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...
Managing Editor, Decanter
Thierry Puzelat, Vin de Table Pinot Noir 2006
This was one of three wines enjoyed last night with what has to be my No.1 favourite meal of 2009 by a country mile, downstairs at Terroirs in Charing Cross, London. In the company of friends and Decanter writers Fiona Beckett and Fiona Sims, I feasted on clams, squid and langoustines, eggs “en Meurette” with a toast soldier, roast Landaise chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, served with the most divine roast potatoes ever, and a meltingly seductive crème caramel. With the chicken we drank this unsulphured Pinot from the Loire, served just right, slightly cool. Chosen for us by the star of the evening, chef Ed Wilson, it was as funky as you would expect from the Terroirs/Caves de Pyrène team. Doug Wregg introduces the wine thus, on the wine list: ‘a lean and hungry specimen with the colour of cranberry juice with the smell of fermenting redcurrants, but carrying deceptive weight under its flowing robes.’ How could I better such a description?
Editorial Assistant, Decanter
Celler de Capçanes, Mas Collet, Monsant 2006
I’m an unashamed hispanophile. Ever since spending my year abroad studying at the University of Granada in Andalucía, where I lived in a tiny barrio at the foothills of the Alhambra Palace, I’ve been hooked. My love of Spain has extended to Spanish wine, and this little number from the Catalan region of Monsant at the base of the mountainous Priorat DO blew me away. Enjoyed with hunks of bread drenched in truffle oil and balsamic vinegar, the nose was a sensational mix of savoury meaty game, herbs, spices and bright fresh fruit with a mineral core. Intense, ripe and full bodied, the French-oak aged Garnacha-Cariñena blend was really exciting – and it showed far more depth and complexity than I was expecting, plucking it at random from my rack. My flat mate and I ended up wrestling for the bottle it was so delicious, and at £7.99 it’s a steal.
Château Lafite, Pauillac 1961
I was very privileged to have tasted (and drunk) one of the greatest Bordeaux vintages of the 20th century. Only 2 vintages were made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and the 1961 is one of them. This 48 years old wine still had an amazing freshness and elegance to it. At first, the wine was shy to open but after 10 minutes in the glass, it opened up to undergrowth, cigar box and pencil shaved aromas with a hint of spiciness. The palate was very intense with a rich structure but supported by an amazing acidity, the fruit profile was discreet and elegant with some herbaceous hint. It was the perfect glass of wine and it will stay in my memory for a very long time.
Welbedacht Pinotage, Wellington, South Africa 2007
Welbedacht is owned by ex-South African rugby international Schalk Burger, whose son is among the star players in the current Springbok team. British fans will remember him as the player at the centre of the ‘gougegate’ scandal during this summer’s Lions tour, though I didn’t raise this with either father or son when I met them this week at a tasting of the wines, organised to coincide with Springboks’ (losing) encounter against Saracens at Wembley. Weldebacht walked off with the Best SA red blend Trophy at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards for its Hat-Trick blend of Pinotage, Syrah and Merlot, so I was interested to see if the straight Pinotage could help me overcome my resistance to this notoriously hard-to-like variety. Despite the imposing presence of Burger at my table (he’s the size of a bear, and shaking hands with him, I had to check he wasn’t wearing fake bear-like gloves, so big are his paws) I have to say I’m still not a fan. The wine was intense, full of dark fruit, maybe a touch of cinnamon, but it lacked charm – more the brooding, spiky fruit than elegant or juicy. I didn’t share my reservations with Burger though. He’s a champion of Pinotage, and says he has an ‘unshakeable belief in it’. I wasn’t about to challenge that.