Sunday, 30 December 2007

Cantina Zaccagnini - Montepulciano d' Abruzzo 2003

The sky is clear and there's a stiff cold November breeze. We dart from our apartment on Horatio Street to La Foccacia a small bistro in Manhattans meat packing district close to the hum of Village life. The welcome is warm and friendly and the place is full of locals. We slowly take off our layers and settle down to peruse the menu. The wine list has many wines, some familiar but plenty of new faces too.
After a 7 hour flight from Edinburgh and a tinge of jet lag hanging over me I plump for known territory. I don't think I've ever had a disappointing Montepulciano d' Abruzzo. This one is from Cantina Zaccagnini. This cantina produce a great many different wines and have some award winners in amongst them. 2003 was a hot year in Italy but successful as the montepulciano grape can stand the heat with excellent results. The Il vino dal Tracetto was as expected. The solid familiar deep red and the aroma of stewed damsons and suet pudding. It's dry, smooth east drinking wine and I wish there had been a chocolate on the dessert menu, I just love this wine type of wine with dark chocolate.......
It's not fancy or complex and as I said there were no surprises, a perfect wine for this occasion.

As I'm finding with most Italian wine producers Cantina Zaccagnini has a cool website:

There wines are inexpensive and can be bought from:

Saturday, 20 October 2007

La Serre 2006 Sauvignon Blanc - defining modern France

At least that's what it says on the label.

It's Saturday night and friends we haven't seen since leaving NZ arrive for a flying visit, a visit that coincides with the Scotland v NZ game in the Rugby World Cup.
We choose a small restaurant on the Lothian Road that appears to provide every type of eastern promise......Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian...........I'm surprised that a Riesling isn't on the wine list, a great match for this type of food.
At £12.95 a bottle La Serre is cheap but I wouldn't say cheerful, more quite happy.
Originating from Southern France it's not too green and is quite different to the NZ SBs our guests are used to.
We catch up on news and gossip from NZ and predict the scores for tomorrow's match, all in all a great evening. We are last to leave the restaurant and head home amongst the loud and vibrant party goers of the city.

Tasting notes:
It's not a powerful on the nose but you can detect subtle ripe white fruits.
On the palate it's dry but not tart with a hint grass but powerful white fruits such as pear and melon.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Domaine de Salvert - Tasting Notes Part 2 Sweet & Sparkling

We finished our afternoon's tasting with a delightful semi-sweet that Georges recommended with white meats such as roast chicken. Only produced in 2003 and 2006 it was floral and sweet but not too overpowering. This was followed a semi-sweet rose made from the cabernet franc, a personal favourite of Georges. It's orange tile red (tuille) and the fresh sweetness asking to be drunk with hot and spicy foods. It's a really drinkable wine and I can imagine its appeal to young and old alike, especially ladies.

The 2004 Cremant de Loire we enjoyed in the comfort of the living room. A great crisp taste of apples, citrus, limes and a dryness that compliments the fruit flavours delightfully. The bubbles on the tongue are insistent and vibrant and lengthy.

The final tasting of Rose Cremant, yet to be released and called Esprit de Sophie (Sophie being Georges daughter who is due to be married this September) I guess you could call the icing on the cake. Not too floral on the nose, a perfect balance of fruit and fizz on the tongue. It has a freshness and taste that's hard to describe.

It's available from next year but only to wine partners, perhaps a reason to have the vines for another year at Domaine de Salvert. I can't wait for my order to arrive.

Domaine de Salvert - Tasting Notes - Part 1

Rose - 2006 70% Grolleau/30% Cabernet Franc
To look at - brick red, changes in the light from red to orange, clear edge
On the nose - fresh strawberries and raspberries
To taste - fresh fruits can be tasted on the palate too with a dry finish loaded with fruit
A fantastic rose, made for summer evenings. Would be great with spicy salads.

White - Chenin Blanc 2006
To look at - clear and fresh, moves freely in the glass
On the nose - white fresh fruits - pears, melons at the peak of ripeness. Also some elderberry and floral honeysuckle.
To taste - fresh and dry, but not too dry with again the fruits clamoring on my tongue
A surprisingly complex wine yet simple wine (if that makes sense?) that would be a great match for fish, white meat salads and seafood such as oysters.

