jamie goode's wine blog

Sunday, February 01, 2009

A loooong Sunday lunch

We had a couple of families over for lunch today. They're good friends and it was a relaxed, lengthy affair. Fiona cooked an excellent Portuguese stew, and it was washed down with an eclectic selection of wines.

We kicked off with Champagne Moutardier NV, a rich style with lots of character and depth - I bought six bottles of this a while ago from my brother in law, Beavington, who'd managed to get hold of a lot at a very reasonable price from Great Western Wine.

Then a really classic Chablis: 1er Cru Vaucopins 2007 from Domaine Long-Depaquit (made by Albert Bichot). Portugal was represented by the Covela Tinto Colhieta Seleccionada 2003, which is a super-refined oaked red wine that went down very well. This was followed by the Benegas Lynch Libertad Vineyards Meritage 2005 Mendoza, a big old Argentinean red weighing in at 15% alcohol, with some spicy complexity but also a bit of heat.

But the winner on the day was a sweet white wine from Bordeaux - the Chateau de Ricaud Loupiac 2001 (12.90 Nicolas). This is a really rich yet balanced sweet wine with lovely apricot, crystalline fruit and waxy complexity. Tastes like a really good Sauternes.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

International Wine Challenge awards dinner

Last night was the International Wine Challenge Awards Dinner. Lots and lots of wine trade people in a huge ballroom in a swanky Park Lane hotel, all dressed up very smartly (black tie). I always find it quite funny seeing just how well everyone scrubs up for events like this; even the scruffiest, most badly dressed of the wine trade turn out impeccably for this sort of gig.

I was sitting at the Emma Wellings PR table, which was quite jolly. But it seemed that the speeches and awards took more time than they did last year, not finishing until 11.30 pm. On the way out I bumped into Chris and Jane Scott of 30:50, who had won an award. They live near me so we shared the cost of a cab back home. For 10 minutes, though, I had a rather surreal conversation with Chris, which confused me greatly until I realized that he'd mistaken me for Sam Harrop.

Here are my notes on some of the sweet wines that we were served. I know it's sad to be taking notes at a dinner like this, but this was when the awards were being dished out.

Mission Hill Riesling Reserve Icewine 2006 Okanagan Valley, Canada
Very, very sweet and grapey with aromatic grapey, raisiny notes. Massively concentrated, viscous palate is supersweet, rounded an full. A huge wine that's still in balance, if a little overpowering. 90/100

Rabl Gruner Veltliner Eiswein 2006 Langenlois, Austria
Citrussy, sweet and herby with lovely elegant, fresh fruit that's viscous and intense at the same time. Nice acidity. A striking, supersweet unctuous wine with the richness offset by good acidity. 91/100

Ordonez Seleccion Especial No 1 2006 Malaga, Spain
Aromatic with lovely complex orange, tea and herb notes on the nose. Viscous, grapey palate with sweet fruitiness but also a lovely expressive character. 91/100

Hans Lang Riesling Auslese Hattenheimer Hassel 2005 Rheingau, Germany
Sweet and honeyed with some melony fruit. Rich with lots of fruit, and quite viscous, too. Well made but not as exciting as I was hoping. 89/100

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Remarkable Spanish sweetie from Malaga

Jorge Ordonez, a well known importer of Spanish wines, hails from the southern Spanish town of Malaga. Malaga used to be well known as a region producing sweet wines, but of late has fallen from grace. But the region is undergoing a small revival: flying winemaker Telmo Rodriguez has made some lovely wines here, and there's also this beauty, the result of a collaboration between Ordonez and the late Alois Kracher from Austria. Unlike traditional Malaga, which was sweet and raisiny, this is brilliantly bright and delicate.

Jorge Ordonez & Co Malaga Seleccion Especial 2006
Made from Moscatel grapes dried on the vine. Light yellow in colour, this has a beautifully fresh aromatic nose of citrus oil, grapes and mandarins. The palate is super sweet and quite viscous, but with lovely bright spicy orange fruit and good acid providing a perfect counterpoint. Deliciously fresh, and quite complex for a young wine, this is tremendously easy to drink. 92/100 (12.99 per half, Indigo Wines, Lay & Wheeler, The Vineking)

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cricket at Lords and sweet wine

Spent the day at Lord's, watching the first day of the England v. South Africa test match. To those unfamiliar with cricket, the idea of a game that lasts five days must seem ludicrous. I suppose it is, but it is also wonderful that in this age of hurry and busyness, a day can be spent watching nothing much happening at a cricket match as a punctuation-style interval in an over-busy life.

