Bodegas Luis Pérez

My wife and I found this gem of a Bodega in the heart of the Sherry area in Jerez de la Frontera but this time it wasn’t sherry we were tasting but some beautifully made wines including a white made from the plentiful Palomino grape and reds made from the local Tintilla de Rota grape (100%) their prestigious Petit Verdot (100%),  also some blends featuring Petit Verdot, Merlot, Tempranillo and Syrah and last but not least their rather nice Provence style Rosé.

The location was stunning with its rolling hills and white chalky limestone soil with 14 hectares of vineyard and a winery which mixes old and traditional with sleek and modern.

A short introduction taken from their website…..With the purpose if revitalizing the viniculture vocation of the Jerez wine-growing area, that has been producing high-quality wines of different varieties during more than three millenniums, Luis Pérez Rodríguez, professor in Food Technology by the University of Cádiz, awarded with The Gold Medal of Merit in the Oenological Investigation, started a family project in 2002, with the acquisition of a country estate named “Finca Vistahermosa” in the heart of the Jerez vineyards, over the high hill of the “Corchuelo” property. 
The vineyard covers an area of 14 hectares and it is located at the plot of land named “Pago del Corchuelo”, in the heart of the Sherry area, over the hill with the same name. Its altitude offers amazing views over the countryside of Jerez and some areas of the Coast, which allow the _ow of maritime winds, reaching in this way a specific microclimate.
The Grape Varieties (Syrah, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon) and their patterns have been strategically chosen. The methods to drive the wine-growing are carried out under an integrated system, which tends to ecological preservation and control of the production, with the minimum but wise human intervention. All this effort is directed to produce high quality Signature Wines (Author Wines).

On a beautifully hot day we took the short taxi journey from our hotel to the winery where on entering the long road from the entrance the car threw up clouds of dust from the sun-baked soil as we wound our way through the rows of vines to the Bodega with excited anticipation.
On arrival we were warmly greeted by our host and guide Roberto and we were surprised to find that it was just the two of us on the tour. Roberto seemed genuinely pleased to see us and started telling us about the history of the vineyard while gently strolling around the gardens and vines for about an hour and a half. His passion was evident as he answered all our questions with enthusiasm and knowledge.

Grape Graveyard

Whilst walking around we came to an area where they discard the  unwanted  grapes etc during harvest and production, let me tell you the smell was intoxicating.

Next Roberto showed us around the actual winery itself, where state of the art equipment along with traditional are used in making their wines. After the tour the best part, tasting some of their wines.

 

 

We were shown to the tasting room where a selection of wines were prepared for us along with some tasty Tapas including a generous selection of local cheeses, Iberico ham and some delicious pork.

The first wine we tasted was El Muelle de Olaso made with 100% Palomino (the sherry grape) the was bright and very fresh, minerally and hardly any acid, flavours of lemon with hints of peach  and very drinkable with a long finish, paired very nicely with some local Goats cheese.

The next two were reds, the first Tintilla made with 100% Tintilla de Rota (also grape native to the sherry region) and virtually identical to Graciano. This was very aromatic full of dark red fruits, prunes and caramelised orange peel. touch of acidity and pronounced tannins, very unusual and very nice.

Now my favourite, the excellent Samaruco made with 40% Petit Verdot 30% Merlot and 30% Syrah. Deep inky black in colour with a nose of dark cherries, vanilla and dark chocolate. Taste wise, velvety smooth and powerful with noticeable tannins and very chocolatey. Flavour stayed in the mouth long after I swallowed it, this really was excellent, especially with the Iberico ham.

Strangely they served the Rosé last, the Marismilla Tintilla Rosado made with Graciano was a lovely end to the tasting, Aromas of strawberries and peach, tasting of strawberries and cream and very Provence in Style.

All the wines were reasonably priced but they did have a 100% Petit Verdot that we didn’t try, would have loved to but at around €40 a bottle, maybe not ! although we did bring buy a bottle of the El Muelle and the stunning Samaruco which survived the journey home in the suitcase.

This tour was probably the highlight of a fantastic holiday to the Jerez and the Sherry region of Spain, the guys at Luis Perez Bodega made us feel special and I would heartily recommend a visit if you’re in the area, for €15 each it’s money very well spent.

 

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

A week in Jerez and more Sherry !

Following on from my previous post I visited the home of Sherry, Jerez  de La Frontera a beautiful city in Spain’s Andalusia region for a short holiday.

It was like going back in time with it’s impressive Cathedral, baroque churches, palm and orange trees adorning quaint cobbled streets and remnants of a thick city wall surrounding the city built by its Moorish occupants in the 11th and 12th centuries. Walk down any street you cannot fail to notice that this city is famous for Sherry there is even a constant alcoholic whiff in the air from the numerous Bodegas housing this very underrated  and utterly delicious fortified wine.

Sherry made from three grapes, the Palamino, Moscatel and Pedro Ximénez, the former for the drier styles and the last two for the sweeter wines and are made in the so called golden sherry triangle of the cities Jerez, Sanlucar de Barrameda to the west and El Puerto de Santa Maria to the south all having their own micro climate which contributes to the character of their own local styles.

As you wander around the city, references to sherry are everywhere, from barrel centrepieces in the plazas to bars and restaurants with sherry barrels made into tables and chairs, all the shops have souvenirs and their are numerous signposts to the many bodegas scattered around.

My wife and I visited three Sherry Bodegas and a winery, yes WINE! (which I will post about later) these were Lustau, Gonzalez Byass, (who make the recognisable Tio Pepe) and Tradicion. Just to point out the  actual Bodegas do not make the sherry they are only used to store and age the wines. The one thing that struck me about all the bodegas we visited is how understated the buildings were, most of them tucked down little side streets.

Lustau – As with all the Bodega’s we visited the smell as soon as you entered was heady to say the least. The tour was priced at €25 each but that included some tapas and 12 sherries including a couple of Vermouth’s. The tour itself was very leisurely with no more than 12 people. The guide was very amiable and informative explaining the history of the Bodega and the process of making sherry. The tasting itself was superb, sampling their whole range from dry Fino’s through to the sweetest Pedro Ximénez (Often abbreviated to PX ).

Impressive tasting at Lustau

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gonzales Byass – A little more commercial than the others and they make the most recognisable Fino sherry called Tio Pepe with its well-known bottle logo. A bigger Bodega than the others featuring a short promotional film and train ride through the property. Bigger groups, around 30 or so, felt a little more impersonal but with some interesting stories shared by the guide especially the so-called myth about the drunken mice in which a glass of sherry was placed on the floor with a small ladder to 
discourage the mice chewing on the barrels.

