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What's in store for 2014?

Well, when Jill challenged me to go for the whole of January without wine, my first thought was "Don't be ridiculous". My second thought was "Don't be ridiculous" but when I realised she actually meant it, I decided I may as well do it for a good cause so I am going to attempt the impossible (or, certainly, improbable) and go for thirty one consecutive days senza vino  as well as sans vin.

So, if you've already bought the presents, now's your chance to feel really good by making a donation to Cancer Relief via my brand new Just Giving page.

Don't forget to GiftAid your donation so Osborne has to stump up his share too!

And finally, you will able to follow my efforts here on my blog (http://bigredwine.blogspot.co.uk/) which, hitherto, has extolled the virtues of some big red wines but, for January 2014, will be dedicated to my struggle to "do the right thing".

Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year!

James

Christmas tastings

We have two Christmas tastings every year: one here and one in Norwich. Very different crowds but the selection of wines is more or less the same for both so it is interesting to see what goes down well at each event. The line up for this Saturday is as follows:

Sparkling wines 1.PROSECCO Grandi e Gabana                                                                                                 2.CHAMPAGNE 1er Cru Michel Rocourt 'Blanc des Blancs'                                                         
White wines 3.SAUVIGNON BLANC Moulin de Gassac, VDP de l'Hérault 2012      4.PINOT GRIGIO Grandi e Gabana, Latisano 2012 'Terre d'Argilla' 5.CAIRANNE-CÔTES DU RHÔNE VILLAGES Domaine Brusset2012 'Les Travers' 
6.CÔTES DU RHÔNE Raymond Usseglio 2012 'Les Claux'         7.    GIVRY Domaine Joblot 2010 'En Veau'
Red wines 8.   BARBERA D'ASTI Cascina Saria 2011 'Convento'   9.   BARBERA D'ASTI Cascina Saria 2010 'San Lorenzo'��…

Wine Advocate on Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Robert Parker's replacement for Rhone reviews, Jeb Dunnuck has given a stunning reappraisal of many wines from the 2011 vintage.

First a word about 2012 which he describes as "a great vintage for the whites". I could have told him that in April when I first tasted the white wines from Laurent Brusset, Domaine des Anges and Raymond Usseglio whose new Cotes du Rhone Blanc scores an outstanding 90 points. That seems fair to me; it is a truly superb white.

Raymond Usseglio's 2011 reds (in stock) all receive excellent reviews and, for me, it is about time his Part des Anges cuvee got the top score (not that I have any problems with the delicious 2011 Imperiale - I just think Stephane should be rewarded for his efforts and successes with this fairly new wine). This is a sensationally black-fruited wine that just goes on and on. I had a bottle of the 2007 with a friend a couple of weeks ago - he had not tasted this cuvee before and was completely bowled over. Yes, on paper 2…

Gigondas in Decanter

December's issue, out now (as a subscriber, I received my copy before the end of October! I will never understand this) features the results of a tasting of Gigondas 2010/11.

The UK's leading Rhone specialist, John Livingstone-Learmonth, advises that the levels of ripeness in 2010 were excellent whereas there was more unevenness in 2011 which means, of course, caveat emptor (or, at least, buy a wine you either know or from a merchant you trust). He describes 2010 as a "more complete vintage" although the panel certainly does not write off the 2011 vintage at all.

A criticism that was levied against a few of the wines was heavy handed use of oak. When I first got to know Gigondas, it was a time of experimenting with new oak in the top cuvees (started, I believe, at Domaine les Gouberts) and it was fun for a while but Grenache doesn't always react well to the gentle oxidation that inevitably takes place in the barrel and, frankly, if you want an "international…

Absolutely Cracking Wines from France

The annual tasting of French wines selected by 50 UK wine critics - three wines each so 150 altogether - took place a few weeks ago in London and today has been written up in the Ham & High by Liz Sagues who points out that "unlike just about every other trade wine tasting in the UK, the bottles are there because people who know and love wine want to drink them, not because they’re the choice of a wine-promoting organisation of whatever kind."

Event founder, Andrew Jefford had already reviewed Domaine JoblotGivry 1er Cru 'Clos du Cellier aux Moines' 2010“Precise, fresh scents of mingled red and black cherries, with poised and vivacious fruit flavours which warm, fill and fatten on the palate.”

