jamie goode's wine blog

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A lovely day in the country, followed by GruVee

It has been one of those summer days that England is so good at. Temperatures in the low 20s, just a few high clouds, and a gentle breeze. Warm but not hot. Easy.

We went for a walk to Holmbury Hill in the Surrey Hills, which is a really beautiful spot. You can wander through Hurtwood for miles, and dip down to Holmbury St Mary for a pint of beer. The village also has an idyllic cricket ground hidden in the woods, with an undulating, almost hilly outfield.

I'm now sipping a deliciously fresh expression of Gruner Veltliner, one of my favourite grape varieties. This is the Domaene Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner 2008, from Schloss Gobelsburg, which is stocked by Waitrose in the UK and costs 8. It's crisp, bright and minerally with a hint of smoky white pepper character that you often get with this grape variety. There's some citrus character, too, as well as a hint of apricot richness hidden under all the steely minerality.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas day, and modest excess is in order

It has been a delightful Christmas day in the Goode household. We were woken just before 7 am, which, when you have kids, almost counts as a lie-in. After an hour or so of opening presents from Santa's sacks, it was time for breakfast, then walking the dog, followed by Church, followed by presents round the tree. Then it was time for lunch. We were joined by Fiona's mum (Patsy), her husband Fred, and Fred's American niece Maeve.

We did the traditional turkey thing, and it was delicious. To match, I opened a range of bottles. Two Champagnes to start: Bollinger NV (widely available, c. 32) is a classic, with rich, bold, toasty flavours. Ayala Brut Majeur is more precise with lovely tight citrussy, toasty notes (M&S 19.99). Both are delicious, but if pushed I'd opt for the the Ayala.

For whites, we went with two. First, a Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner 2007 Austria (8 Waitrose), which is a deliciously bright Gruner with some richness and a hint of peppery character. This is a really good, affordable, versatile white. Second, a white Hermitage 2007 from Domaine du Colombier (another Bibendum sample), which is a perfect turkey match. It's rich and textured with ripe pear fruit and notes of honeysuckle and vanilla on the nose. Pretty serious stuff.

Just a solitary red, and it was polished off pretty quickly, which is a sign of a good wine. It's the Chateau La Tour Carnet 2004 Haut Medoc, Bordeaux. This is a serious effort that has the potential for further development but which is already drinking well. It's smooth and dark with rich blackcurranty fruit and some gravelly depth. This is one of Bernard Magrez' wines, and it's utterly delicious and reasonably serious. I wouldn't say it was a terribly good match with turkey, but sometimes you just want a delicious wine to drink whatever you're eating.

Finally, a pair of Vintage Ports, both from 1997. I have a theory with Vintage Port: it's great young, and it's great old. In the middle it has a bit of an awkward phase. I reckon the 1997s aren't showing their best at the moment, and while both of these are enjoyable, they need another 10 years to start singing. Quinta do Portal 1997 (35 Great Western Wine) is rich, spicy and fresh with some earthy structure and nice balance. It's just beginning to show complex, evolved notes on the nose, and there's quite a bit of fruit left. The Cockburn's 1997 (c. 30 retail) is nicely expressive with warm, spicy, earthy notes as well as a tarry richness to the dark fruit. They're both wines aiming more at elegance than power. If I had to choose one, it would probably be the Portal. But for current drinking I'd probably opt for a cheaper traditional (unfiltered) Late Bottled Vintage Port (e.g. Noval, Crasto, Niepoort) than these.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Natural Gruner, a revision and a better comparison

A few days ago I reported on the Sepp Moser 'Minimal' Gruner Veltliner (here), which is made without any sulfur dioxide additions. I compared this 2005 with the regular 2006 from the same vineyard. Well now I have my hands on a 2005 to do a better comparison with, and I also have some of the 2005 Minimal left in the fridge.

