Humidity is rising…
I bought 6 bottles of the 2005 Pazo Senorans Seleccion de Anada Albarino Rias Baixas in 2012 for £30 a bottle. At the time I thought it the worst value-for-money wine I had ever purchased from the WS.
Right, here is the first instalment of my
homework write-up of the tasting.
Seriously, the whole day was a complete pleasure, and sharing it with the Community is just going to help me remember what a great time @JayKay, @Rifka and I had. Thanks again to @Ewan and the whole team from TWS who made us feel very welcome. Having the opportunity not only to try all those wines, but to talk to the Society’s buyers and Chief Executive was a great privilege. It also gave me a new respect for those who do this sort of thing for a job. Getting through all 66 wines took us 5 hours of fairly solid tasting, with a short break after the rosés to get some food down us before starting on the reds. Of course, professionals save time by only making notes on wines they like, but still…
I’m not going to try to post thoughts on all of the wines in one go - that would just be too mammoth an undertaking. Joy, Rifka and I have split the wines so that each of them should get a write-up from at least one of us, while some of them will probably get written about by us all. So this is the first of a series of posts, which will appear over the next few days.
1 NV The Society’s Champagne Brut £33.00
I hadn’t tried this before, and I really liked it. Quite a yeasty and bruised apple nose, and made in quite a rich style - good acidity, with brioche and apples on the palate.
2 2018 Vasco and the Explorers Verdelho, Western Cape £9.95
This was a nice, light, fruity wine. A bit of honeysuckle and peach on the nose, melon and peaches on the palate, and a drying and slightly salty finish. Good at the price.
3 2018 Domäne Wachau Federspiel Grüner Veltliner £9.95
I liked this more than Rifka and Joy did. A slightly smoky nose, dry yet quite full and fat, with a little spiciness on the finish. For me, good value for money.
4 2018 Pecorino Abruzzo, Contesa £9.95
Another fruity wine, and I’m struggling to remember a huge amount about it. My notes say:
Light straw. Quite fruity nose - nectarines and fresh cox apples. Mid-length, dry, fruit driven.
From that I’d say that if you’re in the market for a straightforward, easy-drinking dry white, this could well be for you.
5 2018 Grillo Sicilia, Isola della Fiamma, Cantine Rallo £6.25
Very lightweight and dry. It actually smelled of grapes - I also noted quince. For me, it’s one of those wines for drinking in the sunshine in the garden, but might get a bit lost with food. But at that price, why not?
6 2015 Luigi a Giovanna Orvieto Classico Superiore, Barberani £23.00
This is something with more serious pretensions - noticeably darker in colour. The nose was a bit varnishy (thanks for the descriptor, Joy!) but in quite a good way - almost slightly oxidative perhaps, though I don’t know if that’s intentional for Orvieto. More residual sugar to fill out the body, and still dry. To be honest, though, I was left a bit unmoved. Everything seems to be in the right place, but it just didn’t excite me.
7 2018 Miles Mossop The Introduction Roussanne, Stellenbosch £11.50
Pale in colour, quite light in body, stone fruit and a slightly drying finish. That almost tannic quality on the end means that it would work well with food.
8 2007 Pazo Señorans Selección de Añada Albariño, Rias Baixas £39.50
This was the first of three vintages of this wine, and they all just blew the three of us away (you may have noticed!) Aging albariño was not a concept I’d have thought of, but boy am I glad to have been wrong. The nose was like inhaling a tropical fruit salad. Dry, but really generous and intensely fruity to taste, rounded, peachy, melony and very long. It’s very full - you could easily just drink this all by itself.
9 2008 Pazo Señorans Selección de Añada Albariño, Rias Baixas £39.50
The nose on the 2008 was more restrained that the 2007, but introduced a touch of stone, and ripe apples. Much tighter in the mouth, but powerful, long and mineral, and a good salinity on the finish.
10 2009 Pazo Señorans Selección de Añada Albariño, Rias Baixas £39.50
This one comes somewhere between the other two, and is the complete package. Orchard floor nose, rounded, full, steely and intense. No, they’re not cheap. Yes, they are value for money. (In my opinion)
11 2018 Thistle & Weed ‘Duwweltjie’ Chenin Blanc, Paarl £19.00
Perhaps a bit unfortunate for this wine to come after those three albariños, but it managed to hold its own. Noticeably oaked nose, with some apples and honey. I found it to be a bit of slow burner. When I first sipped, it started quite softly, and it then filled out as the mouthful developed. Quite a classy wine, but one to take some time over.
