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11 March 2011

Elegant but not arrogant Frog

The Arrogant Frog label, made by "the Humble Winemaker" aka Jean-Claude Mas of Domaines Paul Mas based near Pézenas in the Languedoc, has been around for a while and now adds up to quite a range of whites, reds and rosés from the wild south. I picked up a bottle of 2010 Elegant Frog Viognier the other day on offer at Sainsbury's for £5.99, which I guess is a branch-off, exclusive label kinda thing. I've tasted Mas' straight Viognier, and blends with Chardy or other varieties, over many vintages and the 2010 confirms they know how to make this not-everyone's-cup-of-tea grape sing nicely. Its slightly exotic perfumed side gives you enticing up-front apricot, peach and sweet-spice notes, which is countered by a zesty and white peppery edge; quite full and rounded too at 13.5% alcohol; yet has an underlying lively zing to it. Try with Chinese dishes - e.g. something stir-fried with ginger or spicy duck even - or a "medium strength" prawn curry. More info @ arrogantfrog.fr or arrogantfrog.fr/blog.
Loads more Mas HERE (on French Med Wine.com from 2004 to 2011).

19 February 2011

Darting Estate Riesling vs Rhone Villages "Terre des Garrigues"

They've nothing in common, actually, apart from both being 2009 vintage (good year in both regions, it seems) and both picked as a couple of my random "wines of the moment." Darting's Dürkheimer Michelsberg (luckily absolutely nothing to do with Piesporter Michelsberg "wines" of old - Darting is in Bad Dürkheim in the Pfalz, different region for a start) Riesling Kabinett trocken (13% alc.) is a lovely example of "new Germany" with plenty of charming zingy peachy citrus fruit and ripe lime / kiwi / melon edges, fairly rounded mouth-feel at first actually, for Riesling, with zesty mineral streak / subtle acidity lending class and off-dry finish. £8.49 at M&S. Nice with prawn risotto made with spicy, but not hot, Thai green curry paste.
Whereas this sumptuous Cotes du Rhone red is made from Grenache and Syrah (13.5% alc.) by the Compagnie de l'Hermitage (aka "SCA Les Coteaux") in Visan in the southern Rhone Valley. Still a bit young and definitely more attractive after being left open for a day, this combines food-friendly (lamb steak or lean mince in a garlic tomato sauce perhaps) solid dry yet nicely coated / coating tannins with a very light touch of underlying oak (?), chunky peppery black fruits and savoury hints too. €5.38 at Leclerc supermarket, Bayeux, France. Oh, it was "unfiltered" too in that fashionable word on the label way. Roll your own Rhone maybe?
Photo from darting.de

16 February 2011

Roussillon Dessert Trophy European final

And the winner is... Michelin-starred Formel B restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark. The sweet-toothed taste-off took place last month in north Catalan "Vin Doux" capital Perpignan during their biennial "Rencontres Muscat" business convention. Each of the European winners in their own country had to battle it out again to see who would take the supreme trophy. Pâtissier Daniel Kruse and sommelier Jacob Christiansen at Formel B were deemed worthy champions for their verbose dessert "Citrus fruits in all their glory, a homage to the flavours of Roussillon," (pic.) which was served with a 2009 Muscat de Rivesaltes from leading Maury-based estate Domaine Pouderoux.
Funnily enough, Pouderoux's Muscat was also matched with the UK-winner's pud combo created by sommelier Andrea Briccarello and pastry chef Daniel Fancett at Galvin La Chapelle in London back in October: Lemon bavarois with citrus fruit salad and basil sorbet (yum sounding that one). The other runners up were:
Germany – pâtissier Holger Stehr and sommelier Martina Kraemer from Hotel Krone Assmannshausen in Rüdesheim.
Belgium – pâtissier Olivier Monbailliu and sommelier Charlotte Vanhaecke from La Tâche in Brugge.
The Netherlands – pâtissier Martijn Weststeijn and sommelier Leroy Pechler from De Zwethheul in Schipluiden.
Spain – head pâtissier Montse Estruch and sommelier Fernando Riquelme from El Cingle in Vaccarisses.
Oh, there was an intriguingly curious footnote in the press release: "Unfortunately France were (sic) forced to withdraw due to unforeseen circumstances." Hmm, tell me more... Maybe the French team's soufflé collapsed irredeemably?!

03 February 2011

"White of the mo" = Moramari Fiano

Moramari 2009 Fiano from Sicily: £4 on promo at Asda supermarkets a couple of weeks ago (and arguably worth paying more for if no longer on offer, about 6 quid I think?). I can't get enough of white wines like this, and Sicily is good at them made from several exciting indigenous varieties like this one, Fiano. I like that combo of oily and ripe-fruit flavour/texture with seductive nutty and zesty edges. Just has so much more character than many New World whites (except Rieslings perhaps) and omnipresent Chardy blends you see around.
Not sure who the producer is - the MGM/Mondo del Vino group perhaps? - but the brand is part of this UK importing dynamic duo's portfolio: Off Piste Wines.
More tasty Sicilian white wines can be found in my "island of mystery" feature on the WineWriting.com Italy archive page.

20 January 2011

"Red of the mo" = Porcupine Ridge Cab

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Coastal Region in South Africa (14.5%): it's been a while since I had a slurp of a wine from this range created by Marc Kent's Boekenhoutskloof winery, and I wasn't disappointed. If Cab Sauv ever tasted like blackcurrants, or cassis as I sometimes say (not to be pretentious but to evoke a riper sweeter sort of blackcurrant flavour), then this one does. In a tasty, surprisingly savoury even, and yet certainly tangy way; it's quite concentrated, powerful and solid too with nice dry tannins in the background, but always wrapped in attractive berry and plum fruit with light liquorice and spice hints perhaps. I think it was on offer at Sainbury's for a fiver but usually about £7?

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