Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Some cracking wines from a recent blind tasting at the Nottingham Wine Circle

After more than 3 weeks of feeling distinctly under the weather, I've been steadily working my way back to good health (although a brief bout of gastric flu at the weekend was a setback) and actually managed my first visit to the Nottingham Wine Circle in 6 weeks, last week. And I'm certainly glad I went, because there were some brilliant wines on offer, at what was supposed to be a "standard" bottle blind tasting. Here's just a few of them...........

Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut NV Champagne
Although this is non-vintage, it clearly has plenty of bottle age - so much so that David Selby (who brought it) could not remember when - or where - he bought it. The nose is minerally, slightly oxidative, with notes of apple pie and fresh bread. The palate is beautifully rich, with what feels like a touch of residual sugar, but is probably just down to gaining weight with bottle age. A lovely, rich, generous wine - if only more Champagnes were so good!

Afros Vinho Verde 2009
This has a lovely combination of peach, mineral and smoke on the nose, with plenty of richness on the palate, with bags of fruit and lovely acidity. The red Vinho Verde from this estate is a real stunner, but this white ain't bad, either.

Chateau Tahbilk Marsanne 2006 Nagambie Lakes, Victoria
Smoky, minerally, lemony, hints of honeysuckle, very rich and with a touch of sulphur/reduction. Some thought it over-oaked, but not me. And in fact, a quick look at the back label confirms it sees no oak-ageing at all - so what do they know! Not the most popular wine around the table, but I thought it was really good, with lots of promise for the future.

Domaine des Baumard Clos de Sainte Catherine 1996 Coteaux du Layon
My goodness, this is so lovely. It smells like toffee apples and clotted cream, with hints of aromatic herbs, brioche, orange and butterscotch. The palate is heaving with flavour, concentration and extreme complexity - apple, root ginger, toffee, fig, honey, cinnamon and cloves........ and amazing lime and lemon acidity. It is powerful, rather than delicate, rich, but supremely balanced, and with gargantuan length. A great sweet wine.

Clos Roche Blanche Cot Rouge 1999 Touraine
Peppery on the nose, with cherry and raspberry fruit and sous-bois. The palate is very much alive - fruity, peppery and really quite floral and elegant, even soft, though the tannins are ever-so-slightly rustic. Lovely acidity, too, which I guess is what keeps it all together. A lovely wine - long, too.

Murua Rioja Reserva 2001
There's plenty of coconut and banana on the nose, courtesy of some rather lavish oak, together with plenty of bramble fruit, which almost puts me in mind of a Barossa Shiraz. The palate is rich and again quite oaky, but with some really rather attractive red and black fruit flavours, allied to fine tannins and ample acidity. The finish is long and spicy. Although this has a quite modern feel to it, there's enough quality and development to suggest that it won't always be that way - in fact, it could turn out to be rather special in another 10 years' time.

Ninth Island Pinot Noir 2004 Tasmania
This is spicy and quite rich, but is elegant and restrained enough to fool some into thinking it might be Burgundy. Aside from a slight alcoholic warmth, it seems essentially cool-climate, and is far from being confected, displaying plenty of cherry and strawberry fruit, along with a touch of spice and forest floor. A very nice wine.

Paul Jaboulet Ainé La Chapelle 1983 Hermitage
A gorgeous nose of sous-bois, flowers, fruits of the forest and incense, with just a hint of savoury, smoky bacon. The palate is wonderfully generous, both fruity and warmly spicy, with savoury elements and wonderfully piercing acidity. The tannins are there, but are perfectly ripe. This is one of those wines which effortlessly combines power and elegance, and - at the grand old age of  28 - is just about reaching the peak of its powers. Then again, it isn't likely to fall down the other side too quickly either. Although a J L Chave Hermitage from the very same vintage remains perhaps the best northern Rhone wine (and therefore one of the best wines, full stop) that I have ever tasted, this one really isn't too far behind. A wonderful wine, and a real privilege to taste.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...............
I opened this through necessity, rather than choice, because I noticed it had a leaky cork, so was not fit for sale. But I'm happy to say that the wine is in fine fettle. Mourvedre-dominated, with just a splash of Grenache and Syrah, it has a magnificent nose of bramble and dark cherries in eau de vie, exotic spices, leather, tobacco, sous-bois and charred oak. The palate manages to combine a good deal of concentration with remarkable elegance and balance. It is rich and brambly, with a touch of meaty savouriness and spice, whilst the tannins are fine and relatively soft, and there is a wonderful backbone of acidity to keep it lovely and fresh. It really is very complex stuff, which has come on leaps and bounds over the last year or so (I initially thought it too oaky, but not anymore). It is already a joy to drink now, but certainly has the capacity to age for another 10 years or so. I think this cuvée (the 2006 and 2008 are also superb) is Jonathan Hesford's best. (£14.80 via my website).

1 comment:

Vinogirl said...

The GSM sounds delightful, for a leaker!