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Friday, 31 August 2012

Chateau La Tulipe de la Garde, 2009, Bordeaux Superieur - Sainsbury's‏

This Chateau Tulipe de la Garde from Sainsbury's is a Bordeaux Superieur - the least-but-one appellation for the Bordeaux region, meaning that the grapes can come from anywhere in the region but need to be just that bit riper than those destined for basic AC Bordeaux.

A blend of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, with 14% alcohol, you can indeed feel the pleasing ripeness - on the nose there is classic Bordeaux cassis, pencil shavings and cigar box, but there's also a hint of something more complex and less immediately obvious: some sweet vanilla spice, liquorice and leather.

The palate is velvety, with ripe bramble and forest fruit, ripe-yet-firm tannins and good depth of flavour, cut through assertively by brisk acidity - and underneath it all, a savoury underpinning that adds depth and complexity.

With a good finish and length, this is a very well-made wine indeed, well balanced and a benchmark for what a good red Bordeaux around a tenner should be.

At three years, It is drinking nicely but feels very much in its youth and will keep for a good few more years yet.

It's won a stack of Gold medals at local, national and international competitions and was selected for the Good Food Would Choose Bordeaux campaign; match with steak or roast lamb with rosemary and garlic.

£10:15 from Sainsbury's; provided for review.


Sainsburys - http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/
Good Food Would Choose Bordeaux - http://www.goodfoodwouldchoosebordeaux.com/
Bordeaux Wines UK - twitter, Facebook

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Pavitt's Pies - Beef And Ale with Moonshine Porter‏

The other day, Carri Pavitt of Pavitt's Pies brought me round a couple of her new Beef and Ale pies to sample.

The pies are not due to be launched until later in the year at the Cambridge Retro Disco on October 26th, but we were afforded a sneak preview; unlike Carri's standard beef and ale pies, this one is made with Night Watch porter from Moonshine Brewery in Fulbourn.

For the uninitiated, porter is a dark, usually sweet bitter beer, rather like a stout - and there is clearly a reasonable amount used in the pie, as the flavour is noticeable.

As a result, you'll probably need to match this pie with more beer, rather than wine.

As for the rest of the ingredients, they are up to the usual excellent standards of Pavitt's - the beef is exceptionally tender and full of flavour; the sweetness of the porter is complemented by the carrot-and-celery based gravy.

The pie is generously filled - the meat goes all the way up to the top - and the pastry is deliciously buttery.

Wonderful comfort food; serve with mash, green beans and plenty of beer - ideally more Moonshine porter, but any well-flavoured real ale will do.

Pavitt's Pies are available from Urban Larder, The Larder at Burwash Manor or direct from Pavitt's Pies via home delivery.


Pavitt's Pies - website, twitter, Facebook
Moonshine Brewery - http://www.moonshinebrewery.co.uk/
Urban Larder - http://urbanlarder.co.uk/
The Larder at Burwash Manor - http://www.burwashlarder.com/

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Beronia Special Production Tempranillo 2009, Rioja, Spain‏

On first opening this Beronia Special Production Tempranillo made by Gonzalez Byass, there is cherry fruit, and a mix of spice, leather and woodsiness on the nose.

In the glass, it is a deep, translucent ruby colour. The palate shows more raspberry, cherry and plum fruit, vanilla spice and a mouthfilling firmness with ripe tannins.

A spiciness develops on the mid-palate and the finish is complex and persistent with spice, fruit and depth and some lingering grip on the very end.

Rich, ripe and warming, it is as comforting as wrapping yourself in a soft, fluffy blanket whilst sitting in a high-backed leather chair next to a roaring fire - lovely.

Match with either game in a fruit sauce or roasted lamb with rosemary.

£11.49 from Ocado, thedrinkshop.com, D Byrne & Co, Ken Sheater Wines, Rhythm & Booze, Salusbury Wine Store, Wattisfield Wines, Oxford Wine Company; provided for review.


