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Monday, 27 October 2014

Viranel Tasting Dinner at Pint Shop

Viranel tasting and dinner at Pint Shop with Cambridge Wine Merchants
 
Cambridge Wine Merchants have championed Languedoc wines for many years and supply a number of the city's restaurants, including Pint Shop.
 
One of two wine-making brothers, Arnaud Bergasse took us through a tasting of his wines along with a few plates of food.
 
Less than a year since it opened, Pint Shop has been a phenomenal success - on a dark Thursday night there was standing room only and two fully-booked sittings for dinner.
 
The food is "English revival" - traditional, slightly peasanty and utterly delicious - whilst the vibe is unpretentiously cool.
 
This matches perfectly with the effortless sophistication of Viranel's wines; they are all ripe yet fresh with precision, balance and minerality.
 
Based in Cessenon-sur-Orb in St Chinian, Viranel is a family business dating back to 1551 with 40ha and three distinct terroirs - low-lying alluvial for the everyday drinking and limestone and sandstone schist going up to 400m for the more structured wines.
 
The Wines
 
Trilogie Rosé Syrah, Cab, Cinsault; pale, easy drinking, fresh and balanced
Tradition Rosé Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault; darker, more structured and food-friendly
Tradition Blanc Grenache blanc, Vermentino, Roussanne, Bourboulenc; fresh, floral, mineral with some sweet spice
Tradition Rouge GSM+C, some oak; ripe dark fruits and freshness
V Rouge Syrah and Grenache, old vines, some oak; more texture and complexity
 
All the wines were very enjoyable, but the V Rouge was the most impressive.
Viranel wines are available from Cambridge Wine Merchants and Berry Brothers & Rudd.
 
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Friday, 24 October 2014

South West France - Wine Dinner

South West France wines are holding a dinner at The Boundary in Shoreditch on November 5.

As one of the ambassadors for this campaign, the Wine Gang's Joanna Simon will be hosting the event - a four course meal with 12 wines matched to each course.

To whet your appetite, the line-up is:

Aperitif:- Charcuterie Canapés
2013 Rive Haute Colombard Sauvignon
Starter:
Salad of Bayonne ham with truffle.
2013 Domaine Chiroulet Rose
2013 Gouleyant Loin de L’oeil Sauvignon
2012 Les Vignes Retrouvées
Main Course:
Braised ox cheek, smoked boar, root vegetables, red wine sauce
2010 Plénitude
2011 Chateau de Hauterive
2011 Château d’Aydie
2012 Pigmentum Malbec
Cheese:
2012 Domaine de Cassaigne
2010 L’Empreinte
Dessert:
Prune Clafoutis, vanilla cream
2011 Chäteau d’Aydie (Pacherenc)
2011 Domaine Rotier
 
Wednesday, 5th November, 6.45pm, £70 pp
The Boundary, 2-4 Boundary St, London E2 7DD
To book tickets, call the Chateau Boundary ticket office on 020 7613 7564 or email the team at info@chateauboundary.com

If you want to know more about the event generally:

http://southwestfrancewines.com/fantastic-south-west-france-wine-dinner-boundary-london/

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Six St Chinian Wines

A tasting of six St Chinian wines held at Cambridge Wine Merchants for EASCA

St Chinian is a sub-region of Languedoc-Roussillon and one of the oldest winemaking regions in Languedoc. Based at the foot of France's Massif Central, it lies between the Pyrenean foothills and the Med and benefits from lots of sunshine and a degree of coolness from either altitude or sea breezes.

In general, the better wines come from the north of the appellation where the soil is stoney clay, rather than in the south where limestone dominates.

The grapes here are mostly the traditional GSM + C of Languedoc (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan) and all the reds had a distinct family resemblance - a southern warmth with dark fruits, freshness and concentration.
Mas Champart, St Chinian Blanc 2012 (The Wine Society, Berrys) a blend of numerous southern varieties, it is a sandy yellow. Fresh, clean and citrussy, it is long and poised with leesy, mineral underpinnings. Good.

