2006 Château Cantenac Brown BriO

MargauxBrio(337 x 599)

Always nice when a bargain comes along, I found this Margaux at the back of the Fine Wine shelf in my local Tesco store priced at £12, I asked if there was any more in stock and after searching the stockroom the assistant came back with another two also for the same price. Sadly the Fine Wine section has disappeared but in running down their stock there were plenty of great wines at knock down prices to be had, sadly no more.

First thing to notice about this bottle is the good-looking label, really nicely designed. Poured in the glass it was a dark red with a ruby rim (sounds like a singer). Very fragrant nose of blackberries, dark cherries, cassis, cigars, chocolate and a hint of earthy mushrooms.

The taste wasn’t quite a good as the nose promised but still pretty decent. Medium to full-bodied with some hefty tannins, I would have loved to been able to decant this for a few hours before drinking to maybe soften the tannins a little but took it around to a friend’s house at the last-minute and had to settle for drinking straight away. Tannins aside the taste was full of fresh dark fruits, blackberries dominant again with  cigar smoke, oaky but not overpowering. A little sweet tasting initially but with good acidity leading to a slightly tart finish. Towards the end of the bottle there was some sediment (another reason to decant first).

Enjoyed this a lot, paying £12 a bottle helped.  I would definitely decant for a few hours next time to soften it slightly but overall cannot complain and what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon sitting in the garden in the sunshine sharing it with friends over lunch.

8corks

 

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Usually around £20+ ( bought for £12)

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Cheverny, Domaine du Salvard 2014

Cheverny 2014

France 12%

I can honestly say that the Wine Society has come up trumps with this Loire Cheverny which is predominantly Sauvignon Blanc with a splash of Chardonnay. As a certain character from Star Wars would say ‘Impressed, I am’  this is one of the nicest white wines I’ve tasted for a while and for around £8 it’s an impressive QPR (quality to price ratio) bottle.

After a long tiring day helping my son and his girlfriend sort out and start decorating their recently acquired first house this bottle was just what the doctor ordered to ease my aching limbs, along with a lovely fish dinner.

Nicely chilled in the glass it was a very light straw like colour with subtle Sauvignon Blanc aromas of nettles, grass and herbs which although restrained there was still enough there to make the nose linger over the glass for a while.

Tasting this was a pure delight, balanced fresh and fragrant, although unmistakably Sauvignon Blanc the addition of the Chardonnay softened the racey edges gave it a little more body and depth adding a little creaminess . This was bone dry with nettles, asparagus and limes leading to an extremely long enjoyable finish.

Another bottle I would recommend without reservation, it’s just simply, a joy to drink.

8.5corks

 

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Wine Society £7.95

 

 

The Joys of Yalumba

Yalumba duo

I first discovered the joys of Yalumba many years ago when I attended a wine show in London, I bumped into wine expert Oz Clarke at the event and chatted for a while, I must say he was very amiable and talked with great ease and enthusiasm about this wonderful liquid we all enjoy. I asked if he recommended any stands to visit and without hesitation he told me to try Yalumba. I remember the stand was packed and not knowing much about them the first wine I happened to try was the fantastic Octavius, which I was blown away by (before I realised the price). I went on to try many of their wines including the Signature, the Cigar, the Patchwork and probably my favourite to date the Scribbler Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz.

So imagine my delight when I received a couple of their bottles (from Yalumba courtesy of Tesco) to take part in a taste panel to review two of their more affordable wines. Read on to find out what I thought of them…..

Yalumba Old Bush Vine Grenache 2013

Whenever I see the name on a bottle of wine I know instantly it’s going to be good and this Old Bush Vine Grenache 2013 is no different, even the bottle itself looks classy with its distinctive branding.

The wine itself when poured is a little translucent but still a vivid red colour, light to medium bodied and elegant looking in the glass with an intense aroma of red fruits especially cherries and red currants, kind of reminds me of cherry drop sweets I had as a kid. There was also a smokey herbal thing going on that was pleasant.
On first sip, again the red cherries are dominant with some raspberries but this time mixed with vanilla giving it a slight sweet taste although still with a bit of tartness and acidity making this a very subtle fruit bomb. Herbs and maybe some floral notes are also there with soft tannins and a terrifically long finish.

No surprises here, I liked it a lot and all the people I shared it with (some fussy) enjoyed it as well, even confirmed white wine drinkers. I would say another winner from the ever reliable Yalumba, I would recommend this whole heartedly.

8.5corks

 

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Tesco around £12

 

Yalumba Shiraz Viognier 2012

Another excellent offering this time from their ‘Y Series’, again a distinctive label with its snorting horse below the iconic Yalumba title.

