jamie goode's wine blog

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Old vine Carignan

Carignan is an underdog grape variety. Most people don't rate it, but when it's fully ripe and from vines that yield sensibly - frequently, this means old vines - the results can be really interesting. This is a Languedoc wine from AXA's portfolio (the wine interests of AXA include Noval in the Douro, Pichon Baron in Bordeaux, and Disznoko in Tokaji), and because its 100% Carignan it's labelled as a Vin de Pays.

Mas Belles Eaux Vieux Carignan 2006 Vin de Pays de Caux, France
Old vine Carignan (over 60 years). Forward bright spicy fruit with some pure blackberry character and a bit of sweet black cherry. Nicely dense and savoury with some spiciness. Good combination of sweet pure fruit with some of that savoury, plummy, spicy Carignan character, as well as a bit of earthiness on the finish. Quite youthful with the potential to develop in bottle. 90/100 (14.99 Bristol Wine Co, Cotswald Vintners, Hendersons Wines, Worcester Wine Co)

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Chile: the last day

So, the last day in Chile for John and I, as we leave our 'family' group to return to the UK winter. We had two visits before hitting the airport: Odfjell and Undurraga. Odfjell is a Norweigan-owned producer making almost exclusively red wines, including some fantastic Carignans. They pioneered Carignan in Chile, and we tried a vertical of 2001-2006 with their French winemaker, who was very candid (the first vintage had a big brett problem). I liked the wines a lot, but preferred the regular Carignan to the top one, which was trying a bit too hard.

Second visit was Undurraga, another traditonal producer that has recently undergone big changes. The wines are starting to turn around, and there is no lack of ambition at this estate, which last year acquired 450 hectares of vineyards to complement their existing 950 ha, and who have pulled out of the sub-5 market altogether. We had lunch in their beautiful gardens (pictured). I'm now in the lounge at Santiago airport drinking the house fizz (Henriot) which is very nice indeed. My next post will be from the UK. It has been a fun trip.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Chile and Australia: trying new grape varieties

I've had a busy day, with two big tastings. Majestic first, followed by Waitrose. Not enough time to do them real justice: Waitrose alone would justify two whole days, with 240 wines on show, including some really good high end stuff. Majestic weren't shy, though, putting 130 wines up for tasting at the Landmark hotel. There were some real highlights: wines that I'm just dying to write about, but this will have to wait for another time, as I'm tired and I need to go to bed fairly soon.

So tonight I'll write about two wines that I have open. Both are from the new world, but they are varieties that you wouldn't associate with the new world. And I think they work rather well.
Wrattonbully Vineyards Tempranillon 2006 Wrattonbully
From a vineyard established by the Hill Smith family of Yalumba, this Tempranillo is ripe but surprisingly elegant, with juicy cherryish fruit dominating. There are sweet red berries playing a supporting role, and the acidity, well-tamed tannins and subtle sappiness provide a nice counter to the fruit. It isn't complex, but it's brilliantly drinkable and a welcome contrast to the big, lush, sweet dark fruit style that's common in Australia. I'd love to serve this blind to my wine nut chums. Tastes nothing like Spanish Tempranillo. 88/100 (7.99 Marks & Spencer)
Morande Edicion Limitada Carignan 2001 Loncomilla Valley, Maule, Chile
I can't believe this is 2001: it tastes so fresh and vibrant, as if it had only just been bottled (it is 2001 - I checked). Carignan isn't a grape you come across too often in Chile (although Torres make a really good one), and this wine is made from old vines in Maule. I guess you could probably spot its Chilean-ness from the pastille-like, slightly rubbery edge to the nose, but you'd have to be on good form to pick this up. The dominant feature here is vibrant, fresh spicy red fruits with a subtle tarry twist. The palate is intense with high acidity, some tannic structure and very fresh red berry fruits. A tight, spicy, savoury style, this has real personality and intensity. It's alive. A brilliant food-friendly style. Chile should be making more wines like this. 89/100 (9.99 Marks & Spencer)

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Cheap Carignan cheer

A plug for a really enjoyable cheap red wine:

La Difference Carignan 2005 Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes, France
A brilliant cheapie, with lots of personality, from the oft-maligned Carignan grape - which these days is being treated a bit more seriously by some winemakers. It's quite robust and structured, yet at the same time is made in a modern fruity style. There's some dense, spicy fruit with a fresh peppery character and a bit of cured meat richness. It's finished off with fresh acidity. It's not a wine that demands to be taken seriously, but along with the joyful fruit, there's far more seriousness than the price tag would suggest. It's a cheap wine that would satisfy people who understand and like wine. Very good+ 85/100 (Sainsbury 3.99)

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