12 2017 Thistle & Weed ‘Brandnetel’ Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch £23.00
Less nose, and more fruit on the palate than the ‘Duwweltjie’. Lighter in body, but longer and finer. I haven’t got any notes about specific flavours for this one, but I did enjoy it.
13 2018 Blind Spot Yarra Valley Chardonnay £10.95
This really didn’t hit the spot for me. My notes say:
Light straw. Light nose. Really quite acidic and saline, and not much fruit.
But then, I’m not a huge chardonnay fan. It’s not an oaked Aussie monster of old, but just wasn’t to my taste.
14 2017 The Society’s Exhibition Tasmanian Chardonnay £14.50
This won a gold medal at the 2019 International Wine Challenge, but I’m afraid it wasn’t really for me. That may say more about my preferences than the wine itself. I preferred it to the Blind Spot - I found some subtle oak and peaches, and quite a nice drying finish to go with food. But it didn’t really have the fruit I was looking for, and I marked it as
OK, not great.
15 2016 Jacques Saumaize, Mâcon-Vergisson Sur La Roche £12.95
This was unoaked, and according to my notes, peachy on the nose, dry and quite fat in the mouth. To be honest, I don’t remember a huge amount about it.
16 2016 Château de Puligny-Montrachet, Bourgogne Blanc Clos du Château £24.00
This was easily my favourite of the four chardonnays. Mid-straw, quite oaky on the nose, full, rounded and dry, with a good amount of white fruit. I don’t normally go for oak, but this one was well done.
17 2016 Villa Barthenau Vigna S Michele Pinot Bianco, Hofstätter £22.50
Smells of ripe apples and melons, rounded apples to taste, nicely saline on the finish, and a slight bitterness that can be characteristic of pinot blanc/bianco, and works well with food. A pretty classy number.
Right, I’m going to stop there for now. I’ve found that once I’ve started writing, I’m just going through my notes in order, but that’s OK - WSET does teach you to be methodical, after all
The next instalment will be Sauvignon Blancs, rieslings and rosés…
This was a fantastic opportunity and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the company of my fellow tasters, @Rifka and @robertd. I hit peak wine at about number 49 out of 66, but after a short break and encouraged by my fellow tasters I pushed on through to the end .
We split the note taking, but here is a list of my top wines of the day:
2018 Vasco and the Explorers Verdelho, Western Cape see notes below
The three Pazo Senorans Albariños with special nod to 2007 which I would happily just sit and drink. No food required.
2015 Riesling Domaine Frederic Mochel just glorious. Perfumed oily richness with good acidity. Dry but with underlying honeyed hint.
2009 Chateau Batailley
2015 Chianti Classico Riserva Riecine like a jewel in the glass such a lovely colour. Beautiful perfume of violets. Taste of soft red fruits, juicy but not at all sweet. A savoury wine.
2011 Cote Rosie Ampodium Rostaing loves this, especially after time in the glass thanks to a chat to new TWS CEO, our mate Steve! Nice nose of black fruits and violets - I think I had a thing about violets on the day, I kept smelling them everywhere! Taste was restrained and subtle, with a hint of pepper and a long finish.
2015 Cairanne Amadieu A. Dry enjoyable wine. Interesting nose with leather I think. Taste is smooth and satisfying, with some tannins.
Society’s Fino I resisted tasting it on the day straight after a Sauternes as Indid t think that would do it justice, but I just love this wine.
Romate Maribel Amontillado Fabulous sherry. There’s something on the nose I cannot quite place - maybe linseed or teak oil. Taste is nutty and figgy. It is dry and delicious. Good with cheese.
Top value for money wine has to be the Society’s Fino sherry. Incredible. Here are my notes on the wines I agreed to write up on.
Here are my notes on the wines I agreed to write up. Wines with no links not yet available.
Drinking as beautifully as ever.
