jamie goode's wine blog

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pinot Blanc times two: Luxembourg and Germany

Pinot Blanc is a wallflower grape that never gets much attention. Yet it can deliver really attractive wines. Tonight, two examples - one a cheap German from the Pfalz, the other from Luxembourg, freshly listed by Waitrose in the UK. Both are attractive, versatile whites with relatively modest price tags.

Palatium Pinot Blanc 2007 Pfalz, Germany
Bright, fresh and fruity with some melony richness to the fruit, as well as a touch of honey and a crisp, slightly herby, citrussy finish. With a hint of sweetness and a subtle smoky hint, this is a rather stylish, versatile, fruit-driven white that's good value for money. 84/100 (£5.29 Tesco)

Clos des Rochers Pinot Blanc Wormeldange Nussbaum 2006 AOC Moselle Luxembourgoise
I think this is the first wine from Luxembourg that I've tried, and it's pretty good. It's a sort of cross between Germany and Alsace in style. The rich, fruity, smoky spicy nose has real appeal. The palate is just off-dry, with a hint of sweetness to the rich, spicy, herby, baked apple and citrus fruit, which finishes nice and spicy. The high acidity keeps things fresh. A sophisticated white wine that's pretty useful with spicy food. This is actually really good value for money. 89/100 (£8.99 Waitrose)

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A pair from Monterey, California

California makes some great wine. It also makes some dire wine. I know this is a bit of a generalization, but in the UK we mostly see the former - central valley rubbish (the big Californian brands - I don't need to name names) - because the good stuff works out too expensive for our competitive market and tight wallets.

Part of the problem is that California seems to make a lot of very cheap wine, and a lot of very expensive wine, but the middle ground of good quality, affordable wine is a bit of a desert.

So it's nice to see a new pair of wines from Monterey, priced at £8.50 each, both of which taste pretty good. They are imported by Bibendum wine (http://www.bibendum-wine.co.uk/). I wasn't sure about the back labels (see the picture...'everyone remembers their first love...' puhleeze!), but the juice inside is very attractive.

Loredona Pinot Grigio 2006 Monterey, California

Iím not sure about the packaging: it comes in a clear-glass, Alsace-shaped bottle that doesnít flatter the wine at all. But the juice itself is quite nice. It has a grapey, fresh nose thatís a little spicy Ė it reminds me a bit of Muscat. The palate has a bit of herby freshness and a slightly rounded texture. An attractive wine. 87/100 (£8.50 retail, agent is Bibendum)

Loredona Pinot Noir 2005 Monterey, California
Bright, focused, slightly sweet cherry and raspberry fruit on the nose. The palate is fresh and fruit driven, with the sweet fruit countered nicely by good acidity and a spicy twist. Itís a focused wine of real appeal that avoids being overly jammy or sweet, even though it is made in an attractively modern, fruit driven style. Quite delicious. 89/100 (£8.50 retail, independents and on-trade, agent is Bibendum)

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Wild Honey with Hannes Sabathi

I met with young Austrian winemaker Hannes Sabathi (pictured) today for lunch.

The venue was Wild Honey (newly Michelin starred) in St George Street. It's simply fantastic: some of the best food I've had in a long time - my slow-roasted pork belly, served with a remarkable risotto, containing chorizo among other things, was close to perfect. Hannes had a gorgeous looking medium-rare roast of veal. My creme brulee to finish with truly was perfect. The ambience is good too. The only thing that let it down a bit was the patchy service: at one point we were presented with someone else's desserts, and it took an age to see sight of the wines that Hannes had bought with him.

Indeed, the restaurant seemed very confused by the whole process of bringing wines along, even though this had been negotiated at the time of booking. In the end we got them, and remarkably they didn't charge us any corkage.

So, how were Hannes' wines? Not yet 28, and running the family winery, he seems to be doing a brilliant job. The winery is in Sudsteiermark (Southern Styria), which specializes in Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Muskateller. The Klassik wines are precise and fresh, while the Single Vineyard wines have real personality and depth, allied to a minerally precision. There's also a reserve line, and the two Sauvignon Reserves I tried, 2003 and 2006, are among the best expressions of this grape I've yet to experience.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Interesting South African Pinot Blanc

I don't think I've ever had a Pinot Blanc from South Africa before, but this is a really good one. It's from pioneering winery Flagstone's BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) project Ses'fikile (see more here and here).

Ses'fikile Folklore Pinot Blanc 2007 Western Cape, South Africa
This is a really interesting white wine made from underrated variety Pinot Blanc, with a little Sauvignon blended in, too. It has a fruity, bright yet creamy nose. The palate is soft with lovely texture and a smooth creamy richness to the pear and white peach fruit. It's broad, moderately aromatic and delicious - quite unlike any south African white I've tasted before. 90/100 (£8 Marks & Spencer)

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