jamie goode's wine blog

Friday, October 16, 2009

Beaucastel 07 at the Majestic press tasting today

I really enjoyed the Majestic press tasting today. There were lots of really good new wines, affordable and more expensive, and I'll be featuring them here over the next few weeks, along with the other highlights from the last two weeks of intensive tasting activity. It's so good to see the likes of Donnhof, Gunderloch and Nikolaihof make an appearance on their list.

My impression is that the Majestic range is improving. That's really good news. From recent experience, I think the Oddbins range is also improving. The recent Waitrose press tasting was really good; M&S was good too. Could it be that things are looking up for wine lovers?

One of the treats today was a look at the 2007 Beaucastel. This is a property I have a semi-sentimental attachment to, in that when I was getting into wine, this was one of the legendary names I was besotted by. The 2007 has immense potential; it is showing a bit of that already.

Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape 2007 Southern Rhone, France
Sweet but focused berry and plum nose is elegant, fine and fresh. The palate is warm and complex with dense red berry and dark cherry fruit with fine grained tannins and good acidity. Rich but balanced with lovely elegance and definition, this is quite a pure expression of this wine that has great potential for development. 92/100, but this score will likely improve over time. (£50 Majestic)

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

White Chateauneuf rocks

White Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a bit of a geek wine (geek, not greek). It's relatively rare, made from geeky varieties, and takes a bit of effort to appreciate. Here's a really good one, made in a modern, fresh style, but with the personality that white Rhone varieties have still evident. Although this is M&S own-label, and the label is a bit coy about its origins, the cork reveals that this comes from Chateau Mont Redon.

Marks & Spencer Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc 'Le Fussier' 2006 Rhone, France
A blend of Grenache Blanc, Picpoul, Clairette, Bourboulenc and Roussane, without oak, from Chateau Mont Redon. Fresh herby, lemony flowery nose is crisp. The palate is rounded and quite fat, as Rhone whites tend to be, but with some crisp minerality on the finish. Delightfully expressive and crisp, and quite complex, too. 91/100 (£13.99 Marks & Spencer) 

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Press tasting with ODI cricket and Beaucastel 1983

Berry Bros' press tasting today was very good. As well as some superb wines, a thoughtful soul had decided to put the Sky coverage of England vs. Sri Lanka on the plasma screen in the Pickering Cellar, so as we tasted we could watch some of the cricket.

Highlight for me, in a tasting that included gems such as the 1996 Vega Sicilia Unico, was the magnum of 1983 Beaucastel that was shown alongside the 1998 in a regular bottle. Beaucastel invariably ages very well, and the 1983, at almost 25, is deliciously mature, spicy and warm. There's just so much earthy, leathery, spicy complexity to this wine - it is also supremely elegant, and dinking perfectly now. BBR still have some of this left, but it isn't cheap at £179 per magnum.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Two Rhones from 2005

Just brief notes on two Rhones from the 2005 vintage.

The first is from a tiny appellation in the northern Rhone - Brezeme - which is a varietal Syrah. It's the Cuvee Eugene de Monicault 2005 Brezeme Cotes du Rhone from J-M Lombard (available from Yapp for £14.50). It's a dense, savoury, slightly backward wine in the style of Cornas, with savoury dark fruits on the nose complemented by a minerally, earthy streak. The palate has high acidity and firm tannins, with a nice earthy freshness to the slightly muted fruit. It's a savoury, fresh style with good intensity and the potential to age well over the medium term. 89/100

The second is one of Waitrose's new 'own label' range, which they have created in conjunction with some leading producers. This wine, a Chateauneuf du Pape, is made by the Perrins of Beaucastel fame. It's pretty good.

Waitrose Les Chemins des Mulets Chateauneuf du Pape 2005 Southern Rhone, France
Made for UK supermarket Waitrose in partnership with the Perrins. Mainly Grenache with 20% Syrah, from two properties. Deep coloured. Spicy, slightly earthy nose with some savoury complexity. The palate is earthy and spicy with raspberry and cherry fruit coupled with firm grippy tannins. There's some richness and complexity here, but overall it tends towards austerity, with its high alcohol and tannin. Just a little more lushness and fruit sweetness would have given this wine great balance, but still, it's an enjoyable Chateauneuf. 88/100 (£14.99 Waitrose)

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A nice tasting...and a new discovery

Today’s Richards Walford tasting at the Baltic was a bit of a treasure trove: lots of interesting stuff. This year we had Riedel glasses – a great improvement on the restaurant glasses we had last year, an improvement for which we were all suitably grateful. [See my post here. Karen from R-W reminded me of this today, and pointed out that the glasses cost 0.50 each to rent.] ]In fact, if there’s one consistent change in professional tastings that I’ve noted over the last three or four years is the increasing use of the Riedel Chianti glass as the standard tasting glass over less suitable tasting glasses (including the rather small but otherwise nicely shaped ISO).

I didn’t taste as diligently as I could have done. I spent an afternoon, when there was plenty there to occupy me for the whole day. And I talked lots. It was nice to bump into Jorge Borges who was showing the Passadouro wines, and David Harvey, who is moving increasingly into the area of natural wines – a real interest of mine. It was also nice to chat to Alister Viner from Harrods, who I met in the Douro in July, and George Austin of Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards.

I met Olivier Jullien for the first time and tasted through a vertical of Mas Jullien from the Languedoc. These are impressive wines. But perhaps the ‘find’ of the tasting were the wonderful Châteauneuf du Papes of Isabel Ferrando at Domaine St Préfert. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted such an exciting set of wines from the Southern Rhône: these showed wonderful elegance and purity, alongside remarkable complexity. She was previously a banker with Credit Agricole, and only purchased her 15 hectares of vineyard in 2003, which was her first vintage. She gained experience with a number of winemakers, her biggest influence being Henri Bonneau. ‘Prefer my wines to be elegant and feminine, like those of Bonneau’, she reveals. ‘He doesn’t interfere much, but he understands’.

Olivier Jullien (pictured) wins the prize for best jumper of the day. Congratulations Olivier!

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