A versatile, textured food wine with good freshness, this will match with anything from a local starter of roasted peppers, anchovies and chopped boiled egg to roast guinea fowl.

Cave des Vignerons de St Chinian, Le Secret Des Capitelles 2012 (Oxford Wine, Smiling Grape) dark fruits, olive paste and coffee beans. Juicy and fresh with a persistent finish. Something slightly lacking on the mid-palate.
 
Ch Cazal Viel, Vieilles Vignes Rouge 2012 (WineDirect) dark fruits with spicy black pepper and cloves. Fresh with a supple texture.
 
Ch Ladournie, Etienne 2011 (Loki) ripe fruits, violets, smokey / peppery and gamey. Firm with a supple texture. Good.
 
Domaine Marquise des Mures, Les Sagnes 2009 (no details) carbonic maceration of the Carignan and Syrah give this a bubblegum / boiled sweet flavour.
 
Ch du Prieure des Mourgues, Grand Reserve 2010 (Hedonism) restrained but complex nose of dark fruit and roasted spices; long and savoury with good underpinnings, a supple texture. Deft and assertive. Very Good.
 
With lots of dark fruit and spice, the reds will all match with red meats and darker game.

My top wine overall was the Ch du Prieure des Mourgues.
 
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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Mondial Wine - An Offer

An Offer from Mondial Wine
 
Mondial Wine, an Italian specialist importer that has been around since 1985, made me an offer I couldn't refuse:

1) have a trawl round their website and pick a couple of interesting wines to review
2) in the meantime, take a money-saving offer for readers of this blog
 
I hadn't heard of them previously either, but Miss Bouquet recomends a couple of their wines here.
 
So, for 20% off your first order, just enter the code PREMIUM-READER at the check-out stage before October 31st.
 
I'll be posting my review of their wines shortly, but Miss B recommends:
 
Batasiolo Barbera D’alba Sovrana 2011, Piedmonte
Damilano Barolo ‘Lecinquevigne’ 2002, Piedmonte
 
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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Te Mata - Great Whites Tasting

A tasting of Te Mata wines
 
Te Mata is New Zealand's oldest family-owned estate and one of its most prestigious producers; its wines combine an old world structure with a signature New Zealand freshness.
 
With a classic approach and old money prices, Te Mata's wines are deft, elegant and sophisticated.
 
Estate Vineyards Range
 
Not many wineries can price their entry-level wines in the high teens - these were all precise, elegant and scored a Good; however, I felt they would be a more compelling purchase if priced in the mid-to-low teens.
 
Sauvignon Blanc 2013 textbook classic zesty NZ Sauvignon.
 
Chardonnay 2012 clean, precise, fresh.
 
Gamay Noir 2013 classic varietal raspberry and pinewood, fresh.
 
Syrah 2012 mulberry, dark fruits and spice; freshness. Clean and pure.
Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc
 
Impressive wines impressively priced - mid-twenties pricing gets you one of these more complex and structured barrel-fermented blends of Sauvignon, Semillon and Sauvignon Gris. All scored a Very Good.
 
2010 a good year; complex aromatic and mineral nose with pungent hints. Ripe tropical fruits, waxiness and salinity. Starting to feel mellow. Long, elegant and very accomplished.
 
2011 from a cooler year, feels rather oakier and less knitted-together at this stage.
 
2012 again a cooler year; shows as more fresh green herbs, zestiness and lime marmalade with a persistent minerality.
 
2013 a great year and a great wine; less aromatic initially, but amazingly powerful, concentrated  and intense. Very long and saline.
 
Elston Chardonnay
 
Burgundian style and Burgundian, mid-twenties prices; tip-toes elegantly between warm-climate softness and a nervily cool tautness. All scored a Very Good.
 
2007 fresh, complex harmonious and mellow with ripe fruit. Long and saline.
 
2010 toasty oak, ripe tropical fruit balanced with freshness and savoury leesiness.
 
2012 cooler, more focused and precise; the fruit is more orchard and white peach.
 
