jamie goode's wine blog

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Italian wines with the Manchester derby

Football talk, I'm afraid. It's half-time in the Manchester derby game. City started off badly, went 1-0 down. The prize? A place in a cup final, City's first since 1981, although this semi is over two legs.

Then City equalize from a slightly soft penalty. In a sign of respect to Mancini (the city manager), I'm drinking Italian.

Chianti Rufina Riserva 2004 from Villa di Vetrice (BBR) is nicely bitter, lively, plummy, earthy and has a hint of animal. Satisfying and a bit rustic. Nigel de Jong.

Banfi Rossi di Montalcino 2007 is more refined, less edgy and has some satisfying spicy, earthy notes with a bit of tannic grip. Solid, dependable but lacks any real excitement. A good squad member who'll do a job. Pablo Zabaleta. Better than many Banfi reds I've had of late, and this one will be in the Bibendum sale that starts in February.

The commentary team are hopelessly pro-United. City outplayed United for large periods of the first half. Shearer's the only one who realized that. The BBC football punditry is just so rubbish these days.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

One of my favourite Chiantis...yum!

Podere Le Boncie Chianti Classico Le Trame 06 Tuscany, Italy
Just wonderful stuff, this naturally made Chianti from organically farmed vineyards. It shows almost perfect balance, countering the spicy, earthy, slightly medicinal savoury notes with vivid, bloody dark cherry and plum fruit. There's just a hint of fleshiness to the fruit, but currently the firm, savoury, spicy structure is the key theme, with fresh acidity keeping everything lively. It's a brilliant example of traditional, structured, yet balanced Chianti that should age brilliantly for a decade or two. I love the style. 93/100 (UK agent Les Caves de Pyrene)

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Biodynamic-ish Sangiovese from California

A conundrum of a wine. It's from Randall Grahm's Bonny Doon operation. It's mainly from a vineyard farmed biodynamically in San Benito County, yet it contains an ingredients list that most emphatically is not an indicator of typically natural wine making. Yet you have to respect the honesty and integrity that led to that list appearing on the bottle. It reads:


Then, on the front label, it has a picture of the sensitive crystallization of the wine.

Ca' del Solo Sangiovese 2006 San Benito County, California
Intensely savoury with tarry, spicy notes on the nose as well as dense blackberry and plum fruit. The palate shows rich, ripe dark cherry and plum fruit backed up with savoury, spicy, earthy notes and high acidity that sticks out a little. Dense, savoury and seriously structured, this is a bit rustic, but is one of the best non-Italian expressions of Sangiovese that I've encountered, and is utterly delicious and thoroughly food friendly. 90/100 (the 2005 is 13 at Berry Bros & Rudd)

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Video: picking Sangiovese

I've been thinking quite a bit about Sangiovese of late. It's a difficult-yet-interesting grape variety, and I've been dwelling on its merits as I've been preparing to write up (at last) my Chianti Classico trip, and also an amazing tasting from last year of Soldera's remarkable Brunellos.

Here's a short video taken during the harvest at Paneretta, one of the producers I visited. The grapes look to be in perfect hygeinic condition, and the berries going to tank look perfect. But 2008 was quite a tricky harvest in this part of the world.

My view on Sangiovese? Difficult grape, but capable of greatness. Tuscany seems to be a special place to grow it. No cellar should be without serious expressions of Sangiovese.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

I love Italian wine - a biodynamic Tuscan

It's been a busy day. After seven months of just wine, I've taken on a science gig, producing a report from a two day conference on evaluating medical research. Feels a bit strange to be back in the world of science, but I figure it is important to keep up with it, seeing as wine science has been such an important (and modestly lucrative) field for me. A change of scenery helps keep you fresh.

Tonight's wine is a really lovely, supple Italian red. Apparently, the Wine Spectator awarded this 82/100. Whoever the reviewer is, I reckon they don't really understand wine. It's fantastic stuff. What it isn't, is rich, ripe, sweet and alcoholic.

