Friday, 14 December 2012

Even in the hectic run-up to Christmas...

I just had a peek at the forum on Tom Cannavan's and the first post is entitled "Big Red Wine Company - Great Service"! He liked the wine too.

As a merchant, feedback is always appreciated, especially when it is positive like this.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Two weekends, two tastings

It's that time of year: wine tastings for a thirsty crowd. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy showing off new discoveries and some of the wines that have started to come round at last. The preparation is the trickiest part - you never know who will be coming or how many people will show up so it's hard to gauge which wines to put in (or which to leave out). Experience has taught me to avoid too much in the over £10 bracket but, still, I could not resist showing a Barbaresco and a Chateauneuf this weekend.

At the Norwich tasting last week, there was a consensus that Italian wines are generally overpriced. I would counter that they need food, without which they are easily misunderstood. A little salami and cheese, perhaps, wasn't enough to convince them of this. The whites went down well with the Manzone "Rosserto" proving especially popular.

Filippo Gallino's Barbera always goes down well - juicy fruit and not overly complex (although the totally contrasting Ruge from Crissante Alessandria was the most popular wine at the Dulwich tasting). It's a lovely food wine with that slightly sour quality that is so essential in these wines. Also from Piedmont, I was surprised that the Nada Giuseppe 2009 Barbaresco was so much more popular this weekend than last. I put it down to travel sickness - the wines had only arrived in the UK a week before the Norwich tasting - although this is not something I have much experience of with such young wines. The fragility of Nebbiolo, perhaps. That said, at the post-tasting supper this weekend, a magnum of Grasso Fratelli's 2000 Barbaresco "Sori Valgrande" was magnificent.

The French seem capable of producing more wines that are actually good in the sub-£10 bracket than the northern Italians. Fair enough that Nebbiolo, like Pinot Noir, is a tricky grape and can never come cheap (there are some decent Nebbiolo d'Alba wines under £15 but that's about all) but there really should be more Barbera and Dolcetto around £8-£10. Still, the Gallino, Manzone and Nada wines cover this perfectly well for me.

In France, one of the best QPR whites remains the Domaine des Anges Ventoux Blanc: it has plenty of fruit but good minerality too and acidity that cuts in nicely just where it's needed. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the "house" Sauvignon from Moulin de Gassac though. Understated, zingy and fresh with quite citrusy/gooseberry fruit - neither blousy like some New World examples nor paintstripper as all too many other Languedoc wines can be. This one gets it - refreshingly - right.

Also from the Languedoc, Domaine Treloar's One Block showed exceptionally well: richly fruited, almost like a savoury Christmas cake, this will be fine with Christmas dinner. That said, Raymond Usseglio's 2005 Chateauneuf exudes class. If only we didn't live in the plastic age, I would be able to flip a coin!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Congratulations to Fabrizio Battaglino

Fabrizio Battaglino has just won best QPR white for his Roero Arnies 2011 in Gambero Rosso 2013

Well done Fabrizio! A well-deserved award.

Fabrizio's full entry in the guide reads as follows: 

"Fabrizio Battglino's small winery seems to have returned for good among the top producers of Roero. The vineyards are at Vezza d'Alba, on the steep sloping hills of Colla and Mombello, where soils are sandy and face south at an altitude of 350 metres above sea level. The classic variieties of Roero are grown, Arneis, Nebbiolo and Barbera, and tradition is interpreted to craft a series of technically flawless wines full of delicious fruit, carefully designed for delightful drinkability."

New entries for this year include:

2010 Roero Sergentin - Due Bicchieri (entered in the finals)
2011 Roero Arneis - Due Bicchieri (especially good value)