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.