jamie goode's wine blog

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's freezing, so wine to warm

It's freezing cold. I had to spend 30 minutes waiting at Reading station this evening to meet older son, who was getting the train back from school for the holidays. I haven't been as cold in years. But let's be positive: the great thing about bitter cold is that suddenly a moderately warm room has the potential to confer immeasurable pleasure.

It snowed last night, albeit a little half-heartedly. I took RTL (above) for a walk this morning, and there was still a thin covering. She loved it, running around like a nutter. I think we're due a bit more tonight.

So time for some warming wine. I'm off to the South of France. Elian Da Ros' Aboriou 2007 from the Cotes du Marmandais is peppery, spicy, meaty and distinctly savoury, with a big dollop of Brettanomyces. It's a distinctive style: whether or not you like it will depend on how you respond to the animal appeal of brett. Le Clos du Pioch 2007 Montpeyroux (£7.99 Marks & Spencer) is much more elegant and less edgy, with subtly meaty, floral perfume to the bright raspberry and cherry fruit. I like both wines, but without food, the Montpeyroux wins out because of its balance and elegance.

Labels: ,

Saturday, January 10, 2009

An amazing fortified Tannat

I think it's a bit stupid to eat chocolate and drink wine at the same time, but if you really, really want to match chocolate with wine, this is the one to choose.

It's a remarkable Tannat from the Madiran region that's had its fermentation arrested by the addition of spirit, similarly to the way that Port is made. This leaves it sweet and alcoholic (17.5%). It's brilliant stuff, quite different to Port, but complex and tasty.

Domaine Berthoumieu Tanatis Vin de Liquer NV, Southwest France
Really interesting sweet, spicy, earthy blackfruits nose. The palate is dense and spicy with lovely pure sweet blackberry fruit and some pepperiness, as well as firm tannins that mesh well with the sweetness. There are subtle hints of mint and medicine in the background, too. Delicious and unusual. 92/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene)

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A lovely weekend and some digestible reds

So, we were cheated out of a summer here in England. Not sure whether climate change or el nino or just bad luck was to blame. But we didn't have a proper summer. This weekend, though, we were handed a freebie - a glorious summer's weekend that was more mid-August than late September in character.

Also, older son was down for the weekend from boarding school, and it was nice to see him, even if it meant I had to spend 7 hours driving on Friday evening and 7 hours this evening to pick him up and drop him off.

On Saturday we got together with good friends and went for a walk at Horsley in Surrey (pictured). It was a lovely time, and compensated in some way for all those lovely English summer days we missed out on this year.
Today older son spent the morning with some of his friends, and then we lunched outside with some of the English fizz from yesterday's blog post as accompaniment. Then it was time for the long drive to Devon. We listened to the radio commentary of Man City vs. Portsmouth on Radio Solent (City won 6-0). On the way back I was able to listen to music loud: I find music always sounds better at a decent volume and I hate it when you have people round for dinner and the music is used as a sort of aural wallpaper, at a just-audible volume.

Now I'm drinking two wines as I watch Match of the Day. They're what I would describe as digestible reds, with modest concentration, some savouriness, and good balance. They don't stand out, particularly, but they are ideal if you just want something simple to accompany food.

The Magnificent Wine Company Steak House Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Columbia Valley, Washington State, USA
I've reported on the previous vintage of this wine here. It's an attractively packaged wine, with a roasted, savoury edge to the dark fruits on the nose. The palate shows sweet cherry and plum fruits backed up by earthy, spicy notes and with some grippy structure. Quite European in style, and a great food wine. Enjoyable. 86/100 (£7.99 Co-op)

Clos Saint-Martin Madiran 2005 Southwest France
A co-op Madiran, unsurprisingly this doesn't have all that much of the character that makes Madiran such a distinctive wine. But it's an agreeable enough drinking wine, though, with juicy blackcurranty fruit kept savoury with some grippy tannins. There's fresh acidity, too. 84/100 (£6.79 Nicolas)

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 28, 2007

In Devon on a mac

I'm currently in Devon, with the family and RTL. We're staying in Georgeham, just down the road from Croyde where we stayed last October, and it's a fabulous place. Unfortunately, the weather is decidedly mixed, but there's still plenty of fun to be had walking on beaches and generally doing outdoorish things. Fiona's sister and their family live here, so it's good to be able to catch up with them. An added bonus is that RTL has found a soulmate: Fiona's sister's dog, Holly, who's a lot smaller (she's a terrier), but seems to love rough and tumble with the bigger clumsier RTL (both pictured above).

