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Sunday, 15 December 2019

Domaine Alary Tradition, Cairanne

A wine-and-vinyl pairing from Stylus

Wine and vinyl share a common feature of being both expensive and inconvenient compared to more-straightforward alternatives.

The routines, rituals and awkwardness of putting on a vinyl record are not dissimilar to those of buying, storing and serving a bottle of wine.

 And, at a certain level, the tasting of wine, like that of listening to music, becomes more a cerebral than visceral experience.

Vinyl-and-wine service Stylus have tapped into this market and offer a monthly record, bottle of wine and magazine subscription.

Cairanne and Phoenix box

The wine

Domaine Alary Tradition, Cairanne, 2017 red fruits, elderberries and cassis, sous bois and truffles, oaky vanilla spice. Warming, expressive and substantial with very fine tannins.

The vinyl

Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus PhoenixParisian indie synth pop; think Daft Punk-meets-The-1975- meets-The Strokes. Melodic, tight and energetic.

Review by wineninjas: https://wineninjas.org/2019/10/23/stylus-wine-and-vinyl-cairanne/

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Cantalric Sentiers du Sud Colombard, Pays d'Oc

A well-made easy-drinking white from Pays d'Oc

Colombard is a high-acidity grape from France's southern Atlantic coast area that was historically used for distilling into Cognac.

These days, it makes an interesting, pleasant and usually inexpensive dry white - something of a Sauvignon alternative.

Cantalric Sentier du Sud Colombard, 2018, Pays d'Oc fresh and floral with a whiff of pepper; citrus and white stone-fruit. Linear and saline-mineral with good underpinnings; well-made.

Thoroughly pleasant.

Drink as an aperitif or match with fishy starters or a herby chicken stew.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Twelfth Night Wines for Christmas from Virgin

Three subversive wines for Christmas wines from Virgin - and two superior standards

My general rule-of-thumb at Christmas is not to try anything too different - keep to stuff you like and maybe spend a bit more on a slightly better version; Bordeaux from a smarter appellation and a superior vintage, say, or Grand Cru Chablis rather than Petit Chablis.

But what's the point of Christmas if you can't break a few rule and have some fun? So here are three wines from Virgin that, like Twelfth Night when everything gets turned upside down and all the rules are reversed, will both subvert your expectations and entertain in equal measure

Chiarli Medaglie Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC 2018 (£11.99) get the party started with some red fizz. Lambrusco has a bit of historic baggage in this country, but done properly this light sparkling red from Emilia Romagna matches brilliantly with local parma ham, parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar. Or just serve it lightly chilled as a pick-me-up.

Schnaitmann Simonroth Lemberger 2016 (£24.99) Lemberger, aka Blaufraenkisch, is the great black grape of central Europe and shows great versatility. In milder climates, it is cherry-fruited and elegant, a lighter, fresher yet serious red that rivals Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. As with this wine from southern Germany, warmer temperatures bring something more akin to Bordeaux with deeper colour, plumper fruit and more tannins.

Solevari Reserve Feteasca Neagra 2017 (£12.99) Romania makes wonderful wines from international varieties, but Feteasca Neagra is its signature red variety - plump, supple and spicily dark-fruited, it matches brilliantly with steak or rare roast beef. Serve as an alternative to a Rhone or a northern Italian red.

And if you want to keep it straightforward and conventional, here are two superior classic wines:

De Martino Niebla Casablanca Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (£13.99) De Martino is one of the pioneering wineries of Chile, making subtle, nuanced wines in an elegant food-friendly European style. This is a single vineyard Sauvignon from the cool, foggy Casablanca Valley. Drink this with smoked salmon on Boxing Day.

