Ξ July 21st, 2010 | → 1 Comments | ∇ Greybeard's Corner |
The Wine News for June saw Auction Houses breathing sigh of relief at the beginning of the month as a New York Appellate court ruled that Bill Koch may not sue Acker Merrall and Condit over alleged counterfeit bottles bought by the Billionaire collector, although Koch’s representatives said they’d appeal the decision and this could end up in the Supreme Court. For an insight into Koch’s motives there’s a good article on Bloomberg by Elin McCoy from February this year.
Over to Europe and the controversial Mosel Bridge looks like it is going ahead despite continuing protests. UK daily newspapers The Telegraph and The Independent carried similar articles, with the Independent also posting an emotional piece by Hugh Johnson, one of the bridges most vocal opponents.
Across the border in France and there were changes to two Rhône wine regions. Fed up with being associated with the bad press of the Tricastin Nuclear Power Plant, especially after the 2008 Uranium leak, the Côtes du Tricastin appellation, founded in 1973, has now become AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégé) Grignan-Les Adhemar, while the renowned Rasteau region has finally been promoted to the ranks of the Crus des Côtes du Rhône, joining Condrieu, Châteauneuf du Pape, St. Joseph and others nearly a decade since its application.
The new UK Coalition government’s “Emergency Budget” in June did not change the already high Excise Duty for wines, much to the relief of the wine buying public (well, me anyway!), however, the increase of VAT from 17.5 to 20% in January 2011 will see prices rise accordingly. We already have one of the highest rates all European countries for wine taxes – working out at £1.69 ($2.50) for most still wines, £2.16 ($3.25) for sparkling and £2.25 ($3.40) for fortified – so any additional targeted taxes will be keenly felt.
As for me, one event at the beginning of the month took centre stage – the inaugural North East Wine Festival (NEWF) held in the quiet Northumberland country town of Corbridge on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th June. The weather surprised everyone and remained perfect for the open air event; a good dose of sunshine and no rain to scare off potential visitors. Saying that, attendance was not as high as hoped for with only about 350 on the Friday and approaching 800 on the Saturday, however, retailers I talked to at the end of the show seemed happy that they’d more than covered their costs and spread the word about their wines to a group of new people.
I gave a talk on both days entitled “The World Wine Web” on how to use the internet to get what you want out of wine, discussing a range of useful web based resources and links – although targeted for the North East of England you can download a PDF of the handout sheet for a taste of my first ever public speaking roll!
Of the other speakers I really enjoyed Massimo de Nardo’s engaging description of Prosecco production at his Fasol Menin winery in Valdobbiadene, while Ian Cobham, ex-winemaker and now Sommelier at the Hotel du Vin in Newcastle, kept us all guessing with a blind tasting session as part of his presentation on understanding wine.
Over both days the 11 attending retailers poured their way through hundreds of bottles, but what really made the festival were the three local eateries who set up mobile kitchens and cooked a delicious selection of snacks and light meals to be eaten in the open air Cafe environment at the tables laid out between the marquees.
Bouchon Bistrot, winner of the Best French Restaurant on Gordon Ramsay’s “The F Word” TV show last year, put together a Gallic inspired menu with wines by local stalwart Michael Jobling – the delightful Chicken liver Parfait with Onion Compote & Cornichons was my only real food on day 1.
Renowned local Chef Terry Laybourne of Café 21 was behind the pass at the temporarily renamed Casa 21 with a selection of delicious Tapas dishes accompanied by wines from Spanish Spirit, the event organiser.
Finally the Feathers Inn, one of the best Gastro-Pubs in the region, put on a menu including the incredibly popular Lindisfarne Oysters and a damn fine cheese board.
My star wines of the festival were;
* Patricius 2007 Dry Furmit (£10.99. Carruthers & Kent). This elegant dry Hungarian white had a honeyed floral nose and textured, full bodied mouthfeel – another delicious example of a style I’ve yet to have a bad example of.
* Amayna 2007 Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc (£19.49. Carruthers & Kent). This was a thick, fruity wine with nutty complexity – savoury and dry but suffering from 14.5% alcohol and its hefty price tag.
* Morgado Sta Catherina, Quinta da Romeira Vinho Btanco (oaked Arinto) (£16.15. PortoVino). Another oaked white, this time from Portugal’s Arinto grape, the Morgado was light and inviting with a lemon sherbert taste, dry mid-palate and long, almost sweet finish.
* Domaine Pattes Loup 2007 Chablis (£12.95. Tyne Wines). A good example of the Chablis style; clean and flinty with a refreshing citrus fruit aspect, this was an uplifting wine with a full mid-palate, although the finish was a little short.
* Cossetti 2004 “Il Conteso” Nebbiolo D’Alba (£18. Castello). A fruity and complex Nebbiolo with a herb and tar nose, strong tannins and a very long finish. This has been nicknamed the “Baby Barolo” with good cause, as good as many a Barolo in the £20-£25 range.
* Latium Morini 2003 Campo Leon Amarone della Valpolicella (£29. The Hop, The Vine). Possibly the most expensive wine of the festival this had a smoky, savoury nose with some cherry wood. In the mouth it was juicy with lots of fruit and a very, very long finish. Although the tannins were fine they were also in abundance and a few more years would soften and improve the wine. At 16% abv this was a big wine in every sense, however, the price tag puts this well out of many people’s range.
