Richard Mark James' wine & travel blog
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31 July 2013

Rhône: "reds of the moment" (and a Beaujolais)

Here's a handful of blockbuster reds (and a more elegant one) worth talking about that have crossed my dinner table (well, four-legged brasserie style zinc and chrome structure) in recent times, in gratuitous celebration of Grenache perhaps. Picked from the shelves of Lidl ('wine cellar' range, so not in all stores), Marks & Spencer and independent merchant Hercules Wine Warehouse.

There's something in the stones
you know: from rasteau.com
2011 Ortas Tradition Cave de Rasteau (Grenache 70%, Syrah 20%, Mourvèdre 10% - 14.5% abv) - nice aromatic sweet Grenache fruit, liquorice and violet too; relatively 'light'/elegant for hot Rasteau country (vintage 2011) yet still has plenty of oomph, as you'd expect, with a touch of bite/grip vs attractive perfumed fruit and an earthier black olive side; ripe/spicy liquorice flavours with weighty yet tight finish and light bitter twist of tannin. €7.70 cellar door, £9.50 Hercules Wine Warehouse Kent (for the 2010).
2011 Vacqueyras (13.5% abv) - attractive ripe Grenache fruit on the nose, sweet berry and liquorice vs spicy earthy edges; firm yet rounded and powerful mouth-feel although tighter and less full-on on the finish than you'd expect perhaps (again 11 vintage, no bad thing though); well-balanced too with dry vs sweet profile and that smooth fruit hiding the alcohol. Maybe not the most super-dooper example, but fairly good value for £7.99 at Lidl.
2010 Domaine de la Curnière Vacqueyras Vignerons de Caractère (Grenache, Syrah - 15% abv) - the nose was a tad 'dirty' when I first opened it, but this smell had gone when I tried it again the second day. Bags of ripe sweet Grenache fruit for sure, spices and liquorice, earthy and savoury too and very punchy; the alcohol's a bit out of balance making the wine somewhat clunky and clumsy in the end, shame as it's got character, just like the winemakers! £11.99 M&S (I got it for less than a tenner though on offer about six months ago).
2011 Fleurie - appealing violet and grapey/cherry fruit, has a hint of grip vs soft fruit and refreshing acidity too; firm-ish and fresh palate vs soft sweet berry fruit, has fair depth too. Nice style, proper Beaujolais! £6.99 Lidl

27 July 2013

Cahors: Malbec crush

From a Cahors wine touring trip last year -
click here, here or here for many words!

23 July 2013

Italy: whites and reds "of the moment", south & north

Three Sicilian whites, a red from Puglia and one from Trentino to be precise, all hot off the shelf from Marks, Lidl and Asda. I've mentioned a certain fondness for white wines from Sicily before (okay, reds too), especially made from the exciting native variety Grillo. New to both M&S (who now stock more Sicilian wines than any other large retailer I'd guess) and Lidl too, both 2012 vintage and labelled under the sweeping 'Terre Siciliane IGP' zone. Here's my verdict:
2012 Grillo (12.5% abv) - a hint of SO2 on the nose, which goes with airing, delicate yeasty notes vs rich peach and apricot, honeyed and rounded vs crisp and zingy, fat texture vs dry bite, full-bodied vs refreshing. Rounded palate with lingering yeast-lees/SO2 notes, dried apricot, peach and almost toasted/honey-coated almond flavours yet quite steely and 'mineral' really; nice wine in the end. Lidl £5.99
2012 Grillo (13% abv) - hints of Viognier in style with that sweet apricot and honey fruit, but more white peppery and fresher with zesty pear edges, quite crisp acidity vs ripe sunny and rounded. Good stuff. £6.99
And Asda has been promoting the 2012 vintage of its Fiano dry white from Sicily, which I recommended last summer and continue enjoying it every time I buy it, for a fiver I think (as they do: don't know what the 'usual' price is, as I only get it when on promo like the rest of the world!)
Moving east to the other side of southern Italy to the Puglia region, Marks has also taken on a 2012 Negroamaro red (another indigenous variety) at £6.99 (13.5% abv): Nice and fruity with jammy damson and black cherry, spicy earthy edges, ripe rounded and warming with liquorice flavours vs dark chocolate twist.
Heading about as far north north as you can go in Italy, towards the border with Austria, Lidl has taken the fairly brave step of listing a Teroldego Rotaliano from Trentino (you only find this variety there), a 2010 Riserva red (12.5% abv) for £6.99 as well (price-point of the moment obviously): Surprisingly dense with a coating of coco-choc oak (these reds are often on the lighter side and un-oaked), fruity and spicy though with nice smooth tannins giving attractive dry vs ripe profile, peppery and earthy with hints of toasty coconut grain vs dark cherry/berry fruit; quite structured and serious yet drinking nicely now. Developed more liquorice and spice the following day with sweet/savoury fruit, wilder edges vs fairly smooth texture.

