jamie goode's wine blog

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A remarkable Roussillon white: Matassa

This is a brilliant wine, but it won't be to everyone's tastes. It's the sort of wine that if I were a sommelier, I'd warn people about. This is because it has some reduction, but for me this is good reduction: matchstick and flint, which I think will set this wine up for a long future, and which adds complexity in this context (and this doesn't 'blow off' - it's still there on day 3 - I think this idea of reduction blowing off with air is not always true). Quite profound.

Matassa Blanc 2007 Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes, France
13% alcohol. 70% Grenache Gris, 30% Maccabeu. This is a serious, complex, backward wine that’s a bit of an acquired taste, but which I think is brilliant. It has a smoky, minerally, almost salty nose with some nuttiness and a bit of burnt match reduction. The palate is dry, savoury and intensely mineral with a long, nutty, broad finish. There’s real focus and intensity to this wine: it’s not at all fat. Just delicious, and all set for an interesting evolution over the next 5–10 years. 93/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene)

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dangerously drinkable natural wine

Currently finishing off the remains of a bottle of a dangerously drinkable natural wine. It's beautifully packaged in a minimalist/modern style, and finished with a bright red synthetic cork that I'm not 100% keen on (although I respect the attitude shown here by the producer).

Les Foulards Rouges 'La Soif du Mal' Vin de Table de France (NV)
No vintage declared (although the code 'L06' on the label indicates one), this light coloured red is utterly delicious and very drinkable. It has aromas of sweet cherry fruit with a sappy edge and lively purity, countered by an earthy, spicy note. The palate is bright and supple with a spicy, herby character that I often get in natural wines, as well as fresh, rather savoury cherry fruit. Think somewhere between new Zealand Pinot Noir and a deliciously fresh Gamay from the Beaujolais, and you've got something of the character of this wine. It's light, fragrant and aromatic. 13.5% alcohol, but it tastes lighter than this. This is remarkable, considering that this wine is a 70/30 Syrah/Grenache blend from the Roussillon. 'Soif du Mal' translates, I guess, as a wicked thirst, and this is the sort of wine that will certainly satisfy a thirst. 91/100 (UK agent: Les Caves de Pyrene)

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A busy day of tasting, plus Monty's red!

Two very good tastings today. I started off at the Bunch press tasting at the Century Club. All the serious people were there, plus me (non-serious, of course). The Bunch is a coalition of six pretty serious wine merchants: Tanners, Berry Bros & Rudd, Lay & Wheeler, Adnams, Corney & Barrow and Yapp. Each merchant brings six wines plus one for lunch, although most of them sensibly had the lunch wine on the tasting table, too, because serious journalists don't tend to have long lunches washed down with wine these days. [Although, there is something to be said for actually enjoying drinking wine as opposed to just tasting it. On press trips, I often have wine with lunch, but not in the UK. Perhaps I have an inhibited, prohibitionist streak?] Lots of people asked me what I'd done to my face: obviously they don't read this blog.

I'll mention many of the wines I tasted later on this blog, because there were some really good ones. Tastings like this remind me why I love wine, and confirm to me that I've made the correct career choice. But just one will get a mention now, and this is an unofficial wine that was sneaked in by Adnams - it's Monty's Red. Attentive readers will recall my review of the first episode of Chateau Monty, a reality TV series on Channel 4 (Thursday, 8 pm) that has elements of wife swap, find a new home abroad and all manner of other reality TV delights. It follows the progress of wine journalist Monty Waldin as he sets out to make a wine in the Roussillon. And this is the final product. My verdict? He's done really well. It's a lovely wine that I really like, and which is better than he thinks, if the self-deprecating back label is his honest view - at £7.99 it's a really good buy.

Monty's French Red 2007 Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes, France
Lovely spicy, earthy edge to the fruit on the nose - quite savoury with some tarry notes. The palate is savoury and has an earthy undercurrent to the fruit, which is bright and expressive. A lovely wine, made in a style I really love. 90/100 (£7.99 Adnams)

After the tasting I headed over to Lillywhites to buy a cricket helmet. I've never worn one before, but my experience on Monday showed me how vulnerable the face is to a hard ball. Losing a couple of teeth would be very expensive indeed. It's not just the quick bowlers that are the problem: when I played at Colchester this year one of the guys on our team had just spent £5K replacing his two front teeth which he'd lost against a spinner when he top-edged a sweep.