Beronia - website, Facebook and twitter
Ocado - http://www.ocado.com

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Grand Enclos du Chateau de Cerons, Graves, 2006‏ - Marks & Spencer

This is no ordinary bottle of white ... it's a Marks and Spencer 2006 oak-aged, white Bordeaux from Graves, chosen for the Good Food Would Choose Bordeaux campaign. And it costs £16.

So, rather different from your run-of-the-mill fresh and fruity sub-£10 New World style white, then.

In the glass, it is a deep yet bright golden colour. The nose reveals complex, aged, sherry-esque aromas - beneath the white flowers, citrus and grapefruit, there is ripe melon skin, evolved spice, struck match and a yeasty pungency.

The palate is full and weighty with a creamy texture, sweet honeydew melon and dried pineapple pieces, a touch of vanilla spice and subtle oak.

Long on the palate, it has a persistent and balanced finish.

Very well-made, very accomplished and rather unusual; trainspotters may be interested to learn it is a blend of 70% Sémillon, 21% Sauvignon Blanc, 9% Sauvignon Gris.

A really lovely wine - beautifully balanced and complex and all the more interesting for having some bottle age.

Very good indeed - and worth the money ? I think so.

Match with aged hard cheeses, such comté or appenzeller, or slow roast pork belly with apple sauce.


Marks and Spencer - http://www.marksandspencer.com/
Good Food Would Choose Bordeaux - http://www.goodfoodwouldchoosebordeaux.com/

Monday, 27 August 2012

Talking Barbecue Wines Wines on Cambridge105

Yesterday morning, I spent a very pleasant 10 minutes on Cambridge105 chatting to presenter Julian Clover about barbecue wines.

A link to the podcast of the show is here, but for a brief summary, the three wines were:

- E Solo Montepulciano, £9.75 from Noel Young Wines
- Pascual Toso Malbec (£9.49) from Bacchanalia
- Castillo La Paz Tempranillo (£6.99) from Cambridge Wine Merchants


Podcast - http://cambridge105.fm/podcasts/sunday-breakfast-best-of-the-guests-260812/

Cambridge105 - http://cambridge105.fm/

Bacchanalia - http://www.winegod.co.uk/

Cambridge Wine Merchants - http://www.cambridgewine.co.uk/ 
Noel Young Wines - http://www.nywines.co.uk/

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Restaurant L'Alembic: Nuits St Georges

Driving south from Calais on the A4, after the forgettable arable countryside of Picardie and the occasionally hillier, more wooded slopes of Champagne, seeing the Côte de Nuits comes as something of a surprise.

I had, of course, read about it many times - the famous 50km strip of a gentle rise that provides the world's greatest terroir for the sensitive, finnicky Pinot Noir; a grape prone to mutation, grown in small, sub-divided plots, fractions of a vineyard, highly expressive of its terroir.

My surprise is twofold - firstly that the Côte de Nuits is more than a mere undulation, actually a proper, and quite steep, hill; secondly, that it is green and forested, a place for the mushrooms, deer and other game of Burgundian cuisine.

We had started at 5am in Cambridge, were in France by breakfast, had stopped in Reims for lunch and arrived at our hotel, the Hostellerie St Vincent, in Nuits St Georges by late afternoon; it is a small village and the hotel proves easy to find.

Checked in and unpacked, we explore the village - the signs and paraphenalia of wine-making are everywhere - our hotel overlooks the Belle Croix vineyards and just opposite is a Caves de Nuits St Georges wine shop.

We wander first into the centre of the village to find a meandering, cobbled main street and an elegant beffroi before a further short stroll takes us past Domaine Faiveley to the edge of the village and the start of the vineyards; here, a sign tells me that it is twinned, inexplicably, with the unloveable commuter town of Hitchin that I pass through twice a day on the train.

Returning to the hotel, we make our way downstairs to the vaulted restaurant L'Alembic, the name a reference to an alembic pot still in one corner.

We opt for the Menu Bourguignon at €28 for three courses (or €33 for four), arrange a Menu Enfant for the kids and order a bottle of Nuits St Georges Villages, a reasonably-priced 2008 from Dupasquier et Fils.