Languedoc: Domaine Sainte-Croix update, Corbières

Or the 'Hautes Corbières' as those folk who live up on the real high ground around here like to say, in the sleepy wee village of Fraissé-des-Corbières about a dozen kilometres inland from the La Palme lagoon or a short stretch to the northeast of Embres-et-CastelmaurePrevious words on and wines from Domaine Sainte-Croix on this blog can be found, from 2009 and 2010, HERE with further updates here (Corbières report May 2011) and here (2009 vintage showcase penned June 2010). I talked to owner / grower / winemaker / sales / everything 'team' Jon and Liz Bowen earlier this year at the dazzling premiere (well, the cinema seats were red at least) of Ken Payton's Languedoc wine documentary 'Les Terroiristes du Languedocin downtown Montpellier, which features Jon and Liz among a dozen like-minded small estate wineries, and at Millésime Bio organic trade show the next day. Including a touch of sampling, goes without saying, their newly released 2011s mostly that, in line with this vintage generally speaking in the south, were fresh, elegant, somewhat closed up and not looking very approachable then; needing more time to express themselves but a promising year perhaps, subtle rather than blockbuster...

Liz & Jon Bowen from facebook.com/LesTerroiristesDuLanguedoc
2011 La Serre white (Grenache blanc & gris) - nutty appley notes with lightly oxidized edges, a tad too 'volatile' and tart in the end. I've liked this white much more in previous vintages (see links at the top).
2011 Rosace des Vents rosé (Carignan, Syrah; 12.5% abv) - rounded 'oily' textured style rosé with subtle red fruits and rose petal notes, rounded vs fresh on its attractive finish.
2012 Aramon (an old, almost disappeared variety) - reductive tones to start, moves on to floral berry and violet notes, juicy and refreshing with nice ripe vs crunchy mouth-feel.
2011 Le Fournas (Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) - funky and chunky layered with ripe blue / black berries, attractive 'fresh' tannins and acidity vs dried berry fruit, tight elegant finish.
2011 Pourboire Nature (Carignan, Syrah) - more baked and savoury on the nose, concentrated palate with fresh undercurrent, a touch lean perhaps but it's subtle and long again.
2011 Carignan old-vine (planted in 1905, plus "a tiny bit" of Grenache and Mourvèdre; tank sample) - savoury vs ripe profile with light oak grain, slightly cooked berry fruits, again it's tight, fresh and very long; rather 'unobvious' when I tried it although intense.
2011 Celèstra (80% Grenache + Mourvèdre; 14.5% abv) - quite rich and fruity with grainy coconut tones, chunky and firm mouth-feel with nice meaty edges, has fair oomph yet still with that elegant touch, closes up on the finish. Should be very good.

19 July 2013

Spain: Quaderna Vía, Navarra

From organicwines.ie
Bodegas y Vinedos Quaderna Vía organically run estate winery, whose name seems to have something to do with Mediaeval poetry (guessing a bit from my limited grasp of Spanish: there doesn't appear to be an "in English" button on their site www.quadernavia.com), is located in the town of Igúzquiza on the western side of the Navarra region, an area known as Tierra Estella (not that far from Rioja actually). Brothers Raúl and Jorge Ripa had an impressive new cellar complex constructed 10 years ago that's supplied by 70 ha of vineyards they own around here: grape variety wise, they focus on Tempranillo, Cabernet and Merlot. Guided winery and vineyard tours are also available, with a tasting naturally; and you can book their groovy 'space' for private functions or wine dinners. Irish importer Dirk Flake Organic Wines in Galway stocks the first red (€8.80 a bottle, pic.); and cellar door in Spain they cost about €4 - €6 - €11 - €20 respectively for these four in ascending quality order, which I sampled earlier this year at Millésime Bio show.