The tasting after was again very commercial situated in a modern tasting room where depending on what you paid you sampled a number of glasses and tapas. We tasted four and got a selection of cheese, ham and potatoes to pair.

Tio Pepe Fino was everywhere in Jerez, served chilled it was the perfect accompaniment to salty tapas and often found for as little as €1 – €2 a glass.

 

 

 

Last of the Bodegas we visited was the prestigious Tradicion – Again tucked away in a side street and this time we sampled  five premier sherries ranging from €55 upwards. These were truly special, some of them over 30 years old.

 

The tasting was conducted in a beautiful rustic courtyard with a covering of vines for shelter. All of the bottles we tasted were special as the price reflected and it was a fitting end to our Bodega tours.

As a final treat the owners allowed us to view their private art collection of some of the finest Spanish painters including the impressive San Fransico de Asis en oracion, Oleo sobre lienzo by ‘El Greco’

Cannot recommend Jerez highly enough, very peaceful, very Spanish, very cheap and very hot and if like me you don’t mind a glass or two of Sherry it’s the perfect holiday.

 

My rating 8.5/10 Corks 

 

Great Sherry Tasting 2017

 

If you think sherry is a  sweet sticky drink kept in your sideboard year after year and only brought out at Christmas for your grandmother to enjoy, served in a thimble size glass, then think again !

Today, it seems everyone is talking about sherry, even attracting a younger consumer, suddenly sherry has become cool and trendy, so read on to find out more about this underrated wine.

A word of warning though sherry is not for everyone and is an acquired taste but it’s definitely worthwhile persevering with and you’ll also find it’s a match for most foods but do remember sherry is also a wine, so throw away the small old fashioned elongated glasses and drink out of a proper wine glass, this way you will fully enjoy the wonderful pungent aromas and fully appreciate the taste

Now to the event itself in which I was lucky enough to be invited courtesy of Brian Elliot’s Mid Week Wines. The venue was the OXO Tower, London by the banks of the Thames.

The moment I walked through the doors the aromas in the function room left you in no doubt you were at a sherry tasting, there was a doughy yeasty smell in the air along with a pungent nuttiness not to mention the strong waft of alcohol.

After checking in at reception I grabbed a clean glass and after checking the brochure trying to form a plan which turned out to be less of a plan than I thought I proceeded to taste my way around the drier styles first, these being the Fino’s, Manzanilla’s and Amontillado’s, leaving the thicker sweeter Palo Cortado’s,  Oloroso’s and Creams/PX (Pedro Ximénez) until later. Remember sherry is a fortified wine which means that additional alcohol or wine spirits have been added.

Below is a quick basic summary of the popular styles how I understand them…..

Flor (yeast) layer in Sherry Barrel by Deb Harkness

Fino – Clear, bone dry with aromas of bready dough and almonds, aged in barrels with a covering of yeast on the surface which is referred to as Flor to prevent oxidation, must be served chilled and is great with salty Tapas including olives, nuts and Jamon Serrano. Best drunk young. Typically around 15 -17% abv

Manzanilla – the driest sherry and clear, very similar to Fino (still with layer of Flor) with perhaps a sharper taste and slightly salty, again great with Tapas, nuts and salty dishes. Typically around 15 – 17% abv

Amontillado – Aged under Flor initially then fortified again with alcohol again this time at a higher level (16 -18% abv) which breaks up the Flor allowing for oxidation, creating a darker colour wine with a more pronounced nuttier caramel like flavour although still on the dry side.

Palo Cortado – One of the rarer sherries, starting out as a Fino under a layer of Flor, when the Flor dies off naturally it starts to resemble a Amontillado style then for some unknown reason begins to develop a richer more complex flavour like that of the next darker style, Oloroso. 16-18% abv

Oloroso – No Flor here, still quite dry, darker browny amber gold colour with more pronounced flavours, still nutty with prunes, raisins and butterscotch. 16-18% abv

Pedro Ximénez (PX) / Moscatel – Extremely sweet style,  made with PX grapes that have been dried out in the sun to increase sugar levels. Usually dark brown in colour thick and syrupy and very sweet with flavours of figs, raisins, toffee, chocolate and liquorice. Moscatel is similar, both styles labelled under their grape variety. Normally around 17-17.5% abv.

Sherry cocktail bar with some intriguing mixes

Above is a pretty basic summary of the major types of sherry but I hope it gives you some idea of the different styles. Now on to some of my favourites at the actual tasting, lots of well known producers (Tio Pepe and Harveys) and a some not so well known and looking for a foothold in the UK market.

Brilliant Range from Lustau

I tasted lots of brilliant sherries too many to mention here but a few highlights were the Emilio Lustau stand, for me the best on show, their Fino was, bright and fresh but with a very distinctive  pronounced burnt wood flavour, along with almonds, a saltiness and lemon fruit. Their Manzanilla was equally as good but with a touch of salinity and lovely kick of spice. The Amontillado was excellent with spice, nutmeg, caramel and toffee but still retaining a lovely freshness. The star was the stunning Oloroso with its toffee, butterscotch, caramel and cinnamon flavours.

30 year old Palo Cortado Apostles

 

 

 

Tio Pepe is perhaps one of the more recognisable brands by producer Gonzalez Byass and their Fino which is widely available and keenly priced is a very drinkable  introduction to the delights of dry sherry but undoubtedly the star of their show was the 30 year old Palo Cortado Apostoles and even at £20 for a half bottle in my opinion worth every penny with its buttery, dried peel, toffee flavoured, nutty delight, I even underlined it with the word stunning written underneath.

Another Producer which most people know about is Harveys and again their Palo Cortado was another excellent offering with its sweetish, nutmeg, caramel and coffee flavours for around £26 (50cl).

Nations favourite sherries Masteclass

Lots of others that I could mention and the overall standard of sherries on show were exceptional, to finish off with I signed up for a Masterclass of the nations favourite sherries hosted by Beltran Domecq (President – CRDO Jerez -Xeres – Sherry y Manzanilla Sancular de Barrameda) this included the two styles of sherry the bone dry Fino and Manzanillas and the sweeter styles of medium dry, medium sweet and cream, a very informative class and an enjoyable tasting to finish the day.

If you like very dry wines that pair beautifully with most foods and you are partial to the odd glass of sweeter wines then sherry may well be for you.

So the next time you are offered a glass of sherry try it, you’ll either love it or hate it my guess is that you will love it.

Great sherry tasting 2017

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

 

 

 

Taste of Spain in London

On the 28th May I attended the ‘Feria de Londres’ in the wonderful setting of Potters Fields Park on the banks of the river Thames overlooked by Tower bridge.

Over the bank holiday weekend the park was transformed into a celebration of all things Spanish including music, flamenco and wonderful food,tapas and drink.

