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