Friday, 29 April 2011

Soave & sophisticated

Pieropan's single vineyard La Rocca is one of Italy's top wines, and one which demonstrates that Soave can indeed produce world class wines of real distinction, as opposed to the flaccid, over-produced wines that have dented the reputation of this appelation.

If you've ever been to Venice then you've probably drunk Soave. One of many diverse local wines in the verona area, Soave is based on the garganega grape. The wines can be intense, with mineral flavours and can age well, but like so many Italian whites they are often underrated.

The Pieropans were pioneers of single vineyard Soave and produce two single vineyard wines, Calvarino and La Rocca, on which their reputation has been built. The Pieropan website gives the following information on La Rocca...
The vineyard La Rocca is situated on the Monte Rocchetta hill, just below the mediaeval castle built by the Scaligeri family in the town of Soave. The microclimate in this vineyard produces wines with a unique perfume and distinctive taste. The grapes are picked when very ripe, often as late as the end of October, giving tremendous complexity and aromatic qualities to the wine, making it a wine of great breeding. The wine was first made under this label in 1978.

Soave Classico, La Rocca, Pieropan, 2008
Appearance: bright golden hay with a green hue
Nose: sweet honey & minerals (wet stones, reminiscent of a Vouvray)
Palette: an altogether richer feel than the Coffele Soave Classico we drank as an aperitif. A spoonful of honey, brown sugar and apricots. Initially very Meursault and then the minerals & acidity kick in to reveal a complex wine. A very long finish of honey and brown sugar.
Conclusion: a wine fully deserving of its excellent reputation. Intense and almost demi sec with a rich a creamy texture which really came out after being open for an hour. 4* 9/10

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Vino nobile indeed!

Montepulciano is a picturesque fortified hill town in Tuscany, famous for its version of local sangiovese grape, Prugnolo Gentile, the principal ingredient in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. We visited Montepulciano in 2005 on our first wedding anniversary and bought back a few bottles from a variety of producers (Avignonesi, Contucci...). At the time, Boscarelli was by far and away the best producer amongst those we tried. After six years, would the wine still be as good and would it be worthy of its 'nobile' name?

Boscarelli is one of the leading producers of Vino Nobile. Unlike some of their peers in Tuscany who go for supercharged Sangiovese, bolstered with international grape varieties such as merlot and cabernet sauvignon, the Boscarellis prefer a more traditional style. Their Vino Nobile is a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, Mammolo and Colorino, aged for 24 months in oak before the bottling. 

In keeping with the wine's Tuscan origins and in a attempt to recapture a wonderful holiday, I served the wine with a Tuscan feast of pappa al pomodoro, followed by tagliata di manzo.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Boscarelli, 2001

Appearance: dark & brooding, still youthful but with a garnet rim 

Nose: slightly closed but strawberries & balsamic come through later

Palette: juicy with moreish acidity. Toasty fruitti di bosco & chocolate backed by dry, sappy tannins with just enough oak that lends a sweetness and lifts the fruit and balances the tannins, thereby avoiding the dryness often associated with Vino Nobile. The finish is very long with mocha and prunes and the acidity comes back to re-release the fruit, this time strawberries & balsamic.

Conclusion: a first class wine from an excellent vintage with sublime balance, worthy indeed of its nobile title. I must buy more! 4* 10/10

Sunday, 24 April 2011

A pascal Pomerol

Bordeaux and lamb are a match made in heaven. Few other wines have both the acidity and the structure to handle a strong, fatty meat such as lamb. So, as we celebrated Easter with lamb, out came the claret.

With 47 hectares, Chateau de Sales is the biggest vineyard of  Pomerol, the merlot-dominated right bank of Bordeaux. The vines are on average 30+ years old and comprise of 70% merlot, 15% cabernet franc and 15% cabernet sauvignon. I bought a case of the 'stellar' 2000 vintage en primeur (funny how there are so many so called 'must have' vintages in Bordeaux!) and I'm now about half way through. So far, this wine has been very good so I was looking forward to trying this bottle...

Chateau de Sales is on the north western border of the Pomerol appelation

Chateau de Sales, Pomerol, 2000

Appearance: soft garnet & developing a brick coloured rim with age

Nose: very merlot with green pepper corns and some oak. However, also a pungent whiff of tarmac (is this a defect or a dirty glass?)

