Email Updates & Site Feeds

All Entries

Tasting Notes Only


latest on flickr

Photograph Showcase - © images by Andrew Barrow

Recent Posts


Monthly Archives

Latest Comments

MontGras Carmenere Reserva, 2008, Colchagua Valley, Chile (6)
Dylan wrote: That is a great value, and more than that, my father wa... [read more]

Wine Tasting Note: Tesco Sicilian Red Wine, NV, Sicily, Italy (6)
James wrote: I invented the PET wine in a glass... [read more]

Back to Your Roots for Wine Blogging Wednesday #48 (3)
Dylan wrote: It was interesting for me to read your blog posting see... [read more]

Wine Tasting Note: L A Cetto Petite Sirah, 2005, Baja California, Mexico (9)
Ron wrote: I live here in Baja California and we make frequent tri... [read more]

Wine Dinner - the wines of Howard Park, Australia Matching Food and Wine - wine with a lamb stew
Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


A Wine For Bacon Sandwiches

Wine Blogging Wednesday rolls round again and some fairly stringent criteria for this months challenge. Select a Wine for Breakfast but no sparkling wine, no rosés, no dessert wine, and no mixing with anything - i.e. no wine cocktails. So says El Bloggo Torcido this months host. My breakfast dish? The humble, yet oh so tasty, bacon sandwich.

This is a proper bacon sandwich - three rashers enclosed by the freshest bread possible. Nothing added bar the obligatory tomato ketchup. No floppy lettuce leaves, no runny fried egg (as good as the addition of an egg can be) and certainly no manky cheese. The bacon will be crisp and salty wit the soothing ketchup adding just a hint of tomato flavour. As it is breakfast a not-too-heavy wine is required. I turned to one region I seldom venture - Beaujolais.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Domaine Dupré Haute Ronze Régnié , 2007, Beaujolais, France.
Stockist: Oddbins (bin end?) Price: £8.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
It's Gamay; a Cru Gamay admittedly but a wine that is never going to slap you across the chops with forcefulness or complexity. What you have is a light(ish) red vibrantly young in colour with a splash of acidity and pleasant level of tannin. Pleasantly fruity and a delight when up against the salty bacon in the delicious sandwich. It even manages to cut through the tomato ketchup with ease.

You can probably realise I'm not hugely impressed - but that is the way it is with Beaujolais in general. Light, fruity and sorta nice. Alcohol 12.5%. A breakfast wine.

Scribblings Rating - 86/100 [3 out of 5]

Continue reading "A Wine For Bacon Sandwiches" »

MontGras Carmenere Reserva, 2008, Colchagua Valley, Chile

MontGras Carmenere Reserva, 2008, Colchagua Valley, Chile
An entry for Wine Blogging Wednesday (update to include an illustration).

Chile has, over the years, eclipsed Australia as the country to offer value-packed wines. The Wine Blogging Wednesday theme being value reds from Chile indicates that perhaps the Americans have yet to notice what stonking value-packed, drinkable, wines Chile is now producing. The Mont Gras normally retails at near the £7 mark (expensive for some, average price for others) but at the Waitrose offer price of a smidge over a fiver, excellent value. (What are sales like though at full-price with Carmenere on the label?).

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: MontGras Carmenere Reserva, 2008, Colchagua Valley, Chile.
Stockist: Waitrose Price: £5.39 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
Forceful aroma - brambly, spicey, leathery. Full-flavoured and full-bodied on the palate. Plenty of flavour dominated by briary blackberries and a healthy smear of tannin to remind you this is Carmenere. Oaky notes and sweet new world fruit that masks a slight lack in complexity of flavour and a touch too much alcohol but it drinks very nicely, especially with food. Classily packaged, heavy weight tapered bottle. High alcohol at 14.5%.

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

Carmenere really needs food to tame that wild fruit character and heady tannin - a Steak and Kidney Pie (made locally by a friendly butcher) and chips did it for me last night. The MontGras website which, incidentally, offers plenty of technical info on this and their other wines (grapes handpicked and selected May 7th and 15th 2007, cold soaked 3 days, 15 days total skin contact, yeast type PDM etc etc) recommends

"sweet and sour preparations, home style stews and dishes seasoned with cumin. It also compliments pâtés and duck liver, especially if they include a bit of pepper. Can also be enjoyed with pastas and salmon."

Back to Your Roots for Wine Blogging Wednesday #48

It is the seminal wine blogging event Wine Blogging Wednesday's fourth birthday. This momentous occasion being hosted by the creator Lenn Thompson at Lenndeavours, with the theme 'back to your roots'.

Being of an age when the memory is not quite what it was, that mystical 'first bottle' is pure conjecture. I assume the setting was sometime in the '70's - the decade I thought we had power cuts to give the coal men time off at Christmas. The time, so I am told, of prawn cocktails and Black Forest Gateau and the heights of vinos sophistication being bottles of Blue Nun, Liebfraumilch and, holy of holies, Mateaus Rosé.

And there was me, several years later, drinking the damn stuff overlooking Macau harbour and thinking how cool I was! It wasn't cool. It was naff, even then. It was also damn expensive for a destitute traveller. But actually the evening was made by that bottle of wine - the colour of the sunset mirroring the rose-tinted liquid in the glass, the light shimmering across the South China Sea as a sea breeze threw off the tropical heat of the day.

Another memory surfaces, again from some time in the 70's, of my late Grand Mother sticking sea shells to an empty bulbous-shaped wine bottle with a candle stuck in the top. That distinctive shape can only have been a Mateus. Luckily I can recall little else, 1970's or Mateus related, but that is probably the fault of personal excesses during the following decade!

No attractive photo to accompany these misty-eyed recollections, sadly, nor a tasting note. The famed Portuguese rosé no longer graces the shelves of the purveyors of alcohol in my small town. I expect, back in its day, whole rafts of the stuff were glugged by the local Wallingfordtonians or whatever they are called. All long since moved on to Australian Chardonnay I imagine. You can always pick up a nice shell-covered, dumpy candle stick at the weekly car-boot sale though.

Fattoira le Sorgenti Scirus, 2003, Tuscany, Italy.

Sorgenti Scirus.jpg
This has to be the best hunk of roast lamb to come out of my oven. Juicy. The perfect level of pinkness in the centre. A most delicious taste. To accompany, a little salad and some chunky chips. For the wine though something classy, something a little special...

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Fattoira le Sorgenti Scirus, 2003, Tuscany, Italy
Stockist: Cadman Fine Wines [More on UKWOL] Price: £24.99 [More: Adegga / Snooth]

Textured and smooth, wonderful richness but balanced. A flow of savoury edged fruit - hints of tomatoes laced with chocolate, raspberries, cherries and other fleshy fruits. Very 'Bordeaux' on the nose - hailing from the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (mixed in a 60%/40% blend) thrown in a little oak.

All rather scrummy, full and rich. Perhaps a tad young and missing a little development and complexity and also a tad short on the finish but highly drinkable. Accompanied that delicious lamb dish beautifully. Alcohol 14.5%.

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

Normally only 8000 bottles are produced annually, however the hot summer of 2003 reduced this to a meagre 6000 bottles, where deft handling, skilled winemaking and the benefit of vineyards at 400 metres have ensured that another outstanding wine has been crafted by Paolo Caciorgna and Le Sorgenti.

This months Wine Blogging Wednesday has, as its theme, 'The Letter S'. Sorgenti Scirus I guess qualifies!

Origin Fairtrade Viognier, 2007, Western Cape, South Africa

Origin Fairtrade Viognier
The main issue in living in my small market town is the lack of a decent independent wine merchants. It would be so cool to be able to just nip down the road and pick up a decent bottle. My choices are limited though to a Waitrose (good selection but practically every wine reviewed recently was picked up in Waitrose) and a Threshers, friendly if unexciting range.

