jamie goode's wine blog

Friday, January 15, 2010

Houghton The Bandit Shiraz Tempranillo

Very impressed by this. It's a western Australian red by Houghton, the 2008 Bandit Tempranillo Shiraz (75%/25% in favour of Shiraz). Lovely vibrant, primary berry fruits with great definition and freshness, as well as a hint of spice and a bit of structure. Beautifully poised between the sweet fruit and the fresh savouriness, without any hint of jamminess. Quite food friendly and with oak playing a background, supporting role at most. It will soon be available at £8.99 from Ocado.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Penfolds pair

I grew up with Penfolds. When I was getting into wine, the likes of Bin 369, Bin 28 and Bin 128 were staples. Grange was cheap then (1993 = £35), comparitively speaking, but I wasn't ready to spend this much on wine, so I skipped it. Alas. There was a period when the Penfolds wines seemed to be less impressive, during the late 1990s and early noughties, but they seem to have picked things up a bit.

Two from the current Penfolds portfolio:

Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz 2005 Coonawarra
14% alcohol, tin-lined screwcap seal, French oak. Cabernet is the variety more normally associated with Coonawarra, but Shiraz can do well here. This is very fresh, bright, a bit minty, meaty and has some spicy oak alongside the fresh blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. I like the fresh dark cool-climate-ish fruit character; I'm less convinced by slightly unresolved nature of the sweet oak and lemony acidity that currently stick out a bit. It's almost as if there's a disconnect between the sweetness of the dark fruit and the brightness of the (added) acidity. Still, it's a very well made, appealing wine that has a degree of seriousness to it. 88/100 (£11.99 Majestic, Tesco.com)

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2006 South Australia
14.5% alcohol, cork seal, American oak. This is quite lovely: a wine that is integrated and at ease with itself. A dark colour, it is concentrated with rich, spicy blackberry and blackcurrant fruit and some cedary complexity. The richness of the fruit works well with the American oak, yielding a dense, bold, spicy wine with some meaty depth to it. It will probably age quite well, although it's drinking now, in its own chunky way. A crowd pleaser, too. 89/100 (£11.99 Majestic, Co-op, Tesco.com)

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Great value Shiraz, part 9

I just keep coming across affordable examples of the wonderful Syrah grape that have loads of personality and interest. Here's one from Spain that has some of that lovely meaty Syrah character to it. Actually, it reminds me a bit of the Porcupine Ridge Syrah from South Africa.

Hacienda El Espino 1707 Syrah 2007 Alamansa, Spain
13.5% alcohol, 3 months in French and American oak. Lovely ripe meaty, olive, floral nose. The palate is midweight, meaty, and spicy with plummy, berryish fruit. Really attractive with a lovely savoury character. 87/100 (£8.49 therealwineco.co.uk)

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Two fantastic Syrahs from Great Southern

Great Southern is a region in Western Australia. As the name suggests, it's in the south of the state, and it's one of Australia's coolest wine regions. These two Syrahs are very cool-climate in style, and they're fantastic.

Both wines are made with fruit from the same vineyard by winemaker Andrew Hoadley. This is what he has to say about La Ciornia, which is under his personal wine label La Violetta:

'The inspiration for La Ciornia comes from my time spent working in Barbaresco in Piedmont 2002-2003. The local Piedmontese varieties (the well-known Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto, and obscurities such as Freisa, Grignolino, Pelaverga) encompass the extremes of red winemaking (in terms of site expression, colour, tannin, aromatics, acidity, using oxygen constructively, etc) so you need to think creatively and have a steady nerve to get the results. Also, being an important culinary centre, most often the focus is on how the wines will function in context with food - rather than aiming for maximum ripeness/fruitiness/extract. When I first came to Denmark and tasted the extraordinary 2007 Kalgan River shiraz in barrel, I immediately had the desire to get hold of some fruit from that vineyard and see what I could do with it, aiming for a slightly divergent style - a shiraz that my Piedmontese friends would love to drink - relatively strict and unadorned, expressing the vineyard character.'

Kalgan River Shiraz Viognier 2008 Great Southern, Western Australia
14.5% alcohol, hand-picked. Very fresh and peppery with vibrant dark cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit, together with a savoury olive streak. This shows lovely peppery cool climate Syrah character, as well as having some rich fruitiness. Youthful, quite serious, with some structure. 92/100 (£16 auswineonline.co.uk)

La Violetta ‘La Ciornia’ Shiraz 2008 Great Southern, Western Australia
14% alcohol. Very fresh and bright: almost Burgundian in its style. Subtly meaty with sweet cherry and red berry fruit, as well as some restrained spicy notes. Quite rich, but overall more red fruits than black with good acidity and a peppery edge. Pure, primary and vibrant with brightness and freshness. I think this will be sensational in a few years (and would therefore get a higher rating), although it’s still impressive in this primary state. 91/100 (£23 auswineonline.co.uk)

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Great value Shiraz, part 8

I'm still in my pursuit of great value Shiraz/Syrah. Here's a good-un from today's Sainsbury's press tasting.

Sacred Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2007 New Zealand
13% alcohol. From the Gimblett Gravels, this is a really impressive Syrah at a good price. It has a fresh, spicy nose with notes of white pepper, cloves, meat and blackcurrant fruit. The palate is fresh and pure with focused black fruits backed up by some spicy, savoury notes. Berryish and pure, and a lovely cool-climate expression of Syrah. 90/100 (£8.99 Sainsbury's)

(will be available from 25/10/09)

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Clonakilla vertical: one of Australia's new classics

Had lunch today with Tim Kirk of Clonakilla, tasting a vertical of Clonakilla's amazing Shiraz Viognier back to 1997. For those of you unfamiliar with this wine, it's one of Australia's new classics. Clonakilla is based half an hour's drive from Canberra. I visited back in 2006, and I really enjoyed both the wines and also meeting Tim and his father David.

The Shiraz Viognier is a blend of cool-climate Syrah and just a little Viognier - typically 5-6% - and it works perfectly. I found the vertical quite thrilling, because these wines have beautiful floral aromatics, complex red fruit characters and terrific acidity and freshness. They're quite elegant, and they age well.

My favourites included the crazy white pepper infested 1999 (made from a second crop after serious frosts took the first shoots), the brilliant 2001, 2002 and 2005, the amazing rare 2007, and the ethereal 2008.