Palette: light & ultra smooth with silky tannins. Red fruits and that tarmac again (?!) with a greenish undertone which is unusual for a year such as 2000. Some oak & vanilla on a medium finish.

Conclusion: a delicious, light wine but disappointing versus the last tasting and my expectations. 4* 5/10

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

A tale of two Pulignys

Both were bought at the same time, cellared in the same conditions, they come from the same vintage, the same village, even from the same grower and the same grape variety, and yet they are two totally different wines.  Such are the subtleties of Burgundy that two such similar wines can taste so different. While les Perrieres is relatively mute, les Folatieres is expressive, forthright and leaps from the glass. Sadly, this was the last in the case, so here's to hoping that the three remaining les Perrieres find their voice...

Like all the premier crus, the two vineyards are on the steeper section beyond Puligny village and les Folatieres is the higher of the two.

Puligny-Montrachet, 1er Cru Les Folatieres, Gerard Chavy, 2002

Appearance: golden hay

Nose: Dances out of the glass before even trying to sniff! A heady mix of honey, hazelnuts, apples and a surge of herbs (basil & thyme?)

Palette: deceptively subtle given the nose. A perfect balance of depth and delicacy. Honeyed fruit and almonds, but with a soft mineral undertone and Braeburn acidity. Finally, a finish that refuses to, well, finish!

Conclusion: a truly impressive and intoxicating wine. 4* 9/10

Sunday, 10 April 2011

A bargain burgundy

It's not often that you can drink premier cru burgundy, or even burgundy for that matter, for £12 a bottle, especially not from a well established producer such as Henri Prudhon et fils. So, when I stumbled across this oxymoron of a bargain burgundy, I snapped up a case without hesitation.

St-Aubin has an excellent reputation for producing very good whites that at their best can give Puligny-Montrachet more than a run for its money. But what about the reds? Having never tried a St-Aubin rouge before, I was eager to see if the reds can match the whites, particularly a premier cru wine such as this.

The Prudhons farm 1.24 hectares of 55 year old pinot noir vines in 'Sur le Sentier du Clou', a steep, south facing vineyard to the east of St-Aubin, above 'les Perrieres'...

For a region that markets itself on the uniqueness of terroir, the Prudhon website has a nice way of showing each of their vineyards, with a photo marked with the chardonnay and pinot noir plots in each vineyard...

St-Aubin, 1er cru Sur le Sentier du Clou, Henri Prudhon et fils, 2007

Appearance:  translucent with tawny rim

Nose: doesn't give much away

Palette: light (strawberies, cherries, cloves...) but feisty with a deeper vanilla core (this must be the oak?) with light sappy tannins. Definitely a summer wine.

Conclusion: not a bad wine, but too light for my taste with plenty of character but not enough fruit. An overly hasty purchase perhaps? 3* 6/10

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

A prodigal Beaujolais

I can't remember the last time I drank Beaujolais, but I now know is that it was too long ago! Like the return of the prodigal son, this wine not only marks my return to this blog after a long absence, it is also a reminder that in my world of wine, Beaujolais was lost but is now found.

When it comes to the 2009 vintage, Bordeaux may have stolen the headlines and more than it's fair share of the money, but it wasn't the only French region to produce good wines. So, having heard how good the 2009 vintage was supposed to be in Beaujolais, I sought out this little gem from the Wine Society (a bargain at only £7.50). Chateau d'Emeringes is a Beaujolais-Villages wine from the hills above the crus of Chenas and Julienas.
The chateau, nestled in Emeringes village
Chateau d'Emeringes, Beaujolais-Villages, Vieilles Vignes, 2009

Appearance: deceptively dense, sumptuous deep purple core with lilac rim
Nose: heady fruit cordial and smell of grapes fermenting in a cellar
Palette: instantly appealing, bursting with ripe fruits (blackberries, strawberries, raspberries) but with a concentrated sweet undertone that reins in the fruit to form a dense and long finish that's like a fruit coulis
Conclusion: dangerously easy to drink & deliciously fruity but this is no bimbo! 2.5* 7/10