Chateau de Rully “La Pucelle” 2009

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They have moved onto the 2010 now but this is a solid Rully 1er Cru which in located in the Cotes Chalonnaise in central Burgundy.

On the eye it’s pale straw in colour. The nose is immense and complex that includes brown butter, marigold, wet wool, sweet white melon, toasted brioche, preserved lemon & calvados.

Flavours of golden syrup & apple, smoky bacon, with a squeeze of lime zest. Long finish where you feel the acidity but then comes melted butter with a hint of dish soap.

Available from M&S in cases of 6 for around £96 plus delivery

Lustau Dry Amontillado 12 y/o Sherry-Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference

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Lustau Dry Amontillado 12 y/o Sherry

I am an avowed sherry fan and honestly this is a stunner.

Eye- Pale leather brown

Nose- Super savoury umami, toasted almonds, brown miso,
sea salt & demerara sugar

Mouth- Salted caramel, tiny whiffs of coffee, ultra dry, beef jus, fresh sea salt and super long complex finish.

Wonderful alone on it’s own but really sings with nibbles of hard nutty cheeses, almonds & black olives as well as fishy bites, chicken livers, pates, sweetbreads, simple skirt steak I could go on but you get the idea.

A must have for your holiday sideboard.
£7.99/50cl/19% abv

http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/groceries/index.jsp

Melonix Vin de France NV

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This Melonix NV white possesses all the best qualities that I associate with natural wine.

Firstly you are stuck on the nose by fresh fennel & lemon cough drops. The palate is rich(but not overly) golden orchard fruit that woven through with honeycomb, fine minerals and subtle wild herbs.

What I like most about this wine made by Jo Landron with natural yeasts but without sulphur, fining or filtration is that it tastes alive. A quality lacking in so many wines on the shelves these days. 8/10
Available through Caves de Pyrene.

Casa Silva Reserva Viognier 2010

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Casa Silva Reserva Viognier 2010- Viognier for Grown Ups
From the Colchagua Valley in Chile, I had this bottle a few months back and only just found the tasting note in a pair of my jeans that had been washed. Thankfully I had written them on a Moose themed notecard of very sturdy fabrication. They read the following:Opaque
Ns-Unripe Mango & Almond blossom
Pal- Ultra lean dry mineral lime, white nectarine, almond. Quite fine. Green. Taught lime leaves. White.I imagine the “white” wasn’t simply stating the obvious and that I had simply become distracted by something at dinner.For me this is more serious Viognier, not just a peach and flower blossom punch in the mouth. It’s classy and well made as most Casa Silva wines are.  £10-12
Stockists Incl: www.caviste.co.uk/www.lockettbros.co.uk/

Marananga Dam-Old Vine GMS 2008

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Barossa Valley, Australia, Marks & Spencer

M&S deserve big kudos for getting David Powell of Torbreck fame top make this Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah blend for them.
This is as good a red wine as I have tried this year and spent ages just smelling it.
It’s true Auzzie big bold but is perfectly weighted & so nuanced.

Verdict: A class act from first sip to the last drop. 9/10

Notes:

Eye-Dark Forest Purple

Nose- Black liquorice, raspberry gummies, melted milk choc, cayenne pepper, gingerbread, turkish delight 7 purple basil

Mouth- Tart fruit, venison jus, savoury rosemary, rabid balckberries, white spice, smoky blackcurrant & great acidity

Food:Cajun steak, game pie or all on it’s own

Price: £12-14

http://www.marksandspencer.com/Marananga-Grenache-Shiraz-Mourv%C3%A9dre-2009/dp/B005CX3YZI

Voyager Estate Winemaker Dinner

Despite not knowing Voyager Estate wines very well when I got the invite last fall, the omens were promising as it was being held at Vinoteca, one of my favorite wine bar/shops in London.

The Vinoteca empire has expanded of late but this Masterclass dinner with Steve James was in the fabulous cellar dining room at the original venue in Farringdon.

 

Now most folks would agree that to be a great winemaker you must make great wine. No argument there. But I would say in addition to that, they also must be a consumate communicator. Whether their audience be hardend wine writers, skeptical bloggers or their adoring fans the ability to express themselves with insight, knowledge & passion for me is of vital importance.