On retasting the Minimal, some three nights after it was first opened, I'm going to revise my judgement. I think this is a fantastic wine. It is profound, even. I'm getting complex notes of orange, vanilla, lemon, herb, butterscotch and toast. The palate is concentrated with a lovely bitter citrus freshness to the warm nutty, toasty flavours. It's unusual but lovely. 94/100

So, now to the Sepp Moser Gruner Veltliner Schnabel 2005 Kremstal, Austria. A yellow gold colour, it has a beguiling, complex aroma of nuts, herbs, pepper and toast. The palate has a lively presence of fresh, herby, peppery fruit together with some nutty depth. As is typical of Gruner, there's an interesting texture: it's not fat, but there's some broadness, although the overall effect is one of dryness. Quite serious and food friendly. 91/100

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Gruner with and without added sulfur dioxide

Even 'natural' winemakers have to add stuff to wine - almost always. While wine pretty much makes itself without much in the way of additions, one chemical - sulfur dioxide - is pretty hard to do away with. It's almost universal use in wine is because it has the useful dual action of inhibiting the growth of unwanted microbes and preventing oxidation. There's quite a bit more to it than this, but the long and short of it is that if you try to make wine without sulfur dioxide additions, you run the risk of it being spoiled.

The two wines I'm drinking tonight are therefore of real interest. They're both Gruner Veltliners from the same producer and the same vineyard, but one was made conventionally, with normal sulfur dioxide addition, and the second without any. It's not a totally straight comparison because the vintages are different, but still it's interesting to see how the wines differ. I intend to ask Nikolaus Moser why he's trying to make wine without sulfur dioxide, and what he's hoping to gain from this approach, but first I wanted to try the wines. My verdict? They're both great wines, but completely different in style.

Sepp Moser Gruner Veltliner Schnabel 2006 Kremstal, Austria
A classic Gruner, this has a lovely peppery freshness with richer textural elements to the fruit. There's some bright minerality and fresh acidity on the palate, keeping this from being fat, and combined with the smooth, rich texture it makes for quite a compelling wine that should age nicely in bottle. Pure, refined and expressive. 91/100

Sepp Moser Gruner Veltliner Schnabel 'Minimal' 2005 Kremstal, Austria
This wine, made without any added sulfur dioxide, is pretty wild stuff. There's a hint of cloudiness to the yellow/golden colour. On the nose, spicy, slightly peppery fresh notes are combined with richer, toasty, vanilla, bready elements to create a warm, complex whole. The palate has really nice tangy, minerally acidity under the warm toasty, bready notes. There's also some tannic structure here, which is unusual in whites. Extremely food friendly and quite complex, with a pleasant sort of reductive character. Who knows how this will develop, but it's quite serious and thought provoking now. 92/100

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

I love wine!

Some bottles opened last night, and continued tonight, remind me why I do what I do: I love wine!

First of all, a couple of Gruner Veltliner. Lenz Moser's Laurenz V Sophie 2006 is a wine that we've consumed 15 bottles of in the Goode household since summer. It's brilliant for the price - around 5 on special from Tesco - and we have six more arriving next week. But a step up is the Stadt Krems Gruner Veltliner Weinzierlberg 2006, which is one of the most enjoyable whites I've had in a while. It's aromatic, full, generous, well balanced, lively and quite thrilling. This is GV at its very best, and just under 10 from Averys. I must buy some.

Then a really good Bordeaux: Chateau Brown 2004 Pessac Leognan. This is deep, minerally, gravelly, savoury and quite tight, with lovely dense dark fruit hemmed in by firm tannins, good acidity and a touch of oak. Pretty serious stuff, definitely in classed growth league, and which is a good four or five years off its peak. Again, this is a wine that had me on wine-searcher looking to see where I can get some. Unfortunately, none available in the UK...

The picture is of the closure used to seal the Stadt Krems GV. It's a Vino-Lok, which is a glass stopper with a plastic ring doing the business of sealing, covered in a metal cap. I'm not sure about Vino-Loks: they look good, and feel nice to open (no special tool is required), but plastic allows diffusion of oxygen, and it is plastic that is making the seal. Besides, they're really expensive compared with screwcaps and Diam, their main competitors.

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