One of my favourite whites at the tasting. Nose of peach, honeysuckle and melon. It tasted fresh and dry with good acidity and a slightly salty finish. It was not as full as its nose suggested. Rather like an Alsace wine that offers a nose promising something sweet and heady then delivers something dry and steely.
2018 Domaine Wachau Federspiel Gruner
A total surprise as in I expected to like it a lot and thought it was dull and flat.
Interesting nose of flowers and possibly almonds. Quite rich and fat in the mouth, tasting of nectarines. I enjoyed it.
I usually enjoy the Blind Spot range but this did nothing for me on the day. Possibly did not benefit from following on from some fabulous Albariño and Chenin Blanc.
A very assertive nose of oak and nail varnish. It tasted oaky too. I think this will be a lovely oaked Chardonnay once it has a bit of bottle age.
I enjoyed this more than the Aussie Chardonnays. Restrained, refreshing mouthful of apples with a hint of sweetness on the aftertaste.
Beautiful wine. TWS description is spot on - vibrant, apples, refined and elegant.
There were two, a Cerauolo from Italy and a Tannat from Uruguay. There are better ones on the TWS list. Nuff said.
2017 Cote de Brouilly Cuvée des Ambassades, Domaine Pavillon de Chavannes
Nose of cherries. Fresh and brisk in the mouth. Possibly a little young but food would probably tame it.
Described as exquisite in TWS notes. Well I wouldn’t go that far but it was a good drop. Pepper and cherries, high in acidity. Needs food.
2015 Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano,
A good food wine. Dry savoury wine of red fruits and leather, and a very nice perfume of violets.
2013, 2014 and 2015 Chianti Classico Vigna del Sorbo Gran Selezione, Fontodi
A vertical tasting of top class Chiantis was a highlight of the event. The nose on all three of these wines was spectacular - I said ‘violets, red fruit, sexy!’. Absolutely gorgeous. So imagine my surprise when I got them in my mouth and they scoured it dry with their tannins. Wow, these wines need time and plenty of it but I am sure they will be worth it.
To my mind the 2014 had softer tannins and will be ready the soonest of the three. It also threw quite a lot of sediment and my and Robert’s glasses contained quite a lot of debris. Looking at a Tuscany vintage chart, 2014 is the lowest rated so perhaps an earlier drinker - no rush yet though. Drink the other Chianti Riserva (2015 Riecine) while you are waiting. Top tip from a pro taster at the event for very tannic wines: rather than doing the whole mouth wash thingy just take it in, let it settle, just a little air, no enthusiastic swishing. Wish I’d spoken to him before the end of the event, it would have made life a little easier
2017 El Castero Garnacha, Campo de Borja
OK if you are into car tyres.
2016 Cuevas de Arom garnacha syrah, Campo de Borja
Same garage, sorry bodega. Car tyres dialled down in favour of pepper, spice and all things nice. A well balanced wine.
Lovely nose, with a hint of sweetness there. It’s there on the palate too, just taken hostage at present by a tough gang of tannins. A keeper.
2015 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage
Not a grape I drink often - I find it a bit sickly if I taste too much of it. Having said that, I did enjoy this more than I was expecting to. Perhaps on the back of the Aglianico tannin fest it was just nice to get my taste buds back Anyway, lovely nose of fruit and leather, and manageable tannin levels in the mouth. Classy wine.
I thought I’d kick off with what is going on my wishlist after the press tasting. I’ve put some comments alongside those wines which don’t have a fuller note below. Some of the pricier ones are special occasion ones for obvious reasons! I don’t think we had a dud wine during the tasting, and it was interesting to see where and how our personal tastes differed or concurred. My reaction to the Gruner Veltliner was the complete opposite of @robertd. But we all really enjoyed the Albarinos.