Liz Sagues agreed with the emphasis on this wine in her column; this was the one wine she highlighted from the tasting:

"For a single recommendation, rather than one of my own choices, here’s a memorable wine – a perfumed, elegant and warmly fruited red burgundy selec…

Barolo and Barbaresco at La Trompette

A couple of days after the fact but my memory is probably better today than yesterday (after the lunch I went to Uppingham to present a selection of Rhone wines).

Before the eagerly awaited lunch (I had enjoyed a similar starter at the Manzone meal in March), a tasting of 2010 Barbaresco and 2009 Barolo. Fortunately I was one of the first to arrive but within minutes there were 25 people, mostly male, crowding round a small table with a dozen or so wines to try before we sat down around 12.30. Not much time to savour the subtle nuances of a dozen young Nebbiolos. 

Indeed, one seasoned Nebbophile later commented that it was, perhaps, too much even for him - his actual comment was "I must admit to being a bit overwhelmed by the volume of wines - for all my love of Nebbiolo, in the end I felt myself craving for some variety, even though interestingly clear differences were visible. I think I'm a wimp!"

For some reason a Roero had been allowed to slip through, the incredibly yo…

Wine tasting in Rutland

Off to meet the good people of Uppingham on Wednesday evening. They have asked me to present a selection of wines from the Southern Rhone. Here is what I am proposing:

White wines 1.Domaine Brusset, Cairanne-Côtes du Rhône Villages 2012 "Travers" 2.Raymond Usseglio, Côtes du Rhône 2012 “Les Claux
Red wines 3.Domaine de la Charité, Côtes du Rhône Villages 2010 4.Domaine Grand Veneur, Lirac 2010 5.Domaine Brusset, Gigondas 2009 “Le Grand Montmirail” 6.Xavier Vignon, “Début” 7.Raymond Usseglio Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2007 8.Domaine de Cristia, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2004
Fortified wines 9a.   Domaine des Côteaux des Travers, Rasteau 2007 9b.Domaine Bressy-Masson, Rasteau Rancio
I would have liked to include Charite's 100% Syrah for contrast but that would probably mean taking out one of the CDPs, the Usseglio I suppose as the estate is already represented. Hmmm. I will have to mull this over - over a glass of each, perhaps.


Top award for Nada Giuseppe

Italy has two leading wine guides: Gambero Rosso (which I know better as there is an English translation) and Veronelli. This latter publication has just published its list of 3 Star wines (the best) for 2014 and there in the Piedmont section is Nada Giuseppe's Barbaresco Riserva Casot 2008. Fantastic news for Enrico and the family. Well done!

I have been enjoying the 2007 - I am trying to hold back my last few bottles of the stunning 2006 - and have pulled a couple of corks from 2008s which looks to me more a re-run of 2008 so expect me to be reticent about letting you have any!

Domaine Brusset - Coup de Coeur twice in 2014!

Coup de Coeur is the highest accolade awarded by the French wine buyers bible, the Guide Hachette. This is an annual publication that lists the results by appellation of tastings from all over the country. An arduous task - everyone always thinks wine tasting is fun and easy. With some of the dross that gets entered into competitions, I would not willingly swap with most judges. The Guide Hachette is a little different though: whereas few seriously good wines are ever entered in the Decanter World Wine Awards et al, the grandest of the grand put their wines forward for the Guide - page 475 of the 2013 edition sees DRC winning a Coup de Coeur for its 2010 Grands Echezeaux, for instance.

Now, I am sure Laurent Brusset would be the first to distance his wines from anything coming out of DRC but, for Gigondas and Cairanne, they are consistently at the top of the game - and somewhat more affordable too.

Domaine Brusset's Gigondas Les Hauts de Montmirail is one of the oaked cuvees coming…

Matching wine with food

I was asked today to put together a mixed case with recommendations of what to eat with the wines. Food pairing is always difficult as this is even more complicated by personal preference. That said, here were my ideas - any alternative suggestions would be welcome!
Giulia Negri, Langhe Chardonnay 2008 Tartufaia
Lobster, with or without mayonnaise.

