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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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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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A great day of cricket, and a stunning sweetie

Today has been one of those rare days where everything simply goes much better than expected.

I was playing cricket for the wine trade XI against the Further Friars, down at Keevil Manor in Wiltshire. I didn't have access to our car today, so for the modest outlay of £30 I thought it was worth hiring one. Luckily, I got upgraded from the smallest, poxiest vehicle they had (which is what U'd paid for) to a brand new sporty Mondeo - OK, not a Mercedes coupe, but better than a Ford Ka.

Then, driving down to the game along the A303, the sun broke out. After the summer we have had, here, a perfect summer's day in September is not to be sniffed at.

We bowled first. Our opening bowlers were brisk, and the pitch was bouncy. The opposition batsmen made slow progress. Jasper Morris was run out, just after he had hit a six with a prettly flat aerial shot over mid off. I got a bowl just before lunch, as second change. I did a bit of work on the shiny side of the ball and ran up. The ball swang nicely, into the right handed batsman. The second ball lifted a little outside off, and the batsman kindly edged it behind. Two balls later, the new batsman gave a simple lofted catch to midwicket. My figures at this stage were 1-1-0-2. I carried on and the swing was incredible. As an example, I bowled one ball that started well outside off stump, beat the batsman on yorker length, and then ended up missing leg. After six overs I finished with figures of 4 for 19.

They were all out for 75. At no. 7 I wasn't expecting a bat, but I came in when there were 10 runs still to be scored. I decided to have a bit of a go, but didn't really connect very well, being dropped three times (yes!) on my way to 4 not out. But I did hit the winning run.

After play concluded, In recognition of the fact that it was his 2oth wedding anniversary, Jasper opened a rather nice magnum of Andre Jacquart Cuvee Speciale NV Champagne Grand Cru which we drunk out of plastic picnic cups. It still tasted pretty good. Other wines were opened, including a fantastic Tokaji, brought along by Christopher Fielden: Istvan Szepsy's 2003 Tokaji Szamorodni 'Daniel'. The bottle was hastily snapped (below), with Jasper's legs forming the backdrop.

Even though it was drunk from plastic, this was one of the very best sweet wines I've had in a long while. It was complex, pure, sweet, balanced, with lovely weight and poise. You know when you are tasting a really serious wine, and this was one of them. It's hard to convey the perception of such a wine in words.

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