Tuesday 9 June 2009

Yering Station

The cool climate region of the Yarra Valley is located around an hours drive from Melbourne south eastern Australia. Cool climate in that there is considerable variation in altitude and aspect that even the warmest sites of the Yarra Valley are comparatively cooler than the other Australian viticultural regions. In comparison to French growing regions the Yarra Valleys climate is slightly warmer than Burgundy, yet cooler than Bordeaux.

Yering Station Shiraz Viognier 2006
95% Shiraz, 5 % Viognier

Served after a 4 hour decant this deep garnet wine clinged to the glass with firm legs and immediately started to give off its pronounced aroma of dark and red fruit with blackcurrant, dark cheery, a little blueberry and a baked blackberry black current crumble fresh from the oven with spice, pepper and a smoky vanilla topping. Quite dry on the palate with some acidity the smooth body shows a very clean tannin structure, creamy but not in a full bodied round oaked thick kind of way. I feel some very northern Rhone tobacco notes to this well balanced wine. This wine was a great buy at around £10 and certainly gave a good imitation of some of the far more pricey Cote Rotie wines. 91/100

Find this wine on Wine-Searcher

Embryo Bunches at the Urban Vinyard

Its been nearlly a month since I last had time to visit the urban vineyard off the Twickenham Road at redless park London and so there is always a lot of growth progression everytime I make it there.

We have seen the emergance of shoots and foliage but now with the addition of embryo bunches. These mini green clusters are the vines flowers but they have yet to bloom. When they do, each successful blossom develops into a grape and are the first indication of the potential size of the crop

Sunday 7 June 2009

Esk Valley Pinot Gris

Situated on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island Esk Valley is located in Hawkes Bay and is run as an independent winery with its own vineyards and wine making facilities where grapes are sourced exclusively from Hawkes Bay vineyards. The wine is made by Gordon Russell who first started as assistant winemaker in 1990 then achieved head winemaker in 1993. Gordon focuses on the balance and harmony of the wine together with the complexity and palate interest to reflect the terroir of the individual vineyards.

At first a worrying vintage for winemakers in Hawkes Bay the 2007 vintage yielded a memorable harvest despite the cool summer. The vineyards are all free draining and are trained using vertical shoot positioning. The vineyards are harvested at intervals to provide variances in brix levels for acidity and freshness as well as noble rot influences. The Pinot Gris grapes were hand picked at the Hawkes Bay vineyard sites located close to the warm coastline from the 15th of March until the 23rd of April.

Esk Valley - Hawkes Bay - Pinot Gris - 2007

Served chilled this wine has a clear and light appearance but right off the bat the aroma is really dominated by the juicy ripe pear component, really quite aromatic with floral honeysuckle, a little apricot and butter, baked apple and an almost spritzy pear cider nose. The palate is entertained by a great round balance of fruit meets tannin meets acidity again with the soft and juicy pear and honeysuckle flavors. At 14% alcohol this wine hides the heat astonishingly well and is integrated nicely to the smooth round body and acidity freshness, however to be clear this is an off dry wine with a certain moreish danger factor coupled with the alcohol level. I like it though and at around £9 a bottle its a good wine to bring out with friends or to enjoy yourself. 89/100

Find this wine on wine-searcher

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Leopards Leap

Leopards Leap – Pinotage Shiraz – 2007

The appearance is quite clear yet with dark colour and pale in intensity. The nose is a little heady, medium youthful intensity of red to dark red fruit and spice but nothing really characteristic. Blackcurrant leaf, vanilla, maybe a nail polish effect of volatile acidity.

First impressions on the palate is slightly drying with a clear acidity hit and a slight tannin structure, there is some alcohol presence on the medium body, defiantly feeling the oak influence and maybe a too much so, a little too much spice for me, hard blackcurrents meets hard black cherry and spice. A medium finish showing slightly unripe flavors and acididy, perhaps a little un balanced for me.