Red - 40% Cabernet Franc/60% Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
To look at - quite a deep red but still has the same freshness as the rose/white
On the nose - dark fruits - black currents, damsons that are fresh and ready to eat
To taste - the dark fruits handle the dry finish well, smooth and lengthy
A great accompaniment to any red meat dish including duck salads

Domaine de Salvert - Georges Bureau

I think I've mentioned before about renting a row of vines in the Loire Valley. These vines are at the Domaine de Salvert owned by Georges Bureau.
It was a cooler morning as we made our way from Domaine L'Etang our accommodation, a domaine that seems as old and as tired as the old dog that stretches out on the front lawn. The clouds were low and threatening and drops of rain could be felt on the breeze. But the greeting we received from Georges warmed the air delightfully. With the bouncing golden Labrador forever at his side (who was clearly in charge), he lead us outside and we walked along the quiet country rode to the vines.
Monsieur Bureau has owned Domaine de Salvert for 10 years now and has seen the trend for demand change from red to rose. The vines range from just a few weeks old up to 45 years old and are a mixture of Grolleau (for the rose), Chenin Blanc and some Cabernet Franc & Sauvignon. Here is a winemaker who is working with nature and the soil to use less sulphates and chemicals to keep the many diseases in check. He's passionate about quality not quantity and you can tell he loves the challenges being a winemaker brings. Phrases such as "but we do not complain" and "we will be crying" are used when talking about the bureaucracy of the french wine industry or the climate changes. His award winning red and is innovative sparkling are made with enthusiasm and determination in an industry thwart with difficulties.

France, Loire Valley 2007 - Part 2 Les Partanieres Muscadet Sur Lie 2006

From an area to the east of Nantes, again, I wish this wine had been served colder. I'm in an unusual little restaurant in Nantes called Chez Maman. The walls are covered in every imaginable item, from photos to clocks to lights, you name it, it's there. At only 20 euros a bottle it's probably a little over priced but hey, we are on on holiday.

To look at - again very light in colour, hard to see in the dim light
On the nose - granny smiths, unripe fruits such as gooseberries
To taste - this has a bit of fizz on the tongue and I love the crispness of the apples mixed with pears and hints nectar

Accompanied with some beautiful smoked salmon quite an enjoyable wine, fit for the occasion.

France, Loire Valley 2007 - Part 1 Le Soleil Nantais

Maybe it was because I had such high expectations (as normal) but the local wine I tasted during my visit just didn't get my taste buds tingling.
A visit to Nantes would not be complete without a taste of Muscadet Sur Lie, meaning on leys, the wine having be left with the leys for a time. I know Muscadet is not a complex wine but I've had a few fruity numbers in my time that have a dryness that makes you smack you lips.
Le Soleil Nantais, Guilbaud Frères was enjoyable but served a little warm. Made from 100% Melon (generally know as muscadet)from selected vineyards of the Sèvre and Maine .

To look at - it's light in colour, almost clear
On the nose - water melon and just a hint of must, perhaps some floral undertones
Taste - it's quite flat and green but also has a quite a nice minerality possibly from the calcium rich soil

Certainly a food wine and due to it's temperature it lacks the bite I love about Muscadet, or perhaps the richness of the food, pork and rhubarb, was just the wrong match.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Sherwood Estate Marlborough New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2005

It’s a cloudy, grey Friday afternoon in June and the Edinburgh streets are full of tourists and shoppers. I step off the train having spent the morning on a course in Glasgow. It’s 2pm and I don’t fancy the planned trip to the supermarket. I get a text from my aussie mate informing me she has managed to secure me and Monsieur Vin the last 2 tickets for the Radio 4s Loose Ends show to be recorded during the festival in August. We’d tried in vain to book them on the internet the previous night whilst enjoying a rather nice bottle of Shiraz/Grenache called Wallace from the Barossa Valley but without success. How cool! This also meant she was in town, I gave her a call.
“Where are you?”
“Princes Street, where are you?”
“Morrison Street, fancy meeting for a cheeky glass of wine?”
“What a marvellous idea” she cried
We agreed to make our way to Wigham’s Wine Cellar and who ever got there first would order a glass of dry white, sauvignon blanc. The stone steps take me to underground Edinburgh, I pull open the large wooden door and I am confronted with a large mirror before turning left in to the bar area. It’s windy outside and my hair looks like it bore the brunt of the easterly blast. I’d forgotten how dark Wigham's is when you first enter; it takes a few minutes for my eyes to adjust. I could barely see my fellow conspirator in the gloom. I spot her tucked away in one of the alcoves in this delightful cellar bar. She hasn’t been here before and comments that if she ever needs a venue for an assignation then this would certainly be it.
She’s due to meet a lady from the Scottish Executive at 3.30pm to complete a social survey she has been randomly chosen for. She’s already purchased 2 glasses of the Sherwood Estate sauv. It’s a New Zealand classic. It’s dry and earthy; you can taste the greenness of the country itself. It’s served really cold, it’s crisp and light, and the acidity is balanced. We start to put the worlds to rights and decide we have time for one more small glass. Outside, but unknown to us, the rain has begun to fall with a vengeance. But down here it’s a haven of wine and conversation. My friend suddenly looks at her watch, it’s nearly 4pm, she’s missed the lady from the executive, we look at each other and smile, time for one more then………………………………………..

