Drinking Outside The Box

With Simon Woods – wine for people who have a life

First Taste August 2009 Week 3 August 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Published by 2 Comments

A mixed bag this week, with notes on some new wines, plus others on bottles that were sitting there on the rack waiting to be tasted/drunk

Three Sauvignons

3 SBs

Dogfish Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Marlborough, New Zealand (£4.99 Netto)
Clean, green grassy, intense, classic Marlborough nose, has a slight green pepper edge too it, not too big, not too pungent or sweet, has some grip and mineral edges rather than OTT gooseberry and/or asparagus. UK bottled, but none the worse for it. B+

San Pedro 35 South Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley, Chile (£4.99 Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons)
Odd, slightly cheesy character, quite relaxed, not too pungent, but a bit simple. C+

Errázuriz Aconcagua Costa Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Chile (£9.99 Booths, Stone Vine & Sun, Harper Wells)
From cooler vineyards much closer to the coast than where Errázuriz has the majority of its Aconcagua vineyards. Quite punchy, almost salty edges here, has some citrus and pear, but also this briny minerality, lemon rind, this is really quite classy wine, with this core of minerality and these intriguing pithy edges too. Good length too. S-

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San Joanne

A lone Portuguese white

Casa de Cella Quinta de San Joanne Vinho Verde Branco 2008 (£7.99 Caves de Pyrene)
Lovely graceful minerally wine, perfect for summer, with just 12% alcohol. It needs half an hour to get going but once it’s unfurled its various layers, it reveals it slender charms, pithy lemon fruit and bracing briny intensity. S-

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Three Carmenères

3 Carms

Inama Carmenère Piu Veneto Rosso 2006, Italy (~£15 Winetraders)
Less powerful and more refreshing than Chilean Carmenère, combining quite refined herbal/peppery characters with gentle, juicy cherry and raspberry fruit and a savoury, almost meaty finish. S-

Casa Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Merlot 2000, Colchagua Valley, Chile (~£15 for current vintage)
Showing some leathery age, quite forceful chocolate, berry and cherry to begin with but then turns a little simple, even a little stale. Would have been better 3-4 years ago, now at a stage where the green bean edges of Carmenère are poking out above the rich but now rather jammy fruit. B

Hacienda Araucano Alka Carmenère 2003, Colchagua Valley, Chile (~£35)
From the Lurton branch in Chile,, this is big, rounded and complex wine, with a svelte sweetness, notes of bacon fat, berries, coffee beans, vanilla and more, now absolutely à point, with the fruit having relaxed, the oak in balance, and any structural elements fully softened. Delicious. S(+)

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Two ‘ports’

2 Ports

Presented this pair to a group of wine lovers on Tuesday – hard to believe that the vigorous purple beast that was the Lehmann was actually six months older than the gentle, tawny Churchill. A great contrast from two lovely wines

Churchill Graham 1988 Traditional LBV, Douro, Portugal
Supple figgy warmth, some toffee-like edges, plump plush plum and berry flavours, looking good in its mellow middle-age, if maybe a touch sweet for real class. By Day 2, this is just beginning to show its spirity side, with an almost Calvados-like burn, but it’s a testimony to the staying power of Traditional (basically unfiltered) LBV that at age 21, it’s still on good form. S

Peter Lehmann Vintage Port 1988, Barossa Valley, Australia
The colour and depth of fruit of a wine a fraction of its age, this is fortified Shiraz from Kalimna, home of the vineyard that historically provided much of the fruit for Penfolds Grange. Subtle, it is not. Think kirsch on steroids with an injection of spearmint and eucalyptus. This is a massive, full-flavoured concoction that makes Portuguese ports look undernourished although perhaps of superior intellect. The label says Bin AD 2009. In other words, PL thought it would be hitting its stride this year. He was wrong. It’s a pup that could happily be cellared for another 20 years, and probably has the cojones to go on well beyond that. S

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A nice dinner

Matassa Sergue 2

A low-key dinner with some friends and two lovely bottles of wine. The Matassa 2004 Cuvée Nougé from Roussillon is a blend of Maccabeu, Muscat and Viognier that is currently singing in Paolo Nutini fashion, with a slight wail but undeniable soul. It did have delicate pear and citrus fruit but the main event was the wonderful savoury mineral intensity that ran kept you coming back for more. ‘Natural Wine’ at its best. 1996 was the first vintage of Château La Sergue, a wine assembled by the talented Pascal Chatonnet from some of the oldest vineyards in Lalande de Pomerol. At 13 years old, it’s on top form, with mellow tobacco and olive characters vying for attention with plummy black cherry and berry flavours, and with the oak now content to sit in the background and add vanilla complexity. Still very much alive for anyone who has any remaining bottles.

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2 Comments

  • Colin Smith says:

    21 years for an LBV – I’m amazed! If it had been filtered how long do you think it would keep for?

  • Simon says:

    Not sure Colin – but wines often surprise you. Remember Peter Nixson, ex wine buyer for BA, telling me he’d found a hoard of old screw-capped quarter bottles from the 60s and 70s that were still in prety reasonable nick. At the same time, there are those wines that seem to have the ingredients for long ageing but which keel over at a relatively early age

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