Saturday 2nd November 2019: "Is it Worth Twice the Price?" with Sally & Peter in Rustington
Yet another 'full house' for Sally & Peter's evening. We have started having to turn members away because our Tastings are becoming super-subscribed almost on the day that they are publicised. Early booking really is essential...! We will always try to be fair.
Peter's theme this evening was very well thought out, all wines were from the Wine Society and all, as much as was practical, were from the same region, same grapes and same vintage. It obviously took a lot of hard work to work out and was ultimately very successful. There were good ones and some not so good ones...! Overall it was generally agreed that the better wines were definitely worth twice the price...!
1. The Society's New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2018; Marlborough, NZ ; 100% Sauvignon Blanc; 13% abv; bought from The Wine Society for £9.50
From the most awarded winery in New Zealand, Villa Maria. This is blended from grapes sourced from both the Awatere and Wairau sub-regions and has opulent tropical fruit, mixed with intense pink grapefruit and freshly cut grass. Classic Marlborough, in other words.
2. Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2018; Marlborough, NZ; 100% Sauvignon Blanc; 13%; bought from The Wine Society for £20
This flagship New Zealand producer always comes up with the goods. A great sauvignon with bright lemon-peel and grapefruit aromas, developing more gooseberry notes on the intense palate. Dry, crisp and extremely refreshing, this would be great with a range of seafood and salads, or could even stand up to roast chicken.
3. Viognier, La Rosine, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes, Domaine Ogier 2016; 100% Viognier; 12.5% abv; bought from The Wine Society for £18.50
A lovely fresh-tasting viognier from a vineyard just outside the Condrieu appellation. There is a touch of aniseed as well as peach and citrus. Perfect to drink young, served on its own or with shellfish.
4. Condrieu La Combe de Malleval, Domaine Ogier 2016; 100% Viognier; 12.5% abv; bought from The Wine Society for £32
From vines planted up a narrow valley past the pretty medieval village of Malleval, this is a rich and full-flavoured style of Condrieu that will give much pleasure for earlier drinking.
5. Wither Hills Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015; Marlborough, NZ; 100% Pinot Noir; 14% abv; bought from The Wine Society for £10.50
This great-value New Zealand pinot noir is hand-picked before being open-top fermented, which leads to great complexity and quality. The wine is then aged in old French oak barrels allowing it to open up and soften, resulting in a lovely medium-bodied and velvety dry red with well-balanced cherry and plum flavours. The Wither Hills winery was established in New Zealand’s Wairau Valley in the 1990s. It quickly won a solid reputation for consistency and quality across three varieties: sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot noir. The estate has grown considerably in size and stature since its infancy and it now encompasses around 300 hectares of prime vineyards in the major grape-growing area of Marlborough.
6. Craggy Range, Te Muna Road, Pinot Noir 2016; Martinborough, N.I., NZ; 100% Pinot Noir; 14% abv; bought from The Wine society for £21
A very plush and complete New Zealand pinot noir with a spicy, savoury character due to the redcurrant and raspberry fruit and a lovely silky palate. Very smart. Craggy Range Winery in New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay began in 1997. Fermentation took place in small open-top vats before 18 months’ ageing in French oak, resulting in an Australian classic with rich blackberry and strawberry flavours and toasty oak complexity. Hold for a few years or decant, and serve with a good steak.
7. Cepa Gavilán Crianza, Ribera del Duero 2016; 100% Tempranillo; 14% abv; bought from The Wine Society for £12.95
Wine Society Spanish Champion 2019. “Red of the tasting? Very possibly. Debate is lively during our scoring sessions, but the panel was stunned into silence by this staggeringly good Spaniard. Satisfying, intensely rich black fruit and remarkable value for money from one of Ribera’s most prized properties, Viña Pedrosa.”
"Ask many Spaniards for their top choice red wines and tempranillo from Ribera often gets the nod over Rioja and this excellent example (at a fantastic price, incidentally) helps to show why. With soft yet concentrated cherry and bramble fruit this wine has sharp, lively acidity but little tannin and also delivers attractive savoury based edges that add delightful contrast.” - Brian Elliott: midweekwines.co.uk 15th May 2019.
8. Bohórquez, Ribera del Duero 2009; 100% Tempranillo; 14% abv; bought from The Wine Society for £20
This small property has a prime location just next door to one of Ribera del Duero's famous estates. Bóhorquez makes an elegant, stylish expression and the fully mature 2009 has hints of tobacco spice and plums which last and last on the finish.
"Star buy: Described by one taster as the ‘Bloody Mary’ of wine – it is so spicy, peppery and plummy. Deliciously smooth, supremely elegant, it shows how good mature Ribera del Duero can be in a top vintage like 2009. Interestingly they age it for 14 months in both French and American oak, hence the clove and spice notes. It comes from a small young estate set up by entrepreneur Javier Bohorquez in 1999 near prestigious Pesquera at high altitude, 900m.” - Rose Murray Brown: rosemurraybrown.com 24th Feb 2019
9. The Society's Exhibition Crozes-Hermitage 2016; 100% Syrah ; 13% abv; bought from The Wine Society for £13.95
This textbook northern Rhône syrah has a lovely depth of colour and flavour. Expect plenty of blackberry, blueberry and spice flavours, all in delicious balance. Blended by Maison Nicolas Perrin which was formed in 2009 when two families joined forces from opposite ends of the Rhône. Nicolas, from the famous Jaboulet family, grew up in the Hermitage hillsides in the north of the region, whereas the Perrin family has been settled in and around the southern Rhône’s Châteaneuf-du-Pape appellation. Nicolas Perrin classes itself as a 'boutique négociant', buying in casks of wines from well-known, respected northern Rhône growers. These are carefully blended by the team, and matured in oak casks to enhance both their character and their ageing potential.
