WineWriting.com & French Mediterranean Wine
Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

28 December 2010

Dow's 2003 LBV

On a pre-festive hunt around the deepest crevices of my parents' drinks' cupboard, I was pleased to find a neglected bottle of 2003 Late Bottled Vintage Port (bottled in 2008 in fact) made by Dow's, part of the mighty Symington family group. So, a tad uber-traditional perhaps, out came the cork and on came the cheeses on Christmas Day. This 03 LBV is looking good, starting to show some enticing maturing savoury / dried fruit edges; yet still pretty solid, peppery and powerful on the palate (its 20% alc. has blended in nicely actually) vs rich, sweet and tasty finish. Went best with an aged cheddar or Ossau Iraty even (French Basque ewes' milk cheese), and less well with Stilton as I've always found - sweet and/or fortified white wines usually work better with Britain's most famous blue cheese and allegedly a good match for red Port.

27 December 2010

"Sweetie of the moment" - Monbazillac

2006 Monbazillac, Château Haute-Fonrousse / Géraud et Fils (Sémillion, Sauvignon blanc & Muscadelle 13.5%) - pretty classic "noble rot" sweetie style with attractive golden colour, exotic dried apricot and complex spicy / mushroomy botrytis notes; lush, honeyed, textured and sweet with nice marmalade and orange peel edges; a touch of refreshing acidtiy lying underneath, fairly mature and drinkable already although will be fine for another 3 years or so. From south of Bergerac in the Dordogne, southwest France. UK: Budgens / Allday £9.99. 
La Haute Fonrousse, 24240 Monbazillac. Tel: (+33) 05 53 58 30 28. Photo from chateau-haute-fonrousse.fr

22 December 2010

Cherbourg resto tip (vegetarians don't read on)

I recently found myself 'between ferries' (as you do) in Cherbourg, north coast of France, and came across a nice little trad eatery called Le Pantagruel, which specialises in "grilling meat over a wood fire" in that 'watch the chef cook it in front of your eyes' fashion. A simple classic melted goats' cheese salad (€6) was accompanied by a glass of nondescript although harmless Chardonnay(€2.50: I didn't note a vintage or where from but probably the south somewhere). Followed by a wee glass of much better St-Nicolas de Bourgueil red, from the Loire Valley (€3.20: again no vintage stated and I've forgotten which domaine now), probably 2008 or 2009 I'd guess from its youthful fruitiness; which went well with a delicious "magret de canard" (duck breast fillet) and wood-baked potato (€13). And to finish off - nearly finished me off actually - their "Gers cup" homemade prune ice cream with a hefty glug of Armagnac poured over it (€6).
43 Rue Tour Carrée, Cherbourg. Tel: 02 33 03 08 31.

Other French restaurants & wine bars mentioned or reviewed on my other blog (Montpellier, Béziers, Bordeaux...):
http://www.frenchmediterraneanwine.com/2011/06/montpellier-les-caves-de-trinque.html

11 December 2010

Youthful chunky "red of the mo" - Madiran

2009 Domaine de Peyret, Madiran red from the Cave de Crouseilles (mostly from the Tannat variety, 13.5% alc.) - this "modern-style" drink-now Madiran (although will easily soften out a little more over the next year or two), made by the region's main co-op winery despite its estate name, is a nice example of what you can get nowadays from this formerly obscure wine area lost in the southwest corner of France; skirting the edges of the Pyrenees, Atlantic facing rather than Med. It tastes like it's got a bit of Merlot and/or other varieties adding attractive plummy fleshy character to its deep purple black aura; spicy wild blackberry/currant fruit with savoury soy sauce edges, quite full and rounded with nice dry vs smooth tannins filling out the finish. A roast dinner kinda red and great value too at €4 (in French supermarkets).