Tenuta di Vagliano Palistorti 2005 Colline Luccesi, Tuscany
I really like this fresh, supple, fruit-driven yet fresh red from the little known Colline Luccesi in Tuscany. The vineyards this wine came from have been farmed organically since 1997 and biodynamically since 2002. They have limestone and sandstone soils, and are in the hills 10 km north of the northern Tuscan town of Lucca. This is a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and 10% Syrah, and it shows a bright, fresh nose of spicy-edged, rather pure black cherry and raspberry fruit, with nice freshness. The palate is fresh and supple with just a hint of greenness under the bright cherry and berry fruit, and a nicely savoury, spicy kick. This is a beautifully food friendly red of real appeal, with potential for further development. In style, it's modern and fruity, but with lovely savoury seriousness, too. 13% alcohol and really easy to drink, but if you want an oaky, rich, new world style red then this is not for you. 91/100 (16.95 Berry Bros & Rudd)

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Continuing yesterday's theme of Chianti Classico, this is a paradox of a wine from Chianti producer Fattoria Le Fonti. It's an IGT Toscana Sangiovese weighing in at 14.5% alcohol from a 2 hectare single vineyard. It's sweetly fruited, lush and ripe (in a modern style), yet also shows a hint of volatility, as well as some earthy, spicy notes (more traditional). The overall effect is pleasing and complex, but it's not an easy wine to come to terms with.

Fattoria Le Fonti Vito Arturo Sangiovese 2004 IGT Toscano, Italy
This single vineyard wine is complex and alluring, bringing together modernity and tradition in the same bottle. With a slightly lifted, volatile edge, the nose is lush with ripe, sweet, liqueur-like dark cherry and blackberry fruits combining with spicy, minerally, earthy notes. The palate shows ripe, sweet fruit together with that trademark Sangiovese rasp of earthy, spicy structure and grippy tannins alongside some bitter plum notes. Finishes long and savoury with notes of chocolate and tar. A really complex, interesting example of late-picked, ripe Sangiovese. 92/100 (22.99 Cadman Fine Wines)

Find this wine with wine-searcher.com

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Rick Astley's Chianti

One of the estates I visited on my recent jaunt in Chianti country was Castello di Brolio, Barone Ricasoli's imposing property strategically placed on the border between the ancient city states of Florence and Siena. (The bomb-scarred Castello is pictured.)

Ricasoli (pronounced 'Rick Astley' with a soft-ish 't') is a modern-style producer. The current Barone's father sold the property to Seagram, who took the brand down-market and expanded production, and then the Barone bought it back and has spent time and money revitalizing the brand by taking it up-market, dropping production dramatically. This is quite a modern styled Chianti Classico, but it still has bags of personality and Sangiovese character. A really good drink that's given me some pleasure when drunk over the last two evenings.

Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico 2006 Tuscany, Italy
Dark coloured, this has a lovely vibrant nose of dark cherries and bitter plum, with some spicy notes. The palate has fresh spicy, plummy fruit with some attractive bitter notes as well as firm tannins. It's fruit driven and quite modern, but distinctly spicy and savoury with real Sangiovese character. 90/100 (13 in the UK, agent Enotria)
Find this wine with wine-searcher.com

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Friday, October 03, 2008

More from Chianti

Mainly pictures. It's late. Punchdown at Ricasoli (which sounds like 'Rick Astley' with a soft 't'), harvest at Bebbiano, traditional botti at Podere Palazzino, harvested grapes at Collelungo.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Chianti, day 2: harvest at Fontodi

Spent the day in Chianti Classico, with a presentation by the Constorzio in the morning, followed by visits to producers. The highlight was catching the vintage in action at Fontodi, and then tasting the wines, which were simply fantastic. Sangiovese rocks (when it's handled well, anyway). Here are some pictures. Now it's very late, I have an early start, and I have to get to bed.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Elegant Italian and Saumur revisited

Two wines tonight, one of which I've mentioned on here before - the Les Nivieres Saumur 2005 from Waitrose (4.99) is a lovely wine - essence of Cabernet Franc. It's edgy and a bit green, and I probably scored it a little to highly last time, but I really enjoy it, while acknowledging that Loire Cabernet Franc may not be everyone's cup of tea. I think the sappy, mineralic greenness complements the fruit really well. Tannins are very grippy, which makes this a food wine. But it's an antidote to new world sweetness, and at this price it's hard to beat. It just makes the branded competition look a bit daft.

The second wine is another Les Caves wine (for which I make no apologies), and it's supremely elegant and alive. I can't believe this is Sangiovese. Decanted (I'm using my decanters a lot now) it opens out beautifully with a bit of air. This wine isn't expensive, and it makes some of the Burgundy 2006 prices look a bit silly.
Il Paradiso di Manfredi 2005 Rosso di Montalcino, Italy
From a small estate that practices many biodynamic principles, this Sangiovese is thrillingly alive and elegant. The aromatic nose shows dark cherries with purity and freshness allied with a bit of earthiness. The palate is quite complex with some earthy spiciness undeneath the sweet, pure dark cherry and blackberry fruit. There's a lovely smooth, elegant texture here, that's somewhere between silk and velvet. There's also a hint of forest floor. Finishes quite savoury. A supremely drinkable wine that's hard to resist. It tastes really natural (in a good way). 91/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene)

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More Sangiovese, including a Chilean

Two more Sangioveses opened this evening, in service to my readers - and prompted by my recently roused curiosity about this variety.