I arrived early, the stalls and stages were being set up and the atmosphere was building as was the smell of different kinds of Spanish foods drifting across the park. There was lots of pop up bars serving ‘Cruzcampo’ beer, white and red wine and the excellent ‘Tio Pepe’ Fino sherry.

From about 12.00pm the sun came out and the festivities got underway as the noise level got louder as more and more people arrived. Before it got too busy I booked myself onto a Iberico Ham and Sherry Materclass and received my complementary drink and food tokens as I was there on behalf of ‘Mid Week Wines’.

With class booked I set out to enjoy the afternoon, first stop was the bar where I got a pretty large glass of chilled Tio Pepe Palamino Fino sherry which was just what was needed as the temperature and humidity was steadily rising.

For those of you who haven’t tasted the delights of Fino and Manzanilla sherry they are a delight with salty almonds and olives and as I found out later a real winner when paired with Iberico ham. This particular bottle of Tio Pepe (which needs to be served very cold) was extremely dry, a little yeasty but with a saline edge which smelled of the sea. There was also some lemon peel in the background and the finish was fresh if a little bitter

Food was next on the agenda and I got myself a freshly made plate of Valencian Paella made up of chicken, broad beans and green beans.

Next up was the Iberico Ham Masterclass with Jose Sol (Spanish ham Master) Complete with more Tio Pepe sherry which complimented the ham beautifully.

Iberico ham is from free-range pigs that roam oak forests (called dehesas) along the border between Spain and Portugal, and eat only acorns during this last period. It is also known as jamón ibérico de Montanera. The exercise and diet have a significant impact on the flavor of the meat; the ham is cured for 36 months. Here Jose taught us about the different styles and quality of ham culminating in the excellent Pata Negra (best quality) ham from the black pig.

As well as the Toi Pepe Jose introduced us to a cold soup like substance called Salmorejo which he actually made that morning (basically soaked bread with tomatoes, garlic and lemon sprinkled with ham and sometimes sliced boiled egg), this again complemented the ham beautifully if a little garlicky. It was a very informative masterclass and big thanks to Jose for sharing his knowledge with us, I certainly learned a lot.

The afternoon and evening carried on with more drink (yes another glass of Sherry), food and Flamenco with  a performance by Tomasito (Flamenco dancer and singer) with lots of ladies and children dressed in traditional outfits.

The Feria de Londres was a free event and I for one will be back next year, Viva Espana

Majestic Stratford Upon Avon Fine Wine Tasting April 2017

As regular readers will know that I belong to a wine Forum called ‘Cuvée Reserve’ and once a year our group meet up for a weekend of basically, drinking lots of wine. This year we met at Stratford Upon Avon and we thought we would signed up for a ‘Fine Wine Tasting’ at the local Majestic store. An initial fee of £20 per person was paid but that is redeemable on any wine purchases after the event.

Big thanks to our head girl Clare who runs the forum and for organising everything so superbly !

We arrived at 1.30pm on Saturday the 8th April, an early start for drinking I know but we have to make sacrifices sometime. There was a slight confusion with the time as they had us down for 2.00pm which we found out was their mistake but it wasn’t a problem as we spent the time browsing around the store with a glass of Moet & Chandon 2008 Champagne (is there a better way to shop).

A table was laid out in the corner of the store for us as we finally settled down for the tasting first up was the Moet & Chandon again. This was a beautifully balanced single vintage Champagne full of intense apple and lemon fruit, lively mousse with a pronounced bready, nutty and a creamy aftertaste producing a very long, extremely enjoyable finish and loved by everyone. (Top ups were not refused).

Second wine was a Rosé the Miraval 2015 Cotes de Provence bought by Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie in 2009 and made by the Perrin family. Pale pink almost Salmon like colour with a very strange almost peaty aroma although there was a hint of strawberry, it just smelt a bit weird. Taste wise again it was not what we expected there were elements of soft fruit including strawberry, peach and pear. Slightly flowery but with a slightly overpowering herby, earthy flavour which most of us found a bit strange, think my wife and I liked it more than the others, so overall a little bit of a miss.

Third was the impressive Greywackey 2016 Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand and made by Cloudy Bay former wine maker Kevin Judd.  From the first sip this was universally applauded by all of us. Superb aromas of gooseberry, grapefruit, flowers and damp freshly mowed grass. On first sip it was greeted by a lot of M’mms and everyone thought it was stunning. Crisp and vibrant, soft acidity with intense flavours of  lemongrass, white flowers, gooseberry and herbs with just a hint of subtle oak rounding it off.  Refills all around and the bottle didn’t last long, superb stuff.

The Last white was an unusual oaked Chardonnay from Italy, the Planeta 2015 with heady aromas of butterscotch, banana and vanilla. On first taste I was initially hit by what tasted like barley sugar along with caramelised banana, there was a creaminess about it and the oak definitely stood out, again this split us although nobody disliked it and I thought it was very good.

With the whites finished next up were the reds starting with a Pinot Noir from Martinborough New Zealand the impressive Escarpment 2014 generally liked by all. Pronounced aromas of soft dark fruits, smokey and earthy. Cherry and plums to the fore with a kick of spice on the palate, earthiness coming through but not intrusive. Nicely balanced wine.

Next up was a big favourite, the Chateau Haut Balailley 2011  but it comes at a price for a whopping £40 per single bottle. Cherries, Cassis and classic pencil shavings on the nose. Love the taste, complex yet harmonious, blackcurrants, cedarwoood, herbs, notable tannins and really really drinkable on its own.  As you can see from the picture we emptied the bottle.

A Gran Reserva Rioja next the Marques de Riscal 2007 this is everything a Rioja should be full of red cherries a little strawberry, leather, incense, oak, candlewax and tobacco. Ten year old wine that went down well with everybody including my wife who doesn’t generally like oakey Riojas, fabulous example of what Spain does well.

This was suppose to be the end of the tasting, but the guys at Majestic (who were very good, amiable and knowledgeable) decided we were enjoying ourselves so much that they opened up another couple of bottle for us to try.

First was another French red the Caronne Ste-Gemme 2011 Haut Medoc and again enjoyed by all, dark ripe blackberries, menthol, tannic, rich and chocolately but this time, I’d have to say, more of a food wine but none the less enjoyable.

Last but not least a black Muscat dessert wine called Elysium 2015 even if you’re not a fan of dessert wines you cannot fail to be impressed with this. smells like Turkish Delight and that rose like flavour carries on in the taste, not overly sweet and a big thumbs up from all around the table.

Thanks to the guys at Majestic for a superb tasting, (one of the better ones I’ve attended) they were very generous letting us drink as much as we wanted and we all went away pretty happy if a little unsteady.