We're lucky to get any of this wine in the UK (UK agent is Liberty). Tim could happily sell his whole production to his mailing list customers in Australia, and get more for it, too.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Great value Shiraz, part 5

Latest installment in my selection of great value Shiraz, here's another South African.

Zalze Shiraz Mourvèdre Viognier 2008 Western Cape
14.5% alcohol. Great value here. Rich, smooth, pure dark fruits with a lovely meaty, slightly peppery edge. Good focus and bright acidity supporting the bright fruit, with sweetness as well as a more savoury dimension, too. The Viognier seems to add a floral, slightly peachy/fruity appeal to the nose without making it taste confected. A really successful wine of great appeal, and worth at least £2 more then the retail price. (£5.99 Waitrose)

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Great value Shiraz, part 4

Here's a remarkably good value wine. It's normally just a fiver, but will (I'm told) soon be on promotion at 3 for £10 in Asda. That's amazingly cheap for what is a reasonably serious and delicious drop.

Pléyades Shiraz 2007 Cariñena, Spain
Sweet, rich dark fruits nose with some lovely smooth-textured plum, raspberry and blackberry fruit on the palate, together with a bit of meatiness. Lovely freshness and definition here: this is certainly stylish for the price. It won a Decanter gold medal; I think this is a bit excessive, but it’s still a really good wine, and it really over-delivers at this price point. 87/100 (£4.98 Asda)

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Great value Shiraz, part 3

Here's a brilliant Aussie Shiraz that costs just £7.99 from Oddbins (here) and is 20% cheaper as part of a mixed case, taking it down to £6.39 a pop.

It's Gemtree Vineyards Tadpole Shiraz 2008 McLaren Vale. Organic grape production, natural winemaking and minimal handling (this is unfiltered; the Oddbins info is wrong here) have resulted in a deep coloured, thick textured wine with lovely richness and generosity to the fruit, as well as good definition and a bit of meaty savouriness. It's one of those bottles that gets finished pretty quickly because it has that quality of deliciousness. Really superb effort, and I rated it as high as 90/100 for its lovely purity and relative complexity that you don't normally find at this price point. Buy some now!

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

To celebrate the Ashes, something uniquely Australian

What to drink to celebrate England's memorable victory over Australia? [Cricket, by the way, for the benefit of those sensible non-sporting types.]

Has to be something uniquely Australian, so I've turned to a sparkling Shiraz. Quite nice it is, too, and fizz is always appropriate for a celebration.

Scarpantoni Black Tempest Sparkling Shiraz NV McLaren Vale, Australia
13.5% alcohol. Deep coloured, this fizzy red has lovely balance, with the fizziness adding bite to the sweet, ripe, chocolatey plum and blackberry fruit. There are also some earthy, spicy notes here, giving a savouriness to what might otherwise be an overly confected style. I reckon this would be quite food friendly, but it's also delicious on its own. Weird but nice: as Sparkling Shiraz goes, this is one of the good ones, and it will age nicely. 89/100 (£15.99 Laithwaites)

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Great value Shiraz, part 2

Another great value Shiraz. It's Asda's Extra Special Shiraz 2008 Vin de Pays d'Oc, which is made for them by Jean Claude Mas, Languedoc superstar.

This is an example of brilliant commercial winemaking, and it over-delivers for its price (which, I think, is £6.07, but I've seen this for closer to £5 on offer). It's sweetly fruited, well defined and has some meaty complexity to it. It's very drinkable, with a hint of seriousness. I like the fact that it tastes of Syrah. Do try it if you get the chance.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Video: tasting three great Syrahs from South Africa

Here's a clip of me tasting three rather good Syrah/Shiraz wines from South Africa. I've had half a dozen over the last week, and they've all exceeded my expectations. Less of the South African character, more purity to the fruit, and some personality, too.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Clare Valley: two good-uns from Mitchell

A few years back Andrew and Jane Mitchell kindly let me stay for a couple of nights at their home, when I visited the Clare Valley (see report here). I missed Andrew on a recent trip he made to the UK, but he left a couple of wines for me to try. These are pretty impressive: a pair of high-end, late-release wines under the McNicol label.

Mitchell McNicol Riesling 2005 Clare Valley
Intense, limey nose with some richer honey and tropical fruit notes. It's quite mineralic, too. The palate is bold and rich with limey, spicy intensity, good concentration, and a lovely minerality. Dry but rich, with wonderful depth of flavour. Clare Valley at its best. 92/100

Mitchell McNicol Shiraz 2001 Clare Valley
Evolving really nicely with a focused nose of sweet blackberry fruit, with some rich tarry notes and a mineral dimension. The palate shows nice balance between the sweet dark fruit and the almost salty, spicy structure. Good concentration with good supporting oak. 91/100 (£15.50 Haynes, Hanson & Clark)

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Two mad dogs from the Barossa

Fellow blogger and Barossa grape grower Matthew Munzberg recently sent me two vintages of his own wine to try. It's a Shiraz called 'Mad Dog', and is brilliantly packaged. I like the wines a lot: typical Barossa style, with lots of character. Matthew makes 400 cases from the best of his 35 hectares of vineyards in the heart of the Barossa, and the wine is available in the UK from Corney & Barrow (here) for £15.99 a bottle.

Mad Dog Shiraz 2006 Barossa, Australia
15.5% alcohol, sealed with a tin-lined screwcap. Very sweet, vibrant nose of plum, spice and blackberry with a hint of vanilla. The palate is rich and lush with dense fruit. It's quite sweet with ripeness and high alcohol, but also some nice spiciness. A rich, generous Barossa Shiraz that's ripe but still well defined. 91/100

Mad Dog Shiraz 2005 Barossa, Australia
14.5% alcohol, cork sealed. Beginning to open out with dense, spicy, tarry herby savouriness as well as sweet fruit. The palate is rich and ripe with blackberry and raspberry fruit. There are hints of menthol, tar and earth, as well as spicy oak. A classic Barossa style with some more evolution and savoury spiciness than the 2006. 89/100

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2003

I have a soft spot for Clonakilla. I love the wines, and I also really like the people behind the wines. [See my report of a visit a few years ago here.] It seems odd that one of Australia's top wines - the Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier - should come from a lesser known region - that of the Canberra District.

