Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The journey continues - yet more white wines!

Domaine de Calet Esprit de Blanc 2009 Costieres de Nimes
I can't remember the last time I tasted a white Costieres de Nimes - I know I've had at least one or two, but they were obviously such a long time ago that I had no real idea what to expect from this wine. The reds from this estate are really good, but a rather sweet, blowsy - in fact, quite sickly - Chardonnay tasted a few weeks back had me thinking that the other whites might be disappointing. But this one was a very pleasant surprise. The blend is 60% Roussanne, with the remaining 40% being Vermentino, Bourboulenc and Clairette. The nose really is very appealing, offering peach, apricot and zesty lime/lemon fruit aromas, together with hints of honeysuckle, buttercream and garrigue herbs. In the mouth, it manages to be both rich and distinctly refreshing at the same time - quite a rare combination in a white wine. The honeyed oiliness of the Roussane, the savoury, slightly salty tang of the Vermintino and the  fresh fruitiness of the Bourboulenc and Clairette make for a really interesting and beautifully balanced wine. The inherent zestiness of many southern Rhone whites can sometimes be a bit too pronounced and pithy for my personal taste, but this one offers just enough lime peel tanginess to match the rich tree fruit flavours, whilst the savoury, almost spicy warmth is countered by excellent orange-tinged acidity. All-in-all, this is a rich, rounded, yet poised and elegant wine, which belies its rather humble origins. I like it a lot. I have some wines on order from Domaine de Calet, which should be arriving within a couple of weeks - this one will retail at £8.50.

Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2008 Waipara Valley, New Zealand
This is another wine sent to me by Staurt Travers at Cambridge Wines - and another real winner, I have to say. The nose is a gloriously fresh combination of gooseberry, lemon, elderflower and mineral. The merest hint of tropical fruit perhaps betrays this wine's new world origins, but it would otherwise be easy (if tasted blind) to mistake it for a very good white Bordeaux or - given that the Sauvignon seems to dominate - Sancerre. The flavours offer a beautifully focused and zingy combination of gooseberry, lime and bramley apple, with a subtle hint of peach countering the tartness, whilst a strong mineral streak adds a touch of depth and complexity. The finish is long and fresh. New Zealand continues to go from strength to strength, and this is a fine example of what it can do with a classic French blend. Lovely stuff, which more than held it's own against the house lamb curry.

Rolly Gassmann Riesling 2007 Alsace
This is the last in a trilogy of wines I now list from the latest relases from this fine Alsace grower - and another real winner, in my book. As a lover of the German "fruchtighe" style of Riesling, I often struggle to appreciate the more robust, dry style of Alsace Riesling. But this one ticks all of my boxes. It has a wonderfully expressive nose, combining lemon, peach, apple and grape skins with a really pronounced, up-front wet stone/mineral quality. The palate has an earthy richness to it, with a sweet, almost cider apple quality, offset by zesty lemon and lime flavours, and again a palpable streak of minerality. The aromas and flavours continue to grow in the glass, in a wine of real complexity, finesse and great length. Although an absolute joy to drink now, it promises much for those who are patient enough to cellar it for a few more years. Boy, I love these Rolly Gassman wines! £14.99.

Mullineux Straw Wine 2009 Swartland, South Africa
I've heard some good things about this grower, and especially this particular wine, so was really looking forward to trying it. The colour is a dark orange/brown, whilst the nose has intense orange marmalade and toffee apple aromas, with a touch of grapiness. But such is the intensity of these aromas, I really am struggling to pick out any subtle nuances. The texture in the mouth is almost like treacle - and so, unfortunately, is the taste. Nobody could ever accuse the Chenin Blanc variety of lacking acidity, but what acidity there is in this wine proves to be woefully inadequate in balancing the shockingly concentrated, almost painfully sweet flavours the palate has to offer. I was expecting sweet and sour and tangy, but all I get is sweet. I have always had a sweet tooth (and have spent many a painful hour in the dentist's chair as a result) so a love of sweet wines is one of my weaknesses. And, to use a muscical/satirical analogy, I've even been known to like the occasional wine that goes up to eleven. Unfortunately, this one is all bass and no treble.


Louise Hurren said...

So glad you liked that white from Anna-Lena and Yvon Gentes of Domaine de Calet (the Swedish/French couple in the Outsiders group). Read more about them (and the rest of the group) here:

Graham said...

Wine Pages has just had a thread on the Mullineux Straw Wine 2009 and the author seems to agree with your finding.
I tasted and earlier vintage just over a year ago. Enjoyable at the time but not memorable.

Leon Stolarski said...

Graham - the author was tasting the wine from the bottle I brought along. A couple of other forumites were there, too, but David was obviously the only one brave enough (and that includes me!) to lay his neck on the block on the w-p forum. I don't know where some of those people found acidity in this particular wine, because I could find very little. As an experiment, I tried adding a little water to a (small) glass of it, in the hope that lessening the concentration would help to bring some acidity out. All it did was make it taste like sugar water. A very unscientific experiment, I grant you, but it was worth a try. Frankly, I can't see the wine ever coming into balance - and certainly not in my lifetime. If the acidity aint there in the first place........