with special guest star
Richard Mark James' blog: wine, travel, food, BYO restaurants, craft beer, stuff like that...

30 January 2005

Food and Fine Wine opens in Manchester

Well, on Oxford Road Altrincham at least. The store is the second to be opened by Directors Adrian Walsh and Peter Wozencroft, with its sister branch in Sheffield. As the name says, it will stock a range of specialist foods such as foie gras and salamis and also serve light snacks and platters. Wine tasting sessions held weekly "allow people to try a range of wines from Cloudy Bay to Mouton Rothschild (can't see them opening many bottles of that...), learn the background to wine and how to complement wines with different foods." Wine tasting evenings can also be arranged for small private parties - for more information phone Ali or Rick on 0161 926 8001 or visit The next three tasting sessions will be Californian wines on the 1st February, Italian wines on the 15th February and Southern France with winemaker Berti Eden on the 11th March.

Languedoc: Le Petit Domaine de Gimios, St-Jean de Minervois

Le Petit Domaine de Gimios

Not far out of St-Jean de Minervois, taking a left off the winding road to St-Chinian, you’ll eventually find Anne-Marie Lavaysse's indeed little estate lost on the untamed final frontier between Minervois and St-Chinian country. Anne-Marie is quite a personality with a penchant for making ‘table wines’ from quirky blends, such as Carignan, Aramon, Grenache, Cinsault and Alicante. She also doesn’t use any sulphur dioxide in winemaking and farms biodynamically, of course (see! These two were tasted at Millésime Bio 2005, so not exactly up-to-date but I liked her off-the-wall-ness: I'll go there next time I go for a spin in this wonderful neck of the woods.

Rouge de Causse vieilles vignes, Vin de Table (Carignan Aramon Grenache Cinsault Alicante) - actually 2003 vintage but she's not interested in AOC rules, also doesn't use sulphur or SO2 anywhere. 'Sweet' liquorice and dark chocolate, dry tannins supported by lovely ripeness; delicious fruit v firm structure, unusual. 88-90
2000 Vin de Liqueur (Muscat petits grains, 115 gr/litre residual sugar) - lovely honey and maturing dried fruits, intense bite v that sweetness, long and refined. 90+

Gimios, 34360 Saint-Jean-de-Minervois. Tel: 04 67 38 26 10.

Fenouillèdes wine trip - Roussillon January 2005

Old vine Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre & Syrah-powered reds; a few interesting dry whites and Muscats; plus fab Vins Doux Naturels (sweet fortified white, amber and red wines) from Fenouillèdes country. This beautifully rugged, northwest corner of the Roussillon forms the 'border' between French Catalonia and the Pyrenees and Corbières hills. Most of these wines were tasted blind and others in the growers' cellars during an eye-opening trip in cold, crisp yet sunny Jan 2005. More Fenouillèdes here (6th wine show), here (wine travel article) and by flicking through the Roussillon winery A to Z linked on the right.