Raymond Usseglio, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2010 Rousanne Pur
Fish and seafood. Can take quite strong flavours but really at its very best on its own.
Mas de Daumas Gassac, Vin de Pays de l'Herault 2008 Blanc
The producer recommends asparagus but, obviously, this is not in season so, perhaps, a light meat (veal or one of the more meaty fish such as swordfish or fresh tuna) or salad.
Giovanni Manzone, Langhe Bianco Rosserto 2010
I had this at La Trompette earlier in the year with a risotto of squid ink with confit cod, mylor prawns, Tuscan oil and lemon - superb! Otherwise, fish, chicken etc.
Domaine Joblot, Givry 2010 En Veau Vieilles Vignes
Chicken -…

A very affordable wine

Out to lunch yesterday with friends who are not averse to something pleasant to drink but don't really know where to look for it (here!!!) so I took a bottle of Grand Veneur's 2009 Cotes du Rhone. This is a slightly controversial wine as it is the "Champauvins" wine but bears a different label. Why? Because, rather naughtily, GV sold me a wine they have been selling me for several years but now have an exclusivity arrangement with another (larger) UK importer. So, to get around this, they put on a different label and add a back label "Selected by The Big Red Wine Company". Not really the right thing here but I know some people in the French trade don't understand the British obsession with labels - as Sebastien Jaume (of GV) asked me, shouldn't we "drink the wine not the label"?

Anyway, the wines are seriously good, whatever label they carry and, frankly, that is all I am interested in. As an online retailer essentially, I have been bemuse…

Barolo in Decanter

... the magazine, that is.

Results of a tasting of 2009 Barolo features in this month's issue. I have a lot more time for these panel tastings now that they just employ three judges for each one (although the quality of the results is determined by who is tasting, of course) but still much depends on the actual submission of wines. As the catchphrase goes, you have to be in it to win it.

It was good to see Serradenari getting an outstanding rating with 95 points for its 2009 although, as I don't have any in stock yet, the listing is with another wine merchant. My only concern is that it is listed as costing £34.90 - we have the 2006 and 2007 both for well under £20 so something is stacking up! Having said that, the company's website doesn't even list the wine or the producer. Oh well, I'll just have to import it myself.

The real delight for me was to find, just below Serradenari, an estate I have just started working with, principally for their Freisa, a quirky win…

My last bottle of...

Domaine Brusset, Cairanne-CDR Villages 2007 "Les Chabriles"

An inky dark wine with a thick texture but, surprisingly not at all OTT. There is an intensity about this wine, certainly, and the fruit is dark and foreboding but the acidity keeps it light enough. Very well restrained. A pity I have no more... roll on 2009 (and 2010 and 2011...)

Beaucastel 2012 en primeur tasting

Yesterday saw a return to the Church House Conference Centre in Dean's Yard, next door to (and overlooking) Westminster Abbey. An impressive location with views across Dean's Yard to the Abbey, a picturesque oasis in the middle of the hustle of Parliament and its surrounds.

Several of the country's most respected critics were present with notebooks in hand or laptops nudged between bottles so it will, of course, be interesting to read their thoughts in due course but, for what they are worth, here are mine.

Overall, an extremely good vintage for the Perrin family with, generally, low acidity and good balance. Alcohol levels seem a little lower than usual (ABVs were not printed on the labels of these barrel samples) which is welcome these days. I checked with Marc Perrin who confirmed that blends are more or less the same as usual.

The tasting was organised in the order of Vieille Ferme followed by Famille Perrin CDRs and Crus then a pair of new wines (to me, at least) from…

A ten-year-old Chateauneuf-du-Pape

To say that 2003 was a hot vintage in France is something of an understatement. It was the year of the heatwave, the summer that, when I holidayed with my grandmother in France, was so hot we had to lift her into the pool to keep her cool. Days were 43 degrees; night temperatures were not much lower.

When the wines were released, there was much hype but, realistically, only a handful have made it to ten years. Most producers have long advised that their wines be drunk up and my Brussets, for example, are long gone (with every bottle enjoyed, it must be said). Most Chateauneufs will not be at their best now either.

Why is this? Quite simply, the summer was too intense. Instead of the normal 100 days between flowering and harvesting, only 70 were needed to ripen the fruit. However, the tannins lagged behind and acidities were low (although alcohol was, inevitably high) so, whereas in their youth the wines were fully flavoured with plenty of ripe fruits, the structural elements were all …

Joblot in the FT

Andrew Jefford, so often a champion of the underdog asks if, with the wave of interest in Burgundy and the current problems the region faces because of atrocious weather, it is time for the region's eternal bridesmaid to step out of the shadows. 