Steve James is one of such winemakers. He has an easy way of speaking, is warm, articulate and uses his hands a lot when he gets to talking about the terrior in beautiful Margaret River, Western Australia. Steve been heading up the team at Voyager Estate for 14 years now and they are crafting some cracking wines out there. What impressed me was how quietly confident he was with what they are producing and what better way to demonstrate that than standing them up against the best in class from 3 other labels.

We tasted their 2009 Chardonnay first from along with Kumeu River Mate Vineyards from New Zealand. The Voyager Estate won out for me with its flinty, smoky green melon nose & clean bright citrus, fresh fleshy oak & creamy cashew nut palate.

 

We also tasted two recent extreme vintages of Voyager Estate Chard. The hot difficult 2008 & 2006, their coolest on record, with very low yields. The ’06 definitely fared better showing green olive & cedar sauna aromas w/ fresh granny smith, peppery oak & good length on the palate. Sadly the ’08 was a bit of a jumble. Lumpy in places, flat & flabby in others. However not unpleasant.

Next was the turn of mighty 2010 Shiraz and this time it was matched up against Clonakilla Shiraz/Viognier from Canberra in New South Wales. Again for me Voyager Estate won the day, there was simply more harmony and subtlety to it. Smelling very perfumed of black liquorice, blackberry juice, dried fig, dates, cocoa & on the palate it was sleek, firm, subtle damson plum, hints of leather & blueberry. Very good indeed. Their Shiraz really comes into its own after a few years in bottle as the 2009 & 2007 vintages showed. Complex, earthy, spicy, ripe, gamey and totally divine. Brought to my mind good Cote Rotie or Hermitage.

Finally we came to the darling blend of Margaret River, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot.  The 2008 vintage, this time squared off against Wynns Connawarra John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon from South Australia. Yet again I found myself preferring the Voyager Estate for its nuanced nose of green pepper, peppermint, smoky lead & truffle leading in the mouth to meaty, dense, wonderfully weighted, gravelly minerals, dark fruit & a clean finish.

The older vintages of Voyager Estate Cab Sav/Merlot this time were from 2005 & 2004 with the ’04 stealing the show. Roast rabbit & plummy spiced fruit nose plunging headlong into a curiously gamey yet fresh, full, sexy(easy boy!), peppery, deep mineral & mature plum brandy finale. Super stuff!

After all that tasting dinner I had worked up an appetite and right on cue was Dinner entering stage right.

 

For me the Smoked Mackerel with Apple, Celery, Frisee & Horseradish was the star with the 2009 VE Chardonnay a gorgeous match as well.

I was so excited about this Roast Partridge with Celeriac puree, Beetroot & Guanicale (unsmoked Italian bacon) but sadly the bird was a bit overdone. Thankfully the VE Shiraz was on hand and really did soften the blow.

For afters I went with this Chocolate pot with strawberries which was velvety and rich and just fine on it’s own.

 

 

 

The night drew to a very satisfying denouement as we said goodbye to Steve. He had been a fabulous host and the Voyager Estate wines not only shone in their own right but showed their individuality and class up against some very good competitors.

A very good night indeed…

Voyager Estate Wines are available in the UK through Justerinis & Brooks

Pic St Loup: Part Two

I wanted to get Part 2 & the final instalment to mark the year (plus a few months) anniversary of my very special trip to Pic St Loup in Coteaux de Languedoc.
After falling in love with the south of France on a trip to Roussillon a few years back this trip was another memorable adventure in gastronomy, culture and of course wine.
The passion & warmth of the people of this region will be with me for a long time and for that I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Brawn Restaurant Review

Well this is my 1st attempt at turning a meal into a video restaurant review. I shot the whole thing on my iPhone so quality insn’t amazing, but I think it turned out ok.

The venue in question is Brawn in Shoreditch, sister to one of my favorite London restaurant/wine bars Terroirs. Brawn is more laid back in it’s decor and feel but the
food and wines are still top notch. We worked our way through 3 different natural wines. A fizz, white and red all from the Loire Valley.
We were treated to many delicious plates of food from Beet Salad to Duck Hearts to Cauliflower Risoni.

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