2011 Initium (Tempranillo/Merlot) - nice juicy fruit with perfumed spicy notes, herby vs sweet, simple attractive quaffing red.
2011 Especial (90% Tempranillo + Cabernet Sauvignon) - herby cedar edges vs riper sweet blackcurrant and cherry, subtle grip and oak on the palate with plenty of fruit, elegant yet weighty, attractive style again with a touch more substance.
2008 Reserva (50-50 Tempranillo-Merlot) - more coconut oak vs maturing savoury notes and ripe berry fruit, nice meaty edges and still quite solid mouth-feel with a touch of oak grain vs oomph and dark vs savoury fruit. Good stuff.
2008 Quaderna Vía (100% Tempranillo) - richer berry fruit with spicy oak, nice ripe dark vs savoury flavours again, chunky and concentrated yet is well balanced with rounded tannins; drinking well now but should keep for a few more years. Lovely.

18 July 2013

Languedoc: Domaine Les Eminades update, Saint-Chinian

LATEST HERE JAN 2014

Before diving into this concise update, why not click HERE to peruse my original insight into Les Eminades found 'out there' in beautiful Saint-Chinian country (posted August 2011), which went along the lines of: "...Set up by affable couple Patricia and Luc Bettoni in 2002, this spectacular-vista estate has been tended organically since the beginning..." Including a few older vintages of the wines tasted below. Anyway, I caught up with them earlier this year at Millésime Bio wine show. € prices quoted are cellar door or on-line in France, £ prices are from their London agent Aubert & Mascoli. They have a new website too by the way: follow the link under the photo...

Patricia and Luc Bettoni from leseminades.com

2011 Silice (Sauvignon blanc) - more 'mineral' style of Sauvignon with complex yeast-lees notes and nutty vs appley finish. Good but dear at €14.
2011 La Pierre Plantée (1960 Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache) - 'reductive' blueberry and cassis notes, spicy too with fresh tannins vs sweeter black cherry fruit, lightly peppery and crunchy on its quite long and elegant finish. €7.50 £12.50
2011 Cebenna (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre) - enticing ripe and spicy black cherry Syrah styling to start, peppery and intense on the palate with chunkier firmer mouth-feel, savoury dark olive flavours too with nice bite vs weight and tight long finish. €10.50 £15
2010 Vieilles Canailles (1902 Carignan) - quite herbal / 'reduced' (?) on the nose, closed up and a little clumsy at the moment, concentrated though with very tight finish. Not sure, maybe it'll come out of its shell... €25 £25

17 July 2013

Wine Education Service NI autumn/winter program

The next wave of wine tastings and courses scheduled from late September to April next year in Belfast city centre (and run by RMJ) are as follows:
Essential Wine Tasting course - £125 for 5 sessions
Tuesdays 7 to 9 pm from 24 September 2013 to 22 October and 4/02/14 - 4/03/14. More info on this five evening course here: wine-education-service.co.uk/introductory.
Wines of South America tasting - Thursday 3 October 7-9 pm - £27.50 or 2 for £50
"We'll taste and talk about eight premium wines from 'el Sur Grande', focusing mainly on Chile and Argentina - featuring well- and lesser-known grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc and Torrontés. But we'll also be venturing into more uncharted waters such as sampling a big Tannat red from Uruguay..."
Classic Grape Varieties course - £150 for 5 sessions
Tuesdays 19.00 to 21.00 29/10/13 - 26/11/13
The Wines of France one-day wine workshop Saturday 2/11/13 10 am to 5.30 pm
"Le Tour de France" - £80 for the day including lunch, about a dozen wines for tasting and 'discussion', course notes and tuition. More details about this and other workshops here: wine-education-service.co.uk/workshop.
Christmas Champagne & Sparkling Wines tasting - Tuesday 3 December £35 or 2 for £60
"A fizzy world tour starting in France with classic Champagne and other fine sparklers, then comparing with the ever popular Cava (a very good one, of course), Italian 'new kid on the block' Prosecco, passing through the southern hemisphere (e.g. Australia, New Zealand) and ending up in England!..."