Heranca Late Bottled Vintage Port 2012 (£14.99) with figgy, raisiny flavours and a warming sweetness, port is synonymous with Christmas. Best served with mince pies, a crackling fire and the Queen's Speech, LBV is a vintage port that is aged in barrel for several years and is ready to drink without further aging. If you manage not to finish it off all at once, drink it on Boxing day with a plate of cheeses or a chocolate-and-cherry torte.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Wines of the French Alps: Wink Lorch

Wink Lorch's tasting of Alpine wines and book celebration at Terroirs, London

Cheese, wine and bread is a simple and classic combination. Yet simple need not mean unsophisticated; a flight of 28 Alpine wines chosen with impeccable taste, superb Alpine cheeses and fresh baguettes plus chat with Alpine vignerons and merchants.

I have long agreed with Wink's view that Alpine wines have their own particular character, a certain light freshness, reminiscent of an Alpine meadow.

The wines selected by Wink were not so much defined by their Alpine nature as all bearing a family resemblance.
There was fizz (in two colours), whites and reds, youg wines, old wines, magnums, aromatic wines and versatile wines, varietals and blends with obscure grapes such as Gringet, Mondeuse, Chasselas, Persan. There were even cross-border wines from French, Swiss and Italian-grown grapes and a pair of bottles from the year the Berlin Wall came down.
In general, the whites were lemony and leesy-oatmealy with white stone fruit; the reds showed red berry fruits with fine tannins. Delicate wines with a Burgundian elegance, they were harmonious, balanced and savoury and of a very good standard all round.

Head to any of the merchants who supported the event and try some of these wonderful wines - ideally, two or three bottles for a comparative tasting over some Gruyere and Comte.

Vine Trail
Alpine Wines
Caves de Pyrene

And if that piques your interest, check out Wink's book, Wines of the French Alps: Savoie, Bugey and beyond.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Calmel & Joseph, Villa Blanche Malbec 2018

A substantial and dense Malbec from Pays d'Oc's Calmel &Joseph

In a free-association wordplay game, if you say "Malbec", I think "fruit-driven, often blowsy New World wines".

Malbec is, of course, a French grape and its spiritual home is Cahors in the South West. So, approach this wine not so much as a Malbec, and more as Pays d'Oc; it is dense, inky and substantial, a great food wine and not at all Big-and-Blowsy New World in style at all.

Calmel & Joseph, Villa Blanche Malbec black fruits, black olives and black pepper; inky texture, freshness and a dense, muscular core. A serious, substantial, textured wine.

Opens up with aeration and will improve with age.


Match with plain roast meat.

Imported by Daniel Lambert Wines

Friday, 22 November 2019

Taylor's Select Reserve Port - The Co-op

A warming winter fortified wine from The Co-op

If autumn starts with your first Big Spicy Red of the season, then port ushers in Christmas.

Port comes in various guises and this Taylor's Select Reserve is a good example of the most common style for everyday drinking.

It has everything you want from a port; fruit, spice, warmth and sweetness. It's a lot of port for not much money.

Taylor’s Select Reserve Port (£7.00 in E&W, £7.50 in S, from 6 November to 2 January, The Co-op) red, black and sour cherries, eucalyptus and oaky spice with prunes, raisins and liquorice; sweet, warming and supple with very fine, well-integrated tannins.

Thoroughly enjoyable and good value.

Sip as a digestif; drink with mince pies or chocolate and cherry torte.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

The CWB South-Off

Two Southern-hemisphere wine - a South African White and Aussie Red

At the end of the Australia Blind Tasting Club, we were invited to take a couple of bottles of left-overs. I picked these two pretty much at random; the standard was high and none of the wines was in any way disappointing.

Ghost Corner Semillon 2016, South Africa (Waitrose, £16.99) toasty, citrussy with some florality; fresh zippy lemon-lime, sage and mint, and linear, saline minerality. Clean, pure and elegant.


Kalleske Old Vine Grenache 2015, Barossa Valley, Australia (New Generation Wines, £44.70) red fruits and sous bois; floral, fresh and elegant with red-berry fruits and mintiness. Complex, elegant and adept with very fine tannins.

Drinking nicely now and will age.