Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cornish Point Pinot Noir by Felton Road

Pam and myself tried a bottle of the 2006 Cornish Point Pinot from Felton Road. This spectacularly beautiful vineyard has been something of a Pinot experimentation field for the last 10 years or so, where Nigel and his team were trying out different clones, rootstocks etc of Pinot ir order to see what works best in this region. It has up until now been bottled off seperately and sold slightly cheaper than Felton Road. It has always been a bit more forward, a bit less complex, a fruitier style than the Felton Road. 2006 is no different, but it is delicious all the same - medium bodied, with loads of raspberry and cherry fruit aith chocolate and spice mingling in the background. One of those bottles that is not big enough. I think Pam drank it all....

Anyway, from the brilliant 2007 vintage onwards, the best of Cornish Point will be bottled as a Felton Road Single Vineyard Cornish Point ( a sort of Premier Cru). What doesn't make it into the premier cru will be blended into Felton Road Pinot Noir. So, Cornish Point will, along with Calvert and (I think ) Elms, will become a premier cru, Felton Road will be equivalent to the village level in Burgundy which means the Block 3 and Block 5 will become the grands crus - yikes!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Taste of Dublin

Ok, so I have finally recovered from A Taste of Dublin last weekend. I didn't realise being nice for 4 days was going to take so much out of me! Who would have known?

Positive points first:
The setting was great - Iveagh Gardens is a nice spot and it looked really well.
The weather held - at least until Sunday evening.
The atmosphere was great - everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and there wasn't too much messing.
There was a decent number of people.
It was well organised.

Negative points:
My trolley got nicked - boy was I pissed off that one of my fellow exhibitors would kick me in the goolies like that on Monday morning when I needed it most. The trolley, that is, not the kick in the goolies.
We got some bottles of prosecco nicked on Friday night - primarily because we had no curtain for the first 2 days. We got one on Saturday after kicking up a big fuss.
It was expensive - both for us as exhibitors and for consumers paying into the event, the big winners in all this seem to be the organisers. OK, they have to make a profit, but if everyone feels they are getting ripped off ( there were rumblings from many corners), then it is not going to succeed long term.
For us, as a small wine importer, I feel letting O'Briens do their massive World of Wine thing sort of ruins it for the rest of us. So they can afford to pay 100K for a huge stand, great, but is it not supposed to be about interesting stuff, rather than mass market stuff?
It was hard work, but I don't mind that if there is a return. At this stage, I'm not sure there was.

The jury is definitely out!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Poliziano Dinner June 11th

We had Tiziana Mazzetti, Export Manager with Poliziano over for the day yesterday and we made the most of the visit by hosting a Wine Club dinner in Dali's, Blackrock. We tasted the full range:

Ambrae 2007 - Poliziano's only white has now settled on a blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Sauvignon Blanc. It is designed to be a light, easy-drinking white, but is a bit more serious than it makes itself out to be. It is quite full-bodied, ripe appley fruit and nice acidity. 14.5% alcohol means it is one for food, not for glugging in the garden.

Morellino di Scansano 2007 - this is from the Maremma (south Tuscany, on the coast) and the fruit is brighter, texture is silkier - dare I say it, a more feminine style? (pretend I'm Italian and let me away with it, sisters!). Good to drink on its own, good by the glass in a restaurant.

Poliziano Rosso 2005 - the Rosso, by contrast is a bit more tannic, a bit more rustic. It needs food, but is very pleasant and a versatile all-rounder. For roast potatoes, not couch potatoes.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2005 - much more polished, ripe tannins and fresh dark cherry fruit dominate, good length and very nicely balanced. Excellent wine.

Asinone 2004 - the serious stuff - this is from an excellent vintage and already delicious. Concentrated, but never heavy, this is wonderful wine. Balance, purity, elegance - it has it all.

Le Stanze 2005 - Poliziano's super tuscan - 70% Cabernet, 30% Merlot. This, too, is very polished wine; very closed still, very full-bodied. One for the long haul. (We tried the 2000 earlier in the day and it was amazing.