Then it was off to Vinoteca (fabulous wine bar in St John Street, but that's another story) for a tasting of Burgundies from HG Wines, the wine merchant arm of St John restaurant. These guys have bought very well, and I really enjoyed their wines. More to follow.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Chateau Monty: a new national TV series on wine

Monty Waldin, a British wine writer who has been living in Italy for the last few years, is one of the best known commentators on (and advocates of) biodynamic wine growing. He's the focus of a new TV series, Chateau Monty, which begins on Channel 4 (UK) tomorrow night. The program follows his efforts to make wine biodynamically in France's Roussillon region, and I have reviewed the first episode on the main wineanorak site here. I think it's worth a watch, and it's good that wine is back on national TV.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

A photoshoot, a Merlot and a Roussillon red

Spent most of the day at Denbies winery (www.denbiesvineyard.co.uk) doing a photoshoot for the Sunday Express. This required the services of quite a team: a photographer plus her assistant, a make-up person, the section editor plus her assistant, the art editor, the fashion stylist and me. I was dressed in a white linen suit, brown shoes and a panama hat. While we were shooting in the vineyards a team of cyclists passed us and one of them commented loudly, 'It's the man from del monte'. I was embarrassed. We shot pictures in the cellar, too. The results will be in a special section in the magazine on summer drinks, on August 3rd. It was a really interesting and slightly surreal experience.

Two wines this evening. The first is a Merlot from Australia. Many readers will have switched off at this point, because Merlot sucks most of the time, and almost always when it comes from Australia. But this is quite a good one.

The second is a Roussillon red from the holy trinity of Mourvedre, Syrah and Grenache, and it's nicely dense and rather attractive.
Linda Domas Wines Boycat Merlot 2006 McLaren Vale, Australia
Slightly reductive on the nose, with a hint of burnt rubber, but also some really fresh, vibrant berry fruit, as well as a hint of gravel. The palate is juicy and medium bodied, with delightfully expressive, fresh, sweet red berry fruit, a trace of blackcurrant, and also some spicy tannins on the finish. I guess that the McLaren Vale isn't the best place in the world to grow Merlot, but this is still a very attractive, supple, sweetly fruited wine of some appeal. Elegant and very berryish. 88/100 (£8.99 Marks & Spencer)

Domaine Treloar Three Peaks 2006 Cotes du Roussillon, France
This attractive southern French red is the inaugural vintage from this producer, a Kiwi-English collaboration farming just 10 hectares in the Roussillon. It's a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. A concentrated wine with sweet-yet-focused red and black fruits with a spicy lift. There's a distinctly savoury, spicy quality to this wine which has enough tannin and acidity to keep it quite fresh. Finishes distinctly savoury and quite grippy. A food-friendly style that may develop nicely over the next few years. 90/100 (£10.25 Leon Stolarski)

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Argentina and the Roussillon: two big reds

Two big, generous red wines:

Domaine Treloar ‘Tahi’ 2006 Côtes du Roussillon
The top wine from this domaine, who advocate the use of sustainable viticulture. It’s a big old wine, made with a fair dollop of new oak, but there’s more than enough fruit to deal with it. Tight, dark, concentrated and quite tannic, this could do with a few years to become more approachable and is potentially very long-lived. Ripe dark fruits dominate, with a subtly roasted coffee oak edge and a bit of plummy bitterness on the finish. There’s a lot going for this wine, but it’s pretty tannic and full-on at the moment, and the tannins overpower the finish. I’d be fascinated to see how this wine will taste in a decade: I reckon it will be pretty serious. 93/100 (£16.50 Leon Stolarski here)

Landelia Malbec ‘Single Vineyard’ 2005 Agrelo, Mendoza
A bit of a bargain this: it’s a dense, dark, fruit driven Malbec of real poise, with some purity to the sweet dark fruits nose that’s nicely complemented by some meatiness and a bit of spice. The palate is densely fruited with chocolatey richness and earthy, spicy complexity, finishing quite savoury. Tastes much more expensive than it is, and is acceptably modern, with lovely focus and purity. Surprisingly low alcohol (13.5%) considering how ripe the fruit profile is. 91/100 (£8.49 Virgin Wines)

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Three whites

If you pushed me, I’d have to confess to being a red wine sort of guy. It’s reds that I tend to plump for, unless my food choice absolutely dictates a C-thru (as some Aussies refer to white wines).

Tonight, three whites to report on. A seductive, aromatic Californian; a Roussillon white that I was a little harsh on yesterday; and a surprisingly good inexpensive white Rioja.

