jamie goode's wine blog

Monday, January 11, 2010

Brilliant Aussie Nebbiolo: Arrivo 2007

Really enjoying this wine. It's an Australian Nebbiolo, produced by Peter Godden of the Australian Wine Research Institute, from grapes grown in the Adelaide Hills. Nebbiolo is a difficult variety that rarely performs well outside Piedmont in Italy, but Peter seems to have found the knack of working with it. As well as this wine, he also produces a rose, and a high-end bottling called Lunga Macerazione (the 2006 version of this was one of the wines in the Landmark Tutorial - it was fantastic - and I have another bottle of this in the tasting queue).

I'm sure Peter wouldn't claim that Arrivo has fully arrived yet; but if this is what he's able to achieve at the outset (2007 is the fourth vintage), then future wines look set to be incredible. The Arrivo website is here.

Arrivo Nebbiolo 2007 Adelaide Hills
14.5% alcohol. This is a beautiful wine, and it's just a baby: as such, it benefits from decanting, and tasted on the second day it shows even more complexity and elegance. Pale cherry coloured, it has a sweetly aromatic nose of ginger, herbs, warm spices and sweet cherry and plum fruit. The palate has intensely spicy sweet cherry fruit with firm tannins, but with some air settles down a bit to show complex, elegant savoury, subtly earthy fruit. Nice smoothness and purity of texture here: a really interesting Australian take on this difficult but beguiling Italian grape variety. I think this will be great in five years time, and it will be interesting to see where it gets to in a decade. 92/100

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Get thee down to Whole Foods Market: very good wine list and excellent wine bar

I had lunch today at the wine bar in the Whole Foods Market store on High Street Kensington, with their wine buyer Pete Hogarth and PR person Alex Tunney, who'd invited me to come and see what they are up to.

The wine range at Whole Foods is simply brilliant. It's a mix of conventional and natural wines, and is full of interest. In particular, the Italian and regional French ranges are superb, with strength in depth and an array of natural wines that is simply unparalleled in London.

The wines aren't overpriced, although they are not the cheapest, either (some seemed a bit on the expensive side, such as JM Stephan’s Côte Rôtie at £75, but is probably a function of what the wines were purchased for).

Browsing the shelves I found perhaps two dozen wines that I'd have bought on the spot if I'd been shopping. This is unusually good.

The best bit is that the wine bar allows customers to take a wine off the shelf, pay for it at the till, and then drink it at the bar with no extra corkage at all. That is seriously cool. The food options at the bar aren't too extensive, but what there is is very good. We had one each of the tartines (these are open sandwiches with a range of charcuterie and cheese toppings), raclette, a large plate of Italian charcuterie and some generous-sized slabs of Montgomerie Cheddar and cave-aged Gruyere.

These were washed down with three very interesting wines.

Angiolino Maule I Masieri 2008 Garganega del Veneto IGT
12% alcohol. 60% Garganega, 40% Trebbiano, made with some skin contact and with low sulfur dioxide (50 mg/litre). Yellow colour. Lovely bright, minerally, appley fruit here with some gently spicy notes. Quite complex with real personality. After a while in the glass it begins to pick up more complexity, with grapefruit pith and mandarin notes, as well as subtle matchstick complexity. A lovely natural wine. 91/100 (£11.99 Whole Foods Market)

Roagna Langhe Rosso 2001 Piedmont, Italy
13% alcohol. Long skin maceration, aged for years in large Slavonian oak casks, with just a touch of sulfur dioxide at bottling. This wine comes from Barbaresco: it's Roagna's younger vines and those at the bottom of the slope. But it's better than most Barolos or Barbarescos. Wonderfully savoury and elegant with subtly earthy cherry fruit, together with some spicy notes. There's a nice texture: while this is fairly tannic, there's a smoothness and elegance to the palate, with refined, complex spicy, earthy notes under the fruit. Very Burgundian style of Nebbiolo, and drinking beautifully now. 93/100 (£24.99 Whole Foods Market)

Veramar Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2007 Virginia, USA
13.4% alcohol. This is my first Virginian wine, and I'm just so impressed. It's got lovely purity of fruit, and real old world elegance. Clean red berry and cherry fruit nose with some sweetness and no greenness, and just a subtle chalky minerality hinting at the varietal origin. The palate shows lovely focused midweight berry fruits with great purity and balance. It reminds me a little of a Central Otago Pinot Noir, with its lovely stylish, focused fruit. Really delicious and quite serious. 90/100 (£16.99 Whole Foods Market)

Disclosure: I didn't pay for my lunch.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Nebbiolo: what a crazy, wonderful grape

I've decided that I love Nebbiolo. It's so uncommercial, making wines that are pale in colour, brutally tannic, high in acid, complex in flavour, and generally hard to get.

It's also wildly difficult to do well. Especially outside Piedmont. It's like Pinot Noir, in many ways, just more awkward.

But when it's great, it is the sort of wine that is without parallel. I don't know how many truly great examples I've had, but I've had a few really good examples that have convinced me that this is one of the best red varieties out there.

Two that prompted this post:

Rivella Serafino Montestefano Barbaresco 2004 Piedmont, Italy
Complex, earthy, spicy nose leads to a drying palate with intensely savoury, fine spicy notes and some focused red cherry fruit (but not too much). There are some subtle floral notes. A dense, structured wine that's tannic and complex. Nebbiolo at its most awkward best. 92/100 (£36 BBR)

Cascina Fontana Langhe Nebbiolo 2007 Piedmont, Italy
Fresh, bright cherry nose with spicy, earthy, herbal character. The palate is fresh and sappy with nice savoury complexity. Firm but appropriate tannins and good acidity underpin this elegantly expressive Nebbiolo. 89/100 (£20 BBR)

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