They really have very consistent quality right throughout the range and the price / quality ratio is very fair, in my view. Dali's did a great job, the food was great and I think everyone enjoyed the night.

Asinone is the stuff, though.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

More burgundy

Jean Marc Millot grows in confidence every year as his wines become more widely known and sought after. I think he sells out pretty much all his wines every year now, we certainly can't get enough of them. The Cotes de Nuits Villages 06 was the high standard we have come to expect, raspberries and cream and silky texture. The quality goes up accordingly through the range up to the Echezeaux and Grand Echezeaux and Clos de Vougeot.

Mugneret Gibourg are always a highlight and a joy to taste. Taste their basic (€30!) Bourgogne and you know immediately you are in a domaine which is a notch above the ordinary. it is easy to get seduced by the charming sisters, the atmospheric huge cellars and the vineyards right outside the door, but it is the wines which remain in the memory - Bourgogne, Vosne Romanee, Nuits 1er Cru Les Chaignots, Clos Vougeot - the wines have beautiful balance and finesse right through the range, they are wines that are well worth their admittedly high price tags.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Produttori del Barbaresco tasting - 24/5/08

At a recent tasting presented by Aldo Vacca, Director of Produttori del Barbaresco based in the village of Barbaresco, Piedmont, Northern Italy, Aldo made some very interesting points regarding climate change/global warming.

As a child in the 1960's and early 1970's Aldo remembers his grandfather going to the winery under cover of dark to chaptalise the wines - this was the illegal practice of adding sugar to boost the final alcoholic strength of a wine. Potential alcohol would have always been 12-12.5% Vol. but since 1997 - "the first of the warm vintages", there is no problem achieving 13-14% Vol in the wines from Barberesco. Even in the poor vintage of 2002 the grapes produced a wine with 13% Vol.

The Produttori grow only Nebbiolo - the name of the grape is derived from the Italian word "nebbia" meaning "fog". In the past this grape was always picked during the November fogs - nowadays the grape is picked much earlier on in September, long before the autumn fogs descend on the vineyards.

"Global warming has been making September a summer month - before, you put an extra blanket on your bed in September - now it is October before you need that extra blanket."

Two important changes have taken place due to climate change -

Up to five years ago the most important factor in grape quality in this region was sugar content. With climate change other factors are now looked at - the grapes are measured for colour, tone and phenolic ripeness.

Production of single vineyard Barbaresco usually took place only in the better vintages - now it is happening almost every year.

I asked Aldo what he likes to eat when he enjoys a bottle of his Barbaresco - "I drink with steak, veal, mushroom risotto, pheasant and rabbit. The wine also matches fresh egg pasta extremely well."

A wonderful tasting - great wines from Nebbiolo Langhe DOC 2006 to a single Cru Barbaresco Riserva "Moccagatta" 1997. My own favourite was Barbaresco Riserva "Rio Sordo" 2001. I will have the chance to try the 1999 of this wine tomorrow - a wine I bought from Aldo while visiting the Produttori del Barbaresco two years ago.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Burgundy cont'd

We did a good mix of existing growers and new exciting discoveries this year - I will deal first with our old friends....

Philippe Chavy - Philippe was his usual enthusiastic self and, I have to say, i like his wines more and more each year. He has excellent holdings in both Puligny Montrachet and Meursault and all his wines reflect their origins perfectly, are really well balanced and are marked out by a freshness, a nervosité that seems to be the Chavy trademark. As usual, we preferred the Meursault Narvaux and the Puligny Corvees des Vignes cuvees, but we will take whatever is available, they were all excellent.

Domaine Darviot Perrin - Didier was laid up in bed with some eye complaint, so his ever charming wife brought us through the amazing selection of wines from this immaculate domaine in Monthelie. They have really good, mature vineyard holding in Chassagne and Meursault as well and, unusually for the Cotes de Beaune, produce a large range of red wines as well as their sought-after whites. We tasted the 2006s and the quality was very high from the basic bourgognes in red and white through the Chassagne Montrachet Bergerie, Meursault Tessons, the various premier crus and of course , the red Chassagne 1er cru Les Bondues. (We later had the 2000 of this wine and it was excellent.)