jamie goode's wine blog

Monday, December 28, 2009

Beautifully elegant Aussie: De Bortoli Shiraz Viognier 2004

I have a few bottles of this lurking around, purchased a few years ago for around a tenner a bottle. It's just beautiful, and at five years old is starting to hit its stride, but clearly has some distance to go.

De Bortoli Shiraz Viognier 2004 Yarra Valley, Australia
14% alcohol. 11 months ageing in new and used French oak barrels. This is a beautifully expressive, elegant wine. There's a hint of floral, apricotty perfume to the nose which shows slightly peppery dark fruits. The palate is super-fresh with cherry and plum fruit backed up by some spiciness, and a structure which is in part tannin, in part acidity. There's a sweetness to the fruit which is very much Australian, but also a freshness and structure that's much more Northern Rhone. Wonderful stuff that's ageing beautifully. 94/100

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Contrasting Pinots: Jadot and De Bortoli

Two rather different Pinots, but both costing £9.99 and weighing in at 12.5% alcohol. One from Burgundy; the other from the Yarra Valley. Both producers have strong reputations for Pinot.
Which did I prefer?
The Louis Jadot Couvent des Jacobins Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2006 is simple with some cherry fruit and hints of earth and spice. It's quite savoury and works well with food, but if I'm honest, it's a bit boring and unexciting. It needs more ripeness and sweeter aromatics, really. If you are paying £10 for a wine you should expect to get something delicious; Jadot are a good producer, but even they can't make this level of wine interesting, which is a shame.
De Bortoli's Gulf Station Pinot Noir 2007 Yarra Valley (Sainsbury's £9.99) isn't perfect, but it delivers. There's a balance here between sweet cherry and plum fruit and some subtly green herbiness. This makes for a sweet but fresh expression of Pinot Noir that's got a degree of complexity and is really attractive to drink.
So I have to go with the Aussie Pinot. I feel slightly guilty about this, but it just tastes nicer.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Two contrasting whites

Fiona has gone to visit her aunt for a few days, leaving me in sole charge of the kids. Fair enough: I get to travel a lot, so it's only appropriate that I should experience the other side of this. It's actually quite tough work. I'll never moan about deadlines again.

Tonight I baked some bread and had a simple supper of the aforementioned bread with three cheeses: Manchego, Keen's Cheddar and Comte. With this, a pair of contrasting whites.

Afros Vinho Verde Loureiro 2008 Portugal
From the Lima sub-region, this is super-fresh and lively with lovely lemon, pear, melon and peach flavours. It's crisp and bright with fresh fruit and an attractive pithy character. High acidity is offset by the overt fruitiness. I'm really getting to like the Loureiro grape variety. 90/100
De Bortoli Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2005 Australia
Slightly reduced matchstick and cabbage edge to the nose, which shows rich, toasty notes as well as fresh, herby fruit. The palate is concentrated and intense with spicy, toasty notes complementing the well balanced fig and peach fruit, with a pithy, citrussy edge. Itís like a blend of a rich Aussie Chardonnay with a lean, minerally white Burgundy. Not quite pulling together, with the reduction notes sticking out - but with real potential. 90/100 (£12.99 Tesco, Oddbins; 13.5% alcohol)

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Yarra Valley bushfire update

Tony Jordan, president of the Yarra Valley Winegrowers Association, sent me the following update on the effects of the recent bushfires.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

De Bortoli Gulf Station Pinot Noir

Interesting interpretation of Aussie Pinot Noir, this. It's made by Steve Webber at De Bortoli, who is clearly aiming at old world elegance rather than sweet new world fruit. It's not a great wine, but it's interesting, food compatible and thought-provoking.

De Bortoli Gulf Station Pinot Noir 2007 Yarra Valley, Australia
Weighing in at just 12.5% alcohol, this is a fresh Pinot Noir from hand-picked fruit that tastes more old world than new. The nose shows tight, fresh, savoury dark cherry fruit with a slightly green herbal edge. The palate is bright and tangy with herb-tinged berry fruit and distinctly savoury, earthy structure, as well as high acidity. It could probably do with just a touch more fruity aromatic quality, but it's an interesting take on Pinot. A a really good food wine that may age well. 89/100 (£9.99 Sainsbury's)

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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 23, 2008

Thoughts on blind tasting, and stuff...

So I spent the day in the office. When I went freelance I thought I'd be spending a lot of days working from home. It has actually been much busier than I'd envisaged, so I haven't had all that many days when I've not been going out to work elsewhere.

The way I prefer to work is in bursts. I like to work really hard, and then take it a bit easier. I aim to try to get some work/life balance where I'm not crazy busy all the time. To make this work with the family, I work unusual hours - quite often, I'm working late at night simply because this means I'm more available when the kids are around. The other factor is the 'muse': when you are writing, some times are unpredictably much more fertile than others - you have to run with this.