- 2016 Villa Barthenau Vigna S Michele Pinot Bianco, Hofstatter £22.50
- 2017 Chateau Doisy –Daene Sec, Bordeaux £20.00
- 2018 Grillio Sicilia, Isola della Fiamma, Cantine Rallo £6.25 (summer bbqs! Brilliant value)
- Pazo Senorans Seleccion de Anada Albarino, Rias Baixas (2007 edges out the 2008 and 2009 for me but I’d be very happy with any and all of the vintages) £39.50
- 2015 Riesling, Domain Frederic Mochel £14.95
- 2016 Gewurztraminer Bollenberg Cuvee Prestige, Theo Cattin et Fils (after the first whiff, we all stood grinning at each other and going ‘ahhh’. God knows what the pros thought of us )
- 2009, Chateau Batailley, Pauillac £50
- 2011, Chateau Gillet, Bordeaux £6.75 (a great value claret but the fruit is a little diminished on the nose and palate)
- 2013 Kanonkop Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Simonsberg Stellenbosch £26
- Chianti Classico Vigna del Sorbo Gran Selezione, Fontodi – I liked all the vintages but they would all benefit from more time in bottle
- 2016 Cepa Gavilan Crianza, Ribera del Duero £12.95
- 2017 Terrenus Vinha da Ammaia ‘Amphorae’, Alentejo £14.50
- 2017 Undurraga Candelabro Carmenere –Carignan £7.75 (blackcurrant and stalk – a spiky little red wine that appealed to my palate)
As someone who has only recently started to enjoy sherry, the Society’s Fino was stellar, and I’ve also got the Romate Maribel Amontillado Medium dry in my sights.
2016 Villa Barthenau Vigna S Michele Pinot Bianco, Hofstatter (26 April)
I absolutely loved this wine and will be getting a few bottles on its release in April. On the nose, I got quince, stone fruit and grapefruit, and some yeast. Same notes on the palate with added texture, a nice core of acidity and a slightly saline/bitter finish. I love whites from Alto Adige and this is a brilliant example of some thoughtful winemaking, with a beguiling fresh start that evolves into a more complex mouthful. It clocks in at 13.5% though so pace yourself (fun fact! Parts of Alto Adige can be hotter than the rest of Italy even though it’s so far north).
2017 Pouilly Fume, Domaine Seguin
Notes start with ‘Yum’ then move on to sprightly gooseberry, lemon/graprefruit (edging into underripe stone fruit), blossom, struck match on the nose. The palate was more tightly wound than a previous Pouilly Fume we had tried but overall, a really classy Sauvignon Blanc.
2015 Chateau Thieuley Rouge, Bordeaux
Clove, vanilla, plums, cassis and some tertiary notes of earth and forest floor starting to emerge. This is a really delicious wine, and great value for this price point. Compared to the 2011 Chateaux Gillet, this had better balance with tannins, and was more fruit forward. Lovely soft mouthfeel.
2009 Chateau Batailley, Pauillac
Cassis, mulberry, blackberry, with cedar and forest floor notes emerging. Soft, rich and ripe with a nice core of acidity. We were on wine 38 at this point so the notes got shorter and shorter - mine says BUY IF SOLVENT (yes, in caps).
2016 Cepa Gavilan Crianza, Ribera del Duero
Black cherries and plums with toasty oak, vanilla and cloves. A well balanced wine that would cap an ‘end of week’ comforting dinner.
2017 Terrensu Vinha da Ammaia Amphorae
I really liked this. If anyone is turned off by the funk of some amphora wines, this is a good one to try - it has black plums, herb, blackcurrent stalk and a lick of iron rich red clay in the background.
Blind Spot Barossa Valley Carignan- Mataro- Grenache – Shiraz 2017
Cassis, blackberry, black cherry, chocolate – fruit forward, soft, and juicy on the nose and palate with a little spike of acidity and spice to prevent this from being cloying. I wasn’t prepared to like this on first sniff or taste but was very pleasantly surprised.
Right, here goes for the second instalment - sauvignon blanc, riesling and rosé.
18 2017 Pouilly-Fumé, Domaine de Riaux £15.50
Absolutely unmistakable sauvignon blanc nose of gooseberries and blackcurrant leaves. It took me straight back to childhood summers, and my Mum sending me up the garden to pick fruit for dinner. Very fruity, dry, mouthfilling and flinty. Just a lovely expression of the grape and terroir.
19 2017 Pouilly-Fumé ‘Les Cris’, Domaine Cailbourdin £14.95
If the Riaux had all of the fruity aromas of Pouilly-Fumé, this one had the savoury ones. Quite a classic dose of cats-pee (sounds awful, but really isn’t) on the nose. Mineral and vertical in the mouth. It would be absolutely perfect with a platter of oysters.
