With December well and truly arriving, what are everyone’s drinking plans this weekend?? I will be actively avoiding all public places with mountains of toys on show… you know in case of a last minute changes to the “santa list” .
I’ll be popping open this later having picked up a case in the summer.
Zaccagnini Lacrima di Morro d’Alba. This is a really decent and relatively restrained version of the unusual variety. Has a rose and violet element as well as some strawberry/cranberry fruit. Very floral for a red wine, certainly a grape variety to “tick off”, interesting wine with a unique flavour.
We broke our 2 week alcohol fast in a pub in Broadstairs tonight after a family funeral. Not the most auspicious venue or circumstances but needs must. A Chilean Viognier ( our first pick, a Picpoul, was out of stock). It was a full bodied wine of minimal quality but after 2 weeks abstinence it was OK! Better than my smoked haddock and tiger prawn risotto which was untroubled by prawns of any size. We were with 5 Italian members of the family so it was not without its entertainment.
2013 Palladino Biferno Riserva - a blend of Montepulciano and Aglianico, great value. The 2015 is in stock now @ £8.50/bottle, but it probably tastes like it cost double that.
Needed a short decant to eliminate the tannins, then very smooth, perhaps too smooth. A hint of vanilla from new oak felt slightly out of place and didn’t go too well with my food (pan-fried pheasant breast with potatoes, kale and sage sauce).
Tasted blind, and all but one came from TWS. Clear winners in terms of drinking pleasure were the Three Choirs from England, and the Pisano-Arretxea from Uruguay (does that count as unusual anymore). Three Choirs was a lovely, light mouthful of gooseberries and elderflowers - a dead ringer for a sauvignon blanc. Not the longest or most complex wine, but still a very nice, uncomplicated glass. The Pisano-Arretxea was on a different level to the other reds, but a different price-point too. A big wine in the Bordeaux blend style (though actually made from tannat), with nicely integrated cassis, tannin and acidity. TWS notes call it “Medium Bodied”. I’m not sure what it would have to do to qualify for “Full Bodied”!
An honourable mention to the Chateau Vartely Viorica from Moldova. Again, nothing complicated, but at £6.75 we thought it was a bargain.
Finally, a dishonourable mention to the only wine not to come from TWS - Sula Zinfandel from India. If anyone ever offers you this, just say “No”, very firmly. Quite the nastiest thing poured from a wine bottle to pass my lips in years.
Did a wee tasting at a friend’s house last night in aid of a local cancer charity…
Started with this:
As it says in the blurb, unexceptional easy drinking, not the favourite wine of the night for anyone, but somewhere in the middle for most. Decent value for a party wine.
Continuing on the varietal theme and deconstructing the above…
Ignore the WS blurb for this as it’s quite clearly about the Marsanne not this…
Had a bottle of this a week or so ago which was very good. This seemed a little more austere (if one can ever call Viognier austere), but it was refreshing, though the fruit took a while to come out - maybe a bit cold initially. I thought it wore the alcohol lightly.
We then moved on to the other varietal
First time I’ve tried this and I was impressed. Almost colourless with a hint of green. Nose quite closed at first then some fruit, I thought more ripe pears than anything and bizarrely I got parsley from it…
Quite rounded on the palate, and a fairly long finish - can see how this would age and will keep the other two bottles back. It was well liked.
We then had a bit of fun and created our own Viognier Marsanne blend from these two, which funnily enough was quite like the first wine, but with more depth and concentration as might be expected.
I had found a missing bottle of 2009 Condrieu whilst doing my cellar audit a week or so ago, so thought it might be interesting to Coravin a large glass and split it up to end this part of the tasting.
Received wisdom is that Viognier doesn’t age…but this was interesting. Deep yellow/light gold colour, reflecting oaking and age. Honeyed notes on the nose, with some fruit still.
Complex on the palate, nuts, mainly almonds, bone dry with a definite but not unpleasant bitterness on the long finish. It split opinions, some loved it others less so.
Our last white was the Morrisons own label Pinot Gris, which is from the Turckheim co-op and definitely had a ‘gris’ tinge to the colour, or maybe slightly orange.
Off dry, not complex, but very moreish, good all rounder with food and a good introduction to what Pinot Gris can do. Those used to £5.99 Pinot Grigio were quite surprised! Some thought it sweet, and it has an initial sweetness. Generally liked and two gave it favourite of the night.
We kicked of reds with this…
Served cellar cool or less at first. Bright vibrant strawberry red.
Nose a bit closed at first but opened up to spice and red fruit. On the palate it was all sour cherries and cranberries at first, with quite a noticeable tannic grip offset by good acidity.
As it warmed up a little, and opened out, the cherries became sweeter and tannins diminished. A thoroughly good drink, if a little less sweet fruit and opulence than the riper 2015.
Then we had another favourite of mine…
Mid crimson red. Nose was quite restrained at first but opened up a bit later with some baked fruit and cherries. Tasted a bit less generous than I remembered, with quite a bit of tannin, albeit balanced off by acidity and less so by fruit. Went well with a slightly spicy pasta dish afterwards, although maybe not the crowd pleaser that the 2013, which was definitely a bit more smooth and generous.
Then onto the Rhone to finish, starting with a popular one…
Deep crimson red. Decanted 2 hours before.
Nose a bit muted still, initially quite tannic but opened up. Syrah notes dominant. Restrained fruit, some spice. Quite complex and concentrated for a CdR but expected from this producer. Stood up well to a haggis lasagne (yes!) afterwards…
Will maybe benefit from another year or so before drinking.
We ended with this one from Lidl
When initially opened it had a slightly off putting aroma of burnt fruit but having been decanted two hours it was much better, and indeed pretty good value. For a one year old wine from Vacqueyras it had an unusual and welcome combination of being ready to drink, with sweet fruit and some backing tannin, but the concentration to age a bit too. Not a long finish but can’t have it all! No indication of grape varieties but assuming standard GSM with Grenache quite dominant I think.
Interestingly, there was no clear favourite on the night, with no wine getting more than 2 votes (from 10 of us). A pretty good value selection too. All between £7 and £14.50, except the Condrieu clearly…