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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Wine of the Month - April; Three BBQ Week Wines

Three food-friendly wines for picnics and barbecues

Summer is almost upon us and the end of May sees National Barbecue Week, apparently; here are three wines that are perfect for picnic and barbecue fare, as well indoor food.

Handily, all are screw-capped and match with strongly-flavoured foods, whether eaten indoors or out.

Esk Valley Riesling 2013 Hawkes Bay, NZ (£13.25 from independents) Germanic-style minerally Riesling; lifted nose of ripe stone fruits, lime zest, flinty slates. Zesty, fresh and mineral. Good.

Match with tuna tartare with chili and garlic or a rich paté.

Vidal Pinot Gris 2014 Hawkes Bay, NZ (£11.85 from independents) Alsace-style Pinot Gris with a kiwi freshness; ripe stone fruit and sweet spice. Fresh, pure and clean. Good.

Match with tarte flambee, choucroute and heart pork dishes.

Joseph Mellot Menetou-Salon Les Thureaux 2013  (£17.65 from independents ) expressive nose of cut-grass and citrus with a touch of flintiness; grapefruit and ripe gooseberry freshness and something more tropical. Pure and mineral. Good.

Match with goat's cheese salad

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Six Summer Picnic Wines from Naked Wines
Summer Picnic Fizz

Sunday, 26 April 2015

#SauvBlancDay - Joseph Mellot Menetou-Salon Les Thureaux 2013

An expressive and fresh Loire from Joseph Mellot

Friday April 24th 2015 was the sixth international Sauvignon Blanc Day, so I opened this Joseph Mellot Menetou-Salon Les Thureaux 2013.

Situated in the Upper Loire, Menetou-Salon abuts the more well-known Sancerre and its best wines can rival those of its neighbour.

Straw yellow with an intense, lifted nose of tropical and citrus fruits; rounded and balanced with good palate weight. Pure, clean and modern. Good.

Do as the locals and match with goat's cheese.

£17.65 from independents; provided for review.

For those interested, the BBR website has this to say about the domaine:

The Mellot dynasty of the Joseph Mellot Estate in Loire was founded in Sancerre almost five centuries ago by Pierre-Etienne Mellot and, since then, the family has always been involved in winemaking. In fact, in 1698, César Mellot, was entrusted with the weighty task of advising King Louis XIV on his choice of wines.

When Alexandre Mellot took over the family estate in 1984 he decided to extend the vineyards and modernise the winery. Today, Joseph Mellot is the only estate that owns vineyards in all the appellations of the region (Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume, Menetou-Salon, Reuilly and Quincy. The vineyard area now extends over 85 hectares.

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Joseph Mellot Le Rabault Rosé 2013, Sancerre

Saturday, 25 April 2015

No. 1 Cuvée, Methode Traditionelle

An elegant NZ Blanc de blancs fizz from No 1 Family Estate

Made from 100% Chardonnay and aged for two years on the lees, this traditional method fizz is fresh, pure and elegant.

According to the website, New Zealand methode traditionelle specialist and Champagne-maker, Daniel Le Brun, launched his wholly family-owned wine producing business in July 1999, utilising the same processes perfected by his Champagne-making family in France over the last 12 generations.

The results are very impressive; green apple fruit, creamy texture and hints of yeasty autolytic brioche. Very Good and will only improve with age.

Drink as an aperitif on a hot summer's day or with light seafood starters.
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Sunday, 19 April 2015

Boutinot 'La Côte Sauvage', Cairanne Côtes du Rhône Villages, 2009

A wild southern Rhône from Boutinot's "savage slope"

Rich and intense with dark red fruits; it has a complex nose of red peppers, flowers, toasty cinnamon spice, game and aged leather.

Sweet ripe morello cherry fruit, spiciness, liquorice and dark chocolate with fine red-tea tannins and a hint of chili bitterness.

Concentrated, supple and assured. Good.

Drinking nicely now, but will continue to improve; match with red meat and hearty stews.

Around £13 from independents; provided for review.

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Sunday, 12 April 2015

Three Co-op Wines

Whoever sources the Co-op's Champagnes clearly knows their stuff - the wines are always excellent; we add in here two more classics - a lovely off-dry Loire white and an aged Rioja.

Lanson Black Label Champagne (£33.99, currently reduced to £23.99) pale sandy yellow with a bready, green apple, autolytic nose. Ripe orchard fruits and citrus freshness; linear, mineral and persistent with a fine mousse.


Drink as an aperitif or match with canapés.

Vouvray Domaine Les Perruches 2013 (£8.49, currently reduced to £7.49) A Loire classic; spiced baked apples, beeswax and yellow stone fruit with a flinty minerality; off-dry, which may not appeal to all, yet fresh and a really lovely old-school wine.

Match with gravadlax or chicken liver pate.
Marques de Valido Rioja Reserva 2010 (£8.99, currently reduced to £5.99) ruby-red aged Rioja with red fruit, spices and some herbiness. Pure, fresh and mellow with a persistent finish. It shows rather better on the nose than the palate, but at this price you can't ask for much more.

Match with roast red meat, especially lamb.

