HER BOOKS ON AMAZON
  • Wine and Climate Change: Winemaking in a New World
    Wine and Climate Change: Winemaking in a New World
    by L. J. Johnson-Bell
  • Pairing Wine and Food: A Handbook for All Cuisines
    Pairing Wine and Food: A Handbook for All Cuisines
    by Linda Johnson-Bell
  • Home Cellar Guide Hb
    Home Cellar Guide Hb
    by Linda Johnson-Bell
  • Quel vin pour quel plat ?
    Quel vin pour quel plat ?
    by Linda Johnson-Bell
  • Great Wine Tours of the World
    Great Wine Tours of the World
    Barnes and Noble Books
  • The Wine Collector's Handbook
    The Wine Collector's Handbook
    by Linda Johnson
  • De juiste wijn bij het juiste gerecht
    De juiste wijn bij het juiste gerecht
    by Johnson-Bell Linda

  • Good Food, Fine Wine: A Practical Guide to Finding the Perfect Match
    Good Food, Fine Wine: A Practical Guide to Finding the Perfect Match
    by LINDA JOHNSON-BELL

ARTICLE INDEX
SEARCH FOR A WINE

TASTING NOTES: Diary of a Wine Critic


Tuesday
Feb052013

1990 - 1994 vertical of Montrachet, chez Antonin Rodet

Tasted during Press Lunch at the Domaine Antonin Rodet

September 1995


1993 Château de Chamirey, Mercurey, Antonin Rodet

Gorgeous, terroir-driven wine: very mineral. Nez du buerre. 11 mois en fut de chene, mais le bois ne se domine pas. Parfaitement équilibré. Bienfait. A perfect Chardonnay.

 

1987 Rully, Antonin Rodet

Un nez de vas, sale et minéral, la bouche pleine de beurre… délicieux. Equilibré, joliment expressive, encore avec une acidité vif. Superbe.

 

1993 Nuit St. Georges, Antonin Rodet

Un très bon example d’un vin du village – mieux structuré que le plûpart. Poivre, épice et avec une solide structure.

 

1994 Montrachet Grand Cru

A little green and végétal … amer. 100% put in fûts, sur liés until May. Batonnage une fois par semaine. Kept longer sur liés because 1994 marked by a lack of acidity. I think this one will sort itself out.

 

1993 Montrachet Grand Cru

J’aime moins déjà. Robe plus brillant, nez plus frais mais le bois est plus marqué, la bouche moins structurée … une touche trop d’alcool et la finale est amère.

 

1992 Montrachet Grand Cru

Nez du coing, rhubarbe, citron, almond. La bouche est bien ronde et gras … complexe. Un vin de race.

 

1991 Montrachet Grand Cru

Stunning. Notes de grillé …. fumée … un nez d’agrume, super maturé, presque exotique mais toujours restreint : un trompeur. Jolies matières qui donne ce vin un grand avenir. La finale est agréablement – mais pas trop – boisé.

 

1990 Montrachet Grand Cru

Even better : une bouche pleine de matière, vif et superbement structuré – jolie acidité. Very nice.

 

Tuesday
Feb052013

Some Burgundy Tasting Notes from 1995

As I am researching my new book on Climate Change and Wine, I find myself drawn to my old tasting notes from when I fell under the spell of the voluptuous seductiveness, the savoury textures and the animal perfumes of the Burgundies of the ’80 and ‘90s. I cannot help but compare the alcohol levels and trace my notes throughout the decades. 

Tasted in my office of Vintage Magazine, Paris

 

1993 Mercurey 1er cru “Clos l’Eveque”, Domaine Protheau

Un vin qui trouve ses valeurs dans sa simplicité et son équilibre. Son style droit et modeste le rendre très facile à boire. Avec une attaque fruité (cerises confits), une bouche fraîche (pommes) et une finale subtile, ce vin est assez évolué pour son âge et sans le goût “cuivré” parfois associés aux jeunes vins de cette appellation. Très agréable.

