jamie goode's wine blog

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Vintage Port and dry Tokaji

RTL is definitely pregnant. Big nipples, starting to swell in her abdomen, and less hyperactive. Fancy a puppy? Labradoodles are great. Really!

Two interesting wines today. First, a dry Furmint from superstar Tokaji winery Disnoko. Then a really serious, affordable Vintage Port. Portugal is responsible not only for some serious table wines, but also three remarkable fortified wine styles: Moscatel de Setubal, Madeira and Vintage Port.

Disznoko Dry Furmint 2006 Tokaji, Hungary
Distintive, fresh, flinty, minerally nose with complex fresh herb and lemon notes. The palate is really minerally with distinctive herb-tinged fruit. It's a bit Chablis-like in style with pronounced minerality and a hint of smokiness. Lovely. 90/100 (£9.19 Waitrose)

Taylor's Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port 2001 Portugal
Bottled in 2003, this is Taylor's top Port from a year that didn't quite make it to an official 'Vintage'. Coming after 2000, 2001 was actually a pretty good vintage in the Douro, and so this wine is relatively underpriced (had 2000 been a poor year, I bet they'd have declared 2001). It's a serious Vintage Port style, so could do with decanting, and will improve for some years to come - although it is delicious now. Deep coloured, it has a lovely floral, aromatic blueberry and blackberry nose with some tarry, spicy notes. The palate is concentrated with beautifully pure sweet fruit and a lovely spicy, savoury, tannic structure. I'd either drink this now, or leave it for a decade: I often find top Vintage Ports perform well young, enter a sullen middle age, and then reemerge into a mellow, complex maturity. 93/100 (c £23 Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose, Selfridges, Majestic, Oddbins)

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Two Furmints: Slovenia and Hungary

Furmint is a grape variety that's relatively new to me. It's the classic variety of Hungary's Tokaji region, where it makes the fabulous sweet Tokaji wines. But it also makes dry wines here, too. By coincidence, I had two Furmints in my sample rack, one from Hungary and one from Slovenia. So I thought I'd try them together. They both show a family resemblence, but also some differences. I was really thrilled by the Slovenian wine, which reminded me of a very good drier style of Gruner Veltliner. The Hungarian Furmint is possibly a little more complex, and also has a hint of Austria about it, but it's perhaps more of an acquired taste.

Aside: I reckon the vineyards of central Europe have staggering potential for making serious, interesting wines, with a combination of good sites and unusual grape varieties.

Verus Vineyards Furmint 2007 Slovenia
(Alternative name: Verus Stajerska Slovenia Kakovostino Vino ZGP Šipon 2007, where Šipon is a synonym for Furmint.) Beautifully packaged, this is a really stylish wine that reminds me a bit of Austrian Gruner Veltliner. It has a lively, fruity, almost peppery nose with some grapey depth to it. The palate is really lively and fresh, with an exuberant fruity, spicy character and a hint of spritz on the bright, acidic finish. This is a very pure, clean, minerally white that's full flavoured but zippy, and would be a versatile food wine. I like this a lot. 12% alcohol. (See www.verusvino.com for more details). 90/100 (£7.99 http://www.therealwineco.co.uk/)

Disznók? Tokaji Dry Furmint 2006 Hungary
The ancient variety of the Tokaji region makes dry whites like this, as well as the legendary sweet Tokaji. This has a broad, rich, deep nose with a smoky, spicy edge to the melon and herb fruit. The palate is quite complex with a fresh minerally character underpinning broad, grapey, slightly spicy fruit. There’s lots of interest here: a really food friendly style with a lot of personality. Beguiling stuff. 91/100 (£9.19 rrp, contact fionacampbell@btopenworld.com for more information)

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Some wines with Luis Antunes

Continuing my recent Portuguese theme, Luis Antunes came round for tea last night. He's an academic (home page here) at the University of Lisboa, and in his spare time he writes about wine for Revista Vinhos, Potugal's leading wine magazine. I first met Luis for real (i.e. other than online) at Dirk Niepoort's 40th celebration weekend in Porto back in 2004, and have subsequently rubbed shoulders with him in the Douro and Bordeaux. So we had a really fun evening of modest excess.

We began with some fizz. Champagne Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque 1999 is pretty serious stuff. I suppose it should be, retailing at £75 and coming in a beautiful painted bottle. It has a lovely expressive, Chardonnay-dominated complex nose that is toasty and lemony. The palate is crisp and toasty with delicious savoury, lemony complexity. Sylish and quite serious. 93/100

Then we had a look at the Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet Shiraz 2004 from Wrattonbully in South Australia. It's an elegant Aussie with sweet, smooth fruit. Some structure, too. This is still noticeably Australian, with its sweet fruit profile, but I think it will age well.

So, to Luis' bottle - a rare bottling from Alentejo producer Esporao.

Herdarde de Esporão 2000 1o Prémio do X Concurso Os Melhores Vinhos do Alentejo 2000 Alentejo, Portugal
This rare wine from Esporao has a sweet, aromatic, slightly volatile nose with sweet red fruits and a bit of tar. The palate is quite spicy with dense, rather sweet red fruits and good acidity. It's still fresh for a 2000, the volatility the only thing that gives its age away. Interesting but not great: I expect that this would have been very impressive a few years ago, made in a very fruit-forward modern style. 89/100

This is the stage where I dug out an old Portuguese bottle that I wasn't that hopeful about. I'd bought it for peanuts many years ago from a retailer in a bin-end sale, and it hadn't been terribly well stored since. But it proved to be a brilliant wine, ageing nicely.

Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas 1995 Bairrada, Portugal
60 year old Baga vines have made this wine, which was aged for 10 months in new oak. It's really fantastic now, 12 years on. It has an earthy, spicy, savoury red and black fruits nose which is quite stylish and aromatic. The palate is smooth with a nice spicy, earthy savouriness and still quite a bit of fruit. Quite fresh and drinking very well now, especially with food. 90/100

Then we hit some sweet stuff. A brilliant Tokaji. Every time I drink a Tokaji, I kick myself for not drinking them more frequently. For me, this was the wine of the night, although the Bairrada was the one that left the strongest impression just because it had aged so unexpectedly well.

Disnók? Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 1995 Tokaji, Hungary
Orange/gold colour. Complex, sweet marmalade, apricot and spice nose. The palate is complex and sweet with spice, vanilla, apricot, citrus and tea notes. Quite viscous and dense with lovely lively acidity. Fantastic, complex sweet wine. 94/100

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