So, Sunday was my birthday. That meant wine! Plus we've been doubly-celebrating both D's, and mine in the last few weeks. Anyway to cut a long story short; I was spoiled. Treated to filtered coffee and pastries for breakfast and then had Steak Diane cooked for me in the evening (although I was responsible for the roasted sweet potatoes!). As an aperitif we had a great bargain champagne; Charles de Ravon Brut NV. I can't remember where I had this one (possibly Tesco), or how much it was , but I'm sure it was only about £12! It was a pale watery lemon colour, light citrussy nose but had great apples and pears, lively bubbles and a bit of toasty/biscuity complexity. A great marriage of fruit, acidity, bubbles and a touch of sweetness. Absolute bargain, 7.5/10 and Recommended.
We had a bit of a Shiraz/Syrah week as I've been stock-piling a few lately. We also had a nice Pinot Gris from NZ (embarrassingly I always used to think this was pronounced "Peen-oh Grease" rather than the correct "Peen-oh Gree").
Another name for Pinot Grigio but more often than not called Pinot Gris in NZ (similar to the way they only call it Syrah not Shiraz). This one's from Slurp. 13%
The Look: Medium lemony yellow.
The Smell: Apples. The typical varietal aroma (for me anyway) of "fruit salad sweets".
The Taste: Lovely freshness. Apples. Some tangy passion fruit with a minerally edge to it too. Very balanced and refreshing.
The Score: Good. Very good. There's nothing not to like. 7.5/10. Recommended.
VFM: At £9.95 the value-quotient is pretty good at VFM = 0.75. It's not the cheapest Pinot Gris/Grigio but if you've yet to try the NZ style then give it a go.
From the spiritual home of NZ Syrah (Hawkes Bay) and the revered Gimblett Gravels area. It's no secret that fantastic wines are made here and this is a real value offering at just over £10. Vidal is one of the oldest producers in the area. Another from Slurp and again, 13%...let's see if it's any good...
The Look: Deep, dark purple with a slight violet rim.
The Smell: Smells of dark berries; blackcurrant and blackberry with hints of violets and pepper.
The Taste: The taste is very similar, blackberry, violets and some peppery spice but BY GOD; the acidity is sharp!!! It made me wince and I could almost feel it eating the enamel off my teeth! A good one for Chianti fans...
The Score: Good. Tasty, but too acidic for my palate. I think it needs a year or two to dim the acidity a bit - which is entirely possible as this should keep for a few years yet. 7/10.VFM: At £10.50 the VFM is reasonably good at = 0.66.
A "luxury" Shiraz here from South Africa's Stellenbosch region. This was recently listed in Decanter's top 50 Syrahs for under £25. This one has 10% Mourvedre in the blend. Another from Slurp . Big at 14.5%
The Look: A very silky sheen to it. Opaque purple with only the slightest rim of violet. Big and clingy on the glass it exudes quality, to the eye at least...
The Smell: A peppery warmth of black fruit with some nuttiness, woody and smoky. Hint of cherry-drops.
The Taste: The lightness was surprising; a "barely there" ethereal quality in the mouth. Spicy, warm, black and red fruit combine and fade to a dark chocolate finish. Still very young. Sharp, bright acidity (a little too much for me) suggests that this needs another few years in bottle.
The Score: Definitely drunk too young, but this could be "class in a glass" in a few years. 7.5/10. Highly Recommended. if you can wait. I'd like to revisit the 2007 in a few years, but do I really want to spend another £20? Hmmm....VFM: At £19.55 the VFM is obviously going to be fairly poor at = 0.38., but this was a treat. You can probably match the taste quality for £12 to £15, but not perhaps the overall feel and experience? This is one to nurture and return to I think...
From the Catena Zapata stable. This one is named after Domingo Vicente Catena who married Angelica Zapata in 1934 creating the Catena-Zapata tradition. Or so the bottle says anyway...This is from Majestic . 13.5%
The Look: A dark, inky black-purple with a slight rim of violet. Opaque.
The Smell: Smoky black fruit, pepper, sawn-wood and dark chocolate.
The Taste: Again, a combo of blackberry, violets, pepper and some chocolate. Bright acidity, apparent tannin and still a bit in-your-face. Could do with a year or two...Very long finish.
The Score: Delicious, but again, perhaps drunk a little too young 7.5/10. Recommended.VFM: At £11.99 the VFM is reasonable at 0.63 but there is a buy-2-for-£9.99-each deal on at the moment.
So, that ends our celebrations for the time being. We're both another year older. Maybe not entirely wiser.
Back to normal frugality next week as I start reviewing the "Society's Top Sellers" case from the Wine Society. It's a mixed-12 of their "own label" stuff but made by some very serious players; Villa Maria and Concha Y Toro to name but two!
So, as always;
Speak to you soon,