jamie goode's wine blog

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Loire red after football: P-J Druet

I've just come off the football pitch after an enjoyable game. Nine versus eight, finishing 2-1 after an hour. A solid defensive display by our side, coupled with a goalkeeping error by the other side, allowed us to sneak a hard-fought victory. There were some juicy challenges, but it was a warm-spirited affair, and the inevitable stiffness tomorrow will be worth it. I'm playing again tomorrow night, but this will be a less taxing five-a-side.

I've turned to a bottle that I bought a while ago from Majestic for some vinous refreshment (professional footballers tend to prefer the ice bath, and then a night club). It's Pierre-Jacques Druet's Le Cent Boisselees Bourgeuil 2003, a Loire red from the famously hot vintage. I remember buying it because Druet is one of the Bourgeuil's stars, and because the Loire suffered less than most other French regions in this otherwise disastrous vintage. It's interesting that those who hyped 2003 in Bordeaux and the Southern Rhone have never really been called to account. It's a vintage I avoid every bit as much as 2002 (although Bordeaux and Burgundy didn't do all that badly in this otherwise damp year).

The wine? Quite elegant and almost Burgundian, with a bit of the minerally, gravelly character that I love in Loire reds, but with some softness and richness that you don't always get in these wines. Elegant, midweight and approachable with strawberry and raspberry fruit, it's drinking very well now, but might not last too much longer. This is Druet's machine-picked, unoaked cuvee, and I reckon it's one for drinking early. I'll be on the lookout for more recent vintages; sadly, no longer at Majestic.

For more information on Druet, see the excellent report by Chris Kissack at his Winedoctor website. Chris is really good on the Loire, and his site is an excellent read.

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Domaine de Chevalerie: fantastic Loire reds

I'm a huge fan of red wines from the Loire, which, when they're good, are fantastically fresh and characterful. I'm almost always in the mood for a good Loire red, which is something I can't say for all wine styles. Here are two brilliant wines from Domaine de Chevalerie, which is owned by the Caslot family: Pierre, Stephanie and Emmanuel. This domaine is currently in conversion to organics (will be certified by Ecocert from the 2009 vintage) and is experimenting with biodynamics. It's definitely a domaine to watch.

Domaine de Chevalerie 'Galichets' 2006 Bourgeuil
Just lovely. Pure, sweet blackcurrant and dark cherry fruit with some grippy, savoury gravelly notes sitting in there beautifully with the sweet fruit. Rich, with good concentration, but also lovely freshness and definition. Good tannic structure. 91/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene, £16.99 Handford)

Domaine de Chevalerie 'Chevalerie' 2006 Bourgeuil
From southwest facing 70 year old vines on sandy clay over limestone. Beautiful wine. Lovely full aromatic nose of dark cherries, blackcurrants and smooth chalky gravelly notes which add definition. The palate is midweight with elegant fruit and silky-yet-firm tannins. Supple and quite complex, this is a delicious wine with a sense of place. 91/100 (£14.60 Berry Bros & Rudd)

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Lovely Bourgueil

Tonight's tipple is a delicious Loire red. Loire reds rock.

Frederic Mabileau Racines 2005 Bourgueil, Loire, France
13% alcohol. Cabernet Franc from 40 year old vines. This is a really delicious, ripe Loire red with beautifully focused sweet blackcurrant and raspberry fruit with a slightly sappy edge and some gravelly, chalky notes adding contrast. Impressive stuff. I really like the savouriness combined with the pure dark fruit: it's what Loire reds do so well. 90/100 (£8.99 Waitrose)

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A great Vouvray

I know. Vouvray is unfashionable and a bit geeky, bit it can be great. This is an old bottle that I bought from Oddbins in the 1990s for around £12 if I recall correctly. It has developed beautifully and is now drinking very well, although I suspect it will last a couple more decades. I think I have one more left.

Domaine des Aubuisieres Les Giradieres 1er Trie 1996 Vouvray, Loire, France
A delicious, mature sweet Vouvray that's just beginning to hit its stride. Deep yellow colour, it has a lovely waxy, herby, lanolin nose with some crystalline fruits. The palate is sweet, concentrated and multidimensional, with high acidity offsetting the intense herby, tangy fruit. Although it is sweet, it's not really a dessert wine. Would be great with strongly flavoured cheeses. 93/100

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

An excellent Loire Cab Franc

Isn't Eurostar great? Such a painless way to travel, especially if you travel business class and make use of the lounges. The move to St Pancras as the London terminal means that Paris is now very close indeed: it's no more difficult to get there than it is to reach, say, Manchester or Leeds. And probably about the same sort of price.

