Tuesday, 11 May 2010

What a difference a day makes

Well, it has been a pretty eventful day. As we all know, some pretty extraordinary things have been going on in the world of UK politics. But wherever my own sympathies may lie, this is predominantly a wine blog, so I'm happy to let them remain (a not particularly well-kept) secret. 

But I can't avoid commenting on the failure of my beloved Nottingham Forest Football Club to reach the Championship play-off final, with what seemed to be a pretty limp second leg, second half capitulation at home to Blackpool. The final aggregate score, after a total of 180 minutes of football was Forest 4 - Blackpool 6. So near, yet so far. A few months ago, Forest looked certain to go on and clinch automatic promotion to the Premiership, but some very poor away form in 2010 put paid to that. The play-offs provided a second chance, but proved a hurdle too far for what is still a very young and essentially inexperienced side. Never mind - after all, it's only a game, and there is always next season. The experience the squad will have gained and the hard lessons they have learned from this campaign will surely stand them in good stead for next season and help them to see it through to the end. Listening to tonights match on the radio, it was nice to hear the Forest fans applauding their team off the pitch at the end and - perhaps more importantly - also applauding the Blackpool team, who clearly deserved the win. Good luck to them in the final.

But let's get back to wine. Having been rather ill over the weekend, I was feeling a bit better by Monday night, so I thought I'd ease myself gently back into the swing by tasting another of my new Roussillon wines. I have to admit that it took me a while to begin to appreciate the charms of this wine. Perhaps it was just that my senses had taken a battering over the previous few days and I wasn't physically able to assess it properly. Or maybe it just needed time (in this case, a full 24 hours) to show its true colours. Whatever the case, what a difference a day made..........

This is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, aged for 1 year in oak barrels. It has an almost opaque blood red core, with a narrow light purple rim. The rich, bramble, cherry and plum aromas typical of previous vintages are all present and correct. But it's not just about the fruit - there's a whole lot more going on here, with subtle cedar, leather and tobacco aromas, courtesy of very skilful oak-ageing, along with some enticingly meaty, savoury elements lurking in the background. Many of these elements take some time to emerge (in fact, it really does come into its own on day 2) but they are worth waiting for, because this a truly impressive and considerably complex wine. It oozes class, though in a restrained, almost elegant (rather than overt) way. Not that it lacks power - far from it - but the luscious yet tangy red and black fruit flavours and those savoury elements, combined with fine, chocolatey tannins and just the right level of acidity, all seem to add up to something much more than the sum of its parts. The finish is long and spicy. It is already a delight to drink now, although the fact that it shows so brilliantly on the second day marks it out as a wine that should age and improve superbly, over the next 5 to 8 years, perhaps more. Actually, I detect a subtle shift in style, with this latest vintage - I believe previous vintages have seen some use of American oak barrels, whereas this one seems much more like exclusively French (or at least European) oak. Whatever the answer, this has become my favourite cuvée from Sol-Payré over the years, and this particular vintage may just turn out to be the best one yet. And at £13.50, it is a lot of wine for the money.

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