Taste Edinburgh - Appellation Wines

A relatively new wine company that is internet based and delivers to your door. It has approximately 150 wines on offer, the only stipulation is you order minimum of 12 bottles. The wines have obviously been chosen carefully by someone who has a passion and an understanding of the industry. It’s not about the name or a particular area; it’s about what each individual wine has to offer. They also offer tasting sessions, quizzes for all group sizes, basically if it’s to do with wine they can arrange it. Check out there website at
Buisse Method Traditional Sparkling NV (12%). I had to try this one because of the price, just £9.49. It’s got lovely citrus flavours and dry, just how I like it. A great one for weddings etc. A real bargain for a great wine.
Buisse Pouilly Fume 2005 (12.5%) £12.49
A delight, one to stock for summer days to go with salads and salmon. Gooseberries, herbs, green fruits, grasses with subtle honeysuckle, hmmm lovely.
F Schawach Gewurztraminer Reserve 2004 (13%) £8.40
Gewurtz is a grape that I don’t get along with terribly well. On the one hand I love the way it varies so much, each time I try one it’s different again and even the same one develops and changes over time. Now I know this is a good thing but I do find it takes a long time to find the type that suits me and my tastes, but once I have then it’s fantastic. That’s why at these events if there is one on offer I generally give it a go. This is a good gewurtz with strong pink grapefruits and lychees, it has good length and an interesting complexity but it’s not for me. If you like sweeter wines with zesty finish you’ll love it.

Taste Edinburgh Part 6 – Bordeaux Reds – Saved the best until last!

Chateau Robin from the appellation Cotes de Castillon, one of the most eastern appellations. My favourite by far. It’s a well rounded, well balanced wine with lovely smooth tannins. The dark fruit and spicy oak form a perfect harmony. I don’t know where Earle Wines Ltd is who stock this wine but I intend to find out.

Taste Edinburgh Part 5 – Bordeaux Reds £10-£15

The Graves appellation is on the left bank of the Gironde but is further south than Haut-Medoc. Chateau Haut Selve produces a 50/50 split between Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon I think is a great blend that offers a well bodied wine with blackberries and spices all rolled in to one and this one does not disappoint. The tannins give a good lengthy finish and with lashings of vanilla and hints of red currents, I really like this wine. It’s pricier than some but well worth it.
Chateau la Garde situated in the appellation Pessac-Leognan just outside the town of Bordeaux supplies a blend of Merlot (60), Cabernet Sauvignon (35) and Cabernet Franc (5). Looks similar to the Chateau Haut Selve but has a much drier finish. Its complex wine that I would like to buy and see how it changes from one night to the next once opened. This way of tasting I don’t think did it justice. I could tell this wine has good structure with nice vanilla undertones.

Taste Edinburgh Part 4 Bordeaux Reds £5-£10

The Haut-Medoc appellation is situated on the left bank of the Gironde, sandwiched between the river and the ocean. Chateau Reysson Reserve du Chateau provided a blend of Merlot (60) and Cabernet Sauvignon (40). Deep red although again not the best tasting glass, it smells of stewed damsons and plums. It’s dry on the palate and rhubarbs join the rich oakiness. It’ well balanced and I’d certainly buy a bottle to go with a Sunday roast.
The appellation Saint-Emilion lies to the east, along the Dordogne. Vieux Chateau Les Jouans provides a blend of Merlot (85) and Cabernet Sauvignon (15). Rich, dark and spicy. To taste: a delightful blend of dark fruits and mint. The tannins are evident but not over powering.

