8th December: The SWAS Christmas AGM/Quiz/Tasting
"French Classics at Christmas"
The SWAS AGM/Quiz and Tasting was very kindly hosted again this year by Lyn & Dave in Henfield.
1. On arrival and whilst the members enjoyed the business of the AGM , Bill served us a glass of an excellent Rosé Champagne. 'Oeil de Perdrix' NV Champagne; Côtes des Bar, France; 12% abv; purchased from Majestic for £22
The SWAS 2018 Annual General Meeting
The AGM this year was superbly Chaired by Adrienne. The business was swiftly concluded by 8.00pm.
It was then time for the evening's Quiz which was entrusted to Bill as a reward for winning last year. This year, the Quiz was duly won, for the very first time, by Sioned who will now have the onerous duty to not only set and run the 2019 AGM Quiz but will also be charged with providing the 2019 AGM Wine Tasting. Congratulations, Sioned...! (...and many thanks to Bill for his fiendish Quiz...!)
Bill's 2018 SWAS Christmas Tasting
2. Pouilly-Fumé, S L Guyollot, Loire, 2015; Sauvignon Blanc; The Society's 'Exhibition'; 13% abv; The Wine Society £16
Sports fans worldwide are familiar with the Gallic cockerel, but few know its significance. Nowadays, this national symbol suggests pride and pizazz; but it's origins stem from an act of defiance. Roman invaders had besieged a small community of chicken farmers in the Loire. The farmers held out bravely, repelling the Romans with every stick, stone, shoe, and over-cooked loaf they had. Until there was nothing left to hurl. In desperation they turned to their chickens. Plump and properly reared as they were, it was clear their impact would be minor. Therefore, confident the flames would cause only superficial harm before being doused by the passage through the air, they set the chickens afire. And so it was. The Romans found themselves bombarded with a barrage of smouldering foul. The Poulet Fumer - 'Smokey Chicken' - of Loire legend. Oh.. hang on. Pouilly... ah.
Pouilly-Fumé – a dry white wine made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes – is one of the Loire Valley's most revered wines. It is rivaled in this regard only by Sancerre, just the other side of the Loire River, and perhaps Vouvray. The Pouilly-Fumé name is composed of two parts. 'Pouilly' is short for Pouilly-sur-Loire, the village the wines come from. 'Fumé' is short for Blanc Fumé , which is the local nickname for Sauvignon Blanc. It is sometimes understandably confused with Pouilly-Fuissé (a Chardonnay-based wine from southern Burgundy). The fumé in Blanc Fumé is French for 'smoky'...
3. Château des Rontets, Pouilly-Fuissé Clos Varambon 2014; Burgundy, France; Chardonnay; 13% abv; The Wine Society £24
A very fine-flavoured Pouilly-Fuissé with a character approaching that of the renowned wines of the Côte d’Or. This white Burgundy owes its finesse to this cool, high-altitude, north-facing vineyard overlooking Fuissé.
The young owners of this charming domaine, Claire & Fabio Gazeau-Montrasi met while working as architects in Milan. The old house amid the vines, overlooking the village of Fuissé, came to Claire from her mother and grandparents, and the maternal family name of Varambon lives on in one of the cuvées produced here. Fabio, who reckons disarmingly that Claire was always the better architect, embraced with gusto the opportunity of working with soil rather than concrete. He is a committed fan of sustainability and the estate has been certified organic since 2005. The vines face north, on a ridge between Pouilly and Vergisson. All wines are fermented in wood, some foudres and some pièces, but not new except in case of Birbettes, using only indigenous yeasts and keeping sulphur to a minimum, as Fabio believes it can mask the subtleties in terroirs. The Rontets style is a mouthwatering one, crisp and racy, but well-rounded too and discreetly oaked. Clos Varambon comes from 40 year old vines, and is a fine, silky, balanced style and elegant with a long, long finish. Pierrefolle comes from more granitic soils with little or no chalk, and is fuller bodied. Birbettes comes from the oldest vines and has a richness and intensity that is quite remarkable.
Between the Whites and the Reds Lyn served a snack of Smoked Salmon, Dill, Cream Cheese and Avocado on Seeded Rye bread
4. Moulin-à-Vent Clos du Grand Carquelin, Château des Jacques, Louis Jadot 2005; Beaujolais, France; Gamay; 13.5% abv; The Wine Society £22
Made in a Burgundian way, with punching down and new oak, this is rich and structured for Beaujolais. Moulin-à-Vent is the biggest and most powerful Beaujolais cru, and has the structure to be made in this way. Over time the new oak and fruit have married but this is still quite oaky. Big and opulent with silky tannins.
Straw-yellow colour with greenish highlights. To the nose, intense hints of yellow fruit: grapefruit and citrus fruits with an intriguing final undertone of jasmine and elderberry. On the palate, the sensations on the nose are completed and extended, increasing the pleasure of freshly-harvested fruit with marked vinosity and balance and the curiosity of finding new hints of warmth.
Producer : Maison Louis Jadot Louis Jadot are, with Joseph Drouhin, Faiveley and Bouchard Père et Fils, the leading négociants of Burgundy.
They also have substantial vineyard holdings, split between Louis Jadot itself, Les Héritiers de Louis Jadot and Domaine André Gagey, and long-term rental agreements, such as that with the Duc de Magenta, adding up to about 60ha in the Côte d’Or. Further holdings are in Beaujolais, Château des Jacques, and Pouilly-Fuissé, where they own Domaine Ferret.