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Thursday, 9 April 2015

Private Cellar on Bordeaux 2014

A review of Bordeaux 2014 from Nicola Arcedeckne-Butler MW, Buying Director of Private Cellar

Bordeaux 2014 - the CWB view

A few weeks ago, I attended the Grand Cercle Bordeaux Primeurs in London and concluded that winemaker judgement would be the key factor  in distinguishing the best from the rest. Not all the wines I tasted were good and, without the across-the-board generosity of top years like 2009 and 2010, those that lack balance in their youth will never gain it with age.

The Grand Cercle characterises the vintage as a early developer turned bad pupil who aced the resits - a magnificent vintage miraculously saved; Private Cellar call it "The vintage that nearly wasn't" and also highlight the role of the winemaker in making or breaking the vintage.

The Private Cellar View

More authoritatively, Nicola Arcedeckne-Butler MW, Buying Director of Private Cellar, has this to say:

I don’t think I remember a year when each side of the river was so polarised in its opinion: the Cabernets of the Left Bank are spectacular, ripened to perfection with no pressure on harvest date; ditto the Merlots on the Right.

Yet Merlot on the Left Bank? Disaster, according to some; ditto Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon on the Right. But equally Philippe Dhalluin of Mouton Rothschild described his principal plot of Merlot as its most successful ever result.

But just how good are the wines? The answer is that they are very varied, with some spectacularly good wines on both sides of the river, as well as howlers to be avoided at all costs. Taking the howlers first, these were properties who either believed that they had the ripe succulence of, say, 2009 or 2005, and tried to extract every last tannin until the pips squeaked, or who were not particularly selective about the grapes going into the vats.

They were wrong, these wines were horrid, and in several cases we couldn’t even see their exit strategy, where they might come out on the flavour spectrum in years to come. Some wines also had exaggerated acidity levels, which made it hard to judge whether they would soften in the longer term.

We won’t be offering any of these wines, needless to say, which did not come from any particular region and reflect the cellar management rather than an appellation or the quality of the vintage itself.

And the most successful wines? These have astonishing purity of fruit, are succulent and juicy with lovely, supple tannins and racy balancing acidity. They came from across the region, but, as a sweeping generalisation, St Julien, Pauillac, St Estèphe and Pomerol were very good, with notable successes in Margaux, St Emilion and Pessac-Léognan.

In terms of absolute quality, this is a good to very good vintage which will drink beautifully in the early to mid-plus term. Selection is the key – the role of the winemaker in making or breaking the fruit in 2014 cannot be underestimated, and we had some very pleasant surprises in our long tasting days at the beginning of April.

Without a shadow of a doubt the victor ludorum must go to the white wines of the region, both dry and sweet. These are absolutely stunning and are a must-buy. The two day heatwave in July scorched some Sauvignon Blanc grapes changing their flavour profile, but not the Sémillon and therefore many of the wines have more Sémillon in their blend than normal; all have exquisite freshness, with lovely lemony, grapefruity notes, rich with racy acidity, complex and pure.

The sweet wines are also on the lemony scale – no marmalade or confit oranges this year – with delicious sweetness scarcely noticeable behind the balancing acidity. The dry whites appear drinkable now but will improve for many years to come; the sweet whites are equally, madly, approachable but will make serious old bones.

The final part of the equation, the one that seals the deal on what sort of vintage 2014 is, will come from the Châteaux themselves: pricing. We very much believe, and told the Châteaux as often as we could, that the market is soft for primeurs, given the previous few vintages, and in order to have success they should be keep their prices reasonable, if possible at or below those of the 2013s.

With a better vintage in the bag, they are looking to increase their prices, citing the weakness of the euro as a mitigating factor, whilst buyers are working hard to convince them to retain the loyalty of their customers by keeping prices steady.

We can only hope that the greater quantity produced in 2014 will offset the financial pressure of the small 2013 harvest and that prices will, in the main, be reasonable. As always, at Private Cellar we will only be recommending wines where we believe that the quality and value equation is in balance.

Private Cellar's Bordeaux pages can be found here: http://www.privatecellar.co.uk/page/special-offers/bordeaux-2014-en-primeur

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Grand Cercle 2014 Primeurs‏
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Friday, 3 April 2015

Esprit de Granit, St Joseph 2011

A complex plump, hedonistic and sensuous northern Rhone
Lifted nose of dark fruits and liquorice with a slap of leather and a lick of oaky spice; supple, inky-custardy texture with more dark berries, cool mint and pencil shavings.
Long and mineral with excellent underpinnings.
Very Good. March with darker game.
Around £19 from independents; provided for review.
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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Cotes du Jura "Melon" Cuvee, Credoz

Another wine from Jura's Jean-Claude Credoz, based in Chateau-Chalon

Cotes du Jura "Melon" Cuvee, 2012 Speciale (€9.50) Sandy yellow, orchard fruits with a touch of bramley-apple cideriness and a sherry-esque tang. Poised, fresh and long. Good.

Match with roast pork or chicken with cream and mushrooms.

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Jura - A Rough Guide
First London Jura Wine Trade Tasting 2013