This wine is acceptable but nothing great. I feel its spice overpowers the fruit flavors too much for my liking, what are they trying to hide? It’s a supermarket mass produced school night wine at around £5 to £6, cheap but not for me. Drinkable but always trust your own palate! I will try something else next time. 84/100

Monday 18 May 2009

New Zealand Pegassus

Located in the Waipara Valley, South Island of New Zealand, the vineyard gets maximum protection from the Pacific's easterly breezes by being tucked up under the lee of the Teviotdale Range. The Donaldson family responsible for Pegassys Bay are firm believers in sustainable viticulture and are accredited members of the NZWG program. The Sauvignon blanc is stainless steel fermented, semillon in oak then both undergo natural fermentation by their indigenous yeasts and have prolonged maturation (5 months) on their yeast lees.

Pegassus Bay – Sauvignon Semillion 2006

Served from the bottle right out of the fridge the appearance doesn't zing out of the glass. Its not cloudy by any means, at all, its clear but there is certainly some depth to it, a lemon golden tint with firm legs left on the glass. The nose shows ripe, overripe almost fizzy prickly pineapple with its skin, citrus, elderflower and an almost reductive (Screw cap? 2006…..im not going to go there!) sweat component, actually this is really quite present in this wine. Its fairly dry on the palate with lively zingy citrus acidity balanced with a medium tannin structure and good minerality. A little floral with some round palate softness and good fresh passion fruit melon, a lemon and lime play and that prickly pineapple making an appearance again. One thing to note is the firm grip on your palate from the acidity, this cuts the front of your tongue like a razor followed by a punch to the back of your throat with astringency and heat. Its rated at 13% but this heat quickly diminishes to a fruity spice component. The wine is good but maybe the balance is slightly too acidic for my palate. Revisiting the wine accompanied with food works a lot better than on its own. I actually prefer it not quite so chilled also. Again revisiting this wine the next day takes the spike and prickliness of some of that fruit. At £9.95 on sale at the moment at Wine Direct this is a great value wine for the complexity it brings to the table. 90+/100

Find this wine at Wine Direct

Thursday 14 May 2009

London International Wine Fair - Day III

  • 11.00: Today started with a blind Varietal tasting again with the WSET discovering the differences through three Chardonnays from 2007, Omrah Unoaked Chardonnay, Blason de Bourgogne Chablis and Shaw & Smith ‘M3’ Chardonnay from Western Australia, France and South Australia respectively.

  • 12.00: Chateau Musar Celebration masterclass with Serge Hochar vertical tasting. When someone says Lebanon to me wine dosnt spring to mind, it will now! With a 6,000 year history of vinification in the Bekaa Valley and even a mention to the regions wine in the bible this place really shouldn’t need an introduction. Im planning on writing a separate post about the findings of this fascinating vertical tasting but in short we covered vintages from 2003 to 1959 of the reds including some vintages of white. All I can say is wow. Wow. These wines are fascinatingly interesting. If you haven’t tried one go and buy the best one you can afford and give it a go with an open mind to what you discover. A disclaimer is that they are different to wines as you know them but really wonderful examples of something outside of the “old/new world” definition. Really exciting wines. Serge Hochar is quite a character and gave a great entertaining presentation and guide through the wines with some technical tasting notes given by John Avery MW. I look forward to writing my discovers from this masterclass, again fascinating…..

  • 13.00 I missed a Riesling tasting so headed to the wines of Germany stand where I blitzed through 30 something Rieslings ranging from bone dry to super sweet and luscious. This stand was rather busy and crowed and so I didn’t manage to get my pen and pad out so all I can note is that everything was lovely. I am liking the German Riesling a lot!

  • 14.30: Blogging and social Media. Catavino – Ryan Opaz and Adegga were offering a number of presentations on the viniPortugal stand breaking down the importance of social and new media for businesses particularly in the wine world. Ryan briefly touched on some of the free tools available and what they bring to the table outlining the importance that today, these tools are free followed by a question and answer session and some useful link sharing. Don’t re invent the wheel and write a new blogging or social networking tool, embrace what is already out there!

