Sweet Wine Wednesday #3

To kick off SWW3, Puddleglum, a fellow singularly obsessed, provided us with a very fine Very Old Reserve Sherry (officially, it is designated VFVORS... all right, that's a lie, but it ought to be true).

As ever, it begged the question of why such fine wine is not more popular. My notes on the Sacristia de Romate VORS Oloroso are full of question marks - always the mark of a good wine - but the flavours I've noted are dry, leafy, chocolate, struck flint, salty - no fruit y'see, which probably explains why it's not the trendy drink de nos jours. A crying shame, as it would make the perfect apéritif with a handful of almonds, and is decidedly excellent, 4+.


The Next Big Thing?

Fashions run through wine, as through everything. In antiquity, the Romans drank wine saturated with honey and diluted with seawater (I offered this, or something like it, to a history-themed tasting. Nobody liked it save one taster, who compared it to a dirty martini). Dry champagne swept across Britain late in the nineteenth century, and so far shows no sign of leaving. More recently, there has been a fashion for enormously extracted, dense, heavy red wines. d'Arenberg's Dead Arm Shiraz is one such, but I am beginning to think that the spotlight is ready to move on.

There were many excellent wines at the Australia Day Tasting in Edinburgh, but one of the best I tasted was the Gemtree 'Obsidian' Shiraz ('05). It had the expected red fruitiness, and some fragrant smoke, but much more interesting was the savoury, herbaceous aspect. At three-and-a-half years old it is perfect right now, mellow and chocolate-y, with a brilliant balance between acidity and fruity sweetness. A fantastic 5 pointer, and definitely ready to step into the limelight.


Oh the oak! **swoons**

Tastings often throw up surprises. Once at a (red) Burgundy tasting, two people independantly suggested that one of the (red... RED) wines smelt like Sauvignon Blanc.

Tonight's oddity was Shelmerdine Chardonnay 05.

The Tall Guy immediately wondered if the wine was matured in American oak. Then another taster asked if it had been in ex-Sherry or -Bourbon casks, à la whisky, and another chimed in saying the wine reminded her of whisky.

These remarks make it sound like some sort of crazy wine, when in fact Shelmerdine is a straightforward oaked Ozzy Chardy (straightforward = 3++). But perhaps the barrel influence seemed rather too strong compared with the delicate, zingy, mineral-y Debavelaere Rully 'Les Cailloux' 06 (a very good 4), or the complex and strong - but in a much sweeter way - Scarbolo Friuli Chardonnay 07 (Don't take this to mean that the Scarbolo was anything but dry. Nevertheless, the oak was sweet. And I rated it a tangy 4)


Château La Roche '04

Château Lauduc is a forty hectare property just to the east of the city of Bordeaux, in Entre-Deux-Mers. Confusingly, one of their reserve wines is called Château La Roche (perhaps it alludes to some historical whatnot?). La Roche comes from just one hectare of the vineyard, and rather unusually for Bordeaux these days, it is half Malbec, half Merlot.

It's a tasty , light, juicy mouthful, not too fruity, but rather earthy and very claret-y, if that's useful. But it didn't call to mind any Malbec characteristics at all, nor Merlot. One of those wines where the whole is decidedly more than the sum of the parts. And a very, very good match for the Beetroot, Orange and Chocolate soup I made. Château La Roche Première Côtes de Bordeaux ('04, cork), very good (3++).


World Wide Wine - Syrah, Shiraz, Shyraz

Tonight's tasting was looking at the differences that terroir make to a grape variety but for me the similarities were much stronger.

There was a common thread of high-toned fresh foliage in the three wines, a much stronger similarity than the more obvious ones like chocolate or black pepper.

I liked the Paul Jaboulet Ainé Hermitage 'La Chapelle' ('01, cork) best, probably because I'm a Francophile, but ostensibly because of its silky texture, tobacco notes and a little hint of merde. Truly excellent, 4+++.

d'Arenberg 'Footbolt' Shiraz ('05, cork), from McLaren Vale in Australia, had the same whiff, along with great fruit concentration and real ripeness. Also excellent, (albeit not French, so it doesn't get the excitable plusses) 4.

The third red, Chono Reserva Syrah ('06, cork), from Geo Wines of Chile, excited me rather less than the others, perhaps because it's ultra-clean, but it did occur to me later that the interesting herby, sausage-y savouriness would probably make it the best partner for the Burns Night Haggis1 which you are no doubt already planning (only eleven days to go!). Still and all, another excellent wine, 4.

1: assuming you want syrah with your haggis. Far be it from me to counsel against Vendange Tardive Gewürztraminer or Grand Cru Chablis.


Four lovely corks...

...for four lovely wines. The Mendel is mentioned elsewhere. The Ollieux Romanis Corbières, was a fresh, bright carbonically macerated wine, delicious, and for early drinking, so it only needed a very temporary stopper. The Mandolás, from a bottle of Oremus Dry Tokaji, probably isn't meant to last, but still they gave it first rate cork, presumably because they are proud of their lovely steely, sharp refreshing wine. The Jaboulet, the poshest cork here, is from a bottle of 'Les Cèdres', which one might want to keep for perhaps a decade (Hugh Johnson says in his 1983 Wine Companion that the best Châteauneuf he ever drank was a 1937, tasted at 44 years of age)