20 2017 Pouilly-Fumé, Domaine Seguin £14.50
The least nose of the Pouilly-Fumés - quite restrained, and rather more floral than the others. Racy, intense, zesty and citrussy. This was another long and vertical wine. All three of the Pouilly-Fumés really hit the target for me, and are a steal at the price. Unless, of course, you don’t like sauvignon blanc…
21 2017 Château Doisy-Daëne Sec, Bordeaux £20.00
Moving south, but still sauvignon blanc. No drop in quality, though - this too was a thing of beauty. Gooseberry leaf nose (childhood again…), airy and fine in the mouth. Mineral, and a hint of pepper to finish. I don’t know if there’s any semillon in the blend, but even if there is, the sauvignon dominates.
22 2017 Somloi Furmint, Kolonics £13.50
Quite light and refreshing. The main feature in my notes seems to be apples, but I can’t honestly say it made a huge impression on me.
23 2018 Blind Spot Clare Valley Riesling £8.95
This was a straight up-and-down riesling - nothing fancy, pretty solid, matches the price point. Lightly citrus nose with lemon and lime, mid-length, fruity rather than mineral, but a nice saline touch for food.
24 2017 Wiltinger Riesling Dry, von Kesselstatt £12.95
A good example of a modern, dry German riesling, without being spectacular. Some minerality on the nose and quite a lifted and light mouth feel - quite sprightly. A little residual sugar, but well balanced.
25 2015 Riesling, Domaine Frédéric Mochel £14.95
Mrs Robertd and I visited the domaine last year and took some of this away with us at a very attractive price, so I knew it was going to be good. Much, much more petrol and minerality than the previous two, with a good complement of lemon and lime fruit as well. They told us that it comes in part from young vines on the Altenberg de Berbeiten Grand Cru that aren’t yet old enough to put in the GC cuvée - and it really shows. I know I drink a lot of Alsace riesling, but both Joy and Rifka loved this one, too.
26 2017 Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett, von Hövel £18.00
If you like classic Germanic riesling, then you’ll like this. Toffee apple nose, and a finely sweet and grapey style, put in balance by just about enough acidity. And only 8%, so you can drink lots.
27 2016 Gewurztraminer Bollenberg Cuvée Prestige, Théo Cattin et Fils £13.95
Slaps you round the nose with rose petals and lychees, and then continues all the way down the glass, with other tropical fruits to boot - I got both pineapple and passion fruit. And a decent twist of black pepper on the finish, too. It’s just a classic gewurztraminer at a very reasonable price. If I were being picky, I’d ask for some more acidity, but at that price very few gewurztraminers give you that, and this one does as well as most.
(Just so you don’t think I’ve sold you short by jumping straight from 27 to 29) Apparently this was meant to be a Portuguese rosé, but didn’t arrive in time.
29 Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, Contesa (Rosé) £8.25
The Wine Society says “healthy cherry colour”. We said “luminous coral”. Yes, we found some strawberries and raspberries on the nose, but it was a bit bitter, and lacked fruit in the mouth. One of the less successful wines of the day.
30 2018 Atlántico Sur Reserve Tannat Rosé £12.50
Salmon pink, and red fruit on the nose. The tannat means that this has a bit more grip and interest on the palate than some rosé, and it would make an OK partner for light barbecue food. We all agreed that we’d had better rosé, though.
That’s the end of instalment 2. I’ll get onto the reds tomorrow.
Onwards to the red wines. My third instalment is going to be lighter reds, southern Europe, Bordeaux and Tuscany.
31 Côte de Brouilly Cuvée des Ambassadeurs, Domaine Pavillon de Chavannes £12.95
Pretty much what you want from Cru Beaujolais. It had a lot of cherries, both on the nose and on the palate. Light bodied, fruity, mildly tannic and a good acidity. Just right for a plate of charcuterie, or maybe even a roast chicken.
32 Val de Loire Vendée Moulin Blanc Pinot Noir, Jérémie Mourat £11.50
Quite light in colour, and a very typically pinot nose - that mixture of cabbage and red fruit. Fruity up front, but the tannins became a bit bitter and harsh on the finish for me.