Côtes du Roussillon and Villages
2003 Domaine Hylari - Perfumed spice plus a hint of oak, chunky blackberry/cherry fruit, concentrated yet pretty firm and closed up on the finish at the moment; however, shows nice bite, elegance and ripeness with well handled oak. 87-89
2003 Cuvée des Schistes, Vignerons de Cassagnes-Belesta - Enticing floral liquorice nose, attractive soft fruit followed by firm tight finish and good length too. 90
2003 Bastoul, Domaine des Soulanes - Rather firm and closed up at first; however, it certainly seems to have subtle fruit concentration at heart, with fair power too without being heavily extracted. 87-89
2001 Domaine Salvat - Very ripe toffee fruit scented with violets too, attractive 'sweet' texture leads to firmer finish, not so concentrated but shows a bit of finesse. 89-91
2003 Domaine Terre Rousse - 'Tar' and ripe plum fruit with rustic edges, firmly structured yet also has attractive texture and weight. 87-89
2004 Domaine Barriot (barrel samples pre-blending) - Shows good pure fruit and concentration, a light touch of spicy chocolate oak adds texture to the firmly structured yet attractive mouthfeel, stylish balanced length. Look forward to retasting the finished bottled wine, could be a 90 pointer.
2001 Tautavel Prieurée, Domaine Fontanel - Lovely nose offering ripe smoky fruit and herbs, shows a touch of wood but it works, firm yet rounded tannins, power yet a touch of elegance too on the finish. 89-91
2004 Domaine du Possible (vat sample) - Pretty forward on the nose showing ripe and rustic liquorice fruit, nice grip and length on the palate. 87
2004 Domaine Rivaton (vat sample) - Quite chunky fruit and structure, tight long finish, shows promise. 89
2003 Dona Baissas Prestige - Lovely ripe fruit with herbal and rustic edges, firm rounded tannins finishing with a touch of elegance too. 90
2004 Jean Louis Majoral (vat sample)  - Aromatic pure fruit, good texture and concentration, very firm tannins but well handled overall. 89
2003 L'Alba, Domaine Tribouley - Peppery farmy nose, shows good concentration and finely grippy tannins. 89-91
Latest Tribouley here.
2003 Le Ciste, Domaine Laguerre - Aromatic fruit and very firm grip, yet this has concentration and roundness on the palate; shows potential. 89
2003 Pesquié, Domaine Jorel - Sweet raspberry fruit aromas, juicy yet firm palate, attractive style drinking now. 87-89
2002 Clos del Rey - Pretty rich extracted fruit and chocolate oak, firm in the mouth yet nicely textured; perhaps a little too extracted but this has much better concentration than most of the 2002s. 87
2003 Latour de France, Domaine de la Balmière - Smoky and rustic offering attractive fruit, good concentration and lingering balanced grip. 89-91
2003 Symphonie, Domaine des Collines des Vents - Enticing ripe fruit with lavender notes, leading to firm tannins in the mouth yet with underlying sweetness; has power and elegance too. 89-91
2003 Tramontana, Domaine de la Capeillette - Sensuous black cherry fruit, the palate's rather closed up but overall it's well balanced and promising. 89-91
2003 Trois Pierres, Domaine de l'Ausseil - Attractive smoky nose with menthol undertones, very grippy yet shows concentrated fruit, tight structure and good length. Should improve with a little bottle age. 89
2003 Voluptas, Domaine Semper - Very fruity on the nose and not overtly oaky; tighter palate and more chocolate textured, pretty firm yet mineral too, very light toast and liquorice on the finish; dry bite bordering on being a little extracted, but there's freshness there too despite the rather heavy 15+% alc. 87
2004 Vin de Pays (VDP), Domaine Terre Rousse - honeysuckle with light creamy tones, concentrated with mineral intensity balancing the malo-lactic fatness; lovely. 90+
2004 Côtes du Roussillon (CDR), Domaine des Vents - oily aromas lead to a zingy palate, weighty and textured yet crisp and long. 88-90
2004 VDP, Mas Karolina - zesty citrus style, perfumed and quite rich with nice bite. 87-89
2002 CDR, Domaine de la Serre - Aniseed and mineral notes, concentrated and complex with long finish. 88+
2004 Corbières, Domaine du Grand Arc - Lifted citrus Sauvignon Blanc-esque style, zingy with nice extract and length. 87+
2003 Terra Novo, Vignerons de Maury - Lightly toasty with dominant aniseed characters, has good weight of fruit v zing and length. 87+
2004 VDP, Domaine Arguti - Perfumed anise on the nose boosted by light cream and toast, tight and long palate; a bit closed up but could be good. 88+
2003 Muscat sec, Domaine Jouret - very perfumed Muscat style with citrus peel notes, zesty and crisp length. 87-89
2004 Muscat sec, Domaine de la Balmière - a bit closed on the nose, gummy extract with crisp citrus depth. 87
Vins Doux Naturels
Rivesaltes Hors d'Age, Dona Baissas - lovely aged richness and pecan nut character, elegant bite counteracts the sweetness with the alcohol also cutting through the finish nicely. 92-94
1991 Rivesaltes Ambré, Domaine du Rancy - rich complex toffee fruit with a lingering coating of sweet baked nuts; wow. 90-92
1997 Rivesaltes Ambré, Domaine Hylari - quite intense toffee and walnut notes, shows attractive bite and length v warming sweetness. 90
Latest Hylari here.
2002 Rivesaltes Grenat, Domaine de l'Ausseil - a little closed on the nose but shows attractive chunky black fruits and tannins, sweetness v grip; quite young but will develop nicely. 92
1983 Chabert de Barbera, Cave de Maury - volatile mature tawny style, nutty and tangy; Port like but grippier with sweetness and firmness on the finish; lovely aged character lingers. 90
2003 Maury, Preceptorie de Centernach - ripe spicy fruit with tobacco tones, good grip and balance, tight and concentrated. 90
2003 L'Oursoulette Grenat, Domaine Comelade - lots of raspberry jam on the nose then turning tobacco and spice, elegant palate with nice dry coating of tannins v sweetness. 90
2004 Muscat de Rivesaltes, Domaine des Vents - very floral and honeyed too, zingy with zesty concentration v sweetness, long finish. 90
2004 Muscat de Rivesaltes, Domaine Andreu - quite zingy and concentrated v sweet grapey fruit, lightly zesty with lively bite. 87
2004 Muscat de Rivesaltes, Vignerons de Lesquerde - again shows tight zingy mouthfeel v richer sweetness, stylish elegant finish. 87

