May at NWC

As we enter our season of themes, where each member brings a bottle and we taste blind, I will only highlight a few of the best (or most interesting) wines of the week.

1st May – vintages ending in a 4.

Pouilly-Fume, Rambauilt, 2004. A touch smoky initially but mostly aromatic with a greenness. The palate was incredibly vibrant for its 20 years, great acidity, bone dry with a core of clean citrus fruit and a streak
of minerality.

Montana East Coast, 2004 from NZ was perhaps the most interesting of a handful of middle of the road Bordeaux blends. It was all tomato leaf and green pepper. There was a touch of spice and blackcurrant but sadly much of its fruit had disappeared.

Tondonia, Lopez de Heredia, 1994. Its 30 years had rendered it brown and beefy with a fair whack of umami. There was a bit of cherry bit more of a herbal finish which was less appealing. Still a good balance given the age.

1st May wines

Chateau Musar, 2004 and its legendary variably was present here as it didn’t seem to be quite as together as the Tondonia. There were the classic notes of volatile acidity and quite an enjoyable few high notes of florality on the nose. The palate felt a little tired and and a core of aniseed dominated the palate to my taste.

Zeigler Vineyard, Zinfandel, Joseph Swan 2014. A mercurial winemaker that I managed to pick up a few bottles from having been introduced to him at this group. Some heady roses initially hit you before blackcurrant and raspberry mix with some sweet cedar. It is quite brooding and powerful in its own way but is surprisingly deft and red fruited on the palate. There’s a sweet and sour cranberry and raspberry but in a slightly artificial blue raspberry way. Orange peel shows itself in glimpses. It’s very well integrated
at this point and certainly on form today.

Gomez Cruzado, Rioja Gran Reseva, 1964. Some mustiness, damp leaves but still vanilla. Not much fruit on the nose. The palate is remarkably fresh, there is some fruit holding on here Sweet plum with some dried fig but a fair amount of balsamic and stock pot too. An ok wine but an amazing wine given its age.

Aranwa, Torrontes, 2022 was a good place to start with strong South American association with Argentina and this grape. It has the classic aromatic nose, white blossom, jasmine. Good acidity on the palate, a touch of pink grapefruit and gooseberry. A fine example.  £14

A handful of new world Chardonnays were passable. Two Ste. Michelle left me a bit cold with caramel and butterscotch notes having too much prominence. Au Bon Climat was in a similar space though much darker in colour hinting at some premature aging. That said its structure showed its class over
the others. The Cantena Alta, 2021 was the best of the selection although at this age there was a strong pear drop note that should go away with age. Underneath through a nice stone fruit core and solid purity.

8th May Whites

Lone Redwood, Zinfandel, 1997 gave an interesting contrast with last weeks Swan wine. This had some signature hits of volatile acidity and red apple. It had lost a little of its energy and fruit and become a touch more austere, if similar in profile to the sharp red fruits of the 2014.

Trefethen, Merlot, 2014. Had some enjoyable perfume on the nose, a little sweet fruited for my liking but very drinkable. A core of blackcurrant from the first sniff through the its finish. Is the best 100% Merlot I’ve had damning this with faint praise? Absolutely. But it is £40.

8th May Reds

Ridge, Geyserville, 2014 was a touch herbal but dark and brambly. It had shaken off its youth to become smooth and well integrated but some time to go before the real tertiary flavours emerge from the blackberry fruits.

An initial admission that Rhone whites aren’t my thing so there was more enthusiasm from the group than personally.

Mark Haisma, Saint-Peray, 2020 was my favourite of the bunch, perhaps because it has a Burgundian steak. That could be all in my head given Mark mostly makes Burgundy but the deft use of oak was apparent here dominating (nicely) bouquet and palate. A touch more fresh and citrus focused than the other whites.

Etienne Barret, Crozes-Hermitage, 2019 was in half and as such was a more advanced, a golden colour in the glass. A more aromatic profile, quite a textured mouthfeel with peach and honey. Well balanced.

15th May Whites

Boutinot, Cairanne, 2022 had a wonderful cleanness throughout. Good acidity, light but powerful with melon, peach and apricot. A well made wine.

Corbieres Blanc, Haut Gleon, 2019 presented with a smoky almost rubbery nose but some white blossom wasn’t far behind. A real intensity of fruit stood out from others. There was quite a lot going on with yellow plum, honeysuckle, and some tropical notes, guava and papaya. Really interesting, the white I’d most sit down and ponder from the selection.

A couple of classics from 1995 felt a little over the hill. A Jaboulet Cornas had a rasiny eau de vie character with a savoury fruited palate. A Chapoutier 1995 Hermitage was oxidised with mostly tertiary notes of umami and stock pot. Really dry tannin on the palate with low acidity, not much fruit left here.

15th May Reds

Chateauneuf du Pape, Pegau, 2005. The red of the evening and in surprisingly so. I thought it might be Cote Rotie! Perhaps just after some older wines it had the balance and maturity just right. There was something irony/meaty alongside black cherry and a little blackcurrant.