  • 15.30: Gigondas Masterclass with Olivier Roustang. These classes were limited to around 7 people or less and unsurprisingly were booked up pretty quickily. You couldn't book in advance of the show so you had to get down to the Rhone stand and get your name down early. I managed to get onto the Gigondas class (booked on Wednesday though) and was looking forward to it since ive gone through a trend of Rhone wines recently and haven't spent a great deal of time on Gigondas. Olivier Roustang, winemaker and wine consultant presented through a selection of 6 wines and I have to say all were big BIG wines needing cellaring followed by some vigorous decanting before going anywhere near them. Young tannin bombs with a heat rating of 14 to 15% alcohol from mostly 2007. Out of the 6 I have a notable mention of the 5th wine, Domaine de Cayron 2006 from Delphine Faraud. An super dark inky wine with an interesting nose of blackcurrant, dark dark cherries and a little of that Brettanomyces farmyard meaty leather aroma with a dark fruity round finish. Im not sure if the thinner tannins made this notable in comparison to the other 5, we will see in time perhaps.

  • 16.30: A final wip around the show tasting some sweet wines and ports sealed an end to the day and an end to the London International Wine Fair. I had a great 3 day wine blitz experience and if you get enough warning of the masterclasses in advance of the show there are clearly some amazing opportunities and educational experiences to take advantage of. Ill certainly try and make it back to next years show. Further individual reports to follow when I get a chance to collect my notes and write them up.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

London International Wine Fair - Day II

  • 9.30: A little later start today doing some reading up on the next two days events.

  • 11.00: Wine Faults workshop presented by Pascal Chatonnet started the day after a little wander around the floor. This workshop was located upstairs on level 2 of the Excel in the Waterfront lecture rooms. The workshop was pretty sold out and guestlist only so to speak, good job I signed up a few weeks earlier. I think there were more PhD’s in the room than in my local NHS walk in center around work. This masterclass stated with a breakdown of some wine faults. TCA, Volatile Phenols, Brettanomyces, Sulphides and reduction, Volatile Acidity and Oxidation followed by some statics with percentages of cork taint based over 2006, 2007 and 2008. I did jot down some statistics rather quickly but im going to hold from posting them until I can confirm the numbers and details of which I will then re post the results. We went on to discover how to identify the reductive evolution in wine, what are the main volatile sulphur compounds (VSC) involved and what are their origins, how the closure can influence the post bottling evolution of a wine with a selection of 4 white sauvignon glasses each with different levels of fault. Im not going to explain the whole experience from the class as it went into a massive over the head amount of chemistry detail I couldn’t note in time but I will post again once I’ve collected my notes and slides together. Essentially, the wine with Methanethiol was by far, by a mile, the absolute worst smell ive ever smelt from a wine. Were talking a car burning out its tyres on a bin bag with rotten onions and mouldy eggs inside it. BAD. Pascal talked about copper or “blue” fining and what that can do for the wine. We were given a small dose of blue liquid to mix a few drops into our wines to judge the effects of these processes. While it generally muted some of the odours, it didn’t do much for the super stinky wine, that was beyond repair. What it did do though was as well as muting the bad odours it striped some of the typical aroma characteristics (or mercaptans) of the sauvignon which Pascal went on to explain. He talked about cork alternatives and screw caps and how to avoid some of the reductive issues associated with. An increase in headspace, more oxygen intake and an increase of oxygen transmition of the stopper or liner could reduce the reductive effects after bottling. This was a very complicated but fascinating masterclass.

  • 13.00: Still smelling that super stinky wine number 3 from the faults workshop containing Methanethiol.

