Friday, May 30, 2008

Burgundy, May 2008

Just back from 3 days of pretty intensive tasting in Burgundy where we did a comprehensive sweep of growers in the Cote de Nuits, Cote de Beaune, Cote Chalonaise and the Macon, tasting some spectacular wines along the way. I will go through the growers and my thoughts over the coming days, but I just want to give some initial overall impressions.

The 2006 vintage is really good for both reds and whites. Considering that it is somewhat in the shadow of the amazing 2005 vintage, the quality is very good indeed. The wines lack the intensity and concentration of 2005, but they have lovely clean, fresh fruit flavours and nice balance. They are not for the long haul, but will make for nice drinking in the medium term.

We tasted some 2007s from barrel as well (many hadn't yet finished their malolactic fermentation and thus weren't really tasteable) and the quality likewise seems good from the growers we visited who all expressed relief that the vintage wasn't a disaster as they feared in August last year after 2 months of rain! September stepped in to save the vintage and, after some severe sorting of the grapes - many were down 30% volume on normal - some good wines have been made. Again, these are for drinking and not for keeping, but that is, in itself, no harm.

Beaune was as pleasant as ever, except for the rather rainy conditions and as usual, we drank too much and ate too much and slept too little! More details will follow...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bordeaux 2005

We got some of our 2005s in during the week, so we cracked open a few bottles to see what they were like:

Chateau Beaumont 2005, Haut Medoc - decent effort, not bad. but you would have to wonder could you not do better at €25?

Chateau Haut Bages Liberal, Pauillac - this is more like it - classic Bordeaux, but very open. Drinking really nicely, what is the point of keeping it for years, just drink it! €40

Chateau Mangot, Saint emilion Grand Cru - very nice, well structured, lots of fruit but lots of tannin, better value at €25

Chateau Faugeres, Saint Emilion Grand Cru - this was the stand out wine of the tasting, accessible now because the tannins are so ripe and there is lovely fruit, but it has the stuffing to last quite a while if that is your thing. Excellent stuff and possibly too cheap at €40.

Off to Burgundy next week.....

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rose and its short but beautiful life

We tried a 2005 rose the other day and it was dead, dead, dead. Then we tried the same wine, but the 2006 vintage and it was delicious. So drink them young as you can, regardless of where they are from.

Oh yes, the 2007 Reverdy Sancerre is delicious.....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Domaine Saladin

Just new in to the shop is a range of wines from Domaine Saladin. This is an organically farmed domaine in the Ardeche producing a range of wines under the Cotes du Rhone appellation. It is run by 2 charming sisters who have taken over the operation from their father (Loi) and uncle (Paul). Their brother runs a restaurant on-site. The wines are all marked by a freshness, elegance and purity that really puts them head and shoulders above the usual stuff from this part of the world. Well worth a try.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Family of 12 - more

The other wineries I found interesting at the Family of 12 tasting were Kumeu River who have a fantastic range of Chardonnays at various levels of quality and intensity, but I thought they were all good at their respective levels. They also had a Pinot Noir, but I wasn't mad about it, thought it was a bit green.

Millton intrigued me as I was sure I had seen their wines before somewhere, but couldn't place them and they are looking for representation in Ireland. It was later that I realised they had in the past been distributed by an organic wine distributor who we used to have some dealings with. Anyway, the wines were very nice, an especially nice Chenin blanc (apparently house white in Gordon Ramsay in London), a nice unaoked Chardonnay and a viognier which was a bit flowery for me. Their Pinot was good too.

Fromm had the most intriguing wines of all there. There was a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir from Clayvin Vineyard that were more mineral than anything I have ever tasted from NZ before, very intense, tightly coiled wines, much more European in style than New Zealand. Very interesting wines - also as yet unavailable in Ireland and quite a hard sell, I would think.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Family of 12 tasting May 15th

The Family of 12 is a grouping of 12 New Zealand wineries who occasionally work together on promotion and other things, see for further information. They were in Dublin yesterday, showing their wares for a really good tasting.

