Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Yalumba 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz

Not cheap, but damn tasty
This 2005 Yalumba reserve from the longest-standing independent winery in the Barossa valley is a delicious specimen.

Huge legs, high alcohol. Big bold fruit opens up well after 90 minutes in the decanter.

Now it's smoothed out a lot the length is a lot more obvious. It still packs a velvet punch though.

It is, however, over priced. At £20 I'd be buying more. £30 is a bit much.

For five pounds more than this wine (£35) you can buy a Chateau Ormes De Pez 1995 from Majestic.

But now having written that I feel ungrateful.

Yalumba is independent and we should support them.

I guess one reason some Bordeaux left bank wines are cheaper is due to the fact that many are owned by big companies with deep pockets.

It's also a really distinctive wine. It couldn't be French for a moment, and it has a length, complexity and finish that Chilean and Argentinian wines just can't match.

I had a tasting of this Yalumba wine and many others from the region last year at Planet of the Grapes in London.

The 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon reserve is wonderful wine. Expensive at £50 though.

We had a wonderful evening with the head wine maker who was incredibly entertaining.

Another reason perhaps to support independent wine makers: they may be more likely to have independently-minded folks able to experiment.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Domaine les Grands Bois Les Trois Soeurs Côtes du Rhône 2010

This 2010 Côtes du Rhône from the highly rated Domaine les Grand Bois is a little cracker of a wine and is less than £10 a bottle from here.

Here's what Parker says: "90 Points. ‘Outstanding. The Côtes du Rhône les Trois Soeurs offers a delicious mouthful of wine for a song. Its dense plum color is accompanied by notes of white chocolate, crushed berry fruit, earth and licorice...enormously satisfying.’ — Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate ‘It reveals a dark ruby/purple color, abundant notes of peppery sweet raspberries and cherries, medium body, excellent ripeness and plenty of provencal typicity’ — Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate" Hard to argue with that.

However for just a couple of pounds per bottle more the very similar Cairanne does compete very well. I've bought a case of each and I am just slightly leaning towards the Cairanne as my favourite.

It's ever so slightly more refined, perhaps with a little less minerality, which I usually prefer.

For less than £10 a bottle though, you can't beat the three sisters, as I believe it translates.

Best value wine at that price I have had in 2012, no doubt.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Two great Chateau Neuf Du Pape wines

Clos des Pape 2001, pictured below, is a wonderful wine.

But I'm not sure it's worth the £100 or so a friend of mine paid for it.

Not that spending that much is in my ballpark pretty much ever. But I'd say the Lynch Bages 2003 I have tasted is a better bet.

But it depends on your tastes and the subtlety of the Clos is not to be denied. I'm not sure it's even fair to compare them really.

Price aside its as smooth and velvety a CNP as you'll find.

The Guigal 2005, also pictured, is less than half the price, around £40 and went superbly with an overly large steak in New York recently.

Rather more smoky and berry like, it's more my taste.

The Clos came from Berry Brothers in London and the Guigal from a wine shop in New York.

If you happen to be in NYC two things are worthy of note:

1) many restaurants do offer corkage (Keens chophouse in mid town for example)

2) Wine tax seems lower than the UK and given the European focus of much of the city, some great French and particularly Italian wines (think Barolo and all those Italian-Americans) are available in stores at decent prices.

A hell of a good friday about a year ago...

I was of course, not alone with these. Here's where we drank them.

As you might expect, the Cos was the best. It usually is. I've also had the 1990 and that was, as a friend described it "like a wet labrador" on the nose, but equisite once you delved in. Le Petit Cheval was also superb, better than I expected (as someone biased a little against right bank wines compared to left).

Friday, 6 April 2012

Climens Barsac 2001 Sauternes: 100 points of heaven

Sometimes in life you get lucky.

And so it came to pass for me recently.

A good friend, with superb taste in sweet wine, sold his business.

He decided to celebrate by bringing some 2001 Climens Sauternes to a BYO steak dinner we had.

What can I say about it? A stunner.

Four of us shared it, sitting around the bottle in reverential silence taking slow sips.

It was quite simply the best sweet wine I've ever tasted.

Subtle, citrusy, and it lingered on the palate for minutes at a time.

Here's a link to it.

According to Berry Brothers: "If d`Yquem is the epitome of power and concentration, then Climens is the epitome of delicacy, finesse and complexity. The wines from the best vintages can last for up to 50 years. Climens is classified as a Sauternes 1er Cru Classé"

Chateau Du Gaby 2003: a rare gem

Gaby 2003 really is a rare gem.

I picked up a case from the Chateau recently, via a friend of a friend. One of the last cases available, so I hear.

It's a stunning wine that's made me eat some humble pie.

I'd been arguing that for someone of my limited means, who can't access the really stunning right bank wines, the left bank offers way better value.

But Gaby 2003 at around £20 a bottle has shut me up. What a wine.

Big, husky, and plum coloured, it drinks like a wine ten years older.

Who says Merlot dominated wines at around £20 a bottle can't match up to the Medoc and St Estephe? Not I, any longer.

A great value Catena Malbec

Catena is a legendary name in Argentinian Malbec.

A recent episode of "In Business" with the BBC's Peter Day told some of the story of the family and their influence on the industry.

This "Zapata" Catena 2009 is a superb example. You can read about the family here: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodega_Catena_Zapata

It's a fascinating story.

This 2009 is smooth, full bodied and has the length that many Malbecs I've had recently have lacked.

Well worth £10-15.