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St Hallett Poacher's Blend, 2007, Barossa Valley, Australia (3)
Andrew Roper wrote: Looks all very nice and rustic, but really St Hallet lo... [read more]

Three New Wine Blogs (4)
Grant wrote: Guys, Thanks for the kind words. The background change... [read more]

Caldora Colle dei Venti Pecorino 2007, Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy (2)
Demetria wrote: I love wine from this district and Italy in general. ... [read more]

New Wave Spanish Wine Awards 2008 (3)
Dylan wrote: Thanks for the clarification, Andrew.... [read more]

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St Hallett Poacher's Blend, 2007, Barossa Valley, Australia

St Hallet Poacher's Blend Semillon Sauvignon Riesling, 2007, Barossa, AustraliaThree grapes Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. All of which you can detect in the wine. Individually. Which is a criticism as the wine was not a 'sum of its parts'- disjointed, rambling, and unformed. Planning on it improving with age I doubt would help either.

But it has a saving. It was rather excellent with a salmon tart!

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: St Hallet Poacher's Blend, 2007, Barossa Valley, Australia.
Stockist: Waitrose Price: £7.99 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Fresh, distinctive, disjointed. Joyous though when partnered with food - in this instance a warm Salmon Tart. The wines crispness cutting through the rich pastry, and matching the egg component face to face (eggs being a tricky when matched with wine). The Sauvignon component, of course, went well with the Salmon with the fuller Semillon revelling in the harmony with the herbs and the spinach. Alcohol 11.5%.
Scribblings Rating - 86/100 [3.25 out of 5]

The background to the blend is interesting - the wine is bottled just four months after vintage with the Semillon picked at three different ripeness levels. Part adds natural acidity (the Riesling and Sauvignon obviously not sufficient), the mid-pick supplies an 'herbaceous lift' in support of the Sauvignon and the fully ripe portion adds mouth-feel and richer grapefruit flavours. Their website fails to give details of the actual percentage components in the blend - anal I realise but something I find fascinating - which is a shame.

Caldora Colle dei Venti Pecorino 2007, Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy

Caldora Colle dei Venti Pecorino 2007, Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy
An old envelope, rescued from the recycling, with a few scribbles on the reverse; the initial notes before transfer to the main, missing, tasting note book. So basically a few words on a Pecorino and a reference to the book where the accompanying food recipe was taken. Enough info for a blog post (just) especially as the photo has been lounging in the computers photograph folder for an age...

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Caldora Colle dei Venti Pecorino, 2007, Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy..
Stockist: Planet of the Grapes Bon Coeur Fine Wines Price: around £10 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Lemons, nectarines, minerals, lime rind, orange pith, fresh, clean and quite full. Summery. Long lasting, dry, interesting, complex. Delicious. Alcohol 13%

A superb match with the Ricotta-stuffed Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (recipe below).

Sadly the notes neglect to mention who supplied this bottle - it was neither of the stockists listed. It might even have been Waitrose.

Scribblings Rating - 92/100 [4 out of 5]

Pecorino, the grape variety, is so named due to the resemblance of the grape bunches to a head of a sheep and has nothing to do with the cheese. Colle dei Venti translates as the Hill of Breeze.

Caldora Terre de Chieti Pecorino 2007, Colle dei Venti, Italy
Ricotta Stuffed Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Adapted from The Wine Lover's Cookbook by Sid Goldstein

The chicken stuffing (slipped into the middle of a chicken breast and leg joint, one per person) is simply Ricotta Cheese, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, a little chopped shallot and fresh basil mixed together.

The chicken was browned in a little butter for a few minutes before transferring to a hot oven until cooked (about 20 minues).

The pepper sauce is also simple to construct. Fry a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and 2 chopped red peppers (with skins removed) for a few minutes then add a big splash of dry sherry, the same amount of chicken stock, a little tomato paste and chopped, fresh, basil and oregano (plus seasoning). Fry this and reduce for 5 or so minutes. The recipe suggests processing this in a food processor until smooth, but I served it unblended and chunky.