 

1991 Echezeaux Grand Cru, Mongeart-Mugneret

Un premier nez d’animal qui se transforme en bouquet des violets et de la lavande – très raffiné. Une bouche ferme et épicé, de la muscade et du poivre. Ce vin a réussi de s’exprimer d’une belle manière dans un millésime qui n’a pas une grande réputation. En fait, c’est vrai que la finale est légèrement faible, mais c’est comme même un grand vin avec un grand avenir.

 

1988 Château de Pommard, Monopole La Planche

Une grande année et un grand vin. Un nez des épices, des fleurs, du pain grillé – une bouche veloutée  de chocolat, caramel et des groseilles : c’est un repas, une énorme petit-déjeuner … en lui-même. La finale est en proportion au reste et ne décevoir pas. Il exige et mérite une longue aération car chaque minute qui passe dévoile encore une autre dimension a ce vin complexe et sophistiqué.

Monday
Feb042013

Dégustation des Vins de Touraine – Val de Loire

Dégustation des Vins de Touraine – Val de Loire

Mercredi, 7 Juin 1995

 

1992 Cuvée « Vieilles Vignes », Philippe Alliet, Chinon

Nez fume, frais, vif, jolie acidité et fruits expressive. Bien fait.

 

1993 Cuvée de la Roche, Domaine du Colombier, Chinon

Gorgeous expression of terroir: argilo-calcaire … damp, salty, smoky, fresh.

 

1993 Reserve Stanislas, Le Moulin a Tan, Pierre Sourdais, Chinon

Fresh, lively acidity, bright fruit … slightly brooding. Nice.

 

1990 Château de Chenonceau, AOC Touraine

Un nez du miel, de l’amande et des abricots, les tous soulignés avec un note du sel de la mer, ce que lui donne sa personnalité aussi originale. En bouche, la texture ressemble a un jus de fruit et bascule entre l’austérité et l’abandonne. Une finale longue et alcoolique du rhum blanc.

This is the wine of one of the most fairy-tale-like of the fairy-tale châteaux of the  Loire Valley. Vignobles planted in 1547 by Diane de Poitiers and later embellished by the châtelaine Catherine de Médicis. 

Friday
Feb012013

Random notes on US from 1994

Some US wine notes from 1994  … from California and Washington

 

1992 Riesling, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Valley, Washington US

Soapy, a distorted varietal character, lacking acidity and vivacity - bland.

 

1991 Vintners’ Reserve Merlot, Kendall Jackson

Surprisingly well-made: tightly constructed yet supple. Not bad, but still boring- Merlot usually is as a mono-cépage.

 

1990 Merlot, Columbia Crest, Paterson

Astringent, dominated by alcohol with a hard, dense monolithic structure. No complexity or movement. Dreadful.

 

Saturday
Nov242012

A Brunello always knocks first ...

Brunello di Montalcino is capable of producing Tuscany’s most elegant expression of the Sangiovese grape …and I revel in the perfumed potency of this perfect winter wine … and when I drink it, it takes me back to the hilltop idyll of Montalcino.

A stunning place - if you can forgive them for actually hosting an annual Sagra del Tordo (celebration of the Thrush). Skip the archery contest, and make your way to the 14th century Fortezza’s Enoteca instead. Brunello di Montalcino came to the wine fame game a bit late, but in the past few decades has established itself as the standard for quality, long-lived red wines. Awarded its DOCG status in 1980, Brunello is required to be 100% Sangiovese, with maximum yields of 55 hl/ha. It should be aged for at least 2 years in oak and then at least 4 months in bottle (6 months for Riservas), before being released for sale until five years after harvest (or 6 years for the Riservas).

Traditional producers are still making the sort of intense, concentrated and tannic Brunellos that demand ageing for up to 20 years or more, whilst the more modern producers are attempting "approachable" versions which would only need ten or less years of cellaring. You can guess which style I prefer !

