Monday, 29 June 2009

Marrakech Mist

As the heat and dust of the day subsides a little we stroll through the area close the Bahia Palace in Marrakech. The streets and squares are still crowded with families of people and cats alike. The entrance to the Kosy Bar is in a small square surrounded by entrances to shops selling lanterns, rugs and jewellery. Spread across three floors we make our way up the stone floors to the roof terrace. A system of ornate pipes circles the terrace and twists above the seating areas. A gentle cool mist is sprayed above cooling the air, providing respite from the heat. I haven’t tried the local wine yet, under the white wine section I spot a Coteaux d’ Atlas, Morocco, AOC for 3900 Dirham (approx. £30). On serving we find it’s an oaked Chardonnay produced by Château ROSLANE. There’s a strong smell of incense in the air that is mixed in with the aroma of the wine but there are floral notes and vanilla. The acidity is medium/high. As the bottle warms a slight metallic after taste is noticeable but all in all it’s pretty good.

A few notes about Moroccan wine/ Château ROSLANE

In October 1998 order of the Ministry of Agriculture that the first controlled Appellation of Morocco was created. The area includes the districts of Sidi-Slimane, Mjat and Boufekrane, a region known for producing great wines since the Roman Empire. It is within this area that the best soils have benefited from a classification in CRU, another first in the history of Moroccan viticulture.
The Vineyards
The cradle of the greatest civilizations, the Mediterranean basin has always been a land of predilection for vineyards. Thanks to its temperate climate, generous sun and naturally rich soils, Morocco, and in particular the Meknes region is its natural extension.
Les Celliers de Meknès estates cover nearly 2000 hectares of vineyards divided among four of Morocco's most prestigious designations : AOG Guerrouane, AOG Beni M'tir, AOG Berkane and the country's only AOC, Les Coteaux de l'Atlas whose best parcels have been graded as "1st Cru".
The climate of the Middle Atlas in the foothills on which our estates are situated, the elevation ranging from 580 to 700 meters, the moderate rainfall and generous sunshine all provide our vineyards with an exceptional site unrivalled in Morocco.

A little bit of California in Edinburgh………

Edinburgh Princes Street is closed due to tram works. The shops are open but to negotiate crossing the roads in the vicinity of Princes Street is to be blunt, a real pain. In Shandwick Place you can see where you need to be, it just takes 10 minutes to work out how to get there through bollards, barriers and fencing. Once on Princes Street you have to take long detours up the side streets to get from one end to the other. Needless to say after an afternoon’s unsuccessful and infuriating trip to the shops I found myself on Rose Street. I’ve been following updates on Twitter from Calistoga, Edinburgh for a little while now. I remember their new venture Calistoga Central is somewhere off this very street. With the help of my trust iphone I’m able to find its location and using the same device I’m able to make contact with my Aussie mate, who is not far away and as normal a willing accomplice to in my quest.

Despite the warm and sunny afternoon the small courtyard at the back is in shade, but we decide to give it a try anyway.

The wine list is an impressive list of Californian wines, it’s difficult to choose. We decide on the Dancing Coyote, (Clarksburg) 2006, Verdelho. I haven’t had a Verdelho for sometime. Yellow/green in colour, it’s clear and fresh. Subtle on the nose, white fruits and a little floral too. On the palate honeydew melon and tropical fruits present.

After awhile we move inside, we are the only ones in the bar. The walls are adorned with images of Californian wine areas, Napa Valley, Sonoma County and Bonny Doon vineyard posters. I try and twitter but discover I’m in a dead zone.

As we are leaving a group of ladies arrive for a wine tasting in the restaurant next door.

It’s early days yet but with a great wine list and a great pricing policy I think that Calistoga Central will soon be as popular as the original Calistoga near the Meadows.

A Walk Through Bordeaux - Au revoir Arno

Nestled in the usual spot in the bowels of George Street my Aussie mate and I are joined for the first time by the Snake Charmer and the Southern Cellarman. We’re here with Arno who shares with us a selection of delights from Bordeaux.

Chateau Roquetaillade Graves, 2007 £9.50

Chateau Tour Prignac, Haut Medoc 2005 £14.95
Chateau Potensac Medoc 2004 £17.50
Chateau La Croix Bonis, Saint Estephe 2002 £15.95
Chateau Olivier Graves 1999 £30.00

Chateau Loubens, Sainte Croix du Mont 1989 £29.50

Some interesting wines, but for me, based on value for money as well as taste the Chateau La Croix Bonis, Saint Estephe 2002 came out on top. A lovely aroma of burnt wood, prunes and spices followed up with being nicely balanced on the palate. Dried black fruits, tannic with plenty of life still left in it.

The Chateau Loubens, Sainte Croix du Mont 1989 was a huge hit with everyone. Full bodied with fresh acidity coupled with orange marmalade, delightful.

This was the last tasting to be shared with Arno and I will him all the best as he heads home to for awhile to work in a vineyard.

Thanks Arno for sharing some great wines with us!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Rioja and the Blues

It's Friday, it's been a long stressful week. You can feel that spring is in the air in Edinburgh. Large white fluffy clouds scoot along a blue sky back ground. I'm watching old footage of Son house play the Death Letter Blues. The music is melancholy his voice is deep and earthy, his heart and soul going into the rifts played on his ancient guitar. Son House is an extraordinary perform of the delta blues.

The tesco finest Rioja covers my palate with spicy red fruits, logan berries, raspberry and red plum. It's Woody and earthy too. The tannins are smooth and mouth coating and it has great length. It's pretty well balanced all round.

My senses envelope my surroundings and I feel the stresses of the week evaporate in a swirl of music and liquid comfort.