Like many this month Wine Blogging Wednesday caught me unprepared; nothing to hand to fit Dr. Debs choice of Rhone varietals. Threshers then. Of course when in said Threshers you have to make use of the buy 2 get a third free else the prices are a little steep. No Rhone whites on the shelves and precious little else that caught the eye. I exited with a bottle of Spanish rosé and an Italian Pecorino. The third bottle being a South African Viognier; a little ubiquitous but with a saving grace of being Fairtrade.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Origin Fairtrade Viognier, 2007, Western Cape, South Africa
Stockist: Threshers/WineRack Price: £6.99 [More on Adegga]

Origin is Threshers own-label range; so this has immediately clouded my thoughts with some negativity. But the Origin Viognier ain't that shabby. The bonus through is being branded with the blue, green and black logo; a real plus point for me. The range of FairTrade wines in the UK has grown marvellously over the years from a little under 150 wines available in 2003 to over 2000 today.

A pea-pod and honeysuckle aroma, nice weighty palate too. An edge of spice - quite gingery on the finish with a finishing 'bite' very reminiscent of the ginger beer tasting. Apple and apricot flavours add to the enjoyment. By the time I realised there might be a touch of residual sweetness, adding to the weighty mouth-feel, it was too late. Bottle emptied! Alcohol 13.5%.
Scribblings Rating - 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]

Through buying Equality Fairtrade wines, the producers are guaranteed to receive a fair and stable price plus a premium which a democratically elected farmers committee ensures is used for projects that directly benefit farmers, workers and the local community.

By choosing Fairtrade wines, consumers are supporting growers to receive a fair price for their grapes, improving access to health care for the Cooperative members and their families, increasing access to education for the workers' children, delivering a higher standard of living for the workers and their families and assisting in housing projects.

Rudesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling Spatlese, 2002, Rheingau, Germany

Wegeler Rudesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling Spätlese 2002I understand that many rave about Riesling being the epitome of fine wine making. These people see the poise, quality, long life and expression of terrior while not overshadowing the grapes inherent characteristics, as representing the very best of the classic grapes.

Me? I don't give a monkeys. Dessert wines aside, I just don't like the grape.

I would rather not drink something akin to kerosene (aged Riesling) and when young most taste of little more than lime-splashed sugar water. Some of the mineral and lime Australian dry Rieslings I do enjoy; it might just come down to the European versions (generally) being low in alcohol. This is a bit strange as the weighty wines, often with an inkling of sweetness (thinking Pinot Gris, New World Chard's) are just what I enjoy. Alternatively high acidity as found in New Zealand Sauvignons is another characteristic of Riesling; love the former; ignore the latter. OK, so I WILL drink Rieslings; I just wish I was drinking something else, that's all.

In the spirit of Wine Blogging Wednesday a bottle of German Riesling found its way into the fridge. The Riesling range in Waitrose was rather impressive. Ranging in price from £6.99 up to £15.99 I do wonder how many they actually sell. Good to see a distinct lack of those Germanic scripted labels put down as one of the main reasons for disappointing sales of German wine over the last few years.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling Spätlese, 2002, Rheingau, Germany.

Stockist: Waitrose Price: £9.99 [More on Adegga]
Rather a surprise in the quality here - nicely judged acidity balanced with a under-ripe pear and lime flavoured lightly sweet palate. Honey on the nose. Fresh crisp acidity and no noticeable kerosene from a wine still young from the 2002 vintage. Alcohol 8%.

The Dr Wegeler estate was founded in 1882 and is now run by the 4th generation of the same family.

Scribblings Rating - 86/100 [3.25 out of 5]

The picture is a little dark (taken late in the evening) but highlights the wines (and sweeter Rieslings in general) affinity with spicy food. The dish is Chili Beef Ramen from the Wagamama Cookbook one of favourite 'oriental' cookbooks. A white wine with beef! Almost as radical as me drinking a German Riesling!

Domaine de L'Engarran, 2005, VdP d'Oc, France

Domaine de l'Engarran 2005 Vin de Pays d'Oc, FranceNot something you see much of in the South of France is Cabernet Franc - the grape and country of choice for this months Wine Blogging Wednesday. Rare enough to be interesting despite not being totally Cab. Franc; although the major component there is a hearty douse of Grenache with a smidgen of Syrah and Cinsault too.

Red WineWine Tasting Note: Domaine de l'Engarran, 2005 Vin de Pays d'Oc, France
Off the middle shelf at Oddbins for £7.99.
A weighty palate, tight gravelly tannins and a inky-berry led flavour. A touch of sweet fruit, especially on the finish with an edge of black currants. No hints of the leafiness/herbaceousness often associated with Cabernet Franc, perhaps due to the warmer growing conditions down in the Languedoc, but there is a touch of earthiness, another 'sign' of Cabernet Franc. Opens up nicely with an edge of something akin to roses or spiced rose petals. Alcohol 13%. The actual blend is a mix of 46% Cabernet Franc, 40% Grenache, 11% Syrah & 3% Cinsault.

Scribblings Rating - 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]

Gracing the label (you might just make out from my photo) is a line drawing of a lion devouring a bunch of grapes. As with the other wines from this estate this label detail is taken from statues and details from the house -

In the shrubbery of the "Allée des Lions" stands a sleek, proud and greedy lioness. This statue enjoying its grapes represents tamed strength (of stone... or wine?) and once again the alliance of wine and heritage in the spirit of Engarran."

WBW Just 7 Words - the round-up

Luckily my slightly off-beat theme for Wine Blogging Wednesday seems well received; plenty of thoughtfully produced entries.

Number of entries: 53 (+8 missed) = 61

All the wines (bar a handful) were Italian reds. I'm wondering if anyone can work out what type from the description? I think not...

Rather than listing the specific wines I've detailed the seven word note to demonstrate the inventiveness and creational prowess of the participants. Thanks to all who took part. How did you find it - a challenge, serious head-scratching or a bit of frivolous fun?

My entry "Chewed end of a wooden ink pen" "A gulpable feast of cherries and leather"

Vu lu Su : "Rubis Sombre Terre Melon Jeune Aromatique Court"

Journal 23 "Earthy, melon, medium-bodied; needs sharp cheese"

Catavino "Frizzante stone grapes, inoffensive from a mug"

1 Wine dude : pour, sniff, slurp, cherries, leather, yum! empty"

Wine In The 'Peg : Tart cherry goodness - fire up the grill!

NYC Wine Notes : "Light. Earthy but bright. Shift Finish. Essence..."

The Wine Hiker : "Decant today, and you will smile tonight!"

Domaine 547 : "Rustic, textured, delicate, strong. Another glass please!"

Tales Of A Sommelier : "Reminds me of Vimto and Wham bars"

My Wine Info : "like your mother-in-law; spicy, tart and sweet"

My Wine Education : "Chocolate, berries delight. Passing time, leathery. Saporous."

Behind the Vines : "where family pride and good wine meet"

Cheap Wine Ratings : "Leather clad cowboy embraces innocent luscious berries"

Wine Connections : "Two scoops of raisins in every swallow."

Bloviatrix's Website : "Salice Salentino Is Too Bitter For Me"

Smells Like Grape : "Victoriana is now and it is rose-scented."

A Good Grape : "Cherry Trees in Tobacco Field by Barnyard" and "Vintner Makes Production Wine that Tastes Small"

Oenophilia : "Evil Head Cold keeps my bottle corked!"

Wine Lovers Journal : "Brash fruit, bright acid straddle tight tannins"

Wine Peeps : "Excellent! A bright, fruity, robust, balanced steal."

Joe's Wine : "Acidic palate Vegetal cappuccino A Cabernet franc?"

Recently Consumed : "Smooth, raspberry, vanilla, drinkable, nothing special, over-priced"

Flowery Song "Inky leather-scented silk. Spiced nuttiness demands Puttanesca"

Doktor Weingolb : "Better than 2004's -- now I taste oak!"

Rouge Blanc : "The Patriots' Collapse in Super Bowl XLII"

Fork and Bottle : "Thelma, Louise partying with bodacious red wine" and "Drink while reading The Castle of Otranto"

WineCast : "Cherries, earth, raspberries on a dusty highway" and "Raspberries, cranberries, tar and spices on horseback"

Manage You Cellar : "Montepulciano, crimson, fleshy, savory, terrestrial, armonico,

Good Wine Under $20 : "Musky flowers perfume this bright, cherry wine"

Indiscriminate Ideas : "Never thought to put raspberries in coffee!"

