Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2004 - Sainsbury's Classic Selection

Well a day or two ago a friend came round and brought this with them. She is a self-acknowledged wine neophyte and tends to ensure tasty drinking by spending a little more than might be necessary on a Tuesday night in.

Though New Zealand wines are not always noted for their value for money (compared to perhaps Australians), this Sauvignon Blanc was not too expensive at around £6. It is Sainsbury’s own Marlborough from their ‘Classic Selection’, which I think is a step up from their straight own-brand. The Marlborough area (northeast of the south island) is renowned for producing some of the finest sauvignon blancs on the planet. Clearly a modern wine, designed to be drunken asap and sold with a screw top. It was a nice sauvignon blanc, and from the fridge into the glass the high expectations that I had (I have had good experiences of NZ wine in the past and tend to look out for it down at the offie’) were confirmed with an attractive pale gold colour and a distinctive, zesty nose.

The flavours were crisp and a strong hint of gooseberries came through quite clearly. I don’t think that we gave the wine a truly fair chance as we were eating pasta with an arrabiata sauce, but despite the spicy food, this sauvignon blanc provided a refreshing accompaniment that managed to hold its own in terms of flavour. If pushed to give it a score I would say around 7 out of 10. Certainly one of the better white wines I have had in the past few weeks. Hoorah, and thanks to Vanessa for buying it.

Friday, July 21, 2006

La Chapelle 2005 Rose - Cotes du Rhone

This is a very nice and dry Cotes du Rhone rose that goes well with food. On it's own other sweeter rose would probably be better, but tonight we had seafood pasta and in the sweltering heat of this week the rose is just the right kind of wine to enjoy on your balcony. This is a relatively value-for-money rose at around 5 pounds. The better Cotes de Provence rose (Bandol, Cassis, etc) is more pricey. This is nice enough though, and much better than the overly sweet Californian Zinfandel I had the other week.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Beaujolais 2005 - Georges Duboef

Time for yet another exciting wine review! Everybody raise your glasses and extend our your little finger and have a sip of this little tasty number.
No, seriously, tonight I shared this bottle of Beaujolais with a good old friend of mine who came over for dinner. Sun made us her fantastic green thai curry, and with asian food you should always drink something refreshing. Beaujolais is refreshing. I kept it in the fridge, and took it out about an hour before dinner, so it was about right I think. Personally, I am not a huge fan of beaujolais. Maybe not yet, but maybe soon it will grow on me. This one, however, is definitely a good one. It has a fairly purple colour for a beaujolais and has I think less tannins than other red wine, and more acidity. It has also a nice wood-oaky taste to it. On the nose it is dominated by a bunch of fresh summer berries. Yes that's righ!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Today we shared a bottle of Gigondas 2003 Domaine de Font-Sane. Wow, that was nice. Ok, I decided to this time take somebody else's review, as my comments would not do it justice:
Beautiful, dense, deep garnet-red robe, bright and limpid. The nose develops aromas of small red fruits in brandy, then evolves towards touches of pepper enhanced by a touch of vanilla. Hearty and round mouth, well-structured by noble tannins with a perfect alliance between substance and aromas of fruits of the undergrowth and of red and black berries. "An elegant, cool climate-styled Gigondas, Font-Sane’s 2003 possesses medium body, moderate tannin, and modest quantities of raspberry, cherry and floral-infused fruit …. Attractive, Pinot Noir-styled red." Robert Parker

Monday, July 10, 2006

Well, this was my latest drink discovery thanks to a Visiting Old Friend (cheers Hollin). Whisky and Green Ginger Wine, otherwise known as the Whisky Mac. Equal measures of both ingredients, served chilled on this occasion for sitting post dinner in the garden – though I understand that it makes a warming winter tipple at room temperature.

Now I don’t think that my Laphroaig was best put to use in this mixture and in fact I first tasted it made with Hollin’s Jameson Irish Whiskey – obviously a far cleaner, more malty flavour – but it is was the only whisky I had in the house so we just had to try it. With the Jameson, the ‘Mac was a good drink. The edge of the ginger working well with the smooth warmth of the whiskey to provide a multi faceted flavour. A real kick, fine balance at first, but probably saved from being over-sweet by the low serving temperature. So this time round (though it is undoubtedly single malt sacrilege), combining the Laphroaig with the Stone’s created a monster of a drink. ...Like whisky for grown up children, a ‘Mac turned up to 11. The distinctive, smoky, peaty tones of the Laphroaig are big and strong enough to fight through the sweetness of the green ginger and take away the sickly aftertaste. All that is left is that single malt fuzziness on the roof of the mouth. Happy, happy drink for happy people.

So this is what will be in my hip flask for the next wild boar hunt or mountain bike race. Just make sure it is someone else’s single malt collection…

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

It's time to move on to my favourite wines. The first time I tried a Chapoutier Cotes du Rhone was at Xmas when my parents were over and we had the Cotes du Rhone available from Waitrose. I was amazed how well it went with the Xmas food. Today I am drinking up the rest of the Cotes du Rhone Villages "Rasteau" from the same producer. This is slightly more expensive (8.99 at Oddbins) than the normal Cotes du Rhones, but is absolutely amazing. I got it for around 7 pounds at Taste of London. The first thing that struck me when I poured the wine was the colour. It is indeed a very nice deep red colour. The wine has very nice ripe plummy kind of taste almost like the Chateauneuf du Pape. It is definitely one of my favourite mid-range-priced wines. It smells nice and goes very well with a nice rustic dinner. If you are interested, tonight I made pork chops with new potatoes and string beans and peas. Not the best match maybe as I think a steak or lamb chops would have been better, but anyway. This wine I can only recommend and it is also nice to drink on its own. Rasteau, by the way, is a very up and coming village of the southern Rhone valley. I am sure that in a couple of years it will have reached Vacqueyras/Gigondas status. It is already similarly priced.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

I think one thing I would really enjoy writing about is wine. Not that I know much about wine, but because I am very interested in wine. I might be able to learn as I review more and more wines and put notes down. It will also be a good way of remembering the good wines. Do I show signs of dementia?? Ok, to start things off I will write about the wine I have in front of me. It is a value-for-money Tesco Macon Villages that I got for around 4.99 I think. As is usual for this region, it is a Chardonnay. Just re-read the section on Chardonnay's in Matt Skinner's "Thirsty Work" book where he raves on about this grape and describes it tasting of peaches, pineapple, banana, guava and mango. I myself would classify the wine as being very dry with an almost bitter aftertaste. In terms of fruits it does taste a bit of citrus fruit such as lime or lemon, and I think peach is another note I would identify. Overall I am however not greatly impressed. I think other chardonnays I've tried have been better. But maybe the taste has also been worn out a bit as the bottle has been open for over a week, while being sealed with a vacuum stopper. I this wine would go very well with any kind of cheese as the sour citrus taste would be very well balanced by a mild creamy cheese that would give the wine something to work on. All on it's own I think I'd stop after one glass. So, unfortunately, the first wine I review will not be a recommendation. But you'll see that I will recommend the majority of wines that I taste, as I just don't have a clue and like quite a lot of them.