Felton Road is one of the 12, so I went in to help Nigel Greening, the owner of Felton Road, pour the wine and shoot the breeze for a couple of hours. Nigel is an extremly interesting and entertaining guy and it is always fascinating to hear him talk abour wine, winemaking, organics, biodynamics, global warming and anything else that might come up. The wines were, as always, fantastic, ew had four on show:

2007 Riesling - with 50g of residual sugar and 10 degrees of alcohol, this off-dry Riesling was the star of our table and possibly of the whole tasting. Harmonious, fresh and beautifully balanced with lovely fresh citrus flavours, soft acidity and amazing length - really excellent.

2006 Chardonnay - showing really well, again nicely balanced with fruit, acidity and oak. Nigel reckons you should either drink this now if you like your chardonnay young and zesty or stick it away for 4/5 years to let it develop. (We had the 02 recently and it was excellent).

2006 Calvert Pinot Noir - the first vintage of this single vineyard Pinot was tight and quite tannic when I last tasted it before Christmas, but yesterday it was showing really well - very open with beautiful pure raspberry fruit, lightish in body but with excellent concentration and length.

2006 Pinot Noir - much meatier than the Calvert, but with amazing purity, complexity and length - more brambly in character, silky tannins and perfect balance.

Nigel is really excited about his 2007s (see Riesling above) - he reckons his 2007 Pinot is by far the best Pinot they have ever made; look forward to trying them when they land in a couple of weeks time.

There were other interesting wines there as well, some not available in Ireland - I will report on them in my next posting.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Waterslides report

Back from Tuscany, and happy to report the waterslides were really of a very high standard. That's that overwith and I'm not going to bore you with stories of how good value the food was blah blah blah.

So, what else to report? Well, we only did two winery visits, one to Fattoria di Basciano in Rufina. Paola and Annarita were as charming as ever and booked us into a restaurant for lunch with which we had their Rosado. It would have to be a bad Rose indeed to taste bad on a summer's day in Tuscany sitting in a restaurant surrounded by vines and very pleasant it was. We thought that was it, until larger glasses emerged and the Chianti Rufina 2006 came out. This was great until even bigger glasses came out and the Riserva 2005 was poured. I had to take it easy as I was driving, so I just had a little of each - I still thing the basic Rufina is hard to beat. The Riserva was good too, but the oak was still overpowering things slightly, I'm sure it will develop nicely though. Meanwhile, Pam went on to get roaring drunk as usual (only joking, she was the picture of sobriety as always).

More tomorrow...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Wine Adventures in Portugal - April 2008

Just back from a wine trip to Portugal - far away from the Algarve, visiting wineries in the Douro Valley, Dao and Alentejo. Not much has been written on Portuguese wine but the best book to recommend is the newly published "The Wine and Food Lover's Guide to Portugal" by Charles Metcalfe and Kathryn McWhirter.
The Douro Valley is spectacular (once the rain stopped!). The first visit was to Quinta de la Rosa on the outskirts of Pinhao - in 2000 this estate's production was approximately 80% Port and 20% D.O.C. wine. Now their D.O.C. wines account for 80% of total production. Their winemaker is the dynamic young Jorge Moreira who was in the process of bottling their reserva wines but he made time to meet us and talk us through an amazing tasting - 2005 Cerejinha made from mainly Touriga Nacional, Quinta de la Rosa Reserva 2005, the 2006 which is being bottled at the moment, and a wine called "Poeira" which Jorge makes himself, separate from Quinta de la Rosa.
A lunch followed in the restaurant overlooking the river, finishing with chocolate brownie cake with cream and a glass of the 1997 Colheita - "Clear, medium brick colour with a complex bouquet of prunes, raisins, cinnamon, spice. Full rich raisoney palate, spicy, syrup of figs (for those who remember) and a finish that still lingers in my mind ... delicious.
But we are not on this trip to investigate port - to quote Jorge Moreira "I spend 90% of my time thinking about wine and 10% thinking about Port". This sums up how things are changing in the Douro.
Further adventures on a boat journey down the Douro to Quinta das Tecedeiras to follow shortly - and I will post photographs (mainly of me with the young dynamic winemakers - both male and female!) for those who may be interested ....