My rating 9/10 Corks (for the whole tasting)

Spanish Sauvignon Blanc – anybody ?

jose-pariente-sb-2014In the Rueda region in the heart on the Iberian peninsula where Verdejo and Viura are kings, Sauvignon Blanc also plays a part even if it is overshadowed. The grapes for this wine come from the first Sauvignon Blanc vines planted in this area around 30 years ago and has resulted in this deliciously bright and fruity Jose Periente SB 2014.

This is more of a cross between French and New Zealand SB’s as it has elements of both, darkish straw like colour in the glass with bright fresh citrus fruits on the nose with some tropical passion fruit and a whiff of freshly cut grass.

Taste wise it is more subdued but still with a touch of bright acidic citrus fruits, again a little tropical sweetness and grassiness but finishing quite vegetal with green peppers, maybe even a little fresh pea pods and herbs.

I really enjoyed this and paired with steamed fresh Haddock it was even better. I bought this at Majestic for around £9.99 a little while ago but not sure if they still sell it but if you can find it give it a go you may well be surprised how good it is.

I tend to like Verdejo, Viura, Albarino, Godello to name a few but this is definitely up there with the best of Spanish white wines I’ve tasted recently.

8.5corks

My rating 8.5/10 Corks

Majestic ?    around £10

 

 

Lidl beauty – Gran Reboreda 2015

reboreda1Popped into Lidl supermarket recently and picked up this unusual blend  from the Ribiero (Galicia) region which is situated in north west Spain.

The bottle caught my eye as it featured one of my favourite white grapes Godello although with this one it’s a small part of a blend with Treixadura which is the predominant grape around 80% (used mainly in the making of Portuguese Vinho Verde) also featuring is another lesser known grape Loureira.

This is a very tall elongated bottle which might be a problem if storing in the fridge upright, when poured it’s a very pale straw like colour with fairly muted aromas even after hovering with my nose stuck in the glass for a while it was hard to pick out anything apart from citrus fruits, mainly lemons, there was also a faint whiff of herbs and flowers.

reboreda

The taste is where this wine shines, it’s very dry with a bright tangy lemon flavour, followed by what tasted like dried mixed herbs. Very fleshy weighty texture and a long satisfying finish.

As part of the new Lidl range this retails at £8.99 and on first tasting, in my opinion, worth every penny, I absolutely loved it, thoroughly recommend it  and even though I haven’t got a Lidl  local to me I will be making a trip to the nearest store to buy some more.

Unfortunately Lidl seem to change their wines pretty rapidly so I don’t know how long they will have this on the shelf but if you want to try something different I urge you to go out quickly and get some, hopefully you won’t be disappointed, top stuff !!

8.5corksMy rating 8.5/10 Corks

Lidl £8.99

Two everyday Spanish reds

albaicampo-vTwo Spanish reds take to the stage this time, easily available from most supermarkets and for the quality, reasonably priced.

Both from the Rioja region of Northern Spain, one a 100% Tempranillo and one 100% Garnacha and made in a modern style, with the focus very much on the pure fruit.

Campo Viejo has been around for along time is very well known and features on the shelves of many supermarkets, the Albai you can find mainly in Tesco and Sainsburys.

As I mentioned earlier both these wines are made in a modern style and are very fruit forward, so lets start with the Albai. Firstly the bottle itself which is surprisingly heavy and chunky, when poured the wine has a fairly dense dark purple colour with prominent aromas of cherries and strawberries this follows through in the taste which gives an instant mouthful of juicy bright red fruits. Although slightly tart initially there is a hint of appealing sweetness which comes through on the finish. For an entry-level unoaked Rioja 13% ABV, this wine may well hit the spot for a lot of people but if you prefer a bit of oaked woodiness in your wine that’s still made in the modern style then perhaps for a few pounds more the Reserva is the one to go for, which is in my opinion, excellent.

Next, I think most people would have heard of Campo Viejo with its distinctive labels, most of you guys must have tried their Rioja Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva but how many of you have tried their Garnacha ? ( if you click on the link you will see my thoughts on this CV Garnacha, second review down, when I was a member of the Tesco Wine Forum under the name spikedc, although it was for the 2012 vintage). Unlike the Albai this CV wine has been aged for 4 months in American oak barrels and this comes through in the taste, so as well as the sweet red fruits (think of those cherry drop sweets) there is a soft vanilla creaminess about it. Be warned though this is 14% ABV and can creep up on you pretty quickly.

So overall, both pretty good everyday wines without being too complex, both appeal in their bright fruity flavours and both are very easy to drink.

7corks

Castillo de Albai Rioja 2015

My Rating 7/10 Cork

 

7corks

Campo Viejo Garnacha 2015

My Rating 7/10 Corks

The three wine review

tale-of-three-winesThis week I review three contrasting wines, a South African Chenin Blanc, a Chilean Chardonnay and a rather nice Spanish Monastrell.

Firstly the Chardonnay from a new range launched by Morrisons called the Head Honcho which also includes a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot, these are all the sole property of Morrisons. Aimed primarily at the younger market with its bright eye-catching labels and its simplified consumer friendly wine description on the back, not to mention the price which is around £6.

The Head Honcho Chardonnay 2015 is an entry level wine so  I didn’t expect anything special, nothing to dislike but nothing to write home about either. Heady aromas of tropical fruits, pineapple, peach and mangoes, there was also a noticeable buttery nose.
Taste wise it had bright tropical fruits, touch on the sweet side which was almost slightly artificial. Did I enjoy it? well, it was OK but I do think a lot of people will like it.

Next, the  South African Zalze Bush Vine Chenin 2016 which was a wine selected by a member of our wine club ‘Cuvée Reserve’ for our monthly tasting in which we all take a turn at selecting a widely available bottle up to £10 to discuss and give our views.

Initially  I probably had this chilling for too long and the aromas were a little muted, but as the glass warmed up the nose became pretty full on with tropical fruits especially ripe pineapple, guava and peaches .
The tropical theme continued  in the tasting with the pineapple dominating but with some lemons and limes in the background giving it a fresh, crisp and bright hit in the mouth almost zingy.  Although fairly dry, there was a hint of sweetness as well which was appealing.

Overall thought this was pretty decent and probably worth the full price, I will say that it was even better 24hrs later as I had a little drop left, the flavours were more intense almost like a fresh fruit salad with a touch of cream. I also think that this would probably be even better aged for a little longer.

Lastly, the Mo Salinas Monastrell 2013 and definitely my favourite, from the Alicante region of south east Spain, which had a some what rustic charm about it. Made mostly with Monastrell (aka Mourvedre) with a splash of Garnacha and Cabernet.

