Happy New Year to you! We lived it up a little over the festive season and had some gorgeous wines. It was a time for splurging, so the average bottle price went through the roof a bit, but what the hell; it was Christmas after all! Our stock is now seriously low (and funds also) so I'll be returning to the Supermarket Sweeps series soon for a much needed price-respite and stocking up at one of the large retailers, not sure who yet, so stay tuned for those...
Anyway, here's some of the best we had over the break...
On Christmas day, we started with the Veuve Clicquot, 2002 (£40 ish, Waitrose, Majestic). We love the NV so wondered whether the 2002 vintage was worth the extra £10 or so. The smell was very reticent straight from the fridge and didn't give much away. The first sip was a shock: I think my words were along the lines of; "Jesus, that's sharp!" - the acidity caught me off guard, I was expecting a mellow, honeyed old Champers but this was still very young! It did mellow with time and displayed some fruitcake and biscuity complexity, but primarily gave zippy, tangy citrus. After a while in the glass it was superb - one to hold on to for a few more years 8.5/10!
With the main event (Turkey and all the trimmings, rich gravy and plenty of pigs in blankets) our gamble paid off. Seriously paid off. Last year we went against convention, having been told that Pinot Noir was the best match for Turkey, and had a Puligny Montrachet 06 (fairly expensive white Burgundy, if you didn't know) by Nicolas Potel, and thought it went superbly well with Turkey. So this year, I thought I'd stick with white Burgundy but opt for something a bit more unconventional; Chablis. My God, I'm so glad we did. The Domaine William Fevre, Chablis Grand Cru, Bougros, 2005 (£37, The Wine Society) blew our minds. Literally stunning; lively bright lemon and gold, intense nose of spice, honeyed fruit and oak, perfectly mature tastes of complex toasty, smoky, spicy, dried fruits, buttery, honeyed and still with fresh acidity to balance it all out. Faultless and a great surprise. If we were rich our fridge would be stocked with this at all times. Amazing 9.5/10. Boxing day saw another Turkey dinner at my parents which was washed down with another delicious white Burgundy; Joseph Drouhin, Rully, Premier Cru 2008 (a little more down to earth at £14.99 in Waitrose). This again had the delicious, complex, toasty, nutty, smokiness of barrel aged Chardonnay along with the tropical and citrus freshness to balance it. Superb and great value 8/10.
We enjoyed some lovely wines from the ever-consistent Vina Leyda; the Lot 4 Sauvignon Blanc 2010 and Lot 21 Pinot Noir 2008 were delicious (£10 and £18 respectively from The Wine Society). The Sauv Blanc (7.5/10) was a grassy, minerally example of the grape, but backed with fresh zingy gooseberry and slight passion fruit. The Pinot was delicious, silky smooth, voluptuous, chocolatey dark fruits and leathery complexity. Great 8/10. The Matetic EQ Pinot Noir 2007 (£18 the Wine Society) however, didn't fare so well; we found it over-extracted and battered by oak. Nice but not deserving any merit 6/10. However, the Matetic EQ Syrah 2006 (£22 Majestic - although they sold out of the 2006 some time ago, maybe the 2008 is still available) that I'd been saving for a few years was stunning. No tasting note and no photo doesn't help my recollection but I seem to remember it being big, bold and very fruity, but reined-in by some peppery complexity and more red fruit spectrum than jammy black fruit. Worth the wait 8/10. Another Chilean Pinot from the Leyda Valley came via a gift from my Brother and Sister-in-Law; the Secano Estate Pinot Noir 2010 (Marks & Spencer) - smooth, grown-up Pinot with a great balance of fruit, acidity, and a gamey/mushroomy note. Lovely 7.5/10. Thanks W&N! Topping of the Chilean wines was the Montes Alpha, Chardonnay, 2009 (about £11.99 Tesco, Co-Op, many more...). Great Chardonnay, nicely balanced between fruit, minerality and some lees/barrel added complexity. Nice 7.5/10.
We had a couple of Aussies from The Co-Op supermarket. Wirra Wirra, Church Block, 2009 was a blend of Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot (£11.99) displaying big, bold fruit and chocolate, slightly jammy but enough acidity and dark chocolate bitterness to keep it from being sickly (7.5/10). One hell of a surprise came in the form of the Skillogalee, Basket-Pressed Shiraz, Clare Valley, 2007 (£15.99) - an absolute stunner! Strong smell of bramble fruits, pepper and dark chocolate bode well and was followed up with juicy, mouthfilling fruit, bright acidity kept it fresh, bursting with red and dark fruits but with the cool-climate pepperiness giving it that superb edge. Cracking 9/10.
The Martinborough Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007 was sublime. Nicely aged now with silky tannins, complex, red and darker berries with leathery, mushroomy complexity. Literally as smooth as silk, perfect balance of acidity. Beautiful, 9.5/10 but unfortunately £30 (Majestic)!
We finished off the festive period with some Chianti and Pasta. I'd been squirrelling away a good bottle hoping for the acidity to fade (I'm not the biggest fan of acidic Italian Reds - why on earth would you want a red wine that has as much discernible "tang" as a Sauvignon Blanc???) and was really surprised by the Isole e Olena, Chianti Classico, 2007 (£16 ish, The Wine Society). What a beautiful wine. Yes it was acidic but not overtly so, just a slightly charged juiciness to the red cherry fruit, smoothed out by oaky complexity and cedary spice - not unlike a Bordeaux. Had a likable spiciness that I could only describe as "medicinal". The faintest hint of something reminiscent of Red Aftershock - that kind of thing. Anyway, Best Chianti Yet! 8/10.
And that was it. A shitload of money spent. A shitload of alcohol units consumed. But a shitload of enjoyment too! Some of the highest scores ever but also some of the highest prices to accompany them...<sigh> ... Nevermind, frugality returns next time (it has to - anorexic wallet syndrome setting in) with the return of Supermarket Sweeps - this time Sainsburys.
As always, speak to you soon!