jamie goode's wine blog: A winter Maury warmer

Friday, November 03, 2006

A winter Maury warmer

I feel a cold coming on. Colds are a pain for wine tasting. I find you have a couple of days where you can still taste well after the first signs of a cold, and then that's it for a few days. No point in tasting. And for me, there's no point in drinking wine if I can't 'get' the wine, unless of course I have a pressing need to get drunk (which, fortunately is rare).

This point about 'getting' a wine is an interesting one, philosophically. It suggests we all think that there is an objective side to wine tasting: that there is something of the wine that is there to be 'got'. Irrespective of differences in perception, education, and cultural leanings, the wine itself possesses something that we strive to capture in our tasting.

I digress. Tonight it's time for something warm. After an abnormally warm October, November has seen the onset of some reassurringly cold weather, and even a bit of frost in the morning. The wine this evening, to accompany some home-baked bread and a big slab of Comte, is a Maury. From the far south of France, these are fortified wines made in a similar style to Port.

Mas Amiel Vintage 2004 Maury, France
Beautifully packaged, this is a fortified Grenache made by the addition of spirit to part fermented wine. It's not as alcoholic as Port - weighing in at 16% this is only a little stronger than many modern table wines - and it is made in a Vintage Port style, with the wine ageing for just a short period in cask before being bottled. The result is a complex, vividly fruity wine with a nose of spicy, herby red and black fruits that leads to a palate with lovely vivid, spicily tannic red fruits that shows warmth and grip. Quite sweet, but this sweetness is well balanced by good acid and spicy tannins, so it is not at all cloying. A thought-provoking wine that's drinking very well now but which will probably also age nicely into a mellow softness. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£14.95 Lea & Sandeman)

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At 3:46 PM, Blogger Julian said...

Pretty chilly here in County Cork too, by benign Irish standards. Thanks for the reminder to revisit the Mas Amiel dessert wines. When people want a wine to go with chocolate, or things chocolatey, the Vintage is usually what we suggest. Your Irish readers can buy it from us as well as some of the older, oxidized styles.

At 9:37 PM, Blogger Salil said...

It's far worse here in Chicago. Just the tip of winter, and it's going below zero with some ridiculous winds from the lake.

But yes, colds are a pain when wine or food's concerned. Use my sense of smell a good deal when cooking as well, so it screws things up a good deal whenever I'm at the stove - and it's even worse when trying to enjoy a wine. Nothing like a big, fruit-forward Shiraz when it's minus 15 outside with howling winds... and of course, once the cold hits, there goes that pleasure.

At 9:56 PM, Anonymous Carl said...

Dear Jamie,
For the last 10 months I have written a short column on wine for the Sheffield Telegraph . Very Sheffield-centric, think of me as the archetypal provincial wine writer wanna-be (pompous Americans purveying magnets should direct their ire my way).

I am frequently awed by your jet set lifestyle (Stern report pah!). Lunch with Miguel Torres, vertical tastings of Chateau Palmer and French House restaurant on a Sunday. What I worry most about is your liver! (A+ for your green-tea total visit to China, Great Wall not withstanding). I should know, I worry about mine.

Now when you say tonightís bottle is blah blah blah, what I want to know is do you put it all away. Or is your long suffering wife (boys giving it welly, husband dining out all over London rolling back pissed, life with man glued to his laptop with an allotment to escape to, kitchen full of fermenting grapes), fully sharing the honours.

Now apart from the odd posh meal Iím a stay at home boozer and so far this year Iíve shifted 308 bottles through my cellar (great cellars in Edwardian Sheffield houses). Now some with friends, a fair amount the wife but the lionís share of that is me. I once read Tim Atkin writing about a month tasting 4000 different wines, now Iíve heard that heís definitely a spit donít swallow sort of guy but even so talk about a jaded palate, let alone the idea that you canít really do a wine justice unless youíve had a couple glasses.

So whatís the truth, was that a whole bottle of Mas Amiel, all 16%? To yourself?

PS, these ramblings where significantly affected by a bottle of Bidoli Vini Merlot, Grave, Friuli, 2004, which although good Iím not sure deserves such stellar accolades from Decanter, a pity Beccacciara Riparbella Merlot by Parkvan Papi in Tuscany wasnít entered. Keep up the great blog and more from the missus.


At 9:16 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Julian, Salil - thanks for your comments. It's been a bit warmer this weekend, with brilliant blue skies. I can handle cold if there are blue skies - I love the way things appear in winter sunlight.

Carl, thanks for the entertaining post and your concern for my liver. Short answer - whil I drink enthusiastically, a whole bottle of Maury is a little beyond me, and the sink here sees a good deal of wine. Samples with half a glass removed also find their way into the hands of chums who pop round.

At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A whole bottle of Maury is beyond you - big girls blouse!

I am always amzed that so many peole know about Banyuls, Chateau de Jau and Chateau Lionel Faivre and Mauray (bought from Maury) but no-one knows about Marc Marjoral> Taking over from his father about 10 years or so agao, Marc produces a Maury in two strengths. Maury, the usual fortified wine and Mary Ancienne, much darker and heavier. He also rpoduces a red wine called Nectar which I thnk is superb. His rose is as good as the one from Rasigueres. A much neglected vinter. You can find Marc between MAury and St Paul.

And don't pay a prepmium for Blanquette Limoux - get it from Ansignan - terrific!


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