Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Fabrizio Battaglino's 2009 Roero

Having - at last - got round to ordering some of Fabrizio Battaglino's wines, I have done what I always do: opened a bottle to celebrate. Having opened the Roero Arneis and Bric Bastia for an Italian-themed meal with friends at the weekend, it is the turn of the (red) 2009 Roero "Sergentin".

This has really developed since I tasted it at the estate only a few weeks ago. Clearly in need of time to open up but some breathing should do the trick (I will report back later if I remember!). There is a hint of the barrel but overall the impression is one of really delicious fruit. I would be interested to taste this alongside the same vintage of a Barolo or Barbaresco as I think it would perform extremely well. That said, as a Roero, it really is a different expression of Nebbiolo.

Quite plummy fruit and the flavour of the barrel is more apparent than I have noticed before but not in an obtrusive way. This wine exudes class and, whilst it would be somewhat masochistic of me to attempt to drink much of this tonight, it is clear this wine is destined for greatness. I must confess that, whilst I thought the 2008 very good indeed, I am glad to be importing the more generous and instantly gratifying 2009. Can't wait to start showing it off.

Monday, 26 September 2011

An Italian themed meal

Some friends who spend a lot of time in Piedmont came over last night. Having forgotten it was International Grenache Day, I had planned an Italian-themed meal even going so far as to make pomodoro al forno (three hours in the oven) and a chocolate panforte. Oh, and some chocolate almonds (I had blanched around 200 almonds the previous evening: TV schedulers take note: you really need to put something interesting on!)

We started with two whites from Fabrizio Battaglino and Nada Giuseppe, both excellent. Fabrizio's 2010 Roero Arneis was more poised and clearly defined; Enrico's 2010 Langhe Bianco "Armonia" more exuberant. Both were quite distinctive and, for once, I couldn't say I enjoyed one more than the other. Fabrizio's wine was  used as an aperitif whilst Fabrizio's lasted until we sat down to eat so that may have had some bearing on it (would the pure and focused Arneis have worked so well with the flavoursome first course, I wonder?).

With the simple primi piatti of pasta puttanesca we also enjoyed the Pinot Noir-based "Renoir" from Tenuta Serradenari, high in the hills above La Morra, a very nice wine although it doesn't make me think Pinot at all, more Nebbiolo which makes up only 20% of the blend. Perhaps it really is a terroir thing: Pinot grown in Piedmont tastes of Nebbiolo?

We then moved on to the big guns for the main course of lamb cooked with anchovies. Nada Giuseppe's Barbaresco Riserva 2006 was all about classical elegance, a typical good Barbaresco; Serradenari's 2007 Barolo represented power, a very modern and accessible Barolo.

With the panforte Fabrizio's delicious "Bric Bastia" made from dried, late harvested Arneis topped things off brilliantly. There is sufficient sweetness to match the chocolate which was mixed with almonds (again), candied peel and cranberries (simple but delicious) and served with an Ameretto ice cream. The wine has more though but, frankly, it is enough to say it matched the food perfectly.

I just have to hope none of the Rhone producers read this and get cross that on today of all days I didn't drink Grenache!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Bordeaux Dinner at By Appointment

I will be presenting a selection of Bordeaux (and other) wines at By Appointment in Norwich on 7th October.

The current line-up is:

Pre-dinner: Michel Rocourt, Champagne "Non dose"
Starter of mackerel wellington with a red pepper pesto: Pezat Blanc and Pezat Rose
Main course of lamb: Pezat Rouge 2005 and Chateau Teyssier 2006
Dessert of lemon curd tart with raspberry coulis and spiced mascarpone/cheese course: Domaine Berthoumieu's sweet Pacherenc wines (Charles de Batz and Symphonie d'Automne)

Post-script (Monday 10th October):

The Rocourt was extremely well received with even those who professed to disliking un-dosed Champagnes admitting they enjoyed this one, probably due to the extended ageing of this wine. It was enjoyed both on its own and with a turnip and vanilla veloute. With the mackerel, the white was well received but the rose was, on this occasion, too soft to cope with the fish (and, perhaps, it was subdued by the white). The two reds served with the lamb were both popular although diners were surprised that there was little between them. I explained that this was part of the reason why I showed these two wines together: in youth, Pezat and Teyssier do look remarkably similar; it is only as they age that the sheer class of Teyssier overtakes the Pezat red. On that basis, I asked diners if they would prefer to drink Pezat or the more expensive Teyssier with its more prestigious label. Most voted with the wallets which is a pleasing response. With the lemon curd tart, diners were evenly split between a preference for the younger, more acidic "Charles de Batz" and the rounder, sweeter "Symphonie d'Automne".

Friday, 16 September 2011

Chateauneuf 2009 in Decanter

I can't remember which upcoming edition of Decanter will feature the results of their Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2009 tasting but it seems our friends have done rather well with seven high scoring wines between them. No reviews yet, only star ratings.

Raymond Usseglio picked up four stars for Stef's brilliant new cuvee, "La Part des Anges", a 70% Mourvedre wine which is as exotic as it is original. This is only the second vintage for this wine which was first made in 2007 (no 2008, obviously) and named after the portion of the barrel which evaporates (the angels' share). Stef has re-interpreted the expression and has given them the very best he has to offer in terms of both viticulture and vinification. A great wine that needs time.

Domaine de Cristia must have submitted all three cuvees as they all picked up some good scores. We enjoyed a bottle of the 2005 last night so I am looking forward to the even better 2009s being ready.