From Grape To Glass one-day wine workshop - Saturday 8/02/14 - £80 with lunch
Wines of Australia & New Zealand course - £150 for 5 sessions - Tuesday evenings 11/03/14 to 15/04/14.
Wines of Italy one-day wine workshop - Saturday 29/03/14 - £80 with lunch

Full details and on-line booking: wine-education-service.co.uk/wine-tasting-belfast
Or pay for South America and Xmas Sparkling tastings by PayPal:


Select tasting:



Or check out the homepage for wine events in London, Brighton, Manchester and Aberdeen: wine-education-service.co.uk

Wine Education Service NI autumn/winter program

The next wave of wine tastings and courses scheduled from late September to April next year in Belfast city centre (and run by RMJ) are as follows:
Essential Wine Tasting course - £125 for 5 sessions
Tuesdays 7 to 9 pm from 24 September 2013 to 22 October and 4/02/14 - 4/03/14. More info on this five evening course here: wine-education-service.co.uk/introductory.
Wines of South America tasting - Thursday 3 October 7-9 pm - £27.50 or 2 for £50
"We'll taste and talk about eight premium wines from 'el Sur Grande', focusing mainly on Chile and Argentina - featuring well- and lesser-known grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc and Torrontés. But we'll also be venturing into more uncharted waters such as sampling a big Tannat red from Uruguay..."
Classic Grape Varieties course - £150 for 5 sessions
Tuesdays 19.00 to 21.00 29/10/13 - 26/11/13
The Wines of France one-day wine workshop Saturday 2/11/13 10 am to 5.30 pm
"Le Tour de France" - £80 for the day including lunch, about a dozen wines for tasting and 'discussion', course notes and tuition. More details about this and other workshops here: wine-education-service.co.uk/workshop.
Christmas Champagne & Sparkling Wines tasting - Tuesday 3 December £35 or 2 for £60
"A fizzy world tour starting in France with classic Champagne and other fine sparklers, then comparing with the ever popular Cava (a very good one, of course), Italian 'new kid on the block' Prosecco, passing through the southern hemisphere (e.g. Australia, New Zealand) and ending up in England!..."

From Grape To Glass one-day wine workshop - Saturday 8/02/14 - £80 with lunch
Wines of Australia & New Zealand course - £150 for 5 sessions - Tuesday evenings 11/03/14 to 15/04/14.
Wines of Italy one-day wine workshop - Saturday 29/03/14 - £80 with lunch

Full details and on-line booking: wine-education-service.co.uk/wine-tasting-belfast
Or pay for South America and Xmas Sparkling tastings by PayPal:


Select tasting:


Or check out the homepage for wine events in London, Brighton, Manchester and Aberdeen: wine-education-service.co.uk

16 July 2013

France: Alsace - Eblin-Fuchs

Domaine Eblin-Fuchs lies on seductively rolling slopes around the village of Zellenberg (where the cellar is), between Ribeauvillé and Riquewihr and not far from Colmar, which is one of the region's driest and warmest spots apparently. Their different vineyard parcels add up to about 10 ha (25 acres), including some treasured vines in four of the area's steeper and very exposed Grand Cru sites; all of which have been farmed organically since 2001 with biodynamic certification smothered on top. The Eblin and Fuchs wine family histories go back several centuries, so I'm told, and were united by marriage in 1956. The estate's now run by brothers José Henri and Christian, who also make sparkling wine, eaux de vie from their own plums etc. and organic honey too.
I sampled the wines tasting-noted below and talked to these guys earlier this year at Millésime Bio wine show in Montpellier, south of France. Their wines are widely available in France and exported - click on web link beneath the photo for more info and contact details / opening hours.

Ever wondered what botrytised grapes look like? Yuk!
This is 'rot-shrivelled' Gewurztraminer, from www.eblin-fuchs.com.
2010 Riesling Zellenberg - nice developing colour, delicious ripe oily Riesling nose, concentrated palate with rich lime fruit and oily vs steely mouth-feel, long fine finish. Yum, lovely wine.
2010 Riesling Rosacker Grand Cru - fabulous oily vs citrus nose, rich and concentrated then crisp steely bite, nice ripe fruit with sweet lemon and lime flavours, oily maturing notes vs tight steely length. Yum again, should develop nicely.
2010 Pinot Gris vieilles vignes (old vines, 13% abv) - rich honeyed and spicy, has a touch of sweetness and fair weight with exotic ripe fruit vs a crisper side too, nice 'mineral' length vs quite lush. Good foodie white, try with Thai or Indian food.
2011 Gewurztraminer vieilles vignes (old vines, 13.5% abv) - complex exotic nose, floral lychee notes vs ripe lush mouth-feel and quite powerful vs a hint of freshness too, lingering flowery pineapple and lychee flavours. Try with fruit tart (especially e.g. peach).

Bags more on Alsace HERE (goes to archive page).

