Monday, 28 February 2011

Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles 2003

We went to the Suffolk coast for a few days over half term, a lovely part of the Country I haven't previously explored.  On the way back we stopped at Aldeburgh, where there are a bunch of fishing huts on the stony beach selling their catches of the day.  Imagine my pleasure when I discovered they had some choice Dover Sole, which I naturally picked up for our supper.

Upon arriving home I decided that to do justice to such a freshly caught and regal fish I should really crack open a fairly heavy-weight white Burgundy.  So that's what I did, saluting the Sole with a bottle of 2003 Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles from the producer Morey-Coffinet.  But hang on, I think that calls for

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Four Bottle Mop-Up

Sometimes you've got to have a mop-up.  Having the excellent habit of trying different wines each night means that after a week or so I'm left with about half a dozen open bottles sporting barely half a glass each.  So home alone tonight with my spicy sucuk (Turkish sausage) and lentil stew I had the perfect opportunity to finish off four bottles of open red.

The four dregs were (and in one case are) a 2008 St Laurent (lovely spicy Pinot Noir-ish Austrian variety), a terrific and sappy Bourgogne Rouge, a 2005 Crozes-Hermitage and now finally a Barbera d'Asti that I may or may not finish.  Wow, a really mixed bag making for a slightly odd supper.  However, it's really interesting to have four decent wines in quick succession that are totally different.  Perhaps surprisingly the Bourgogne rouge was the best companion to the meal, but in fact none of them was out of place.  Now my stoppers can get back in the drawer and start working again tomorrow.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Chronicon 2006

[caption id="attachment_893" align="alignright" width="251" caption="Montepulciano d'Abruzzo"][/caption]

What kind of place do you normally end up at if you fancy a simple meal when out in town?  If you'd like a basic but decent bottle of wine that's very food friendly and also good value, it's still hard to beat a simple Italian Trattoria.  True, a lot of them are now looking like tired dinosaurs compared to the endless noodle bars and fusion eating spots that are starting to grab the 'simple but decent' market away from them.  However, there are still lots of great family run Italian places around London and they are one of the few types of eatery where the wine is reasonably priced and well matched to the food.  More often than not the lists are all Italian wines and they are normally clustered around £10 to £20 a bottle which is just what you want when keeping it simple.  You can typicially get a bottle of something savoury and satisfying for around £15 which is nigh on impossible in most other places.  So what wines are a good bet on the list of an Italian Trattoria?  Well, there are several candidates depending on exactly what nosh you're going for, but there's one wine that seems to be on every Trattoria list that's often a good choice

Friday, 11 February 2011

Domaine de la Côte Sainte-Epine 2003

The other night I had my last bottle of 2003 Vieilles Vignes Saint-Joseph from Domaine de la Côte Sainte-Epine.  I bought it in bond from the Wine Society a couple of years ago for around £13 after duty and VAT.

As with all the other bottles I had in the case, I approached it with some trepidation.  Why you may well ask?  How scary can a bottle of wine be?  Well, it's got a beautiful core of fruit with decent structure, balance, concentration and length - all good.  However, the hallmark Syrah minty-lift is so powerful on this wine that I blink and almost cough each time I sniff it.  No exaggeration.

It is a lovely wine, but to be honest I'm not sure I'll buy it again as the mint/menthol character is just too strong in this example for me.  Oh well!  Still, it means I can now carry on with my case of 2005 Jean-Luc Colombo Crozes-Hermitage instead (also a 100% Syrah from the Northern Rhône), which is delicious and drinking perfectly.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

How much Brett before it's a fault?

[caption id="attachment_856" align="alignright" width="207" caption="The Sweaty Little Beast Brettanomyces"]

There are a few common faults in wine; the most frequently encountered is wine that's corked (discussed separately), but amongst other faults there is also wine that's prematurely oxidised, wine that's showing too much volatile acidity (or VA)  and what we want to discuss today, wine that is infected by the naturally occurring yeast Brettanomyces, better known as Brett.  So how would you recognise a wine that is infected by Brett and how did it happen?

Well, how it happened is easy enough to answer.  The Brett yeast

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Fitou l'Exception 2003

The area known as the Midi curves round Mediterranean France (including the wine regions Languedoc, Roussillon and Provence) and accounts for a third of all French wine.  The majority is in Languedoc, the work horse of French wine, with hills, valleys and (not so good for wine) plains all covered in vines.  There are all sorts of varieties planted there without the homogeneity of the classic regions like Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Loire, Alsace or the Rhône.  There's a lot of Carignan, which is a pretty poor variety, unless it's a really old bush vine with

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Wine Appreciation Courses

As you may have seen from a few of the recent posts, as well as wine writing I also run a wine appreciation course and host wine events.  The most recent course I've been running looks at the classic wine regions of France, comparing wines from each region with examples made from the same varieties but from around the world.

The course is split into six sessions, each one covering either white or red wines from one regions.  More info on the course can be found here.

Testimonials of the course are found in the comments below...

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Wine Appreciation Course Session Six

This Tuesday saw the sixth and final session of the first 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 fifth session we looked at the white grapes Alsace focusing on Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. This time round we looked at the key black varieties of the Rhône Valley.  In the Northern Rhône the one black grape used is Syrah, whereas in the South there are a whole troop of varieties (up to 13 in the appellation Châteauneuf-du-Pape) but we focused our attention on the main three; Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, often known collectively as GSM.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Chianti Classico 2006 Taste-off

[caption id="attachment_802" align="alignleft" width="280" caption="Principal Wines of Greater Chianti"][/caption]

I love Chianti Classico.  It's made from the most quintessential of all Italian grapes, Sangiovese, normally with a dash of the local grape Canaiolo blended in.  Basically though, it's all about Sangiovese.  It's quite a lean variety, with slightly bitter cherry fruit flavours accompanied by really crisp acidity and rasping tannins that require food.  It's very savoury and once you're into a bottle it always seems to get better as your dinner goes on.  Don't try and drink it on its own though; not full and generous in the fruit department and with unforgiving tannins it needs meat.  Wine bar soft fruit juice this ain't.  There are two different bottlings of Chianti Classico - there are the Riservas, which are aged longer in oak, being richer, more tannic and needing more