Brunellos can be very expensive, justifiably. If you would like to taste a glimpse of one of the greats, then try a Rosso di Montalcino (same grape, same region) from one of the traditional producers in a good year. Montalcino is in southern Tuscany and its soil types are incredibly varied, imparting an elegance that is lacking in its northern cousins.  

As elegant as a well-made Chianti Classico may be, they can tend to barge-in on you … a Brunello, however, always knocks first.

Today I served with our family lunch of roasted pheasant wrapped in pancetta, grilled brussel sprouts with sea salt and garlic, sweet potato mash, mushrooms stuffed with mozzarella, spinach and pine nuts.

 

Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, 2006

Incredibly concentrated and elegant due to expert vineyard management (high planting density/old vines/small yields). A recently “tempered” oak programme is producing even more balance and fruit.

 

Piancornello Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, 2006

Full-bodied, and perfumed with roasted nuts, damp undergrowth, candied cherries, and chocolate. Mature tannins, with a solid backbone and fresh finish. (I got this from Waitrose Wine, I think).

 

 

Friday
Nov232012

Winter Warmers

Here are my favourite winter drinks ... to nurse slowly in front of the fire, after one of my stunning meals .. heh. There are after-dinner drinks, and then there are the Italian  amari, or the digestivi, which not only warm the heart, but sooth the digestion. With an alcohol content of 20-40%, these herb-based elixirs have a serious job to do!

Averna

This liqueur’s recipe dates from 1868 Sicily. It is flavoured with herbs, roots, citrus rinds that are marinated in the base liquor before caramel is added. Very thick and herbaceous, it is said to not only possess digestive properties, but also aphrodisiac.

 

Sambuca

A colourless witch elder distillation tasting of aniseed. It is traditionally served colla mosca (with the fly): flambéed with a coffee bean floating on top. When you bite into the bean whist sipping the Sambuca, its bitterness is balanced by the sweetness of the liquor.

 

Fernet

Another type of amaro, the fernets can be issued from many herbs and spices (depending on the brand), such as rhubarb, chamomile, saffron, myrrh, aloe, etc, with a base of grape-based distilled sprits and coloured with caramel. Fernet-Branca,  the well-known brand, has nearly 30 plants and herbs: the Fratelli Branca refuse to divulge their exact recipe!

 

Nocino

From the Emilia-Romagna region, this is a gorgeous concoction made from unripe green walnuts which have been steeped in spirits. Dark, and sticky, it is highly aromatic and rather bittersweet, but smooth, comforting and elegant.

 

Grappa

Grappa is a colourless brandy distilled from the used grape skins and pips after the wine-making process. Every region has its preferred recipe, using their local grapes. It can be drunk as a young, crude spirit, or oak-aged to incredible smoothness and flavoured with rose petals or lemon peels.

Sunday
Jul152012

2007 Villa Belvedere's Amarone

Such opulence ... plump raisins, fragrant violets, sharp balsamic, spicy plum, fruit of the forest, toasted almonds ... Heaven.

Sunday
May272012

2009 Ghenos Primitivo di Manduria, Torrevento, Puglia

Well, sadly for the others, I polished off the Jobard Meursault in the pool. I saved a smidgen for husband who, like a heathen, enjoyed it as an accompaniement to his sticky toffee pudding. For the main event,  I served this Puglian favourite of mine: both the grape and the producer, with a roasted pork  and crackling and polenta and panzanella and more.  100% Primitivo and borne of a soil that renders this wine beast-like, savoury and earthy, this beauty is stunningly focused, fresh and feral. And for once, I do not complain of the alcohol levels, for that is what this style of Primitivo craves and handles masterfully. This is only one of the note-worthy offerings from Francesco at Torrevento, an estate I visited a few years ago with Marina Thompson ... more later.... I wish to enjoy my last few sips in the pool ...