Taste Edinburgh Part 3 – Bordeaux Sweets

£11.99 (35cl) for Tesco Finest Sauternes a blend of Semillon (85), Sauvignon Blanc (13) and Muscadelle (2). Sweet wines aren’t a personal favourite of mine but here goes. It’s rich and has the sweetness of clear honey on the nose. It’s powerful but not cloying and has quite an intense finish. The bitterness of bonfire toffee is evident too.

Taste Edinburgh - Part 2 Bordeaux Whites

Bordeaux Whites £5-£10
The two whites in the £5-£10 range were very light. The first Chateau Bonnet from the appellation Entre Deux Merswhich lays south Creon and south of the Dordogne, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (45), Semillon (35) and Sauvignon Gris (15). Clean and crisp with lemony twist. I don’t pick up much grassiness from the Sauv Blanc as this I think has been tempered by the Semillon. It’s an okay wine for the price.
The Premius from the appellation Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc (90) and Semillon (10). Its colour is very pale; to taste it’s a bit disappointing. It’s clean and fresh like the first but it lacks complexity. There are some fruit flavours such as pear and melon. If you like a very light easy drinking wine then this is for you.
Bordeaux Whites £10-£15
We have Grand Enclos de Cerons from the appellation Bordeaux a blend of Semillon (70), Sauvignon (21) and Sauvignon Gris (9). It’s looks more viscous in the glass (although it’s quite hard to tell in the little plastic cup we are using, a really awful way of tasting) and has a deeper colour. To taste: it’s fresh with a good balance of acidity, ripe summer fruits with a hint of spice, rather lovely I think.
Madlys de Sainte-Marie again from the Entre-duex-Mers is another good example of a light white wine. Sauvignon Blanc (62), Semillon (28) and Muscadelle (10). Definite floral notes on the nose, honeysuckle and nectar. To taste: it’s sweeter than expected and holds the floral aspect, with ripe pears. But there’s also a hint of flint and sulphur. A nice cheeky easy drinking wine.

Taste Edinburgh - Bordeaux

The ladies on this stand were not from the vineyards themselves but were there because they liked Bordeaux wines and were promoting the region as a whole.
Laura Clay guided me through there tasting with a passion for each and every one. The French wine industry has been struggling against fierce global competition and it’s good to see a region pulling together to increase peoples awareness of what the region has to offer. Bordeaux is located 45 degrees latitude north. It fills the riverbanks of the Gironde Rive and continues south along the Dordogne. To the west is the Atlantic Ocean, the Landes forest provides a natural wind break for the vineyards. Terroir is diverse with clay, gravel, chalk and limestone present across the 57 appellations. Laura provided a booklet A Guide to Bordeaux Wines, a leaflet about the l’Ecole du Vin, a very informative mini guide to the Bordeaux region and a copy of the magazine Bordeaux, Uncork The Potential. All of which have are great sources of information. Further information can also be found at .We’re off the Loire this year but I think a visit to Bordeaux next year is certainly on the list now.
Now for the tasting – there’s a list of 77 wines that includes the name, appellation, vintage, price, blend, stockists, tasting notes and they all have a Decanter 2007 medal at the side of them, all Bronze or Silver. None are more than £15 a bottle a sign perhaps that Bordeaux is going for the easy drinking market. There are 12 available to try.

Taste of Edinburgh, The Meadows, 9th June 2007

The sun shone and temperatures increased as the afternoon slipped by. Nestled in the Meadows are of Edinburgh (so very different from the Meadows in Nottingham) a number of stands and marquees have been erected. Each one contains food delights from local restaurants such as First Coast and other food and wine companies from River Cottage to Leffe Beer.

I visited a number of the stands and thoroughly enjoyed the Leffe Beer Master Class, matching beer and food.

I have a few highlights to share with you so here goes with a series of summaries from that lovely afternoon.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Valpolicella - Portone 2006

What do I expect for £4.99? To be honest not a great deal and it's been awhile since I bought a wine for this price. But whilst browsing in my new local Odd Bins I saw this on the bottom shelf. The blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes is a blend I've seen before and liked so couldn't resist.

The label depicts the Portone a lovely church in Verona and is simple red & cream, the cork is plastic!