The Wine Camp : "A wine I could drink every day"

Lenndevours : "Earth, flowers entice. Thin, dirty cherries. Underwhelming."

Vino da Burde : "Faded Violet Around An Ancient Fruity Abbey"

Anything Wine : "Hey, who put cherries in my campfire?"

Dr Vino : "Acidity, berry, cherry, delicious, earthy, food-friendly, gonzo"

A Food and Wine Blog : "Closed for business - opens in three hours."

McDuff's Wine : "Beautifully Articulated Red Berries Evoke Romantic Associations"

Eating Leeds : "It is red and I like it" and "Red berry fruit, a hint of leather"

Wanna Be Wino : "Riding horses through eucalyptus and berry fields"

Just Grapes : "Fruit alive with wit, but classically tempered"

Cork Dork : "Please decant me for dusty cherry magic"

Wino-Sapian : "Prancing stallion Rustic. Man in Armani. Tasting Note"

West Coast Wie Country Adventures : "opulent cherry, rustic leathery tannins, fantastic acidity"

Louder VoiceIn a section of their own are a group form the Louder Voice community. Time pressures have meant that I haven't explored Louder Voice to any great degree but it seems to be a review site with entires submitted by SMS, webpages and the like. There is a social network aspect to it. Not all the wines were Italian reds but many thanks to those who participated:

ManicMammy : "Berry, baccy, nutty, good value, smooth, quaffable"

ConorONeill : "Friendly but forgettable featherlight softruitlicious strawberry northerner"

Laurence Veale : "Sippin' Poli's hedonistic, very cherry docious"

Craig Powell : "Not quite Monica Belluci but very tasty"

And finally those who ALMOST got to play by the full rules. Three entries of Italian-native grapes but grown elsewhere (and one Merlot) :

CookSister : "Cicadas, baked earth, warm purple juice - bottled"

Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman : "Gold medal winner. Pair it with tiramisu"

Jim Eastman : "Three Italian grapes Spiciness, leatheryness, Palate happiness"

Recently Consumed : "Smooth, raspberry, vanilla, drinkable, nothing special, over-priced"

And there you are! If I have missed anyone please leave a comment below with the link.

Cantine Sasso Aglianico del Vulture, 2005, Basilicata, Italy

'A picture paints a thousand words' is said to be a Chinese proverb attributed to many (from Kung Fu Tze to Confucius), but it is just as likely to be a folk saying. As you may realise images of the wines on this blog are important to me - whether others find them as evocative as I intend is another matter. At the very least if you buy any of my recommendations you know what to look for on the shelf!

Except for this tasting note I neglected to photograph the bottle before it hit the bottom of the recycling-bin. Which is more important than normal for this note for it is my entry to Wine Blogging Wednesday where I set the theme as an Italian Red in Seven Words. An image might just give you more of an impression than I can convey in seven words. (So nothing to add to the WBW flickr group either)

Red WineWine Tasting Note: Cantine Sasso Aglianico del Vulture, 2005, Basilicata, Italy.
Waitrose £6.99.

Chewed end of a wooden ink pen.

Scribblings Rating - 86/100 [3.25 out of 5]

This was actually one of a dozen alternative 'seven word' sentences I came up with for this wine. More 'descriptive' and interesting I think than 'rich, tannic and inky, wooden and lengthy' which was one of the other contenders.

Some thoughts on WBW Just Seven Words

Wine Blogging Wednesday - Just Seven Words

Last week I put a call out to the twittering-bloggers for some seven word tasting notes for an advanced Wine Blogging Wednesday post. The panic was set when the editor of the Guardian's Word of Mouth wanted to make sure there was 'something', somewhere on the latest WBW theme to link to. I had submitted a post for publication on Word of Mouth and their initial plan was to run it the next day but insisted that there was something on Spittoon in support.

But I had nothing, hence the call. Luckily their plans changed and my posts publication has been postponed. (I don't think they quite grasp the essence of these rolling blogger events). Still it was lucky they changed the publication date as the result from the twitter-call was zilch.

Understandable perhaps. Most will want to keep what they have for the day itself. That evening, glugging on a decent Portuguese white (at £3.49 a bargain), I came up with a couple of seven word tasting notes, which may aid (or perhaps hinder) those thinking of taking part -

  • horrible if you suck a mint beforehand
  • eases passage through Hollyoaks, awaiting C4 news
  • cheap as chips, great with them too

What these three examples don't do is explain the flavour, the colour, the 'taste' which was the aim. But it is damn hard. Have you tried?

What did result from the exchange with the editor was a rather interesting thought - if you can't find the exact word, why not invent one?. Just an idea.

WBW 42 - Just Seven Words

Wine Blogging Wednesday - Just Seven Words

One show in BBC Six Music (a digital only station that I listen to all the time) has a fun little text message section where you describe what you did last night in 7 words. Amazing how inventive some people are and how much you can imply and impart in just seven words.

Can you see where this is heading?

Before I go further I should just say that I have no idea if this will work. I've not tried it myself. It could all end in tears... but can you sum up that wonderful glass of grape juice you are cradling in your hand using just seven words?

The theme for Wine Blogging Wednesday #42 is Just Seven Words. The wine should be an Italian Red. It matters little really for this exercise what type; but try and find something new, interesting and thought provoking. And get that thesaurus out!

JUST SEVEN WORDS. The finished tasting note must make sense, be grammatically correct(ish), punctuation will help of course. The wine name, type, producer, vintage do not have to be included in the 7. But a reference to aroma, flavour, length, food matching etc etc should be considered. Inventiveness is the key.

I have a feeling this could be trickier than it first appears but it is supposed to be a fun, light-hearted approach to wine.

You should post your tasting notes on Wednesday 13th February either on your own blog or on the Wine Blogging Wednesday site.

PS Don't forget to post your wine picture to the WBW flickr group.

Scarbolo Le Fredis Pinot Grigio, 2005, Venezia Giulia, Italy

Le Fredis Pinot Grigio Should I have been surprised at how few wines from Venezia Giulia I can find on the high street? Just one is the answer. It is to the independents one should look for a decent selection - Italian specialists such as Bat & Bottle, San Lorenzo and Amordivino offer so much more. With no time to source from these retailers my entry for this months Wine Blogging Wednesday (hosted by Fork and Bottle) is from Oddbins.

White WineWine Tasting Note: Scarbolo Le Fredis Pinot Grigio, 2005, Venezia Giulia, Italy.
Available from Oddbins for £8.49.

An interesting twist of minerality to the full-on lemon flavours. A slight edge of vegetal (peapod or is that lees ageing?) complexity adds a lot to the flavour while unripened pears and quinces linger in the background. Crisp acidity, medium-bodied with a reasonable length. It's light and refreshing and a step up frm the usual Pinot Grigio dross but at the end of the day it is still a Pinot Grigio. Alcohol 13%.
Scribblings Rating - 84/100 [3 out of 5]

Valter Scarbolo acts as grower, cellar-man, restaurateur and acclaimed pork butcher with a proper 'hands-on' attitude to the vineyard. A majority of his production is white but it is the reds that gain the high ratings in the various competitions and yearly wine guides.

Campbells The Barkly Durif, 1997, Rutherglen, Australia

Campbells Barkly Durif 1997
Mine was the very last bottle at Cooden Cellars; how lucky was I! It arrived too late for December's Wine Blogging Wednesday (where I had to slum it with a Mexican Petite Sirah) so it sat in the rack until the Christmas Day meal.

Guys and Gals, it was well worth waiting for - the match with Oven Roasted Partridge was sensational!

The locally shot brace (brought from the covered market in Oxford) was subjected to a Slater recipe (Roast Partridge with juniper and thyme) from a November issue of the Observer Magazine and was served with Brussels Sprouts stir-fried with Chestnuts and Pork Chipolatas and huge amounts of bread sauce. Simply delicious.

Red WineWine Tasting Note: Campbells The Barkly Durif, 1997, Rutherglen, Australia.
This vintage purchased from Cooden Cellars [more] for £15.99.
Full-bodied, ripe but with a good structure. Nice tannic backbone supporting the red berry fruit with a complexity of dusty spice, a cherry edge, inky depths and a plummy whole. A long lasting, chocolaty almost port-like finish. The acidity is still lively and balancing. Good length to boot.