09 July 2013

Roussillon: Domaine Sarda Malet update, Perpignan

Previous words on and wines by Sarda Malet can be found HERE (report from a trip there in 2006, updated in 2009). I went back to this slightly hidden estate (and the family home), although lying on the southern outskirts of the city of Perpignan (across the busy road from the prison actually, over a hill and lost out of sight), earlier this year for a little tour and tasting of what's new at Sarda Malet.

Jérôme and Suzy Sarda Malet
Jérôme Malet is now in charge, with a little advice from mother Suzy no doubt; and they have a team of six vineyard workers and new winemaker Sophie Mage. Sales manager Laurent Moinet told us they have 25 ha being converted over to organics (since 2009/10) and that they've been "pulling up some vines to decrease the surface area, so we can focus on organic with the same team as it takes more man hours." Certain parcels are found near the village of Pollestres a few kilometres to the south, where "we might buy more if some good ones come up for sale." The cellar was also extended about five years ago; and the Malet family has recently invested in an estate in Côtes du Rhône country called Domaine de Fontbonau, in partnership with Frédéric Engerer who runs all the properties owned by François Pinault (Château Latour in Bordeaux among others...).
"We make a varietal range too labelled as Vin de France," Laurent explained further, "from vines planted by Jérôme's grandfather (Jérôme Sarda)..." in the 40s and 50s, and some his father Max Malet selected in the 70s and 80s. "We're planting some new Cabernet Sauvignon clones too from Chateau Latour... and we've decreased the amount of new barrels used (they needed to, to be honest, looking at some of the older vintages tasted)... and more demi-muids..." (two to three times the size of the classic barrique that impart less oak flavour yet have a similar effect on tannin texture etc.).
Lea & Sandeman shops in London stock some of these (see vintages and £ prices next to certain wines); also available in Ireland from Sheridan's Cheesemongers and from SAQ in Canada. More @ www.sarda-malet.com.


2011 Sarda-Malet white (Grenache gris and blanc, Malvoisie; 25% in barrel) - honeyed oily and nutty vs appley and floral, quite steely bite vs powerful (14% abv); lacks a little juicy fruit though.
2008 Terroir Mailloles white (Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache blanc) - pretty coconutty still yet has nice developed oily honeyed and buttery notes too, less toasty and nuttier on the palate with attractive mix of rich vs powerful vs crisp; good stuff in the end actually.
2012 Rosé (Syrah, Mourvèdre) - rich fruity raspberry/strawberry cocktail with quite weighty mouth-feel (14.5% abv!) then crisp finish. Nice style.
2011 Sarda-Malet red (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre; 30% in barrel) - enticing berry fruits, black cherry, liquorice and spice; nice 'fresh' tannins vs lingering fruit and warm alcohol. 2008 = £9.95.
2007 L'Insouciant Grenache - showing a fair amount of vanilla coconut oak, lots of sweet fruit too vs tannins a little dried out.
2008 Fandango Syrah (14% abv) - developing smoky leather edges vs dark cherry, meaty and quite concentrated with nice sweet vs savoury fruit, still firm and powerful too. Good.
2008 L'Intransigeant Mourvèdre - a bit oaky coco-y grainy, quite lean and firm with some savoury wild fruit, but again the tannins are a touch hard.
2007 Terroir Mailloles red (mostly Mourvèdre + Syrah) - a tad coco grainy and firm/extracted vs better sweet/sour fruit, still a bit overdone yet has more depth of fruit than above. 2004 = £19.95
2011 Muscat de Rivesaltes Vin Doux Naturel - lovely aromatic citrus peel vs grapey floral nose, sweet vs citrus bite and freshness vs nice cut from the alcohol. 2009 = £14.95
2007 La Carbasse Rivesaltes red VDN (old Grenache) - savoury meaty oxidizing notes, seems quite old already although that savoury vs dark fruit is quite attractive, still fairly solid too. Not sure. 2005 = £23.95
2005 La Carbasse Collection Rivesaltes Grenat VDN (old Grenache, cask-aged) - similar maturing baked meaty nose yet lusher and livelier, more complex with big fiery and firm vs rich and sweet combo, has much more depth and roundness vs alluring mature fruit.
2004 Le Serrat Rivesaltes ambré VDN (Grenache gris and blanc) - exotic peachy apricot notes vs juicy sweet texture suffused with subtle nutty flavours; doesn't taste that old, elegant long finish. Very good. 2000 = £16.75
1998 Le Serrat - enticing oxidized nutty nose, intense and tasty with rich exotic palate vs still 'mineral' underneath, long complex and nutty. Yum.
L'Abandon (100% Malvoisie passerillé = dried/shrivelled on the vine, 2002 vintage in fact) - very intense nutty nose with dried raisin and sultana combo, rich yet lively too, very sweet vs very fresh with intense nutty finish. Delicious unusual wine.

