As tastings go this one was pretty good. Some decent whites, some nice surprises and even the big Burgundy houses didn’t entirely disappoint though they face stiff competition these days.
So it was on to the reds and here, in amongst the average ‘it’ll do’ wines and the occasional duffer I did find some really thought-provoking stuff…
*Santana Tempranillo, Vino de la Tierra, Bodegas Castillianas e7.99
A bit unrefined but definitely robust, cheerful and value for the money.
Wild Coast Shiraz-Cabernet, SE Australia 2004 e.7.99
A bit jammy. The above Tempranillo is better.
Louis Latour Bourgogne Pinot Noir La Chanfleur 2005. e14.99
The Burgundians are finding it inmcreasingly hard to deliver for this sort of money. This one is no exception.
Joseph Drouhin Rully 2003 e19.99
A wee bit metallic but, overall, a good demonstration of what Burgundian Pinot can do without costing an arm and a leg.
Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny 2001 £47.50
A bit ‘bretty’ for my taste but definitely off the pace for the money.
*Goats do Roam Red, Western Cape 2004 £9.99
Used to be excellent. Now has become more stylish and refined but maybe a tad less interesting as a consequence.
**Navraro Correas Coleccion Privada Malbec, Mendoza 2004 e9.99
Exclusive to Dunnes Stores
Cheerful, characterful wine with lashings of fruit. Not much you could get better than this for under a tenner.
**Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Release, Valle Centrale 2005 e.11.99
On special at SuperValu/Centra at e.7.99
….and worth every last cent. This is what Chile does so well, budget cabernet. Quite French in style, mellow and surprisingly delicate.
***Pezat Bordeaux Superieur, Jonathan Malthus 2005
It was only a barrel sample but the third I’ve tasted in recent weeks and I’m going to say what I said when I tasted the first one at the winery. IF THERE’S A BETTER BOTTLE OF RED IN IRELAND FOR E15, PLEASE TELL ME WHAT IT IS!
packed with rich, joyous, vibrant rich fruit, caressed and carefully handled – a total class act – see my Sunday Indo column Oct 28th
**G ‘Le Garagiste’ Gilbey Commemorative St.Emilion Grand Cru 2004 e26.99
Had a hard time following the luscious Pezat but a retaste proved it to be elegant and well made and it will certainly improve in bottle. The merlot shines through.
Chateau Laforge Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2003 e58
Has what I consider the drawback of a lot of the 03s – schizophrenia! Huge hit of ripe fruit upfront and, as it quietens down, a dilute quality in mid-late palate.
Doesn’t cut it for the money.
Moulin de la Lagune Haut Medoc 2000
Second wine of La Lagune, pre the arrival of vinobabe Caroline Frey. Again, my views on claret are running contrary to the flow but I’m finding that once the fruit starts to dissipate many of the 2000s don’t have a great deal to offer (despite all the hype). This is one such.
***Chateau La Lagune Haut Medoc 3eme Grand Cru Classe 2001 e45
Beautiful, accessible claret and, like many of its ’01 counterparts, drinking delightfully as of now. They make fantastic restaurant wines. Classy and classical gear.
*Fortius Tempranilo Navarra, Bodegas Valcarlos2003 e7.99
Uncomplicated cherry fruit kick. People will love this for the price.
*Fortius Reserva, Navarrra, Bodegas Valcarlos 1999, On special e9.99, down from 15.99
Nicely made wine for ‘now’ drinking especially at the lower price.
Faustino Seleccion de Familia Rioja 2002 e13.99
On special at Carry-out group and others at 9.99
Unremarkable stuff from Ireland’s favourite consistently under-performing Rioja house. Buy the Fortius instead.
**Portia Ribera del Duero 2003 e17.99
Solid, impactful, dignified stuff from the sexy ‘new Spain’. Good weight of fruit; liked this a lot.
**Fairview Pinotage-Viognier Coastal Region 2003 e14.99
Take the grape that should have been strangled at birth; blend in 10% of another grape I habitually detest and what do you get? Bloody good wine, actually. All the skidmark rubber smell of pinotage, all the icky blowsiness of viognier gone, gone, gone. I take my hat off to Charles Back. You should try this!
**Fairview Pegleg Carignan, Swarrtland 2003 e19.99
Delicious delicate cherry and Victoria plum fruits. Smashing stuff.
**Domaine Ferrer Ribierre Empreinte du Temps Carignan, Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalan 2005 e14.99
Oh dear! An interminably lengthy, nigh-unpronounceable name, a self-effacing grape, an unknown area and a naff monochrome label will prevent this wine, made from 128 year old vines, from having an audience.
A pity, because it’s only delightful. Do get to a good independent and seek this one out.
Santa Rita 120 Reserva Especial Shiraz, Valle de Maipo 2005. e11.50
A worthy attempt by Santa Rita to hike upo the lacklustre 120 collection. Solid, but a tad boring.
Santa Rita 120 Limited Release Petite Syrah-Syrah 2004 e1.99
Curious. A reversal of the Fairview P-V above. They’ve taken two nice grapes and made something akin to old-style pinotage. If you like licking warm tarmac it might be for you. Otherwise, hard to take.
***Envoy Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvedre, Barossa Valley, Colonial Estate 2004 e19.99
For me another Jonathan M superstar. Courageous, stonking winemaking worth every penny and more of the asking price.
**L’Explorateur Barossa Valley Shiraz, Colonial Estate 2003 e19.99
Big,chunky, in-the-tradition Barossa shiraz whose extrovert character masks a lot of class. Drink now or will improve if laid down.
Crozes-Hermitage Selectionne par Louis Jaboulet, Paul Jaboulet Aine 2002 e10.99
Crozes of this nature used to be really good value but this one (probably the vintage that’s in it) is hard and unlovely.
Hermitage La Chapelle, Paul Jaboulet Aine 2001 e95
Shame on you! What used to be one of my all-time favourite wines is now a pale shadow of itself. What seems to be a combination of apathy and neglect seems to have set in and La Chapelle no longer has the capacity to excite. Let’s hope things improve when The Fair Maid of La Lagune gets down there to sort the compacent buggers out!
*Gratien & Mayer Saumur Brut Rose NV e17.50
Honest, well made fizz for the money. Nice refreshing attack.
*Champagne Laurent Perrier LP Brut NV e39.99
Pleasant, well made, crisp clean appley acidity. Good value.
***Champagne Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut NV e55
Wonderful! Outstanding champagne in its price bracket. Clean, lean and refreshing, tinged with excitement – an element many of the others in this price range leave out.
*Champagne Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose Brut NV e65
Good, but unless you can’t live without the rose tints, buy the Ultra Brut and save yourself a tenner.
Champagne Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Alexandra Brut Rose 1997 e150
Near-exquisite but the Taittinger equivalent, the Comte de Champagne Brut Rose knocks it for six for equivalent money, in my opinion.
**Thomas Barton Reserve Sauterne 2005 e19.99
Impressive rich Sauternes. Great wine for silly money. Look out for the chunky bottle.
Paul Jaboulet Aine Muscat de Beaumes de Venise Le Chant des Griolles 2003 e23.99 or (37cl) e12.99
Unless you have a very very sweet tooth and a shot palate buy the Sauternes above.