Château Suduiraut 2001 Sauternes, Bordeaux, France
14% alcohol. Remarkably fresh still with complex, spicy lemon and grapefruit notes as well as viscous apricot, pear and peach characters. Lively and powerful with lovely weight. This is a stunning wine with great potential. 95/100
Château Le Dôme 1996 Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, France
Normally a cult Saint Emilion wouldn’t be my thing, but this wine, which I have enjoyed a number of times in recent years, is a classic, elegant, balanced right bank Bordeaux. It’s taut and fresh with lovely black cherry and blackcurrant fruit, with hints of earth and spice. A beautiful wine with a taut personality and potential for further development. 94/100
Jaboulet Hermitage la Chapelle 1997 Northern Rhône, France
We’re just beginning to catch the bad phase of Jaboulet here. It’s a nice wine, but it’s more evolved than it should be. Notes of iodine, meat, cherries and earth with a ferrous, sanguine edge. Still Hermitage, but lighter and more evolved than it should be. Still, if you drink this now, there’s some pleasure to be had. 92/100
Château Gruaud Larose St Julien 2000 Bordeaux, France
12.5% alcohol. Fresh, vivid and green edged with blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, showing some leafy notes. Gravelly and grippy with nice spicinesss. Focused and developing well. 93/100
Some excellent wines yesterday for Christmas Day with family. I’m going to write up the highlights in two posts. The wines deserve it. First, three whites, all of which exceeded expectations.
Lucien Le Moine Hospices de Beaune Saint-Romain Cuvee Joseph Menault 2011 Burgundy, France
Bottled for Marks & Spencer, this Hopsice wine is sensational. It has an amazing precise nose of intense mineral and matchstick reduction, with citrussy fruit. The palate is linear, lemony, reductive and intense with lovely tension. A brilliant white Burgundy that belies its appellation. 95/100 (£35 Marks & Spencer)
Mulderbosch Single Vineyard Chenin Blanc W Block 2013 Stellenbosch, South Africa
I was quite excited to try this wine. It’s one of three single vineyard bottlings from Mulderbosch, aiming to show the influence of site on high-end Chenin. It is powerful, concentrated, minerally and intense with rich pear and peach fruit, as well as fresh citrus and spice characters. Lovely focus here with some tangerine brightness. Rich yet fresh, beautifully poised and dry. Superb stuff, and it will age well. 94/100 (Armit Wines)
Clos Floridene 2012 Graves Blanc, Bordeaux
This is benchmark white Bordeaux from Denis Dubourdieu. A blend of roughly equal parts Sauvignon and Semillon with a touch of Muscadelle. It’s very detailed and delicate with real elegance to the tangerine and grapefruit palate. Floral, fruity and fine, this is a really beautiful wine, and it’s a steal at the Co-op price (other merchants have this at £27). 93/100 (£18.99 Co-op)
I’m quite a fan of James and Annie Millton’s wines. I’ve visited them twice in Gisborne, once in 2008 and then again in 2013. It’s a pretty place, and for some reason Millton seems to be able to make thrillingly good wines here, while most of the rest of the vineyards make simple stuff for cheap bottlings. This Chenin is just beautiful: an amazingly exotic yet fresh expression of Chenin that’s quite unique.
Millton Chenin Blanc Te Arai Vineyard 2013 Gisborne, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol. Wonderfully lively, exotically aromatic nose: pear, melons, citrus and some spice, with some ripe apples too. Exotic, rounded palate with lovely pear and ripe apple fruit, and a bit of sweetness. Forward, delicious and quite complex, this is a really impressive Chenin Blanc. 92/100 (UK agent Bibendum)
Here’s a shot of James and Annie in one of their vineyards:
Could this be the best still English wine I have tasted? It’s from a 15 acre vineyard in Sussex, that’s on a much larger estate owned by Christen Monge. In a former life Chris was a global director of an advertising agency based in Hong Kong. he bought the property in 1999, and since returning to the UK with his family in 2010 he’s made the decision to develop his idyllic spot as a tourism destination with wine as one of the focal points.
It’s clear that he’s got a good understanding of brand building: this is the most beautifully packed English wine you can imagine, complete with a lovely wax capsule. Winemaking is in the hands of the very experienced Owen Elias. Vines were planted at Kingscote in 2012 (first vintage off them was in 2014) so presumably this wine was made with bought-in grapes.