Folie à Deux Ménage à Trois 2005 California
This is really interesting. It’s a blend of Chardonnay, Moscato and Chenin Blanc from California and it works. The result of this coming together of three rather different varieties is an accessible, pretty, grapey aromatic white with good balance between the floral, grapey aromas, a little touch of sweetness, and acidity to keep things fresh. A wine for casual sipping that doesn’t need food, and which would really appeal to novice wine drinkers. It’s just good fun. 85/100 (£7.50 http://www.winedirect.co.uk/)

Domaine Lafage Cuvée Centenaire Blanc 2005 Côtes du Roussillon, France
This is made predominantly from 100 year old white Grenache vines, fermented in oak. I was a little unfair declaring this to be like Chilean Chardonnay when I tasted it yesterday. There’s prominent oak here, but closer inspection reveals an extra dimension that I’d like to believe comes from the old vines and terroir. The nose shows vanilla, nuts, honey and a subtle, fresh minerality. The palate has nice fresh, almost lemony fruit, alongside the richer toasty, nutty oak and some tropical fruit richness. If these were my old vines, I’d pick a little bit earlier and tone down the oak (use old rather than new, and perhaps 500 litre rather than 225 litre) and aim at a reductive élévage that brings out the flinty minerality in a more pronounced way. This isn’t a bad wine – I quite like it, and at £6.99 it’s a total bargain. But I reckon it could be a bit better and have more of a personality. 86/100 (£6.99 Waitrose)

Rioja Gran Familia White 2006 Rioja, Spain
Hand-picked Malvasia and Viura, without any of the oak that sometimes kills off white Rioja. The fresh, bright nose is quite lemony with some nutty, honeyed depth. The palate is crisp with good acidity and lovely fruity, herby, slightly nutty flavours. Nice balance and freshness: delicious for the price. 84/100 (£4.99 Tesco, Co-op)

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Almost summer, and three blind wines

Pictured is Regent's Park this lunchtime, taken with my Pentax *ist DL2 and posted using Google's Picasa (that's what the little coloured logo at the bottom of this post represents). I've been playing around with Flickr a lot, but Picasa seems quite a promising way of dealing with pictures on your computer, rather than on the web.

As you can see, it's almost a summer's day: it feels a bit fresh, but there's some sunshine, and no rain so far. It would be great if we could get some proper summer weather - I expect wine and beer retailers would like it, too. I wonder whether the sustained damp weather has put the brakes on the remarkable rise in rose sales in the UK over the last couple of years.

Last night Fiona tried another three blind wines on me. The first was an oaky white that I reckoned was a really good Chilean Chardonnay. Turned out to be an oaky Grenache Blanc from Domaine Lafage in the Roussillon. What's the point of making Grenache Blanc taste like Chilean Chardonnay? Then a red. Red berries, quite fresh, new worldy, with just a tiny hint of greenness - I called this as a really good Chilean Merlot - turned out to be Dona Dominga's Syrah Carmenere. Very nice, actually. Finally, a crappy South African Cabernet Sauvignon showing oxidation and greenness. It was all over the place and I couldn't get it at all. That's one thing that will always trip a blind taster up - an out of condition wine.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

A winter Maury warmer

I feel a cold coming on. Colds are a pain for wine tasting. I find you have a couple of days where you can still taste well after the first signs of a cold, and then that's it for a few days. No point in tasting. And for me, there's no point in drinking wine if I can't 'get' the wine, unless of course I have a pressing need to get drunk (which, fortunately is rare).

This point about 'getting' a wine is an interesting one, philosophically. It suggests we all think that there is an objective side to wine tasting: that there is something of the wine that is there to be 'got'. Irrespective of differences in perception, education, and cultural leanings, the wine itself possesses something that we strive to capture in our tasting.

I digress. Tonight it's time for something warm. After an abnormally warm October, November has seen the onset of some reassurringly cold weather, and even a bit of frost in the morning. The wine this evening, to accompany some home-baked bread and a big slab of Comte, is a Maury. From the far south of France, these are fortified wines made in a similar style to Port.

Mas Amiel Vintage 2004 Maury, France
Beautifully packaged, this is a fortified Grenache made by the addition of spirit to part fermented wine. It's not as alcoholic as Port - weighing in at 16% this is only a little stronger than many modern table wines - and it is made in a Vintage Port style, with the wine ageing for just a short period in cask before being bottled. The result is a complex, vividly fruity wine with a nose of spicy, herby red and black fruits that leads to a palate with lovely vivid, spicily tannic red fruits that shows warmth and grip. Quite sweet, but this sweetness is well balanced by good acid and spicy tannins, so it is not at all cloying. A thought-provoking wine that's drinking very well now but which will probably also age nicely into a mellow softness. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£14.95 Lea & Sandeman)

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