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Showing posts from October, 2012

What I take away with me

If, like me, you have amassed a collection of wine far in excess of the number of bottles you can realistically expect to consume in the life of the wines concerned, you will have picked up a few bottles you have changed your mind about since your original enthusiastic purchase and which you consistently snub whenever you are pulling a bottle from the rack.

I have developed a system for using these wines: take them to the in-laws. Not that I want to palm off the undesired on my in-laws, you understand; rather, that when I am there, some 250 miles from home, I am stuck with whatever wines I have brought with me. The local off-licence is unlikely to have anything smarter than Blossom Hill lookalikes so you will believe me that whatever I take with me is going to be preferable.

Having come back from a couple of days there, I can report that the visit was successful, wine-wise at least, with a couple of Bordeaux I had been dreading, a Burgundy which has never impressed and a Chateauneuf w…

Beaucastel 2011 allocations just received

The allocation for the 2011 wines, tasted recently in London (see here for my impressions), has just landed in my inbox and the offer is now available to view here. For the first time, we are pleased to offer Coudoulet Blanc as well as the rest of the range from Chateau de Beaucastel and Famille Perrin.

Does anyone notice a face lift?

Despite Google Analytics statistics, I am never entirely convinced that anyone reads this (except for the small number of people who call me to correct punctuation or grammar - you know who you are!) so was there really any point in the hours I put in to change the appearance of some of the pages on the website?

Given what I have written in the paragraph above, I can assume that few will have noticed the changes so I should begin with the information that the pages affected were those that list the estates we work with from the various regions. Out with the tedious alphabetical lists and in with pictures - logos, labels and photos - to make these dull pages more exciting and, if not exciting, more accessible.

For example:

French wines   -   Rhone wines   -   South-West France   -   Languedoc-Roussillon
Italian wines   -   Spanish wines

It should be fairly easy to post a response on the blog so let me know whether you think it an improvement - do the changes make things clearer or not? -…

Memory lane revisited

Domaine de Cristia produced its first vintage of its 80-year-old vine Grenache grown on the Cristia lieu dit next to Rayas, named appropriately enough "Vieilles Vignes" in 2004. It was an instant hit with critics and consumers alike and, when it was released in 2006, was good value at around £25 per bottle (you can double that today).

At eight years old, the wine has shed its primary character but it hasn't quite got round to the next phase yet. At first there is a hint of varnish on the nose (something that seems quite common for this style of wine at this stage of its evolution) but this blows off with a little breathing. As indicated, the fruit character is not giving its best just now but, having come across this before, I know it is just a matter of time before the secondary glow appears.
What does interest me now is the texture of this wine. In particular, the weight of the wine is excellent. The tannins are smooth and the alcohol is not overly apparent. This is a …

Uplifiting Usseglio

OK, so Chateauneuf-du-Pape is not generally a Tuesday night wine but, having endured a vegetarian lunch (with some very good friends so I didn't mind too much!) we had a beef stew which cried out for something majestic. Raymond Usseglio's 2005 promised to hit the spot.

At just seven years old, this wine has now turned the corner to become a wine that could only be Chateauneuf, a real terroir wine. Raymond's (or, rather, Stef's) wines are never the most concentrated in their youth but they grow and grow until, when ready, their mouthfeel is perfectly balanced with the acidity and tannins and the fruit, at seven years old, is beginning to show signs of maturity with some secondary fruit poking its head round the corner.

Lovely.

Beautiful Beaucastel 2011

Yesterday saw the annual Beaucastel EP (en primeur) tasting, this year held at the Church House Conference Centre, a stone's throw away from the Houses of Parliament (it's OK, they weren't sitting: it's conference season, remember?).

The line up started, not altogether impressively, with the Vieille Ferme range which I found to have of-putting aromas. Nothing offensive, they just smell cheap (which, of course, they are). Probably OK in the supermarkets but of no interest to me.

The newly named Famille Perrin range, however, is increasingly interesting. The CDR Blanc is a correct wine with a decent enough nose and palate made in an easy drinking style. Pleasant enough. The red has a typical Grenache nose with a good helping of cherry fruit and some spice. It's a lively enough wine. The "Nature" was of particular interest as I used to import it before it was certified organic and before Waitrose muscled in. In those days it was quite animal; not so any more…