This is the more affordable Hilltops Shiraz, from the 2003 vintage. It's a slightly perplexing wine, which tastes a bit reduced and meaty, but which has plenty of personality. I think I would have liked this more a couple of years ago when the fruit was more intense and pure. But it's still a very nice wine indeed.

Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2003 Canberra District, Australia
Dark, intense, slightly reduced meaty nose showing rich blackberry fruit. The palate is dense and ripe with sweet dark fruits and also an attractive meaty, spicy dimension, with notes of olives, tar and earth under the sweet fruit. Still some tannin here, but I think it was better a year or two ago - although there's every chance this will blossom with further bottle age. 90/100

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Another Vinhao, and a Heathcote Shiraz

Two wines tonight. I'm finishing off the remainder of the Vinhao (red Vinho Verde) that I opened last night and posted an extended tasting note on here. I enjoy this style of wine a lot, while accepting that it's not to everyone's taste. It's a bit like drinking pressings straight from the press. There's a time and a place for it.

The second wine is a Shiraz from Heathcote that's quite striking.

Shelmerdine Merindoc Vineyard Shiraz 2005 Heathcote, Victoria
From a single 7.4 acre vineyard on granitic soils, wild ferment and aged in French oak. 14.5% alcohol. This has a complex nose of super-sweet blackberry and plum fruit with some meatiness, a hint of mint and a pure, almost liqueur-like richness. The palate is concentrated with lush, sweet, intense fruit combined with some spicy oak and complexing black olive, meat and herb notes, as well as hints of medicine. It's very much new world in style with its ripe, intense fruit, but there's some old world-style complexity here, too. Overall, though, while I'm impressed with its size and dimensions, it doesn't really pull together all that well as a whole: could the closure (screwcap) have anything to do with this? 90/100 (£23.99 Oddbins)

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Monday, December 15, 2008

John Duval Wines: high-end Barossa wines

Two wines this evening. I thought I'd go Australian, so I opened a couple of recent releases from John Duval. He spent 29 years at Penfolds, and, from 1986-2003, as chief winemaker John was the dude in charge of Grange, which is quite a heritage to mantain. He started his own label in 2003, and also consults in Europe, Australia and the Americas. I really like these wines, and I reckon they'll age beautifully. I do wonder, though, whether the tin-lined screwcap used here is the best closure for these sorts of wines. Might they show better with a decent quality cork? [Admittedly, it's quite a job getting a cork supplier who can deliver this...]

John Duval Wines Entity Shiraz 2006 Barossa Valley, Australia
14.5% alcohol. 17 months in French oak, 30% new. Deep coloured. Initially shy and simply fruity on opening, after time this picks up weight and begins to show its potential. Lovely aromatic, slightly meaty, pure dark fruits nose with blackberry, dark cherry, spice and violets. On the palate there’s real elegance to the dark fruits, which marry beautifully with the oak. This isn’t a big blockbuster style; rather it’s a brilliantly balanced, youthful Shiraz with masses of potential for future development. John Duval says that his aim with this wine is to produce a Shiraz with elegance and structure, and I think he’s achieved this. But it needs time. 93/100 (£20.99 Noel Young, Oz Wines, SWIG, Harperwells, Secret Cellar, Wimbledon Wine Cellar)

John Duval Wines Plexus Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvèdre 2006 Barossa Valley, Australia
14.5% alcohol. Half Shiraz, one third old bush vine Grenache, the remainder old bush vine Mourvèdre, aged mostly in old oak. This is dominated by sweet, plum, red cherry and blueberry fruit, with a lovely soft structure and some attractive peppery spiciness in the background. It’s lively and pure with a seductive lushness, but there’s enough spicy structure to provide balance. It’s delicious now, with real Barossa typicity, but it should age really nicely, too. 91/100 (£18.99 Noel Young, Oz Wines, SWIG, Harperwells, Secret Cellar, Wimbledon Wine Cellar)

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Elegant Shiraz from Victoria

On Tuesday afternoon I had some time to spare in central London, so I went visiting wine shops. One was Philglas & Swiggot, round the back of Selfridges. The wonderfully named Philglas also has a branch in Richmond, and the original shop in Clapham/Battersea, but this was the first time I'd been to their Marylebone store. Mike Rogers, the owner, was there, so I had a good chat with him and browsed the shelves. They've got a fantastic, hand-picked selection that's particularly strong in Australia and Italy. Mike admits that if he had to chose between France and Italy, it's the former that would get the boot.

A shop like this is wine geek heaven. You want to learn about wine? Find a shop like this, staffed by smart people who know wine. Use their recommendations and develop a relationship. Forget that wine-searcher shows that somewhere else has the same wine a pound cheaper - it's a false economy. [I'm not suggesting that Philglas are expensive; just that a shop like this won't always be the cheapest because of the overheads, and also the higher cost of hiring smart staff and buying geeky high-end wines.]

I bought just one bottle, but I'd liked to have walked out with a case. It was an Aussie Shiraz that Mike and his wife Karen have developed in conjunction with genius winemaker Mac Forbes. Now I'm not buying much Aussie wine at the moment, but I know Mac and the sort of style he likes, and I know that Mike and Karen understand Aussie wine really well, so it's worth a punt, I reckon to myself. And this is actually a really good wine, although it will be better in two or three years.

Rogers & Pietersen Mullens Vineyard Shiraz 2006 Moonambel, Victoria, Australia
At just 13% alcohol, this is an elegant, bright expression of Aussie Shiraz. It shows a nose of sweet, spicy blackberry and raspberry fruit that's well defined and a bit tight at the moment. The palate has good acidity and some tannic grip, with fresh, focused fruit and a sense of the flavour being hemmed in a bit, waiting to come out. There's some Rhone like meaty, spiciness that adds complexity, and I reckon that in three years this wine will have opened out beautifully and will just be singing. A serious effort, but don't drink it just yet. 91/100 (£16.99 Philglas & Swiggot)

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A crazy Pinotage and two from Waitrose

I can't help, when it comes to Pinotage, descending to a level of criticism that I object to when I see it from others, if you know what I mean. I become dogmatic and opinionated.

