This Month I have been lucky enough to be selected as an Aldi Wine Club Taster. This involves, in their words ‘ Every three months, we’ll be selecting 30 budding sommeliers to join the panel. If you’re chosen, each month for three months, we’ll send you two delicious wines to taste from our range and you’ll be tasked with reviewing each via a 140 character tweet using the dedicated #AldiWineClub hashtag.
Over the last week I have been to two very different but very enjoyable wine tastings, the first was the annual ‘Wines of Portugal Grand Tasting 2016’ and the second was a ‘Cuvée Reserve Tasting Weekend’
Cuvée Reserve is an online wine forum in which I and a group ex Tesco Wine Community members got together to continue the online friendships we had built up over the 3 years or so that TWC had been running.
The ‘Wines of Portugal Grand Tasting’ was a London trade and press show in which I was kindly given an invite to. Cuvée Reserve was a weekend away in Stratford-upon-Avon with a group of 10 friends who all share a passion for wine.
The Wines of Portugal Grand Tasting
Held at the Royal Horticultural halls in London where over a hundred producers were showcasing their wines. A big thank you to Brian Elliott of MidWeek Wines for inviting me on his behalf.
Not knowing a great deal about Portuguese wine what struck me most walking around tasting was the fabulous array of good quality affordable wines a lot of them in the sub £10 bracket.
The whites in particular impressed me especially the delightfully fresh and zingy Alvarinhos and one that stood out was the Muros de Melgaco 2014 Alvarinho from the vineyards on the south-facing hillsides of the Vinho Verde region, high in acidity and aged for 6 months in French oak. Dry, tasting fresh and very elegant, full of tropical fruits and a hint of honey and in a lovely looking bottle. This was probably one of my favourite whites of the day.
Other whites that impressed were the Quinta da Calcada Branco 2014 , Covela Edicao Nacional Avesso Vinho Verde DOC 2014 and the Vale Do Homem Loureiro 2015 all very good examples of fresh and bright wines from the Vinho Verde region.
Most of the reds were powerful beasts hailing from the Douro and Dao regions, a lot of these were dark and brooding high in alcohol and utterly delicious among the highlights was the excellent Quinta do Perdigao Touriga Nacional 2009, showing dark cherries and plums on the nose. Lovely structure. Dark ripe plums to taste and bitter dark chocolate with some spice on the long finish.
Others of note were the Valmonte Reserva Touriga Nacional 2010 and the Sao Matias Reserva Tinto 2011
Amongst the best value wines under £10 was the Opta Range (all around £8) all were fresh & bright tasting, I was quite impressed with their Opta Dao Rose 2015 (not being a big fan of Rose) but this had Raspberries and strawberries in abundance with a nice floral hit perfect for a summer picnic. I gave their Opta Dao Branco 2015 the big thumbs up as well. Most of the range was 13% alcohol.
Special mention for the Fonte do Ouro 2014 made from Encruzado & Arinto again around £8 this a pale green colour a lovely minerality and full of apples, pears and peaches.
Also very good value was the Terra de Lobos range.
Terra de Lobos 2015 (white) Perfumed floral and lots of tropical fruits made from Fernao Pires and Sauvignon Blanc.
Terra de Lobos 2015 (Rose) Crisp with strawberries and a Little toastiness, balanced acidity
Terra de Lobos 2015 (Red) Rich tasting, spicy
Big Shout for the Falcoaria 2014 white wine, this was seriously tropical, a little toasty and extremely nice, big 5 stars from me, again around £8.
Didn’t taste a lot of fizz but I must say the Almeida Garrett VEQPRD Beira Interior Brut Natural super Reserva 2010 seriously impressed, very biscuity and toasty and lots of fizzy bubbles, not cold enough but still tasted pretty good. Apparently rated 91 Points by Jamie Goode.
Finally one last white that I found just as I was leaving was the seriously impressive GURU 2014 made from the Rabigato, Viosinho, Codega de Larinho grapes an explosion of orchard fruits with a hebal twist, not particularly cheap at around £15- £20 but for me worth it.
So a brilliant days tasting that left me impressed by the quality and more importantly value for money of these great Portuguese wines.
Cuvée Reserve Wine Tasting Weekend at Stratford Upon Avon
Pick a place and a time, get ten people who love wine together in one place, get them each to bring a selection of wines and some food and you have got yourself a hell of a weekend and that’s exactly what it turned out to be.
We are all ex members of the Tesco Wine Community (TWC) where for three years or so we spent time online talking wine with some of us having met at various activities and events. So when Clare Hearnden who runs ‘Cuvée Reserve forum’ suggested a ‘Wine Tasting Weekend’ in Stratford -Upon-Avon the ten of us jumped at the chance. Clare found us the perfect location and perfect house, within walking distance of Stratford town centre.
The weekend was a real hit with everyone, very informal and friendly with some fantastic wines to drink. For the first night everyone brought along a selection of buffet food and the wines began to flow. The second night Clare kindly cooked a meal and more wine flowed.
All in all a fantastic weekend with good food, good wine and best of all good company, hopefully to be repeated again and again.