His report focuses on the five villages, from north to south: Bouzeron, Rully, Mercurey, Givry and Montagny, advising readers what to expect, broadly, before listing recommended producers from each. 

Of course, for me interest is enhanced by his particular recommendation of Domaine Joblot's 2010 "Clos du Cellier aux Moines", a Premier Cru from Givry which he describes as:

"Precise, fresh scents of mingled red and black cherries with poised and vivacious fruit flavours which warm, fill and fatten on the palate."


Andrew told me he had made two short research trips to the Cote Chalonnaise in the last nine months, and that he intended to write the region up for the second of his "Jancis stand-in" columns in the…

Refosco - a completely new experience for me

Even after 15 years in the wine trade, and even having eschewed most wines from the New World (and many parts of the Old World) in commercial terms, there is still much to learn, it seems. Recent dabbling with Italian wines should have been enough to forewarn me that I really know next to nothing about wine. I reassure myself that, with very few exceptions, few do.

This was highlisghted to me when, having received some samples of Refosco from the producer of our new Prosecco (unsurprisingly a great success this summer), Grandi e Gabana, I posted a query on Wine-Pages to ask what I should expect from this grape. This forum is made up of enthusiasts who, in many cases, like to try virtually every style of wine imaginable. Only seven people seemed to have any experience whatsoever of the grape.

Why is this? It's an easy name to pronounce, after all - pronunciation is all important to the English consumer after all (and, perhaps, to residents elsewhere in the British Isles but the Eng…

Two reviews in wine-pages.com including 91 points for Nada Giuseppe

When Tom Cannavan of wine-pages.com released his reviews of Cahors wines earlier this year, I was not at all surprised by the glowing reports of the wines from Chateau du Cedre (see Tom's full report on Cedre here) but, on reading his take on Haut-Monplaisir's 2009 Pur Plaisir (see here for Tom's report on Cahors), thought he must have tried an altogether different wine. I contacted Tom and suggested I send another bottle for him to try and, at the same time, a bottle of Nada Giuseppe's 2007 Barbaresco Riserva (the 2006 had been discussed excitedly by forumites but it had all gone).

Today I discovered that Tom had reviewed the wines and clearly liked them, especially the Nada Giuseppe which he awards 91 points with the following note:

"This has a lovely nose, the tar and roses of maturing Nebbiolo is there, with a crisp-edged, juiciness to the red and black fruit, a touch of something charcoally, and a layer of toast and charriness beneath. On the palate this has b…

TN: Usseglio 2009

Rifling through my racks for something tonight, I stumbled across a rather larger stash of Raymond Usseglio's 2009 Chateauneuf-du-Pape. I don't recall buying quite so many for myself and can't find my original TN so can only assume I thought extremely highly of it at the time. Of course, the website entry for this wine was probably based on the TN so it looks like I did.

On opening, the nose is youthful but not harsh, a good sign. The fruit is foremost: quite deep, liquorish and liqueur-ish. On the palate the mouthfeel is an instant hit, coating the inside of my cheeks with just enough glycerine to subdue the tannins but beyond the fruit there is an explosion of spices. Wow! This is a development which, not altogether unforeseen, was not something I had been expecting to such a degree. The flavours really need to knit together for me but there is so much going on here that this is an exciting prospect.

One more thing: after the first slurp, I went off to attend to some foo…

DWWA results

The results of the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards are out today - the usual nonsense, of course, as it all depends on entering in the first place. I have never been a fan of these catch-all competitions; actually, I'm not sure about any wine competitions. That said, it's always nice to win so congratulations to Chateau de Jurque for its Regional Trophy (I must re-stock with this vintage!)

Otherwise, in the Southern Rhone, Domaine Brusset picked up three gongs for the two red Cairannes and "Les Hauts" from 2011 as did Domaine des Anges for its 2012 Blanc, 2010 Ventoux Rouge and "L'Archange", and Domaine des Bernardins for its sweet Muscats but it looks like no-one else thought the cost of entering their wines worthwhile.

In the South-West, Chateau de Jurque collected four medals (so that's the whole range then) and Chateau du Cedre one for its 2010 (I didn't even know it had been bottled yet!), Chateau Lamartine two including one for Expression …

Summer wines on a rainy day

I had billed this as a tasting of wines for the summer so it was inevitable that it would be raining although only half an hour before the start we were still thinking about having the tasting outside!

