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Saturday, 20 October 2018

Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Noir

A kiwi Pinot from Yealands

I've been impressed with Yealands' wines for a number of years and have even met the great man himself. The entry-level wines are clean, precise and very well-made; and they just get better as you go up the range.

This makes Yealands, I think, very good value, even when you are spending mid-teens money. You could pay more and be less wowed by something from a Big Name European wine region.

Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 A blast of pure, black cherry fruit, farmyard, pencil shavings and oaky spice with freshness and leesy, savoury underpinnings. Substantial, supple, balanced and very well made; expressiveness within a defined structure.

Very Good.

Drinking nicely now, it can also be cellared for a number of years.

Match with autumnal dishes, especially darker game such as venison and duck.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Foncalieu Pays d'Oc Extraordinaires Sillages Albariño

A Portuguese grape doing well in France's Languedoc from Vignobles Foncalieu

I've tried Foncalieu's southern French wines on a number of occasions and always been impressed with the sensible balance they strike between the competing demands of expressiveness vs elegance and quality vs price.

This Languedoc white is a great start-of-autumn wine - yes, it's white, but unlike its Portuguese equivalent, Vinho Verde, it's big enough to stand up to comforting, early-autumn foods such as creamy pasta with mushrooms.

Foncalieu Pays d'Oc Extraordinaires Sillages Albariño 2016 ripe orchard fruits, citrus, florality and sweet spices with southern warmth and substance. Saline, mineral and elegant.


Monday, 15 October 2018

Rosé: Understanding the pink wine revolution - Elizabeth Gabay MW

A new book on rosé wine by Elizabeth Gabay MW

Wine comes in two colours, right? Red and white.

No wait, vin jaune is yellow, Madeira is amber and sherry can be brownish; Champagne is kind of mushroomy and then there are orange wines.

And actually red wine isn't generally red - more often purplish or cherry-coloured. White wine is certainly not white but covers the spectrum from greenish to yellow.

And we don't use an English word for pink wine but call it rosé instead - including an accent and an extra syllable to differentiate it from the accent-less flower by any other name. Pink / rosé wine is perhaps the only wine colour style that meets its description; it genuinely is pink, even if it comes in a range of shades.

It may seem quaint or old-fashioned to write about the entire topic of wine of a certain colour, yet as Liz notes in her introduction, rosé wine has benefited over the last twenty-five years from a boom in quality and production volume, so a re-appraisal of this "ugly duckling" among wine styles is overdue.

Exploring ‘unicorn’ rosés, largely unknown, unreported and unrecognized and often difficult to find, remaining hidden to most consumers, Liz starts with the question ‘What is a rosé?’, something that sounds simple enough, but for which she finds there are numerous exceptions.

Subsequent chapters cover the history of rosé wine, viticulture and winemaking, and rosé regions from Provence to other classic French regions via North America, the southern hemisphere, pink sparkling wine and the rest of Europe including the Balkans, the Adriatic and the eastern Mediterranean before addressing the business of rosé.

The book concludes that formerly an ugly ducking, rosé is now emerging as a beautiful swan in a dynamic revolution that is only just beginning.

Available from Amazon, priced £30

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Infinite Ideas Limited (15 Jan. 2018)

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Whitehaven Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017

An award-winning Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from Addison Wines

Kiwi Sauvignon is by now an established classic. Like aging punks, its attention-grabbing, in-yer-face style is regarded with more affection than dread; think Iggy Pop; think elder statesman more than gobby oik.

Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, 2017 (£12.35 Addison Wines) taut, linear, precise and mineral; floral and peppery with aromatic lemongrass and tropical guava, melon and pineapple fruit. Weighty and substantial with good underpinnings and a long, persistent finish.

Very Good.

Match with aromatic Pacific Rim and Thai foods or Keralan fish curry.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

The Anvil Chardonnay Semillon 2017

An Aussie Chardie blend from Virgin wines

Like Anvil the band, Aussie chardies got a bit, well, monolithic a while back - like dodgy old Metal Dinosaurs, Bigger was always Better in Chardie-land.

Then we suddenly all stopped being Bridget Jones and Australia eventually caught back up.

