jamie goode's wine blog

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Kosovan Vranac in Waitrose

Coincidentally, a case of Waitrose samples that arrived on my doorstep also contained one of the Kosovan wines I tried this week at the weird wines tasting. I figured it would be a nice lunch wine, especially on a bright spring day. It is made from the Vranac variety that is unique to the Balkans, and which is (apparently) known for its berry/forest fruit character and firm tannins. It's more than just a curiosity wine; this is something I'd be happy to drink on its own merits.

Stonecastel Vranac Premium 2007 Rahoveci Valley, Kosovo
A delightfully fresh, juicy cherry and plum flavoured red wine with good acidity and a bit of tannic grip. This is modern-styled with fresh primary fruit, but it has a little more acidity and structure than many commercial wines, which makes it a great food companion. It's a bit like a well made Loire red in style, perhaps crossed with a Beaujolais. Impressive. 88/100 (7.99 Waitrose, but 5.99 15 April-17 May)

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Serious Languedoc lunch, and tasting wines from India, Kosova and Georgia

On yet another beautiful spring day, I headed into town for a lunch with Christian Seely and his winemaker Cedric Loiseau focusing on the wines of Mas Belles Eaux, AXA's Languedoc property.

It was held at South Kensington restaurant Le Colombier, and was really good, with the exception of the glasses, which were crap. I hate to sound like a moaning ninny, but why bother showing high end wines to the press out of really, really bad wine glasses? And Le Colombier can't hope to be taken seriously as a wine restaurant if they can't be bothered to buy decent stemware. [I guess the worrying alternative is that they think their glasses are good.]

The Mas Belles Eaux wines were really good. Since 2005, they've taken a step up in quality, and are now among the Languedoc's best. Sadly, they aren't cheap (the reds range from 18-25 in price), but they should age really well.

Then it was off to Queensgate, next to the Natural History Museum, for a rather weird tasting. First, I tried the wines of Kosovan estate Stonecastle. Nice Riesling, delicious Vranac (which has just been listed at Waitrose and will be promoted at 5.99 from mid-April) and solid, fruity Merlot and Cab.

Then it was time for some Indian wines. These were from the India Food Company in Vinchur, Maharashtra in the Nashik wine region. In India they are labelled V&V; in the UK they will be either Godavari Estate or The Maharaj. A Chenin was green and nasty, while the rose, Shiraz and Zinfandel were solid but a tiny bit rustic. The Zin was the best of the bunch.

Finally, I tried several Georgian wines that are being imported into the UK by Guamarjos. These were really good, including a couple of lovely whites (Tbilvino Rkatsiteli and Marani Mtsvane) and a delicious Saperavi made in amphorae (Marani Satrapezo).

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