Ca’ Marrone Rosso 2016

Is there a better bargain out there in the high street than this Italian stallion of a wine ? especially when on discount, currently £6.50 at Tesco and if you add in the regular 25% off 6 bottles promotion this is astonishing value.

The bottle in question is the CA’ Marrone Rosso from Puglia region of southern Italy made in the Appassimento method which is the Italian term for drying harvested grapes, traditionally on bamboo racks or straw mats, for a few weeks up to several months to concentrate the sugars and flavours.

So what’s it like ? Firstly, this is a great looking if slightly heavy bottle. When poured this is a medium ruby colour with strong aromas of dark fruits predominantly cherry, plum and blackcurrant, there is also a whiff of dried herbs and some vanilla.

On first sip you can tell this is a powerhouse, initially intense sweet and sour dark fruits hit you before the pronounced tannins kick in. Secondary flavours of tobacco, leather and dried herbs arrive filling your mouth with a richness and depth of flavour you get with the Appassimento method.

This is a proper grown up wine and not for the fainthearted but watch out for the 14.5% abv,  although it doesn’t feel like it at first but be warned  it does creep up on you and be sure to hang on to something or someone  before attempting to stand after a glass or two.

As you may have gathered, I liked this a lot, ok, maybe not for everyone but if you find it for £6.50 it’s worth a go, top stuff !

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Tesco £9 (look out for offers £6.50 atm)

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Majestic Stratford Upon Avon Fine Wine Tasting April 2017

As regular readers will know that I belong to a wine Forum called ‘Cuvée Reserve’ and once a year our group meet up for a weekend of basically, drinking lots of wine. This year we met at Stratford Upon Avon and we thought we would signed up for a ‘Fine Wine Tasting’ at the local Majestic store. An initial fee of £20 per person was paid but that is redeemable on any wine purchases after the event.

Big thanks to our head girl Clare who runs the forum and for organising everything so superbly !

We arrived at 1.30pm on Saturday the 8th April, an early start for drinking I know but we have to make sacrifices sometime. There was a slight confusion with the time as they had us down for 2.00pm which we found out was their mistake but it wasn’t a problem as we spent the time browsing around the store with a glass of Moet & Chandon 2008 Champagne (is there a better way to shop).

A table was laid out in the corner of the store for us as we finally settled down for the tasting first up was the Moet & Chandon again. This was a beautifully balanced single vintage Champagne full of intense apple and lemon fruit, lively mousse with a pronounced bready, nutty and a creamy aftertaste producing a very long, extremely enjoyable finish and loved by everyone. (Top ups were not refused).

Second wine was a Rosé the Miraval 2015 Cotes de Provence bought by Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie in 2009 and made by the Perrin family. Pale pink almost Salmon like colour with a very strange almost peaty aroma although there was a hint of strawberry, it just smelt a bit weird. Taste wise again it was not what we expected there were elements of soft fruit including strawberry, peach and pear. Slightly flowery but with a slightly overpowering herby, earthy flavour which most of us found a bit strange, think my wife and I liked it more than the others, so overall a little bit of a miss.

Third was the impressive Greywackey 2016 Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand and made by Cloudy Bay former wine maker Kevin Judd.  From the first sip this was universally applauded by all of us. Superb aromas of gooseberry, grapefruit, flowers and damp freshly mowed grass. On first sip it was greeted by a lot of M’mms and everyone thought it was stunning. Crisp and vibrant, soft acidity with intense flavours of  lemongrass, white flowers, gooseberry and herbs with just a hint of subtle oak rounding it off.  Refills all around and the bottle didn’t last long, superb stuff.

The Last white was an unusual oaked Chardonnay from Italy, the Planeta 2015 with heady aromas of butterscotch, banana and vanilla. On first taste I was initially hit by what tasted like barley sugar along with caramelised banana, there was a creaminess about it and the oak definitely stood out, again this split us although nobody disliked it and I thought it was very good.

With the whites finished next up were the reds starting with a Pinot Noir from Martinborough New Zealand the impressive Escarpment 2014 generally liked by all. Pronounced aromas of soft dark fruits, smokey and earthy. Cherry and plums to the fore with a kick of spice on the palate, earthiness coming through but not intrusive. Nicely balanced wine.