2013 complex and balanced, mineral and savoury. Initially, there are aromas of something akin to botrytris, minutes later it's gone and the lime zestiness dominates. Persistent finish.
 
Flagship Wines
 
Zara 2011 (£22.99) a barrel- fermented Viognier; floral, delicate, fresh, peachy and long. Very elegant. Very Good.
 
Awatea 2010 (£26.99) Hawke's Bay Cab / Merlot blend; blackberry, cassis and plum with a supple and mellow palate. Very Good.
 
Coleraine 2010 (£48.99) Bordelais blend of CS, Merlot and Cab Franc with an amazingly complex and densely-structured texture. Muscular yet deft, savoury and mineral. Very Good Indeed.
 
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Friday, 17 October 2014

Chablis - A Guide

A guide to visiting Chablis

With a modest-but-pleasant riverside and a few historic buildings in a relatively flat part of northern France, the small market town of Chablis is interesting enough, but hardly a must-see destination.
It is, however, a Mecca for oenophiles with a fondness for the sharp, strong, important wine that bears its name.
 
For holiday purposes, it is convenient to divide France into the northern part (mostly dull) and the southern part (mostly interesting). This means a minimum six-hour drive from Calais to get to somewhere nice and therefore a stop-over is required.
 
Depending on the eventual destination, the most obvious stopover points include Chablis - as well as Champagne, northern Burgundy or Jura.

Stay
The Hostellerie Des Clos (18 Rue Jules Rathier, 89800 Chablis, France) is a smart, sophisticated hotel in the centre of this little market town, next door to William Fevre.
 
Set in a former church and hotel de dieu, it is both luxurious and characterful; there is a courtyard with seating for drinks and breakfast is served in a former church.
 
Duplex rooms sleeping up to four cost around €180.
 
Eat
 
The restaurant at the Hostellerie Des Clos has a Michelin star, an extensive wine list, focusing on Chablis, and an oenomatic machine.
Set menus start at €45 for four courses, but the amuse bouche, pre-dessert and petits fours make it virtually a tasting menu in its own right.
 
Also recommended is the more contemporary Au Fil du Zinc.
 
Vineyards
 
Chablis is surrounded by vineyards with the seven Grands Crus sites just to the north of the town centre.
 
But to visit properly and understand what makes Chablis unique, take the 3-hour vineyard tour and tasting with oenologist-turned-guide Eric Szablowski of Au Coeur du Vin in his 2CV.
 
Stroll
 
The centre of Chablis is small but pretty and makes more for a pleasant stroll than somewhere to be explored in depth.
 
Taste, Drink, Buy
 
There is no shortage of bars and cavistes proffering their wares on tasting in the town centre, but the best value wines we found were in the village of Chichee 3km away.
 
Domaine Ellevin, 3 Rue du Pont, Chichee.
 
Getting there
 
Chablis is about a four-hour drive from Calais - a handy stop-over point if heading south and just about manageable as a long weekend.
 
Children
 
Chablis is not especially child-friendly, but the CWB children found enough to explore and keep them occupied for a 24-hour stopover.
 
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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Two Loire Reds

Two Loire reds from Waitrose and Stone, Vine and Sun

If the main characteristic of the Loire is wines of freshness and lightness, we might expect that to apply more successfully to white wines more than to reds.

And yet the Loire's light, fresh and distinctively appetising reds are a real hidden gem; these two are both Cabernet Franc.

La Croix de Chaintres, Saumur Champigny, 2012 ((£11.99, Waitrose) vibrant purple, varietal raspberry, violets and pine wood with some spice; soft red berry and red cherry fruit with a savoury freshness and supple texture.

Focused, long and well structured; pleasantly assertive and persistent. Good.

Chateau de Putille, Anjou, 2011 (£10.25, Stone, Vine and Sun) aromas of red and black cherries; pencil shavings, red and black cherry fruit. Long freshness and savouriness with a deft, supple texture. Good.

Match both wines with rare tuna steak, paté or duck.

Provided for review.

Other related articles
Loire Masterclass at Berry's
Matching Loire Wines and Food‏ - with Fiona Beckett