Chilled this for about ten minutes as I often do with my reds. In the glass is was a deep purple with a nose of ripe bramble fruit, some smoke and a savoury, slightly earthy smell. On tasting this was medium bodied, with bright dark fruits, some spice, liquorice,  hint of oak. There was a hit of acidity giving it a fresh mouth-watering feel and it had moderate but noticeable tannins.

Nothing to complex but a very enjoyable bottle that I would certainly buy again and I have no hesitation in recommending if you want a fairly inexpensive midweek red.

6corks

Head Honcho Chardonnay 2015

My Rating 6/10 Corks

 

7.5corks

Zalze Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2016

My Rating 7.5/10 Corks

 

8corks

Mo Salinas Monastrell 2013

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Rioja Recognises Awards 2016

rioja-logoOn Wednesday the 3rd November 2016, thanks to courtesy of Brian Elliot of ‘MidWeek Wines’  and of course the Consejo Regulador of Rioja DOCa , I was lucky enough to be invited to the ‘Rioja Recognises’ awards in the swanky  Hispania Spanish restaurant in the heart of London’s financial area overlooked by the Bank of England. This was specially exciting for me as I have a love and passion for anything Spanish, especially wine and food.

riojarecognises7
Sarah Jane Evans MW

The awards ceremony honoured four industry personalities for their contributions and significant impact they have had on Rioja in the UK. Hosted by Sarah Jane Evans MW (a previous winner in 2015)  esteemed guests including the Spanish Ambassador Mr Fredrico Trillo-Figueroa along with a host of retailers, buyers and celebrity wine experts.

riojarecognises2The evening featured top scoring Rioja wines from the recent 10×10 tasting in which a panel of judges selected and narrowed down ten of the best wines of  the region from a list of 100. To accompany these a fantastic selection of Tapas was served freshly prepared by the Hispania chefs including such delights as Iberico ham, chorizo (hot and cold), salami, croquettes, Spanish omelette and Paella rice.

Among the winners included Waitrose buyer Nick Room for his ‘Outstanding Contribution’, Cambridge Wine Merchant Hal Wilson for ‘Off-trade Personality of the year’, Ben Henshaw of Indigo wines for ‘Distributor of the year’ and last but not least celebrity broadcaster and writer Susy Atkins ‘ for Communicator of the year’.

riojarecognises10

 

Although a great evening of celebrating these awards the real stars of the show were the wines themselves, the ten selected (2 whites, 1 Rosado and 7 reds) were all stunning and well received by everyone.

rioja-recognises-wine-list
List of the final wines selected from the earlier 10×10 tasting

My favourites were both the Chairs’ choices ‘La Rioja Alta 904 Gran Reserva 2005‘ and the ‘Bodegas Olarra Summa Reserva 2011‘. The first ‘La Rioja Alta’ was a classic elegant Rioja with an intense aroma of bright cherry fruit, taste wise again cherries with fresh mouth-watering acidity, sweet vanilla, leather and ripe tannins. The Olarra was equally nice with a dusty aroma, along with a mouthful of cherries, strawberries, vanilla and spice.

Special mention for the ‘Atlanza Reserva Especial 2010‘ Bright and lively, good balance, touch of oak and ripe tannins.

Of the two whites the stand out for me was the ‘Bodegas Lecea Blanco Crianza 2012’, if you like your wines oaked this was full of wood, with some pear and a hint of banana, probably best drunk with food though.

All in all a great evening and a a wonderful celebration of what Rioja has to offer and congratulations to all the award winners.

Lastly on a personal note, I am hoping to do a road trip around Rioja for my 60th birthday in just over a years time, still in the planning stages and very much looking forward to it.

riojarecognises3riojarecognises4riojarecognises5

The unexpected delights of Txakoli wine

Txikoli wine (451 x 600)
Serving Txakoli in a San Sebastian Bar

After returning from a ten-day holiday in Northern Spain’s Basque country visiting Bilbao and San Sebastian my overriding wine memory will be the delights of sampling the local hard to pronounce Txakoli (Chock-Ho-Lee)  wine. Go into any local bar and you will see bottles of this unusual wine proudly displayed and when ordered, theatrically poured.

Txakoli is produced in the Spanish provinces of the Basque region where the climate is wet and cool as we found out during our stay and much more suited to white wines.

Tasting the wine is a refreshing if bracing experience, mostly low in alcohol (generally around 10 – 11.5% ABV) and great as an aperitif. It is an acquired taste and maybe not for everyone, it has flavours of crisp green apples, touch of lemon, a slight salty tang (salinity) and high acidity with a tingling fizzy  effervescent finish which I found wonderfully refreshing.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the whole Txakoli experience is the way the wine is served and seemed to be a bit of a competition amongst the bar staff seeing who could pour it from the greatest height (some pouring from above their heads). Pouring from a height aerates the wine causing it to froth and bubble up and just makes the wine more lively and fun to drink but do stand back when they do this because a lot of it ends up splashing on the counter. Most bars also tend to serve Txakoli in tumblers rather than wine glasses and from what I could gather for no other reason other than being traditional.

As I said earlier it is an acquired taste and not everyone will like it but I urge if you are visiting Spain’s Basque region go into a bar order Txakoli not just for the taste but the whole experience of being served, I thought it was wonderful and cheap and I ended up not paying more than €1.80 a glass anywhere.

8corks

 

My Rating 8/10 Corks

 

 

 

El Corte Ingles – The Delivery Saga

El corte InglesI don’t often order things from abroad mainly due to shipping costs and the time it takes to arrive but when I saw a wine deal from the Spanish retailer ‘El Corte Ingles‘ it seemed too much of a bargain to let it go so I took the plunge, as did a few of our guys from Cuvee Reserve (an online wine forum I’m a member of) but as you will read, there was mixed results although things did end up on a positive note. Here’s the deal…

  • Brand: ALEJANDRO FERNANDEZ
  • Features: Includes:
  • 2 x 75 cl bottles of Dehesa La Granja 2007 Vijo red wine from la Tierra de Castilla y León
  • 2 x 75 cl bottles of El Vínculo Crianza 2010 red wine DO Castilla La Mancha
  • 2 x 75 cl bottles of Pesquera Crianza 2012 red wine DO Ribera de DueroEl Corte ingles deal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

casa de la vina
Extra bottle , superb Tempranillo

Six bottles for £47 with free delivery and for first time customers if I spent over £50 I would get £10 off with a Promo Code. Now I know the Pesquera sells in the UK for around £20 per bottle so this seemed like a really good deal. I scoured their site online and looked for another suitable single bottle to take the order over £50 and found a Tempranillo for £10 which took my spend to £57, so with the £10 off the final total was £47 which works out at roughly £6.70 a bottle, I think you’ll agree quite a bargain.