Sunday
May272012

2004 Meursault-Genevrieres, 1ier cru Domaine Jobard

I am a Jobard fan, primarily of Jobard the Elder, but the Younger seems to have listened to his father well enough! These are not New World leche-bottes ... they are restrained and elegant with the focus on the minerality ... and hold back on the new oak and other complications. This is drinking beautifully and taking on those fabuous notes of maturity ... that stunning "gout de vas" qu'on trouve qu'en bourgogne . Solid extracts, well-structured ... if I were to complain of anything, it would be my usual bug-a-bear regarding alcohol levels. This is 13%, and whilst the wine remains balanced, it has a slight twinge of warmth on the finish which is unsettling. You want it to finish on a cool, crisp note, and it does not.

Still, I wish that I had left it to age a few more years in the cellar this morning when I went hunting for something to sip whilst floating in the pool ... yes  ...summer has finally arrived in England. I may even leave a bit in the bottle for the Sunday roast that I smell wafting from the house ...

Merci Messieurs Jobard.

Tuesday
May222012

London Wine Trade Fair

This week is the London Wine Trade Fair at Excel .... tasted the 2008 Bordeaux vintage ... mixed impressions, but all good. Am also getting to know Russian and Moldovian wines ... the Black Sea is where it all began, remember!!  There was a show-offy, posing young sommelier from some uber-trendy restaurant in London who came up and stood next to me to taste... and he exclaimed "Russian wines? That's new!"    (Tasting notes to come)

 

Tuesday
May222012

2008 Bordeaux ... the last of the recognisable classics?



2008 BORDEAUX at the 2012 London Wine Trade Fair

This event was moved from last year’s room into a smaller space up in the
South Gallery … a space much resembling a decaying Hilton… dull, lifeless,
non-descript. One could not imagine a less inspiring back-drop.

There were only 30 or so of the producers present and those who were, were
complaining (and rightly so) about the pointlessness of Excel and the poor
organisation of the fair overall. Was the poor turn-out due to their
fatigue of Excel, or the fact that 2008 has turned out to be a hugely
successful campaign and most have sold all their wine?

For 2008 is what I fear may become to be known as one of the last recognisable Bordeaux
vintages due to the increasingly higher alcohol levels, which erase any
varietal character, terroir-influences, subtlety or complexity. My more
recent trips to Bordeaux have proven that this is going to be the demise of
the Bordeaux wines that seduced and enticed me into this profession over
two decades ago. At first, the Bordelais actually sought the high alcohol,
in-your-face, up-front fruit and new oak American style to try to emulate
the inferiour New World versions (Californian, principally) and to garner
praise from the immature and commercially-driven palate of Mr. Parker.
Then, perversely, Mother Nature started to do the job for them and now they
are hit with a double-whammy.  But, more on this later.

I have been following this vintage and was saddened to see so few châteaux
present, as I was looking forward to comparing my notes from the last
tasting. But I was pleased to see how well they were tasting ... most of
the wines hovered around the 13% mark and I found many examples of fresh
and enjoyable wines. As I overheard Steven Spurrier say to a taster
standing next to me ..."Charm. If they are not charming, then what is the
point?". How beautifully put. So, yes, I too, as always, was on the hunt for a bit of
charm. Here are a few scanty notes.

Pape Clément, Pessac-Léognan
The white was over-oaked anda t 14.5%, clumsy and lacking focus. The red was dominated by new oak but may find some balance as the extracts were good, but the tannins were green … so perhaps not.

Carbonnieux, Pessac-Léognan
A solid example of this appellation’s typicity: very terroir-driven. Hints of lead pencil and good acidity, although a touch lean and green.

La Tour Carnet, Haut-Médoc

Fresh and clean on the nose. Nicely structured, robustly elegant … if that is not an oxymoron.


de Fieuzal, Pessac-Léognan
Very well done. A feminine, fleshly and textured wine with bright movement and charm.

Maucaillou, Moulis-en-Médoc
This is fresh and lively with good minerality and balance.

