Monday, 31 January 2011

Krutzler Blaufrankisch 2007

Blaufränkisch anyone?  Yes please I say; it's yet another interesting grape variety offering an alternative tipple to the usual suspects.  It's indigenous to Austria and rarely ventures abroad; making fresh, fruity, slighly spicy wines in its homeland that aren't generally for long ageing but are often scrumptious.

The one I had the other day was a 2007 from the producer Krutzler and was right on the money (which was about a tenner from the Wine Society).  Served on the cool side for a red (straight from the cellar) it was very moreish with a pizza, showing crisp acidity, bright fruit flavours and a lovely light spicy lift.  It was a good example of some of the really interesting vinous things going on in Austria these days.  This one is no longer available but I'd recommend seeing if you can find another Blaufränkisch at your local merchant and giving it a go.

Negroamaro from the Salento Peninsular

The other day I was praising the excellent 2001 Felline Primativo di Manduria that comes from the Salento Peninsular.  That wine is 100% Primativo, which is a great variety, but not responsible for most wines from those parts.  So whilst on the subject of lovely wines from heel of Italy I thought I should talk about the most common red variety from down there, Negroamaro, a local grape variety that's not really found anywhere else.

The wines it's responsible for are from a few towns right down in the bottom of the peninsular, notably Salice Salentino and Copertino, with the Negroamaro typically blended with about 20% Malvasia Nera.  These are probably the most typical of all Southern Italian reds, with slightly bitter black cherry fruit flavours, a big personality and a rasping acidity from the Negroamaro, softened slightly by the easier going Malvasia Nera.  These wines are generally great value although there are some premium and super-premium examples around.  They're really worth trying and make a great midweek red to have with your pasta, especially if dressed with a tomato sauce.  Most supermarkets will have at least one example, typically for around £5 to £8 tops.

Last week I had my penultimate bottle of 2004 Copertino Eloquenzia from the excellent producer Masseria Monaci.  Fortunately I've got a case of the 2006 for when the 2004 runs out.  Both were excellent years across Italy with Puglia being no exception.  I've had the wine many times both in the Salento Peninsular and also here at home in London, costing around £6.50 from the Wine Society.  It's a lovely, sappy, refreshing and slightly bitter wine sold with a decent amount of bottle age; the 2006 is spot-on now.  It's a terrific everyday wine that's perfect with a slightly spicy rich pasta sauce.  Yum.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A Primitivo Delight

Last weekend we had a bottle of Felline Primitivo di Manduria 2001, which is a tre bicchieri wine (the top accolade from Gambero Rosso, the definitive Italian wine guide).  I bought it when on a six month tour of Italy in 2003, from a wine shop in Lecce, a beautiful university town right down in the Salento Peninsular, the heel of Italy.

We had it with a rich, red wine octopus casserole.  Not a dish from Puglia I grant you but from Campania, also in the South of Italy and with exactly the right richness and character to accompany the wine.

Primitivo is so named not because it's primative and wild (although it is) but because it ripens early.  It's from Puglia and was recently shown to be genetically equavalent to Zinfandel, the more famous variety that has made its home in California.  The clones are quite different however and they are still considered separate varieties in California.  Like Zin it's a powerful variety that can make extremely alcoholic wines that can be too heavy and wild if not careful.  However, in the right hands and from old vines in a good site Primitivo can make superb wine that needs many years bottle age to lose its ferocity and melt into a harmonious whole.

At 10 years old this bottle from the producer Felline was just perfect, still full of strong black fruit flavour but also showing tobacco, liquorice, undergrowth and a wealth of other secondary flavours.  With a great sense of place it was clearly Southern Italian but also highly complex, very well integrated, extremely long and without doubt a great wine.  What a shame I only had one.

Well done to Felline indeed.

Viavino Wine Course Session Five

This Tuesday saw the penultimate session of the Classic French Wine Regions wine tasting and education course I’m running.  The idea is to educate about the world of wine whilst also improving tasting skills.  In the fourth session we looked at the red grapes of the central Loire (Cabernet Franc) and Bordeaux (Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot and Malbec).  This time round we looked at

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Chateau d'Aydie 2004

The South-West of France has a patchwork of interesting appellations making a whole variety of wines from Monbazillac and Saussignac to Cahors, Gaillac, Jurançon and Irouléguy to name but half a dozen.  Today though we're going to look at Madiran, which is found halfway between Toulouse and the Atlantic coast, getting close to the foothills of the Pyrenees.

Viavino Wine Course Session Four

This Tuesday saw the fourth session of the Classic French Wine Regions wine tasting and education course I’m running.  The idea is to educate about the world of wine whilst also improving tasting skills.  In the third session we looked at the white grapes of the central Loire (Chenin Blanc) and Bordeaux (Sémillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle).  This time round we looked at the red varieties of the same regions, which are

£500 a Glass

Andrew Lloyd Webber has just sold a large part of his wine cellar (746 lots) for a tidy £3.5M, which isn't bad.   This included a case of Petrus 1982 for over £48,000, which I make to be £4,000 a bottle.  Now come on, I know 1982 was one of the greatest ever vintages in Bordeaux and Petrus is one of the greatest wines of Bordeaux and indeed the world, but I think I would have stopped bidding a bit earlier.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Viavino Wine Course Session Three

Last Tuesday saw the third session of the Classic French Wine Regions wine tasting and education course I’m running.  The idea is to educate about the world of wine whilst also improving tasting skills.  In the second session we looked at the red grapes of Beaujolais (Gamay) and Burgundy (Pinot Noir).  This time round we looked at wines from

Friday, 21 January 2011

Christmas Wines

Hello there and a very belated Happy New Year from Hugo's Reserve.  I hope you had a cheery Christmas and New Year and most importantly had a fine array of wines to accompany your Christmas dinner.  We did!...