Service is good but leisurely and, after the early start in the day, it is a relief for all when the amuse bouches and bread are finally brought round - the children excel themselves (and surprise their parents) by eating up all of their quail's egg in red wine and wild mushroom sauce before tucking into the wonderfully crusty paves.

I opt for traditional Burgundian fare with my starter of Burgundy-style escargots - they are served not in shells, but in a dish of frothed butter, garlic and parsley. The buttery sauce is indulgent and perfectly balanced and everyone enthusiastically helps to mop up the last of it with a piece of bread.

Mrs CWB's home-made parsleyed ham is a more substantial slab of well-made terrine served with a crispy brick pastry and lightly garlicky cream.

For her main, she chooses the fish, a fillet of delicate freshwater zander or pike-perch, which comes with perfectly cooked crunchy baby-vegetables and a red-wine jus. #2 child has opted for the same and eats most of his up, leaving me to try just a few bits.

#1 child has beef again, ordering a roast after steack hache at lunchtime; I swap her an her escargot for a piece of the beef and it is delicious, really good-quality meat, well seasoned and perfectly cooked, served in a reduced jus.

I go local again with my main of coq au vin - it is served traditionally without the presentational flair of my starter, but the flavours are excellent and if the section of breast is a little dry and tough - as coq inevitably is - the leg feels more tender and juicier.

The wine, unsurprisingly, matches well with this dish - lovely cherry fruit, good acidity and a soft texture with a hint of smokiness as it opens up in the glass.

Our desserts are a cold soup of red fruits, sesame biscuit, iced cream of Sichuan pepper; the portions are generous, the berries perfectly ripe and the accompanying syrup has a perfect balance of sweet sharpness. It is delicious and brilliantly executed if a little lacking in the inventiveness of the amuse bouche and starter.

It is one of the best meals I have had in quite a while - to my mind, certainly Michelin-star quality but relatively inexpensive, coming in at €100 for the four of us.

The following day sees the the remainder of the drive to the Côte d'Azur, but we opt to spend the morning exploring the vineyards in the car before breakfast in the cobbled old town of Beaune.

It is a very pretty place, but feels more lived-in than, for example, the wine villages of Alsace or even Colmar, the regional capital.

And yet, there is something similar, a faintly-familiar, central-European influence that one gets in so many places from Budapest to Brussels.

I conclude that, notwithstanding the similarities, the key difference is that Alsace has a Germanic, craftsman's civic pride, whilst Burgundy knows that it is still noble.

We take in the Hotel de Dieu, the kids have a ride on a merry-go-round and then we get back in the car to continue our journey south.


L'Alembic - http://www.lalambic.com/
Hostellerie St Vincent - http://www.hostellerie-st-vincent.com/

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Grant Burge The Holy Trinity 2008, Barossa‏, Australia

Naming a wine Holy Trinity is just the sort of iconoclastic approach one expects of the New World - and what we have here is a typical blockbuster Aussie Barossa GSM blend from Grant Burge.

With inky texture, ripe sultry dark berry fruit and pencil shavings, it's a bit of a full-on fruit bomb - albeit a well-made one.

I asked Mrs CWB her view and she opined that it felt like a £10 wine - and in many ways it does; ripe, fruity and enjoyable with no rough edges.

Actually, it's closer to £22 in price, but that's not the impression it gives initially with all that ripe, up-front, primary blackcurrant fruit. Look a little deeper and you'll find some complexity and depth to justify - in part - the hefty price tag, but overall it feels rather like an up-market fruity quaffer, a posh glamour model with a few GCSEs.

Part of me wants to say "Put it away, love, and let's talk about Mozart", but another part can't stop gawking - it's that sort of wine. Attractive, but in a rather obvious and unsophisticated way.

Overall, then no technical faults but stylistically not quite My Thing - a case of more is less. And although well-made, not cheap either.

If Big Aussie Reds are your thing, drink this on a winter's eve by a roaring fire with roasted garlic and rosemary lamb.