Chasse-Spleen, Moulis-en Médoc

Again, lively, highly expressive and fresh with lovely perfumes.


Greysac, Médoc

Dur et amer …flat, lacking dimension or texture ... boring.

 

Cantenac Brown, Margaux

Gorgeous. Perfumed, feminine, and charming. A well-structured and focused wine.

Dauzac, Margaux

Another charming, violet-perfumed wine … freshly acidic and lively, feminine. Perfect.


Prieuré- Lichine, Margaux

She served me the last of a bottle and it was off – not bouchonné, but there was a problem. So how many people tasted it before and had not noticed?! She opened another and it was much, much better. Fresh, clean, well-made, the wine we know and love.


Monbrison, Margaux
Really lovely. Again, great acidity and freshness with a strong, clean minerality. Very focused and well-structured with a nice finish.

 

Du Tertre, Margaux

Huge first attack with upfront noisy extracts …falls apart mid-palate. Too New World in style.

Giscours, Margaux

A bit clumsy and unfocused. Oddly textured … disappointing. Will have to come back to this.

Labégorce, Margaux

Not drinking well - green tannins and acetate tones dominated.

Lascombes, Margaux

Not too much to like here … it is well-made, but unexpressive and with a dry finish.

Marquis de Terme, Margaux

A very grown-up and elegant wine but too thin and lean. Lax: it isn’t trying very hard to please.


Gruaud Larose, Saint-Julien

Sec et serré … dry and tight and lacking flexibility. Not drinking well today – too severe. One of my favourite wines …so give it time.


Lagrange, Saint-Julien

Another from this appellation that is not drinking well today. Dry and green on the nose with a hard, unforgiving palate. Not what one normally gets with this wine.


Cos Labory, Saint-Estèphe
A clean, fresh nose, appealing. But lacking corpulence or real body and thin on the finish … stationary, one-dimensional.

 

Lafon-Rocher, Saint-Estéphe

Simply stunning. My favourite of the day. Very elegant nose. The rich palate is so refreshing it is almost cool on the tongue. Incredible body and structure and most of all, movement … it dances across the palate. Such personality and seduction.

Phélan Ségur, Saint-Estephe

Daring and brooding, almost savoury… lifted and complimented by fresh acidity and structure.

 

 

Wednesday
Apr182012

English Wineries CWW Trip

Last week I visited some stunning wineries in Kent and Sussex with my fellow members of the British Circle of Wine Writers and  Julia Trustran-Eve of the English Wine Producers ... see more photos and get tasting notes in my DIARY ...

 

Monday
Jan022012

Supermarket Sweep : Ignorant consumers, impatient producers, gagged journalists and bad buyers ….

 

 

I wanted to find some decent supermarket wines to write about in my next Taste Italia article. I drove around to a few local supermarkets and bought about six bottles of Italian wine from each. I never buy my wine in supermarkets, except for Waitrose, because I prefer to buy it in Europe and drive it home, or buy through my husband’s wine agents and pay restaurant trade prices … which I still think are too expensive. Having always assumed that all supermarket wine is bad wine, I wanted to determine how biased my opinion really was. I also invited a few friends to see what they thought.

 

I learned several things …

 

1. Since when have supermarkets been putting sell-by dates on the bottles? Where have I been? I was discussing this topic with some colleagues a few months ago in France and assumed it was a joke.

 

2. There are actually some really enjoyable vino de tavola - quality wines out there that provide good value.

 

3. Supermarket buyers are a changed breed.

 

 

Ignorant consumers and impatient producers …

 

Never in my life did I think I would read on the back of a Chianti label, the words:  “to be consumed within 6 months of purchase”.  I have seen the whole picture now – the joke has come full-circle.  I think I know how and why this has happened: when the Old-World age-worthy reds were sold in supermarkets, the consumer did not understand that you cannot compare a young Bordeaux blend to a “Heritage” blend from California or Australia. The New World wines, due largely to climatic conditions and the use of lots of new oak, were fruity, approachable and immediately drinkable – no cellaring required. The consumer did not understand why they had to buy a French or Italian wine then, that they could not enjoy that instant, but have to cellar. Who cellars anymore? Today, everyone buys for their wine in the night. So, now the Old World producers who have the supermarkets as their target audience, have regressed and made New World versions of their grapes. They want to get in on the action and follow this consumer trend and be easy and approachable too. And what is ironic, is that Mother Nature has been propelling the Old World towards this hot, alcoholic, in-your-face style anyway.