Scribblings Rating - 96/100 [4.5 out of 5]

The 2003 seems to be the vintage currently available in the UK and one that is highly recommended for placing in your cellar for 5 plus years. As soon as funds become available I'll be buying!

Durif is an extremely rare variety first propagated by Dr Durif in the Rhone Valley of France in the 1880's. It is now virtually extinct in France. It arrived in Rutherglen in the early 1900's and has become synonymous with the region. Its unique qualities have been recognised by other Australian producers and plantings are increasing throughout Australia.

We have experimented and refined our techniques for handling durif over several decades. In 1992 we introduced The Barkly Durif, the ultimate expression of this variety. Only the very best parcels of fruit from good vintages are used and the resultant wine is carefully aged in a mix of oak barrels, both old and new,
from France, Germany and America."

Wine Tasting Note: L A Cetto Petite Sirah, 2005, Baja California, Mexico

L A Cetto Petite Sirah Many moons ago I ran, rather successfully I should add, a little wine merchants for a now defunct chain. One of the first wines I recall that caused a storm - in terms of sales and discussion - was an unknown red from Mexico of all places.

I am sure it won some sort of Best Wine of the Year award at the International Wine Challenge which caused the sudden increase in sales. It was a long time ago, so long in fact I can't remember if the retail price was £3.99 or £4.99 and I fail to remember if it was the Cabernet Sauvignon or Petite Sirah bottle that won.

I mention all this as, in a brief hunt for a bottle of Petite Sirah for this months Wine Blogging Wednesday, I found a bottle of that very same Mexican wine in Waitrose. Not the same vintage, of course, and now sporting a more modern label but great to see the wine still kicking around.

Red WineWine Tasting Note: L A Cetto Petite Sirah, 2004, Baja California, Mexico.
Available from Waitrose for £5.49.
One of the deepest coloured reds I have seen - opaque, but young with a vibrant purple rim. Lovely perfumed edge to the aroma. Palate is big, flavoursome and ripe. An interesting rustic edge leeds the finish with an inky, dry, well rounded. Needs some substantial foods. Alcohol 14.5%.

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

This wasn't intended to be my WBW entry. I have a little wine order with Cooden Cellars on its way to me that has, what I hope, a fine example of Durif/Petit Sirah.

Wine Tasting Note: Duque de Viseu Tinto, 2002, Dão, Portugal

duque_de_viseu_red.jpg The swinging pendulum of time takes us to another Wine Blogging Wednesday. This month hosted by Catavino with a theme of Portuguese table wines. If the intention was to highlight the myriad local grape varieties used for wine making in Portugal, then with this wine that aim has succeeded. Seldom do you see single varietal red wines from Portugal, blends are the norm - this is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Jaen, Alfrocheiro and Tinta Roriz.

Red WineWine Tasting Note: Duque de Viseu Tinto, 2002, Dão, Portugal
Waitrose £5.99
It actually has a very port-like flavour but one without the weight and added alcohol. So it is medium to full-bodied with a complex spicy palate. A nice level of tannin and a food-friendly red berry bite on the finish.
Scribblings Rating - 88/100 [3.5 out of 5]

Half a bottle went into poaching pears an accompaniment for Roast Chicken Stuffed with Pears, Pistachios, Sausage and Bacon as suggested in a new Spanish cookbook - 1080 Recipes by Simone and Inés Ortega. Chilean Pinot Noir was a better match with the food, the Duque de Viseu being a little heavy to match well. The Pinot also had a little sweetness of fruit that mixed with the stuffing and those poached pears to a more harmonious degree than the Portuguese wine.

Wine Tasting Note: La Belle Terrasse Unoaked Chardonnay, 2005, VdP d'Oc, France

La Belle Terrasse Unoaked ChardonnayI was about to give in with despair at finding anything vaguely interesting. Having moved, temporarily as it turns out, to a new town the discovery of the best spots to buy wine still await. A run-down Threshers over-looking a busy A-road was not a great magnet so the Sainsbury's further along became my first port-of-call. Un-Oaked Chardonnay being this months Wine Blogging Wednesday restricted my attentions - there was a half-bottle of something vaguely Burgundian and a Villa Maria Unoaked Chard but little else.

The 'Managers Choice' shelf-barker beckoned with just one solitary bottle remaining. Something French, something now £3.99 down from £5.99. At the checkout it looked familiar; hasn't another blogger reviewed this recently?

White WineWine Tasting Note: La Belle Terrasse Unoaked Chardonnay, 2005, Vin de Pays D'Oc, France.
Available from Sainsbury's for £3.99/£5.99.
The heat from the Cous Cous (Toasted Israeli cous cous mixed with whole chickpeas and crumbly Feta With a chilli dressing for a bit of a kick) has indeed kicked my mouth into a chilli-heat zone; the Chardonnay fights back. The orange-peel and lemon flavour may-be deadened a little by the heat but the weight and the slight-sweetness soon sooth the palate. The alcohol is noticeable (it's listed at 14.5% which could mean anything up to 15%). Chilli is not the best background to taste a wine but this seemed rather good for £3.99.
Scribblings Rating - 88/100 [3.5 out of 5]

Wine Tasting Note: La Riada Old Vines Garnacha, 2005, Campo de Borja, Spain.

Wine Tasting Note: La Riada Old Vines Garnacha, 2005, Campo de Borja, Spain.No mention on the rear label specifying exactly how old the 'old vines' actually are, sadly. (There really should be some legislation to define such statements). There are two awards plastered on the front - a 'Great Value Red Wine' and a Silver Medal, both awarded from the International Wine Challenge.

Red WineWine Tasting Note: La Riada Old Vines Garnacha, 2005, Campo de Borja, Spain.
Available from Threshers for £5.99 (£3.99 on buy three deal).
Deep in colour with a corresponding richness to the palate too. Smooth to the point of new-worldness but still with a Spanish twist. Full-bodied with a soft lick of gravelly tannins on the finish. Plenty of peppery fruit. Alcohol 14%. At £3.99 very good value, at £6 not so.

As with so many wines listed by Threshers the wine is only good value when purchased as a threesome (buy two get one free).

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

I should just point out the totally dismal state of the Threshers store where I brought this - while I realise the Henley Regatta is a busy time and is going to have some effect on stock levels there really is no excuse for the shocking mess in the store. No attempt had been made to keep the fridges topped up, face-up wines on the shelves and the like. If that had been my store (and in my time I have run busy wine shops) I would have been acutely embarrassed.

La Riada Old Vines Garnacha - entry for Wine Blogging Wednesday #35 Passionate Spain as hosted by

Wine Tasting Note: Tesco Sicilian Red Wine, NV, Sicily, Italy

Tulip GlassesWhat I really wanted to cover for today's Wine Blogging Wednesday were these pre-filled Tulip glasses. Sadly getting through to the supplier/producer has been a might troublesome. The inter-blog event has alternative packaging (non-standard wine bottle) as the theme.

Apparently they have invested £500,000 in developing these 'high-strength bio-degradable' plastic glasses. A person weighing up to 100kg can stand on them without them breaking. The wine inside is either Trencherman Shiraz and Chardonnay from South Australia and Trenderman Rosé from California. Twin-packs are to go on sale in UK stores in about three months, priced at £3.75 a pair.

They would have made a great entry to Wine Blogging Wednesday. Instead I had to make do with this box of rubbish.

Red WineWine Tasting Note:Tesco Sicilian Red Wine, NV, Sicily, Italy.
Brought as a 3litre Wine Box for £11.95.

God its terrible. Sweet fruit initially, simple, then a hollow centre, a whack of tannins and the overwhelming feeling of disappointment. Acidic. Rough. Unbalanced. It appeared about drinkable initially; the sweet fruit dominating but just a small glass in and the tannins and acidity just overwhelmed. Marginally improved with food. Length short and stubby. Alcohol 12%.

