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02 October 2017

19 September 2017

Greece, Peloponnese: Moschofilero, Agiorgitiko, Troupis, Skouras and Tselepos

A recent purchase from Naked Wines (UK) made by Troupis Winery, called Fteri Moschofilero 2015 from the Mantinia area (the Moschofilero variety comes from here) in the PGI wine region of Arcadia (£11.99/£8.99), reminded me that I never did write anything about a holiday trip to the Peloponnese one year ago including a quick visit and tasting at Domaine Skouras near Argos. The Troupis Moschofilero is tasty and intriguing, nicely mixing up rich flavours and texture with a floral and almost 'salty' freshness, and is attractively light at 12% abv. My resurrected tasting notes reveal that Skouras' Salto Moschofilero is also sourced from Mantinia from hillside vineyards at 600 metres altitude and made by wild ferment, producing a refreshing elegant (11.5% abv) yet intense crisp white with zesty 'mineral' notes (€9.10 for the 2015). Other recommended whites from Skouras include: a very nice well-balanced barrel-fermented Chardonnay called Almyra (13.5% abv) from coastal vineyards near Corinth (€9.80 for 2015); and a lush exotic Viognier called Eclectique, grown at 300 metres near the ancient city of Argos (where you can find a good range of TVs and washing machines too, ho ho), which is a bit oaky but again has good bite (€21).


Export guy George Svanias (pic. in their tasting room) said the Skouras family started the winery in 1986 "as a garage operation before they bought vineyards." They then purchased vineyards mostly on the Nemea hills to the north of Argos but also some here around the new winery completed in 2004. George said they use the approx. 1000 barrels in the cellar three times, which are mostly French oak although they mature Syrah in American oak. "We do six months' minimum ageing for our reds, and the top wines get over 18 months (in barrel)," he explained. He told me they sell all their production at the moment, with key export markets like the US doing quite well (Diamond Importers in Chicago).
Over to their reds then. Saint George is made from 100% Agiorgitiko (the English translation of this common red grape variety in this region) grown at up to 650 metres in Nemea and Corinthia; the 2013 was fairly light and tasty with nice spicy fruit (€7.70). The Grande Cuvée Nemea Agiorgitiko (€14.60) comes from selected blocks at around 1000 metres above sea level; the 2013 showed smoky oak with concentrated firm palate yet silky tannins. The same vintage of Megas Oenos, a Agiorgitiko and Cabernet Sauvignon blend, was good and rich although a tad too oaky (€16.50). Skouras also produces a high-altitude, attractively deep-coloured rosé from 70% Agiorgitiko and 30% Moschofilero (€4.90).
A couple of other recommended Greek wines from my travels are: 2014 Agiorgitiko red from Nemea made by the well-known Tselepos winery (bought at Athens airport, I can't remember how much but reasonably priced); and a classic 2015 Chardonnay from landmark producer Domaine Hatzimichalis (picked up at a supermarket somewhere), not based in this region but in central Greece to the north-west of Athens.

04 August 2017

Italian wines @ Lidl

Lidl (UK) continues to be 'on a roll' (seeded bap, wholemeal or ciabatta more likely?) with another new batch of its special Italian wine buys now in store (the posher ones in the wooden bins), although some of these are bound to be available in Lidl Ireland stores too and elsewhere in Europe. Mind you, a slight mystery lingers a casa mia regarding one Lidl white from the Campania region enjoyed and reviewed a few weeks ago, Sassi del Mare Falanghina 2016, which we tried again recently although it was £1 more, had an extra 0.5% abv and appeared to be in a heavier bottle (from memory), but it just wasn't as good somehow? Or was it 'just a dream within a dream' (as the Propaganda song sort-of said)? In any case, here are a few more Italian whites and reds worth looking out for at Lidl, some of them commendably unusual and hard to find; hopefully you'll get the same wine as I did. And the 'message' here is spending more than a fiver, even towards ten, does reap rewards. Image copied from www.lidl.de, where you'll find better information on these wines if your German is up to it - you're lucky to even find them on their UK site!