  • 13.45: Portugal Whats all the fuss about? Sarah Ahmed won the portuguese wine writer of the year in 2008 and subsequently has been travelling throughout Portugal for a year uncovering some gems. She presented us with 8 wines, 4 red and 4 white. Notable mentions in the selection was the first white at £5.99, a Stella Blanco 2008 VR Terras do Sado 12% alcohol un oaked with wonderful grapey flavours, fresh sugary ripe clean fruit with a leeches tasty finish, this would be great as an aperitif! Second wine of note was a rose for £10.99, single vineyard, granite soiled organic (transitioning to fully biodynamic), Quinta de Covela Rose Minho 2007. Despite being a “rose” this wine was positively full in pale red colour with a lovely nose of strawberry and cream soda with clean fresh strawberries on the pallet with red berries and a good tannin structure and enough acidity to keep it fresh. The third wine of note was another red at £9, Herdade de Sao Miguel Colheita 2006, Alentej with lots of bright ripe fruit on the nose with a round texture on the pallet showing strawberry conserve and light fresh fruit. I really don’t drink enough Portuguese wine than I should but will change this, well done viniPortugal.

  • 16.00 Yarra Valley impact fires. This masterclass was given by the Yarra Valley Wine Growers Association and attended by several wine makers from the area, some affected, some not by the destructive fires earlier this year in February. A lot of statistics were presented to us and imagery of the damaged caused as. It seems in many instances it was the un cut grass that helped spread the fires and rip through the vineyards with the irrigation lines also actually conducting the fires through the vineyards. With global warming on the increase the risks are higher these days in climates such as the Yarra Valley but despite this increase the winemakers are not interested in relocating to new vineyards, more just controlling the grass and protecting themselves against such a disaster in the future. Amazingly despite 25% of the Yarra Valley getting directly impacted by the fires this area only represented 4% of the planted vineyards destroyed. I think this was a point they the wine growers association wanted to really get across. The Yarra Valley is still alive, its still making good wine. In fact, more of the issues concerned with the 2009 reduced crop was not necessarily to do with the fires, more the extreme heat a week earlier to the fires. They talked about smoke taint and how they dealt with that if possible. Im going to collect my notes and repost this masterclass in a separate post as there is so much interesting information to post here. We had a quick rather informal tasting after the masterclass through some new and older vintages. Nothing ground breaking to note.

  • 18.00: A quick beer then back on the sardine tram.

Tuesday 12 May 2009

London International Wine Fair - Day I

A brief breakdown of my day 1 experiences at the 39th London International Wine Fair.
  • 08.30: The journey begins for the hour or so trip east to Excel London. Feeling primed by the 100 or so wines at the wine society tasting last night, bring it on LIWF.

  • 09.25: Sardine crammed into the DLR amongst rather tanned looking new world international representatives.

  • 09.45: First impressions; overwhelming! Looks like every wine producing continent, country and region is being showcased. A flick through the show catalogue confirms its no overstatement. Australia to Argentina, Bosnia to Bulgaria, Chile to Croatia the list goes on. Standing with an empty tasting glass prepared for battle!

  • 10.00: First vino passes over my lips. Tasted through the Chardonnay’s of HESS from California grown grapes to Monterey, Nappa to estate grown Su`Skol Vineyard, the 07 getting a creditable mention. Nice, creamy and round with decent acidity – very drinkable for 10am.

  • 10.30am: Tasted through Bouchard Pere & Fils 2007 white’s from Saint-Bris, Petit Chablis, Chablis, Montmains, Fourchaume, Pouilly-Fuisse, Meursault and so on………

  • 12.00: Spent most of the morning wandering around like a kid in a candy store, getting my bearings, scheduling appointments and keeping an eye out for tasting candidates.

  • 13.00: The Wine and Spirits Education Trust gave a level 4 diploma tutorial through blind quality assessment. Given 3 wines in this instance red, all of the same variety and from the same country. The object was to asses the quality through the WSET systematic approach to wine tasting assessing every nuance from the clarity, intensity and colour of the appearance, the condition, intensity, development and aroma characteristics of the nose, the sweetness, acidity, tannin structure, alcohol level, body, flavour intensity, flavour characteristics and length of the pallet and finally the quality, reasons for quality assessment, origins, variety, theme, price, age, readiness for drinking/potential aging of the wines conclusion. For reference the wines happened to be 3 Pinot Noirs all from Australia ranging from £12 to £20 per bottle; De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate, Punt Road and Kooyong Estate. I really enjoyed this breakdown and while I may not be in a position to book myself onto the diploma, im certainly going to take the online distance learning WSET Advanced level 3 certification in my spare time for fun.

