Midweek drinking (6th to 9th March)

The 1988 Cheval Blanc (we both agreed upon tasting it) was quite a soft, dumb, somewhat reserved old thing! A very ripe long finish but also hints of still well within life. I have the 1989 in the cellar which I have found more open and easier to like.
As to the current price (heaven knows) both Mr Lewis’s '88 and my '89 were EP. Mine was £500 for 12 from Harvey’s back in the day!


A tidy return of north of 1000 % no less. but all the same it’s better to drink them, hey.

More down to earth, and the day approaches when I’ve drunk up all my souvenirs from Uruguay in Feb 2020. Being based in the Pyrenees half the year, it’s hard to avoid tannat here - St Mont, Madiran and Irouleguy - and it was great to visit Uruguayan wineries and taste their takes on that variety.

One constant thread was that the tannats seemed riper, less tannic and more medium-heavy bodied and readier to drink earlier than SW France offerings, particularly from the warmer regions of Canelones and Colonia, and maybe more “French” were those from Maldonado.

This was from the De Lucca winery, the family came from the Piedmont in the '20s and set up as the boom was starting there. Currently the 4th generation Agostina is the winery manager and she took us through our tasting - and was a lovely lively casual experience. They major on Italian varieties.

Tasted blind this wine could easily be a ripe Cab Franc - and went well with the middle-eastern inspired slow cooked lamb stew with spicy couscous.



Finca Nueva Gran Reserva, Rioja 2005

Was part of a TWS ‘keys to our cellar’ £165 mixed case a year ago, I must have been feeling flush at the time because I bought two cases! - CT reckons it’s a £40 bottle so not what I would usually drink on a Wednesday - but too late, the cork is out.

A deep and dark Rioja even after 18 years, some brick on the rim but this really isn’t fading in the slightest. Nose is hard to pin down - tinned sardines (honest!), a real depth of horse leathers, hot rocks - palate has over-ripe strawberry, mulberries, some balsamic, garigue/ herbs, ripe fresh white figs definitely - and again white fig skin tannins on the finish.

Not what I was expecting, this isn’t your classic CVNE gran reserva by a long stretch. It is deeply savoury, not refined or ethereal … very good indeed.

With (when it’s finished cooking) a kinda Greek braised beef / potato / shallot / tomato dish with oregano & cinnamon. No idea if it is authentic, goes back to 1980’s Robert Carrier recipe cards.


Jaén (aka Mencía) is pretty common in the Dao and Beiras, esp the cooler parts.


Well last day in Portugal before heading back to artic Scotland. Spent time with sister and brother-in-law who never travels with out Bordeaux so interesting wine choice Portuguese Cartuxa 2018 and Leoville Barton 2001 with steaks.


Some of this for me this eve - the 2022 Spice Route Saffron Rosé.

This is a curious one - chockablock with some lovely cool fruit, and certainly plenty to like about it; but it also seems to have a rather dissonant taste of, of all the strangest things for a rosé, blue cheese [young stilton] at the back too. And once you’ve noticed it, that’s really not a taste that goes away.

I’ve tried explaining it away to myself as onion skin, not so unusual in a rosé; but no, it’s more than that. It’s stilton-esque.

We had it with some sweet ribs, so I’m going to go back to it later with some salty olives and just see if it’s a curious parallel universe food-vino tantrum I’m caught up in.


Fonseca Guimaraens 2008. I never know how to pronounce Guimaraens; fortunately I know more about drinking it. Drunk over a few nights

I’ve been drinking this over the past 3-4 days, and it has come together really nicely. At first it felt quite disjointed, alcohol heat, abrupt finish, but after a day or two it has really come together. It is still mostly primary with those plums and menthol, but also liquorice. This has such a lovely drinkability despite being too young for my taste, but has lovely balance of fruit, tannin, acidity and sweetness - you forget the alcoholic-ness (at first at any rate!). That heat has dissipated almost completely, bringing a very well balanced wine; though the finish does come a tad short still.

NB Port isn’t just for Xmas


I’d say Gwi-mar-ens but I may be wrong
Too drinkable I bet damn the dry night


Also on a Portuguese theme…miserable and cold outside - has the sleet stopped? - so Madeira seemed a good idea. Bought this Barbeito Bastardo a little while back from The Whisky Exchange- I’m a sucker for a minority grape, especially one with a silly name.

Colour of Irn Bru, unidentifiable aroma. Lighter, more elegant than expected, with fairly restrained acidity for a Madeira. Vinous, ever so drinkable. Just the job.

By the way, the idea that Madeira is indestructible even once opened turns out to be not quite true. The last of an old, neglected bottle of Blandy’s rescued from the back of the cupboard just went down the sink. Can’t think why I didn’t just finish it at the time.


That explains why I’ve not seen portuguese Mencia before - that’s not what they call it!

Mention of Bastardo appears in written form in Portugal since the 16th century and it’s known to have been widely cultivated there (and in Spain) since at least the c.18th. But only very recently it was established that it’s the same variety as Trousseau but no-one knows how or when it made its way there from French Jura where it is indigenous. Other Iberian synonyms include Merenzao, Maturana Tinto, Verdejo Negro.

So, arguably not really a minority grape, though for sure is a minority contributor to Madeira wine.


Vertical and horizontal tasting with Chiara Condello and Ultravino last night.

What an evening. The wines were absolutely bloody delicious - a real treat to try them in this way. Scintillating company and top-notch food as well.


Château Plince, 2014.

Surprisingly light colour, and mature looking red.

Gentle red fruit nose, light raspberry/strawberry end of the spectrum.
Taste could have been a burgundy, with soft structure and real elegance. Only on the aftertaste did cedar come through, to say actually this is claret.
Atypical, but really quite lovely. I would drink it now. ****


Was Chiara there in person? Good effort if so.

How ready did you think the 2018 and 2019 Lucciole were? Obviously asking just out of academic interest….


Bought and opened a bottle of 2017 Te Mata Cabernets / Merlot last night after work. Quite unusual for me as I normally take delivery and cellar for a bit before opening as I’ve always got something else that’s been hanging around and ready for vinous death row.

*Sorry for dark photo. Needed the flash :camera_flash:

Spicy oak, cedar, red fruited, cool, elegant, some mineral tannin thing going on, medium bodied, feels like it’s from a cooler vintage? Later on some pencil and graphite. Classy, still developing. Clean and glossy. Liked it quite a lot. Have requested some 2021.


Not “Gwi”, “gi”. And “aengsh” at the end (or something vaguely like that!)

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I thought it was (at least relatively) well established that it was brought from the Jura (or possible elsewhere in France if it was cultivated elsewhere at the time?) by pilgrims along the Camino de Santiago.

She was indeed. Image sourced from instagram

The 2018 Le Lucciole was corked :sob: but both the 2018s of Predappio and Lo Stralisto were delicious and very ready.

The 2019 Le Lucciole was a bit reductive (stinky) on opening, but this cleared pretty quickly and I really liked it. 1 box on order


Ta. Is that James T next to her?