It's only 11.5% alcohol which based on a lot of current wines, can be a rare thing.

To look at: as it says on the label it's ruby red, it moves freely and looks light and fresh
On the nose: There are definite cherries and a little damp bark
To taste: it's not complex and edges towards savoury and dry with a red berry finish

For the price you can't complain, it's an honest drinkable little number, and we did, the whole bottle and no hint of a hangover. Definitely one to stock up on. We had it with a Monsieur Vin Spanish chicken special - a really good match.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Valminor, D.O Rias Baixas, 2004 -Spanish

Apologies for the long gap between postings, this is mainly due to moving house and the usual lack of time in a busy schedule. But back I am and pleased to start with a lovely wine experience.
At long last Monsieur Vin and I are settled in our new abode and thought we should celebrate this by going out for a nice meal. It's a tough choice in Edinburgh, there being so many restaurants but we eventually settled on a placed called Iggs. Described as a Spanish establishment with an extensive wine list to boot. Tucked away on Jeffrey Street it's a delightful restaurant with excellent ambiance, with a tapas bar next door too.
The mainly fish based menu drew me towards white rather than red. I know very little about Spanish wine and although it's always nice to find a fruity Rioja, my whites is limited. The wine list is indeed extensive and excellent with wines priced from around £20 up into the hundreds. We were offered advice on our choice too. I chose the Valminor as it's 100% Albarino, a grape I'm pretty sure I've tasted before and enjoyed and at £25.50 the price seemed reasonable too. D.O Rias Baixas is situated in the cooler climes of north-west Spain, close to the Portuguese border.
To look at: It's a deeper yellow than I expect and looks creamy.
On the nose: It has a rich honey aroma, floral notes but an underlying freshness of peaches. It's a complex wine, each time I have a smell it develops and changes.
To taste: Surprisingly light given it's colour and aromas. The acidity is really well balanced and bursts of citrus lemon takes me buy surprise.
Coupled with the starter tiger prawns wrapped in jamon and halibut as a main it's a great match. I'm certainly going to look out for this one. They have a great website too, you can check it out at

Monday, 12 March 2007

Chandon Vintage Brut 2003 (Australia)

Purchased direct from the vineyard in the Yarra Valley and transported across the globe by an Aussie friend who had promised me I'd be around when the cork was finally popped and I'm really pleased to say she was true to her word.

Domaine Chandon Australia was established in the Yarra Valley, Victoria in 1986 by Moet & Chandon. On the front of the bottle it states the wine is a "Classic blend of premium Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meurier."

Made using Methode Traditionale (the same as Champagne but in a different region), blended with over 30 individual base wines and aged over yeast for 30 months.

At last on a breezy but mild Edinburgh night, only hours after Scotland had been beaten by Ireland in the Six Nations by only one point (far less than expected) Monsieur Vin and I made our way over Dean Bridge to a delightful apartment on Oxford Terrace.

The flat's bathed in subdued light and is warm and cosy after our walk across town. The bottle of Brut is prised open on arrival. The mousse looks smooth and inviting, I can't wait to try it. We chink glasses. The aroma hits my nostrils and they are filled with apple, pear, biscuits, toast and melons. It's smooth and creamy to taste, the bubbles bounce off my tongue and the taste lingers.

For my Aussie friend it brings back memories of home. Being at home in Melbourne, at the beach house, family occasions and ship launches (she's ex Australian forces). This makes it a top-class wine in my books.

Sincere thanks to my Aussie friend for this opportunity.

If you would like to try this one yourself it retails in the UK under the name Green Point but it's hard to come by. They have a website but it has a few errors on it.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Varramista - Syrah 1995 (Florence)

The history of the Varramista estate is fascinating and dates back to 1300 when it was donated to Gino di Neri Capponi (1350-1421) who led the Florentine militia to victory against the city of Pisa in 1406. Gino di Neri Capponi is said to have built the Villa as a solid outpost against the Pisans. More recently in 1953 designers and manufacturers of the legendary Vespa scooter Dr. Enrico Piaggio purchased the Villa and its land from the Marquis Folco Gentile Farinola, making it his country home and hunting property. You can read more on their website

I chose this one from the list because it was listed under the 'super tuscan' section of the wine list, it's 1995 (a good vintage for the area), and Monsiur Vin would like a relatively light wine. The bottle appears suitably dusty and has no reverse label.
There's a little bit of sediment when poured so we ask for the bottle to be decantered.