In the glass red garnet like colour with heady aromas of really, really ripe cherries, red currants and raspberries. There was an essence of bacon fat (which i really liked) all mixed with a vanilla candy like smell much like those sweet candy cigarettes which don’t seem to be around now.

Taste wise, ripe sweet red fruits again as on the nose, cherries and raspberries, tannins were soft, there was a bright acidity with the addition of the Viognier giving more than a hint of flowery honeysuckle which was different but added to the overall enjoyment, all ending with a kick of peppery spice.

Another pretty decent wine from the ever reliable Yalumba, brilliant on its own or with food, either way a wine to remember.

8corks

 

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Tesco around £8 (currently on offer)

 

To sum up, two very good wines and both I would recommend with a slight preference for the Grenache. My thanks to Yalumba and Tesco for letting me try these and a big thank you to Oz Clarke for steering me in the right direction.

Majestic Summer Tasting 2015

MajesticwintertitleAlways look forward to these tastings, hosted by the friendly and amiable staff at the Ruislip branch who always deliver a very enjoyable evening.

We arrived at a round 6.15pm, I went with a friend, my son and his girlfriend and considering it was a miserable evening with wind and rain there was already a good turn out even though it wasn’t starting until 6.30pm.

We were greeted with a smile and a glass of English Sparkling wine, the Balfour 1503 Brut NV from the Hush Heath Estate in Kent. Stream of fine bubbles, nice citrus apples, with biscuity flavours finishing with a little peppery spice, a good start .

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On to the whites we started with an expensive (£18 a bottle with discount) Jermann Pinot Grigio (Italy). This was lovely and much more complex than I thought initially. A very fruity aroma but with subtle vanilla and almonds in the background also very dry, couldn’t justify spending £18 though unfortunately.

Next was the Ferrandiere Riesling 2014, (Southern France) youthful, dry and fresh tasting, with lemons & limes and a bracing minerality, we all enjoyed this.

Lopez Haro Rioja Blanco (Spain) another one we all enjoyed, from the Viura grape with  soft citrus fruits, pears, vanilla cream and smoke, very nice white Rioja.

El Viajero Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Chile), very aromatic full of ripe gooseberries, cut grass, unfortunately the taste let it down slightly, a little chemically and a short finish.

Haut Vol Rose 2014 (Grenache & Carignan) This was all about summer fruits, especially strawberries, very dry, even though I’m not a big fan of Rose I liked it, the others thought it was ok.

Majesticmay2015reds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next on to the reds, starting with the Perrin st Fils Cotes du Rhone Reserve 2013 (Grenache & Syrah) what a great start, this was again enjoyed by all of us. Aromas of rich dark cherries, smokey, vibrant with mild tannins. Couple of these found their way into my basket.

Parcel Series Clare Valley Shiraz 2012 Another excellent red, typically Aussie Shiraz, this was full of spice and rich dark fruits, sweet with hints of woody forest.

Maretti Langhe Rosso 2013 (Italy) Nebbiolo & Barbera) My Favourite red of the night, dark brooding colour, herby, tannic, robust, earthy and absolutely delicious. You guessed it a few bottles again found their way into my basket.  There was a pretty much a 50/50 split on liking this wine, for me though no contest.

Chocolate Block 2013 (South Africa) Bit of a mixture this with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Viognier. Velvety smooth, black currants, blackberries, leather all feature. My son and I really liked this but only sticking point was the price £22 on a deal.

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Finally with all wines featured tasted we hit the free tasting counter in which the two stars were the Spanish Albarino and the French Chardonnay and we also enjoyed the Sauternes Dessert wine.

Majesticmay2015group
Our tasting team, (Right to left) My son David & his Girlfriend Shirley, finally our friend John

 

As the evening drew to a close I noticed there was still some Italian Maretti Rosso left in the bottle, it seemed  a shame to leave it as it was for me the star of the night.

Thanks again to Majestic for another fantastic evening roll on the winter tasting.

8.5corks

 

Majestic Summer Tasting

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Three supermarket wines

TaleofthreewinesThis is a quick tale of three wines in which two of them prove, if you look hard enough amongst the supermarket shelves, there are bargains to be had.

The three supermarkets which have the starring roles in this tale are as they say ‘in no particular order’ Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Aldi.