33 2015 The Society’s Sicilian Reserve Red £8.25
Made from Nero d’Avola, this had brambles and plums on the nose, and some noticeable wood. Quite sweet and plummy up front and a bit of savouriness, but again I found the finish quite bitter with the tannin, and the fruit got a bit overwhelmed.
This was meant to be the Portuguese “Old Wines in Young Hands Tinto”, but we didn’t get to try it because it was already sold out.
35 2016 Vale D. Maria Rufo, Douro £8.95
I’m struggling to remember a lot about this. My notes say:
Mid-intensity, mid-red and slightly purple. Darker fruit nose. Quite firm palate, brambles.
That all sounds like a good value, drinkable, everyday red to me.
36 2018 Foundstone Australian Merlot £6.95
For a wine so young, this had a surprisingly bricky edge to its colour. Black fruit with some vanilla oak, and quite acidic and tannic. Fairly simple, probably needs to be drunk with some food to show its best side, but at that price, fair enough. I don’t think I’d have spotted it as a merlot if I hadn’t known.
37 2015 Château Thieuley Rouge, Bordeaux £10.50
I have a very soft spot for the white wine from Château Thieuley, as it was one of the first wines that showed Mrs Robertd and I that better was possible, back when we were new graduates and coming out of student drinking habits. Yet I’d never tried the red. Fortunately, it didn’t disappoint at all. A little brick tinge already, nicely balanced oak and cassis on the nose. Smooth tannins, and a really good mixture of sweet and savoury. And, like the white was, an unexpectedly reasonable price.
38 2011 Château Gillet, Bordeaux £6.75
A decent, smooth, simple claret. Some cedarwood and cassis on the nose, quite restrained and not hugely fruity, but would go well with food.
39 Château Batailley, Pauillac £50.00
Not surprisingly, a completely different beast to the previous two. Mid-intensity in colour. Blackcurrants with a lovely, rich cinder toffee and caramel nose. Then smooth and rounded in the mouth, full bodied, and yet some surprising delicate floral characteristics too - I noted camomile.
40 2013 Kanonkop Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Simonsberg, Stellenbosch £26.00
Pretty smooth, fruity and balanced, some cassis and leather on the nose. The tannins are present but not too harsh, and this should develop nicely over time.
41 2012 Synoro, Skouras £24.00
Greek, but predominantly international grapes (40% each cabernet franc and merlot, 20% aghiorghitiko). Wood and black fruit on the nose, but vanilla and coconut too. Bright fruit, and good length. A good wine, but possibly a shame to be using Bordeaux grapes when the local Greek ones are available?
42 2018 Pisano Progeso Tannat Reserve Pileta 97 £8.95
Still young, and quite purpley-red. It’s got sloes and plums on the nose and palate, but I thought it was also quite acidic and tannic at the moment. It probably needs a year to two to come together fully, and soften a bit.
43 2015 Chianti Classico Riserva, Riecine £25.00
This was the first of a run of six Tuscan wines, all of which I loved. A lot of cherries and other red fruit on the nose. Quite high acidity, but nicely balanced by the fruit, and some bitter almond creeping in, with smooth tannins on the finish. A plate of lamb chops and a glass of this, and I’d be very happy.
44 2013 Sassotondo San Lorenzo Maremma Toscana £22.00
Made from ciliegiolo, which was a variety I hadn’t heard of, but is apparently closely related to sangiovese. This again had typical sangiovese cherries, but a nice bit of leather and cigar box to add savoury interest. Sweet fruit, spicy, and bit softer than the the Riecine.
45 2015 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Contucci £18.00
Almonds, tobacco, leather and red fruit. Juicy and high acidity, and lighter weight than the previous two, but not in a bad way.
46 2013 Chianti Classico Vigna del Sorbo Gran Selezione, Fontodi £40.00
I really liked this, though it might well be best left for a few years. Bitter cherry nose, but also floral notes of roses, and some almonds and marzipan. Still tastes very young and tannic, but clearly with the fruit to back it up for the long haul, and lots of savoury interest too.
47 2014 Chianti Classico Vigna del Sorbo Gran Selezione, Fontodi £36.00
Sweeter griottes on the nose rather than the darker and bitter cherries of the 2013, and much softer and together to taste - you’d definitely put this as older than the 2013, but you’d be wrong. The high acidity is well balanced by red fruits. It’s already thrown an awful lot of sediment, so probably best decanted.