Next up was a big favourite, the Chateau Haut Balailley 2011  but it comes at a price for a whopping £40 per single bottle. Cherries, Cassis and classic pencil shavings on the nose. Love the taste, complex yet harmonious, blackcurrants, cedarwoood, herbs, notable tannins and really really drinkable on its own.  As you can see from the picture we emptied the bottle.

A Gran Reserva Rioja next the Marques de Riscal 2007 this is everything a Rioja should be full of red cherries a little strawberry, leather, incense, oak, candlewax and tobacco. Ten year old wine that went down well with everybody including my wife who doesn’t generally like oakey Riojas, fabulous example of what Spain does well.

This was suppose to be the end of the tasting, but the guys at Majestic (who were very good, amiable and knowledgeable) decided we were enjoying ourselves so much that they opened up another couple of bottle for us to try.

First was another French red the Caronne Ste-Gemme 2011 Haut Medoc and again enjoyed by all, dark ripe blackberries, menthol, tannic, rich and chocolately but this time, I’d have to say, more of a food wine but none the less enjoyable.

Last but not least a black Muscat dessert wine called Elysium 2015 even if you’re not a fan of dessert wines you cannot fail to be impressed with this. smells like Turkish Delight and that rose like flavour carries on in the taste, not overly sweet and a big thumbs up from all around the table.

Thanks to the guys at Majestic for a superb tasting, (one of the better ones I’ve attended) they were very generous letting us drink as much as we wanted and we all went away pretty happy if a little unsteady.

My rating 9/10 Corks (for the whole tasting)

Chardonnay & Greco ??

With the weather this week taking a turn for the better many of us raid the fridge for a nicely chilled bottle of white.

This week I opened two that were very different, one very familiar and the other not so. The first was a French Chardonnay from Morrisons  reduced from £10 to £7 including a very fancy wooden box, the other from Sainsbury’s at £8 an unfamiliar Italian grape called Greco.

Starting with the Chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France which at £7 (reduced at time of buying) seemed like a bit of a bargain as most Burgundy comes with a hefty price tag. In the glass it was a darkish golden colour with aromas of lemon, pear melon and apricots. On first sip it seemed maybe a touch too sweet but had a nice rich texture with the apricots and pears to the fore and a nice creamy finish. Sampled this over a couple of days and I must say it was definitely better on day two.

Next the Greco which is a grape from the Campania region of southern Italy and if you haven’t tried it before and you like Sauvignon Blanc this may well be for you. From Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference range it was a bright light straw colour, fairly muted aromas but there was some crisp red apples and lemon zest. Taste-wise, bright mouth-watering acidity and very refreshing with a touch of pear and a slight nutty almond aftertaste.

Both were nice and reasonably priced with a slight preference for the classy and bright tasting Greco Di Tufo.

Macon Aze Chardonnay, Morrisons £10 (on offer £7)

My Rating 7/10 Corks

 

Greco Di Tufo, Sainsbury’s £8

My Rating 8/10 Corks 

 

A very fine Fiano

co-op-fianoBack to the Co Op again and another offering from their excellent range of wines, a Fiano 2014 from southern Italy.

As regular readers know I am a big fan of Co Op and their wines and have been really impressed by most of their ‘Truly Irresistible’ range and this is no exception. I was initially alerted to this wine by a recommendation by wine journalist Brian Elliot from the website MidWeek Wines, so when popping into my local store for a loaf of bread and some milk a bottle kind of found its way into my basket.

Pretty good-looking label on what turned out to be a pretty decent wine with a lovely deep golden colour and although fairly muted their were aromas of Peach, honey, nectarines and cloves.

First mouthful revealed an oily texture, juicy nectarines and ripe peaches along with an underlying and very nice smokey honey flavour, there was also a nice background nuttiness to the wine which was very appealing.

For me this is one of the better Fiano’s I’ve tasted recently especially around this price mark (around £7). So if you have never tasted Fiano get yourself down to your local Co Op and try this, you may well be surprised, Excellent

8.5corks

My rating 8.5/10 Corks

Co Op £6.99

 

Classico dei Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio 2015

gina-lollobrigida-2
1950’s Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida

Sometimes referred to as the Gina Lollobrigida, this unusual shaped bottle of Verdicchio caught my eye whilst browsing the supermarket shelves and it quickly found its way into my basket.