Errazuriz Estate Sangiovese 2005 Aconcagua Valley, Chile
Does Sangiovese travel? Not very well in my limited experience, and this wine is frankly disappointing. Immediately there's this distinctively Chilean nose: sweet pastille red/black fruit with a slightly rubbery, green herby edge. It's hard to pick up any varietal character. The palate similarly shouts 'Chile' rather than 'Sangiovese', although if you can see through this masking character, then you get some fresh, spicy red fruit and a bit of earthiness that does have a slightly Italian feel to it. It fails to excite and I don't really enjoy drinking it. I was going to say, 'it's not a bad wine', as a qualifier, but I fear that it is. 76/100

Piccini Selezione Oro Chianti Riserva 2004 Italy
(7.99 Tesco, though from 12/09 until 9/10 it will be at 4.99)
Nicely bottled with a rather snazzy gold label, this is a well balanced, light-ish, easy-drinking style of Chianti. There's a modest sort of nose here: some sweet, slightly earthy/spicy fruit emerges after a bit of coaxing. On the palate there's a nice balance between the approachable plummy, red berry and cherry fruit and the earthy spiciness - overall, the impression is one of savouriness. This isn't a wine that will blow you away, but at the offer price it's a very respectable companion for a weeknight evening meal that offers great value for money. It's incredibly easy to drink, and every few sips you get a hint of seriousness. 85/100

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

So Sangiovese does rock, after all?

Further to my comments on the Querciabella yesterday, some more thoughts on Sangiovese.

You know, I think Sangiovese is a grape that falls into the Serious rather than the Non-Serious category, despite what I may have said in the past. It's just that, for one reason or another, it frequently underperforms. Thinking out loud, it seems that even those grapes which are mostly Non-Serious, like Merlot, do have their moments (anyone for Petrus?), and when they do perform they can be stellar. But, generally, it's good advice to pass when offered a Merlot.

So I search my rack for more Sangiovese. I come up with the following:

Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva 2003
(9.99 Majestic)
Now I'm going to give Banfi the benefit of the doubt here, and put this wine's relative underperformance down to the dodgy 2003 vintage. Now this is a perfectly adequate Chianti, showing a muted, rather earthy nose which leads to a savoury, balanced palate with a bit of plummy fruit, some spice and a rather earthy, tannic finish. But it doesn't excite or thrill. It lacks something, but I can't quite put my finger on what this something is. 86/100

So I return to the Querciabella Chiantic Classico 2004. You know, I may have underrated this wine last night, even though I enjoyed it a good deal. It has so many different dimensions: acidity, tannin, fruit, spice, aromas, savouriness, length, bitterness. It's really alive. On tonight's showing, after being open for 24 h, I'd rate this as 92/100, with some upside potential.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Australia meets Italy

Another wet day in London. Elder son and younger son turned out for the same U11 cricket team tonight. Dodgy looking weather meant the match was restricted to 15 overs a side, and going in at no 3 elder son batted well, ending up with 18 not out. Then the heavens opened and the game was washed out. I can't remember the last day when it didn't rain, and we are almost into July.

Cold has receded a bit, to the degree that I can now taste again. The Glenguin from last night is showing very well from the fridge. Very crisp, primary and limey. Still don't think it's a long ager in the Hunter Semillon tradition, though.

I'm now drinking a very nice, commercially astute but still satisfying wine from De Bortoli:

De Bortoli Sero Merlot Sangiovese 2005 King Valley, Australia
Merlot usually sucks, and Sangiovese usually bombs when people try to grow it outside Italy, but here De Bortoli have worked some magic, and produced a delicious fruity red with a hint of seriousness. The Merlot was partially dried, which explains, perhaps, the generous, rounded mid-palate that really carries this wine. It shows a bright, spicy, sweetly fruited nose that leads to a concentrated palate with some savoury, spicy bite underneath the rich, sweet fruit. It finishes with a nicely bitter plummy tang, which makes this pretty food compatible. Quite tannic, which I like in this sort of wine. 89/100 (7.99 Waitrose, but watch out for when this is on promotion)

Tomorrow is the eagerly awaited Tesco Press tasting where they launch a revamped range, followed by lunch at Tendido Cero with Lenz Moser and his chum from Silverado Vineyards in California. Bring it on.

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