Alongside a clutch of Sparklers including Cono Sur Sparkling Pinot Noir from Chile, Prosecco, Cava and Champagne, our white wine selection included:
- Denis Dubourdieu 2010 Clos Floridene, Grand Vin De Graves (blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 47% Semillon, 3% Muscadelle), France, 13%. A nice chance to try a rare white example of Graves
- Symbiose La Grande Olivette, Cuvee Florence, Piquepoul, Sauvignon Blanc blend, Cótes de Thau 2014, France, 12%. Piquepoul is something of a recent trend in the UK, so this was an interesting one to try
- Karl Pfaffmann 2013 Weissburgunder, Trocken, Walsheim, Pfalz, Germany, 12.5%. The first of three wines sourced exclusively from Germany and rarely seen in the U.K.
- Karl Pfaffmann 2014 Riesling, Trocken, Walsheim, Pfalz, Germany, 12.5%
- Randersackerer Ewig Leben 2013er, Albalonga Auslese, Franken, Germany, 11%
- Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva 2015 Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley, Chile, 14%
- Alvi’s Drift 2015 Chenin Blanc, Worcester, South Africa, 13.5%
- Calvet Reserve 2013 Pinot Blanc, Alsace, France, 12.5%
- The Cup and Rings 2013 Godello Sobre Lias, Monterrai, Spain, 13%
- Ara Single Vineyard 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, 12.5%
All the wines supplied were kept undisclosed to the other attendees prior to the day, and so it is interesting to notice the heavy red bias towards Spain. Our full selection comprised:
- Arjona (unoaked) 2014 Rioja (100% Tempranillo), Spain, 13.5%
- Club Des Sommeliers, Morgon (100% Gamay) 2014 Beaujolais, France, 12.5%
- J Opi 2014 Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5%. This wine was decanted to bring out the rich flavour
- Marques de Riscal Finca Torrea 2007 (Tempranillo), Rioja, Spain, 14%
- Cháteau Hervé Laroque 2007 (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon), Fronsac, France, 13%
- La Cantera Reserva 2007 (Tempranillo based blend), Carinena, Spain, 13%, (from magnum)
- Ermita de San Lorenzo 2008 Garnacha based blend, Rioja, Spain, 14%. Another one for the decanter
- Mayu Syrah Reserva 2011, Elqui Valley, Chile, 14.5%. This wine was again decanted to allow the rich flavours to mellow
- Piccini Memoro 2010 (Aglianico, Cabernet Sauvignon, Nero D’avola, Sangiovese blend), Regional blend across Tuscany, Basilicata, Veneto and Sicily, Italy, 14%. Decanted, but perhaps needed more time to open fully.
- Cháteau Valfontaine 2012 (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon) Bordeaux, France, 12%
- Stobi 2011 Petit Verdot Barrique, Tikves, Macedonia, 14%. A rare opportunity to try this wine.
- Campo Viejo Gran Reserva 2007 (Tempranillo), Rioja, Spain, 13.5%
- Les Vaucorneilles Cuvee Nathan 2005, Touraine, Loire Valley, France, 13.5% (Blend of Gamay, Cabernet and Cot)
- Vox Populi 2012 Bobal, Utiel-Requena, Spain, 14%
- Laurent Miquel L’Artisan 2014 (Syrah, Grenache), Faugeres, France, 13.5%
Back to Lidl’s for my next wine, I bought this a few months ago along with a selection of other relatively cheap Bordeaux’s including the excellent Chateau Marjosse which I reviewed here.
The only trouble with Lidl’s wine is they are constantly changing their stock so when you find a nice bottle it may be worthwhile going back and buying more, sooner than later. I’ve recently been back and they had none of the Bordeaux’s I bought in the summer, shame really because the Panigon is pretty good.
I visit the store infrequently as the nearest one is around 8 miles away, what I do find though, when returning, is that the quality of their wines is always excellent and I never have trouble filling my trolley as I did a couple of weeks ago.
Right, back to this particular bottle the Chateau de Panigon 2011 which I paid £8.99 for and it happened to be money well spent ( Damn ! should have bought more I cry out). It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with a touch of Petit Verdot thrown in. First thing to say is that this needs decanting for a couple of hours as it was tight and tannic initially, but after a short time exposed to air it softened beautifully.
Sticking my nose in the glass it had heady aromas of ripe dark fruits, wood shavings, menthol and smoke. Taste wise what you got was a mouthful of juicy dark ripe cherries and plums, slightly sweet and a lovely spicy, smokey long finish.
If you can find it, snap it up, for under a tenner its a pretty decent buy and credit to the buyers at Lidl’s and I for one will continue to make the trek to my nearest store as I have not been disappointed yet with any of my purchases.
My rating 8/10 corks
We have a small store close by which we use for bread, milk and the odd things we forgot in our main weekly shop. I always wander down their wine section and occasionally buy the odd bottle of wine which on the whole, so far, have all been pretty good.
I used to get some nice bargains in my local Co op on some of the better quality wines sometimes even getting them for less than half price but recently they seemed to have become a little more savvy in their pricing now only offering one or two pounds discount, still a discount is a discount.