£21.99 from Amps Fine Wine,  Conwy Fine Wines, Connollys Wine Merchants, Dickens House Wine, Emporium, Hailsham Cellars; provided for review.

As a footnote, the following day, the primary fruit has noticeably faded somewhat and it is starting to become a less obvious and more interesting wine - still ripe and fruit-forward, but not so in-yer-face.


Grant Burge - http://www.grantburgewines.com.au/

Friday, 24 August 2012

Two Eastern Mediterranean Wines from Marks and Spencer

I was sent a selection of six Eastern Mediterranean wines by Marks and Spencer some time ago and thought it might be interesting for colleagues to try them at our usual after-work Wine Club.

It's taken a while, but we finally opened the first two yesterday.

Sevilen Sauvignon Blanc 2011 - Turkey (£59.94 for 6, online)

Straw coloured and bright in the glass - expressively herbaceous, aromatic and pungent on the nose with a crisp freshness.

It is crisp and zingy on the palate with ripe, citrus and grapefruit acidity, a touch of lime peel, some pineapple fruit sweetness.

Full and mineral with good depth, it is long with a persistent, minerally zesty finish.

The label says it is from the Aegean region, so presumably  western Turkey not far from Greece. It rather reminds me of a Greek SB, but is perhaps rather better value for money.

There's scant information on the back label, but I'd hazard a guess at it being grown at altitude on rocky soils, with cooling sea-breezes and temperature-controlled fermentation; it has that tri-partite mix of fullness / depth, freshness / structure and good expressiveness.

A good and interesting wine; match with something appropriately Mediterranean - light seafood with herbs, mozzarella with pesto, crostini with garlic and olive oil.

Binyamina Merlot 2010 - Israel (£59.94 for 6, online)

This Israeli Merlot is a relatively pale purple colour when I pour it into the company decanter - on the nose there is vanilla spice, dark fruit, hints of chili bitterness and coffee and something slightly vegetal and decaying that I can't quite place.

Unfortunately, that proves to be the most intriguing aspect to this wine; on the palate there is more ripe plummy fruit and a soft inky texture. It is grippy with a hint of astringency or graininess, and although not long on the palate, the finish is persistent and slightly smokey.

It is pleasant enough and well-made if somewhat unspectacular, and rather shows the general limitations of Merlot, to my mind.

The back labels declares that it is kosher and suitable for passover, but then suggests matching with beef lasagna (which is forbidden, as it mixes meat and dairy).

With prominent acidity, I'm inclined to suggest matching with salami, but that is a no-no as well, but perhaps a rich bolognese would go well.

Recommended Wine

It was unanimously agreed at Wine Club that the Sevilen SB was by far the more interesting of the two.

Both wines provided for review.


Marks and Spencer - http://www.marksandspencer.com/

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Caliterra Tributo Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2009‏

This Caliterra Tributo Single Vineyard Chardonnay is apparently from the Maitenal Block in Colchagua - essentially, a good part of Chile, where cooling sea breezes provide a favourable climate for whites.

It feels a bit like a Chardonnay that doesn't quite know what it wants to be - gently oaked, there is a yeasty, slightly sherry-esque tang on the nose and initially, the overriding impression on the palate is of pear drops.

With a couple of days' airing, the pear-drop aromas settle down and it becomes a more harmonious blend of citrus fruit acidity, ripe orchard fruits, leesy depth and gentle, rounded oakiness with still a touch of pungency. Good length and finish.

Well-made, pleasant and long with ripe, pure fruit, it seems a bit of a tick-box, centrist-politician of a wine - it does everything one would expect and yet seems designed to offend no-one; neither a full-on New World Blockbuster, but riper, fuller and more quaffable than a traditional European chardie, it treads a safe, unassuming middle ground. As pleasantly unassuming as lukewarm water.

The made-by-numbers feel continues on the back label which declares, with a series of enthusiastic ticks:

- Sustainable
- 75% Untouched Land
- Environment Protection
- Community Commitment
- Earth Friendly Packaging
- Single Vineyard

All very worthy and laudable. But somehow rather safe and middling, even if it is a perfectly good, well-made wine at a sensible price.