The restaurant Osteria de la Tattoria is tucked away in a street behind Santa Croce. The food was standard Italian fayre but service was a little disappointing e.g. they forgot our starters completely.

The wine
It's savoury and peppery on the nose an added mix of ripe red fruits. After time I sense a hint of woodiness too. To taste the pepperiness is evident and the fruits have become subtle undertones. The smoothness of the tannins make it a pleasant drink and with slices of tender beef cooked rare it is a pleasure.

La Campagne - Merlot (The Tower Hotel, London)

I had some reservations about staying at this hotel as reports from my colleagues were less than favourable. But all in all my room was okay, a little tired but certainly fine for my three night stay. All the staff I have had dealings have been professional, efficient and polite. My room is on the 9th floor with a fantastic view of Tower Bridge.

I order room service after a long day at the office to avoid the ritual of dining alone in a business hotel restaurant. I look at the wine list and notice the house wine, £11.95 for a 500ml carafe. There is no indication of the style or country of origin, an unknown entity. I look down the list of wine available by the glass. It's the second time recently where I have been to a place where only a 250ml glass is on offer.

I find this annoying for a number of reasons. Firstly, the lack of choice depending on my mood and time, more often than not it's the 175ml I prefer. Secondly, it could be a large glass of mediocre wine you end up with. Thirdly, I'm sure many people believe that a couple of glasses of wine of an evening is a safe amount to drink. But, if it's two 250ml glasses (13% wine) that's 6.5 units, even over 3 nights that's 19.5units. The guidelines for healthy state 14 units per week for women.

The La Campagne is the cheapest on the list at £5.95. It's described as having lots of plummy fruit and soft rounded tannins.

To look at: It's a really deep red and looks full bodied.
On the nose: Definite black plums, black cherries and a hint of the bonfire toffee my brother used to make when we were kids.
To taste: It's full and rich, it's what the kiwi's would call 'wine with grunt'. The fruit flavours are a little flabby and the tannins cover the inside of my mouth. There's a slight bitter after taste which is a shame but other than that it's okay. It needs a strong food accompaniment. I feel it's trying to compete with the current wave of new world wines that people seem to love. It's big and brash. If you like delicate, subtle wines this one is not for you if not, go for it.

I don't manage to finish the glass, 175ml would have been perfect.

Ca'ronesca - Pinot grigio ( Centotre, Edinburgh)

I revealed this evening the name of my alter-ego Madame Vin to a group of work colleagues and it was met with some hilarity, I just don't understand why!

We needed to celebrate a number key milestone of the project and the fact we are almost at the end of what at times has been a hard slog. I chose the fantastic Edinburgh establishment of Centotre that as always didn't let me down (well apart from perhaps the fruit salad, but that's another story).

I was very tempted to choose the Casa Roma offering on the wine list but in the end I decided upon the Ca'ronesca Collio, Pinot Grigio 2005. I do love the way the folks at Centrotre pick their wines. It's all based on small growers who care about the whole wine process and experience and Ca'ronesca are no exception. The first few lines on their website read.

'Our aim is to produce wines of excellence which reflect the character of a terroir with an exceptional vocation for wine growing'

I can't remember the exact price of this bottle but I'm pretty sure it was only around £20, a fantastic price for a fantastic wine.

My tasting notes were not scribbled down as normal, but were typed into my colleagues PDA and them emailed to me direct, how very cool!

Some members of the group felt the wine was served a little warm, I sometimes like this as ice cold can sometimes disguise faults in a wine. A lovely pinot, straw yellow in colour and nice and light to boot. Although not strong aromas a light mixture of pear and apricot was evident. Crisp and dry yet smooth on the tongue, well rounded and has great length.

A fantastic Italian meal to accompany this wine, enjoyable company and nice atmosphere all added up to a great night.