21 January 2005

Millésime Bio 2005

Here are a few worthwhile bottles gleaned from Millésime Bio, a feet-friendly organic wine show held in Narbonne (Languedoc, France) in January 2005, which include a number of biodynamic producers. As you can see, I was particularly fond of André Kleinknecht's classic Alsace wines...

Domaine de Malavieille Coteaux du Languedoc
2002 Alliance - Sweet blackcurrant fruit tinged with rustic leather notes, soft yet dry tannins and elegant length. 872001 Permien vieilles vignes (Carignan Grenache Cinsault Mourvèdre Syrah) - rustic and leathery with mint undertones, tight mineral mouthfeel and firm tannins but plenty of nice fruit. 90-92

Domaine de Valescure - Languedoc
2003 Chardonnay, Vin de Pays du Gard - Nice elegant apple and white peach fruit style, crisp mineral palate showing subtle concentration. 87+
2004 Gris de Gris rosé, Vin de Pays - Intense berry and dried redcurrant fruit style, lovely crisp length and delicate concentration. 87+

Domaine des Soulié - Saint-Chinian
2001 Ch. Soulié des Joncs - minty blackcurrant notes lead to smokier palate, shows nice fruit and grip with spicy finish. 87-89

Le Petit Domaine de Gimios - St. Jean de Minervois
Rouge de Causse 
vieilles vignes, Vin de Table (Carignan Aramon Grenache Cinsault Alicante) - actually 2003 vintage but she's not interested in AOC rules, also doesn't use sulphur or SO2 anywhere. 'Sweet' liquorice and dark chocolate, dry tannins supported by lovely ripeness; delicious fruit v firm structure, unusual. 88-90
2000 Vin de Liqueur (Muscat petits grains, 115 gr/litre residual sugar) - lovely honey and maturing dried fruits, intense bite v that sweetness, long and refined. 90+

Château Pech-Latt - Corbières
2002 Alix - smoky ripe notes with herbal minty edges, firm framework with good depth of fruit and length. 88-902001 Vieilles Vignes (Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre & Syrah) - also smoky with lovely concentration, herbal v rich fruit; soft maturing edges v power and structure. 90-93

André Kleinknecht - Alsace
2002 Auxerrois vieilli en barrique - Toasty but lively blackcurrant leaf fruit, pungent and mineral v fat and creamy, fresh acidity to finish. 89
2002 Gewurztraminer - Lovely pure lychee and rose water style, shows nice bite v perfumed fruit with more elegant and dry finish compared to other Gewurz. 89
2002 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Kirchberg de Barr - Rich and oily but has lovely youthful fruit too, very concentrated leading to tight fine length. 92-94
2002 Muscat - Still very fresh aromas, lively and quite concentrated palate, very dry with subtle acidity v developing fruit. 88-89
2003 Pinot Gris - Not revealing much on the nose at this stage, richer honeysuckle palate with good concentration, tight closed up finish; wait and see. 87-89
2002 Pinot Noir - Attractive perfumed v savoury cherry notes, a touch of tannin with nice fruit and elegant length. 87-89
2003 Riesling - Very floral racy style, chalky lime fruit on a tight palate with refreshing lively finish. 87-89
2002 Riesling Grand Cru Kirchberg de Barr - Attractive ripe oily Riesling nose, quite intense citrus and mineral palate set against rounder grapey backdrop, dry finish with subtle acidity and length. Try with scallops in a pepper, herb and pastis sauce. 90-92

Dominique Frey - Alsace
2002 Riesling Vieilles Vignes - Aromatic and zesty v ripe oily fruit, tight bite on its elegant length. 88-90

Domaine Emmanuel Giboulot - Burgundy
2003 Côte de Beaune, La Grande Chatelaine (Chardonnay) - Toasty lactic style, quite rich and concentrated with soft buttery fruit, weighty mouth-feel lacking a bit of fresh bite perhaps, but nice drinking now. 87-89Latest Giboulot wines to follow.