 

Still, I don’t understand why you’d want to make an early-drinking Chianti. Also, nearly all of the wines had screw-caps. Which, if the wine really is meant to be drunk in under a year, makes sense. But ….it annoys me that the wine industry has had to bend over backwards to accommodate consumer trends based on utter ignorance and impatience. The consumers are ignorant and the producers are impatient. When a wine producer says “hey, I give the people what they want”, this is wrong (they don’t ALL say this, by the way). The consumer will buy what they are given – what is put on the shelves. If you put crap on the shelves … they will drink crap. Period.

Gagged journalists …

 

Consumers should not be followed, they should be led. …and educated…which is another entire issue and rant of its own. Editors of wine columns in newspapers and magazines now only ask that their wine writers merely provide a glorified “shopping list” as opposed to content that is educative. That’s assuming that they even fork out the money for a wine expert to write their wine column. Most of them now promote a self-proclaimed expert from within their publication. And if all this said expert is doing  is listing the wine on sale at Tesco, copying the back of the label for content and sticking in a food match ….you don’t need an expert, just a self-important moron.

 

Bad buyers …

 

So, who is putting the crap on the shelves? The producers or the buyers? The trade has completely changed. I remember, when editing Vintage Magazine in Paris, back in the early 90s,  I would meet UK buyers when tasting in Burgundy or Bordeaux – the Press and the Trade mixed at the larger tastings. We journalists looked upon the UK buyers with envy and awe. In most cases, they had been well-trained and had well-formed Old-World palates. If I fell in love with a rustic, animal, seductively perfumed Pommard, I could write about it, yes. But if a Buyer did, he or she could decide on the spot to buy it and have an order drawn up for large quantities. The power ….

 

Then, this power was taken away from them. Any Buyer with experience was fired and replaced by a young thing who never lived in a wine-producing country and was trained to buy-by-numbers. …if they are even allowed to buy. In Chianti recently, I listened to a many buyers as they went about their business. I am determined to find the missing link in this chain. They all inevitably zeroed in on the easiest, most approachable, ubiquitous wines that were present at the tasting - the worst ones, really. They were choosing the wines they thought the international consumer would pay for. They were  not buying, hence rewarding, the wines that were the best made, the superior wines, the wines that the consumer should be drinking. And usually for the sake of a euro, in most cases, may I add (ah, but this 1 euro, multiplied up the margin chain would fatten unrecognisably). And then they talked price cuts and volume discounts and then they told the producer that they would have to check back with headquarters and get back to them – a process I have been told can take six months. It was a most repulsive procedure to witness.

 

Anyway ….here is a small sampling of my local find. It was an enjoyable exercise and one I shall repeat regularly.

 

 

SAINSBURY’S

 

Sainsbury’s House Chianti DOC 13% 2010

 

The label does not mention the grape variety, so there is no way to tell if it is a classic Sangiovese or a Super Tuscan -version and mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, well, I could taste it and tell….will give it a go. The wine is classified under their “smooth and mellow” style category … this is done to assist the consumer in selecting their wine. But all essential wine-making details are withheld. So it is not teaching anyone anything, but is promoting “buying by numbers”, like when the labour government temporarily dropped the classic phonetic spelling technique in favour of the learn by sight method and filled our country with a generation of illiterates.

 

This is the first time that I have seen a recommendation to drink Chianti within 6 months of purchase. Little or no oak, which should mean a refreshing lively wine, but here, lays bare a poor quality of matière première (primary matter – fruit extracts).