This was an opportunity to show some new wines and some old favourites too. New wines included both the Prosecco and Pinot Grigio from Grandi e Gabana, the former proving one of the most popular wines of the tasting. Other popular whites included new vintages from Domaine des Anges and Domaine Brusset's Cairanne "Les Travers" (both 2012) and the ever-popular Domaine des Malandes Chablis.

The most controversial white was Serradenari's "Mone" which some wondered what they would pair it with - I suggested they could simply enjoy it on its own.

I was pleased with the success of the Saria Barbera "Convento". One taster, a self-confessed fan of Bordeaux and South-West France, couldn't work around the inevitable acidity but most loved the fruit and cou…

Sublime Moscato goes all the way to the ridiculous...

Now, I am a fairly recent convert to the charms of Moscato but, whilst I am delighted to learn that others have joined me in their enthusiasm for the wine, it does seem that some have got somewhat carried away.

A round-up of recent stories from Drinks Business (a trade magazine that, for some reason, I didn't ignore for once) includes this:- http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2013/06/top-10-songs-featuring-moscato/.
Yes, that's right, Moscato seems to have found its way into the lyrics of rappers (so, are they still drinking Krug or have their budgets been reduced to sub-£10 sweet sparklers now?). Inevitably, the lyrics are drivel and the content verging on lewd but I hope I am not alone in finding this funny.
Anyone wanting to see whether Moscato will have the same effect on them (or who just wants to enjoy a bottle) should check out the one we offer from Grasso Fratelli. Please report back!

Roero too young to really enjoy but what promise!

The bottle was unlabelled so only I knew what its contents were. In some circumstances this could be thought of as a mean trick but it was genuine: Laura Gallino had given me a couple of bottles of her family's 2008 Roero Riserva "Sorano" when I visited last year before the label had been finalised.

This is one of those wines that too many wine enthusiasts just won't get around to trying. How many have heard of Roero, for example? I hadn't until I was dragged there a couple of years ago - well, OK, I was called up by Fabrizio Battaglino who persuaded me to visit him as I was staying just a few miles away. The Gallino estate proved even trickier to find than Fabrizio's parents' house!

It was striking that this is a family that lives for its wine. The house (or row of houses; it seems the whole family lives together) is ramshackled but the winery is immaculate. This comes through in the wines which are made with great care and precision.

Sorano is certainly…

Domaine Treloar: "Coup de Coeur" estate in the Revue du Vin de France

In the Spécial Millésime 2012 issue, with the caption "Notre Coup de Coeur" and a smiling picture of Jonathan:

Beautifully crafted wines.

Today in charge of 10ha of vines on the calcareous clay soils of Les Aspres, Jonathan Hesford used to have a different life in New York and worked in data processing until the events of 9/11 encouraged him to exorcise his passion. After training and experience in New Zealand, he started his estate in 2006 with his partner Rachel Treloar. Nowadays he makes nearly 10 cuvées, a beautiful dry Muscat One Block, a tasty white blend of Grenache gris and Macabeu, and several excellent red cuvées blending Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. His Mourvèdre Motus is full and well balanced and his Syrah Le Secret fresh and expressive. This is a address to watch for its beautifully crafted wines.


Congratulations Jon!

Cascina Saria - the best value in Piedmont?

Having let them know that I still have not mastered Italian, we were met at Cascina Saria (another estate recommended by my Danish friend Birger) a couple of weeks ago by Maura, the owners' daughter. Actually, Maura is in charge of sales whilst her brothers look after the vines and the winemaking, a fairly common set-up.
We were brought into the tasting room which has some of the best views across Piedmont and the southern Alps I have seen and which we stood in awe of whilst Maura prepared the wines for tasting. I knew from Birger that this estate produced a very good Barbaresco and he had particularly recommended the Barbera wines but first, a Langhe Arneis from the Barbaresco commune of Neive. Actually two: the 2011 and the 2012, both sharing the crisp floral fruitiness of the variety I have come to know at Fabrizio Battaglino's Roero winery a few miles away. Whilst the 2011 was very good (and excellent value), the 2012 seemed to have just a little more flesh, a quality tha…

Domaine Brusset 2011 en primeur offer

I visited Laurent Brusset on 4th April when we tasted through the current selections including 2012 whites and the 2011 reds. 
Laurent was clearly pleased with the wines and, as expected, the Cairannes and Gigondas showed extremely well. The reds are forward with attractive fruit and good acidity levels to keep them really interesting. Alcohol levels are not too high in this vintage. They can be enjoyed before the 2010s with "Les Travers" and "Le Grand Montmirail" both approachable already. 
The 2012 "Travers" Blanc is the best example of this wine I have tasted in over 10 years.
Five wines offered from Domaine Brusset. They will be shipped in mid-May. Prices are quote "in bond" (IB) for shipment to our bonded warehouse. We are willing to split cases subject to overall quantities.