It comes in a box but I hope that this didn't taint the tasting with pre-conceived ideas. Snobbish attitude aside, even though it comes in a box, it is just not very nice. The equivalent of just under £3 a bottle. And you can tell.
Scribblings Rating - 74/100

Tesco Sicilian Red Wine Box

Wine Blogging Wednesday - Box Wines & Non-Traditional Packaging

Wine In A TubeIs it the wine snob in me? Why have I never reviewed a bag-in-box wine? Have to admit though that they have this 'image', an image that is so much more than just 'cheap'.

Who buys them? Are they the preserve of those unfussed by what they drink or kept in the fridge for 'cooking purposes'? Party wines perhaps. I don't think I have ever brought one. I know little of the market - Stowells of Chelsea I know from my days flogging the stuff as a Wine Shop manager... and doesn't Hardys of Australia offer a fruit-juice sized carton under their brand name?

It would appear I am about to expand my wine-packaging knowledge as the next Wine Blogging Wednesday has as its theme 'Box Wines & Non-Traditional Packaging'. Hosted by Box Wines it is certainly going to get me to think outside-the-box (ho ho)!

Any recommendations or other non-traditional packaging I should look out for that grace the shelves of Britain?

(The wine in a tube, Dtour, pictured, is not available in the UK I believe).

Wine Tasting Note: Di Martino Legado Syrah, 2005, Choapa Valley, Chile

de Martino Legado Syrah 2005Is it Syrah or Shiraz? Not that it matters but unusually for a New World bottling the label uses the French Syrah rather than the more established (for non-French wines) Shiraz. Perhaps they are trying to differentiate themselves from the Australians. It matters little. This wine selected for Wine Blogging Wednesday as hosted by Tim at WineCast.

Red WineWine Tasting Note: Di Martino Legado Syrah, 2005, Choapa Valley, Chile
Everywine £96.99 case. Oddbins £7.49 (not listed on-line). A big lad in every respect apart from the rather closed nose. Big, deep and brooding in colour; bold, rich and concentrated on the palate. There is a little oak but generally smooth and ripe with a lick of pepper on the finish.

Nice enough and good with a Potato, Cheshire Cheese and Spring Onion puff pastry tart but too young and one dimensional to be classed as anything above average.
Scribblings Rating - 84/100

The Legado Reserva wines come from the family's own estate in the Maipo Valley. Produced from grapes carefully selected and hand-picked, these wines have good colour, individual personality, great structure, and are concentrated and fruity, expressively representative of each variety. The wines receive 12 months ageing in French oak (except Sauvignon Blanc) and production is limited

New World Syrah - the next theme for Wine Blogging Wednesday

My participation in Wine Blogging Wednesday recently has been noticeable by my shear non-participation! For one reason or another the last two or three rounds have not seen a contribution from Spittoon!

Tim at WineCast is hosting round 30 with the theme of New World Syrah. Tim writes "The only rule here is the wine needs to be made from at least 51% Syrah or Shiraz and come from the New World. That leaves quite a bit of freedom to find great examples from Australia, South Africa or the Untied States. Other places to check out are Chile and Argentina where some interesting Syrah is being produced. Your wine can be 100% Syrah/Shiraz or a blend. It can be a simple $5 Washington State bottling or Penfolds Grange. Whatever expression of the classic grape of The Rhone made outside of it’s Old World home is what I’m proposing. Join me on or before February 7th."

I doubt I'll be opening a bottle of Grange but part of the fun of WBW is the hunt to find something interesting.

Wine Tasting Note: Osborne & Lynch Le Renegade, 2004, Minervois, France

Not sure exactly where Osborne & Lynch were prior to January of this year but Ciaran Lynch, the marketing brains behind the label, let me know that the Minervois 'has become our permanent physical home'.

He continues "It has always been our primary source [for grapes] but it was this year that we were able to establish ourselves in a physical as well as spiritual sense. Minervois has been an AC for just over twenty years and has finally become recognised for offering extremely good value 'Rhone Style' blends with their own particular garrigue-like character."

I first came across the Renegade as it was trumpeted across the (now defunct) Unwins estate; it must have been pre-blog days as no record is coming up in a search (and I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of every wine I have sampled). This is a new blend though offering a greater proportion of Grenache than previously. The wine has just received a placing in Waitrose at the £5.99 price point.

As Ciaran confirmed Minervois does not really receive much attention. Despite being a favourite region of mine, the wines are not seen that often on retailers shelves. Osborne & Lynch hope to counter this trend by focusing on 'the brand'.

Wine Tasting Note: Osborne & Lynch Le Renegade, 2004, Minervois, France.
Retails for £5.99.

A lick of licorice, a splash of dark chocolate on the finish and a goodly amount of soft, dark fruits wrapped up in a herb encrusted while. medium-full bodied. Screw-capped. Alcohol 13.5% It's lighter than I recall, probably from the increased Grenache component. Ciaran describes this being 'Rhone in style' - that it maybe with its herby flavours and similar grape varieties (55% Grenache, 33% old vine Carignan and 12% 'others') but it is the distinct Southern French richness that I enjoyed immensely - distinctly different than many a simple Rhone red.
Scribblings Rating - 90/100

It's red and it's French - so this is my belated entry to the Beau hosted Wine Blogging Wednesday.

Wine Tasting Note: Gosset Brut Excellence Champagne

Gosset Champagne
Gosset Champagne

Wine Tasting Note: Gosset Brut Excellence Champagne, NV, Champagne, France.
Independents around £30.
Straw yellow in colour with a fine stream of bubbles. There is a touch of maturity to this bottle – reflected in the straw yellow colour, the complexity of the aroma and the fine array of flavours to the palate. Yeasty, bready notes dominate the aroma while the palate has a softness. Rather good with a fine flow of the bubbles and a fullness that I rather like.

I undertook a little research into food matching with champagne; as one of the stipulations for this round of Wine Blogging Wednesday was matching the wine with food. While duck was not specifically mentioned, Chinese spring rolls were; mini duck spring rolls stuffed full with scrummy strips of lightly spiced meat seemed an interesting choice. It would need a full wine, which the Gosset luckily is, a lighter wine may have been swamped by the rich flavours.

Weight is not all though as a high acidity is need to cut through the richness. The crispness to the roll itself with the richness of both the meat and oiliness of the roll was perfectly cut and cleansed by the wines acidity. I suggest that little duck rillette canapés would also be a suitable match; although I found the mouth-feel of the warmth of the deep fried spring rolls contrasted wonderfully to the crisp coolness of the wine.
Scribblings Rating - 92/100

Gosset Champagne

Continue reading "Wine Tasting Note: Gosset Brut Excellence Champagne" »

Champagne - the theme for the next Wine Blogging Wednesday.

One thing you don't see much written about across the wine blogs is notes on Champagne. (Fortified wines don't get much of a look in either). I guess this important categories absence is down to cost; it can't be distribution for everywhere stocks Champagne. More than any other wine Champagne is the celebratory drink - despite the Champagne houses wishes the bubbly stuff is generally only opened on special occasions, which is fine of course. As a wine it also has great food matching potential, something often overlooked. Veuve Clicquot and others have designed bottles specifically designed to be drunk with food rather than 'relegated' to an aperitif.

All these aspects to explore in the next Wine Blogging Wednesday as San Franciscos Brit-It-Girl, Sam, has selected this most wonderful of wines as the theme for round 25.

Wine Tasting Note: Terre de Fumée Sauvignon Blanc, 2004, Coteaux du Gennois, Loire, France.

I'm scratching my head desperately trying to recall if I am supposed to be buying a red wine ("Just buy the bloody bottle... it will go fine with the spag-bol") or a white ("Haven't we had enough Sauvignon's this summer?!") and to be honest the selection was a tad disappointing. I'm standing in one of the larger Oddbins and don't know what to buy.

I text Jeanne.. "Is Wine Blogging Wednesday for white Loire or Red?" I ask. The reply is simple and to the point "Loire Whites". Vinography is the host and I'm a day late anyway. My soon to be housemate, he of French origin and prolific swear words (the quotes above are toned down), points out a nicely presented bottle and translates 'Terroir de Silex' as the stone that makes sparkles... I think he means sparks and assume he means flint.. which fits in nicely, if I remember correctly, with the flint and clay soils of the region. But what I hadn't come across before is 'Coteaux de Gennois'. This, the little rear label map helpfully shows, is just north of and on the other side of the river to that most famous of Loire towns, Sancerre.

