Richard Mark James' wine & travel blog
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26 December 2016

Spain: Cava and Rioja 'of the moment'

Arestel Cava Brut (11.5% abv) - Such a bargain considering this is surprisingly good for the money: there can only be about £1 in it to cover production and everybody's profit, once you take off UK VAT and excise duty! (Who would want to supply Lidl and try actually making money...) Nicely floral and almond-nutty with refreshing aftertaste. £4.49 Lidl.

Heretat El Padruell Cava Brut, Jaume Serra (Macabeu, Parellada, Xarel-lo; 11.5% abv) - A touch yeastier/toastier and 'oilier' yet similarly light and easy-going; nice start and end to Christmas day quaffing. £6 M&S (usually £8).

Marqués del Romeral Rioja Reserva 2010, Bodegas Age (Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo; 13.5% abv) - Lovely 'traditional' style with deft mix of smoky vanilla oak (American and French, for two years) and sweet red berry fruit, turning savoury and more complex on its soft stylish finish. Great pre-Christmas offer price too at £8.50 (usually £13.50 apparently), although it's probably already gone back up to full price. Went well with Guinea fowl for Xmas lunch. Image copied from Marks & Spencer's site.

22 December 2016

France: Bordeaux and Burgundy 'of the moment'

Juicy Merlot @ www.chateausoleil.fr
Château Soleil Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion 2009 (80% Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon; 14.5% abv): lush, concentrated, powerful yet stylish with plump mouth-feel; alluring smoky vs ripe vs maturing gamey fruit, still quite solid though. Delicious now (roast duck/goose?) but you could leave it for a few more years. €15.99 special offer at Aldi Ireland.
Baron de Rothschild Haut-Médoc 2013 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot; 13.5% abv): decent example of Médoc style with fair depth of blackcurrant/plum fruit and subtle cedar-y oak, has a bit of grip but good fruit underneath. £14 Marks & Spencer.
Domaine Pierre de Préhy (Jean-Marc Brocard) Chablis 2012 (Chardonnay, 12.5% abv): mature and elegant with subtle layers of buttery nutty fruit and a hint of freshness still. Drinking well now. £15 Marks & Spencer.
Cave des Charmilles Moulin-à-Vent 2015 (Gamay, 13.5% abv): good value example of proper 'Beaujolais' but denser with lovely aromatic fruit and a touch of tannin too. £7.99 Lidl.
Domaine Louis Max Mercurey 2014 (Pinot Noir, 13% abv): from the Côte Chalonnaise area further south than the traditional Burgundy 'heartland'. Delicate perfumed Pinot style, soft texture and subtle long finish. Sometimes £15 on offer - usually £18 in Sainsbury's fine wine section.
Sauternes 'Taste the Difference' 2011 (Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc; 13.5% abv): the good thing about Sainsbury's premium own-label range is that they tell you who the producer is, Château Guiraud in this case, one of the top Sauternes estates. Plenty of that weird exotic vs spicy botrytis-rot thing going on, very sweet and lush dried apricot flavours with rich oily texture vs fresh acidity riding underneath. Have a small glass instead of pudding (you don't want to ask how much sugar there is in this wine, not added though), or pour a little over some plain ice cream. £11 half-bottle.

10 December 2016

Pinot Noir 'of the moment': Bubbly, Burgundy and Beyond

Cono Sur Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé Brut (12% abv) - Bio Bio Valley, Chile. Stylish and elegant fizz with delicate sweet red berry fruit, enhanced by light yeast-lees tones and fairly crisp finish. £8 on offer at Tesco (usually £10) and other supermarkets.
Matua Pinot Noir 2014 (13% abv) - Marlborough, New Zealand. Reliably good Pinot combining fragrant 'sweet/sour' fruit and subtle oak. £9.98 Asda.
Palataia Pinot Noir Gerd Stepp 2014 (13.5% abv) - Pfalz, Germany. Stylish German red made by a former M&S buyer/winemaker, this oozes elegant Pinot charm with sweet/savoury berry fruits yet fairly weighty rounded mouth-feel and subtle oak. £11 M&S.
Domaine Sainte Rose Pinot Noir Blanc de Noir 2013, Méthode Traditionnelle sparkling (18 months yeast-lees ageing) - Languedoc, France. Attractive and pretty classy style fizz, showing structured and zesty mouth-feel layered with subtle yeast and toasted almond flavours. Like it. £15.99
Paul Mas Cuvée Secrète Pinot Noir, Méthode Traditionnelle NV – Languedoc, France. Red fizz: kinda like red Vinho Verde meets sparkling Shiraz! Different, goes well with cheese. Typical Mas experimenting as usual, and why not, it's the Languedoc after all.
Domaine Louis Max 2014 Mercurey (13% abv) - Côte Chalonnaise, Burgundy. Delicate perfumed Pinot style, soft texture and subtle long finish. £15 (usually £18) Sainsbury's.