South Africa have four good fast bowlers, and between them they kept things pretty tight, restricting England to 80-odd for none (this means England scored 80 runs without any of their batsmen getting out) by lunch. Shortly after lunch, though, South Africa made a breakthrough, with Strauss lbw for 44. Soon after, Vaughan was clean bowled for 2, and then Cook was out a few balls later for 60. At 117-3 things were nicely poised. But a solid partnership by Bell and Pietersen followed. Initially, Bell looked the more in-form, with some cracking shots. But as Pietersen entered the 20s, he found his touch, motoring towards his century with some bold yet measured stroke play. When I left, with a couple of overs to go, England were just over 300 with three wickets down.

Lords is a very attractive ground to watch cricket at. It also has the enlightened policy of allowing guests to bring a bottle of wine in with them, something that other test match grounds prohibit, perhaps because of fears of lost revenue and upsetting drinks sponsors.

Two sweet wines tonight.

Chateau Haut Bergeron Sauternes 2004 Bordeaux
Golden colour. Attractive sweet herbal nose with dried fruit, apricot, citrus peel and spice. The palate is viscous with citrus and barley sugar character as well as some appealing spiciness. A dense, mouthfilling sweet wine with some complexity. Deliciously rich. 90/100 (Asda 9.99/half)

Vendanges d'Automne Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois NV, France
Golden colour with some brown hints. Rich and quite viscous with notes of baked apple, dried apricot and organge peel, as well as some tea-like complexity. Very sweet, with a bit of spice on the finish. A satisfying, thought-provoking wine. 89/100 (Co-op 11.99/50 cl)

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Sweet wines: Sauternes and its neighbours

I must admit, I do enjoy sweet wines. But not very often, because I can't seem to generate enough situations where it seems appropriate to pop the cork on something sweet. It's not like you'd open a bottle of Sauternes at 6 pm and drink it for the evening, is it?

I've been opening quite a few sweet wines from Sauternes and other neighbouring Bordeaux regions over the last few days because I had some samples in. It's been quite fun: overall, the quality has been good, and while these are by no means the best or most expensive examples of sweet wines from Bordeaux, they're pretty consistent, with one notable exception.

The exception was a Laithwaites wine, which was actually quite awful: the LS Semillon 2002 1er Cotes de Bordeaux. The thing is, it looked so good from the label (above), but unfortunately this tasted like cheap, dilute sweet white Bordeaux - not worth (to my palate) the asking price of over 6 for a half. In fact, I wouldn't buy this if it was 2 a half. [I hate to write negative notes, but sometimes the real underperforming wines need to be outed. I also think it's healthy for critics to be critical: my job is to write for consumers, not to act as a PR agent for the wine trade.]

The others, from Cadillac, Loupiac, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont and Sauternes itself, have all been enjoyable wines. With their golden colours, presented in clear glass bottles with white labels and gold capsules, they also look stunning. Probably the best (certainly in terms of value) has been the Chateau La Caussade 2004 Sainte-Croix-du-Mont (11.86 Waitrose for 75 cl). Yellow/gold in colour, this has an appealing nose of honey, lanolin, spice and ripe peach. The palate is richly textured and broad, with sweet melon and apricot fruit balanced by a subtly spicy bite. It's not as intense or multidimensional as the best Sauternes can be, but it's still a really nicely balanced wine.
My only concern with drinking these sweet wines is how fat I'll get. They're deliciously sweet, with perhaps 130 grams/litre of residual sugar. That means a bottle will have roughly 100 grams of sugar in it, which, together with the alcohol, sounds like a lot of calories. Has anyone done the maths?

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Recioto di Soave

Tonight I'm sipping the Recioto di Soave from Tamellini that I mentioned at the weekend. It's a serious effort, with a wonderful tangerine-like character, combining peachy, apricotty richness with a fresh citrus kick. It's complex and alive, with brilliant balance between the concentrated sweetness and fruity freshness. There's a unique personality to this wine: I don't think I've ever tried anything quite like it. It has a rich, almost viscous texture, but it avoids being at all cloying. With sweet wines, sweetness and acidity act in opposition (or is that apposition?), with one cancelling the other out in a see-saw like manner, but with both contributing to the intensity of the wine. This wine has a lot of acidity and a lot of sweetness, and the finish goes on for ages. It's 18.50 for 50 cl from Les Caves de Pyrene, and a bargain at this price, I reckon.

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