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

06 December 2017

Pinot Noir: Australia, California, France, Hungary

Vineyard in Tasmania by Wine Australia

California
Scott Peterson ROX Pinot Noir 2015 Sonoma Coast - Silky smooth Pinot with plenty of aromatic 'sweet and savoury' fruit, touches of vanilla oak but not overdone, nice supple tannins and 'lightness' despite its big 14.5% abv weight. £19.99/£14.99 Naked Wines $29.99/$17.99.

Australia
Apparently Pinot Noir was among the very first varieties to be planted in Australia, but it was only really in the 1990s onwards that the variety gained momentum with the arrival of new clones and the planting of cooler sites. These two would be pretty typical of this.
Crittenden 'Peninsula' Pinot Noir 2016 Mornington Peninsula, Victoria - Lovely perfumed Pinot nose and palate, elegant but with intense 'sweet/savoury' fruit, quite powerful yet soft and silky with fresh acidity; very nice delicate pure style, fair class. £21.25 Fields, Morris, Verdin.
Stargazer Pinot Noir 2016 Tasmania - Planted in 2002 with a Swiss clone of Pinot (as you do). Light colour, closed up at first with herbal hints, turning to sweeter cherry fruit, fresh acidity and a touch of weightier texture on the palate, floral and tight finish; aromas develop with aeration. Good potential although dear @ £35, Enotria & Coe.

France
'Wild card' red Burgundy: you wouldn't expect anything too exciting from Burgundy for £5.99, but this Lidl special is easy-drinking and not bad at all:
Coteaux Bourguignons Pinot Noir 2015 (12.5% abv) - Fairly light with distinct cherry Pinot aromas and soft fruity palate.

Hungary
Another wild card, this time a rosé discovered and enjoyed more than once on holiday last summer:
Törley Pinot Noir Rosé Száraz (= dry) 2016 Etyek-Budai (12.5% abv) - Tasty juicy and crisp with aromatic red fruits and creamier finish. 699 HUF = about £2 or $2.65 (taxes on wine must be low in Hungary).

05 December 2017

Chardonnay: France, Australia, South Africa


Continuing the varietal 'wines of the moment' theme (last time it was Riesling), Chardonnay is having a minor resurrection or holding its own at least - once so fashionable then eclipsed by Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio - which is a good thing as it's much more versatile style-wise than either of those two grape varieties (peachy, citrus, tropical, oaky, oatmeal, buttery, mineral, something for everyone...). According to Wine Australia: "Chardonnay is Australia's number one selling variety in the UK off-premise market," although admittedly "the best growth" is for "other whites," such as PG and SB... Here are three pairs of recommended Chardys from three countries in different styles and stores.

Burgundy

Macon-Villages 2016 Gonter Nivelon (12.5% abv) - One of their posher Christmas special bin selection, this is a lovely example mixing ripe juicy fruit with yeasty edges and freshness too. £7.99 Lidl UK.
La Manufacture Chablis 2015 Benjamin Laroche (12.5% abv) - Tasty classic style Chabbers with nice pure fruit and lightly creamy vs crisp finish. Naked Wines £19.99 UK / $29.99 US (without the Angels' discount).

South Africa

Bellingham Chardonnay 2015 Stellenbosch (13.5% abv) - Well-made barrel-fermented Chardy but not overtly oaky, with buttery hazelnut flavours, attractive palate weight and balanced finish. £11/£9 on offer Tesco.
Mount Rozier Peacock Chardonnay 2016 Western Cape (13.5% abv) - Very good-value un-oaked style with tropical fruit and refreshing bite £7 Sainsbury's.

Australia

Voyager Estate Chardonnay 2013 Margaret River, WA - Buttery and forward with light yeast-lees and toast, quite rich yet elegant, drinking well now. £21.99 Justerini & Brooks.
Luke Lambert Chardonnay 2016 Yarra Valley, Victoria - Wilder-edged and cider-y 'natural' style nose with pretty intense, crisp lees-y mouth-feel vs light buttery flavours. Different. £24 Indigo Wines.

Next up: Pinot Noir and Shiraz...