Jean-Claude Rateau Burgundy
2001 Beaune 1er Cru, les Bressandes - nice 'sweet and savoury' style builds to more austere palate, tight and long turning a touch bitter but should develop and round out... 87-89

Steffens-Kess - Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
2004 Riesling trocken - Lovely elegant clean zesty style, tight steely length v subtle extract. 87-89

Macatela - Castilla
2004 Tempranillo rosado, Vino de la Tierra - Plenty of appealing quaffable strawberry fruit, ripe and juicy finish. 85

Bodegas Lezaun - Navarra
2002 Crianza
 (Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot) - lively blackcurrant aromas, very firm structure yet has nice depth of fruit too, oak is well done; needs a few months to round out. 87-89

Aroa Vinedos - Navarra
2002 Deierri (Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Tempranillo) - light vanilla aromas backed up by lively fruit and very grippy tannins; nevertheless balanced with quite powerful finish. 87-89

Hochkirch Wines - Victoria (Aus)
2003 Maximus Pinot Noir - attractive smoky 'sweet and savoury' nose, silky and ripe v elegant firm structure. 90-922003 Riesling - zesty limey v ripe grapey fruit, nice extract and concentration v zest and bite. 88-90

Majnoni Guicciardini - Chianti
2001 Riserva - smoky dried red fruits with tobacco tones, pretty firm bite of tannins and acidity but has textured 'sweetness' too; power v finesse on the finish. 88-90

19 January 2005

Virtual stealth restaurant Sub Rosa opens in Dundee

Mike Sherwood, who works at Sineann winery in Oregon, and his wife Linda Lausmann, who also works for Rex Hill, have launched a new website featuring a virtual stealth restaurant and underground wine bar in Dundee, Oregon (not Scotland). Mike explains: "Sub Rosa started out as an HTML exercise that got out of hand. You have heard of fantasy sports teams. This is my fantasy restaurant, but the celebrity chef is my wife. This is merely a tongue and cheek snapshot of our lives. The food we like. The music we listen to. The wine we drink." Check it out at - it's fun, a bit different and very hush-hush...

01 January 2005

Portugal: Cortes de Cima wines & olive oil

Cortes de Cima olive oil
Many Mediterranean wine estates also produce high quality olive oils. Cortes de Cima, found in Vidigueira in Portugal's sweeping Alentejo region, released this delicious olive oil at the end of 2004: see notes below. Plus a handful of their red wines tasted on various occasions; and they also grow and make rather nice kiln-dried tomatoes by the way...
2003 Azeite Virgem Extra - made from Cobrancosa olives, cold pressed and unfiltered. Deliciously fresh, herby and nutty with zingy green fruit; lighter, tarter (acidity is 0.2% if that means anything to you) and more elegant than other Portuguese olive oils I've tried, which can be quite earthy and rich, I like the delicate fruitiness of this one. Tasted 2004-2005. 90
Another great olive oil producer: Chateau de Caladroy in the Roussillon.

Originally archived under Previous wines of the moment: tasted December 2003 - January 2004
2001 Cortes de Cima Reserva Alentejo DOC (Aragones Syrah/Shiraz) - Pretty serious wine showing nice mix of chunky smoky fruit, light oak overtones and full rounded palate; good power and length. 90
2002 Cortes de Cima Incógnito (15% Syrah/Shiraz) - Similar to the Syrah but more concentrated and greater depth of spicy black cherry fruit, chocolate oak backdrop and powerful finish; the alcohol's a bit heavy but this is still good stuff with hearty food. The name comes from the fact that, when they first made this wine, Syrah wasn't officially permitted so they didn't reveal the variety on the label. 88
2002 Cortes de Cima Syrah (14%) - Appealing nose of very ripe black cherries / berries with peppery notes, creamy currant palate, quite full and alcoholic but shows fair depth of nice sweet fruit too; tannins add texture and dryness but are supple and forward. Not so complex yet has a bit of bite and length, drinking now but should improve up to one year in bottle. 87

Lots more Portugal here.