Nose is clean and fruity. Mouth is astringent and medicinal. Cherry bon-bon,. A technical and poorly-made wine.

 

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC, Mondelli, Edizione Uno 2010

 

Nose fresh and warm, well-balanced, slightly oaked very appealing. Not bad on the palate. Oak is soft, but “stuck on” like a Post-it. very sweet. No finish. Very little varietal character – could be any grape. All the appeal and attraction is in the first attack. Again, this has a screw cap and a suggestion that it is drunk within the year of purchase. So these people are not even bothering to make a wine for cellaring. So, to be fair, it does what it says on the label. This wine was not made to hold the road and it won’t. Eggy finish.

 

Primitivo del Salento, IGT 2010 Puglia, Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference

 

Screw cap, drink within one year of purchase. Nose, stewed plums and oak. Palate. is hot and finish is alcoholic and short. Retro-olfactive is like a shot of ether alcohol. So hot all the varietal character is erased …could be anything.

 

 

M & S

 

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2010, M & S

 

Less-insulting label: provides grape variety (Montepulciano) and region and winemaker’s name. Still recommends drinking this noble grape variety in under 6 months!! Screw cap. Nose is tight and focused. Palate goes nowhere – it falls apart here. Cheap cherry soda. No finish.

 

*M & S Italian Red NV

 

12.5%, one-litre sized bottle, screw cap. Just says that it is a blend of grapes from Puglia, to drink within 3 months of purchase!!! Clean, fresh nose. Balanced, straightforward palate, finish is decent. Harmonious, pleasant. Delicious. Has a lovely rustic feel to it – a vino de tavola …not bad.

 

 

TESCO

 

 

Greco di Tufo, Lava  2010 DOC, £12.99

 

12.5%, natural cork, label in Italian, apologising for any debris at bottom of bottle due to their minimalist winemaking techniques ..hmmmm, marketing hype or true? I love Geco di Tufo…I love volcanic whites…for their acidity, austerity and steeliness and smoky appeal. This is flabby, sweet and highly citric. Very unappealing. Made my eyes water and my mouth pucker.

 

Villa Taurini, Barbera, Piedmont 2009 DOC £4.99

 

13.5% Very sweet and okay on the nose. No drink time limit – should have, because this won’t last at all. Flabby, sweet, lacking any structure or varietal character. All sweet oak and sweet fruit. No identity at all.

 

Nero d’Avola, Sicily 2010 £6.99

 

13.5%, bottled by Settesoli, in Menfi, Sicily. Label says vineyards are selected by Diego Planeta. Mr Planeta’s wines are in my opinion, always hot and big and New World and lack subtly or terroir or style. I seriously do not get why he has suddenly ecome a huge wine celebrity – probably for putting Sicily back on the map at all. You can taste his imprint on this wine. This wine has a wonderful enticing, flashy first attack, with bright, intense fruit and then after the premature explosion, there is nothing. Palate is heavy and non-descript. Boring.

 

*Chianti Riserva DOC 2008, £7.99

 

Here, the label says that it is Sangiovese and from Chianti, explains its bottle aging and suggests it will age a further 2 years. A very decent Chianti in deed. Nothing to fault. A light, clean nose focused fruity well-balanced palate and a clean finish, moderately long finish. A pleasure.

 

 

** Tesco’s Barolo DOC 2007  £12.73

 

14%, label says to age another 5 years, explains that it is made from Nebbiolo and from Piedmont. Good. Stunning nose of pencil lead … elegant, grown-up, smoky. Mouth well-balanced. Gorgeous fruit –clean, focused finish. Well-made. A touch too high in alcohol, but the fruit just manages to keep it in check.

 

 

 

 

 

CO-OP

 

*Co-op Sicilian white IGT  NV, £3.79

 

12%. Screw cap. Good label, includes grape and region info: Inzolia, Catarratto, Grecanico.  Just love this one. Really original. Voluptuous oozing tropical fruit wrapped up in a steely, volcanic acidity. It moves and evolves and keeps your interest. A great find.

