What we’ve been drinking (10 February)

At Decanter we all love our wine, and every week members of the Decanter team - from editorial assistant to publishing director - tell us what they've been enjoying at home and when they go out... What we've been drinking index

Adam Lechmere

Editor, decanter.com

   CVNE Reserva 2005, Rioja, Spain

A sweet, smoky, slightly leathery, creamy Rioja: my ideal. The Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España is one of the oldest in Rioja, but is by no means old-fashioned. This wine seems to me to marry all the traditional elements – smoke and spice and cigar box flavours – with the more modern style, fruit and creamy ripe mouthfeel. It is utterly delicious. One of the first wines I opened after my regular January abstinence (I lasted until the 8th this year, but that’s another story). A more perfect way of falling off the wagon I can’t imagine.

Lucy Shaw

Editorial assistant, Decanter

   Chivas Regal 25 Year Old Whisky

I’m not nearly as in love with whisky as I am with wine, but I was seriously impressed by this. I tried it at a recent dinner at Boisdale in Belgravia – a tartan tabernacle run by charismatic cigar aficionado Ranald Macdonald. The dinner was hosted by Chivas and promised an exploration into the four pillars of chivalry – gallantry, brotherhood, honour and valour. Everything we ate and drank began with the letter C: Champagne, caviar, charcuterie, Chivas… I was curious to try a whisky the same age as me (well, a year younger), and was advised to add an equal amount of water to help bring the flavour out and make it less like firewater. On the nose I got lovely fruit – peach, apricot and sweet orange with hints of almond, caramel, cloves, cinnamon and woody spices from the oak. In the mouth it was smooth, rich and rounded, almost creamy, with beautiful balance and a luxuriously long and rewarding finish. You’d hope so for £200 a bottle.

Guy Woodward

Editor, Decanter

   Sartori, Valpolicella 2008

Dining at Pizza Express the other night, I must admit I was sceptical about the wine list. The charming waiter allowed us to taste three of the wines, though, to help make our choice (the list wasn’t overly informative, bereft not just of recognisable names, but also of vintages). In the end, I plumped for the Valpolicella, which was pretty much entirely as sparsely described on the list – ‘a medium-bodied red with a fruity finish’. The strange thing was, though, that the waiter warned me the sample I tasted had been open since the previous night, and sealed with a Vacuvin. Our bottle, he felt sure, would be ‘fresher’. Indeed it was, but I preferred the one that had been open 24 hours. This isn’t the first time this has happened – I often come back to a half-drunk bottle the following night to find it much more open, generous and lush of flavour. Last week saw an extreme case – a Chateau Belgrave 2004 was weedy and green on first taste, so much so that I left it by the cooker for use in a sauce at some stage. Having not used it almost a week later, I had a glug and was amazed to find it had developed beautifully. Which makes me think these fancy wine aerators and Vacuvin type products are overrated. Just stick a cork in the top, leave it for a day or two, and hey presto – a great wine every time.

Tina Gellie

Chief Sub Editor, Decanter

   Jurtschitsch Sonnhof, Zöbinger Heiligenstein Riesling, Langenlois, Austria 2007

I finally got around to tidying up my wine ‘cellar’. It was a task, sorting through 250 wines and either boxing them up for hibernation in somewhere cooler and darker than my dining room, or working out which bottles had hit their optimum drinking window. Or, in the case of a few tragedies – like the 1994 Cos d’Estournel, 2000 Michel Sarrazin Givry and 1995 Zind Humbrecht Herrenweg de Turkheim Vendanges Tardives Gewurz – what had to be poured down the sink. This Riesling (from the ‘drink now’ pile) was just the thing to celebrate finishing this mammoth job, and went perfectly with a Vietnamese-style duck a l’orange and Asian salad. A fresh and floral, concentrated exotic nose led into more soft stone fruits on the palate with an engaging dusting of pepper and crisp acidity. Great complexity, balance and length – quite bold, but not too overpowering. Now they’ve been unearthed, I’m looking forward to more of these sunny wines in the long lead up to summer.

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