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Sunday, 24 June 2018

Cool-Climate California?

Three "cool-climate" whites from California

If Californian wines make you think of big, oaky, monolithic, more-is-better pantechnicons, the good news is that the New World is also learning the value of subtlety, elegance and freshness.

There's still plenty of easy-drinking fruit, but it now comes with a more sophisticated and restrained freshness.

Not so much Die Hard, more The Fifth Element.

These three Californian whites are easy to enjoy, but also accomplished and adept; priced in the mid-teens, they represent reasonable value.

From left to right:

- Edna Valley Vineyard Chardonnay 2016, Central Coast (Majestic £13.99)
- Frei Brothers Chardonnay 2016, Russian River Valley (Waitrose, £17.99)
- MacMurray Estate Vineyards Pinot Gris 2016, Russian River Valley (Great Western Wine, £17.95)

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Abbotts & Delaunay Sauvignon Blanc Fruits Sauvage 2017

A Sauvignon Blanc from Languedoc - available at Majestic

Think of French Sauvignon Blanc and the Loire or Bordeaux first spring to mind; it is also grown, even if much less commonly, in the warmer climate of Languedoc.

As you might expect then, this wine is weightier than a Sauvignon from further north, while it also has a characteristic Languedoc expressiveness and is technically well made.

Abbotts & Delaunay Sauvignon Blanc Fruits Sauvage 2017 (Majestic, £9.99 or £7.99 mix six)  weighty yet fresh and expressive with citrus, tropical guava and passionfruit and a persistent leesiness. Aromatic and rich with a hint of pungency.

Match with goats cheese or white fish in a herb broth.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Elephant in the Room, Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2017

An unashamedly Big Aussie Red from Majestic

First, a question:

a) if you've got it, flaunt it
b) less is more

If you answered b), then look away now.

Elephant in the Room wines describe themselves as "proudly large in scale and expansive in flavour ... created to give consumers exactly what they want – full bodied and mouth-filling wines that deliver maximum pleasure."

If this antipodean wine were a band, it would be AC-DC; if it were a comedian, it would be Paul Hogan. Bombastic, attention-grabbing and in-yer-face, it views subtlety the way a Neanderthal views a woolly mammoth.
That is not the same, however, as lacking in sophistication - give it a several hours in the decanter for the oak, spice and dark fruits to settle down and its finer qualities become much more obvious.

Elephant in the Room, Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2017 (Majestic, £13.99 / £10.99 Mix Six - until at least August) expressive and perfumed with sweet, ripe dark-berry fruit, violets and toasty-oaky spice; behind lies a dense, complex core with fine tannins.

Good.

It is not especially food friendly, but will match with darker game such as duck or venison.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Co-op Irresistible Gavi

An Italian white from the Co-op

Gavi is made from the Cortese grape in the Gavi area of North West Italy; this hilly region at the foot of the alps is food-and-wine country, home to rich dishes made from game and truffles.

With citrus, fruit and minerality, Gavi is not dissimilar to Chardonnay and shares Chardonnay's versatile food friendliness.

Co-op Irresistible Gavi 2017 (£8.49) ripe-yet-fresh orchard and stone fruits, with florality and a wiff of white pepper. Substantial, with excellent underpinings and no rough edges.

Good and Good Value.

 Match with Mediterranean starters, pasta with creamy sauces or fish dishes.

Also, winner of the International Wine Challenge’s Great Value Wine award.

Monday, 11 June 2018

A Nice Bottle Of Chianti

Villa Longobardi Chianti from the Co-op

I've had more poor-value and disappointing Chiantis than I care to remember - so this enjoyable,  sub-£10 Co-op Chianti stands out as a great find; it scores highly for drinkability, value and typicity.

What more can you ask for?

Villa Longobardi Chianti 2016 (£8.29, reduced to £7.29 from 23 May until 12 June inclusive) cherry and plum fruit, oaky spice and good underpinnings with freshness and fine tannins.

Match with beef dishes or pasta sauces.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Artemovskoye White Semi-dry, 2015

A pleasant and unassuming off-dry fizz from Ukraine's Artwinery

If you consider Champagne the only "proper" fizz, then look away now.

There are plenty of other fizzes apart from Champagne - they all do different things and occupy different price points.

Ukraine's sparkling wines are at their best enjoyable, inexpensive sparklers with plenty of character.

Artemovskoye White Semi-dry, 2015 a blend of Riesling, Aligote, Pinot and Chardonnay grapes and has a year's ageing on the lees plus some further bottle age. Plenty of aromatic and floral zip, with lemony-sherbet fruit, a bit of leesiness and a pleasantly off-dry finish to round off any rough edges.

What's not to like?

Drink as an aperitif or with match with starters such as mozzarella or seafood.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

En Passant - Domaine Gayda

Two new wines from Domaine Gayda

En Passant

ɒ̃ paˈsɑːnt,ɒ̃ ˈpasɒ̃/
adverb:

1. by the way; incidentally.

Languedoc's Domaine Gayda make ripe, fruited and well-structured wines with elegance and a southern warmth. These two En Passant wines are no exception.

The blanc is a somewhat unusual Languedoc blend of Macabeu and Viognier; the rouge is a more-customary mix of Syrah and Carignan.

En Passant Blanc 2016 big-yet-zippy white with ripe yellow stone fruits, sweet spice, zippy lim ezest and southern warmth; fresh, mineral and savoury.

Good.

Match with scallops, meaty white fish or pork.

En Passant Rouge 2015 expressive spicy red with bramble fruits, balsamic and gamey spiciness; fresh, with good underpinnings.

Good.

Match with darker game.