One complication is that RTL is on heat, and bleeding a bit, so we have a special pair of dog knickers that we need to apply when she's in the white-carpeted rental house. Because it's a bungalow, RTL has decided that she'd like to sleep with Fiona and I in our bed. Hmmm.
Wine? We've had some, most memorably a deliciously mature 1999 Montus Madiran. It's still got some distance to go, but it's drinking really well now.

This post has taken longer to write because I'm doing it on a very flash Mac - and this, unbelievably, is the first time I've used one of these!

Labels: ,

Monday, February 19, 2007

Elian da Ros cheapie

If, like me, you are an irredeemable wine nut, you'll probably have a tendency to buy more wine than you can drink. This is something I've battled with for a while: it's a problem that's compounded if you are thinking in terms of building a cellar. You can always justify another purchase as one for the future. My problem is that I get tempted by offers and end up buying stuff for near to mid-term drinking that I just can't get through. Particularly when I have a pile of samples to wade through.

One such wine was Elian da Ros' Vignoble de Cocumont 1999 Vin de Pays de l'Agenais. I recently found an untouched case which I'd bought a few years back from La Vigneronne (now Grand Cru Wines) for about £3 a bottle, which, it must be said, was a remarkable price for this half decent wines. Elian's wines have plenty of gutsy stuffing, tasting like a half-way house between serious Claret and a beefy Madiran. This, his entry wine, has evolved nicely - now it's showing minerally, chalky blackcurrant fruit (quite Claret-like) with some serious spicy tannins and good acidity. It's turning a bit earthy with bottle age, and overall, I reckon this wine is now peaking in a rather chunky, rustic sort of way. I'm enjoying it a good deal, but then I don't mind robust, tannic reds. One thing that has surprised me with his 1998s and 1999s is the amount of wine travel on the corks, which I've illustrated in the picture. There's something odd about the corks he's used, and I don't know what it is.

The other wine I sampled this evening is the bretty Thevenet Morgon I blogged on a few days back. Aromatically, this is interesting, but the phenol-like metallic brett on the palate is too much. I'm convinced that brett really only works in sweeter, more southern wines where there's something to counter that distinctive bretty signature.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


A tasting note on a Basque country wine that speaks for itself:

Arretxea Irouléguy 2004 Southwest France
I love Irouléguy, and this is a good one. A deep cherry red colour, it has a wonderful nose of bright red fruit with a delicious, minerally, gravelly, rain on a hot pavement quality. Deep and quite complex. The palate shows fresh fruit and more of that gravelly quality, together with a meaty depth. It’s fresh, focused and savoury: the sweet fruit makes it accessible but what I enjoy is the minerally savoury depth and the freshness. Very good/excellent 92/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene, http://www.lescaves.co.uk/)

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 28, 2007

southwestern white

The southwest of France rocks. Big time. As well as meaty, bloody, rock-essence reds, it produces some interesting whites, from the likes of the two Mansengs and a range of other unusual white varieties. And because these wines are ignored by points chasers and 'collectors', you and I can afford them.

Latest wine in the tasting queue was Domaine Berthoumieu's 2005 Pacherenc du Vic Bilh Sec. It's a white wine from the Madiran region, made from old vines. It's a powerful concoction, with a bold nose of herbs, vanilla, nuts and hay. The palate is intense with ripe conference pear fruit and good acidity countering the intense, almost oily flavours. Full of personality, and probably a bit too much for palates that have been weaned on Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. It tastes to me as if there has been a good bit of skin contact (not usual with modern white wines) as well as a bit of new oak.

