jamie goode's wine blog

Saturday, July 25, 2009

An amazing natural Beaujolais

Beaujolais should be a fun, good-time wine, but it's mostly depressing and either a bit spoofy of simply joyless. Fortunately, there are some natural winemakers who are producing incredibly elegant, complex expressions of Gamay from Beaujolais' distinctive terroirs. They're the ones that I like to drink. And they're also the sorts of wines that I always feel like drinking, too. Here's a good one.

Yvon Metras Moulin-a-Vent 2007 Beaujolais
Pale cherry red colour. Wonderful tension between the sweet, light cherry fruit and the more savoury, earthy, minerally dimension. This is subtle, complex and beautiful with pure sweet fruit complemented by a touch of more evolved character, adding complexity and elegance. Almost perfect balance with a hint of sappiness and lovely purity: this has the same sort of elegance as a good Grand Cru red Burgundy. 93/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene)

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Video: visiting Brick House, biodynamic Oregon producer

A short film from a visit to Doug Tunnell's Brick House winery (reported in detail here). We begin by looking at the compost heap...

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Crazy sparkling red, again

I don't know why, but I seem to have been drawn towards sparkling red wines of late. There's the Afros Vinho Verde Espumante, the M&S Lambrusco, and now this - a sparkling red from the Loire.

Domaine de Montrieux Petillant Naturel Boisson Rouge, Vin de Table NV
Emile Hérédia is the dude behind this remarkable wine - a Gamay from the Loire, made naturally (without the addition of sulfur dioxide), with the fermentation finished in bottle. Sealed with a crown cap, this is a sparkling cherry red-coloured wine that's just a little off dry. It's deliciously more-ish, with flavours of ripe cherries backed up by some subtle spicy, earthy notes, giving it a savoury feel despite the sweetness. It gains complexity with time in the glass - while this is a fun wine, it also repays contemplation, and I really like it. It's the sort of wine you just want (or need) another glass of. Serve chilled. 90/100 (£13.75 Les Caves de Pyrene, Green and Blue)

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Light reds have a big future?

I'm enjoying some lighter red wines this summer. It seems to me we're all a bit obsessed with bigger, darker, richer, sweeter red wines. But sometimes you want something lighter, with less of everything, but still good concentration and a smooth texture - perhaps with a bit more aromatic interest.

I'd like to think that lighter reds have a big future, as people turn away from the bigger is better mentality and begin to value such characteristics as elegance, balance, texture and poise. Let's face it, that's part of the appeal of Pinot Noir, isn't it?

Beaujolais can do lighter reds brilliantly, with a combination of granitic soils and the Gamay variety. [Granitic soils do seem to make lighter, more aromatic red wines.] But Beaujolais has been at least partly ruined by efforts to 'modernize' the wines, using special cultured yeasts that just make the wines smell and taste of bubblegum. Lighter reds seem to benefit from more natural vinifications.

Tonight I'm sipping a cheap Gamay from the northern Rhone that's quite delicious in the right context. Marks & Spencer Gamay 2007 Vin de Pays de l'Ardeche is a red wine that benefits from being served chilled, when it displays light, fresh cherry fruit with a subtle herby freshness and some strawberry sweetness. Vibrant and juicy, and good fun. 82/100

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Two beautiful natural wines from the Rhone

Two wines from Hervé Souhaut at Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet in the northern Rhône. He has about 5 hectares of vines over the river from the Hermitage hill, so the wines are classified as Vin de Pays de l’Ardèche, but they are utterly beautiful, elegant creations, made from old vines with very little sulphur dioxide added. Elegantly packaged with their minimalist labels and black synthetic corks, these are wines of the moment – not designed to be cellared. Best served a little cooler than room temperature, too. [Unsurprisingly, in the UK these are available from Les Caves de Pyrene. No commercial connection, etc.]

Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet ‘La Souteronne’ Gamay 2007 Vin de Pays de l’Ardèche, France
Fresh, slightly sappy, herb-tinged nose. The palate has a lovely smooth texture and shows pure red cherry and cranberry fruit, with freshness, elegance and just a little spicy grip on the finish, making this a delightful, food-compatible wine of great purity. 91/100

Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet Syrah 2007 Vin de Pays de l’Ardèche, France
This is simply beautiful. There’s a distinctive cool-climate Syrah peppery kick on the nose, which is otherwise really pure and focused, with a gentle leafy character underneath the red fruits. The palate is beautifully supple, slightly sappy, and fantastically elegant, with real purity to the smoothly textured fruit. I guess the granite soils may have something to do with this: it’s light, but aromatic. Just 11.7% alcohol. 93/100

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Consolation in natural wine

Had a bit of a rubbish day yesterday. Supposed to be fathers' day, but the kids were appalling (most specifically older son) and it was all a bit depressing. So I turned to wine, and specifically a rather remarkable natural wine. Suddenly, everything seemed a lot better.

Le Clos de Tu-Boeuf La Guerrerie Vin de Table Français
This is actually from the 2006 vintage, and it’s a wine made by Thierry Puzelat in the Loire, from a blend of Cot (aka Malbec, 70%) and Gamay (30%), with the grapes grown in the Cheverny appellation. Following Doug Wregg’s advice (he’s the dude from Les Caves de Pyrene who import this into the UK), I chilled it down and decanted it before drinking. It’s fantastic, life-affirmining, ‘alive’ wine. It’s aromatic with some earthy, spicy depth to the dark fruits. In the mouth it’s refreshing and bright with a lovely dense, grippy, spicy earthy quality under the focused bright fruit. It finishes quite grippy, but the defining feature is the brightness. It’s a natural tasting sort of wine that’s just so easy to drink. It’s kind of like Pinot Noir, but with some edges. 91/100 (£11.75 Les Caves de Pyrene)

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Friday, December 14, 2007

More on the remarkable Di Barro Torrette...

Just revisiting the Di Barro Torrette Vallee d'Aoste Clos de Chateay Feuillet that I reported on yesterday, and I have to say, this is a remarkable wine. I need to talk some more about it.

I know scores are a bit silly, but yesterday I gave it 91 - today, I'd go higher.

The first thing this wine has is an incredibly elegant texture, but also the fact that it is really thick textured, without being at all heavy. When you pour it, it just looks different as it is poured. I'm probably not sounding clear, but it looks sort of viscous, and more like a smoothie. I think the wine has put on weight overnight, because as I sip it, there's an incredible richness of texture, even though this is not by any means a 'rich' sort of wine.

The palate is fresh and quite complex, with minerally, sappy undertones to the red fruits. I'm also getting the faintest hints of freshly turned earth. It's an incredible wine - a bit like a shy person, who you are a bit tempted to dismiss on first impressions, but when you get to know them you realize they are a really interesting, deep, beautiful human being.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Elegant Italian alpine wine

The Vallee d'Aoste (or Valle d'Aosta, depending on your linguistic bent) is an alpine region of Italy, on the borders with France and Switzerland, and it includes Europe's highest vineyards. (For some background to the wines of Valle d'Aosta, see here.)

This red wine, from the Torrette subregion, is understated, elegant and really compelling. I started drinking it from a Riedel Chianti glass, then moved to the Bordeaux glass, but quickly realized that there's only one glass for this wine - the Pinot Noir glass, which is what I'm now drinking it from. It's not made from Pinot, of course: as far as I can tell from a quick google, the varieties involved are Petit Rouge, Mayolet, Vien de Nus, Premetta and Cornalin. Petit Rouge predominates, and all I can find out about it is that it is somewhat similar to Gamay. That fits with this wine.

Di Barro Clos de Chateau Feuillet 2005 Torrette Vallee d'Aoste, Italy
This alpine red, from high altitude vineyards, is supremely elegant. The nose shows smooth, quite pure red fruits with a really subtle herby, sappy edge and a hint of sweetness. It's on the palate the wine excels, with ultra-smooth, elegant red fruits backed up by subtle herbiness and fine-grained tannins. It's a really pure, natural tasting wine of surprising concentration, despite it's rather understated personality - it doesn't force itself on you, but if you peek below the surface, there's some depth and seriousness waiting to show itself. Bottled elegance. 91/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene, c. £10 retail)

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