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Showing posts from October, 2013

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…