Ca' ronesca have a great website too

Sunday, 28 January 2007

La Grille - Sauvignon Blanc

It's been a quiet weekend in the Vin house. The January blues arrive so we book a week in Italy next month as something to look forward to.
Our fortnightly trip to Waitrose involves stocking up on a couple of cheapies to keep us going. We're in a hurry so I choose quickly.
La Grille has an usual label design, not traditional at all. It has a cream background and a photo of a small boat on the Loire. The name on the label Henry Bourgeois is familiar. After reading the label on the back I realise why, the family have also planted vineyards in New Zealand, I feel sure I have tried one of these wines whilst living in Wellington. This label also explains the picture on the front; the flat bottomed gabarre with its square sail is almost unique to the Loire, traditionally carrying wines down the river to the Atlantic seaports and to clients the world over.
We had this wine on its own and then with chicken the next day. It's crisp and fresh with great lively green fruits.
It's easy drinking and light, a great bottle of wine for only £5.99

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Chrismas Day - 2006

Henriot Brut (NV)
A gift from Monsieur Vin

I've opened my presents by 9:30am, amongst other things I have received:
2x Denby wine glasses - there lovely, I plan to buy a couple more the same so I have set
Susy Atkins - The Really Useful Guide to Wine - I'll let you know my thoughts on this one
Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book - 2007 (30th Edition)
A bottle of Spanish Red (no vintage noted on the bottle)
A bottle of Henriot Brut Souverain Champagne (NV)

But best of all I am now a a 3D Wines 'wine partner.' This means I have rented a row of vines in a vineyard in France for one year. The one I chose is Domaine de Salvert in the Loire Valley. There's lots of other extras in the pack they have sent me. I'll dedicate a blog to this in due course.

We ope the Henriot Brut before leaving to go to Bellini's for Christmas dinner.

To look at: The bubbles are small and move slowly through the pale yellow liquid
To smell: Biscuits, toast, buttery with a splash of lemon
To taste: The mousse tickles my lips, citrus fruit burst, limes and lemons, a lovely fizz on tongue followed by a savoury buttery flavour

I haven't tasted any fine champagnes, but I know what I like and this is lovely. It's an NV but the maker is listed in my Hugh Johnson Pocket Book. I don't know the cost as it's a gift, I hope Santa pops a bottle in my stocking next year.

Montepulciano D'Abruzzo - Christmas Eve 2006

Montepulciano D' Abruzzo, Doc 2005, Umani Ronchi
Waitrose £3.99

A dense fog has been covering most of the UK for the last few days causing travel chaos in the run up to Christmas. Tonight, Christmas eve it reached Edinburgh. We made our way to the National Portrait Gallery to have a look at the Goya Exhibition, you couldn't see the top of the Ferris wheel on Princes Street . The exhibition was certainly worth seeing, a wonderful display of Goya's drawings. After a brisk chilly walk along George Street we arrived at 'Teuchters' for a couple of pints of Landlord and a warm by the fire.
We arrive home and settle down to chicken in red wine sauce pie, gravy and veg. We purchased the wine at the same time as the pie from Waitrose, 3.99 a bottle. The tree lights sparkle and there's festive TV to watch, A Christmas Carol starring Patrick Stewart. A great classical actor but I still find it hard not to picture him on the starship Enterprise.
I chose this wine as it's an old favourite of ours. Sometimes you can get a real lovely wine from this area for a very good price. It's not the best example we have ever had, but it's certainly not the worst either!
To look at: It's deep ruby red, the colour of a precious stone
To smell: Fresh dark fruits, black berries and earthy herbs, hints of tarragon.
To taste: It glides across the palate with ease, the fresh blackberries are prominent. It's a little flabby and not very high in tannins.

Friday, 5 January 2007

Le Chenin des Mulets, Chateauneuf du Pape, Recolte 2000

Mis en bouteille per perrin et fils - 84100 Orange, France. Jean-Pierre & Francois Perrin.

It's a grenache & syrah blend. Named after the old mule track which leads from the hill town of Chateauneuf de Pape into eastern hills of the Cotes du Rhone.

I bought this wine for Monsieur Vin's father a couple of years ago, I can't remember where from or how much but I don't think it was more than £15.00.

We'd flown from Edinburgh to East Midlands Airport, picked up a hire car and completed the short drive to Donington le Heath. It's a cold December night and we are here primarily for the delivery and collection of Christmas presents. The log fire burns and Magic the sleek black cat plays on the hearth rug. Monsieur Vin senior served the wine with a cassoulet, a perfect match to be sure.

The wine has a savoury, bitter aroma and the alcohol burns the inside of my nostril. The feint hint of tobacco and light smoke feels calming after our journey. I take a sip, it's smooth on the tongue with a long elegant finish. The ripe dark fruits, tannins, food and company make a perfect occasion.