Normally, I reckon I'm an open-minded sort of guy. I embrace diversity. Live and let live; see the best in everything; every cloud has a silver lining; everyone deserves a second chance.

But Pinotage is vile. In fact, I've thought of both a new competition, and also a new way to assess wine show judges based on this variety. The new competition is for the World's Least Vile Pinotage, and perhaps I should brand this with my name to make it an excercise in ugly self-promotion (as some other, nameless, writers do with top 100s and the like). And the new way to assess wine show judges is to give them a glass of Pinotage. If they say it's OK, they're sacked. If they dislike it, they are in. If they take a sip, cuss loudly and expel the contents from their mouths rapidly, then they are senior judges.

Anyway, I think I have found a potential winner for my competition. It's the Diemersfontein Pinotage 2007 Wellington, South Africa. The back label reads:
'This is the one! The original coffee/chocolate Pinotage now in its seventh great vintage. It befriends - it converts - it seduces'

You know, Diemersfontein have sussed Pinotage. The way to make it work is to mask the flavours of the grape. This wine really does smell of coffee and chocolate, and it is seductive. There's a hint of roast bacon here, as well. The fruit is sweet, and it's actually quite delicious, in a rather strange, slightly weird way. This is available in the UK from Asda, and it's probably my favourite expression of Pinotage.

Also tasted tonight, with a barbecue after watching elder son play cricket (golden duck this time, alas, and after we'd spent ages in the nets trying to work on some sort of defensive strategy), a couple from Waitrose which go well with this balmy summer's evening. They're from the Waitrose own-label range, which are sort of hybrid 'in partnership with' wines.

The first is a beautifully balanced, rich Sauvignon from Villa Maria (Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007) that's really delicious. The second is a Barossa Shiraz 2006 Reserve from St Hallett, which is smooth and pure with nice texture and a hint of vanilla and chocolate. It's suave and stylish, if a little primary.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Lord of the rings, and more wine

As I think I've mentioned here before, our boys are adopted. They're brothers, and they have two sisters who are also adopted with another couple. We get together a couple of times a year, home and away, and it's usually good fun.

This weekend we're here in London, and we thought it might be nice to go to the theatre. So we booked tickets for Lord of the Rings. I'm not a huge fan of musicals - lots of songs and dancing and all that. But it was actually fantastically creative, although our younger son didn't get the concept: 'That was so fake', he said at the end. The set and lighting were utterly incredible, and the way that this complicated, action-packed plot was dealt with on one stage was imaginative and totally memorable.

It was long, though, and I fell asleep during one of the fight scenes, but then I was up late last night watching Peep Show and the Mighty Boosh, so I was quite tired. My bad.
Tonight, we're trying a few wines. The De Bortoli Shiraz Viognier 2004 is even better than last night, showing lovely focus and dark peppery fruit, although there is a hint of greenness - I guess the challenge is to get 'old world' focus and freshness by picking earlier, but then to avoid overt greenness.
A real hit for me is the Churchill Estates 2006 Douro, which is fresh with lovely dark, plummy fruit. It has a slightly bitter plummy tang on the palate, but it really tastes of the Douro, which is a good thing. If you want an introduction to Douro reds, Churchill's is one of the few inexpensive examples that actually show some of the genuine Douro character.
Secano Estate Pinot Noir 2007 Leyda Valley, Chile is remarkably fresh, expressive cool-climate Pinot, with herby, slightly green, slightly reductive cherryish fruit. There's some plumminess here. It's just a little too green and reductive for me, but it is deliciously well defined and fresh. Promising, but there is still some work to do here.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday night thoughts

Had a day working from home today. A bit of a late start, but then some serious work on Brettanomyces, that most complex and interesting of wine 'faults'. Found out that the theme for my next Sunday Express column has been changed at short notice - this goes with the territory. Forgot to do some much-needed invoicing (I'm not the most financially motivated of writers). Walked the dog twice.

Then I took elder son to play golf at what turned out to be a really nice nine-hole course in Ascot called Lavender Park. Good greens, bunkers in good nick, thoughtful layout - ideal place to learn how to play. Finished off by watching a rather dud film, Charlie Wilson's War. There was just something deeply wrong with the idea of a comedy about such a serious subject as the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and its aftermath. And casting ultra-clean Tom Hanks as a playboy congressman was simply absurd. Philip Seymour Hoffman is a serious actor who was also incongruous in his role, although he pulled it off well. Then a chance to catch the latest episode of Peep Show, which is a fantastic comedy. One of the best.

So, wine? Yes. Bonterra Rose 2007 Mendocino, California is pretty good - savoury and bright, a fusion of cranberry juice and red cherries, with some grassiness, too. It's very hard for a rose to be serious or really exciting, but this is rather nice. But, at £9.99 from Waitrose, it isn't cheap: I wonder whether it's ever necessary to pay £10 for a rose. Shaw & Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2006 is pretty impressive. It has a fantastic peppery, cool-climate Syrah character, with some meatiness and raspberry fruit. There's also a darker blackberry fruit character, and some spicy oak in the background. At the moment this is quite tight-wound and tannic, but I'm very impressed by the freshness and definition. This is pretty serious, and I'd rate it at 93/100. But perhaps this should have been labelled 'Syrah', to better reflect its old-world leanings, rather than 'Shiraz'?

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Friday, May 09, 2008

First barbie of the year, with three lovely Aussies

Just about to fire up the first barbie of the year, as I sit outside and write this blog entry. It will be for a ribeye steak, and to pair with it I have three delicious wines from Margaret River, Western Australia. They're all from Vasse Felix, one of the producers I didn't visit on my trip, this time last year.

It is my honestly held opinion that Margaret River is a serious wine region. It rocks. There's something about the best reds from here: they're ripe and intense, but they're also well balanced and well defined. You wouldn't mistake a Margaret River Cabernet-based wine for a classed-growth (at least, not in their youth), but there's a seriousness here. It's not quite best-of-old-world seriousness, but it's getting close.

But before I get to the wines, I have to log the fact that I'm a warm-climate sort of person. I love, more than almost anything else, to be able to sit outside in the evening at the end of a hot day. Yes, the cosy fireside has an appeal of its own in winter, but it doesn't come close to sitting outside, preferably surrounded by natural beauty, as the sun begins to dip. I also love eating al fresco at night (if it's possible to eat al fresco in the evening).