48 2015 Chianti Classico Vigna del Sorbo Gran Selezione, Fontodi £45.00
This one has a slight leafiness to go with the cherries and leather on the nose. It’s a bit of a tannic monster at the moment - really intense and with red cherry fruit, but needs to be put away for at least another 5 years to give it time to calm down a bit. At which point it should be magnificent.
49 2015 Castel Serranova, Salento, Vallone £11.50
A blend of negroamaro and susumaniello, aged in French oak and then concrete. Quite sweet bramble and vanilla nose, and burnt toast. No real tannins (or at least, none that my palate could detect after the assault from wine 48), and perhaps a bit short, but again, assessing this after tasting number 48 was perhaps a bit difficult. But I’d say quite a smooth, easy drinking wine, at a fair price.
That’s it for instalment 3. The final instalment will be Spanish wines and grapes, Rhône wines and grapes, sweeties, and sherries.
Great work all of you
This the fourth instalment of the tasting notes - Spanish wines and grapes, Rhône wines and grapes, sweeties, and sherries. At this point my notes started to get more abbreviated, as (a) we realised that we had to keep cracking on if we were going to finish on time, and (b) significant palate fatigue started to set in. Rifka and Joy both wisely started skipping the odd wine, but I’d set my mind to taste everything, and I wasn’t going to stop now!
50 2017 Sabina Tempranillo, Navarra £5.75
A pretty simple wine, lightly fruity nose, starts out fruity in the mouth but finishes a bit bitter.
51 2016 Cepa Gavilán Crianza, Ribera del Duero £12.95
Made from tempranillo. Quite a lot of vanilla from oak on the nose, mingled with red and dark berries. Smooth and balanced, and all nicely together with fruit and acidity. A wine that would work equally well with or without food, and at a good price.
52 2017 Thistle & Weed ‘Nastergal’ Tempranillo-Alicante Bouschet, Coastal £23.00
The description made me really look forward to this, but sadly I felt let down by the reality. It smelt and tasted a bit like a sweet shop, all confected and jammy, and the alcohol seemed out of kilter with the rest of the wine, and quite hot at 14.5%. Not one for me.
53 2017 Terrenus Vinha da Ammaia ‘Amphorae’, Alentejo £14.50
A nose of plum jam and quite sweet on the palate. I’d have liked some more tannin, and thought it a bit simple, but others differed - Rifka really liked it.
54 2011 Côte-Rôtie, Ampodium, Domaine Rostaing £38.00
We poured this and sniffed, and then the new CEO Steve Finlan came over and had a long and interesting chat with us. Over that time the barnyardy notes of the first pour had transmuted into lovely toffee and caramel aged aromas. This is a really serious, grown-up and self-possessed wine, if that’s possible. No fireworks, but an understated excellence, fragrant, long and beautifully in balance, with a nice edge of syrah pepperiness.
55 2018 Domaine Laborie, Pays d’Oc £6.25
A bit unfair to go from the Rostaing to this. It’s only ever intended to be a simple, fruity red, and that’s what is it. It seemed short, but whether that’s just the contrast with the previous wine, I’m not sure.
56 2017 Blind Spot Barossa Valley Carignan-Mataro-Grenache-Shiraz £10.95
Bramble nose, soft, smooth and fruity without being overly jammy. Lightly tannic and very pleasant drinking.
57 2017 Wakefield Promised Land Shiraz £7.95
I found this to be very boiled sweetish, but didn’t write much about it.
58 2017 Undurraga Candelabro Carmenère-Carignan £7.75
For the price, I think this is good. Quite a plummy nose, and some red rather than dark fruit. Simple, low acidity without the confection of the 57, sweet fruit and easy drinking, without any challenging complexity.
59 2015 Cairanne, Pierre Amadieu £11.95
After tasting the New World efforts with the Rhône varieties, this felt like the grapes were glad to return home, and confirmed to me why I like Old World wines. Some leather to add interest to the brambles on the nose, more acidity on the palate brought the fruit back into balance, and there were smooth tannins on the finish. For me, a snip at the price.