Wine Tasting Note: Etienne de Loury Terre de Fumée Sauvignon Blanc, 2004, Coteaux du Gennois, Loire, France.
Oddbins £8.99
Rich and quite creamy, spiked through with piercingly clean lemon acidity.Crisp, flavoursome, and nicely aromatic with a combination of herbs, flowers and citrus fruits mirrored on the palate. Strawberry leaf flavoured finish. It's good but would have been even better with a seafood or fish dish. It's a 100% Suavignon Blanc and, apart from being a little richer perhaps and less obviously stony, could pass for a might good quality Sancerre. Alcohol 12.5%.
Scribblings Rating - 94/100

Wine Tasting Note: Weingärtner Cleebronn-Güglingen Samtrot Lemberger, 2004, Württemberg, Germany.

The task for the June round of Wine Blogging Wednesday is to investigate a wine with an alcohol level below 12.5%; a tricky task in these days of headie 15%'ers. As luck would have it I received three wines recently that all come in 12% and all hail from Germany. Red wine from Germany is not something you see that often in the UK. I don't imagine they are hugely expensive, they are screw-capped and in litre bottle size. One was selected at random for today's Wine Blogging Wednesday which this month is hosted by Tim at WineCast.

Wine Tasting Note: Weingärtner Cleebronn-Güglingen Samtrot Lemberger, 2004, Württemberg, Germany.
Samtrot and Lemberger are the grape varieties, the latter perhaps better recognised as Blaufränkisch from Austria. Samtrot is Müllerrebe or the 'miller's grape' and is a local mutation of Pinot Meunier which I have seen described as "Germany's closest shot at Beaujolais". This is a light wine, almost rosé in hue with a gentle red fruitiness on the nose. Palate is dry, very light in tannins, gentle acidity with a pleasant enough fruity flavour. The grape varieties are often described as giving the German equivalent of Beaujolais and in this case they are not wrong. Very drinkable, very very drinkable on a warm summers evening but nothing that really grabs your collar and hurls you around with excitement. Alcohol 12%. A little sediment was in the bottle.
Scribblings Rating - 88/100

Weingärtner Cleebronn-Güglingen Samtrot Lemberger

Wine for Risotto - WBW #21 & IMBB #26 Fabulous Favourites Festival.

Wine Blogging Wednesday #21 and Is My Blog Burning #26 (two of the grand ol' dames of the food blog world) combine this month in a wine and food matching exercise.

I am sure everyone knows how to make a risotto - my particular culinary tour de force. Chicken, decent chicken stock, onion and garlic, plus whatever vegetables are on hand combine with rice to a rich, creamy 'comfort food' dish. Here we have chicken and broad beans; there are a few chopped porcini and sun-dried tomatoes lurking in the mix too.

Wine Tasting Note: Lurton Finca Las Higueras Pinot Gris, 2005, Mendoza, Argentina.

From Waitrose for £4.79.
I was certain I had detailed this wine here in the recent past (a search reveals otherwise). It is one of the few wines that I repeat-purchase. Offering great value it is a versatile food wine that pairs perfectly with a risotto; whether enhanced with a little Parmesan, a splash of cream or one with a citric blast of lemon. Reasonably full and rich the weight, coupled with a gingery bite to the flavour, lifts the palate from the humdrum you often find at this lowly price point to a great mid-week tipple. Alcohol 12.5%.
Scribblings Rating - 92/100

Wine Tasting Note: Fox Creek Verdelho, 2004, South Australia.

A single varietal but not a Chardonnay, a Sauvignon or a Riesling, the theme for this months Wine Blogging Wednesday. Scouring the shelves of Chile and Argentina yielded nothing, a dirt cheap Grillo from Italy was an option or a Bical from Portugal but the latter had a reduced price and a long in the tooth vintage, so that was off the list. Alsace perhaps? Nah, something Aussie to accompany a simple roasted chicken with half a lemon shoved up its arse. Besides Rob's supposedly coming round to watch The Final Cut on DVD so need something a little fuller, richer and drinkable.

Wine Tasting Note: Fox Creek Verdelho, 2004, South Australia.
Brought from Oddbins for £7.99.
Creamy. Is that a little touch of oak? Certainly cream and spice on the palate and not lacking in slapping a wedge of zesty acidity around either. Rich in the Australian style and a suitable match for the chicken, but failed to ignite any passion. A minerally texture and a long lemon-led finish. Alcohol 13.5%.
Scribblings Rating - 86/100

Continue reading "Wine Tasting Note: Fox Creek Verdelho, 2004, South Australia." »

Wine Tasting Note: Joubert-Tradauw Syrah, 2004, Klein Karoo, South Africa.

I dive into Oddbins as the splatter of rain develops a into a head-stinging hail storm. It is not going to pass quickly. With half a mind on pal Jeanne holidaying in her native South Africa I browse over the stacks of discounted bubbly and head to the SA shelves. Little inspires at the lower levels then, as I dismiss the idea of actually buying, an unprepossessing bottle rattles in a thunder-claps aftermath. A curse from outside as a market trader struggles with a sagging red tarpaulin, still bravely protecting the tat below as it bows under the weight of collected water and ice. I exchange a tenner and hover in the doorway as hail turns to rain and convince myself that another purchase was necessary; the excuse of Wine Blogging Wednesday about the best available. Head bowed against the rain, I crunch through the market homeward, wondering if Nigel Slater has anything in his diaries remotely South African.

Joubert-Tradauw Syrah.

Wine Tasting Note: Joubert-Tradauw Syrah, 2004, Klein Karoo, South Africa.
Available from Oddbins for £9.99
The deepest plum colour you can imagine; black almost, with a smidge of cherry around the rim. It's young, deep and powerfully intense. Takes a while to open - something ripe, rich and blackberryish emerges but indicates, again, a youth in sulking reticence. The palate impresses. Ripe, full, rich, offering spice amongst the black fruits and manages to tuck a sprig of rosemary in there too. Fine gravel tannins, mineral mouth-feel and lingering fruit keep the finish interesting. It's good, very good, and has plenty of potential to develop over the next few years. Alcohol 14.5%.
Scribblings Rating - 94/100

Wine Blogging Wednesday reaches its 19th round hosted by Wine Expression. The theme is Rhone grapes either from the region itself or from elsewhere across the globe.

Wine Tasting Note: Chateau de Nages Cuvee Joseph Torres

Wine Tasting Note: Château Nages Cuvée Torrès, 1998, Costières de Nîmes, France.
Available from Oddbins for £5.99
At the far eastern edge of the Languedoc, clinging to the last surge of the Rhone lies the Costières de Nîmes. Part of the Languedoc or the Rhone? Influences from both regions intersect here. In general red wines are highly praised so a white, if spotted, is something to try. This is totally Roussanne; a grape prone to oxidation and blessed with a golden colour that can only deepen as it ages. Such as here. A few years in bottle now and both the colour and the mature aroma are typical of the grape. Is it too old and past its best or supposed to be like this? Full-bodied, distinctively orange flavoured on the finish with hints of spice and more elusive flavours. The acidity is quite high, keeping it all fresh.

It needs food - a rustic-styled bean and chicken stew, slowly cooked with herbs and balsamic vinegar as we tried worked superbly. Mash or bread to soak up the delicious juices is all that is required to accompany.
Scribblings Rating - 86/100

Wine Blogging Wednesday reaches its 19th round hosted by Wine Expression. The theme is Rhone grapes either from the region itself, such as here, or from elsewhere across the globe.

The next Wine Blogging Wednesday.

Looking good with a new design Wine Expression is the host for the 19th edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday. Jathan has selected the Rhone Valley as the base of the theme - When in Rhone - but has expanded it to include the regions unique varieties planted outside of France. He lists the 22 grape varieties planted in the region but I don't expect to see many Bourboulenc, Camarese, Clairette Blanc or Vaccarese (and several others) from anywhere outside France!