  • 14.15: Journalist Tim Atkin MW gave a presentation through the hidden depths of Beaujolais with 6 wines from villages to Cru vineyards. Notable mentions from my tasting sheet were the third wine, Fleurie Les Garants Domaine de Vissoux Pierre-Marie Chermette 2006 showing typical Beaujolais fresh clean fruit, quite round on the pallet with a tasty fruity fresh finish. The second wine of note from the tasting was the sixth wine, Brouilly Cuvee des Fous Jen-Claude Lapalu 2003 showing much more complexity than the other Beaujolais showcased, grown on 100 year old vines, restricted yields and no carbonic maceration this wine was served from a decanter and had the fresh fruit but with quite a firm tannin structure, a little oak from the 5 year old barrels but nothing over powering. Something a little more complex than a fruity Beaujolais. Tim ended the presentation publicly stating that as he gets older he enjoys Beaujolais more and more, not just because hes getting paid for the presentation but that he genuinely enjoys it and other should too. Good show and how god damm busy was the Beaujolais stand…………..VERY.

  • 14.45: Riedel had a great stand at the fair showcasing all of the fine glassware they have to offer including the rather ostentatious new snake decanters that need to be cleaned in the bath, those things were huge. Interestingly they had a practical tasting where you would taste a wine, in my case 2 (Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc), with its respective Riedel glass and an alternative. Now this wasn’t a total sales pitch, more of an expose. They weren’t comparing a Riedel glass with a tea cup, you could smell and taste each wine through a Riedel Chardonnay glass and a Riedel Sauvignon glass. I had my doubts but amazingly you really do benefit from variety specific glassware based on these two wines. The practical explanation is that when you have a bowl shaped glass, say for chardonnay, you don’t need to tilt the glass so far back and thus also tilting your head back further to deliver the wine to your mouth. In reducing these you naturally alter the shape of your tongue which does change the initial attack on the pallet and certainly enhances the wine experience. I do have Riedel glassware or rather I have a couple which I drink everything out of but I am now a believer of variety specific glassware.

  • 15.00: Back to the WSET tasting stand where we conducted the same systematic tasting described above in the previous WSET experience but this time with sparkling wine. Additional features to discuss were the Mousse or bubble size on the appearance, a little hard if not impossible through the standard ISO tasting glasses we had and an additional aroma characteristic of Autolysis. In other words, if the aroma carries characteristics of yeast, biscuit, bread, toast or the lees then its autolytic. The Sparklers ranged from £8 to £27 and were from Spain, France and Australia – Codorniu Casico Brut, G.H Mumm Cordon Rouge NV and Jacobs Creek Blanc de Blancs NV respectively.

  • 16.00: Next was a tasting through 8 wines from Castilla-La Mancha again presented by Tim Atkin MW who I saw earlier present the hidden depths of Beaujolais. The tasting was good but nothing really grabbed me by the horns. Tims a great guy though and an entertaining wine front man.

  • 17.00: Third tasting of the day from WSET, same protocol as before this time with sweet wines which turned out to be an Echeverria Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Chilie, Castelnau de Suduiraut from Sauternes and a positively dark golden Pelee Island Icewine from Canada at £11, £14 and £34 per bottle respectively.

  • 17.45 +: A quick wip around the show to dabble in the sweeties from across the globe called an end on the day and the journey home begins. A crammed DLR again followed by a sleepy Victoria line to waterloo to connect. Seriously tired feet!

Quite a day! Entertaining, exhausting, educational and informative. Some exciting appointments booked for Wednesday.

