Archive for the ‘French’ Category

Twitter Wine offer – 8/3/2010

March 8, 2010

For tonight only, anyone who orders my selected mixed case of tip-top sub-£10 wines gets a whopping 20% off if they place the order through Twitter before midnight! This is a fantastic chance to sample 6 different wines that I absolutely love, at a brilliant price. The set would normally set you back £48.94, but for tonight only, Twitter can have it for £39.14! Tweet meto order, or for more info if you’re interested. Below are my own brief tasting notes on each wine along with their usual full-price:

Tohu Kono Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 (£7.99) – Marlborough, New Zealand
Kono is made by the indigenous Maori of New Zealand, and is probably our best selling white wine in the shop, for very good reason. Sauvignon Blanc is immensely popular in the UK, which certainly helps, but this is a very good value example. It’s much more elegant and subtle than most Sauvignon Blancs at this price level, and has really nice melon, peach, lemon and gooseberry flavours. Lovely refreshing stuff!

“Dr. L” Loosen Bros Riesling, 2008 (£8.49) – Mosel, Germany
Light (only 8.5% alcohol), zippy, vibrantly fruity white wine, with the classic sweet palate and crisp refreshing acidity that good German whites are famous for amongst wine lovers. This is a fantastic example of precisely why Germany is regarded as one of the best wine-making countries in the world, despite a bit of an image-problem amongst the population at large. This is a far cry from the frankly shocking stuff that used to be churned into the UK market a decade ago! One of my absolute favourite white wines, simply for being so different to everything else out there (aside from other German Rieslings).

The Lizard Pink Shiraz, 2008 (£6.49) – Languedoc, France
Crisp and refreshing rose, demonstrating how good (and affordable) the stuff can be if you know where to look. This is no White Zinfandel, lacking any of the sweetness that California’s become famous for. Instead this is a wine that’s full of crisp and dry cranberry and redcurrant fruit flavours, and leaves me licking my lips thirsting for more every time.

Chat-eu-Oeuf Rose, 2008 (£6.49) – Languedoc, France
A similar style rose to the Lizard Pink Shiraz, this again offers crisp and refreshing red-berry fruit flavours. This example also has a nice touch of sweet spice, and a bit more warmth on the palate. All around more juicy and mouth-filling, this is a more openly fruity rose.

Patrizi “Bricco Rosso” Dolcetto Di Dogliani, 2007 (£9.49) – Piemonte, Italy
Probably my favourite Italian red I’ve tried to date for under £10, this wine has an intense purple colour with pleasant brambly, wild berry and plummy fruit aromas. Bitter cherry and gripping tannins on the palate and a deliciously long, spicy finish. Fabulous stuff!

Lapostolle “Casa” Merlot, 2007 (£9.99) – Rapel Valley, Chile
From arguably one of Chile’s best wine producers, this is a cracking example of why Chile has become so well known for good Merlot. A red that features typical and intense plummy and red-fruit flavours, a fascinating set of aromas and a luscious, velvety smooth texture, this is some seriously good wine at a very good price. 6 months of oak lend it a spicy complexity. As well as being a fab wine to drink now, this is one that will keep improving for another 5-10 years.

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Cave de Turckheim Pinot Gris 2007

December 30, 2009



Cave de Turckheim Pinot Gris

Originally uploaded by The Wineyard

Alsace, France: One of my favourite white wine regions in the world. This Pinot Gris from the Cave de Turckheim co-operative is their entry level wine for this varietal. Pinot Gris is actually the same grape as Pinot Grigio (particularly popular from Italy at the moment), but is made in a richer and more interesting style. The flavours are still fairly subtle, but have more honeyed tropical notes as opposed to the crisper refreshing whites the Italians tend to produce.

This Pinot Gris is a lovely aromatic dry white, which pairs beautifully well with spicier foods such as Thai Green Curry (what I tried it with), and also white meats like chicken, turkey, and pork. If you enjoy this wine, we’ve also got some wonderful New World examples of Pinot Grigio made in the Alsace style.

Chateau de Balan ’05 vs ’07

December 7, 2009

When we were recently sent a few bottles of the 2005 vintage of a cheapish Bordeaux (£8.99) from our warehouse instead of the 2007 (that we normally stock), I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to compare the two wines and see how they measured up to one another. A direct comparison of the two like this is probably a bit unfair; 2005 was perhaps the best vintage of the last decade or more in Bordeaux, whereas 2007 was underwhelming by comparison, to say the least. The extra two years maturity should also have given the 2005 added depth and intrigue, so without question, the expectation would be that it should be the nicer wine, and it didn’t disappoint. The two bottles provided two very different wines, which were very good for different reasons, but the ’05 was definitely the more enjoyable.

Chateau de Balan itself is based just outside of Sainte-Foy-la-Longue, in the Entre-Deux-Mers (“between two seas” – the Garonne and Dordogne rivers) area of Bordeaux to the east of the city of Bordeaux itself. The map below displays the 1hr 15mins (roughly) route from Bordeaux to the 3 hectares of vines at the Chateau. The Entre-Deux-Mers region is generally known for producing good, if unremarkable Bordeaux that doesn’t overwork the palate or the pocket. The wines make for decent easy-drinking everyday stuff, although some producers have been markedly improving their production methods in recent years, and consequently the quality of their wines too. If you know where to look, there are some real gems to be found for a good price right now, that could prove to be the big names of tomorrow.

Sold under the general AC Bordeaux title, Chateau de Balan is a real quality example of the everyday easy-drinking sort of Bordeaux that can be had for under £10. Both wines were very approachable and offered good flavour and complexity, but the 2005 was definitely the better of the two. It had a lovely inviting deep purple colour, fairly complex nose with some black fruit and some more unusual aromas I couldn’t work out. Rich and velvety smooth on the palate; really soft supple tannins and good depth of flavour. The finish lasted longer than expected as well. A wine that’s drinking very well now, and should last a while longer yet but I’m not sure it’s got much more developing to do. For under £10 this was an absolute steal, and drank like a £15 bottle of wine.

By comparison, the 2007 has got at least a good couple of years improving to come yet. Not as smooth as its older brother, but packing more upfront fruity flavour and a slightly rougher tannic edge to it. Tasty stuff, still pretty smooth, and still very enjoyable. The colour was a deep reddy-purple, and the nose had plenty of cherries upfront. The flavours were dominated by the red cherries as well, with a hint of bitter fruit. The finish was pleasant, but had no great length. The wine delivered what you’d expect for the price, but should improve markedly over the next 2-3 years.

All in all I’d happily recommend the 2007 Chateau de Balan for someone who wants a sub-£10 fruity and approachable bottle of Bordeaux, but comparing it with the ’05 helped re-affirm the idea that any Bordeaux is better with a bit more age on it, if you can afford to pay for it. It also demonstrated that it’s not just expensive wine that improves with age; the ’05 definitely punched above its price tag. I’ll be interested in trying the ’07 again come 2011 to see if it gets a similar result.