Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Corporate Wine UK - Lothian Life Wine Tasting

Caledonian Hilton Hotel, Princes Street, Edinburgh
3rd December 2006

I found this event on the Internet and decided to give it a try. I hadn't been to a standing tasting event since living in New Zealand. I like these events but sometimes find I don't get as much out of them as the smaller events. I'm glad to say this was not the case on this occasion. This was mainly due to Stuart's time and patience during the evening.

I tried 14 of the the 40 wines available to try. Although I won't share all of my notes here are a few highlights of the great wines I tried.

Viega Serantes Albarino 2004 (£8.99 on the night)
A single vineyard wine at a great price. It's light and fresh like a lot of the wines I tasted, it's almost clear in colour. It's not powerful on the nose, more white fruits such as melons and pears. It's smooth to taste and not tart or harsh like some Spanish wines I have tasted. It's a great quaffing wine and I can picture drinking this wine on summers day with light savoury snacks.

Bovin, Vranec (£6.99 on the night)
Time was getting on and I knew I had to get to Centotre to pick up the wine I ordered last week. Stuart said that if I was going to finish on a high note then this wine would be the one and he was right. This grape, Vranec is indigenous to Macedonia. It's a light red with lots of red fruit flavours. The tannins are there but manageable due to slight savoury taste.

Jean-Pierre Marniquet Champage
I watched as a group of fellow tasters made their way through the fizz that was on offer. They all tried:
Lenoble Cuvee Intense NV
Pol Roger Reserve NV
Dom Vincent Blanc
Jean-Pierre Marniquet Champagne

Price wise the Pol Roger was the most expensive (£24.99 on the night) and it was enjoyed by all. The grapes are taken from a number of vineyards and mixed each year to create the same reliable taste, if it's what you like it's a fantastically consistent taste that never lets you down.
But the Jean-Pierre Marniquet Champage came out as the favourite. It's a small vineyard and all the grapes come from the estate, it could be said to be unpredictable but I kind of like that idea and at £15.99 (on the night), real value for money.

Part 6 of 6 - Raboso Passito

Not a traditionally made wine. This is also made from the Raboso grape but with 120g of sugar per litre. Casa Roma are the first to make wine in this way. This is the 2003 which was a strange year as there was less acidity than in other years. 8 hectares of Raboso were harvested 10 days before the Raboso del Piave and then the grapes were dried, similar to the Amarone style. I'm not a fan of this style of wine but Monsieur Vin is and he loved this wine.

To look at:
Deep ruby red.

On the nose:
Spices and dark stewed fruit such as plums.

To taste:
I though it would be sweet due to the amount of sugar but the high acidity prevents this. Other vintages may differ.

Part 5 of 6 - Raboso del Piave

This is the flagship of Casa Roma. Raboso is the oldest documented grape variety in the Veneto region, older than the 17th century Barolla. Raboso is thought to derive from the Italian word rabbioso, or angry. This grape variety is excellent at resisting disease which may explain how it has lasted so long.

The label on the bottle depicts the stones of the Piave river. It was harvested in Nov 2002 and spent 3 years in the barrel before bottling.

To look at:
Very deep bright red, you can barely see through it.

On the nose:
It burns the inside of my nose so it's high in alcohol. Dark fruits - black currents, Logan berries. Rose petals are in there too.

To taste:
Freshness at first followed by the dark plums. Dusty tannins that settle easily and has good length. It's acidity is high but I like this.

It's served with Aberdeen Angus beef which is a perfect match, this is a good Italian wine so it goes well with food. I think because of the high acidity it will keep and only get better, I bought some, so will let you know in years to come.

Part 4 of 6 - Sauvignon

I have never seen a Sauvignon that looks like this. The micro-climate around Casa Roma has created a very different Sauvignon. The distinct colouring is due to the maceration, the grape skin has been left in contact for a longer period of time. Experimental, yes. Does it work? Yes, I think it does.

To look at:
Deep golden yellow.

On the nose:
Strong green vegetable, green peppers.

To taste:
Tastes much fresher and greener that it looks. Bursts of gooseberry with every mouthful. Smooth with a good balance. It certainly doesn't taste how it looks.

Part 3 of 6 - Incrocio Manzoni

Mazoni is the name of a professor and teacher of Oenology and a friend of Luigi's grandfather. Made from a cross pollination of vines that produce Pinot Bianco and Italian Riesling (an Italian clone of Riesling, not the German Riesling) this vine is not found in any other part of Italy.

To look at:
It looks very similar to the Marzemina Bianca but fuller bodied. Still a slight fizz but again not as much as the first.

On the nose:
Much fruitier than the Marzemina and citrus is evident (perhaps the Riesling influence) but it's not powerful.

To taste:
Very fruity with excellent length, citrus, lemon, lime with sweeter honey undertones.

Monday, 4 December 2006

Part 2 of 6 - Casa Roma - Marzemina Bianca

This wine is made of 100% Marzemina grape. There are 2 produces in the region. It's a difficult grape to grow so an attempt at growing this grape is not for the faint hearted. The vines that made this bottle of delight are about 80 years old that cover 80 hectares on the Casa Roma estate.

Wine made from the Marzemina was a favourite amongst the aristocracy of Venice during the Renaissance period but most of the vines were destroyed by Phylloxera. I think it's marvellous that Luigi is bringing back these ancient vines. There's no oak, the grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks.

To look at:
Golden yellow in colour with a light edge. It sticks to the glass so could be high in alcohol. There's a few bubbles clinging to the glass too.

On the nose:
A real white fruit cocktail, pears, melons.

Slight fizz on the tongue with lovely fruity ripe pears and honey. There's a distinct minerality to the taste that's very hard describe. It's like the freshness you taste in mineral water as apposed to tap water. This wine is sweet at first with a long dry finish.