Starting with the Tesco McWilliams Hayfield Pinot Noir 2013 (£5.49). Looks like it’s currently unavailable online but there was still plenty on the shelves when I bought this. Produced by McWilliams, imported and bottled in the UK. The first thing that struck me about this when poured was how incredibly translucent it was. There was the typical Pinot aromas of Cherries and a touch of mushroom but the taste kind of let it down, lacking in fruit and a little thin in texture with noticeable tannins and a slight acidic aftertaste. Not too bad, nothing to get excited about but it is only £5 a bottle.

Next is the Marques De Almeida Ribera del Duero 2010 (£8) Now this is a different beast altogether from Northern Spain and part of the Sainbury’s’ Taste the difference’ range, a beautifully rich dark purple Ribera del Duero with heady aromas of blackberries, plums, cherries and vanilla. From the first sip it’s typically Spanish, rich, succulent, full of ripe dark berries, tannic and oaky. Well worth the £8.

Finally there is the Vignobles Rousselllet Malbec (£4.39) from Aldi. A French Malbec (with a touch of Merlot) bursting with juicy blackberries and blueberries, hint of spice and a little gamey. This is a uncompletcated easy drinking Malbec that is a Decanter Bronze medal winner and an International Wine Challenge winner in 2014. This is a real cracking wine and cheap as chips, stock up !

6corks

 

McWilliams Hayfield Pinot noir  (Tesco- £5.49)

My Rating 6/10 corks

8corks

 

Marques de Almeida RdD (Sainsbury’s £8)

My Rating 8/10 Corks

8corks

 

Vignobles Roussellet Malbec (Aldi £4.49)

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Best value for money was the fabulously easy drinking Aldi Malbec, followed by the intensely rich Ribera Del Duero from Sainsbury’s and lastly the disappointing but still drinkable Tesco Pinot Noir.

Fabulous Faustino

Faustino2001Probably the most recognisable labels in the  wine world with its portraits of Rembrandt, El Greco and composer Gluck  and the use of Roman numerals are on the Faustino range.

My earliest memories of this wine is seeing these bottles lined up on the shelves and noticing how they stood out with their frosted bottles and gold wire meshing. They actually still look good amongst the rows of fairly nondescript labels on the shelves now and more importantly the stuff inside the bottles is generally very good.

This 2001 Gran Reserva is normally pretty pricey ranging from around £12 – £15 even as much as £19 in some shops but I picked up a few of these on a recent trip to Calais France where you could find it for between £8-£9, now that is a bargain for a quality wine from a great Spanish vintage. This particular bottle was voted best wine of the year 2013 by the Decanter experts and probably has something to do with the price it’s at now.

Is it worth the hefty price tag, for me, a resounding yes. Being a big fan of Rioja this is exactly what I’d be looking for, for a start it just looks traditionally spanish, conjures up images of sitting outside a sleepy bar, flamenco music playing in the background with a table full of tasty Tapas.

In the glass the colour reflects its age, a deep garnet with rusty-brown tinge around the edge. Full on aromas of dried cherries, plums, blackberries, cloves, tobacco, candle wax and Vanilla.

Straight from the bottle it tastes good, left to the air for a while to soften slightly it is even better. Elegant and silky smooth still retaining a freshness of fruit considering its age, with ripe rich blackberries and dark cherries. There is some spice, oak and tannins which are all beautifully balanced, vanilla is prominent giving it a slight sweetness and the finish is long and satisfying.

This is a taste of Spain in a bottle, fabulous Rioja from a well-respected producer.

 

8.5corksMy rating 8.5/10 Corks

Various between £12-£19

 

Momo Vendimia Seleccionada, Ribera del Duero 2009

Momo RdD(337 x 599)Spain 13.5%

Back to the Wine Society for my next wine, from Ribera Del Duero the other big wine region in Spain and from the second wine of Bodegas Bohorquez comes this pretty decent Tempranillo or Tinta del País as it is also know in this part of Spain.

Although a relatively plain and understated label on the bottle which looks a lot like a do it yourself printing job , the wine is anything but plain.

Firstly let me say that I think this needs a little air before drinking and suggest leaving it for a least an hour or so to really open up. When poured the wine was a rich garnet colour and had quite intense aromas of dark plums, cherries, mocha and cinnamon. On first sip this had really bright mouth-watering acidity, full of rich ripe cherries and plums followed by a sweetish prune like flavour. Oak was there but not a noticeable as other more powerful Ribera’s and the tannins were milder.

This is a lighter style Ribera in every way, very acidic, slightly tart, slightly sweet but packed full of freshness and extremely fruity in style. A pleasant drink and I enjoyed it  a lot, considering wines from this part of Spain tend to be pretty pricey, this then comes in at around £10 and I would say pretty good value.

8corksMy Rating 8/10 Corks

Wine Society £9.95