It was on February 27th that I ordered the case online and got a confirmation from El Corte that they were processing the order as did my friends on Cuvee Reserve, so far so good. Then the problems started. the confirmation stated that the order would arrived within 15 days and a couple of us got a further email saying that the order had been dispatched, no dispatch for me though.

Then the second email arrived for some, not me, stating that there has been a delay in shipping due to an issue with the courier. On March 11th I got my first email telling me that my order had been cancelled with no explanation, I emailed them back and got this response…………

Our head managers have just informed that unfortunately there was an issue on your order during shipping and it could not be sorted out in reasonable time.
Since wines quality may be affected,  we regret we had to cancel your order. 

Our managers have issued a 30% discount code for all the inconveniences we have caused. EC130′ Please accept our apologies.

I then received this…………..

Please accept our apologies. There was an issue on our system which prevented your order to be shipped.
That does not mean that we can not send new wines deliveries. In fact, our wines are still available now on our site.  It has been an isolated problem.
About your code, we have requested our managers to activate it for you. Our apologies for that.
As soon as we have their answer, we will get back to you.

Customer services assured me that no money has been taken, others on Cuvee Reserve all got similar emails either about delays or cancellations. As the deal was so good I decided to carry on and made the decision to cancel the order in writing and re-order  as the offer was still available. Then I got this email on March 14th…

We confirm there is no payment done into your order 342686 
About the order 347875, we have found stock delay, we expect new stock to arrive this week.

Followed by this on March 15th…

We regret to inform that your order is delayed. We expect it will be shipped during
the last week of March.
We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused you.

Corte ingles damge
Friends case , remarkably only one bottle damaged and not the Pesquera

Completely fed up I decided to just wait and see what happens, in the mean time some of my Cuvee reserve friends finally got their cases delivered one on April 6th and another on April 12th although the second delivery was damaged (see picture) Corte Ingles did offer him 50% of his money back, which made it an unbelievable deal. Others got fed up and cancelled completely. Finally my order also arrived on the 12th April intact (actually surprisingly well packaged)  but six weeks and numerous emails after my initial order.

Corte ingles bottles
My order safe and sound

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would I order from them again ? yes probably, if the deal is good (still got the 30% discount code). On the plus side the wines I’ve tasted so far have been superb and more than make up for this unfortunate saga.

Wines from Spain Trade Fair 2016

wines of spain logoI was asked recently to attend the ‘Wines from Spain’ Trade fair as a representative of Mid Week Wines a review site run by Brian Elliott, wine taster, judge and writer based in Scotland.

As anybody who has read my site knows I love Spanish wines, in fact I love most things Spanish, so when asked to do this tasting I jumped at the chance.

The event was held in Tobacco Dock, Wapping , London. This venue as the name implies was built-in the early 19th Century as a secure bonded warehouse for the receipt and storage of Tobacco from the new world. It was relaunched in 2012 as an events venue.

After arriving I made my way to a self pour tasting room called the ‘New Spanish Benchmarks’ with a selection of varieties and styles that make up the next generation of Spanish wines and the new ‘face’ of Spain.

Tobacco Dock
Tobacco Dock, Wapping , London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I entered there was only a handful of tasters in the room with around 45 wines from the ‘Spanish Benchmarks ‘ and another 60 or so from ‘Indie & On-trade star buys’. Feeling a little self conscious as there was amongst others Steven Spurrier ( British wine expert & one of the most influential wine commentators in the world)  and Sarah Jane Evans MW & Journalist busy tasting away, I did feel a little surreal tasting next to these experts. Adding to my anxiety you could hear a pin drop and I was praying I didn’t drop a glass or even worse knock over a bottle. Anyway as soon as I tasted the first wine my inhibitions drifted away and I was lost in an array of fabulous wines in which I will highlight a few later.

Next up was food and we were treated to a lunch menu especially created by Michelin Star chef Iberica kitchen 2Iberica Kitchen 1Nacho Manzano in the ‘Iberica’s Kitchen’ room. There was a dish called Fabada which was a rich Bean stew with Chorizo, Morcilla (spanish black pudding) & ham also accompanied by some Pata Negra Spanish Ham, spicy Chorizo slices and cheese.

There was also a free bar which had a lovely selection of wines in which I chose a Vina Ardanza Rioja Reserva 2007 to accompany the delicious food.

Suitably refreshed and fed I made my way to the the main Tasting hall in which one of my briefs was to taste Cava’s made with Champagne grapes either on their own or mixed in with the traditional Macabeo, Parellada & Xarel-lo. Again the selection was fantastic and I will pick out a few of note further down.

1To say I was like a kid in a sweet shop was an understatement and spent the rest of the afternoon sampling what I could meeting some really amiable and interesting  winemakers along the way.

 

 

Below I have set out a few of my favourite wines, this is only a brief selection as there were too many to list….

Spanish Benchmarks (The new face of Spain)

Inspiracion Valdemar Alto Cantabria Tempranillo Blanco 2015     

www.Berkmann.co.uk

Inspiacion temp blanco£15.99        Abv 13.5%

100% Tempranillo Blanco

Light Golden colour with a slight greenish tinge.

Aromas of tropical fruits, peaches & apricots

Taste- Full bodied, this had a real nice creaminess about it, balanced acidity and fresh bright tropical fruits again with a long finish.

** As a side note, I visited the Campo Viejo stand and they were promoting their new Tempranillo Blanco to go on sale in Tesco and another Supermarket (can’t remember which one) I thought it was very good especially at around £8-£9

86 % Viura 14% Tempranillo Blanco

Vinaredo Godello 2015

www.devinos.co.uk

£9.99        Abv 13%Vinarredo Godello

100% Godello

Bright Straw like colour

Aromas of apples, pears and floral

Taste- Full and rounded, bright white fruits, creamy with a hint of a floral aftertaste.

** I’m a big fan of Godello, one of my favourite Spanish white grapes.

 

 

Godelia Barrel aged Mencia 2011 (Bodegas Godelia)

www.morenowines.co.uk

Godelia Mencia£15.50        Abv 14.5%

100% Mencia

This was really good, I’ve also tried their Godello (with 20% Dona Blanca) which was also excellent. Big fan of Godelia.

Aromas of rich berry fruits, smokey.

Taste – good depth, plummy, medium tannins, chocolate, tobacco, smokey and toasty.

 

 

 

30 Copelos 2013 (Bodegas Legar do Merens)

30 Copelos£14.64        Abv 13%

40% Souson 30% Caino, 20%Ferron, 10% garnacha Tinta

Not entirely sure how easy to get in UK, but I thought this was Stunning.

Intense ruby colour, nose full of blackcurrants

Taste – very ripe dark fruits, light subtle tannins, well rounded, some complexity, long finish.