£10.99 from Baccchus et al, Les Caves du Patron, Partridges of Sloan Square, Bin 21, Ann et Vin, Taylor's Fine Wine; provided for review.


Caliterra - http://caliterra.com/

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Juel Mahoney's Wine Riot‏

Yesterday, I read a piece entitled Wine Riot by Juel Mahoney - then re-read it because after the first run-through, I couldn't make any sense of it.

It is a meandering, inconclusive and poorly-argued piece which might perhaps be best described as "heartfelt". However, one sentence struck me in particular:

- If you don’t think brands are an important issue, then you weren’t in London during the riots where gangs smashing and looting shops.

The point being made here seems to be an implied causal link between brands and the London 2011 riots.

Now, as I see it, the cause of the London riots was not branded merchandise but the greed, selfishness, opportunistic hooliganism and disrespect for the rule of law of the rioters themselves.

Threading your way through the rubble of an urban street, pilfered flat-screen TV under one arm and designer trainers in the other hand, you feel the long arm of the law on your shoulder and say "It woz the brands made me do it, Officer".

Perhaps I am being too literal here and a directly causal effect is not the idea, but more of a general, underlying sense - as in "Society's worship at the altar of the branded products of a modern consumer lifestyle left me feeling disenfranchised and the only way I could express my alienated frustration was through acts of mindless aggression and pilfering, M'lud".

This interpretation, however, is still no more than an abrogation of personal responsibility for the consequences of one's actions. And as my five-year-old is learning at school, you simply can't build a civilised society of the basis of no personal responsibility.

It is of course for politicians, and not wine bloggers, to deal with the aftermath of the riots. But whatever the real cause, it is a misleading oversimplification to say or imply that it was all the fault of brands; moreover, encouraging people to believe that power of brands absolves all personal responsibility for the consequences of anti-social actions is extremely dangerous indeed.

Of course to argue for the rule of law as the basis of civil society does not make for as good a storyline as "Them brands is bad, man", but that's Real Life.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Esk Valley Syrah, 2009, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand‏

This Esk Valley Syrah is from Hawkes Bay on New Zealand's North Island, one of the country's best and most interesting terroirs.

Immediately on opening, there is dark fruit, spice and liquorice on the nose - the palate adds to this lots of black-fruit acidity, pencil shavings, gentle oak and good savoury underpinning.

Long on the palate, the texture is mouthfilling, soft and supple with a persistent finish; with a couple of years' bottle age it feels well-integrated.

It's a classic, Rhone-esque Syrah, somewhat textbook even; technically well-made with pure fruit expression.

It's a lovely, really enjoyable wine and worth its price-tag of nigh-on £14.

If I can find any fault at all - and it's hard to - it's perhaps that it's just a little too well-groomed and well-behaved; for this money I'd like to see a bit more Old-World style insouciance, quirkiness or downright idiosyncrasy.

And that's it - apart from that it's bang on.

Match with a roast beef dinner.

As a footnote, with air (around 24 hours during a 30°C+ in Cambridge, to be specific) the primary fruit starts to fade leaving more of the aged spice and oaky vanilla characteristics with good acidity and it becomes a whole lot more interesting ... for wine geeks, at least.

£13.99 from Cambridge Wine Merchants, Wright Wine, Askew Wines, Jascots and Laytons; provided for review.


Esk Valley - http://www.eskvalley.co.nz/
Cambridge Wine Merchants - http://www.cambridgewine.com/
Jascots - http://www.jascots.co.uk/
Laytons - http://www.laytons.co.uk/

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Views on Terroir in Burgundy: Sangouard-Guyot

"It's the last building on the left as you leave the village" we are told; a few twists and turns up a steep hill later and with the fuel gauge range on the car plummeting, we pull up in front of Domaine Sangouard-Guyot in the Mâconnais village of Vergisson.