Serve with liguine with fresh basil or, as pictured, with new potatoes.

New Wave Spanish Wine Awards 2008

Off Licence News New Wave Spanish Wine Awards
Those huge wine award issues of the wine magazines - who reads them apart from the top trophy winners anyway? Page follows page of tasting notes and yet more tasting notes. (Thinking Decanter World Wine Awards and the International Wine Challenge here). As John over at UKWinesOnline stated - winning a top award gives the importer/distributor a great feeling of accomplishment. The fact that John's award winning wine failed to gain any recognition the following year is another indictment of such awards. Do wines really change that much year on year?

Having said that, I am rather a fan of Top 100 Vins De Pays competition and the New Wave Spanish Wine Awards, if only for the fact that they manage to highlight many wines I wouldn't otherwise have discovered from two areas I have a particular fondness for. Interestingly these two competitions are run by a trade paper, Off Licence News.

Off Licence News has released a PDF of the Spanish awards; hardly worth downloading though as it little more than a boring list - without tasting notes - rather than the full coloured, background rich supplement to the weekly magazine. So for those who do like tasting notes with some added links to retailers...
  • Best Wine Under £10: Maior de Mendoza Fulget 2007, Rías Baixes "Brilliant crisp, fresh, floral and honeyed fruit with ripe, peachy flavours and a fine, citrusy concentration. Elegant and well poised. Simply delicious when chilled! £8.20
  • Best White over £10 and Best White Wine of Show: Celler de Joan Sangenís, Mas d'en Compte 2006, Priorat "Full, rich concentrated and creamy with a succulent tropical nose. Harmonious, powerful, fresh, complex palate overlaid with well-tailored oak and a racy elegance on the finish. £18.50 (2005 vintage Jeroboams)
  • Best Value Red under £6: Agribergidum, Spanish Steps, 2007, Bierzo "Fresh, tight, floral and kirsch aromas with vivid fruit. Lovely length and balance, Impeccable, modern but expressive wine." £5.99
  • Best Value Red under £10: Ochoa Graciano/Garnacha, 2005, Navarra "Good, deep crimson colour with austere but complex fruit notes and a spicy, rich, voluptuous underlying fresh palate that belies its age and gives it length. Typically Spanish! £8.99 (Christopher Piper Wines)
  • Joint Best Red over £10: Bodegas Jose Jimenez Landi Pielago, 2006, Mentrida "Arresting, floral aromas, then bold lilac, blueberry and savoury characters, Firm, grippy tannins and fresh acidity. Finishes with a savoury and mineral flavour.. Distinctive and appealing." £19.99 (Handford Wines)
  • Joint Best Red over £10: Bodegas Ysios Reserva, 2004, Rioja "Fragrant, savoury, spicy nose with a touch of milk chocolate richness. Savoury, spicy, cedary palate with cherry-raspberry fruit and a silky texture. Medium-full, layered and long with fine-grained tannins. Elegant with potential to age." £14.99 (EveryWine)
  • Joint Best Premium Red over £20: Cillar de Silos Torresilo, 2005, Ribera del Duero "Youthful, deeply-coloured, complex palate, perfumed with raspberry and cherry fruit. Lovely pure and elegant red fruit characters with grainy tannins and seamless fruit marked by vivid acidity" £29.99 (TodoVino)
  • Joint Best Premium Red over £20: Bodegas Pinord +7, 2005, Priorat "Complex nose of prune and raisin, ripe red sun-drenched fruit with classic Priotat acidity underlying a firm structure built on subtle judicious oak handling" £23.99
  • Joint Best Premium Red over £20 and Best Red Wine of Show: Bodegas Luis Cañas Rioja Reserva Especial Amaren, 2002, Rioja "With great intensity and colour, this is a modern, youthful, concentrated Tempranillo with rich cherry fruit and superb tannin finesse and style" £24.99
  • Joint Best Sherry Winner: Harveys Fino "Intense, deliciously fragrant fino with light tangy and floral notes. Bone-dry, showing iodine intensity and great length" £8.18
  • Joint Best Dry Sherry: Harveys Fine Amontillado "Seems to be from a very old solera, Has great intensity and length. Bone-dry, with smooth flavours of toffee and roasted nuts and a salty tang" £19.95
  • Joint Best Sweet Sherry: Sanderman Royal Corregidor Rich Oloroso "Seductive walnut, confit orange and chocolate nose, but mouth-watering acidity cuts through the toffee richness on the palate, adding zest and life. Long and thrilling. £10.99
  • Joint Best Sweet Sherry: González Byass Noé "fantastically complex nose with fig, caramel and salty liquorice. Palate has a melting, rich texture, but lovely acidity extends the rich, chocolatey finish" £13.99
  • Best Own Label Sherry: Waitrose Solera Jerezana Fino del Puerto "A full-bodied fino with enticing tangy, yeasty flavours. Appealingly fresh and long-lasting." £7.49 (Waitrose)
  • Joint Best Sweet Wine: Ordoñez No 1 Selección Especial 2006 "Incredibly vibrant, pure and fresh with delicate mandarin fruit flavours supported by a slight minerally backdrop and well-balanced acidity. Refreshing, long, very elegant and finishes perfectly. Impeccably made." £12.99. (Noel Young Wines)
  • Joint Best Sweet Wine: Toro Albala Don PX Gran Reserva 1979 "Intensely sweet, but in no way cloying. Marvellous symphony of aged, nutty, liquorice flavours and treacle-toffee sweetness. £12.99 (Ballantynes)

