Tuesday, 4 August 2009

A couple of great wines tasted last Friday

Various members of the Nottingham Wine Circle, plus a few guests, gathered last Friday at Pretty Orchid restaurant in Nottingham, to share a good few bottles of wine and some excellent food, prepared by owner and Wine Circle member CY Choong. Most of the wines were white, since a menu which included goat’s cheese and onion tart, battered calamari with spicy salad and monkfish demanded whites not reds. And we enjoyed, amongst other things, a cracking Austrian Gruner Veltliner 1997, some nice Meursault and Chassagne Montrachet 1er Crus and my very own delicious Domaine de Montesquiou Cuvade Preciouse 2006 Jurancon.

I must admit that, although I always take a notepad and pen with me to every tasting I attend, I grow tired of taking endless notes on the wines, since it often detracts from the actual enjoyment of those wines. After all, who needs notes on anything up to 2,000 wines a year, especially the bad and indifferent ones? And what would I do with them?

Then again, it is nice to have that notepad to hand when a great wine pops up, especially since the notes on such wines tend to almost write themselves. And, despite the overall majority of the wines being white, the 2 best wines of the night were red. And what wines!

Firstly, CVNE Vina Real 1981 Rioja Gran Reserva. What a fabulously mature and beautiful wine, with a nose combining cloves, sweet red pepper, fenugreek and oodles of sweet red fruits. Other notes I detected were candied orange zest, Bovril and gingerbread. All-in-all, a very complex wine indeed. And neither the nose nor the palate showed any sign of alcohol – just wine. All of the elements from the nose combined on the palate in a soft, velvety wine, with more than ample acidity – combining elements of lemon, orange and raspberry vinegar - and just a hint of almost sweet, tea-like tannin. Think of the best that Burgundy and Bordeaux has to offer, and add a touch of Spanish warmth and you have one glorious wine, almost without fault. Well I couldn’t find one, anyway!

CVNE Vina Real 1981 Rioja Gran Reserva

This was immediately followed by Tourelles de Longueville 1998 Paulliac, which showed amazingly well in the wake of such a brilliant wine as the CVNE. Spicy and cedary, with red cherry and raspberry and only a hint of blackcurrant (a plus, in my book). And there was no hint of the green notes one often finds in Bordeaux wines, but perhaps a bit of sweet red pepper (the juicy, pointy kind) along with notes of orange, Bovril (again) and tea. A lovely wine, which didn’t quite reach the heights of the Rioja – though who knows how it may evolve, in another 10 years time – but a very good try, and another lovely wine.

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