jamie goode's wine blog

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Trying to find the right wine: Arbois

Had a funny wine evening. Opened four bottles before I could find something I wanted to drink. A Bordeaux that was just blah, a Californian that was sweet and confected, a South African that was clumsily oaked and 15.5% alcohol, and then finally a lovely Arbois. It's the 2002 Cuvee des Geologues from Lucien Aviet (Les Caves de Pyrene c. £13). It's light in colour, with real elegance. I love the sweet, smoothly textured, silky cherry fruit with a subtly earthy, sappy savoury edge. It's a light, expressive sort of wine, but with enough richness and depth to make it a good match for all but the most intense of dishes.


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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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

SITT, Banrock and more

It's been a busy day - the sort of day where you know there isn't time to fit in everything you planned, but you still attempt to cram it all in.

I had to attend to some stuff in the office, and then I was off to Vinopolis for the SITT tasting. SITT stands for 'specialist importers trade tasting' - a relatively recent fixture in the calendar, it has deservedly grown in size and popularity. There were some fantastic wines being shown, and I didn't have enough time to do them all justice. I spent most of my time at just four tables: Genesis Wine, Richards Walford, Clark Foyster and Raymond Reynolds. There are loads more I'd liked to have loitered by.

It's hard to pick a favourite wine from such a diverse and excellent sampling, but nicest funky wine of the tasting goes to Stephane Tissot's Arbois Chardonnay Les Bruyeres 2005. It's a simply wonderful wine with herby, minerally, reductive, tangy, nutty fruit. Complex and a bit weird, but really alive and interesting. (Guide retail £15, Genesis Wines)

After the SITT, I had an appointment with Tony Sharley, who runs Banrock Station for Hardy. Based in Australia's Riverland region, Banrock Station is a combination of wetland and vineyard. It supplies but a small portion of what goes into the Banrock Station wines (there are 700 growers on Hardy's books, contributing grapes that are then assigned according to quality to the various Hardy brands), but it is important to Hardy because Banrock is an environmentally aware brand. We talked a lot about water issues, which are very important in drought-hit Australia.

Then I headed off to meet up with Sam Harrop. We've several projects on the go, including a potential publication on wine faults and also a book on natural wine. It's always quite energizing meeting with someone like Sam.

Just two days to go with the day-job, so lots of sorting out to do there. And I'm doing a tasting in Dorking tomorrow night.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

A fantastic 'real' wine from the Jura

I love this wine. It's a red wine from the Jura region. Pale in colour, it's the antithesis of the big modern international style. We need more wines like this. But it's not just because of what it isn't that I like it - it has amazing qualities of its own. [As an aside, I've found when I'm judging that sometimes judges with old world palates go for new world wines that don't have any particular virtues, just because they aren't overblown, or oaky, or extracted. I think this is wrong, and I'm not praising this wine as a knee jerk reaction to big, sweet reds. I just like it a lot.]

Lucien Aviet (Caveau de Bacchus) Arbois Cuvee des Geologues 2002 Jura, France
Quite pale coloured. Brooding, earthy, subtly spicy nose which shows subtle cherryish fruit and a bit of undergrowth. It's all very elegant. The palate a savoury, earthy component to the supremely elegant, pure cherryish fruit, and there's a bit of tannic structure, too. Light, quite bright and rather intriguing, with a subtly green, sappy note in the background. Brilliant stuff: drink out of Burgundy glasses. 92/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene)

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