* Château Vespeille 2007 Muscat de Rivesaltes Vin Doux Natural (£6.70. Michael Jobling). This wasn’t even on the lists as Michael poured the wine as part of his Food & Wine pairing presentation on the Saturday. The floral, uplifting nose, thick texture (but not cloying) and very long finish marked this out as one of the better sweet wines available on the day and a QPR hero as well!
* Jordan 2008 Mellifera Noble Late Harvest Riesling (£10.75. Proteas Wines). A decadent delight, this candied Botrytis wine oozed richness, with a mouth-coating texture but acidity to balance the high sugar content – one for the hedonists!
* Quinta do Infantado 2004 LBV Port (£18.15. PortoVino). This is what every LBV should be – a hint of sweetness and the character of a Vintage Port. The nose was more of a rich, deep red with plenty of liquorice, while in the mouth there were firm tannins and juicy complexity.
The dates for next year’s Festival have already been announced as 3rd & 4th June 2011, this time with a possible 3rd day on Sunday 5th, so if you’re anywhere near the North East of England then put it into your diary and I’ll see you there!
As if one major event for the month wasn’t enough the following weekend had a large commercial tasting organised by Newcastle Wine School as part of the Newcastle and Gateshead EAT festival. The usual suspects were present, with most of the NEWF independent retailers plus the addition of local store Fenwick and the National chains Oddbins and Majestic.
There were no talks, food or the luxury of a whole day to browse the offerings here, it was the quick-fire taste and move format with a deadline to work to. Naturally I avoided wines I’d had from the week before and found a few more gems worthy of mention;
* Cossetti 2007 Roero Arneis (£18. Castello). A wonderful Italian white with a deep, musky nose which pulls you in. A textured mouthful, a little oily with a creamy buttery finish.
* Lammershoek 2007 Roulette Blanc (Proteas Wines). Extremely perfumed nose with some honey & toasty oak. Slow to start but a full mouthfeel with a long honey finish with this Cheni-Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier blend.
* Alpha Domus 2008 Viognier (Fenwick). Herbal nose with a little rubber and a wonderful texture; smooth & rich, medium dry with a lot of subtle flavours.
* Casa Ermelinda 2006 Quinta da Mimosa (PortoVino). This fruity red was flying off the shelves and had a beautiful warm nose with some liquorice, crying out “sunshine”. I found it a little light in the mouth, very smooth on palate with subtle tannins on the finish and a savoury aspect – an easy drinking wine but it didn’t live up to the promise of the nose.
* Cantina Mesa 2008 Prima Scuro (Carruthers & Kent) This Sardinian Cannonau (Grenache) had a savoury, roasted herbs nose and was smooth with good acidity. Relatively light bodied it was delicious with a range of complex flavours and tannin, one to look out for and for £10.99 I’m definitely getting a bottle or two.
* Priests Hill 2009 Pinot Grigio (Michael Jobling). For only £5.52 this was the best white QPR by the Hungarian label, part of the Hilltop group. It had a fruity nose and, while not thought-provoking or complex, was very, very quaffable.
* Mountain Pass 2008 Pinot Noir (Fenwick). This took best red QPR at only £5.93 after Fenwick picked up a job lot of cases from the defunct First Quench group. This Victorian Pinot Noir was made by Yering Station and had a savoury nose with a little mushroom, was light & smooth in the mouth with a touch of sweet tannin and was an absolute bargain.
* Veiga Serantes 2008 Albarino (Spanish Spirit). This had a subtle lemony nose and light texture – a very good example of Albarino but, at £12.99, was unfortunately also a typical price for this fashionable grape which is becoming expensive to taste.
I’m not going to put any detail on June’s NEWTS premium South American tasting as it received a full article of its own a few weeks ago, other than to say my predictions for the World Cup proved way off mark! As I was not sent off anywhere with work there are no tales of exotic restaurants or wine exploits either, so I’ll finish off the post with the usual round up of bottles bought using my hard earned cash and consumed in the privacy of my humble home.
June saw the final flourish of my Italian White Wine buying quest with 2 more bottles, the Cossetto 2008 Roero Arneis and Della Valle Isarco 2008 Müller Thurgau, added to the Deltetto 2008 Favorita Sarvai, alta Battistina 2009 Gavi, Borgo San Michele 2005 Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio and 2005 Greco di Tufo dei Feudi di San Gregorio which I bought in May. Now all I have to do is start drinking some of them! An Australian oaked Chardonnay, the McGuigan 2009 Bin No. 156, and an Argentinean Torrontés from Vinalba concluded the whites for the month and only one red made its way home with me, a simple 2003 Grenache blend from the Languedoc destined for uncomplicated drinking within the month.
The unusual weather (i.e. not raining) meant that it was time for the first BBQ of the year and what else could there be for a pleasant evening sitting out on the patio but a Rosé? The fruity Jacob’s Creek 2007 Shiraz Rosé was an uncomplicated sipper to complement with the various chargrilled vegetables and ribs. Most of the rest of the bottles opened during the month were uncomplicated or uninspiring, except for Salentein’s 2004 MCM, a Malbec, Cabernet, Merlot blend which had an earthy, almost animal nose with smooth, integrated tannins and a smoky, sweet complexity which made it a pleasure to drink.
July promises to be equally interesting with two blind tastings to detail amongst the usual background noise. Until then, Slainte!