Verdicchio is an Italian wine from the central eastern Marches region and gets its name from the word ‘Verde’ meaning green relating to the yellowish-green like colour of the grapes giving the wine a slight green like hue.

This particular Classico dei Castelli di Jesi 2015 I picked up at Sainburys, it’s part of their ‘Taste the Difference’ range for £6 which in my opinion is very good value for what turned out to be a very nice wine.

It’s different and perhaps not to everyone’s taste and certainly a food wine. It had mixed opinions around the dinner table where I loved it but my wife and daughter thought it was a little weighty for their palates.

In the glass it showed a straw like yellow with a tinge of green, aromas of peaches (think peach schnapps) jumped out along with grapefruit.  Taste wise, yes it did have a weighty texture which was full of peaches with a creaminess, herby (not the car) and a finish of almonds giving it an almost bitter finish which was not unpleasant.

For £6 I thought it was worth every penny and paired brilliantly with our pasta dinner.

7corks

My rating 7/10 Corks

Sainsburys around £6 when on offer

 

Farmers of Wine – Italian Red Blend

Farmers of WineLooking like a bottle found under a park bench this unusually packaged wine is certainly quirky and definitely stands out on the supermarket shelf but is it any good?

As some of my regular readers may know I belong to a small wine circle called Cuvée Reserve where once a month one of our members select a wine of the month which is easily accessible and under £10 for us all to review. This particular bottle is our March selection and is currently priced at £5.50 from Asda.

Farmers of wine is from the Puglia Region of Italy, a blend of Negroamaro, Zinfandel, locally known as Primitivo, Merlot and Nero d’Avola.

Ok, going back to my first question, is it any good?, for me for the price it’s a resounding yes!

This comes with a cork and has a very intense dark garnet like colour when poured. The nose is fairly muted although there is a hint of ripe dark plums and cherries. The first mouthful has those plums and cherries bursting with juiciness followed by a little dark chocolate. Slightly on the jammy side but not over the top, subtle tannins  and a hit of pepper comes through on the finish. Left in the glass for a while everything softens ending up with a very drinkable Italian for not a lot of money.

I was a little bit sceptical when I saw the gimmicky bottle but rest assured there is nothing gimmicky about the wine, this is a very quaffable mid week drink with Pizza 🍕 or pasta 🍝  I enjoyed it and would probably buy again.

8corks

 

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Asda £5.50

Maretti Langhe Rosso 2013

Maretti(337 x 599)

Italy 13.5%

I first came across this wine at a recent Majestic Summer tasting event and it was for me, one of the stars of the night. It was the wine I kept going back to for a top up and I must say the generous and amiable staff were more than  happy to oblige. I did end up buying a few bottles along with one or two others I enjoyed over the course of the evening.

So whats it like, well, it’s made in the North west Italian region of Langhe within Piemonte which is famous for Nebbiolo and it is a blend of Barbera 70% and Nebbiolo 30%.

Fairly deep garnet colour with a very slight brownish tinge but still impressively dark, looking very inviting but it’s when you get your nose in the glass this is where the wine comes alive bright cherries and blackberries with a more intense backbone of dried herbs, leather, tar and liquorice all very heady.

Medium to full-bodied –  first taste this was very tannic although it still had a bright fruity acidity which made the wine taste fresh. Dark ripe fruits along with bitter liquorice, herbs and an edge of aniseed were all lurking in the glass. There was also a meaty savoury thing going on as well which was appealing. Left in the glass for a while the chalky tannins did soften a bit leaving a sweeter taste but still retaining that bright acidity.

As a stand alone wine I would quite happily drink it on its own but its with food that this really shone. On the tasting night it met with mixed opinions although no one disliked it, some weren’t sure initially but it grew on them. I think this needs time to breathe to really get the best out of it but I liked it a lot.

My wife who is not a big red wine drinker enjoyed it with food and didn’t pull that face when she instantly dislikes a powerful red, so all round big thumbs up.

8corks

 

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Majestic Multibuy £8.99