Three New Wine Blogs

Screen Shot: Share the Crush blog
New Blog 1: Nicolas Boissonneau, with Nicolas is the Skalli Family Wines Americas' brand ambassador he arrived in July will be spending the following 18 months exploring America and sharing his adventures on his blog. He is traveling the country discovering America and spreading the news about his various wine brands: Robert Skalli (South of France), Maison Bouachon (Rhone Valley), and Clos Poggiale (Corsica).
This is a glimpse of life in the wine industry and a glimpse of a young Frenchman's discovery of the United States."

I believe Nicolas' plans to have some guest bloggers posting this month, including winemaker Laurent Sauvage with some updates on harvest in the South of France.

New Blog 2: Dombeya Wines, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Dombeya Wines are a small producer (4500 cases a year) in Stellenbosch, South Africa who have just started an on-line blog.

We're trying to make it as interesting and diverse as possible with some video tastings and wine production info so hopefully this will be something that people will gravitate towards over time."

Not being familiar with this winery I'm not sure if their wines are available in the UK; perhaps they can enlighten...

New Blog 3: Folie a Deux Winery, Napa Valley. Californina (pictured)
They have a new intern, William Goebel, who is blogging about the daily life of being a harvest intern.

True nitty-gritty stuff, no fluff. I've seen blogs by winemakers and plenty by winery marketing types, but rarely have I seen one by the lowly intern. As many of us know, they are the ones that do all the REAL work."

The concept here is that consumers may live vicariously through William, and hopefully Folie a Deux can gain some recognition for doing something different.

Quinta de Covela Escolha, 2005, Minho, Portugal

Quinta de Covela Escolha 2005 Minho, Portugal
Many will realise, may even respect, my ongoing search for the unusual wine - the striking label, the interesting blend or individual grape, the obscure region... While the label can't really be described as attractive, stylish perhaps in hip and happening down-town Lisbon circa 1980, the blend is the thing with the Covela 2005. Take a little Chardonnay, pour into a vat of the local Avesso and add 'others' (which the Waitrose website details as Gewürztraminer).