Winemaker Pierre-Emmanuel is waiting to greet us; he and I are both fluent - unfortunately, in different languages, so wife Catherine, who deals more with the business side of the winery, arrives shortly to tell us their story and translate as needed.

The domaine is an old stone building - no-one seems quite sure how old, but there is a stone with 1856 carved on which Pierre-Emmanuel explains originally came from a chimney breast.

With the rocky outcrops of Vergisson to the left and Solutre to the right, the hill unfolds down to the expansive plain below with mountains rising in the distance that Catherine confirms to be Switzerland; on a clear day, she explains, in the early morning you can see the sun rise behind Mont Blanc. I ask the children if they would like to get up at 6:30 the following day to see this - they wouldn't.

We are staying the night in the area to break up the return leg of a journey back from the South of France at a hotel just a few miles away in La Grange Du Bois. It turns out to be quite rustic - not in an expensive-shabby-chic sort of way, just genuinely rustic - but with magnificent, uninterrupted views of the two peaks and the hillside from our bedroom window.

Catherine starts the tour by pointing out the individual strips of vines they own - a few rows just in front of the house, a couple of sections on the peak of Vergisson, some more on the peak of Solutre, the rest all further afield and out of sight. It's all a legacy of the Napoleonic inheritance laws of Burgundy which divided up properties between offspring, leading to a complex patchwork of ever smaller sections of vineyard.

That complexity, the traditional unreliability of Pinot Noir as a grape variety and the general ubiquity of Chardonnay are among the factors that have historically made Burgundy something of a closed book to me - I knew the theory of course, but there is something about visiting the area, seeing the vineyards and meeting the wine-maker that brings it all to life and makes cohesive sense of what was previously just a list of disparate facts.

Ownership of a complete vineyard here is rare - each plot has vines belonging to different domaines and they have to mark out which are theirs to avoid confusion. Even so, one year, a hired-in picker managed to collect the grapes from a neighbour's vines and by the time it was realised, all Catherine could do was apologise.

As well as Catherine and Pierre-Emmanuel, the domaine has a permanent staff of just one with all other resource hired in is as needed, plus occasional help on Wednesday afternoons from their two girls who turn out to be the same age as our children. I ask our two if they would like to come over to Burgundy during harvest to help with the picking - they would not.

The domaine was run until 1997 by Pierre-Emmanuel's grandfather who sold all the wine in bulk to local co-ops and merchants for blending; change has been gradual - it was only last year that a new facility was built for bottling and storage of wines and even now, almost two thirds of the wine still has to be sold in bulk for pragmatic, financial reasons.

The new facility is on two levels, making use of the steeply sloping hillside - at the entry level are two large pneumatic presses with a gravity feed into settling tanks.

The fermentation room contains a range of different-shaped tanks of varying capacities, with the stainless steel ones all temperature controlled; Pierre-Emmanuel's favourites are the two squat, oval shaped tanks at the far end which he says impart the greatest amount of depth and leesiness to the wine.

There is a room full of oak barrels of various ages from new to around 12 years old - only their top cuvee is aged in new oak - and a storage and labelling room with capacity for 90,000 bottles.

We move back outside and across to the tasting room on one the side of the house; a smallish stone-walled room, it has two antique guns on display. Pierre-Emmanuel explains that one is an old hunting rifle whilst the other was used in a war in the late C19th.

This prompts a discussion about how far back the family ownership of the domaine goes - there are documents to show ownership as far back as the revolution, but everything before then was destroyed in that turbulent time and remains a mystery.

We start with the basic Macon-Villages "Clos de la Bressande" 2011 (€7); it is fresh, straightfoward and well-made with good orchard fruit - the vineyards are located around 10km away.

The Macon Vergisson "La Roche" 2011 (€9) is just three weeks old and a little closed up - suffering from bottle-shock Catherine explains. It is aged in oak of 8-12 years and shows more complexity as a result.

The Saint-Veran "Au Brule" 2011 (€11) is from vines on the rock of Solutre which we can see around 5km away. Aged in oak of 5-8 years' age, it shows white stone fruit, pear, and a distinct white-peppery spice.

