Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Interesting everyday wines from Italy: part 3

Still working my may through the Wine Society case, this time with a belter from Puglia...

Copertino, Eloquenzia, Masseria Monaci, 2004

Of the 450 officially recognised wine denominations in Italy, Copertino is not the most well known. In fact, I am into wine, albeit relatively new to Italian wine, and I had never heard of Copertino. Situated on the Salento peninsula, Copertino is one of 31 DOCs (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) that belong to Puglia. However, with the introduction of the DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) system this year, one denomination for Puglian wines will come into force... Puglia DOP. The mere mention of Puglia on a wine label is likely to mean more to the average consumer that the previous 31 hard to pronounce and unrecognisable names. So whilst this will undoubtedly ruffle some proud local feathers, it is likely to be better for Puglian wine exports.

Made by Azienda Monaci, a family run winery in Copertino, Eloquenzia is one in a portfolio of nine wines and made entirely from the local grape, Negroamaro. Thus far, this is the best in the case and a wine I can thoroughly recommend for its both its taste and its price (£6.50).

  • Appearance: Deep ruby red
  • Nose: Excellent. A heady mix of herbs & smoke. Very Chateauneuf/ mourvedre in style
  • Palette: Juicy & crunchy fruit. Thick with dark & bitter black cherry & glycerine - like a mature Rhone. Very long finish.
  • Conclusion: A wine of real distinnction & expression. Lives up to it's eloquent name. Definitely reorder. 2.5* 8/10

Monday, 28 September 2009

Beaune, Clos de la Chaume Gaufriot, Antonin Guyon, 1999

This was the last of three bottles I bought a while back, each of which were very different. This one was certainly worth the wait.

The provenance of this wine is tricky, made confusing by conflicting information on the label. The vineyard, Clos de la Chaume Gaufriot is simple enough (circled vineyard in map below). It is a monopole of Domaine Antonin Guyon. However, although this wine is produced by Domaine Antonin Guyon, the label makes reference to a Domaine Hippolyte Thevenot. On this last point, Burgundy Report notes that:

...from an ownership and production perspective there is no real difference, they are simply separate civil entities for bookkeeping.

Confused? I am. Finally, the label states the address of the domaine is Aloxe Corton, when in fact the domaine is based in Savigny-les-Beaune!
Confusion aside, this is a well respected, if not widely known domaine, and this is a very good wine. Clos de la Chaume Gaufriot is situated above the premier crus and is characterised by clay and limestone. The wine is aged in oak for a year and is recommended to be kept for five years. 1999 was an excellent vintage and hence I decided to wait longer, finally opening the wine on its tenth anniversary.
  • Appearance: Prune/ tawny rim with an earthy, blood red core
  • Nose: Slightly medicinal, almost tired. Hard to pin down.
  • Palette: Perfectly balanced between soft tannins and ethereal fruit, which fills the palette like a velvet glove with a spicy edge, (cloves?). So delicate and perfectly poised with a earthiness on the finish and a peacock's tail of strawberries and those cloves again.
  • Conclusion: A delightful wine which was 'a point' now. The perfect match for a coq au vin. 3* 8/10

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Monty to say aurevoir to Roussillon?

Passing by London wine merchant, Roberson, this week, I couldn't resist asking whether Monty's French Red (as seen on TV in Channel 4's Chateau Monty) was worth the £9.95 price tag or whether it is just a gimmick. I was surprised with the answer I received...

It turns out that the 2009 vintage may be Monty Waldin's last. Apparently the project is not financially viable and he made more out of the book than he is likely to make out of the wine. So, Monty may be chucking in the towel, which is more easily done given that he rents the vineyard.

After the success of the 2007 vintage (apparently it sold out overnight when it was shown on sale at Roberson in the final episode of the TV series), it was always going to be hard to maintain the momentum generated by his 15 minutes of fame. Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise given the global glut of wine and the £10 price tag on Monty's French red, which, biodynamics aside, is a lowly Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes. Of course, the exchange rate hasn't helped either.

This is a sad reflection on the world of wine. Despite all his enthusiasm and conscientiousness, how can a lone smallholder such as Monty Waldin compete in a market dominated by mass produced brands and BOGOFs?

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Bourgogne Les Perrieres, Domaine Simon Bize, 2004

The domaine
The first time I tried this wine was in 2006 whilst visiting Savigny-les-Beaune. Unwittingly, we were eating at La Cuverie, a restaurant just over the road from the domaine itself, and not only was the wine a perfect match with the Charolais beef steak, but I was captivated by its bouquet. So, the next day we paid a visit to Domiane Simon Bize. Having been impressed with the range and quality of the wines, I bought a case of the Bourgogne "Les Perrieres" 2004 and a case of the Savigny-les-Beane "Les Bourgeots" 2002. What I didn't realise at the time, was that Patrick Bize is undoubtedly the best producer in Savigny-les-Beaune.

Here's what Berry Brothers have to say of the domaine and Patrick Bize (although I dispute the 'young' where described as 'one of the most talented young winemakers in Burgundy'!)...