Avesso is a Vinho Verde grape; so one would expect a high level of acidity. The region this comes from, Minho, is also where Vinho Verde originates.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Quinta de Covela Escolha, 2005, Minho, Portugal.
Stockist: Waitrose Price: £9.99 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
An upfront crispness, a weighty Chardonnay-led, mid-palate and a minerally 'wet stones' finish. Add the complex flavours of unripened pears, a touch of greenness, a little lemon, a hint of sandpaper and plenty of tropical fruit medley and the result is the delicious Covela. Dry and full. Alcohol 13.5%.

Scribblings Rating - 94/100 [4.25 out of 5]

The other joy of this wine malarkey is matching these interesting and tasty wines with food. Here I suggest Breast of Chicken with Pancetta and Creamed Leeks - where the wines acidity counters the creamy richness. Chardonnay is very chicken-friendly; just ensure they are free-range and they will get along brilliantly!

The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Wine Note Book

Montes Alpha Syrah and Cheese
Lying somewhere between a missing spy masters lap-top and a cd full of a high street bank's customer details is my wine tasting notebook. It has been missing for a few weeks now; I've not seen a mention on the Mail's front page as being discovered on the 8:15 from Waterloo though.

In addition to a great many tasting notes, many destined to be written up on Spittoon, there were two full articles planned for the Guardian, the notes and thoughts on the Montes Alpha range (the 'gimmick' being to serve the wines with specific music) and several very interesting wine and food matching experiments. Greatly saddened it has vanished.

My memory recall is not great; wracking my brains for a descriptive of a wine tasted last week is bad enough, let alone something slurped back in May! But my pictures folder has many shots destined to accompany those notes; one being the Montes Alpha Syrah used here.

This amply flavoured, high alcohol (14.5%) wine was an absolute joy with a little Grana Padano cheese even with Pavarotti belting out Nessun Dorma in the background. Love the wine, not a fan of the music. Did it change my perception of the wine... impossible to say with or without my notes. All I do know is that the four wines supplied were deliciously excellent.

"When a particular style of music is heard it stimulates or 'primes' specific areas in the brain. Subsequently when wine is tasted these areas of the brain are already active and prime us to taste the wine in a corresponding way"

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Montes Alpha Syrah, 2006, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Stockist: Waitrose, Tesco Price: £10.99 [More on Adegga/Snooth]
Great with Cheese - Grana Padano especially. Alcohol 14.5%.
Scribblings Rating - 92/100 [4 out of 5]

Montes Cherub Rosé, 2008, Colchagua, Chile

Montes Cherub 2008
Are not rosé wines supposed to be fun, simplistic, trivial, gluggers? Their continued popularity is for just this reason - nothing too complicated, easy to drink and with a nice, summery colour. Such wines are at the lower end of the price scale; indeed my parents, bless 'em, have taken a shine to a truly terrible, industrial-confected swill smelling, off-dry rosé from California (blended with melon and orange flavourings if memory serves) that comes in a £3.99 for a litre and a half sized bottle. They like it for the slightly sweet palate, its uncomplicated nature and summery feel. (They hadn't actually smelt it until I mentioned how hideous its aroma was).

Why then release a rosé at nearly eight quid? From Chile too, a country that has replaced Australia for value wines - just where rosé should be positioned price-wise , no? A wine with a cartoon, non-serious label - oh, the confusing contradictions.

Rosé Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah, 2008, Colchagua Valley, Chile.
Stockist: Waitrose Price: £8.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
Plenty of strawberry/cherry lashed fruit with the dry tannins giving a sophisticated mouthful despite the cherryade colour, glowing as if radiated. Ripe, gentle fruit to the fore, dry tannins to the finish, And, always an indicator of decent quality, a long lasting aftertaste.

Sophisticated, classy almost and not a glugger by any standard but at £8.99 you have to wonder how much they have to pay Mr Steadman for his delightful Churb interpretation?

Scribblings Rating - 88/100 [3.5 out of 5]