 

 

 

Main Tasting Hall (Cava’s)

Gran ClaustroGran Claustro Cava 2011, Perelada

www.barwellandjones.com

£19.99        Abv12%

42% Cardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir, 6% Xare-lo, 5% Macabeo & Parrellada

Fairly muted nose of apple pie & aniseed

Steady stream of fine bubbles

Brut Nature so very dry, medium bodied, tasted of crisp green apples, slightly bready, slightly creamy with a lingering finish.

For the price this was a pretty decent cava and one I would buy.

**They told me a great story about President Eisenhower visiting Spain in 1959 and asking them to produce a wine to commemorate the visit, this was the result.

Anna de Codorniu Rose NV

www.codorniuraventos.com

£10.99        Abv 12%Codorniu Anna

Chardonnay, Pinot Noir

Light Salmon Colour, Nose of candied cherries.

Very fizzy, large bubbles, little artificial tasting, sweet.

Reina Maria Cristina Blanc de Noirs Reserva 2013

£16.50        Abv 11.5%

100% Pinot Noir

This was excellent and well worth the money, pale in colour, light and soft mousse. Nose of crisp green apples & almonds.

Taste- bit of minerality, citrus fruits, creamy, nutty, not to fizzy. A very nice Cava.

 

Jaume Codornui Brut 2011

Juame Codornuiwww.codorniuraventos.com

£25        Abv 11.5%

Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Xarel-lo

Another very good even classy Cava.

Small steady stream of lively bubbles, lemony fruits, creamy, nutty, biscuity. Tasted fresh with honey and flowers lurking in the background.

Enjoyed this a lot.

 

 

Argent Reserva Brut 2009

Argentwww.fmwines.com

£45

100% Chardonnay        Abv 12%

 

**By far the best Cava I tasted all day but at a price, stood out head and shoulders above all.

Darkish in colour, restrained soft fizz, elegant, full of rich tropical peaches and apricots, some crisp green apples,medium acidity, toasty with a nutty edge, buttery and a finish that lasted a week. Quality 👍👍👍

 

Juve y Camps – Pinot Noir Brut Rose 2012

www.ehrmannswines.co.uk

£13.99        Abv 12%

Pinot Noir

One of the better Rose’s tasted, heavy nose of strawberries and cherries, medium bubbles.

Tasting dry, strawberry dominant but not too sweet, herbaceous, nice lasting finish.

Excellent, great value for money.

Juve y Camps Reserva de la Familia Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2011

www.ehrmannswines.co.uk

£19.99        Abv 12%

Chardonnay, Macabeo, Parellada. Xarel-lo

Another brilliant Cava, highly recommended by Decanter magazine and I can see why.

Lovely straw colour with aromas of toffee apples, stewed pears and stone fruits.

Taste – a little savoury with, brioche, peach, pears and a little honey. Fine bubbles not over fizzy.

Juve y Jamps 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cava Jaume Serra Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2011

Jaume Serra£16.99

100% Chardonnay        Abv 12%

Another excellent Cava

Steady stream soft bubbles.

Dry, bright and fresh, Pears & cream, almondy and slightly smokey. Lasting finish.

Big thumbs up !

 

 

Cava Jaume Serra Rosado Brut

£7.49

Pinot Noir, Trepat        Abv 11.5%

Vibrant red in colour, lively bubbles, dry, mouthful of strawberries and forest fruits, not overly sweet.

Again pretty good

 

 

Gonzalez Bypass

Subirat Parent Brut Reserva 2011

Sorry no picture

£16.00

100 % Subirat Parent        Abv 11.5%

Never heard of the grape but I loved the Cava.

Very unusual perfumed aroma of freshly cut flowers, medium fizz and a softness. Slightly tart but in a good way

Unlike any other Cava I tasted, not to everyone’s taste but different enough to be noticed.

Xarel-lo 2014

Xarel-loCan’t pronounce it and never heard of it I hear you cry but if you look on most bottles of Spanish Cava you will find Xarel-lo is one of the three main grapes used to make their fabulous sparkling wines.

This bottle is a 100% Xarel-lo (pronounced Shre-lo) made in the Penedes region of north-east Spain and not a bubble in sight. It’s a still wine that is wonderfully fresh and vibrant and has a Cava/Champagne flavour without the fizz although there is a slight zingy after-taste.

When poured it was very clear straw like colour with a very pronounced nose of peaches and cream, lemon curd and freshly buttered toast.

On first sip it is extremely bright with a sharp acidic kick. Again the peaches are there with apricots and some limes thrown in the mix but there is also a hint of rich creaminess about it.

Maybe not to everyone’s taste as this wine still has a sharp almost sour flavour but mixed with the richness the wonderful fruit and the slight breadiness this is a very good, unusual, interesting wine and I really liked it. Chilled on a hot summers day this would be perfect.

 

8corks

My Rating 8/10 Corks

M&S  £10 ( bought on offer for £7)

Aldi Wine Club Taster – Round 2

AldiClub2Well the second and third wines arrived, again well packaged, if fact it took me quite a while to remove bubble wrap, polystyrene and cardboard to eventually reveal a Spanish Toro Loco Superior and an Australian Exquisite collection  Limestone Coast Chardonnay.

So what were they like? well, again both very good especially for the price.

Toro Loco Superior 2014

Toro Loco (Mad Bull) made from Tempranillo (75%) and Bobal (25%) grapes. This wine is from the Utiel Requena region of Spain just west of the city of Valencia where Bobal rules.

On sticking my nose in the glass there were aromas of cherries and plums along with a hint of fresh strawberries, some smokiness, leather and what smelt like church incense.

Taste-wise again ripe cherries and plums, fresh acidity, a little sourness, slightly vegetal, leather and peppery spice.

My only problem, which is not a problem for some people is that it didn’t last well beyond day one, tasting on the second day it lost some of it’s initial intenseness of flavour and tasted slightly bitter, so my advice is drink it on the same day or because at £3.49 it’s so cheap buy 2 bottles.

All in all a lovely Spanish wine for the ridiculous price of £3.49, go out and buy some now!Aldiwineclub logo

Exquisite Collection Limestone Coast Chardonnay 2014

Next an Australian Limestone Coast region Chardonnay 2014, from their Exquisite range. A little more expensive although still relatively cheap at £5.79 a bottle.

Bright straw like colour in the glass, aromas of lemon, tropical fruits including peaches, pineapples and nectarines. Exotic and complex with a weighty texture and savoury finish which was incredibly long.

Unlike the Toro Loco this improved on day 2 and even day 3 if you can wait that long to finish it. So this was the pick of the two for me if only because it lasted longer after opening but overall two pretty decent wines, as as I seem to be saying a lot when it comes to Aldi, fantastic value for money.

