Drinking Outside The Box

With Simon Woods – wine for people who have a life

First Taste July 2009 Week 2

An Italian Quartet

(for more on these, look at the video on the blog dated July 20th 2009)

Girlan Pinot Grigio 2008, Alto-Adige, Italy
£10 Vinum, www.everywine.co.uk
Mineral and creamy, slightly pear-like, good friendly, rounded style, plenty of flesh, opening up. Good solid performer with potential to develop further. B+

Terre d’Alteni Bonarda Donelasco Oltrepo Pavese 2007, Lombardy, Italy
(contact Matthew Clark)
Charred sandalwood, odd perfumed cherry, lively and balanced, has this intriguing edge of tannin and acidity, good and interesting, and opens up to show rounded bramble and black cherry flesh. S-

Terragens Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore 2007, Emilia Romagna, Italy
£6.99 Bibendum
Rather hard, green edged style, simple, cherry kernel, but that green edge knocks the enjoyment off. C+

Tenuta di Ceppaiano ‘Violetta’ 2004, IGT Toscana, Italy
£14.79 Bibendum, MW Wines, The Case Shop, The Sampler
Showing some smoky maturity, ripe damson, but disjointed, I can feel the wood as something separate from the wine. Good fruit spoiled by clumsy élevage. B

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Tuchan Twosome

IMG_9871 IMG_9870

Some co-operatives plod – not Mont Tauch. For several years, this enterprise based in the town of Tuchan has been turning out some of southern France’s best value wines from the appellations of Corbières and (especially) Fitou, and under various vin de pays designations too. The L’Ancien Comté label used to be used for a Fitou, but now it’s being used for a new range of varietal wines under the Vin de Pays de la Vallée du Paradis designation. There are currently four wines – Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir, Carignan and Marselan. I’ve just tried the last two, both of them élevé en fûts de chêne (aged in oak barrels). The Carignan smells of freshly made blackcurrant jam, but there’s a juicy freshness about it too, along with hints of vanilla, bayleaf and cinnamon. Gutsy wine for gutsy food that should appeal both to New and Old World fans. B+. The Marselan (a grape created by crossing Cabernet Sauvignon with Grenache) smells fresher but simpler, and while the berry fruit is quite plump and appealing (with that oak-derived vanilla edge again jutting in), there’s a sort of syruppy heaviness about it that I’m not so keen on. B-. They’re still to find UK stockists, but the RRP for both is £7.99.

Six Rieslings from Enotria

Skill Lawsons Trimbach

Skillogalee Trevarrick Riesling 2008, Clare Valley, Australia
£16.75 Hic wines, Winedirect.co.uk
We used to sell this in a bottle shop I worked at in Melbourne. Whenever the Malaysian office manageress had been getting on my nerves, I used to ring her up and order more of it because it gave me a perverse pleasure to hear her struggle over the words. Very immature, I know, good job I’m more grown up now. Very floral dolly mixture style, classic Clare green apple and citrus pith, young, vibrant and rich, currently with that anal retentive edge that tends to highlight the minerality. Finish comes across with a slightly baked apple character but overall this is desperately young and tense – will revisit this tomorrow as I think it’s not showing all it could today. S-

Lawsons Dry Hills Riesling 2006, Marlborough, New Zealand
£10.99 Enotria
I think I was supposed to recevie a sample of the 2008, but this was the vintage that arrived. At 3 years old, it’s just starting to show some hints of maturity, with toasty notes creeping into the flavours of oranges and slightly unripe peaches. While it has neither the concentration nor the class of the Skillogalee, it’s a decent enough drink, although I wonder whether it wouldn’t have been better if had been made as a dry rather than off-dry style. B(+)

Trimbach Riesling Reserve 2006, Alsace, France
£16.99 Handford Wines, Winedirect.co.uk
The contrast with the 2 previous wines is vast here. Whether the cork has had an influence, I’m not sure. Certainly there’s some of the almost mushroomy character that old Riesling (under cork) can develop with time, but it’s not unpleasant. And as it open up with time in the glass, it begins to show its mettle. There are the classic rounded sweet-and-sour flavours but none of the excess sweetness that can mar some Alsace wines. And then there’s that minerally spine, a different sort of minerality to the Skillogalee. That was river pebbles; here, it’s an earthy chalkiness, if that makes any sense. And the winemaking is also quite different. As with many Aussie Rieslings, I find the Skillogallee speaks a little too much of control freakery, whereas this is a little more confident in its gentler, less stark nature, like expensive but not brand-new clothes. S

Wigan Paul Peller

Peter Lehmann Wigan Riesling 2003, Barossa, Australia
£11.95 Noel Young, Australian Wines Online
OK, I had a bit of a rant about the name of this wine here (someone suggested that the equivalent for a Londoner would be a wine called Peckham). But what about the stuff in the bottle? Very nice indeed, with toasty edges on top of honeyed lime and lemon flavours. It has a touch of sweetness, but thanks to the time in bottle, this comes across as richness rather than anything at all sugary, and that river pebble edge in the Skillogalee is making its presence felt here too. Wonderful length too – very tasty wine, some maturity but still with bags of life. S

Weingut Paulinshof Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett 2007, Mosel, Germany
£13.95 Rose Wines, Purewines.org
Quite punchy lime marmalade style with a bracing edge of acidity, it’s a wine that doesn’t quite seem sure what it want to be. It’s not sweet enough to be one of those floaty, wispy pre-Raphaelite Mosel Rieslings that weigh in at 7.5% alcohol, yet it’s too sweet to be one of those angular but interesting dry wines that Germany can do so well but which have failed to set UK palates alight. Or to put it another way, good, but misplaced. B+

Peller Riesling Icewine 2007, Niagara Peninsula, Canada
£29.99/half www.harperwells.co.uk
Canadian Icewines tend to be more intense but less complex than their German counterparts, and this is no exception. This is like toffee apples in liquid form, with hints of barley sugar and crème brûlée in there too. Its intense and decadent, with a streak of citrus acidity to clean up the finish. However, a little goes a long way, while a little more becomes just too much of a good thing, so save the (half) bottle for when there are several other people to share the experience. S-

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