So what did I do today? I finished a piece on the perception of wine that looked at studies investigating what happens in the brain when we taste wine. I did some invoicing. I wrote an annoyed email to a car hire company who were being arseholes about a one-day rental Fiona made last month (a long story). I spent a while on the phone to Susanna from Imbibe magazine who is doing a really interesting piece on wine preservation devices, and wanted some technical input. I walked RTL. I helped Fiona bath RTL (a traumatic process). I played three games of Top Trumps with younger son, losing 2-1. I mowed the lawn. I fired up the barbie. And I responded to Fiona's challenge and tasted three wines blind.

The blind tasting was difficult, as it often is. The first wine was tricky: it was red, and sweet enough to be new world, but then again it was savoury enough to be ripe old world. There wasn't the complexity for it to be serious old world, but then it wasn't sweet and simple.

It was impossibly hard to place. I guessed South Africa, then Chile, then Italy, then France, before hitting the mark with Australia. It was the De Bortoli Yarra Valley Shiraz Viognier 2004. Tasting it unblind, though, I'm getting lovely dark peppery cool climate Syrah fruit that I didn't get blind. Blind, I got more of the ripeness/greenness contrast. [So is this the power of suggestion at work, or just that when I taste unblind my perception receives input from my memory and knowledge of wine that then helps me to make more of the sensory information I am getting?] It was the greenness that led me to Chile and South Africa, but because I now know this is from the Yarra, I'm not as afraid of the greenness.

The second wine was white, but it wasn't obviously Chardonnay or Sauvignon. I couldn't spot oak, but there was a rounded texture. It was actually a Chardonnay Reserve from Finca Flichman, but, almost bizarrely, it tasted like a rich unoaked Italian Pinot Grigio. Really tough blind. Finally, I was poured a vile, slightly oxidised Chardonnay - it turned out to be a supermarket entry level Chilean Chardonnay fro 2005 that hadn't survived well.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Chinese overseas

Last night's conference dinner was held in the striking setting of the Hua Song museum, which has as its theme the story of the Chinese overseas. The museum is new - it was opened in 2006 -and although it isn't that big, some of the stories it tells are quite moving. The Chinese have had quite a tough time on their travels over the last few centuries.

The food was Chinese, the wine Chilean. Ch Los Boldos Merlot, plus a sister white whose varietal composition I missed. The red was quite nice: it didn't taste too Chilean. Ripe but restrained and not very green at all.

After two days of heavy rain, including some amazing downpours, it has brightened up. That's convenient, because I have a free afternoon before I head back to London late tonight.

One more wine note: on Monday evening I dined with a couple of colleagues in the Four Seasons, and we had a really nice Domaine Chandon Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2004. Food friendly, quite elegant, ripe but restrained (that word again...), and affordable - this was near the very bottom of the wine list.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Yarra

I'm currently in the process of writing up last year's Yarra trip. Absurdly late, I know, but it's because I'm still in a position where I'm learning so much, visiting, tasting and asking, and it's quite tough to be disciplined enough to write everything up, which I mean to do.

At the New Zealand tasting I met up with Tony and Michele Jordan, who kindly hosted me on my visit. It was really good to see them again. I'd heard that things hadn't been so good in the Yarra this vintage: phylloxera and frosts had been reported on in the press. Tony explained that while the frosts had been a real problem - with Chandon losing 80% of this year's production and Yering Station 100% - phylloxera wasn't as bad as people had made out. There had been an outbreak, but it was of the non-winged version. The worst-case scenario is of spread through the valley, but at such a slow speed that growers would have a decade to replant to resistant rootstock (currently almost all vines are on their own roots). For Chandon, the main problem is the restrictions that any nearby phylloxera outbreak brings, which can be a real hassle.

One of the visits that struck me the most on my trip was to Yeringberg. Guill de Pury (pictured above), as well as being a Swiss count, is one of the pioneers of the Yarra resurgence. In the 1920s winegrowng disappeared from the valley; in the 1970s he and a small band of other pioneers were responsible for the re-birth of viticulture here. Meeting him and his wife, and tasting their wines, was a connection with some important history (read more here). I think the portrait captured some of that.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

buying wine and cheese

Just come back from Waitrose, where I did a pre-Christmas treat shop. On the cheese front I bought Keen's Cheddar, Colston Bassett Stilton and Comte. But I also bought two bottles of wine. I try very hard not to buy wine, because my kitchen is full of it, and I have to work hard to keep on top of the samples. I can't always stop myself, though - and it's also healthy to remember what it feels like to shell out your own cash on the stuff. It's easy to overlook the fact that a £20 Chianti Classico or red Burgundy is just plain dull when you didn't pay for it. When it's your own £20, you quite rightly have higher expectations, and you are more likely to be appropriately critical.
What did I buy? First, a bottle of the crowncap-sealed Domaine Chandon ZD 2002, which I recently wrote up (this was £13.99). I liked it in the Yarra; will I like it in my kitchen in London? Always helpful to calibrate my tasting notes with my drinking notes. Second, from the same LMVH empire, a bottle of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (£15.99). An odd choice? Well, my brother in law, Beavington, raves about this stuff. I've not tried it for a couple of vintages - I'd come to the conclusion that it's no better or worse than a dozen other leading Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs. But Beavington is insistent that it is magical. I'm slightly worried that he's a bit of a label drinker, but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt by buying this wine to see whether it over-delivers in the way he says it does.

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