10. Crozes-Hermitage Cuvée Gaby, Domaine du Colombier 2016; 100% Syrah; 13% abv; bought from The Wine Society for £22
This barrel-aged Crozes is the top cuvée from a family of fruit farmers with vines in both Crozes and on Hermitage itself. Ripe-tasting and beautifully put together, with glorious dark-fruit flavour.
Florent and David Viale own nearly 17 hectares in the northern Rhône, where they produce both red and white Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage. They used to sell the wine from their three plots in Hermitage to Guigal, and their red Crozes-Hermitage to Ogier and to Burgundy, but from 1991 they bottled their own. In the cellar, the Viales prefer oak not to dominate the purity of the fruit. They use large oak tonneaux, where the wines take on terrific finesse and balance.
In line with our policy of running down and enjoying the SWAS Cellar Wines, Peter chose a final wine from those left in our cellar to wind up the Tasting:
11. D'Arenberg 'Dead Arm', McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007; 100% Shiraz; from the SWAS Cellar originally purchased for £27
Dead Arm is a vine disease caused by the fungus Eutypa Lata that randomly affects vineyards all over the world. Often vines affected are severely pruned or replanted. One half, or an ‘arm’ of the vine is slowly reduced to dead wood. That side may be lifeless and brittle, but the grapes on the other side, while low yielding, display amazing intensity.
Due to drought conditions not seen for decades, 2007 was the earliest start to vintage in McLaren Vale. Overall winter rainfalls were a third of what is considered normal. The dry conditions and cold spring temperatures leading up to the growing season affected the vines fruiting and canopy development, with very short shoot length. This resulted in reduced bunch and berry size and ensured high tannins. Just as vintage was to commence McLaren Vale experienced 50mm of rain, which caused some problems with fruit splitting but essentially saved the vintage. The rain provided enough ground moisture in the final stages for the fruit to ripen in a stress free state. This resulted in grapes having concentrated flavours at lower levels of beaume ripeness with excellent levels of acidity. Yields were down approximately fifty percent for most of the premium dry grown vineyards that contribute to The Dead Arm Shiraz . This reduced yield is a contributing factor to the concentration of flavours and great tannin structure seen in 2007. Both factors that will aid in the longevity of this great Shiraz.
In youth The Dead Arm is restrained. It will start to show more fruit after five years in the bottle with secondary aged characters starting to develop after that. As an older wine leather, tobacco, mushroom and earth aromas have a presence alongside chocolate and spice characters. With such great balance this wine is expected to age for up to 20 years if cellared in the right conditions.
Walking the vineyard rows and tasting grapes, Chester Osborn classifies and determines the ideal picking time for each individual vineyard. Small batches are crushed in the Demoisy open-mouthed, rubber toothed crusher and then transferred to five-tonne headed-down open fermenters. These batches remain separate until final blending. Foot treading is undertaken two thirds of the way through fermentation. When tannin extraction is just right the wine is basket pressed and transferred to a mixture of new and used French and old American oak barriques to complete primary and secondary fermentation. The barrel ferments are aged on lees to keep the wine fresh while also reducing the oak influence. There is no racking until final blending. Chester and the winemaking team undertake an extensive barrel tasting process to determine the final blend. The Dead Arm Shiraz does not undertake fining or filtration prior to bottling.
The nose is very aromatic, floral and youthful. There is a fascinating amount of intensity that draws you back. The lavender floral notes along with plum and blackberries are the most pronounced while the enigmatic beauty of this wine lies in the next layer of extremely alluring pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and hint of five spice. The opulent palate is rich and dense with staggering concentration. Crushed ants, rhubarb, and deep earth add to the complexity. The chewy tannins are abundant and balanced by the fruit power. Building through the palate the tannins provide for a long, vibrant, savoury and spicy finish. The Dead Arm Shiraz 2007 manages to balance focus and complexity superbly . The structure is muscular and the fruit powerful, yet it maintains a pretty elegance which is allowed to flourish with deft use of oak.
For Supper, Sally served:
Chicken Provencale, served with new potatoes and peas
A choice of desserts - Blueberry swirl cheesecake or Chocolate pot
A selection of cheese - Brie, matured Jarlsberg, Dolcelatte, extra matured Cheddar
Recipe for the Chocolate Pots: (serves 6)
200g dark (70% cocoa solids) chocolate
100ml boiling water
1tsp vanilla extract
125ml whipping cream
Melt the chocolate in a microwave or in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Carefully add the boiling water slowly to the chocolate to avoid it splitting, then add the vanilla extract. Stir in the whipping cream. The texture should be like that of creme anglaise. Pour into expresso cups or ramekins and leave for at least 45 minutes to set. Can also be left in the fridge overnight.
1. Tempus Two Quartz Series Chardonnay - won by Sioned
2. Cru des Côtes du Rhône, Vinsobres, 2016 - won by Adrienne (ed. I think, please confirm...!)