Monday 11 May 2009

The Bordeaux Part II Experience - Pavie

Continuing on from my previous post the second wine of the evening was onto the big boy of Chateau Pavie. Located to the southeast of the town, running down the côtes, most of the 37 hectares of vines are 40 years of age, trained high to improve exposure to the fruit and are situated on clay and limestone soils. The grapes are hand harvested and once pressed spend 24 months in 100% new oak. Throughout this duration the wine undergoes batonnage and finally is bottled without fining or filtration, of which there are about 8000 cases produced per year.

Chateau Pavie – Saint-Emillion Grand Cru – 2001
70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon

Seriously inky dark on the appearance this wine looks broad and bold. A smoky nose lures you in further to reveal ripe plum and dark cheery with a sprinkle of fine tobacco. Intriguing and interesting but worried by the youthful presence of its 100% new oak. The first thing that hits your pallet is a sweetness sensation, but not as in sugar, its ripe dark cherry plum fruit and liquorish vanilla flavor with a long round finish yielding a firm complex tannin structure balanced with enough acidity to show this beauty will age easily decades to come. This wine was decanted for around 4 hours, perhaps could have benefited from more as later in the evening when revisiting the wine the aroma opened up further to reveal clearer dark fruit and powdered dark chocolate on the finish. A fantastic Grand Bordeaux experience drinking well now but will also benefit from further ageing. At an average price today of £126 per bottle this is an expensive bottle of wine to drink without an occasion but a thoroughly pleasant and educational wine experience enough for it to be the occasion! 94/100

Find this wine on wine searcher

The Bordeaux Part I Experience - Rol Valentin

Sunday evenings can often be spent over at my parents house 15 minutes away from mine for a great Sunday roast complimented with a good bottle of wine. There can be as many as 6 of us when my girlfriend and my sisters boyfriend are around but last Sunday it was just my dad and I as everyone else was out of town for the weekend. Not everyone in our family is SO passionate about wine and im sure my dad and I can bore a little when we get into geeking out on wine stats, facts and tasting notes, especially when I get my pen, pad and camera out! Knowing we had an opportunity to really get into the depths of a wine we planned ahead to have a real wine night outside in the new garden house (the wine den) my parents have been working so hard on. One thing you should know about my father is that he is a huge wine enthusiast interested in and investing in wine since the early 70’s and is the main reason for my passion for all things wine. Both of us have had a trend in drinking a lot of Australian and Rhone wines recently so what with the en premier only a few weeks gone we decided to have a Bordeaux evening and pulled out some big and bigger guns from the past.

Château Rol Valentin 1998
85% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc – 100% new oak for 18 months

Chateau Rol Valetin is located on the north-western part of the St Emilion plateau with 4.6 hectares of planted of vineyards. The vine age is typically 35-40 years yielding only 14,000 bottles.
Poured after a 2 hour decant this wine was dark throwing a little sediment and showing great and prominent legs. Quite an intense aroma before I even got into the wine but burying my nose into the glass showed raspberry and plumb with grated tobacco leaf, really quite interesting and enjoyable. Quite light on the pallet showing ripe fruit, a good balance of acidity and a little astringency with a succulent round finish of ripe plumbs, vanilla and tobacco. This wine was bought en premier in 1999 but today averages for around £73 and was a great opener for our second wine (previewed in the background of the image below) of the evening. 91/100

Find this wine on Wine-Searcher

Sunday 10 May 2009

Laughing Magpies

d'Arenberg - The Laughing Magpie - Shiraz Viognier - 2007

Allegedly this wine was the McLarenVale’s first ever Nothern Rhone blend combining 90% Shiraz and its white partner, 10% Viognier. The 2006 vintage started and ended early in the McLaren Vale with a dry winter, heavy rains in spring and a mild, early summer leading into a warmer period during veraison halting vegetative growth. 2006 grew vines with healthy, balanced canopies on most soils and later allowed vines to channel energy into the fruit. The Shiraz and Viognier bunches were crushed and co fermented together followed by an ageing process of 12 months in French and US oak.