We finished our tasting of Loire wines at Sopexa's offices by early afternoon yesterday. We came up with 30 or so wines that we'd selected to be ambassadors of Cabernet Franc, and - though I say it myself - I think we did a great job. 2006 and 2007, the vintages represented, weren't the easiest, but the wines we chose are all really good. The tasting process itself was relatively painless, and we all respected each others' palates enough to make the discussion of each wine's merits a very constructive one.

At the end of the tasting, Sam Harrop pulled out a wine that he'd brought along from Domaine de la Chevalerie, a producer whose 2007 wine had made it into the ambassador selection in our tasting. This was a really smart wine from the 2005 vintage, and it was nice to drink it with our late lunch.

Domaine de la Chevalerie 'Chevalerie' 2005 Bourgeuil, Loire, France
Deep coloured, this has a lovely focused, tight nose with rich, spicy, dark fruits, and just a subtle hint of reductive funk. The palate is concentrated with lush, sweet fruit backed up by rich spicy elements. A generous ripe style with lovely focus, this is a gorgeous expression of Cabernet Franc. 92/100

Today, I've spent the day with the kids and a couple of their cousins in Thorpe Park. It is Chav heaven. If you are a good chav, you go to the great theme park in the sky, where the queues are short and the fast food is supersized at no extra cost. I took some motion sickness pills with me in case I had to go on any of the extreme rides, but fortunately this wasn't necessary. My elder son really, really loves Thorpe Park. Is there any hope for him?

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

In Paris, with French wines

I’m currently in Paris, doing some tasting with Sopexa looking at the Cabernet Franc project wines. It’s an exciting initiative that has been going for a couple of years, with a view to helping growers make red Loire wines that appeal to the UK market while still possessing a sense of place.

The tasters? Sam Harrop MW, who is providing technical/winemaking help with this project, Sam Caporn, Jim Budd and myself. Today we looked at around 160 wines between us, trying to identify those that could be used as ‘ambassadors’ of Cabernet Franc. There were some really attractive wines, typically showing focused bright dark fruit and just a bit of grippy tannin.

We finished tasting just after 4 pm, and there was time for some wandering. I walked down to Caves Auge on Boulevard Haussmann, which is a remarkable wine shop specializing in natural wines. It’s cluttered and old fashioned, but has a mouthwatering array of things that are hard to find in the UK. I controlled myself and just bought three bottles: Thierry Puzelat’s In Côt We Trust 2005 Touraine, Domaine Richaud Cairanne 2006 and Alain & Julien Guillot’s Mâcon Cruzille Clos des Vignes du Maynes 2006.

This evening we dined at a lovely restaurant, Maison de Campagne (rue Pierre Demours). Decor was a bit chintzy, but the food was fantastic, and best of all they had a lovely, well priced wine list, that reinforced the fact that France makes the world’s most interesting wines, in a diverse array of styles. Here are my notes (all these wines were well under 30 Euros):

Domaine Vincent Carênne Vouvray ‘Le Peu Morier’ 2005 Loire, France
A fantastic Vouvray that is just off-dry. Lovely mineralic nose with some fruit richness. The palate is richly textured with lovely herb and citrus fruit notes, and just a bit of Chenin funk. Finishes really mineralic. 92/100

Stéphane Tissot ‘Les Bruyères’ Chardonnay 2004 Arbois, Jura, France
The proprietor asked whether we knew this wine when we selected it – it was a warning that it isn’t the sort of thing to everyone’s taste. But I think it’s fantastic. Remarkable nose with smoky, minerally, flinty notes as well as the toastiness and richness you might expect from ripe Chardonnay. The palate is rich but bone dry, with more of those reductive notes and lovely minerality. Fantastic stuff. 93/100

Domaine Richaud Cairanne 2006 Côtes de Rhône Villages, France
A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan. Deep coloured, with a dark, spicy, meaty nose that is intense and quite savoury. The palate is dense with bold sweet fruit countered by spicy, earthy savouriness. A powerful, intense win of real appeal. 92/100

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Elegant Italian and Saumur revisited

Two wines tonight, one of which I've mentioned on here before - the Les Nivieres Saumur 2005 from Waitrose (£4.99) is a lovely wine - essence of Cabernet Franc. It's edgy and a bit green, and I probably scored it a little to highly last time, but I really enjoy it, while acknowledging that Loire Cabernet Franc may not be everyone's cup of tea. I think the sappy, mineralic greenness complements the fruit really well. Tannins are very grippy, which makes this a food wine. But it's an antidote to new world sweetness, and at this price it's hard to beat. It just makes the branded competition look a bit daft.

