What we've been drinking (19 - 26 June 2009)
Managing Editor, Decanter
Hatzidakis, Mavrotragano, Santorini 2006
To a tasting organised by Greek specialist, Eclectic Wines. Greece and its islands produces such exciting wines, and yet most wine lovers will never taste them. Many producers haven’t got a clue when it comes to designing a decent wine label that will appeal to international consumers, and the wines will never win on price on the high street. But the wine inside the bottle often resonates with character and excitement, and quality is improving vintage by vintage. It was tough choosing just one wine from this memorable tasting – should it be the incredible, raisined 2000-vintage Vinsanto from Hatzidakis, the fascinating and yet hugely drinkable resinated Assyrtiko from Kechri, the passito-style Nectar sweet wine from Samos, or the distinctive Earth & Sky Xinomavro from Thimopoulos?
In the end, I have chosen a red wine made from the Mavrotragano grape, which translates as ‘crispy black’ (black I get, crispy I don’t). Reminiscent of Nebbiolo, this is deliciously and distinctively Greek, with a floral fragrance and sweet spice. The wine is available in the UK through Theatre of Wine (£17), who also stock the Samos Nectar (£8.50 for 37.5cl).
Chief Sub Editor, Decanter
Bodega Gordonzello, Peregrino Verdejo, Tierra de Léon, Castilla y Léon, Spain 2008
Verdejo isn’t normally one of my grapes of choice – wines made (or blended) with it can often be a bit flabby and simple. But this well-made, modern, varietal example was a good wine-list gamble this week. Hailing from the new high-altitude Spanish appellation of Tierra de Léon, its aromatic and minerally qualities really shone – much in the same vein as a ripe and fruity New World Sauvignon Blanc but with less of the predictable passion fruit notes. Here it was all fragrant pink grapefruit, green plums and fennel fronds with crisp acidity and a refreshing 12% alcohol. A lovely match with various starters of whitebait, cauliflower soup and crab cakes.
Deputy Editor, decanter.com
Felton Road, Calvert Pinot Noir 2006
Enjoyed with friends over cheese and paté one evening this week. A very enjoyable, well-crafted red wine with good structure, hinting at more than just a fruit-driven Central Otago Pinot. It was the last of two bottles of this wine bought at the estate following a guided tour by Gareth King, Felton's viticulturalist (including an inspection of the Biodynamic compost heaps). It's horrible to open and drink the last of a batch but I very much doubt this will be the last Felton Road I drink.
Pulenta, Cabernet Franc, Mendoza, 2005
I enjoyed a long overdue reunion with some eminent members of the wine trade – namely The Semillons, a select, male-only group who memorably entertained a female-only audience in aid of charity a few years ago. (See here (http://www.decanter.com/news/65432.html) for decanter.com’s coverage of the event, including video footage, which, we should warn you, previously led to the one and only occasion on which our website crashed, such was the demand to view it). We ate at The Hawksmoor, an excellent steak restaurant in London which kindly agreed to us bringing our own wine. As you can imagine, the competition to outdo each other with our bottles was intense, but my favourite wine of the night was brought along by Tim Atkin MW, namely Pulenta’s Cabernet Franc 2005 from Mendoza. Among all the classed growth Bordeaux and Burgundy flying around, this perfumed, herbal yet rich and dense wine seemed in keeping with the testosterone of the occasion.
Songlines, McLaren Vale Shiraz 2006
This big wine is made by ex-Grange winemaker John Duval. The tasting notes suggest looking at it from 2010 onwards, and it's certainly incredibly youthful now. Great nose of primary blackcurrant fruit, very dense and huge palate with nice ripe tannins and black cherries, blackcurrants, strong spice and chocolate. A huge wine, classic McLaren Vale Shiraz. Surprisingly delicate though, with fine acids - I had it at Ransome's Dock in Battersea with saddle of lamb, which went very nicely.
Editorial Assistant, Decanter
Saint Clair Marlborough Unoaked Chardonnay 2007
Having excitedly rushed home midweek to open a bottle of Chardonnay from Long Island, only to find it was corked, I delved back in my fridge and picked this out. An attractive pale straw colour, the nose shows aromas of white peach, apricot and spice, along with delicious creamy buttery notes. The wine has such complexity and depth, it’s hard to believe there’s no oak lurking in the glass. On the palate it’s soft, supple and round with stone fruit, cream and biscuit flavours mixing into a lingering finish. Enjoyed supine on the sofa with creamy mushroom pasta.
Tim Adams Aberfeldy Shiraz, 2003
Deep purple in the glass, I found dusty berry fruit, dark chocolate and vanilla characters on the nose. The palate shows ripe plum, cedar wood, spice and pepper. Elegant and smooth with a long finish.
Torzi Matthews Schist Rock Shiraz 2008
Complex violets herbs plums berries mouth-filling sweet juicy balanced fruit delicious
Mas du Novi Prestigi, Coteaux du Languedoc 2005
3* by Decanter and getting very delicious indeed! I'd go 16,5/20
Tintara, McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006
Classic and well-balanced. Coffee, blackcurrant, red pepper. Good tannins.
Caliterra, Estate Grown Merlot
Berry aromatic floral & fruit.Big cherry. Light acid/tannin with swaths of fruit to chomp through
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