2012 Domaine Brusset Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne 'Les Travers'(£87/12 IB) The best white tasted in the southern Rhone this year below Chateauneuf level. A beau…

Canterbury 2013

Once again, I made the trip to Canterbury yesterday to present a range of Southern Rhone wines. As always, it was well attended by a crowd of enthusiastic and lively tasters. Most of the wines came from the superlative 2010 vintage so I started with the caveat that they would not be close to being ready to drink and, quite possibly, closed. Not altogether true, it turned out.

We began with Laurent Brusset's highly aromatic white Cairanne "Les Travers" from 2012 which is already shaping up to be another top class vintage. Whilst only 30% of the blend, the Roussanne (20%) and Viognier (10%) dominate on the nose and palate and there is just a hint of oak fleshing out the wine and giving it an added dimension. Really drinkable.

After that, there was only one way to go with the whites: Raymond Usseglio's 2010 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc "Rousanne Pur" (only one "s" for some reason), a phenomenal wine which I described to the group as a red wine drinker&#…

Burgundy 2011 - Joblot's Servoisine

When I visited Jean-Marc Joblot in August 2011, he was days away from starting the harvest. He was optimistic about the quality even then and, now, at last from the bottle, the verdict is in.

Servoisine, along with Cellier aux Moines, is regarded as the best of the Joblot's holdings in Givry and I haven't had a new vintage from the bottle for a couple of years at least so I was keen to give it a whirl as soon as I could lay my hands on a bottle. It's been in the country for three or four weeks now so it should be well rested.

The wine is quite purple but, frankly, that is of secondary interest. Diving into the nose, there is a heady perfume of red fruits with mineral overtones. Good depth, especially with aeration. Now for the palate... Its youthfulness is apparent - some tannin but good acidity dominates the structural elements. A mid-weight wine with raspberry fruit, the same as the nose, which lingers well.

Sadly, I must re-cork the bottle until tomorrow and then again …

Domaine de Cristia

A busy morning! I have known Dominique and Baptiste Grangeon for several years now so there is always much to catch up on. Baptiste was heading off to Paris so most of the time, Dominique and I chatted whilst tasting the new vintages.

To start, a new wine from the Cristia Collection, a 2011 Grenache Blanc to partner the red vin de pays. Decent nose, medium-bodied and length with good fruit. 13% ABV. Bottled 02/03.

Next another new wine, this time from the Cristia range (neither Domaine de Cristia nor Cristia Collection but somewhere in between, I think - slightly confusing! I do know the vines are not part of the family's estate), a 2012 Cotes du Rhone Blanc from 30% each Grenache, Roussanne and Clairette with the balance Viognier and Marsanne. 13% ABV and full Ecocert status for this wine. Complex nose follows through to a soft palate. Bottled 02/03.

The last of the whites is from the domaine, a 2012 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc made with 40% each Roussanne and Clairette and 20% Bou…

Raymond Usseglio visit

My first visit to any of the people I work with in the Southern Rhone was to Stef Usseglio who had just bottled most of his new releases. After such a stellar performance in 2010, I was not expecting such great heights this year but, overall, I found a very satisfying range of wines - no great surprise.

First, the 2012 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, a field blend of Grenache, Marsanne, Rousanne and Bourboulenc which had been bottled just two weeks earlier. This has a lovely nose, full and fruity with hobeysuckle and green fruit characters. The palate is a little shy - but that's only to be expected from a wine so recently bottled - but good and the medium-bodied wine finishes well.

The 2012 Rousanne Pur is more intense with some oak coming through on the nose but the wine has not been bottled yet (bottling due tomorrow!). There is a more waxy texture and richer tones to the fruit in this fuller-bodied wine. A red wine drinker's white wine!

There is also a new white Cotes du Rhone …