7.5corks

Toro Loco Superior

My Rating 7.5/10 Corks

 

8corks

 

Limestone Coast Chardonnay

My Rating 8/10 Cork

Taste the Difference Albarino 2014

WP_20151023_007Just back from a holiday in Majorca where my wife and I tasted a few glasses of wine sitting amongst the locals at the food markets in the Capital Palma, where we were served beautifully fresh seafood along with a glass of chilled, refreshingly dry Albarino.

WP_20151023_005
Chilled Albarino with Sepia a La Plancha smothered in Garlic, a bowl of mixed fish with potatoes and fresh bread.

Scattered around the markets there were a lot of bars serving fresh food straight from the fish, meat and veg stalls. You did have to fight for a place as they were very popular but if you were patient you were well rewarded.

The food was fantastic, plentiful and the wine, well, I don’t think we paid more than 2 Euros a glass and none of it measured out, the wine was poured and the bottle left on the counter for when you wanted another glass, when you finished they asked you how many glasses you had and that was that. Brilliant !

AlbarinoTTDSainsbury’s Taste the Difference Rias Baixas Albarino 2014

Been back a few weeks now and last night for dinner we had pasta with squid and prawns. Deciding what to drink with it we settled for a bottle of Albarino, from Rias Baixas in the Galician region of Northern Spain, recently bought during Sainsbury’s 25% off six bottles promotion.

It turned out to be an inspired choice if I may say so, conjuring up memories of eating in the markets in Palma albeit sitting in the kitchen on a rainy November night.

It says crisp and refreshing on the bottle and that’s exactly what it is. The nose is grapefruit dominant with limes, nectarines and maybe a hint of peach.

Taste wise it’s crisp, zippy and very dry but with a bright acidity. Very citrusy, again with grapefruit lemons and limes.

Where this wine shines is when you pair it along side fish or any kind of seafood it just compliments wonderfully.

If you’ve not tried Albarino before you may be pleasantly surprised, it’s also a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc.

8corks

 

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Sainsbury’s £8

 

The Baron and another noble wine

BdL Camino del Monte Rioja

Spain 13.5%

From the heart of Rioja next to the banks of the river Ebro, the ‘Monastery of Imas’ Baron de Ley’s headquarters is home to some brilliant wines including this made especially for British Supermarkets.

For me, the Baron can do no wrong and this bottle the ‘Camino Del Monte 2001‘ is no exception, from its brightly coloured label to what’s actually inside everything just works.

Imagine sitting in an old church in a sleepy Spanish town surrounded by aromas of incense, candle wax and wooden benches with flamenco music playing outside, well, this is exactly what this wine conjures up.

Darkish garnet in colour with a rusty tinge around the edge. The first mouthful tastes of red cherries, plums and strawberries, spicy and a little smokey. Mildish tannins and a generous hit of Vanilla / oak with a very long finish.

Bottle looks typically Spanish, smells Spanish and tastes Spanish. A classic Rioja all round with age and won’t break the Banco coming in at a full price of around £12 but often on offer for less.

8corks

 

My rating 8/10 Corks

Morrisons around £12 (look for offers)

Dominio De Morfeo 2010

MorfeoSpain 13.5%

First alerted to this by a friend on Twitter whilst he was stocking up at his local Majestic store, although he hadn’t tasted it he thought I might like it. Was he right? well, a resounding yes from me.

Another bonus was the fact that it features a new grape for me Prieto Picudo from the northern Spanish region of Castilla y León which has been blended with Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) and Garnacha.

Be warned though, if you’re not into tannic wines this may well dry the inside of your mouth for a week. Dark and brooding in the glass aromas of black cherries. a touch of smoke and dried herbs.

On first taste the juicy dark cherries burst in your mouth quickly followed by the tannins which  douse the juiciness a bit. Oak is prominent and a smokiness (bonfire ash) give this wine a real edge while still being rather drinkable as long as it’s with food, this is definitely a food wine and not a wine for the faint-hearted.

Left in the glass for a while it did mellow slightly and I kept a little back to see if it softens a bit the next day, I will add a comment on the bottom of this post after tasting it again.

8corks

 

My Rating 8/10 Corks  Majestic £6.66 on Multi Buy

 

** Update** Second day the tannins had softened a little, still noticeably tannic but the cherry flavour and acidity coming through more. Still very nice !

Cepa Lebrel Rioja Reserva 2010

cepa Lebrel

Spain 13.5%

There is a lot of Rioja out there and finding a half decent cheap bottle is pretty hard although this Cepa Lebrel 2010 may well be the answer. It’s from Lidl’s who, in my opinion and from what I have tasted so far have a pretty good selection of cheap wines this one, which is also a Reserva, is around £5, very good value I’d say.

Not overly complicated but this looks, smells and tastes like a Rioja twice the price. Lovely garnet like colour with a rusty like tinge to the edge, smells aged, plenty of ripe mushy strawberries, slightly smokey and for me a Rioja must have a candle wax like aroma and this did, like sitting in an old church.

This is oaky perhaps a little too much for some but it did show some juicy fruit and acidity, full of strawberries, cherries with fairly mild tannins. My wife who tends to like white wines, not so much reds, is my monitor and usually tells it as it, pulling that face if she doesn’t like it but she did finish the glass which she doesn’t always do with red wine.

Don’t get me wrong there are far better Riojas out there but perhaps not many better at this price, it’s a fiver after all and it actually tastes like a good old-fashioned, old world Rioja.

7corks

 

My Rating 7/10 Corks

 

 

Papa Luna – Divine wine

Papa Luna

Spain 14.5%

Named after the last pope to reign under a dual papacy in the 14th and 15th Century in Avignon, Pedro Martinez de Luna who was born in Calatayud and was a local and historical icon. This wine is made as a homage to him.

I first tasted this at my local Majestic store a couple of years ago, I bought a couple of bottles stored them away and then forgot about them until now. What a pleasant surprise it was when I opened it and took that first sip, as the title says it was divine.

Inky black in the glass, after a quick swirl (the glass not me) and a deep sniff there were powerful aromas of dark ripe fruits mainly cherries and plums, with my nose still in the glass more aromas of cigar boxes, chocolate and a whiff of lavender emanated.

Drank this straight out of the bottle after opening (poured into a glass first) but I think it would benefit from a little more air although it still tasted pretty good as it was.

Smooth is mentioned a lot when people first taste wine but this is exactly what this was, almost velvety and elegant, intense taste of dark cherries that have been dipped in chocolate burst in your mouth along with liquorice. Bordering on jammy it also had a spicy savoury kick to it, mild tannins and an extremely long finish.

This was really very good and much better than you would expect from a wine this price, I will be back in store to get more

8.5corks

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Majestic currently  £7.86 on Multi Buy