Marc Sorrel, Crozes-Hermitage, 2021 was my wine. A little young but a poor vintage and suggested drinking window was from this year. In truth it was fairly approachable. Surprisingly perfumed, a touch of wild herb with sweet black cherry and overripe blackberry. Initially a touch astringent on the palate but with a little air opens into a youthful exuberance. More to come.

21st May – New World

The Wine Soceity, 150th Semillon, 2014. Super light and limey, distinctive Hunter Valley stuff. Lots of time left but great now and easy drinking at less than 12%! £20

The Aegean, Jim Barry, 2023. Lightly fragrant, mostly a tight citrus thing going on. Again light and drinkable and in Australia once more. At £15 a strong buy in a big retail environment.

21st May Whites

Zaha, La Consulta, Semillon, Uco 2021. Richer & golden. Waxy lanolin nose, glycerol palate but great balance. More yellow and stone fruit here, the other side of new world Semillon but just as drinkable. £17.50

Brand Ze Berg Chenin Blanc, Roodekrantz, 2020. My wine. Pale golden, honey, acacia, honeydew melon & hay mingle on the nose. Very restrained for Paal SA Chenin, other bottles have been richer but still good. £30.

Boekenhoutskloof, Syrah, 2021. The red of the tasting though perhaps not lots of competition tonight. Not immediately obvious as Syrah, some blackcurrant and berry with a little ripe cherry and elderberry. Touch of spice, still very primary but classy. £35.

21st May Red & Sweet

Fern Hill, Shriaz, 1996. Further evidence of the longevity of Australian Shiraz. Now showing some forest floor alongside plenty of menthol. The front of the palate has a good persistence of sweet and sour fruit though its age starts to show at the back with dry tannin and perhaps a touch of oxidisation.

Morris of Rutherglen, Rare Liqueur, Muscat was a treat to end. Its a blend of many older vintages, super dark with PX vibes. Raisin, coffee, dark chocolate, dates all mingle but with the quality of this it manages not to be cloying. Fab stuff. £80 for a half!

29th May – Sparkling/Rose/Orange

Oliver Zeter, Zero Grand Reserve, 2019. 68/32 Pinot/Chardonnay split. Citrus and ochard fruit with suggestions of brioche but not much complexity on nose. Palate a little leesy, green apple and pink grapefruit. High acidity, fine and energetic mousse. A fine sekt that’s enjoyable now and will improve, good value too although in UK you’ll pay £30 now.

Quartet, Roderer, NV. 60/40 Chardonnay/Pinot split. Quite restrained, a touch more simple than the sekt and coming after a zero dosage felt overly sweet.

29th May, Sparkling & Rose

Alfred Graiten, Brut, 2007. 60/20/20 split of Chard/Pinot/Meunier. Distinctive nose. Acidic & some sea shell notes, quality Sancerre vibes. Palate equally distinctive, hard to tell if its the style but a bit lean and not too giving. Enjoyable at this sort of tasting but if friends came round they might find it hard to appreciate. £50

Flor, Muga, 2022. Hard to pick as hailing from Rioja. Very restrained, pretty light red fruits throughout and a nice bitter bite on the finish. From 70+ year old Garnacha. My sort of rose. £20

Prima Donna, Maby, Tavel, 2022. Grenache and Carignan. Much darker colour, a little strawberry but more blackcurrant and even some herbal notes. More toward the red wine spectrum. £15

Gravonia, Lopez de Heredia, 2006. Seemed distinctive and obvious to me but a ringer as not an ‘orange’ wine. Classic oxidised style, always the acceptable side of it. This bottle felt slightly more evolved than I expect but lovely classic nuttiness, honey and sherried notes. £35

29th May, Rose, White & Orange

Italian Plastic Golden, Alpha Box & Dice, 2022. Blend of Semillon, Muscat, and Gewurztraminer. Loved the nose on this. Bit grapey, spiced rhubarb, tropical and stone fruit notes too. Palate not quite as strong, bit more simple with apricot and pear, tannin quite high and a touch dusty. I was one of the few to enjoy this, could write 500 words on the group’s thoughts on orange wine…but I won’t. £18.50

We had a couple of ‘traditional’ orange wines from Georgia, the home of the style and made from Rkatsiteli in amphora (Qvevri). Pheasants Tears, 2022 put the O in orange wine. I wrote ‘smells like a tangerine dropped in a puddle’. There was something interesting behind it, a note of miso and a fair amount of savoury character. £29 (from local wine shop). A M&S Rkatsiteli from 2012 at a £10 was probably equally as good. A little more traditional fruit profile with some strawberry and cranberry but some unripe plum too. With 12 years age the palate was a little lean and dry but still held together well.

Denbies, Orange Solaris, 2022. Close your eyes and its simply a slightly above par Solaris, a hint of orange but brings little character. Pleasant enough but made orange to charge the £28 they want for it?

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