60 2017 Côtes du Rousillon Village Rouge Les Millières, Domaine Gardiés £12.50
I don’t remember a lot about this one. Fruity and not that acidic - plums again seem to be what I tasted and smelt from my notes.
61 2017 El Casetero Garnacha, Campo de Borja £7.50
Joy got a lot of car tyres from this. I got leaves and stalks. I actually found it easier to drink than to smell. It was not too jammy, with good acidity giving it some juiciness, although quite short.
62 2016 Cuevas de Arom Garnacha Syrah, Campo de Borja £11.50
In contrast to its stablemate 61, this had cherries on the nose, and was very drinkable and balanced, with fruit, acidity and tannin all playing their part. Longer, too.
63 2015 Aglianico del Vulture Alvolo, Alovini £16.00
Hard to get past the tannins, currently. Fruity nose, a big wine with sweet fruit, but still out of balance at the moment, and will need some time.
64 2015 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage Simonsberg-Stellenbosch £22.50
I’d only ever tasted one pinotage that I liked. Now I’ve tasted two. Mid-deep red in colour, dark fruit and tobacco on a savoury nose. The vanilla-y oak is well integrated, with dark fruit and smooth tannin in the mouth. A wine to start to convert me to the grape.
65 Muscat Cap Corse, Domaine Arena £27.00
A Vin Doux Naturel from the north of Corsica. This was an amazing pinky, orangey colour, and had a nose like a huge bunch of crushed grapes. Sweet citrus mandarin oranges and tangerines, and so easy to drink. Perhaps wants some more acidity to be really perfect, but pretty good as it is.
66 2015 The Society’s Exhibition Sauternes £20.00
This had the acidity that the Muscat didn’t. Light gold, typical dried apricot nose and palate from the botrytis, and pulled together with some very ripe apples.
67 The Society’s Fino
Just a lovely yeasty, salty, dry, classic fino sherry. If a little oddly placed after the Sauternes, which made tasting it slightly challenging.
68 Romate Maribel A Selection of Amontillado Medium Dry
Joy was raving about this well before we got there, and now I know why. Gorgeous old gold colour, and a nutty, toasty, incredibly complex nose. Layers of salted caramel and almonds on the palate, and just too many intense flavours to comprehend or enumerate at that point. Really good.
So there we have it. That’s all my notes from a fabulous selection of wines. I’m planning to put up a post tomorrow to list my favourites, and just summarise a fantastic day.
By way of a summary, I was going to try to give a list of how I’d spend £100 or £200, but I’ve just found it too hard to do. The wines were so varied that I can’t make up my mind. So instead, I’m going to list the wines that made the most impression on me, and why.
- The three albariños. These were just so good, and all three of us reacted in the same way. If I had to pick just one, I’d go the 2009 which had the best bits of the other two, but really that’s invidious, as each of them was very special.
- All of the sauvignon blancs - both Pouilly-Fumé and Bordeaux. They were lovely wines, and each one managed to express something typical of the grape without being same-y.
- The Mochel riesling. I knew the wine already, but it was head and shoulders above the other three rieslings that we tasted.
- The Batailley and the Rostaing. These showed just why high class, classic French appellation wines still have it. They delivered pleasure without having to try too hard.
- The Chianti vertical from Fontodi. Still very young, but so much power and potential.
- The pinotage. Only the second one I’ve liked, but this is certainly going on my wish list.
- The Romate Maribel Amontillado. It would take years to unravel everything going on in that glass.
There were also a lot of great value wines at the £10-£15 mark, that I’d be very happy to have in my cellar.
If it’s your turn next time, you’re in for a treat!
Thank you for your excellent detailed notes, all! It’s been a pleasure to read. The wish list is not unlike the univerese - forever expanding!
I’ve put the Albarino mixed case into my reserves…
I’ve got the sherry and a Pouilly-Fumé in my basket. Excellent effort!
Thank you Robert…excellent stuff.
Rostaing and Batailley on the way.
I had the 2009 Albarino tonight and very good it was too. Perhaps 10% too acidic, but the cut and length were both delightful and the combination of creamy oak/lees and strong limey acidity was pretty unique. Glad I bought the mixed case.
Really glad you liked it. I have a bottle waiting for me to decide what (and who) to drink it with. And the responsibility of people buying wine partly on my recommendation was beginning to weigh on me