 

Orvieto Clasico 2010, £5.75

 

12%. Grapes: Procanico, Verdello, Malvasia, Grechetto, Drupeggio,

Another good, clear, informative label. Wine is flabby and insipid. Lacks acidity. Painful.

 

Co-op Valpolicella 2010 £4.79

 

12%, Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara

Informative label with grapes and “best by” info: Drink within 12 month. Has that  cherry bon-bon, medicinal taste, but less so than many others I have tasted. Am pretty impressed by this.

 

Canti vino rosso, NV  £4.75

 

Produced by Fratelli Martini but no label info, what grapes ? 12%

Non-descript and harmless. Ok. No huge faults. Correct but no more.

 

*La Chiave Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2010, £4.29

 

Good label. Nose is closed at this tasting, but it is serious, tight, focused. Composed, restrained fruit. Very grown-up. Body holds together nicely with solid fruits. Well-made, nice. A bit sweet.

 

 

** Co-op Sicilian red NV, £3.79

 

Grapes: Sangiovese, Frappato, Nero d’Avola, A lovely surprise. Appealing, true varietal character – well-balanced, nothing dominates the clean, heathy fruit – very solid little wine.  

Friday
Dec092011

Chapoutier's classic and a Basque jewel ...

 

DINNER PARTY AT BARBARA and NICHOLAS's house, Turville Heath.

 

 

 

Côtes-du-Rhône, Michel Chapoutier, Rhone Valley 2007

This was served with a partridge stew with mushrooms and lentils that had been sitting and gathering in perfumed potency all day … gamey and perfectly balanced. The wine was a great match, with its aromas of freshly picked black cherries, lavender and mineral, earthy backbone.

 

Pipas Txakolina, Bizkaiko Txakolina 2010

A very, very bone-dry and highly acidic, vivacious wine. Right up my alley. Perfect with the fresh goat’s cheese and the runny Epoisses Barbara served. This is a very unusual grape variety from the Basque region. I once lived in Biarritz, and I know and love these wines; they personify the lush, mystical greenery and misty rain clouds of the Pyrenees and the salty, moody beaches of the Atlantic beaches.

Tuesday
Nov292011

Lunch with General Dempsey at the Portobello Gold

Lunch at husband’s Notting Hill Pub with my son-in-law Michael Wisecup and his boss the cheekily charming General Martin Dempsey with his wife and friends. They loved the wines ... All of these are also available at www.ellisofrichmond.co.uk. Contact David Azam on 07920 583 087 and tell him that Linda sent you!

2000 Bollinger La Grande Année

I have always loved Bollinger for its weighty, savoury style. I prefer those that are Pinot Noir dominated as opposed to Chardonnay. However, the 2000 is not drinking well today at all. It just does not seem to have the power and the matière that the 1996 has. I had the 1996 recently and it is drinking beautifully still.

 

 2002 Puligny-Montrachet, Louis Carillon

Flabby – lacking acidity. Diluted fruit and wobbly structure. A real mess. Boring. Perhaps it didn’t have the extracts to carry it to this age? It should be just coming into its own. What went wrong? Will re-taste in a few weeks and see if I am mistaken.

 2004 Meursault-Genevrieres Domaine Jobard

Stunning. Focused, tight, clean, vivacious and lively. A mineral, salty nose and a full, textured palate and long finish.

 

 2003 Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru Grand Maupertuis, Domaine Jean Tardy

This is an estate to follow…he just gets better and better. I do miss the old, unabashedly feral and animal Burgundies from the 70s and 80s, but I miss the good old days a bit less when I can drink a wine like this. I didn’t get a chance to really enjoy this as I was running around, hostessing. I have a few bottles tucked away at home and will bring then out over the holidays and write some proper tasting notes.

 

Page 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 ... 8 Next 15 Entries »