What we've been drinking (9 April)
Editorial assistant, Decanter
Fontanafredda Barolo, Piedmont, 2004
I try to keep on top of wine trends but am three years late in discovering The Sampler. On Monday night I finally made the pilgrimage to the North London store. Armed with a loaded card, I admired the 80 wines on display in the Enomatics like paintings in a gallery, not quite sure where to begin. Miraculously, I managed to make my £10 stretch to 11 wines, the Barolo being one of only two wines I paid over a pound for. It was worth the extra pennies. The Fontanafredda estate used to be the hunting lodge of King Emmanuel II, and was also home to his mistress Bella Rosa Rosin. The blood red wine from this superb vintage had a clear-cut, intense nose of withered roses and underbrush with overtones of vanilla and spice. Dry but soft, the palate was haunting – full bodied, silky and well balanced, it was complex and lengthy with alluring spices, smoke and crushed rose petal aromas. Grippy and spicy on the palate with lingering sour cherries, it could only have been Italian – it could only have been Barolo. I’m already planning a second visit to The Sampler to catch a glimpse of Ivy the shop dog and taste some of the intoxicating 09s.
Efeste, Evergreen Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington State, US
Sometimes, with all the weighty, intense topics that occupy our minds, it’s nice to get away from it all and just drink wine. After a week of tasting the beguiling Bordeaux 2009s, my palate was crying out for something light, simple and undemanding. This Washington Riesling was the perfect answer. A shy nose, hints of cherry blossom and apple; charming, apple-zest fruit, a touch of lifted sweetness, totally unintrusive alcohol, tight and linear. Not the most complex of wines, but supremely drinkable – the bottle had gone almost before we’d noticed.
Deputy Editor, decanter.com
Clos de Los Siete, Mendoza, Argentina 2007
It was sitting down this week to write-up our Argentinean Malbec panel tasting [NB: make sure to buy the June issue, it's a really interesting tasting] that inspired me to get this out. Strictly speaking it’s a Malbec / Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot / Syrah blend, but I'm sure cepage police wouldn't berate me too much for describing it as demonstrating everything that's good about young Malbec. Voluptuous and giving, with fragrance and finesse, the fruit is intense and powerful, but backed up by tannins that remind you it's been made by one of the best in the business. Coming back from a week of tasting young Rolland-touched wines in Bordeaux, I have to confess a secret enjoyment of the style. I've tasted a few vintages of this now, and I'm always confident about how well it's going to deliver which, far from being boring, speaks volumes about the consistency in blending and, dare I say it, quality of the Mendoza terroir. My only hope is that some older vintages start to become available soon - I'd be fascinated to see how it ages.
Chief Sub Editor, Decanter
Domaine Le Briseau, Patapon, Coteaux-du-Loir, France 2008
Accompanying Lucy on her trip to The Sampler (see above), I also managed to taste 11 wines for my £10 – and a 25ml serve of this natural wine was just 75p. That pittance, the bottle’s quirky clown label, and the sheer moreishness of its contents put a real smile on my face. It’s a biodynamic wine – also unfined, unfiltered and unsulphured – from Christian Chaussard and Nathalie Gaubisher, made of 90% Pineau d’Aunis (also known as Chenin Noir) with 10% Cot (the Loire name for Malbec). The result, which would be perfect slightly chilled this summer, is bit like a Beaujolais but with bells on: a bright, juicy fruit bomb of spicy cranberry, ripe redcurrant and some garrigue herbs, with soft tannins, fresh acidity and a peppery finish. Not at all complex, but even so still has a terroir-driven wow factor. Just 12.5% alcohol, it would be delicious with charcuterie, Asian food – or on its own. You’ll want more than 25mls.