This wine was decanted for around 4 hours and followed a bottle of d'Arenberg Last Ditch Viognier tasted last week. It had a very dark appearance with nicely gradiated edges and a complex, interesting nose of raspberry's, blueberry's and spice. The taste was smooth but full bodied with notes of pepper, cedar box, tobacco, chocolate and dark fruit. The finish was medium but showed a nice ripe firm tannin structure and again a peppery play. The 14.5% alcohol is very well hidden by the structure of this wine and at around £12 to £13 is very enjoyable for a dinner occasion or on its own. 90+/100

Find this wine
Wine Searcher

Saturday 9 May 2009

Growth on the Urban Vineyard

Its been around two weeks since I took my first pictures of the urban vineyard in Redless park on the Twickenham road and there has certainly been some changes. The fun fair has moved in for the weekend pretty close to the vines as you can see from the title picture. We had a rather warm and sunny week here in London followed by and on and off rainy and sunny week causing the vines to sprout a little more.

Thursday 7 May 2009

A lovely Viognier

d'Arenberg - The Last Ditch - Viognier - 2007

This Northern Rhone varietal grown in the cool climate of the Adelaide Hills was fermented in old oak, no mallolactic with only free-run juice making it to the bottled wine. It spent approximately 9 months in 5 to 20 year old French and American oak barrels although with no obvious oak influence. Served from a chilled bottle this wine instantly began to fill the room with its green earthy vegetative aroma. My glass looked like it had lime juice in it, the cordial stuff you buy and mix with water, slightly green with pale edges. Quite complex on the nose, herbal, vegetative like you stuck your head inside a green bush with hard packed soil and dry stones underneath it. A little apricot as if it had been smacked with one of those big round stones. First impressions were good. The thing I noted right away on the taste was macerated white fruit, like white currents soaked in melon juice and apricots but keeping the fruityness in check with the apricot stones getting ground into this mix. Very round and soft on the pallet with a little thickness, very little acidity. Quite a good finish showing hard mandarin peal, herbs and that bush again. At 13.5% alcohol and available for under £10 this wine is very easy to drink, I like it and will be adding another to my collection for a summers day. 90/100

Find this wine

More d'Arenberg write ups to follow soon.

Monday 4 May 2009

Wine for food

Le Cassiane Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2007

Spaghetti with meatballs accompanied last night wine (yup apparently the wine came first) and they both complimented each other rather well. That probably doesn’t paint the best picture of my cooking skills as this was a cheap supermarket wine I picked up a while back half price at around £4.99. Expectations aside it went into the decanter around 2 hours before the first glass and actually came out alright. This dark Italian wine from Abruzzo was not the most aromatic in the world but showed good soft tannins tingling each side of your palette as it washed its way down. Cherry and dark fruit flavors with a pleasant tasty finish of dark ground chocolate. A definite winner of the value vs price comparison test at £5 for a 75cl bottle, not sure what it retails for outside of the offer.

Not so great on its own but a winner with meaty pasta/spaghetti dishes over lunch or dinner if you don’t feel the need to pop something more expensive. 87/100

Tuesday 28 April 2009

Urban Vineyard?

Its not everyday that you stumble across a vineyard on your way to the shops living in London. Despite traveling this route into Twickenham many times sure enough I bumped into these little beauties on Saturday going past Redless park on the Twickenham Road. I had to go back on Sunday to check them out and take some photos as its only about a 5 minute bike ride from my flat. Armed with my camera and laptop I took the following pictures and spent the best part of the sunny afternoon sitting in the park. I wrote up my tasting note from Saturday night sitting next to these vines and organised my collection of notes on Argentina and the Mendoza which was posted on Sunday.

Doing some digging online I found out that these vines yield Riesling, Pinot Noir and Dunkelfelder and were planed by Hazel Murray back in May 1997 when this space used to be an allotment. More information can be found here.

I look forward to documenting the progression of these vines of which ill try and take pictures regularly
.Enjoy the urban vineyard.

Ill end again on my favorite picture from the day. (Click to open a high resolution image)