Wine Blogging Wednesday #18: Wine Shops.

The UK is blessed with a plethora of specialist wine merchants. At the last count, before UKWinesOnline was closed, the listings counted nearly 400. These range from the internet only merchants covering individual product areas (such as Champagne) or more likely countries (Spain, regional France and Italy are popular) through to general wine shops with an on-line presence and on to supermarkets and the national wine chains. A vast majority are happy to deliver nationwide thus offering a simply massive range of wines, beers and spirits to us all. Something many American residents will look upon with envy.

For day to day drinking I tend to frequent my local Oddbins and Waitrose supermarket. But for Wine Blogging Wednesday I wanted to try somewhere new; although it is supposed to be your favourite wine shop I selected a totally new establishment.

Continue reading "Wine Blogging Wednesday #18: Wine Shops." »

The next Wine Blogging Wednesday announced.

An unusual challenge for Wine Blogging Wednesday 18 that in a nutshell boils down to a recommendation from your favourite wine shops staff. This is going to be tricky as the shops that get me most enthused and excited are are online or miles away (I no longer own a car). So that leaves Oddbins, Threshers (ummm... dont think so) and a very small local deli.

Dr.Vino is the host with 'wine shops that feel the love'. Odd title. Interesting theme. It would seem the doc wants a write-up of the shop itself with any wine recommendation coming in second. Date for entries is the 1st February.

Wine Tasting Note: Dashwood Pinot Noir, 2004, Marlborough, New Zealand.

This months Wine Blogging Wednesday has had New Zealand Reds designated as the theme by Cork Dork. Damn fine theme. I seldom purchase Kiwi Reds; they tend towards the expensive end of the price range and thoughts of the green, undeveloped wines of the past still pervade. Dashwood is the 'second wine' from the Vavasour stable, a small producer in the Awatere Valley. Get out the duck here people with those little pancake things only Chinese takeaways seem to get right. A mighty fine red counterpart to the Dashwood Sauvignon.

Wine Tasting Note Dashwood Pinot Noir, 2004, Marlborough, New Zealand.
Available from Oddbins for £9.99.
Oh now this is gorgeous - unscrewing the cap the aroma of red berries just bursts from the bottle. There is more to the nose than simple berries though - it has a delicious complexity coupling those berries with plums, currants and a touch of 'earth'. The palate is ripe, juicily so, and rich in a medium-bodied style. Soft. Good length. Distinct apple edge to the those red berries. Alcohol 14%. Screwcap.
Scribblings Rating - 90/100

Wine Blogging Wednesday 16 - Judge A Bottle By Its Cover.

What should I select? One of those 'funky' labels with bright colours and cartoonish graphics or something more sedate, classy and refined. The gold on yesterday's bottle label didn't translate to anything decent liquid-wise so taking a different angle a more understated label, something simple but refined, caught the eye. For this months Wine Blogging Wednesday Derrick has selected wine labels as the theme under the title Judge A Book By Its Cover.

Wine Tasting Note: Matahiwi Pinot Noir, 2004, Wairarapa, New Zealand.
From Oddbins for £8.99
Light in colour, nose full of black cherry yoghurt aromas with just a suspicion of earthy richness - young. With more swirling more primary fruit and less of that earthiness. Not hugely complex but attractive. Rich, young, up-front fruit, a delicious richness. Plenty of acidity. A touch of smoke on the finish. Alcohol 13.5%. This would be delicious with a lamb dish; the acidity cutting through the fat. A cream dish would also work - the cream and Parmesan smothered baked onions and a few little sausages went superbly.
Scribblings Rating - 90/100

As detailed on the producers website this is the first vintage from this specific vineyard. The Matahiwi Estate spans 74-hectares in the Opaki region of Waiarapa where it is one of the largest family owned wineries.

There is a flickr group for this round of Wine Blogging Wednesday.

Wine Blogging Wednesday #15 - Small Production Wines.

This months theme for Wine Blogging Wednesday is limited production wines; wines where there are fewer than 250 cases made. A difficult theme as selected by Gastronomie-SF; difficult in that some research is needed to find production figures. 250 cases is not very much wine at all. This one comes in way over sadly, at 20,300 bottles or 1690 cases but I didn't know this until I had already selected the wine!

Wine Tasting Note: Bodegas Contino Viña del Olivo Reserva, 2000, Rioja, Spain.
Waitrose £45.
A lovely nose with a porty, spirity edged overlaying an elegant savoury-tomato aroma. A traditional Riojan spicy palate with suer balance. Herby, leathery complexity, plenty of tannin and a long very moreish finish. Alcohol 13.5%. A blend of 95% Tempranillo and 5% Graciano aged in a mix of French, Hungarian and American oak. In 1974, CVNE established Contino, a separate estate with its own vineyards in Laserna to produce one of the first single vineyard, chateau bottled wines in Rioja. Contino makes only one wine, a reserva in good vintages and a crianza in lesser ones.
Scribblings Rating - 92/100

Incidently the crest at the top of the label shows Saint Gregory, founder of the Benedictine monastic order and the patron saint of vine growers.

Saint Gregory from the Contino label

Wine Blogging Wednesday 13 - With Chocolate.

Chocolate and Zucchini is hosting this months WBW; the theme being wine with chocolate. Clotilde kindly supplied a recipe for making the cake. I duly followed the instructions deviating only slightly by adding a little splash of my wine choice into the mix. The resultant cake is very chocolaty and perhaps a little too sweet for my wine.

My choice? A Marsala. I was looking for something a little different; port was too obvious, an excellent Australian fortified muscat I have detailed before and while there were several likely candidates sampled at a recent tasting I can't recall ever sampling a Marsala. Then I noted that I could use some in a recipe for Guinea Fowl and the decision was sealed!

Produced on the western end of Sicily, Marsala is a fortified wine; brandy is added during the production process, much in the same way as sherry is made. Rather than using a solera system, Marsala is aged in simple casks. The time spent aging dictates the quality; 1 year and the wine is Marsala Fine, 2 years minimum and it is Marsala Superiore and so on up to 10 years aging with the grand Marsala Vergine Stravecchjio o Riserva.

The level of sweetness can vary too - there are dry (Secco) versions and Semisecco (off-dry) and Dolce (Sweet). My bottle is labeled sweet but was not as sweet or as sticky as I was expecting.

Pellegrino Marsala
Wine Tasting Note: Pellegrino Marsala Superiore Sicily, Italy.
Widely available for £6.99.
A wonderful amber-mahogany colour with a powerful aroma. The palate is sweet(ish) with a complexity of nuts, dried fruits and wood. Cleaning acidity. Long length enlivened by the alcohol; which is 18%. Made from Catarrato, Grillo and Inzolia grapes.
Scribblings Rating - 88/100

Continue reading "Wine Blogging Wednesday 13 - With Chocolate." »

Wine Blogging Wednesday 12: Drink Local, Real Local.

Runnington Hill bottleI cant think of a nicer wine than the one I have just drunk with my lunch. Maybe its the combination of sun and alcohol? But then the wine only rates a lowly 10.5%.

With the wood pigeons cooing from the roof top, the bell from St.Mary's chiming the hour and a gentle breeze rustling the wild flower bed and releasing the perfume from the last of the sweet-peas - and a glass of this English wine to accompany a light lunch of cheese, bread and tomatoes I am content and happy to be an Englishman.

That, or a bumptious old fart waffling on about nothing.

Now that the wine has been open a while a more complex nose has emerged - gone are the waxy lemon aromas, replaced with something more interesting, unique and evasive; due no doubt to the extended bottle age, this being from the 2001 vintage. The palate too, while light, very crisp from the high acidity, has a more honeyed edge to the flavour - its quite complex for this style of wine and offers a surprisingly good length too. It is a style of wine that not everyone will enjoy - thinking here how different it would appear during the depths of winter - but at the height of an English summer that sees the sun re-emerging from a depressingly long hiatus, its great.

