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Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne NV

A sparkling Blanc de Noirs from Chablis

Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne NV

Think Chablis and it's all about still white wines made from Chardonnay; so this sparkling Blanc de Noirs made from 100% Pinot Noir is intriguing for its bragging rights alone.

It is not, of course, a Chablis - or, at least, cannot be labelled as such - even though the grapes are grown in Chablis.

If we think of Chablis as more akin to a southerly district of Champagne than a northerly sub-region of Burgundy, then this fizz falls into place: a slightly warmer-climate, giving a slightly fuller wine with a little more fruit.

It is aged on the lees for 24 months, so is truly a Champagne-style wine without the price tag; it is my go-to "proper fizz" when it needs to be good and I don't want to pay for the label.

Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne (Private Cellar, £18.85) golden colour, fine mousse; grapefruit, orchard and citrus fruits with some creamy brioche; fine linear acidity and minerality; harmonious and elegant.

Good and Good Value (within its category).

Drinking nicely now and can also be aged.

Drink as an aperitif or match with light starters.

If this wine piques your interest, Frankie Cook reviews another Simonnet-Febvre here.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Montes Reserve Chardonnay - The Co-op

A wonderful throwback Chilean Chardie from The Co-op

Montes Reserve Chardonnay, Chile

I kind of miss the 80s and 90s - to be honest, I rather miss 2019.

Anyway, the era of the Terminator, yuppies, Ladettes and Girl Power also gave us Big Oaky Chardonnay.

Yes, like all things, it eventually got a bit out of hand, but in its heyday, it was great.

Good Oaky Chardonnay is full of ripe fruit, butterscotch and spice; it's as easy to enjoy as one of Arnie's catchphrases.

Zig-a-zig ah!

Montes Reserve Chardonnay, Chile, (£8, The Co-op) ripe tropical pineapple and melon fruit, toasty vanilla oak and creamy brazil-nut savoury leesiness. Fresh and mineral; supple, harmonious and well-made.

Good and Good Value.

A versatile food wine, match with herby sausages, roast chicken or wiener schnitzel.

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Durup Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume 2018

A Premier Cru Chablis from Durup via Tanners and Palmers

Durup Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume

First things first - at just about two years from harvest date, drinking a Premier Cru Chablis feels like oenological infanticide. It's little more than a barrel sample at this stage and, despite drinking very nicely, a long way from being the wine it has the potential to become.

It's like seeing Daniel Radcliffe's screen test for Harry Potter or being in the crowd at a Quarrymen gig; you might well be in the presence of greatness, but you may not necessarily realise it at the time.

Chablis is one of the great wines of the world; there really is nothing else quite like it, due to its combination of soil type, climate, aspect and winemaking. If you were looking for somewhere to make wine now, you wouldn't choose Chablis. It's too high risk and too much hard work.

But the best wine is often made in the most marginal areas and the challenges of Chablis are also its greatness.

I love Chablis - for both its incomparable style and its taut, linear focus. Yes, it's completely illogical, but the difficulty in making it is also part of what makes it so great.

And as you move up the quality scale to Premier Cru and Grand Cru, the lifespan and years to maturity also increase.

Durup Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume 2018 (£26.50, Tanners, Palmers Wine Store)  golden green with a restrained nose of white flowers and honeysuckle; fresh orchard and white stone fruits, lime marmalade, honey, white pepper and minerality; supple, concentrated and long.  Very elegant and poised.

Improves with aeration and, whilst drinking very nicely now, will continue to improve with cellaring.


Match with young white cheese, smoked mackerel pâté or pork rilettes.

Some further Chablis food matches from Fiona Beckett.

Friday, 4 September 2020

Winemaker's Selection Barossa Valley Shiraz - Lidl

A benchmark Aussie Shiraz from Lidl - it even has a bit of age

My local Lidl is proving to be a plentiful source of inexpensive easy-drinking wines; and if that were not enough, they also score well for typicity. That is to say, they taste how they should, given where they come from. In other words, they have a sense of place, which is what wine is really all about.