It's served with honey and cheese from the area and it's a perfect match. The sweetness of the honey creates a smooth balance on the tongue; this finished with slight effervescent is very engaging. It's young (2005) and vibrant with definite pizzazz.

I bought couple of bottles for £10.95 each (this includes a discount for buying on the night) of this delightful wine in anticipation of the festive season.

Monday, 27 November 2006

Centotre 26th Nov 2006 “Casa Roma” Part 1 of 6

An Introduction
It was such a fantastic and unique night I have decided to share with you all of my notes, instead of just the usual highlights.

Oenologist and owner of Casa Roma Luigi Peruzzetto arrived in Edinburgh only a couple of hours before the event was due to start. He has never been abroad before and rather than staying a few days to look around he is due to fly out of Edinburgh at 10:00am the following morning. Why? To get back to his vines of course.

The Casa Roma estate is situated in the Piave region (Piave is the river that runs through it) north east of Venice and has been in the Peruzetto family for many years. Luigi introduced us to some very unusual wines made from traditional grapes. Luigi isn't afraid to experiment and as a result he has created some fascinating and wonderful wines.

I felt very privileged to have been apart of such a delightful evening and would like to thank Centotre for organising it, and providing a fantastic menu to accompany the wines. I would also like to thank Paul Dwyer (Wine Broadcaster & Speaker) for his company and expert knowledge and advice, a real treat for me.

For further information about Casa Roma please visit the website is excellent and gives you a history of Casa Roma got its name and information on the wines available.

For further information on Centotre please visit a place where you always receive a warm welcome, fine food and experience a great atmosphere.

To follow in part 2-6 - The Wines

Sunday, 26 November 2006

Vino Rosso Della Casa - Osteria Del Neni, Lucca

I've ordered tortellini all' ragu my all time favourite Italian dish and of course a ¼ litre of the house red wine. It sits on my table in a small carafe, illuminated by a solitary candle. This wine is a deep ruby red. The aroma is subtle, savoury, spices mixed with red plums. I take a sip. It's sharp at first but the tannins aren't strong so it feels light and easy to drink. My food arrives and I know it's going to be the perfect match. It's a basic wine with an atmosphere to match. It doesn't leave a trace down the side of the glass indicating that it's not high in alcohol. A classic easy drinking Tuscan food wine and I love it. The tasty home made tomato and meat sauce covered with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese is a true delight. I first visited the Osteria Del Neni some 5 years ago now and it hasn't changed a bit. The meal costs me 12 euros (including service). In summer you have to book a table here well in advance, but tonight I get the place more or less to myself.
The wine is different to the one I had last night in a small bar further up the valley in a town called Barga. The bar is in an ancient square and is run by a man called Marino. The atmosphere is welcoming with passing musicians dropping in to entertain you using the various instruments that hang on the walls. Here the wine is sometimes described as 'brutta'. It's rustic and raw. At the back of the bar hang the cold meats, sausages next to cheeses and bread. To receive a selection of these on a square of paper towel with a glass of the local red served from a large demijohn is simple and to some a little 'brutta', just like the wine.

I raise my glass and proposed a toast to Silvano, a friend and resident of Barga who passed away recently, he will be truly missed.

Sunday, 19 November 2006

Sangiovese di Toscana, Le Mire, Tuscany, 2005

I would like to have chilled this wine, a personal preference for lighter reds, but forgot. It's made from sangiovese with a small proportion of Merlot. I wasn't surprised to find a plastic cork as this is one of the lower ranges from this particular vineyard. I think plastic corks in young wines are just fine although anything more than a couple of years old I'd have second thoughts. The cork is a stunning red with the web address; unfortunately the site is under construction this month so I was unable to check this out.
The bottle has a fantastic label of a bright red flower (research required to find out which one).
We had it with roast lamb which was probably a little over powering for this wine and a pasta dish or meaty fish (perhaps tuna steak) would have been better.

To look at:
A light ruby red.

On the nose:
A mix of raspberries with hints of dark fruits (probably from the merlot) and quite savoury.

To Taste:
Quite high in tannins for a light wine but bursts of plums and the food relax them. It has good length.

Not a complex wine but a cheerful little number for a wintry Scottish Sunday night. After the bottle had been open for awhile the fruit flavours increase delightfully.
In short for the price, a real bargain.

This wine is available from Cambridge/Edinburgh Wine Merchants for £5.99 and is on offer at the moment, 2 for £10

Sunday, 12 November 2006

Madame Vin - An Introduction

I'm a wine enthusiast who is on a journey of discovery. I'm not a fine wine expert but someone who appreciates wine for what it is. This journey is to compare research and learn about the world of wine. The subject is vast and riddled with pitfalls and I know I will make mistakes on the way. I'd like to open up discussions with you out there in cyberspace, to share my opinions and discoveries and to share yours too.

Wine to me is a personal thing, a mood, the company you are with, an accompaniment to good food and the place you drink it and most of all something you like and enjoy. Whether it costs £2.99 from your local supermarket or hundreds of pounds from a restaurant wine list, if none of the above reasons apply to your appreciation then you've missed the point of wine.

Many people who know me I think believe my interest in wine is only about the drinking and to certain extent this is of course true as this is the purpose of wine. Some of them will be surprised to learn that I now own wine that I don't intend to drink for another 10 to 15 years. I don't drink wine to get drunk although sometimes this is an obvious side effect and I guess that goes back to the company I am with.

There are many winemakers who put a great deal of time, effort, thought and personality into their wines and there are those that just, well, don't. Is there a difference in taste? Let's find out together.

There won't be lists of vintage years or what you are expected to smell/taste in a particular wine or not. But a series of thoughts, ideas and experiences and perhaps even a little bit of knowledge too.