Vasse Felix Cabernet Merlot 2005 Margaret River
Lovely expressive well-balanced nose showing elegant blackberry and dark cherry fruit. The palate is ripe with lovely freshness to the sweet, berryish blackcurrant fruit, which is backed up by spicy tannins. Delicious stuff, with freshness, ripeness and balance. A delicious, expressive Margaret River red in quite an elegant style. 91/100 (£10.50 Majestic, Tanners, Christopher Piper)

Vasse Felix Shiraz 2005 Margaret River
Weighing in at 15% alcohol, this is a dense, deep coloured red with a nose that shows sweet dark fruits, but which is tight wound and spicy, too. The palate is sweet and dense with ripe, intense blackberry fruit and some firm spicy tannins providing a counter for this sweet, lush fruit. There's also a bit of a chocolatey, coffee-ish richness. Pretty serious stuff. 92/100 (£10.50 Hennings, Hailsham Cellars, Cambridge Wine Merchants)

Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Margaret River
This spends 18 months in French oak. An intense, sweet ripe nose showing blackcurrant fruit with some lovely earthy, chalky, spiciness and lush intensity. The palate is sweetly fruited with lovely depth and a really attractive minerality. A refined, fresh Cabernet of real depth, this has good medium term ageing potential. Intense but balanced. 94/100 (£14.50 Hailsham Cellars, Selfridges, Direct Wines)

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

New world Syrah with an old world feel

Sometimes living in England is a bit crap. It's April. Spring should be well underway. But after a lovely day yesterday, today was utterly nasty. I took older son and RTL for a walk along the river Crane while younger son was playing cricket on Twickenham green, and despite wearing my newly acquired, snazzy Terrazas hunting top (over an Achaval Ferrer polo shirt), I was freezing.

This afternoon we went over to Purley for the 40th birthday celebrations of a good friend, Michael, which meant we met up with a whole bunch of chums from when we were first married and living in south London. It was a fantastic event, with sumo wrestling, gladiators and a 'strongest man' competition. This involved various activities such as tossing the caber, welly throwing, and running a course carrying large rocks. The large rocks bit was the toughest test. You had to run to the end of the course and back carrying sequentially heavier rocks. The first and second were quite heavy, but the third was enormous and weighed as much as a small family car. I was in no danger of winning, but I was quite proud to have completed the course - it took about ten minutes to recover afterwards, and I still feel a bit weak now.

So, to the serious business of drinking wine. Two Syrahs tonight. Both from the new world. But both with a bit of old world style and freshness. In these days of £1 = Euro 1.25, it's reassuring that the new world isn't just pumping out big, super-ripe, obvious reds.

Howard Park Leston Shiraz 2005 Margaret River, Australia
Vibrant red/purple colour. The nose is distinctly Australian, with some mint, eucalyptus and tarry spiciness, along with sweet red and black fruits. The palate shows lovely freshness, with tight dark fruit and good acidity, along with well integrated oak. A really fresh, juicy style of Shiraz with real precision – I reckon this will age well. It’s a classically Australian style, but with more freshness and focus than most. I reckon this will be peaking in five years but good for 10 more. 91/100 (£14.50 Bibendum) 04/08

The Aurora Vineyard Syrah 2006 Bendigo, Central Otago, New Zealand
A beautiful cool-climate expression of Syrah. It has a really lovely white pepper and spice definition to the raspberry and dark cherry fruit, with an almost Burgundian elegance and freshness. There’s lovely purity to the fruit here, which is ripe and dark with great natural acidity. Real elegance here: it seems nicely poised between the new and old worlds in style. Not a big, dense, showy sort of wine, but utterly compelling – it reminds me of the best of the Gimblett Gravel Syrahs in style. Bendigo is a warm subdistrict of Central Otago, which explains why they’ve been able to make this wine from somewhere you wouldn’t expect to excel with Syrah. 92/100 (£16.99 http://www.hellionwines.com/) 04/08

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wines at home, from Argentina

Digging around on my sample racks recovered three Argentinean wines that I felt like trying. Two inexpensive reds were successful, offering great value for money. And a more expensive Chardonnay proved a fine match for a Spanish tortilla served with garlic prawns.

Aside: after a dismally damp day on Saturday, we had a taste of spring today. I spent a few luxurious hours pottering in the garden, doing some tidying up and planting. This year I'm determined that our garden should be pretty and productive.

Fuzion Shiraz Malbec 2007 Mendoza, Argentina
From Familia Zucchardi. Sweet, pure, ripe berry and black fruits dominate here, and there are some autumnal, foresty flavours, too. There's a hint of sweetness, but the dominant feature is the attractive pure fruit. Over-delivers for the price. Just 13% alcohol, too. 83/100 (£3.99 Somerfield)

Finca Flichman Reserva Shiraz 2006 Mendoza, Argentina
A dark, spicy, slightly meaty wine with lovely fruit intensity. This is joined by a subtle roast coffee edge, perhaps from the oak. There's some grippy structure on the palate which adds savouriness: I reckon this is a style best with food. Some substance here. 86/100 (£5.99 Waitrose, Stevens Garnier)
Terrazas Reserva Chardonnay 2006 Mendoza, Argentina
From high vineyards, at 1200 m altitude. This initially strikes me as very ripe, with tropical fruit, honey and vanilla to the fore. It's smooth, nutty and rich-textured, but there's also a brightness to the fruit, with some citrussy notes. It's a rounded, well integrated sort of wine of real appeal, although some might prefer their Chardonnays to have a bit more in the way of 'edges' and contrast between the various flavours. I like the way it is so 'together'. 89/100 (£10.99 Harvey Nichols)

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

This is not a football blog, a cracking affordable aussie, and a film

This is not a football blog. Therefore I shall say very little about today's Manchester derby, except that City were good value for their win over United. I'm also thrilled that the City fans respected the minute's silence. Vassell, Benjani, you beauties.

The wine tonight is one that surprised me. I don't expect a great deal for a sub-£6 Australian red, but this wine over-delivered. It was bright, fresh, a bit meaty, a bit peppery and very tasty.