Wine Tasting Note: Hendred Vineyard Runnington Hill, 2001, Oxfordshire. England.
From Local Tastes £5.99.
This is a blend of Madeleine Angevine and Seyval Blanc from a small vineyard in the Vale of the White Horse. Hendred vineyard was established in 1972 with the grapes for this blend planted in 1991. A crisp, almost Sauvignon nose - with grassy hints and lemon rind. Distinctively light to medium bodied with a honeyed richness initially. Then a mineral, quite intense lemon edge emerges. A touch of spritz too. Fresh, crisp with high acidity.
Scribblings Rating - 90/100

Continue reading "Wine Blogging Wednesday 12: Drink Local, Real Local." »

Wine Blogging Wednesday 11: Off-Dry Whites.

Sivray Label
Sivray Vouvray Label
Wine Tasting Note: Philippe de Sivray Vouvray, 2002, Loire, France.
Available from Oddbins for £5.79.
Vouvray is, of course, made from Chenin Blanc, the grape that can produce wondrous long-lived sweet wines in the Loire. This isn't one of them. It is only off-dry and surprisingly dull. Little to the aroma apart from a touch of floral and herby cress. High acidity, as would be expected, and a lightly honeyed edge to the pear and citrusy flavours.

With food however this wine improved immensely. The ratings below are for this wine when partnered with food.
Scribblings Rating - 88/100

This is the spittoon entry to July's Wine Blogging Wednesday. Set and hosted by Beau of Basic Juice

Continue reading "Wine Blogging Wednesday 11: Off-Dry Whites." »

Wine Blogging Wednesday: White Pinot.

Marcel Deiss Pinot Blanc Label
Deiss Pinot Blanc Label
I dont know if it was because I just completed the baking of a chocolate tart (for Sugar High Friday) but I detected a cinnamon-mocha edge to the finish of this Pinot B. My eating/drinking/cooking days are dictated by these blog-happenings! This months WBW is hosted by Adventures in the Breadbox. who selected white pinot as the theme.

Wine Tasting Note: Marcel Deiss Bennwhir Pinot Blanc, 2003, Alsace, France.
Available from Oddbins for 8.99.
So the Deiss Pinot Blanc - a medium gold hue and a pleasant if not terribly dynamic aroma. The dry palate has a distinct prickle and an abundance of lightly spiced pear and melon flavours. Medium to full bodied. Pure and clean with an edge of minerality to the steely dry finish. Nice enough, didnt get me terribly excited to be honest especially at 8.99. However, this was without food. Fish Cakes with Watercress Butter and new potatoes were planned. How did it fare? Well, it went OK but not a great match. This may have been due to the watercress butter (chopped watercress, orange zest, garlic and fresh root ginger mashed into butter) which had far too much garlic. A simple roast chicken or the 'classic' onion tart may have been a better match.
Scribblings Rating - 86/100

Marcel Deiss produces his wines using biodynamic viticulture. Pinot Blanc, which I often look down on as a poor imitation of Pinot Gris, is in fact a white mutation of Pinot Noir, as is Pinot Gris. PG offers me more body (generally and especially from Alsace) and depth of flavour. Lea and Sandeman offer a full range from this producer - many of which sound superb!

TN: Bodegas Fariña Colegiata Young Rosé, 2003, Toro, Spain.

The premier wine blog-happening moves to Becks and Posh this month who have selected rosé as the theme. Perfect timing as such wines are generally associated with the Spring and Summer and eating outside; although the weather here in South O is less than conducive for alfresco dining at the moment. Over the last couple of years sales of rosé have increased substantially in the UK. In 2004 sales were up almost a third on 2003 and the trend is continuing with most of the major retailers increasing their ranges.

Steering clear of the sugar drenched concoctions from certain New World circles I decided to head to Spain for my entry. I posted tasting notes on Five Spanish Rosés earlier in the month, this is the sixth wine.

Farina Colegiata Young Rosé bottle and label
Fariña Colegiata Rosé
Wine Tasting Note: Bodegas Fariña Colegiata Young Rosé, 2003, Toro, Spain.
Available from Decanter Wines for £6.50.
Bodega Fari - a is the largest family owned estate in Toro with a great reputation for the 'explosive aromas' (Robert Parker) in their wines. This is 100% Tinta de Torro (aka Tempranillo) wines that is unsullied by any oak thus retaining its vibrant, fresh, colour, aroma and taste. Inviting deep, cherry colour. Ripe strawberry and cream aromas with cherry and citrus adding complexity on the palate. Dry. 12.5% alcohol.
Scribblings Rating - 90/100
"Refreshing fruity flavours, this wine is best served chilled at around 9-12�C. Drink this wine in the next 12-18 months to enjoy it at its best. Lovely on its own, but goes well with salads and baked salmon and trout."

The Bodegas Fari�a website is available in English, Spanish and Dutch.

Farina bottle photos
Technorati Tags:   

TN: Cusumano Benuara, 2003, Sicily, Italy.

Cusumano Benuara Bottle
Cusumano Benuara Bottle
Wine Tasting Note: Cusumano Benuara, 2003, Sicily, Italy.
Oddbins £8.49.
The Cousumano brothers, Diego and Alberto, have developed a high reputation with their recently founded winery. The Gambero Rosso Italian wine guide describes their wines as 'the real gems of the new Sicilian wine scene'. A blend of 70% Nero d'Avola and 30% Syrah this is a hefty wine, rich and full-bodied. Good on the palate with an initial richness cascading down into a spicy tannic driven whole. It needs equally hearty food - meatballs in tomato sauce is recommended on the Oddbins website but roast beef would also be excellent.
Scribblings Rating - 90/100

This is my entry for this months Wine Blogging Wednesday. The theme of Sicilian Reds is hosted by LoveSicily.

Wine Blogging Wednesday #7 : The Write-up Part 3.

Sorry that I have had to split this overview into three - there are so many entries and I wanted to give each an adequate write-up. To think that at one point on Wednesday I emailed Lenn to say that I had less than 10 entries and, being the old-woman I am, was worried that this would have been the worst WBW ever. How wrong was I! Right, on with the show -

Continue reading "Wine Blogging Wednesday #7 : The Write-up Part 3." »

Wine Blogging Wednesday #7 - The Write-up Part 2.

Continuing the write-up of Wine Blogging Wednesday #7.

We couldn't have a Wine Blogging Wednesday without a contribution from Lenn (the originator of this blog-happening). On his Lenndevours website he enthuses about the Canning Daughters Blaufrankish 2002, Long Island, New York noting how the 'wine's aromas are beyond unique and inviting' and going on to say how he 'really, REALLY enjoy this wine. In fact,' he says, 'we joined their wine club largely to have access to the 178 cases made, since most of last year's release sold out just to club members.' Sadly Long Island wines are as scarce as hen's teeth in the UK so I doubt I will ever get to try this marvel.

Another Blaufrankish was put forward by the Confabulist the TFXTa�kira Blaufr�nkish 2002 hails from Austria and was 'full of bing cherries and unfamiliar fruits. Nice, food-friendly acids, but this wine can't be described as "tart". This is good, as I have a limited tolerance for "tart" wines.'

But Orion the Confabulist's second wine did not go down too well as it had a finish which was 'like licking sandpaper. I kid you not. We're talking 150 grit tannins here.'

Continue reading "Wine Blogging Wednesday #7 - The Write-up Part 2." »

Wine Blogging Wednesday #7 - the Write-Up Part 1

This months topic seems to have got the regulars well and truly buzzing. The bottom shelf hunt for unusual and obscure grape varieties has unleashed some superb wines. As everyone�s favourite Sister wrote 'There are about 600 wine grape varieties in the world and yet I challenge you to find more than two dozen in your local wine store or supermarket - and that's if it has a good selection.'

That was the thought behind setting the March theme as 'obscure reds'. While we all fall occasionally into buying the 'safe' and the 'trusted'. I thought a little push to try something new would invigorate our wine-trying habits and perhaps discover a gem amongst those 600 odd varieties. Cabernet was banned, as were Merlot, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo and a few other easily found varieties. From the 36 wines sampled in this WBW we managed to make a small nick in the 600 by sampling 36 different varieties amongst the blends and single varietals. There is some really obscure stuff amongst them!

Continue reading "Wine Blogging Wednesday #7 - the Write-Up Part 1" »