Monday, 19 September 2011

The Search For Our House Champagne

Hello all.

When funds permit, we love a bottle of the old fizz! Nothing plucks us away from the stark, and sometimes depressing, reality of a shared house more than a flute of champers. Always drunk in it leaning on the recycling bin outside, holed up in our room or on the decrepit furniture where we eat!

Our favourite so far has been Piper Heidsieck Brut NV (8.5/10) especially when it's on offer from the Co-Op at £17.99. Awesome flavours of citrus and orchard fruit combine with a biscuity/bready complexity giving a long finish augmented by the lively fizz. However, now and again we like to to extend our search through the myriad of brands to see if there's a "Piper-beater" out there. [For the un-initiated, Brut means "dry" and NV is "non-vintage" - a blend of several wines from various years]

Here's some we've quaffed lately...

The Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV was a gem. A pale white-gold with a watery rim this exuded whiffs of Chardonnay fruit with a honeyed fragrance and a biscuity sweetness. In the mouth it had bright citrus and tropical fruit but with the toasty, sweet biscuit hints on top. Refreshing acidity leaves you with a mouthwatering citrus zing leading to a long sweet Gala-apple finish. The fine bubbles are not too aggressive either. Towards the end it tended towards toast and marzipan. Great stuff 8/10 Recommended. Normally about £33 but can be had for about £25 on offer.

The Pol Roger Reserve NV was, quite simply, awesome! A deep straw-yellow with pale lemon highlights. The nose was pure Brioche; sweet baked bread and toasty too. Big, aggressive bubbles pop and fizz in your mouth, melting away to bright, zippy, zingy orchard fruit; think a crunchy, juicy Cox Apple with a sweet, toasty flourish. A long, delicious finish screams class! Superb, 9/10 and Highly Recommended! I've seen it at about £28 on offer, which is sadly rare, the norm being £33 to £35.

This really makes you want to taste their Vintage wines and with the 2000 available for about £45 to £55 my heart says yes, but the wallet, sadly, no...for now.

At a half-point above Piper, it's the winner on taste, but for the overall value, I think Piper remains on the throne!

The Veuve Clicquot Brut NV was reticent at first (possibly too cold) but soon came into its own! A sweet, baked-pastry nose with some herby fruit. The fine bubbles effervesce quickly to give way to an amazing array of tastes, headed up by fruitcake, orchard fruit, slight citrus, complex biscuity/apple crumble with zippy acidity and a long finish...Classy and delicious. 8/10 Recommended. Again, this is normally around the £33 mark but keep those eyeballs peeled for offers, I think we bought at £25.

Three delicious Champagnes, any one of which we would gladly drink again! We found a Piper-beater in score but not in value. The search must continue....

Next time, the Supermarket Sweeps; Six for Sixty begins in earnest!

As Always, speak to you soon.



Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Wine Society Recommendations - Part 2

Hello All,

Welcome to Part 2 of some recommendations from the Wine Society. You can find Part 1 here:

Three whites and only one red this time, as it turned out we'd had some faulty red bottles, but duly refunded, so top marks there.

Some time soon I'll be starting the Supermarket Sweep Six for Sixty series so keep posted for that, despite a slight fly in the ointment: The Decanter World Wine Awards Issue! If you want to know what's good in the Supermarkets, in all likelihood, it'll be described therein. It had slipped my mind that the issue would coincide with my planned start date.  I don't really want to just re-iterate what they have recommended as good, so I will try to remain as impartial as I can. One or two overlaps might occur if I really fancy something, but I'll try to avoid simply plumping for what they rate and hopefully cover different ground. But hey-ho.

Anyway, without further ado, the Wine Society whites...

Clos La Coutale, Cahors, 2009 
Cahors, the famous "Black Wine" from south-west France, the spiritual home of Malbec, renowned for its deep, dark colour and teeth-staining quality! Predominantly Malbec, although this one has some Merlot blended in. ...13.5%
The Look: Well, not quite black, but a deep plummy purple core leading to a pinky/purple rim.
The Smell: Super fruity, jammy smell.
The Taste: Great fruit, blueberry, black cherry yoghurt, violets and oak. Very tannic so needs a while to soften but delicious.  
The Score: Great stuff. 7.5/10. Recommended
VFM: At £7.95 this is very good value VFM = 0.94

Les Chailloux, Sancerre, 2009 
Probably the most well-known area of the Loire valley for growing Sauvignon Blanc. More expensive and exclusive than Touraine and arguably Pouilly-Fumé, it normally shows in the price, although I'm inclined to challenge that...13.5%
The Look: Very bright, sprightly yellow-green.
The Smell: Herby, grassy, minerally, citrus fruits and slight grapefruit zest.
The Taste: Fresh acidity, zingy citrus fruit with a mineral edge and some bitter grapefruit on the finish. A hint of tropical fruit creeps through. Good body, length and smooth texture.
The Score: Restrained and classy. 7.5/10. Recommended
VFM: At £12.50 this isn't cheap, but it is Sancerre, and it's good. VFM = 0.60

Plantagenet, Riesling, 2009 
From the Great Southern area of Western Australia. Owned by an Englishman, Plantagenet have a great reputation and make some premium wines. Cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks keeps this fresh. Fairly light at 11.5%
The Look: Bright! Pale lemony yellow. 
The Smell: Bright! Very citrussy nose.
The Taste: There's a theme here...Bright! Very bright, fresh, zingy acidity, lime and grapefruit. We had it with spicy enchiladas and it cut through perfectly.
The Score: Delicious, fresh and zingy 8/10. Highly Recommended
VFM: At £12.95 this is fairly steep, but a cut above your average £7 supermarket Riesling. Still, not bad value at VFM = 0.62.

Gavi La Battistina, 2010 
Named after the town of Gavi in Piedmont, this region is often dubbed "Italy's answer to White Burgundy" and also, embarrassingly, my mother's pet name for me! Made with the Cortese grape. 13.5%
The Look: A medium lemon yellow.
The Smell: Lovely smells of honey, peach, slight citrus zing and a floral hint too.
The Taste: Really zesty on the palate with very fresh, zingy acidity, hints of grapefruit, lime, spice and a green apple hint too.
The Score: Great, although not very Burgundian this one! 7.5/10. Recommended
VFM: At £7.95 this is cracking value VFM = 0.94

So there we have it, an end to the Wine Society wines for now, no doubt returning in the future, but as I alluded to earlier, I'll be concentrating on the Supermarket Sweep series next. That will probably take us up to the run-up to Christmas, and then it'll be balls-to-the-wall with wine treats!

As always, speak to you soon,