Stamford Brook Shiraz Viognier 2006 South AustraliaMade for Sainsbury by Angoves. Lovely fresh sweet dark fruits nose with a bit of pepper and some meaty richness. Really focused and appealing. The palate is pure, peppery and bright with great balance. It’s not at all confected or soupy. For the price, this is really good: as well as sweet fruit, there’s a fantastic savouriness and a bit of old world peppery Syrah character that I really like. Delicious. 88/100 (£5.99 Sainsbury’s)

Finally, a film. We saw Atonement last night, after having read the book. The film was very true to Ian McEwan's novel, but the ending in the film is less ambiguous than that in the book. If anything, the film is clearer and better integrated, although you miss out on the delicious, rich, complex writing style of McEwan. It's really worth seeing - James McEvoy is simply fantastic, as he was in the Last King of Scotland.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Chicken run, a museum Riesling and a fairtrade Shiraz

Three rather different elements are thrown into the pot to create tonight's blogpost.

First, an aside - this blog has a google page rank of 6, while the main site index page has a page rank of 5. That's a bit odd. Am I spending too much time blogging?

The first element is some telly. It's not often that I sit down in front of the TV - even though the last two nights have seen Fiona and I get through four episodes of the West Wing (we're on series 3) - but tonight I watched the second program of Hugh's chicken run on C4.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is on a mission to wean the nation off intensively reared chickens. But denied access to film in the 'battery farms', he creates two scaled down chicken farms of his own in adjacent sheds, one free range and one intensive. I enjoyed the program, and I'm highly sympathetic to its aims: I believe we have a strong moral duty to treat with kindness the animals we are going to eat.

But I think this program may backfire, in part because of the honest intent shown by the program makers. Because I'd expected battery farming to look a lot worse than the vision of it presented by Hugh.

My preconceptions: I had thought the chickens were kept in small cages, and had their beaks clipped to prevent them from pecking holes in their neighbours, and that many of them died and were left to rot in situ. Instead, they are just kind of crowded and never see the sunlight, and the weak or sick are removed and sacrificed. It's not pretty, but it's better than I had anticipated.

The emotional bit in the program is when Hugh breaks down in tears because he has to finish off two sick birds in the same day. Look, I would hate to have to kill a chicken. But this is the man who raises pet pigs for the pot. I thought he was made of sterner stuff.

Still, despite the criticisms, I'll continue buying free range chickens (which are reared the same way, but in less dense situations, with bales of hay, plastic footballs, suspended CDs and access to an outdoor area). But the program makers are spinning this one out a bit with lots of shots of Hugh in his red Land Rover and various contrived reality TV moments. Hugh is very good on camera, though.

The second element is a really nice Riesling.

Pewsey Vale 'The Contours' Museum Release Riesling 2001 Eden Valley, Australia
Intense, fresh, limey nose with a pronounced spicy quality, and a bit of honey and toast. The palate is bone dry and piercing with high acidity, a lemony zing and an attractive freshness. It's quite complex and not too petrolly, with a delicious, precise 'nervous' sort of quality. Not heavy or phenolic. 91/100 (RRP - £10.99 Stockists: Berry Bros & Rudd, Selfridges & Co, Australian Wines Online, Premier Vintners, Free Run Juice, Averys of Bristol, Layton Wine Merchants, The Wineman)

The third is a delicious, affordable, quaffable Chilean Shiraz.

Marks & Spencer Fairtrade Shiraz 2007 Curico Valley, Chile
From Vinos Los Robles, this is really appealing. It's vibrant, juicy and aromatic, showing red and black fruits with a nice spiciness, and a savoury twist. It's fresh and quite pure, and lacks that off-putting rubbery greenness that some Chilean reds show. This isn't a wine to beat you around the head: it's really nicely balanced. Savoury finish. 85/100 (£5.49 Marks & Spencer)

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Three pre-Christmas wines I like

We're gearing up for Christmas in the Goode household. It's approached fast - indeed, this year has just zoomed by. And it feels a bit of an odd sort of Christmas, this year. Not in a bad way; just different. It could be that I'm facing a really important year in 2008, and this is playing on my mind. It could be that our family, which has seen its share of dysfunction (our boys are adopted, and had a very poor start to their lives, which has unfortunately set their emotional 'templates' a little askew), is actually beginning to work reasonably well. Whatever the reason, I'm looking forward more to the festive season this year than I have for some time.

On Friday afternoon we went to see a Christmas film at the wonderful IMAX cinema near Waterloo station. It was Polar Express in 3D, and if you have kids, I recommend it. The screen is fabulously large, and the sound system state of the art.

Then on Saturday it was time for a family winter picnic on Box Hill. We took RTL, of course, and half way round the walk set out our picnic rug, sat down, and had soup, bread, cheese and pate. The few passers by must have thought we were crazy, because it was mightly cold. But it was beautiful: there was a bit of mist in the air, along with some milky sunshine. Later in the afternoon I took elder son to the golf range, where there was a beautiful winter sunset. And I was really hitting the ball well.

Today we had friends round for what turned out to be a delightful Sunday lunch. We had some friends round last Sunday as well. It's good to be sociable, and friends are so much more rewarding than things, aren't they?

So, to some wines.

Cantina di Monteforte Soave Superiore Classico 2005 Italy
Made from 100% Garganega grapes by Kiwi Matt Thomson (he featured on this blog recently for a seminar he did on Brettanomyces). This is a really interesting wine, and it's relatively rare to be able to find an interesting wine for £7 these days. It's a richly flavoured white wine with a lovely minerally, herbal character, as well as richer melon/tropical fruits. There's depth, presence and richness here, but it's all in savoury balance. Fairly serious. 89/100 (£6.99 Waitrose)

Gemtree Vineyards Bloodstone Shiraz 2006 McLaren Vale, Australia
This screwcapped-sealed red is initially a bit dumb and simple on opening, but with several hours of air it begins to come to life. It's a rich Aussie Shiraz, but there's a bit more to it than just sweet fruit and oak. The nose shows attractive pepper spice, a hint of vanilla and bright, fresh raspberry and dark cherry fruit. The palate is fresh with nice tannic structure and vivid sweet red and black fruits. It's certainly a big wine that's sweetly fruited, but it doesn't descend into a sweet fruit mush - there's enough spicy, peppery freshness to act as a counter. The result is very appealing, but do give it time. 90/100 (£9.99 Oddbins)