Patrick Bize`s family have been in Savigny les Beaune since the 1880s - his great grandfather was the butcher and maintained some vines as well. Now they have 22 hectares of vines and their domaine is unquestionably the finest in the village. Patrick made his first wine at the domaine in 1974. "Old vines and low yields are what is important, otherwise there are no rules. We do what the vine demands", says Patrick who is one of the most talented young winemakers in Burgundy. Where he excels is in producing exceptional wines from vineyards traditionally not very highly regarded. His wines are firm, rich, and harmonious and unlike most wines from Savigny benefit substantially from ageing.

John Armit, of Armit, sums up the the man and his wines nicely...

Patrick Bize is one of the best winemakers in Burgundy. Were he working with a more well-known appellation he would have a reputation on a par with his friends Christophe Roumier, Jean-Marie Raveneau and Dominique Lafon. His wines have that rare quality that when you drink them you think they must cost twice as much.

Les Perrieres

Les Perrieres is located on the western hill overlooking the village of Savigny (just where the N and Y of Savigny are on the map). As the name suggests, Les Perrieres is a very stony vineyard, giving firm reds with lovely density, worthy of ageing. The whites are well-structured, dry and long with excellent minerality.The vineyard is split between Pinot Noir (half planted in 1971, the other half in 1974) and Chardonnay (planted in 1967 and 1968). Modestly, the label doesn't boast about such veilles vignes and yields are low at 30-40 hl/ ha each year.

The wine
As I have mentioned before, one of the joys of drinking wine is its capacity to evoke happy memories as well as titillate the senses. Each time I open a bottle of Les Perrieres, its captivating bouquet takes me back to that restaurant in Savigny. Moreover, if tasted blind, this wine could so easily be taken for a Premier Cru from a more lofty village. All of which is not bad for a wine that cost €8.75 a bottle! This is a wine I want to buy year in year out.
  • Appearance: Red brick, well developped with oeil de perdrix core
  • Nose: Instantly recognisable. Very expressive of terroir with spicy clove overtones & beetroot
  • Palette: Velvety & rich with gamey fruit.
  • Conclusion: Unbelievable! 2.5* 10/10!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Interesting everyday wines from Italy: part 2

Two wines this time...

Chianti, Malenchini, 2008

Situated within the Chianti Colli Fiorentini sub region only a few kilometers from Florence, the picturesque Malenchini estate produces a wide range of wines from table wine to a Super Tuscan, Bruzzico. From the middle of this range, the basic Chianti is made from 100% Sangiovese and is not aged in oak. It is therefore bursting with dense and ripe fruit and possesses everything I love about Italian wine in spades: indigenous grape varieties, moreish acidity & black cherry fruit, and food companions.

  • A: Deep core with scarlet & lilac rim. 
  • N: ?
  • P: Soft tannins with rich blackcurrants, and crunchy cherries & red fruit on finish. 
  • C: A great every day wine but with expressive terroir. I'd definitely reorder as a house red (£6.50, The Wine Society) 2* 7/10

Fiano, MandraRossa, Sicilia IGT, 2008

The previous vintage won a Decanter International White Single Varietal Trophy. I was therefore expecting a lot of this wine and I am happy to say that it did not disappoint. Possessing only a rudimentary knowledge of Italian, there was a limit to what I could find out about the wine on the Italian MandraRossa website. MandraRossa is a premium range of Sicilian wines produced by the Settesoli co-op in Menfi. Made entirely from the native Fiano grape and fermented in steel vats, the wine is therefore unencumbered by oak which would only overpower such a delicate and aromatic grape.
  • A: Pale gold
  • N: Honey on the nose, bit like a demi sec chenin
  • P: Lovely lemon mousse palette with masses of steely minerality (reminicant of Chablis or Santorini) but little finish. 
  • C: Nonetheless, a great & interesting wine and one I would not hesitate to reorder as a house white (£6.50, The Wine Society). 2* 7/10

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Interesting everyday wines from Italy: part 1

This is the first in a series of wines which come from a mixed Italian case from the Wine Society designed for everyday drinkning. As usual, the Society has yet to disappoint me with bad wine and this is no exception.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Vigna Corvino, Contesa, 2007

From Collecorvino, a south facing hillside in the Pescara province of Abruzzo, this wine is made entirely from the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. Incidentally, the bird on the label is the same as those on the coat of arms for Comune di Collecorvino. Aged in oak for only a few weeks, the Vigna Corvino is made in a forward, more fruit-driven style. Perhaps this is why it slightly disappointed me, only because I was benchmarking it  against other, bigger styles such as Oinos from Tenuta San Lorenzo, which I enjoyed immensely. Nonetheless this is perfect for everyday drinking and much better than some of the more insipid wines of the region at the same price. It was perfectly matched with a lamb & fennel stew from the Abruzzo region. My tasting note is below...
  • A: Almost balck core with violet rim
  • N: Merlot-esque or petit chateau Bordeaux with spicy redcurrants too
  • P: A silk hankerchief of inky black fruits envelops the mouth and then recedes, giving way to rasping blackberry & raspberry aicidity & fruit kernel/ olives on the finish.
  • C: Good everyday wine (£6.95 from Wine Society) but expected more depth. 2.5* 6/10