Barossa Shiraz is something of a benchmark style; thick, stewed sweet dark fruits with chocolate, leather and minty, porty eucalyptus, subtle it is not. It is, however, easy to understand and enjoy.

It's the equivalent of Bruce Willis in a blood-soaked, sweat-stained muscle vest, toting an Uzi in a truck - or Jason Statham if you are British.

Yes, there are expensive Barossa Shirazes, hot-climate Aussie wines with aspirations; but given their expressive, exuberant nature, to me they have always made more sense as easy-drinking quaffers.

Winemaker's Selection Barossa Valley Shiraz, 2017 (£5.99, Lidl) baked dark fruits, cassis, black olives, spice, leather and minty eucalyptus; fresh, full, supple and long.

Thoroughly enjoyable - improves with aeration and will age further.

Match with barbecue food - burgers in brioche or posh dogs in buns.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage Le Chevalier De Stérimberg White, 2005

An unusual white Rhône - with 15 years' aging

Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage Le Chevalier De Stérimberg White, 2005

The northern Rhône's Hermitage is Syrah's spiritual home and produces almost entirely red wines; a small amount, up to 15%, of white grapes are allowed in the blend and, very occasionally, they are made into white wines in their own right.

This rich, savoury Marsanne-Roussanne would not be out of place in a line-up of white Burgundies.

Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage Le Chevalier De Stérimberg White, 2005, Chateauneuf du Pape golden topaz with  honeysuckle and acacia, spice and citrus; savouriness with tangerine oil, pineapple marmalade, zesty lime with quince, apple and pear fruit; minerality and pencil shavings; rich, full and waxy yet fresh.

Very Good.

Match with lighter game, such as guinea fowl or partridge.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Domaine de Saint-Just, La Coulee de Saint-Cyr Blanc 2010

Domaine de Saint-Just, La Coulee de Saint-Cyr Blanc, Saumur 2010

There once was a boy from Saint Just
Who ate apple pie 'til he bust
It wasn't the fru-it
That caused him to do it
What finished him off was the crust
- limerick

If you wanted to demonstrate the greatness and versatility of Chenin, this could be the wine to pour. It is rich, savoury, full and complex - and at 10 years old, it still has plenty of life ahead.

With high acidity and flavours of flowers, damp straw and honey, this aged dry Loire Chenin is not exactly an easy-drinking crowd-pleaser; but its savoury freshness is fascinating and compelling. It has the richness and botrytised flavours of a sweet wine, yet is completely dry.

Domaine de Saint-Just, La Coulee de Saint-Cyr Blanc, Saumur 2010 topaz colour with cidery,  bruised apple, leesy acacia blossom and a sherry-esque tang; toasted almonds and savoury beeswax with dried apricots, sultanas and yellow apple; fresh with a sharp backbone and saline minerality; complex, supple and very elegant.

Very Good.

Match with snails, mackerel pâté or lighter game, such as guinea fowl.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

G.B. Burlotto Dolcetto d'Alba 2018

A juicy northern Italian red from Cambridge Wine Merchants

G.B. Burlotto Dolcetto d'Alba

North West Italy is home to many of the country's great reds; with forested hills, truffles and game, it is Italy's answer to Burgundy.

If Nebbiolo is Italy's Pinot Noir, hedonistic and gamey, Dolcetto is its Beaujolais; cherry-fruited and juicy.

G.B. Burlotto Dolcetto D.O.C. 2018 (£15.99, Cambridge Wine Merchants)  red berries, cherry fruit and violet aromas; red and black cherry fruit with spice and savoury underpinnings; fresh and lively with fine, rounded and well-integrated tannins. Very elegant, well-made and harmonious.

Will age.


Match with red meats, such as steak, or pizza.