Christophe Coste's Chateau Capucine was on the medals table too for its debut vintage. My feeling is that this wine has barely begun to show its full potential so will score even higher in a couple more years or so.

Grand Veneur did well too with both the classic cuvee and Origines putting in a good show.

I can only assume that Beaucastel didn't submit its glorious 2009!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Treloar white: Terre Promise

Wow, Domaine Treloar's "Terre Promise" is serious stuff. I - stupidly - took the bottle from the fridge and poured but, like any really good white wine, this made it far too cold. After a few minutes and some appreciative swirls, the wine started to open up, slightly disjointed at first (hey, it's only been in the bottle a couple of months) but then really together, integrating the fruit from the different grapes with the subtle oak. There's something weird and exotic on the finish I can't quite place but it only serves to make me want to come back for more. It's one of those wines you just know is going to be even better in a few years time - or just tomorrow night.

Note: the next day, the nose reveals more liquorice character. It promises a good future development in the same way as Mas de Daumas Gassac's white or one of the top old-vine Roussanne Chateauneufs.

Bordeaux dinner at the Lido

The wines of Chateau Teyssier featured heavily at a Bordeaux-themed wine dinner which took place last night at the Lido Cafe in London's Brockwell Park sponsored by the CIVB (Bordeaux promo body).  There was a three course meal with appropriate wines as follows:

Seafood starter with Pezat Blanc and Rose
Lamb with Lacroix, Pezat Rouge and Chateau Teyssier
Cheese (to help mop up the reds)
Peach tart with Rieussec Sauternes

Note: Pezat is, in effect, the second label of wines from Teyssier, comprising a range of high quality generic Bordeaux wines (all three colours). Lacroix is the everyday winem from the same stable.
The actor and comedian Frog Stone presented the wines for us and, as always, she did a great job. The wines were on top form - Pezat Rose, Pezat Red and of course that amazing Sauternes proving the most popular.

Food pairings also worked really well - so, an all round success.
There will be another Bordeaux-themed dinner soon, this time at By Appointment in Norwich on 7th October and, on 26th October, the Lido will be hosting a Piedmont dinner with winemakers Enrico Nada and Fabrizio Battaglino. The wines for these meals are all subsidised so they are fabulously well priced and not to be missed if at all possible (worth the train fare to be there!).

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Domaine Treloar - here at last

Jon Hesford's wines arrived in London a few days ago and today I got my hands on them at last. TNs posted over the next few days:

One Block 2009 14% ABV. Composite cork.
Rich and sweet with a good mouthfeel and quite tannic. This has a good balance between sweet fruit and structure. Presumably quite old vines to achieve this level of concentration (or is this a Roussillon thing?). Almost over-ripe, reminiscent of a 90% Grenache Sablet I had around 10 years ago which, when left to age a couple more years was more Chateauneuf-like than many Chateauneufs! Texturally, there is a suggestion of old oak but no toast here, just pure, ripe fruit. Will be better in 6/12 months (note: over the following two nights it evolved but only very gradually) and will drink well until 2016.

Three Peaks 2008 13.5% ABV. Composite cork. Syrah/Grenache/Mourvedre/Carignan.
Quite a meaty nose at first (the fruit appeared only after 24 hours!) but the palate is very fruity and quite oaky too (in harmony with the distinguished fruit). Not too heavy and a good finish. The following day, the nose is more evolved but there is more oak and it seems tighter than on day one but by day three it is singing. Drink to 2015.

Le Secret 2008 13.5% ABV. Natural cork. Syrah with 10% each Grenache and Mourvedre.
Very Syrah with a nice dollop of oak on the nose. Lots of black fruit. Quite distinctive, rounded and smooth. Day two: opening up gradually, still quite tannic. Day three: just getting into its stride. To 2016.

Motus 2009 14% ABV. Natural cork. Mourvedre with 10% each Grenache and Syrah.
Very dark in colour. The nose is not very expressive at first although there is clearly oak here alongside the fruit (must bear in mind this has only recently been bottled). The palate shows more immediate potential but really needs a couple of years at least. Day two: quite closed with little on the nose or palate. The fruit is lurking but this really needs time but, then, show me a great Mourvedre that doesn't! Drink to 2018+.

Tahi 2007 14% ABV. Natural cork. Syrah/Grenache/Mourvedre.
Thick and dark (the cork end was inky!) and with a more evolved, quite meaty nose (salty bouillon?) and juicier palate. The oak comes through here. Needs a few minutes to open up but has good potential. By day two it is just about there (and doesn't survive the night!). To 2018.

Overall, this is a very pleasing range to be adding to the list (and gives me a good excuse to visit Roussillon!). The quality is high across the range; not once did I think that I would prefer not to be drinking any of the wine. Rather, the question was which one now? All the wines could benefit from further ageing but, having tasted them over a three day period, another thing that struck me is the incredibly slow evolution of all the wines. To be expected with Mourvedre and, to a lesser extent, Syrah but the One Block Grenache was still incredibly fresh after three days.

So, how long do these wines need and how long will they last? I have made my estimations based on my general experience and on Jon's reckoning but I really wouldn't be surprised to see them take longer to come round and to last a lot longer than these conservative estimates.

Domaine Joblot harvest news (in brief)

Not very happy as short crop, plenty of triage, and all finished tonight! Quality looking good though.

Cedre blog post by Harry J. Morris

Just found this:

Harry is a former restaurateur currently working as a wine educator who has some nice things to say about Chateau du Cedre wines (well, who wouldn't?).