Kingscote The Bacchus 2013 Sussex, England
11.5% alcohol. Made by Owen Elias. Beautifully aromatic with lovely tropical peach, pear and passionfruit richness with some citrus notes and subtle elderflower perfume. The palate is concentrated, fruity and full flavoured with rounded, expressive fruit. Impressive stuff: not the most complex wine ever, but with beautiful, alluring fruit quality. Probably the most impressive English table wine I’ve yet tasted. 90/100
So cool to see wineanorak featuring on University Challenge last night (a television program on the UK’s BBC). Paxman reading out content from my site! I’ve made it. Distressing to see how little these otherwise incredibly smart people knew about wine, though. The Charente??? Here’s the clip:
Chianti. I’ve struggled a bit with it. It can be great, but often it’s a bit difficult and surly. It’s like a moody friend: you have to wait for the right time to approach it, but get it right and things can be great. More often than not, they are complicated. This is a lovely example of great Chianti, as long as you can get past the old fashioned label and genetically modified associations with the domaine name. The Bianchi family who own Monsanto have 72 hectares of vines in the Chianti Classico area, and this wine is a blend of 90% Sangiovese with 7% Canaiolo and 3% Colorino, aged for 20 months in French oak. It’s an impressive wine, but it does need some time to show its best.
Monsanto Il Poggio Chianti Classico Riserva 2009 Tuscany, Italy
14% alcohol. From a single vineyard. This is very supple with juicy cherry and plum fruit. It’s bright with a slightly sappy edge and some fresh raspberry notes, as well as a hint of tar. This is remarkably fresh and taut still, and clearly has a long future ahead of it. It has some grippy structure, but it’s not at all rustic, with keen acidity. The essence of fresh, structured Sangiovese, perfectly poised, but give it cellar time. 93/100 (£45 The Sampler) 12/14
This is amazing. One of the best sparkling wines I’ve tried from the UK. It has been aged on its lees for 70 months. It shows what’s possible in England with a bit of extra time on lees, especially with Chardonnay. I understand the economics, but too many wines are being released before they’ve really had a chance to show what they are capable of.
Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs Late Disgorged 2007 England
12% alcohol. Yellow colour. Lovely balance on the nose with some richer, bready, toasty notes alongside fresh lemons and some ripe apple. The palate has elegance, precision and good concentration of flavour, with nuts, toast, pears, lemons and keen but not harsh acidity. There’s also a very subtle creaminess. This is bright and stylish at the same time. 93/100 (Available in the UK from Selfridges, as of today, I’m just checking the price)
I’ve just written up the launch of Professor Charles Spence’s new book, The Perfect Meal. It’s a really good book that examines how science can help us understand what it is that creates an epic dining experience, and the insights he shared at the launch were brilliant. You can read my extensive report here.
Here’s a short film of the man in action at the launch:
The book itself is fabulous, but it is quite academic, in that it is fully referenced. I should imagine this isn’t a problem to most readers of this blog. It’s certainly accessible to non-scientists, but there’s plenty of scientific meat here to be digested.
López de Heredia, who make Tondonia, is one of the classic old Rioja houses. They are super-traditional, and make fabulously old fashioned and brilliantly ageable wines. They are not for modernists: winemaking here is quite oxidative with extended ageing in oak before release. It’s not quite up to Musar levels, but these wines are a bit of an acquired taste. Once you get a taste for them, however, you are smitten. It’s wonderful how wines that are a technician’s nightmare are some of the most compelling and fine of all. It helps to keep us humble, I guess.
I was really surprised to see this wine in the Co-operative, rubbing shoulders with inexpensive commercial bottlings. Good for the Co-op, listing some geek bait like this, although I am surprised that FMV, the UK agents, sold this to them: it is normally found in independents and it is normally more expensive (Berry Bros & Rudd, who own FMV, are selling this for £29.99).
Viña Tondonia Reserva 2002 Rioja, Spain
13% alcohol. 6 Years in oak. Very appealing young Tondonia, this, with fresh, bright red cherry and berry fruit, some grippy structure, and a savoury personality, kept fresh with high acidity. There are hints of vanilla and spice, with a tight core of fruit and complex notes of tea, earth and minerals. It’s not the greatest vintage of Tondonia, but this is a really lovely wine and it will probably age beautifully, when it will merit a higher score. 92/100 (£19.99 Co-op)