Masseria Metrano Fiano 2016, Salento IGT Puglia (12.5% abv) - Fiano is another star white grape variety, more commonly found in and probably originates from Campania (or Sicily?), but obviously capable of great things 'over the other side' in Puglia (Apulia seems to be the 'English' term although looks like Latin to me). At £7.99, it's fairly dear for Lidl but definitely worth the money with plenty of depth of flavour and texture too, aromatic and rich yet elegant.
Corte Allodola Terre del Vulcano 2016, Soave Classico DOC (12.5% abv) - A good example of 'gets what you pay for', since this tasty zesty and quite intense Soave is £6.99, obviously a couple of quid or so dearer than the many often rather bland examples usually found on the lower shelves. Very nice with trout or salmon.
Musita Grillo 2016, Sicilia DOC (13% abv) - At least I think it was this one with the eye-catching white label and arty vine drawing rather than the slightly cheaper one they do, this one being £5.99. Delivers what you'd expect from this lovely Sicilian white grape, quite apricot-y and honeysuckle-edged flavours, and nice mouth-feel combining weight with freshness.
Vigna la Capa Riserva 2014, Brindisi DOP (13.5% abv) - Not sure what the correct UK price is, as I paid £5.99 since that's what it said on the shelf-ticket (bargain, serves them right for not checking), but it scanned at £7.99 (probably more likely given it costs €6.99 in Germany with their low taxes on wine?). Sumptuous southern red brimming with ripe dried fruits and liquorice, lightly smoky with fairly soft tannins and a bit of oomph. Good with grilled Angus burgers and organic wholewheat pasta filled with potato and porcini mushrooms (man), also bought in Lidl. Made from old-vine Negroamaro grapes (50 year-old vineyards translating from the label in my best Italian) from a smaller area of Puglia around the town of Brindisi.
Montejanu 2015 Cannonau di Sardegna DOP (13.5% abv) - Cannonau is actually what they call Grenache or Garnacha in Sardinia (linguistically mind-boggling as it is) and isn't so easy to find over here. Not the finest example perhaps, with its lightly rustic 'volatile' edges, but tasty enough summer quaffing red with sweet and spicy fruit. £5.99
Other Italian reds to look out for in Lidl, available on and off:
South: Ciro Classico Superiore Riserva (from Calabria). North: Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva (Trentino); Valpolicella Ripasso (the black label one).

09 July 2017

Summer 'wines of the mo': Languedoc, Campania, Western Cape, King Valley

James and Catherine Kinglake from domainebegude.com
Domaine Bégude Le Secret du Sud Gewurztraminer 2016 Pays d'Oc (13.5% abv) - The Gewurztraminer variety has obviously adapted well to this beautiful spot in the hills just north of Limoux (off the road to Carcassonne); this delicious example is full-bodied and rich-textured with the trademark rose water and lychee characters, tasty rounded and exotic yet has a little 'chalky' freshness on the palate too. Expensive although you wouldn't easily find a similar quality Gewurz from Alsace for much less. £11.99 The Vineyard, Ormeau Road, Belfast. Very nice with scallops and Clonakilty pudding starter at Graffiti restaurant across the road (BYO).
Sassi del Mare Falanghina 2016 Beneventano IGT (12.5% abv) - One of southern Italy's most seductive white grape varieties, this Falanghina, grown on the Campania region hills is ripe honeyed and 'oily' with apricot and hazelnut freshened by a lighter touch and bite on the finish. Bargain: £5.99 Lidl.
Sangiovese Rosé 2016 King Valley, Australia (13% abv) - Tasty full-flavoured rosé style from north-eastern Victoria balancing sweet red fruits, lightly creamy texture, quite weighty mouth-feel and zingy finish. Might be made by De Bortoli although Asda doesn't say who on the label: £8.98, one of their 'Extra Special' range.
Zalze Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier 2016 Western Cape (14.5% abv) - Powerful spicy yet quite soft red made by reliable SA winery Kleinzalze (I also like their Chenin blanc white) that would go well with al fresco food, BBQ etc. Ripe berry fruits and rounded palate with peppery aromatic hints. £7.48 Asda.

07 June 2017

New Zealand 'wines of the moment': Pinot Noir, Gewurz/Riesling and Chardy

Dom Maxwell The Bloom 2016 - An aromatic towards exotic yet zesty and quite dry blend of Riesling and Gewurztraminer from Waipara region (near the coast north of Christchurch on South Island). Went well with a mix of Indian dishes (especially tandoori fish) although not too spicy. £14.99 / £9.99 ? (currently out of stock) Naked Wines (you have to become an 'Angel' and invest £20 a month to get the special prices - check out their website for background on Naked's winemaker funding strategy).

Villa Maria Private Bin East Coast Chardonnay 2016 - Very reliable subtle Chardy with lightly buttery nutty side and underlying freshness. Widely available for about £10.

Coolwater Bay Pinot Noir 2014, Marlborough from Endeavour Vineyards - One of Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' labels, this is good value Pinot with nice perfumed fruit and silky texture. £10 (sometimes on offer at £8).

Lay of the Land Ben Morven Farm Pinot Noir 2015, Marlborough, made by Mike Paterson (pic. from www.nakedwines.com) - Tasty Pinot balancing elegance and easy-drinking style with a little depth and class: fragrant cherry fruit with fairly soft mouth-feel and fresh bite to finish. £18.99 / £12.99 (see comment above about Naked Wines' prices: these wines are probably available on their US site too).

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