04 July 2013

Roussillon: Abbé Rous, Banyuls-sur-mer

Abbé Rous is one incarnation of this well-known co-operative winery based in Banyuls-sur-mer (Cellier des Templiers is another), which they use for a certain wine range sold to independent merchants and restaurants & hotels, rather than say own-labels in the supermarkets etc. I've talked about some of their wines on FMW.com before - click on these links for notes and comments: Roussillon: 3 white wines (Oct/Nov 2011) featuring the 2010 Cornet white Collioure that was available in selected M&S stores and on-line; and the Saint Bacchus Awards covering this local wine competition in 2009 and featuring the not so good 2008 vintage of said white wine, plus their rather good in fact 2005 red Banyuls Vin Doux Naturel (VDN, sweet fortified wine) 'Muté sur Grains Mise Tardive' (LBV style if you like).
I finally went to the Abbé Rous winery earlier this year, met some of the people behind this fair size operation (750 growers owning 1150 hectares of vines running from and around the towns of Banyuls-sur-mer to Collioure), had a look around lots of very big tuns and tasted their full range of white, rosé, red and VDN wines. The story goes that "this name was chosen as a tribute to the abbot, who, in the late 19th Century, set up the first trading & storing company for Banyuls wines to finance the construction of a church in the village." Their Collioure white and reds are generally quite good, except the ones where somebody got carried away with the new oak barrels (yawn). And, on the Banyuls front, whereas the winery is perhaps better known for some of its classic 'Grand Cru' old cask-aged styles; they've also got pretty good at making those 'new' vibrant full-on 'vintage' style reds such as Rimage.

Some of these wines are available in the UK from e.g. Ellis of Richmond (near London) and Michael Jobling Wines in Newcastle-upon-Tyne; as well as via quite a few importers around the US - see www.abberous.com for details (and some nice recipe ideas too). Going there: 56 avenue du Général de Gaulle, 66650 Banyuls sur Mer; phone 04 68 88 72 72.

2011 Cornet & Cie Collioure rosé - nice deep colour, but a little lean and flat on the palate.
2011 Cornet Collioure blanc (Grenache gris, Grenache blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Vermentino) - fresh and lively start vs richer honeyed notes, light yeast lees and toasty oak edges vs crisp and 'mineral' vs exotic apricot flavours; nice texture and bite too. Good stuff showing a lighter touch than previous vintages.
2011 Cuvée des Peintres Collioure rouge (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan) - nice aromatic wine showing liquorice, pepper and violets; quite soft texture vs rich and warm fruit, easy-going attractive style with lightly dry vs sweet finish.
2010 Cornet Collioure rouge (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan) - a bit fuller and lusher, still perfumed though with nice violet and peppery hints, more structured and firmer mouth-feel layered with attractive fruit, a bit more extracted yet more depth vs that floral vs ripe fruit. Quite good too.
2009 In Fine Collioure rouge (90% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre) - rich peppery black cherry fruit, grainy and firm palate vs riper rounder edges, some enticing maturing notes too; shows a little oak but it's well done, quite firm and dry still vs weighty with good fruit, ends up more austere on the finish vs a certain fruit 'sweetness'.
2010 Cyrcée Collioure rouge (mostly Syrah with Grenache & Mourvèdre) - deeper richer colour, tons of chocolate and coconut oak, extracted and grippy; a big wine-show red, concentrated aromatic and ripe but the fruit's hidden under all that oak.
2010 Cornet Banyuls Rimage VDN 'mise précoce' (100% Grenache noir: "bottled young" with no cask ageing) - Lots of lively black cherry/berry on nose and palate, rich and sweet vs spicy and fiery, lush ripe fruit vs dry grip and bite. Good stuff.
2006 Hélyos Banyuls (100% Grenache noir: 'LBV' style) - attractive maturing meaty savoury notes vs dark fruit vs firm mouth-feel, ending up not particularly sweet actually, fuller and more extracted yet with complex nuances.
Baillaury Banyuls 5 ans d'age (mostly Grenache noir + gris) - quite deep colour still although turning pretty brown, already fairly oxidised and 'old' vs chunky tannins and obvious alcohol. Been open too long or just past it?
2000 Christian Reynal Banyuls Grand Cru (100% Grenache noir) - lots more of those intricate (red!) Madeira type notes, not much browner in colour than above either; lovely coffee toffee and walnut flavours vs still quite firm and dry with nice bite vs that sweet maturing fruit, complex and long finish.
1999 Castell des Hospices Banyuls Grand Cru (100% Grenache noir) - has a little sediment, so careful when pouring. Similar colour to the 00, more oxidised and nuttier / 'cheesier' on the nose, the alcohol's a touch fiercer too with some dry grip underneath, complex Madeira and toffee notes, finishing relatively dry with fairly intense long finish. Good although I slightly preferred the 2000s.
2000 Joseph Nadal Banyuls Grand Cru 'dry' (100% Grenache noir) - browner and thinner colour, lots of complex pecan/walnut and all that with enticing 'gassy' Madeira edges, definitely drier with nice bite vs layers of caramelized coffee flavours, long complex and delicious.