This Chardonnay-Semillon blend is billed by Virgin Wines as a barbecue wine, but I think that sells it short. It's better than that, a well-made and nuanced wine with subtle oaking that matches perfectly with autumnal foods such as pasta with creamy mushrooms, pork rilettes or roast chicken.
The Anvil Chardonnay Semillon 2017 (£9.99) ripe orchard fruits, citrus freshness and creamy-nutty oatmeal with well-integrated oak. Saline, mineral and elegant.


A versatile food wine, match with fish, cheese and white meats.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Zalze SMV 2016

A Shiraz blend from South Africa's Zalze

In the northern Rhône, adding a dash of the white Viognier to red Syrah (aka Shiraz) is a traditional practice, giving a peachy-floral lift to the wine.

South Africa's Kleine Zalze have done the same here, with a bit of Mourvèdre (aka Monastrell or Mataro) for added colour, tannin and gaminess.

It all knits together very well here, with ripe, plump berry fruit and plenty of freshness to cut through food.

With curry week celebrating its 20th birthday on 9th to 15th October 2018, try matching this with a Tikka Masala.

Zalze SMV 2016 (£10, Morrisons, Asda) Shiraz/Mourvèdre/Viognier blend with dark fruit, cool mint and spice with woodsy earthiness. Fresh, supple and substantial with fine tannins.

If not partnering with curry, match with roast red meat, especially lamb or venison.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Cambridge Cracking Christmas Wines - Competition

Win tickets to the Three Wine Men's 2018 Cambridge Cracking Christmas Wines on November 10th

After the success of last year’s inaugural Cambridge Three Wine Men tasting, Oz Clarke, Tim Atkin MW and Olly Smith are back in Cambridge in November for this year’s wine extravaganza.

And they have three pairs of tickets to give away for the main tasting (midday - 3pm), including access to the Champagne Gosset Masterclass at 1:15pm

To find out more about last year's event, check this out.

To be in with a chance of winning the tickets, just let me know, via a comment on this post, what you are most looking forward to at the event and why.

For more details on this year's event, click here.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Pinot Noir 2016 (Mr Noir)

A film-noir Pinot from Virgin Wines

Who's the black private dick
That's a sex machine to all the chicks? (Shaft)
You're damn right

- Shaft, Isaac Hayes (1971)

Pinot Noir is a cool-climate grape that is very tricky to make into good wine; like a Prima Donna, it needs just the right conditions to thrive. Historically, that meant Burgundy and high prices.

Now the New World does Pinot and the windswept, coastal Mornington Peninsula in Victoria is Australia's ground zero for this most finnicky of grapes.

Like a blaxploitation private dick, this Pinot is darkly suave and effortlessly cool.

Mr Noir Pinot Noir 2016 (£11.99) black and red cherry fruit, spice and Burgundian farmyard-ness with a silky Pinot texture; bigger and more fruit-forward than a Burgundy, but very well made with a Burgundian elegance.

Good Value (for a Pinot).

Match with gamey foods, such as venison.

Matthew Jukes is also a fan of this wine:

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Louis Jadot Macon Villages 2017

A white Burgundy for curry week from Louis Jadot via Tesco

October 9th to 15th is National Curry Week - and if you fancy a change to beer, here is a  wine that will stand up.

Louis Jadot Macon Villages 2017 (£13.05, Tesco) fresh and citrussy with ripe, appley fruit and good underpinnings. Well made and balanced.

This is a versatile Chardonnay with a bit of southern warmth that will match with many foods - in curry terms, go for something creamy such as a korma.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Trésor Cathare - IGP Cité de Carcassonne

Cathar Treasure - from Vignobles Foncalieu

Cathar Treasure is not merely a whimsical fantasy idea - it is a rich seam of religious and political intrigue with a whiff of heresy, violence and corruption thrown in. A sort-of medieval conspiracy theory for Romantic francophiles.

And if you have never visited the fortified city of Carcassone, you are missing out.
This Trésor Cathare from southern French cooperative Vignobles Foncalieu makes quite a statement for itself then - the question is does it deliver?

Fortunately it does - and then some.

Trésor Cathare, IGP Cité de Carcassonne, 2017 cassis and dark berries with inky pencil shavings and pepperiness. Ripe yet fresh and supple with fine, rounded tannins. Substantial, with excellent underpinnings. Deft, harmonious and very well made.

Improves with some aeration and will repay cellaring.

Very Good.

Match with roast red meats or hearty casseroles.