Domaine Leon Barral Faugeres 'Jadis' 2002 Languedoc, France
Now for something a little different. This is a deliciously complex, funky Languedoc red that tastes a bit like a French version of Chateau Musar, the gloriously funky Lebanese red. If you approached this wine with a 'new world' mindset, you'd probably spit it out. But I think it's fantastic, because it really works, and it's tremendously food friendly. It has a warm, aromatic, spicy, meaty, earthy nose that's incredibly rich and inviting. The palate is rich and ripe, with meaty, earthy, savoury notes as well as sweet fruit. There's a slightly dry, subtly metallic finish, which is perhaps the only downside. I'd heartily recommend this wine, but be warned: it's on the funky side, and if you don't like your wines with a bit of funk, steer clear. 91/100 (£12.50 Les Caves de Pyrene)

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Heathcote Shiraz: regionality in Australia

Regionality is a bit of a theme in the new world, these days. People are recognizing that there are some sites that are just great for wine growing, which I guess fits in with the notion of terroir. In Australia, one of the buzz regions is Heathcote in Victoria (see here for an introduction to the region), which specializes in Shiraz wines with a real presence and freshness,

Tonight I'm drinking a Heathcote Shiraz with a real sense of place. It tastes like some of the other wines I've had from this region. The fact that, irrespective of winemaker, a certain place can produce wines that resemble each other, is something I find exciting.

Sanguine Estate Shiraz 2004 Heathcote, Australia
This is a really expressive Heathcote Shiraz with a sense of place. The nose is quite fresh with sweet dark fruits together with a bright peppery, meaty character. It's aromatically alive and fruit driven, with a really appealing, almost floral complexity. The palate is ripe, sweet and dekicious, but there's a lovely freshness to the dark fruits which prevents it from becoming over-the-top. It's definitely a warm climate wine, but it's also fresh and expressive, too. 92/100 (£16.95 Great Western Wine)

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fizz again, but of a different kind

I've been drinking a lot of fizz, recently, what with various celebrations and general self-indulgence and the like.

Tonight it is time for a rather different style of fizz: the red variety. One of Australia's specialities (or quirks, depending on how you look at it) is Sparkling Shiraz. I don't know who it was who initially thought it might be a smart idea to make a fizzy red, but their offbeat inspiration took off (to a degree), such that most big Aussie companies have one in their portfolio.

The one I'm drinking tonight is from Jacob's Creek, but big brand aside, it's a really good one. If you've never tried Sparkling red wine, this one would be a good place to start.

Jacob's Creek Sparkling Shiraz NV South Eastern Australia
Visually this is gorgeous, with the bubbles foaming up a beautiful pink colour over the dark red black core of the wine. This wine shows lovely pure, sweet plum and blackcurrant fruit with a nice dark, meaty edge to it. It finishes with a nice spritzy tang from the bubbles. There's a bit of sweetness here which adds to the texture, making it feel quite weighty. It's very ripe, but the alcohol is quite low at 12.5%. A very interesting, unique style of wine: it's perhaps just a little too sweet to serve with most foods, although with its low tannin and sweetness it works pretty well with cheese. 89/100 (£8.49 Sainsbury's)

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Chardonnay, Shiraz and Airfix

It's been an easy family day here chez Goode. And we don't have all that many of those. On this blog, I'm probably guilty of painting a picture of domestic bliss. But, like many families, I suspect, we have lots of struggles. [Indeed, one of the reasons why we probably have so many, and also one of the reasons why I don't post pictures of my children here, or name them, is because they are both adopted.] It's probably because of all the struggles that the times where we function as a normal family are all the sweeter. You've no idea how much pleasure a day out without serious conflict can bring us...

Having said this, things have been good of late. Since our day at Duxford, reported below, the boys have been crazy about Airfix models models. As someone who grew up on airfix models, I'm very pleased about this, and I've been happy to assist them, bathing in a warm glow of nostalgia as I sniff the heady aroma of enamel paint, polystyrene cement and white spirits. In this age of the playstation (I'm not knocking it - how we would have loved to have a playstation in our day - it would have killed a lot of boredom), doing something physical like assembling model kits has a sort of moral premium over the virtual world of electronic gaming.

The boys are currently working hard on various projects, including a Gnat, a Stuker, a Hawker Hunter, an M24 tank and a forward command post (whatever that is). A little militaristic, I agree, but then I did spend most of my childhood immersed in guns, tanks, planes and battleships without turning out to be at all violent (except on the football pitch). I think you grow up to realize the waste, sadness and tragedy of war - but you can still admire the Spitfire, Lancaster and B29 as fine aeroplanes.

Back to wine. Two Aussies tonight. The first, which is pictured, took me by surprise a little. I was expecting Hardy's Winemaker's Parcel Chardonnay 2005 to be commercial crap. But when I tasted it, I was really impressed by its balance. Then I looked more carefully at the label: it's from Padthaway, in South Australia. The terroir is the difference: in this case, red/brown loam over limestone, and a relatively cool climate. A great region for Chardonnay, and the soil has made this wine, which shows nice nuttiness, really good fruit, and a hint of almost Burgundian cabbagey reduction, which adds complexity. The big company, Hardy's, has done well here - this is a really nice Chardonnay.

The second wine is another which shows the benefit of a really good vineyard site. The vineyard in question? Jim Barry's Lodge Hill in the Clare Valley, and its the 2005 Shiraz. From several recent experiences, I'm beginning to think that the Clare Valley is a special place for red wine. Note follows:

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2005 Clare Valley
(Natural cork closure) Very deep coloured. Wonderful fruit purity here, despite the 15% alcohol which means that in the EU this wine has to be labelled 'special late harvested'. Ripe, sweet nose with lovely lush red and black fruits, but it's still alive and fresh. Not at all dead. The palate has pure, vivid spicy fruit with lovely focus, backed up by some tannic structure that keeps it savoury. There's a bit of alcoholic heat here, adding sweetness and bitterness at the same time, but that's my only negative on what is a lovely, intense, fruit-driven wine. 92/100

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Clonakilla revisited

Tried another bottle of Clonakilla's Hilltops Shiraz 2004. This isn't Clonakilla's top wine, the Shiraz Viognier, but is instead a sort of second wine made from fruit bought in from the Hilltops district near Young in New South Wales. It's fantastic stuff. Ripe, but not too ripe, with really well defined dark, meaty plum and blackberry fruit. There's a bit of sterness here alongside the sweet ripe fruit. It really works for me. I bought this from Andrew Chapman for about £13 a bottle, if I recall correctly.