02 July 2013

Wine tour: Verona & Veneto weekend

Piazza Bra and Arena, Verona amphitheatre
The latest 'wine weekend', this time going to northern Italy in the autumn, has just been slotted into wine travel company Wine Voyages' increasingly busy schedule, taking in Verona and some of the Veneto's lovely vineyard areas and wines of course. From Thursday 17th to Sunday 20th October 2013: more info on what's included, wineries visited, prices and booking are here:

01 July 2013

Chablis part 3: Geoffroy, Moreau, Séguinot-Bordet and more

Stop press: Chablis: special focus report now available
"You can now get a handy PDF supplement featuring all three parts of my recent Chablis wine touring mini-series, plus bonus pieces on a Chablis Grand Cru tasting and spotlight on M&S Chablis penned last year (and any of my other recent in-depth features). The full-works twenty-page Chabbers report in lovely PDF format emailed to you when you subscribe for just £10 (about $16 or €12) a year. OR BUY IT FOR £2.50 (about €3 or $4) - snap it up quick with PayPal!" Click on title above to find the PP buttons...

"On-foot" has been regrettably dropped from 'Chablis: final destination 3...', as predictably more efficient transport was required this time to spread the net a little wider. See "Chablis on foot" part 1: Chablis Wine Awards and "Chablis on foot" part 2: Droin, Chablisienne, Long-Depaquit, Fèvre for previous ramblings around Chablis and catching the drift. This last instalment explores the neighbouring villages of Beines and Maligny a tad, taking in Domaines Alain Geoffroy, Louis Moreau and Séguinot-Bordet. It also tries to simulate an elevated view of one particular snapshot of the area's vineyards ("you had to be there" type-thing, a vantage-point in the Côte de Léchet 1er Cru site) - accompanied by Eric Szablowski (goes to his website) who worked for many years as winemaker at a few wineries in the region and elsewhere, and now runs wine classes and tours in Burgundy - to get a sharper picture of and some insight on all these complicated Premier and Grand Cru names, where/what exactly 'Petit Chablis' is and other burning issues like that...
The vista is quite revealing standing on a slope (that old cliche about 'the high ground' has some worth after all) between vine rows in Côte de Léchet and Petit Chablis; the latter, strangely perhaps, are actually higher and chalkier looking than its 'superior' neighbour. "Chablis lies on Kimmeridgian slopes, and some on Portlandian, facing south-west-east," Eric (pic. right) started to explain. Amazingly, I've managed to avoid the 'K' word up until now - further insight can be found HERE (read down through the 'Grand Cru Chablis London 2012 tasting report'), as I can't be bothered going on about that again... Advanced warning: there's already going to be plenty of soil talk here!
In a marvellous 'here's one I made earlier' style moment, Eric picked up and showed us a lovely large lump of those classic stones/rocks that make up this type of soil: chalk, marl, clay and tiny little fossils...

GET THE FULL PDF REPORT NOW TO READ THE REST OF IT!


Jean-Francois Bordet took over Domaine Séguinot-Bordet from his grandfather (pic. together above, taken from their site) - who he's obviously very fond of and still comes to see him twice a week in cellar and vineyard then they go for lunch - 15 years ago, since his mother didn't want to carry on the family business...
Ditto the link above to buy it!

Lots more Chablis HERE by the way.