending to let it breathe (I thought the first bottle had perhaps been in need of this) but before long the bottle was empty. Very impressive. Another evening saw similar results for the Pugnitello so I was hooked.

By this time there was a 2011 Riserva available too so I took a punt on this. A friend opened five of these for a tasting group, one freshly opened, one after four hours, another after eight hours, then twelve and twenty four and called me the next day with a big order and a tip to let it breathe for four hours. Call it magic, alchemy or simple oxygenation, it works a treat!

More updates soon.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Xavier Vignon, Cotes du Rhone 'SM'


This is a blend of 50% Grenache from the Southern Rhone (Meridionale) and 50% Syrah from the North (Septionale) - it is the French names for the two regions that give their initials to the name of this wine (and not, as I originally wondered, Syrah and Mourvedre). Xavier has learnt to be coy about his sources - the previous incarnation of this wine, Sacrilege, landed him in all sorts of trouble when Parker reviewed it and announced to anyone who cared to know that this was a blend of Cote Rotie Syrah and Chateauneuf Grenache. 'So what?' you might ask. Well, for some reason known only to themselves, the appellation authorities in Chateauneuf-du-Pape do not allow their Grenache to be down-graded so, if you don't want to market your wine as Chateauneuf-du-Pape then mere Vin de France it must be. Not do in other appellations it seems (since this new blend is designated as Cotes du Rhone). I did suggest to Xavier that if he sourced the Grenache from Gigondas, for example, he could avoid the problem and it would appear that he has done just that. However, it is still a non-vintage wine - a blend of wines from 2010, 2011 and 2012 - so clearly he hasn't lost his sense of humour.

So, eventually I pull the cork open the bottle. This has a rich nose and it's very full. Some sweetness is coming though and I would like to see this in another couple of years when everything else has had a chance to come up behind it. As it is, this is more like a young Chateauneuf than, well, most young Chateauneuf.

Friday, 26 June 2015

2011 Burgundies revisted

Nearly six months on from my last tasting of Joblot's 2011 Clos Marole and Bois Cheveaux, when both wines were un-giving and restrained (not at all what I expected from the vintage at this stage, even from a serious producer like Joblot), I have re-tasted both these wines and I am pleased to report that the tannins are much more under control and the fruit, especially in Clos Marole, is singing. Lovely Pinots for the medium term.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The best Chateauneuf (?) and a decent Cotes du Rhone

Decanter's April edition features a review of the Southern Rhone. Raymond Usseglio's Cuvee Imperiale scored 95 points, beating Clos des Papes (93) and Domaine de la Mordoree (91) amongst others. Sorry, I shouldn't gloat but the truth is that, whilst some enthusiasts can't see past these and other names, Stef Usseglio has been churning out remarkably consistent wines of extremely high quality for years. Here's what James Lawther MW had to say:

'Big and powerful but long and harmonious at the same time. Impressive depth snd volume of fruit. Texture smooth and refined. Solid but discreet tannic frame.' 95/100.

And a nice note on Domaine Brusset's 'Lauren B' Cotes du Rhone:

'Punches above its weight. Long, sinewy and vibrant rather than broad and full. Elegant berry fruit and spice notes. Finely honed tannins.' 90/100.

Barolo - 91 points and affordable!

The Decanter review of 2010 Barolo includes a good number of wines at £30+, £40+, even £50+. There are even a couple for £75 (and I just spotted one for £140!). I am sure they are very good but I am unlikely ever to taste them at those prices.

Of course, given land prices, there is such a thing as too cheap Barolo (I saw some in a shop recently for £12. I bought a bottle: it was dreadful) so what is a good starting point? I think, on the whole, around £25 should buy you a decent wine. In the 'Highly Recommended' section fo the review (wines scoring at least 90 points), only four or five wines (out of 71) are in this ball park and the top scoring of these is...

Filippo Broccardo e Figli, Monforte d'Alba 2010

'Pristine and pretty aromas and flavours of red cherry, flint, citrus peel and white stone fruit. Fleshy palate with full, savoury flavours and hints of smoke and cedar. Good balance with a harmonious finish'. Drink 2020-2035. 91/100 or 17.5/20

It's in need of further ageing, as the review suggests, but the 2009 is fabulous now and it did rather well last year (and we still have a few bottles left)!

"Spicy oak aromas of vanilla and liquorice. Fresh and rich on the palate at first, then smooth and balanced. Very pure red fruit and polished tannins." 92/100

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

2011 Burgundy - a couple of wines tasted

With the 2010s from Domaine Joblot all but finished, I thought a tasting of the 2011s advisable. The Cellier aux Moines was tasted shortly before Christmas (excellent fruit, quite tannic so needs an hour or so to breathe - hmmm) and there is so little of Servoisine left there was no point in trying this now so I have just popped corks on the other two Premier Cru reds from this superb estate.

First impressions: slightly muted on the nose, especially the Bois Chevaux. Both wines (I am also tasting the Clos Marole) are remarkably tannic for the vintage in Givry and this is having the effect of masking the fruit a little. That said, the Bois Chevaux has a remarkable texture and the fruit of the Clos Marole is clearly good. I need to give them a little more time to open up...

Looking back on my notes from nearly two years ago, I see I should have re-read them before pulling corks! Bois Chevaux reads: 'Firmer than other crus, Bois Chevaux' ethereal character will come to the fore in another 3-4 years. For now, the wine is closed down revealing little fruit but a magnificent texture.' Not much has changed yet!

I confess I am slightly surprised by this tasting. Other 2011s are really quite forward (I have finished off 2011s from other Givry estates!) and these haven't even started.