Tomorrow morning I have an early start for a daytrip to Toulouse. It involves me getting a train at 0506, catching the Gatwick Express around 6 am and then flying with easyjet, then returning home around midnight. What joy! Should be a good day, but you can't be doing this sort of journey more than once or twice a week.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Craggy Range with Steve Smith

After the fun of last night, what better way to celebrate than a serious tasting and a good lunch. The focus was Craggy Range, a leading New Zealand producer, and it was hosted by MD Steve Smith (right), who is a specialist viticulturalist by training (he's worked with controversial viticultural guru Richard Smart before) and who is an MW.

We began by looking at a range of leading Sauvignons from New Zealand, first without food, and then with - the point being that those preferred by the group without food differed from those preferred with. Two of the wines were from Craggy Range, and generally these performed better with food. It's a textural thing, apparently.

Then we went to Craggy Range reds. First, three Bordeaux blends and three Syrahs from 2005. They were fantastic, particularly the Syrahs, which were mightily impressive, showing lovely freshness as well as intensity, with a distinctive peppery character and brilliant definition. Serious stuff.

Then Pinot Noir. Six different components from the Te Muna Vineyard in Martinborough, 2006 vintage, with different clones and oak usage. These were fantastic, with a couple striking me as dead ringers for utterly serious Grand Cru red Burgundy. Thrilling expression and structure: I've never encountered new world Pinot this good before. These components and others are blended together to make two wines, which we then tried: the Te Muna Vineyard Pinot Noir and the Aroha (a new supercuvee). Both were great.

Finally, with lunch four more wines, the pick of which was the Quarry 2001, a Bordeaux blend from the Gimblett Gravels, which is verging on first growth Bordeaux quality. A stunning wine that has wonderfully dense, expressive, earthy, minerally fruit of ripeness but also definition. It's just about drinking now but has the stuffing and structure to improve for many years to come.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bits and pieces, and a Brampton

It's been a relaxing weekend. Some good friends had our kids to stay over on Saturday night - I suspect any parents reading this will know what a treat this is. We went out for the evening to another set of friends for a birthday bash, which ended in a Karaoke session. My sole contribution: even though I was sober (I was driving), I did a mean Ian Gillan impression with Smoke on the water. It rocked. We were woken this morning at 0930 by the kids returning. Luxury.

Went to my allotment vineyard this afternoon with the intention of doing some pruning, and planting some new vines. Had time to plant just four, and prune half a dozen before the heavens opened. This year I'm hoping for a good crop. Two issues while I'm away in Australia and Singapore will be snail control and frost, neither of which I'll be able to do anything about as the first shoots are nervously sent out by my 60-odd vines.

A wine recommendation follows.

Brampton Shiraz 2004 Coastal Region, South Africa
This may be Rustenberg's second label, but don't let this dissuade you from seeking this beauty out. It has a nose of sweet dark fruits supported by some pepper, spicy notes and a dark, savoury meatiness, together with a hint of olive. The palate is sweetly fruited but at the same time quite savoury, showing some tannin. This is deliciously balanced, and could just about pass muster as an old world wine (a sort of combination of Languedoc, Northern Rhone and Southern Rhone). I'm uneasy about the fact that it's 15% alcohol, but the wine carries it remarkably well. Very good/excellent 90/100 (on checking, I find this is the same score I gave the wine when I visited in December 2005, which is reassuring.) UK availability: Waitrose, Andrew Chapman, South African Wines Online, around £8.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Zontes Footstep

I hesitate to post this note, lest my loyal readers despise me as a lover of spoofy, fake wine. But I feel I need to come clean. I enjoyed the new release (2006) of the Zonte's Footstep Shiraz (94%) Viognier 6%) 2006 McLaren Vale. It's certainly a very ripe, full-on Aussie wine. But what I like is the purity of the fruit, and the fact that as well as sweetness it offers some spicy, peppery complexity. There's even a hint of ginger. It works really well - it's the sort of wine you want another glass of (although perhaps not a third glass).

Look, you don't always want to be reading Proust and Joyce - sometimes you are in the mood for John Grisham and Joanne Harris. It's a bit like that with wine. I enjoy the serious stuff, but I also enjoy the less weighty, perhaps more ephemeral wines that suit a mood or occasion. There are good spoofy wines and bad ones. This Zonte's, in its style, is a really well made wine. Perhaps the only thing I'd change about it is that I'd use reverse osmosis to dial the alcohol down a little - perhaps from its present 14.5% to around 13.9% - I reckon this would really help the wine. Heck, at 13% you'd have a world-beating Crozes-Hermitage.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006


Had a couple of Mollydooker wines recently. These are the new wines from celebrated Aussie winemakers Sarah and Sparky Marquis (see www.mollydookerwines.com for more info), and they've been favourably reviewed by Robert Parker among others.

The two I tried were 'The Boxer' Shiraz 2004 and 'Two Left Feet' 2004, which are imported into the UK by Seckford Wine Agencies and retail for around £11. I didn't really get them: they were smooth, ripe, quite open, without being terribly concentrated, rich, or complex. Not bad; not all that good. I went back to them for three successive nights, and still they didn't do anything for me.

My chief problem with them was that they both have an advertised alcohol concentration of 16%. That's just absurd for a table wine. I'm not saying wines can't have high alcohol levels and still be brilliant; just that it's very few that can happily carry 16% alcohol, and to reach such a level suggests that the viticulture is flawed. Alcohol has a profound sensory impact, and if flavour can only be achieved at such high potential alcohol levels, perhaps the grapes have been picked too late, or the vines not managed properly, or the vineyards are planted where they shouldn't be.
It's not that I just don't get big, ripe, concentrated Aussie wines. I do. It's just that these wines manage to hit 16% alcohol without really being terribly 'hedonistic': they aren't all that concentrated or flavour-packed.
I have one more Mollydooker wine left to try. I'll give it a fair crack, and I hope my ambivalence will be shifted.

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