Spotted these two wines after a little prompt on Wine writer Jamie Goode’s blog in his article about the latest Co op press tasting where he listed around 7, in his words ‘Nice affordable wines’.
Firstly the Cotes du Rhone ‘La Grange St. Martin’ 2014. This had a fairly muted nose but there was some berries and a hint of smoke. The taste is where this really shone, fresh cherries, bramble fruit, bright acidity, ash, white peppery spice and a savoury finish. Held up well on second day showing more savouriness, an altogether delicious bottle for £6.99.
Secondly the Trapiche Pure Malbec 2014, this is an unoaked Malbec hence ‘Pure’ on the label. Shared this bottle with family and friend. Very dark in colour, blackberries, blackcurrants and dark cherries on the nose. The first sip hits you like a sledgehammer, intense fruit, dry, mild dusty tannins but it’s the cherries that really come through and caused one of our tasters to cry out ‘Wow ! that’s really fruity, very nice !’ and it was, hence the bottle emptied pretty quickly. A little more expensive at £8.99 but worth every penny.
La Grange St. Martin – Cotes du Rhone 2014
My Rating 8/10 Corks Co op £6.99
Trapiche Pure Malbec 2014
My Rating 8/10 Corks Co op £8.99
Dusting myself off after collapsing when our daughter announced she would make a Japanese (Wagamama) inspired chicken curry dinner for us tonight. I quickly made my way to the drinks fridge in the shed to see what I could find to accompany it.
Rummaging through the bottles I came across this Strangely labelled ‘Elegant Frog Viognier 2014’ perfect I thought and in the process of transferring it to the kitchen fridge my daughter stopped me asking “where is my Sauvignon Blanc” (she drinks SB with everything).
I showed her the bottle and said we are having Viognier tonight, she had never heard of Viognier but decided to give in to my better judgement (not a lot of choice really ) and drink something other than her usual tipple.
Dinner made and very good it was too, I poured the wine and waited for my daughters reaction “Well” I said, “yes it’s nice ” she replied and I have to agree it was nice.
From the Languedoc-Roussillon, region in France this Viognier didn’t have much in the way of aroma which was pretty muted, if pushed there was a slight hint of peach. The first mouthful though was full of flavour, peaches, apricots, honeydew melon and pears. Slightly floral, vanilla and honeyed although not oversweet.
Paired beautifully with the curry cleansing the palate and it was enjoyed by all, even our fussy Sauvignon Blanc drinking daughter.
My Rating 7/10 Corks
Sainsbury’s on offer at £5.50 or £8
Look in most supermarkets and you will find a lot of cheap Bordeaux’s, usually they are cheap for a reason and most of them that I’ve tried have promptly ended up down the sink.
But ( sorry to start a sentence with a conjunction) there is a shinning light from an unexpected source in the shape of Lidl supermarket where I have bought some pretty decent wines for well under a tenner and this Chateau Marjosse 2012 was just £8.99 and as it turns out, a real genuine bargain.
From a well-regarded Chateau and made by winemaker Pierre Lurton this is a blend of Predominantly Merlot with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.
When poured this was very deeply coloured with aromas of ripe dark fruits, plums, cherries, it smelt earthy and vegetal with distinct raw green pepper notes.
On first taste it was a bit of a beast, a little harsh and I decided to leave it to the air for a couple of hours and what a difference it made, it transformed into a slightly sweeter softer taste, lots of mouth-watering acidity with the juicy fruit more prominent, still vegetal and stalky but with well-balanced tannins and a generous hit of oak.
As you can gather this didn’t end up down the sink and for £8.99 well worth buying but don’t drink it straight off give it a little time to evolve and you will be rewarded with a nice cheap Bordeaux.
My Rating 8/10 Corks
Ok, I know the label looks like someone printed this up on their home printer and stuck it on with a Pritt stick but looks can be deceiving as I found out with this impressive (for the price) Verdejo. I actually got this in Majestic, Calais for the ridiculous price of £2.99 and now I’m kicking myself repeatedly as I only bought the one as I wasn’t really convinced at the time but I knew I usually like Verdejo and at that price I thought why not try at least one.
Verdejo is one of the most popular wines in Spain and This ‘Real Compania De Vinos’ or the Real Wine Company was established by Bodegas Muriel (who make pretty decent Rioja) back in 2007.
Golden straw like colour in the glass with perhaps a touch of green. Really aromatic on the nose which brought an appreciative ‘nice’ from my son and a ‘Smells ok’ from my wife. For me Pears were evident even dominant with some limes and tropical fruit in the mix including mango’s and bananas.
The taste is where things changed slightly although initially sweet there was a strange bitter aftertaste which, although not unpleasant, it was , well, I say again rather strange. Not much in the way of acidity but a hint creaminess (pears with cream) with a herbal, flowery finish leading to that bitterness. Don’t let this description put you off, this was a lovely easy drinking Spanish white which was endorsed by both my wife and son, both commenting on how much they enjoyed it.
For £2.99 it’s a steal, almost worth taking the ferry back to Calais for more.
My Rating 7.5/10 Corks
Majestic Calais £2.99 a bottle – I repeat £2.99 a bottle.