The second wine is another Les Caves wine (for which I make no apologies), and it's supremely elegant and alive. I can't believe this is Sangiovese. Decanted (I'm using my decanters a lot now) it opens out beautifully with a bit of air. This wine isn't expensive, and it makes some of the Burgundy 2006 prices look a bit silly.
Il Paradiso di Manfredi 2005 Rosso di Montalcino, Italy
From a small estate that practices many biodynamic principles, this Sangiovese is thrillingly alive and elegant. The aromatic nose shows dark cherries with purity and freshness allied with a bit of earthiness. The palate is quite complex with some earthy spiciness undeneath the sweet, pure dark cherry and blackberry fruit. There's a lovely smooth, elegant texture here, that's somewhere between silk and velvet. There's also a hint of forest floor. Finishes quite savoury. A supremely drinkable wine that's hard to resist. It tastes really natural (in a good way). 91/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene)

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A brilliant, affordable red from the Loire

This is perhaps the best £4.99 wine I've ever had! I'm just amazed that Waitrose can list a wine of this quality, with a real sense of place, at a regular price of £4.99. If it were £8.99, I'd still think this was a good value wine. Look, it sounds like I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. And I didn't have just a sip at a big tasting (sometimes you can over- or underestimate a wine this way); I drank the bottle over two nights. I suspect that the excellent 2005 vintage is largely responsible for the over-delivery on quality.
Les Nivières 2005 Saumur, Loire
From Cave de Saumur. I love this wine. A varietal Cabernet Franc from a ripe vintage (13.5% alcohol), it has a nose of leafy, spicy, deep blackcurrant fruit with a distinctive minerality. The palate is quite dense, savoury and tannic with lovely fresh, pure, sappy raspberry and blackcurrant fruit, and a mouth-drying finish. It’s a really intense, food friendly sort of wine that captures the essence of Loire Valley reds brilliantly. This has so much character, it gets a surprisingly high rating from me for such an inexpensive wine. 90/100 (£4.99 Waitrose)

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Refinement from Cloof

Cloof, a South African producer from the Darling region, are making some interesting wines. Their Lynchpin is a bit of a tilt at left-bank Bordeaux, aiming at elegance and refinement. They even released this en primeur earlier this year (when I was really impressed with the sample they sent through). Now the finished wine, the Lynchpin 2005, is on the market, and here's my verdict.

Cloof Lynchpin 2005 Darling, South Africa
This is 71% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in French oak, of which three quarters is new. It weighs in at 14.5% alcohol, but this is a warm region and the wine is actually quite restrained. There's a lovely complex, aromatic gravelly, minerally nose with a subtle hint of greenness to the berry fruits. The palate is concentrated, refined and well balanced, showing fresh red and black fruits with a distinctly mineralic edge framing the fruit nicely. Nothing sticks out at all: it certainly shows no signs of over-ripeness. There's the structure here for long ageing. If I have to be at all critical, there's perhaps just a bit too much greenness under the fruit, but this is a fairly serious effort, albeit slightly ambitiously priced. 91/100 (£19.95 http://www.winedirect.co.uk/)

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Enira...what's the point?

Bulgarian wines used to be very popular in the UK back in the early 1990s when the Australians weren't quite up to speed. They over-delivered on flavour, were nice and fruity, and didn' t cost much. Since then, for one reason or another, they've become much rarer on supermarket shelves, and have been confined to a bargain basement niche.

But here's an ambitious Bulgarian wine, priced at £8.99. I've tried the previous vintage a couple of times at Waitrose (UK retailer) press tastings, and no less an authority than Jancis Robinson made it her wine of the week. I even recommended it in the Express, although I did comment on the level of ripeness (veering towards jamminess), while commending it for its purity of fruit and concentration. I like Noel Young's take on this wine: he seems to have nailed it. Here's my first look at the 2005, and to be honest I'm going off this wine rapidly: the follow-on vintage seems to be in a similar over-ripe style, but has carried it off less successfully.

Enira 2005 Pazarjik, Bulgaria
14.5% alcohol. Baked, sweet jammy nose already showing some evolution. The palate is ripe, a bit jammy and alcoholic. Sweet and spicy with an earthy edge, but overall it lacks freshness and is a bit hot. I guess they are on the right lines here in that this is much better than anything Bulgarian I've tasted in a long time, but it seems that they've just picked a little too late, losing definition and freshness in the process. Very good 82/100 (£8.99 Waitrose)

Much nicer, and also from Waitrose is the wine I'm drinking now:

Frederic Mabileau Les Rouilleres 2005 St Nicolas de Bourgueil, Loire, France
This Cabernet Franc is deep coloured and has a lovely fresh, gravelly nose of dark fruits. It has that distinctive rain on dry pavement sort of 'rocky' aroma I often get in fresh Cabernet Franc, which gives a nice savouriness. On the palate it's brightly fruited and quite grippy, with earthy, spicy tannins and a pleasing herbal edge to the fruit. The dominant theme is bright summer pudding fruits, and it is lovely. Very good+ 89/100 (Waitrose)

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