Among the odd bottles sent to me (by conscientious PR companies in the hope of a good note in these pages), one of the strangest, because of its size, was Cavit’s Maso Toresella Chardonnay Superiore 2006 from Trentino in Italy. First the wine: bright, pale yellow; a lovely nose, fragrant, with a touch of youthful pineapple and a whiff of vanilla; certainly sweeter than dry; rich, complete, with a good finish. The stated alcoholic content was 13.5%, though I suspect that it was nearer 14%. Impressive. (Later I discovered it won Silver in the 2009 Decanter World Wine Awards).
Among the odd bottles sent to me (by conscientious PR companies in the hope of a good note in these pages), one of the strangest, because of its size, was Cavit’s Maso Toresella Chardonnay Superiore 2006 from Trentino in Italy.
First the wine: bright, pale yellow; a lovely nose, fragrant, with a touch of youthful pineapple and a whiff of vanilla; certainly sweeter than dry; rich, complete, with a good finish. The stated alcoholic content was 13.5%, though I suspect that it was nearer 14%. Impressive. (Later I discovered it won Silver in the 2009 Decanter World Wine Awards).
But the bottle: though having a straight-sided and round-shouldered Bordeaux shape, my quite large hands struggled to embrace it. Perhaps it is my age, but read on. I pulled out a bottle of Grand-Puy-Lacoste and set it alongside. The Italian bottle was broader, taller and much heavier. Using Daphne’s kitchen scales, we weighed it: as near as dammit to 4kg, the Bordeaux bottle considerably less.
Clearly its dimensions were due to thick glass, for the content’s volume was the same. A full case of 12 bottles would have been extremely heavy to carry. Perhaps it is no coincidence that ‘sadly these wines (there was also a Sauvignon Blanc that won 2009 DWWA Gold) are not available in the UK’. The freight costs must be too high.
Next South Australia: I first visited Coonawarra with the irrepressible Len Evans in 1977. After selling wines in bulk to the big companies in Adelaide and elsewhere, the wineries began to be noticed for the improvement in quality of their Cabernet Sauvignon, with the region eventually being described as the Médoc of Australia.
This enriched the early producers – small family wineries. One (I can’t recall which) was founded by two brothers who were rail gangers from Lancashire, and back then we met the granddaughter of one of them. When Daphne admired the richness of the vineyard’s soil and the beneficial climate, she replied, with quiet satisfaction, that Coonawarra was in the middle of everywhere: about 290km from Adelaide, roughly the same from Melbourne and, though I could not imagine the old lady on the beach, only 120km from the sea.
I was reminded of this occasion by two vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon from Katnook Estate, celebrating its 25th vintage. The 2005, in a screwcap bottle, was extremely good: fairly deep, intense, youthful appearance; a fragrant yet immature, slightly minty nose, good fruit; an attractive mouthful, its finish dry but not too tannic. The alcohol was 13.5% according to the press release but 14% on the label, which accounted for its initial sweetness and body.
The 1999 – a warm and very dry season, which produced good fruit on the famous terra rossa soil – was clearly well handled by Katnook. Although it had a deep core, it looked more relaxed than the 2005; on the nose and palate softer and fleshier, also a sweetish 14%. A lovely wine. No room for all the details but in French oak for 20 months – very much like a Bordeaux. Both available from Bibendum online, the 1999 at a fair-for-quality price of £23.81.
The above wines were, by any standards, good. Perhaps these hardworking PR companies have more than an inkling of the class of wine I might be interested in, so do not bombard me with cartons of 3 for the price of 2’ and ‘50% off’, which disgrace the shelves of supermarkets and (the rapidly diminishing) multiple off-licences.
I am always reminded of the Morrison ‘boast’: 300 wines at £3. Some time ago I counted them: there really were 300. Alas, of little interest to me.
From which it might well be assumed that I am a wine snob. So I hasten to add that, as Daphne and I drink wine regularly, and though I have some decent bottles in the cellar, our everyday wines are bought from ‘Christie’s nearest off-licence’, Berry Bros & Rudd on St James’s Street in London.
We generally order half bottles, mainly Berry’s Good Ordinary Claret (Bordeaux-bottled by Dourthe) and, even better value, its Vin de Pays d’Oc Good Ordinary Red. However, Berry’s Ordinary White, from the same producer, although said to be Chardonnay, I thought was a Sauvignon Blanc, minus the refreshing acidity.
I didn’t like it much, so have kept some to make a poor-man’s Kir, well chilled, with a drop of Ribena. This, for the time being, replaces my usual early-evening aperitif at the cottage: Lillet with Schweppes tonic, ice and a slice of lemon.
Written by Michael Broadbent