The Pouilly-Fuisse "Authentique" 2011 (€12) is from the top of the peak of Vergisson and more mineral as a result; the nose is somewhat closed and Catherine explains it needs more time in bottle to open up. Unlike the oak-aged wines, this one, aged in tanks, shows no spiciness at all.

The Pouilly-Fuisse "Ancestral" 2011 (€14) is from grapes grown in the village of Vergisson on a mix of clay (for roundedness) and chalk (for minerality). It has a full, leesy toastiness, with good structure and persistence. Still young, it will improve for several more years.

The Pouilly-Fuisse "Quintessence" 2011 (€16) is from vines on the top of the peak of Vergisson, just a few hundred metres away - aged in oak barrels of no more than three years' age, it has a toasty, spicy creaminess and excellent palate length. Again, it is only recently bottled and Pierre-Emmanuel suggests that it needs at least a further three months' age to show properly.

Even so, this is my favourite wine of all - inevitably the most expensive, not least due to the new oak, but a relative bargain at €16. I buy two bottles and make a mental note to stash them away for the rest of this year at least.

The wines all have various awards and scores - I'm somewhat intrigued by one having an IWSC Gold and a score from Gault & Millau of 15/20 which in my mind means "workman-like".

Catherine explains, however, that the French mark wines using the same approach as my old grammar school physics teacher - 17 is in practice the highest mark given so a 15 actually means "Very good indeed" and is equivalent to 18.5 to those of us more accustomed to Anglo-Saxon gradings.

We have a final chat about business generally, the difficulty of selling wine, especially Chardonnay, into the UK these days ("ABC - Anything But Chardonnay", says Pierre-Emmanuel with a wry smile) and then it's time to say our thank-yous, au revoirs and head off.

Sangouard-Guyot is part of the Patrimoine des Terroirs organisation and I have previously reviewed a couple of their wines - the Clos de la Bressande and the Authentique. I arranged to visit the domaine through Alain Vautherot who runs Patrimoine des Terroirs.

Recommended Wine

All the wines were good and well-made and, at the cellar-door prices quoted, excellent value indeed.

Sadly, neither Sangouard-Guyot nor Patrimoine des Terroirs has distribution in the UK yet.

Hopefully, it won't be too long before all that changes, but if you find yourself in or near Vergisson, I do recommend that you visit Catherine and Pierre-Emmanuel and buy some of the Quintessence.


Sangouard-Guyot - www.domaine-sangouard-guyot.com
Patrimoine des Terroirs - http://patrimoinevin.canalblog.com/
La Grange du Bois - http://www.la-grange-du-bois.com/

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Wirra Wirra, Church Block 2009 McLaren Vale, Australia

This Wirra Wirra Church Block, a mixture of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot from McLaren Vale, is an Aussie red in the traditional, warm-climate sort of way.

On the nose, there are ripe, dark blue-black fruits with a hint of cedary spice, liquorice and leather; the palate is soft, inky and gently oaky with dark chocolate, more sweet, ripe dark berry fruit and balanced acidity; good, pleasant finish.

It has bronze medals from Decanter and IWC which feels about right - it is well-made and enjoyable, with lots of ripe crowd-pleasing fruit and good depth.

If you want to know what a good, comforting, indulgent, traditional Aussie red should be like, then start here; for me (being more of an Old-World sort of person), the only complaint is stylistic - there's so much sweet ripe fruit here that it is not really a food wine, more of a warming and indulgent autumnal quaffer.

However, it would match very well with roast lamb or hearty autumn stews.

£12.99 from Waitrose, Majestic, The Wine Society and The Co-op; provided for review.


Wirra Wirra - http://www.wirrawirra.com/
Waitrose - http://www.waitrosewine.com/
The Wine Society - http://www.thewinesociety.com/
Majestic - http://www.majestic.co.uk/
The Co-op - http://www.co-operative.coop/food/food-and-drink/drink/Wine/