Louis Jadot is considered by many to have one of the finest winemaking reputations in Burgundy. For red wines, temperature control is eschewed, allowing fermentation to start of its own accord, and letting the temperature during the process rise without intervention (in most cellars, this is generally capped at about 32deg C). Even so, the length of maceration is still long, often taking three weeks or more. The result is a rich and powerful style of red Burgundy, even in lighter appellations, which demands and repays keeping.
Jacques Lardière became the company’s winemaker in 1970, and only retired in 2013. An able and charismatic winemaker, he produced wines of high quality with a distinct personality, and valued the less expensive village wines as highly as he did the grands crus. Since 2010, he has been assisted by Frédéric Barnier, who was named as his replacement upon Jacques’ retirement, though Jacques remains at the company in an advisory role.
Maison Louis Jadot’s headquarters are located in the heart of Beaune. The most beautiful of its three cellars, used to store its older wines and for hosting special events, is situated in the Couvent des Jacobins, which dates back to 1477.
5. Cairanne l'Authentique, Delubac, 2009; Côtes de Rhône Villages; from The SWAS Cellar; Grenache/Syrah; 15% abv; originally purchased for £16
Located about 15 km north of Orange, the village of Cairanne is at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail and Mont Ventoux. Vincent and Bruno Delubac cultivate 28 ha of vines that produce Côtes du Rhône villages Cairanne red and Côtes du Rhône red, rosé and white.
The vines are worked manually with ploughing and without the use of chemicals. The grapes are manually harvested and the vinification is done without the use of selected yeasts. You will understand that the Delubac brothers do not joke with the quality of their wines.
The cuvée l'Authentique is composed equally of grenache and syrah. The nose, still a little discreet, lets out notes of black fruits and wood complemented by a touch of spice. In the mouth, the material is rich, full, structured with fine and tight tannins. This is a beautiful southern Rhône wine, powerful and racy.
6. Cornas Maison Nicolas Perrin, 2010; Perrin/Jaboulet; Northern Rhône, France; from The SWAS Cellar; Syrah; 13.5% abv; purchased for £26, now worth £33
This venture is doing a fine job ferreting out Northern Rhône wines and offering them at realistic prices. This is a dark, concentrated Cornas, big and richly textured while retaining crispness and delineation. Plum and blackberry notes join black olive and espresso, but the overall impression remains savory, all the way through the long, velvety finish. Drink now–2020.
Aroma: Fresh strawberry, spice, cream and minerally, earthy notes. Taste: Rich, smooth, youthful, vibrant red berry fruit and mineral complexity
7. Hermitage, J L Chave, 2005; The Society's Exhibition Hermitage; Syrah; 14% abv; from The SWAS Cellar; The Wine Society, bought for £36
Chave’s Hermitage is almost always one of the candidates for the ‘wine of the vintage’ title, and in one such as 2005 when the conditions are beautifully suited we are destined to be able to enjoy a wine of exceptional quality.
Be in no doubt, this is a wine which will require patience, and lots of it. Extraordinarily backwards on the palate from the outset, there is a purity of fruit which is to be revelled in.
Along with this purity is a very complex savoury characteristic, notes of graphite, liquorice, cool earth combine and weave throughout. Paired with this is a genuine minerality which culminates in a triumphant finish and a very long, satisfying finish. You can enjoy this now, but there is little doubt that it will continue to provide the best Hermitage has to offer to 2025 or even 2030.
8. Château Talbot, Cordier, 2007; St Julien, Médoc, France; Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot; 13% abv; from The Geddes Cellar; bought for £25 now worth £54
This Cru Classé from Saint-Julien, dear to the amateurs, produces a juicy, charming and generous wine, faithful to the historical style of the property which has always sought a great maturity to work it with precision. He ages admirably well. The 107 hectares of vines are planted on a terroir of high level, serious Médocaines on limestone base with asterias. Cabernet Sauvignon covers 67% of the grape variety associated with Merlot with a complement of Petit Verdot. The Château Talbot belongs to the Cordier family since 1917, represented by Nancy Bignon-Cordier, with the support of the director Jean-Michel Laporte arrived in early 2018. The estate is advised by the brilliant duo Stéphane Derenoncourt - Eric Boissenot.
9. Maury Solera 1928 Cask Number 855; Languedoc & Roussillon; Grenache/Garnacha; 17% abv; The Wine Society; 50cl bought for £16
The founders of this co-operative laid down the base of this solera in 1928. In the past, these wines were used to beef up blends but with the market largely gone, we can help ourselves to these fine treasures. Bottled cask by cask, these are remarkable sweet wines, deeply coloured and not unlike Madeira in style
Lyn prepared and served for Supper...
Beef en Castelluccio, Peas, Sweet Potato Wedges and Bitter Sweet Salad. Meringue, Blueberries, Raspberries, Ice Cream, Chocolate Shavings. Cheese, teas/coffees.
1. Cairanne l'Authentique, Delubac, 2009; Côtes de Rhône Villages; from The SWAS Cellar; Grenache/Syrah; 15% abv
2. Saint Cosme 2014, Côtes du Rhône
3. The NED 2017 Pinot Grigio
The Xmas Raffle:
1. Mâcon-Lugny 2015, White Burgundy - won by Celia
2. Saint Cosme 2014, Côtes du Rhône - won by Bryan