jamie goode's wine blog

Friday, April 25, 2008

The final day's tasting at the IWC

A full day of tasting today - the final day of the International Wine Challenge (although there's a further trophy tasting day next week). Once again, I was with a fun, competent team of tasters. We worked hard, and were the last to finish - an extra flight of Sicilian reds had been found hiding behind a fire extinguisher, so we did the honours.

Our tasting today consisted of:

white Burgundy (6)
Californian Merlot/Cabernet (7)
Chablis (7)
Californian Zinfandel (5)
Chenin Blanc (5)
Californian Zinfandel (4)
Touriga Franca-based Portuguese reds (3)
Portuguese and Spanish whites (3)
Gruner Veltliner (1)
France Rose (1)
Chile Rose (1)
Portuguese reds (2)
Australian Grenache (1)
Chianti (1)
Canada and California Cabernet Franc (2)
Portugal reds (2)
Coonawarra Cabernet (3)
Australian Cabernet (6)
Sherry (1)
Sicily reds (3)
Fortified Muscat (3)

Which makes 65 wines, which isn't too tough on its own. But if you want to do a proper job you probably end up tasting all the wines twice, or even more, in consultation with your fellow judges. The surprise flight of the day was the second bunch of Californian Zinfandels. Now I hate Zinfandel, which is a rubbish grape. But these four wines were all excellent, and I gave them all gold medals. My team were also impressed, although not quite as impressed as me - I think we ended up golding a couple and giving the others silver.

Now I am exhausted.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Nice bottle, shame about the wine

Aside: Spooks is back! Tonight's episode was a good start. But back to wine:

I'm not a negative person, but unlike a critic I spoke to recently who claimed their refusal to publish critical comments was because he was essentially a 'polite person', I think it's only right to occasionally put the boot in a bit...only where it's deserved, mind.

A disappointing recent bottle was Ravenswood's Lodi Zinfandel. I remember visiting California 10 years ago (rather topically, we left England the day of Princess Di's funeral) for a glorious two week tour with good friends Paul and Judith. This was pre-kids, so travelling was a good deal easier then. While wine was a minor part of the holiday, we did spend some time in Sonoma, and one of the wineries we visited was Ravenswood, which was known for its serious Zinfandels. The winery motto was 'no wimpy wines'. One of the distinguishing features of the Ravenswood wines was their wonderful packaging (elegant label, short silver-coloured capsule reminiscent of Ridge), and this Lodi Zin shared this beautiful appearance. The appearance creates expectation, and the wine turned out to be a real let down. Despite the Ravenswood motto, this was wimpy. No, it's not one of the single-vineyard offerings, but at £9, this doesn't deliver any great pleasure at all. And if Zin doesn't give raw visceral pleasure, what does it give?

Ravenswood Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel 2005 California
Beautifully packaged, but unfortunately the contents donít quite live up to this. A cherry red colour, this medium-bodied wine has a modest berry fruit nose, and this leads to a sappy palate showing some sweet red berry fruit but not a lot else. Rather disappointing. 14.5% alcohol. 83/100 (£8.99 Majestic, Oddbins, Thresher)

Labels: ,

Friday, February 16, 2007

Aussie Zinfandel?

Had a rather disturbing experience on the way home this evening. I was perhaps a couple of minutes later than usual on my regular route along Regent's Street down to Oxford Circus Station, because I'd forgotten a file and had to go back for it. This couple of minutes could have proved significant. As I turned the corner round All Soul's Langham Place I saw a crowd of people gathered around one of the crossings I use. A car had mounted the pavement and ploughed into a group of pedestrians (news report here) - this was rush hour. There were bits of car strewn around, and bodies on the ground. I didn't look too carefully, but quickly moved on, not wishing to be part of the rubbernecking throng. But it's a chilling thought: one minute you are minding your own business, the next...

Back to wine. This evening I'm drinking an Australian Zinfandel from Mudgee, in New South Wales. It deserves a mention because it is so unusual.

Lowe Zinfandel 2004 Mudgee, Australia
Deep coloured. The nose is really striking, combining ginger and pepper with a taut sort of herbal dimension, along with a bit of leather and some dark fruits. The palate has more of the ginger spice character, together with some savoury, spicy tannic structure and more tobacco and herb notes, along with curranty berry fruit. It finishes quite dry and dusty. It's not your usual Aussie fruit bomb: there's more savoury depth here. I think it needs food to show its best, but it's good to see something with a bit of individuality to it. Very good+ 89/100 (in the UK this is available from www.strathardlefinewines.co.uk)

Labels: , ,