UK availability: Les Caves de Pyrene (www.lescaves.co.uk)


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

More wine?

Two more wines to report on. It's 11 pm, but I don't think I'll be going to bed soon. The puppy refuses to go down to sleep until after midnight. One of the joys of dog ownership. The cats are also a bit traumatized by Rosie (the puppy), and skulk around nervously, moving in exaggerated slow motion as if about to be ambushed by a crazy dog. Which I suppose they are...

Montana Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2005 Marlborough, New Zealand
Sauvignon Blanc can be a bit samey, and most of them tend to be a bit one dimensional. But I was quite impressed by this affordable reserve offering from NZ giants Marlborough. It has that classic grassy, gooseberry, blackcurranty sort of character, but with the added dimension of richness, concentration and texture. Nothing too groundbreaking, but a well made, nicely balanced wine. Very good+ 89/100 (£7.99 Asda, Oddbins, Sainsbury, Thresher)

Producteurs Plaimont Le Faite 2003 Cotes de Saint-Mont, France
Another ambitious offering from Producteurs Plaimont, with a rather unusual packaging concept: the information isn't on a label, but rather on a wooden tag, attached to the bottle by some copper wire secured by a blob of wax (there's also a wax capsule). The wine itself is dark coloured, with smooth, sweet, liqueur-like fruit. Polished and suave - a little elegant, even. There's just the faintest hint of grippy southwestern structure on the finish, which falls a little short. Polished but a bit flat. Very good+ 86/100 (£14.99 Adnams, Grape Ideas, Bedales, Portland Wines)

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Plenitude Madiran

What was going through the minds of Les Producteurs Plaimont when they came up for the idea of one of their top cuvees, named 'Plenitude'. Now the Plaimont Coop are normally on top of their game. They are making some really nice wines from various southwestern appellations. But with Plenitude, which translates as fullness or abundance, they've whacked the volume knobs up to 11, and the result is kitsch wine in kitsch packaging.

Weighing in at 14% alcohol, this offers lots of everything. Yes, there's a bit of tannic Madiran bite (which I love), but this has been masked a bit by the abundant new oak that has been lavished on this wine. It's as if they've said, 'Australian wines are popular, so how can we make this wine taste Australian?' They don't need to do this.

Madiran is great, and so is the Tannat grape. There aren't many wines that taste like Madiran, so by trying to make your wine taste unlike Madiran, you are in danger of losing your USP. Be proud of the wines of the southwest France: in a world where wines are tasting worryingly similar, here's a wine that's a bit different. Tell the world about it. Don't apologise.

And then there is the packaging. What possessed them to go for the neo-viking plate metal look, topped off with some wax? It's absurd. Look, don't get me wrong: this isn't a bad wine. I don't mind it, although I find it hard to get past the oak. Perhaps in 3-5 years the oak will have been absorbed and it will enter a stage of mellow maturity. It's just that I reckon it could have been better. £14.99 from Bedales, Adnams and Grape Ideas.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Portugal and southwest France

Two rather good white wines tonight.

Quinta de Covela Branco 2004 Minho, Portugal
A blend of white varieties including Avesso and Chardonnay, from the Douro region of Portugal, except that this bit of the Douro doesn’t have the more usual schist-based soils, but instead the granite that’s more common to northern Portugal. The soils make a difference. This unoaked white is lean, very minerally and has appley, lemony fruit. It’s tart, fresh and delicious, with a grapefruity tang and a savoury sort of character. Very classy stuff that’s also beautifully packaged. Very good+ 89/100 (UK availability Corney & Barrow)

Vitage Vielh de Lapeyre Jurançon Sec 2003 Souhwest France
From a parcel of old vines (40 years) planted with Petit Manseng, Gros Manseng and Corbu fermented and aged in 600 litre barrels. As you’d expect from a top Jurançon, this is a striking wine, with notes of herb and dried straw accompanying fresh lemon fruit and vanilla. It’s complex, savoury and long with a spicy, almost tannic finish. Delicious, thought-provoking stuff. Very good/excellent 92/100 (UK availability Les Caves de Pyrene)

Labels: , , ,