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.


Head Honcho Chardonnay 2015

My Rating 6/10 Corks



Zalze Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2016

My Rating 7.5/10 Corks



Mo Salinas Monastrell 2013

My Rating 8/10 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


My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Majestic currently  £7.86 on Multi Buy

The Society’s Southern Spanish Red 2012

society Jumilla(450 x 600)Jumilla, Spain, home to the richly flavoured Monastrell (aka Mourvedre) and the primary grape in this bottle of Southern Spanish Red Monastrell 2012 from the Wine Society.

The tasting notes that accompany the bottle (nice touch from the Wine Society) tell us that it’s from a relatively new family run Juan Gil Bodega who released their first vintage in 2003. The bottle in question is a entry level Spanish Monastrell and at £5.50, pretty cheap.


The first thing I would say after the initial taste is that this is nothing like a £5 bottle you might find on the supermarket shelf, this is very impressive and I must say a bit of a bargain.

When poured this is lighter than I expected with a rusty brownish tinge, aromas of sweet fleshy plums jump out of the glass along with bonfire ash (nicer smell than it sounds). I’ve drunk a lot of Monastrell lately especially on a recent visit to Murcia, Spain and on first tasting this is on a par with most of the wines there.

Taste – Sweet ripe plums, earthy and a little rustic, not particularly complex but it has good balance and a rough elegance about it but overall it’s very very drinkable.
This was my first bottle from a recent mixed ( 6 bottle) case order from the Wine Society, although mixed with four other Spanish reds, a German Riesling and a Corbieres.

It’s a pretty good start and a good first impression of the Wine Society itself which I only joined a few weeks ago, let’s hope it continues.

7.5corksMy rating 7.5/10 Corks

Wine Society £5.50 a bottle

Ondas Del Alma Godello & Vinahonda Crianza

Not quite Shakespeare but this is a ‘tale of two wines’ one from Galicia in north west Spain and the other from the Jumilla region on the southeast coast just north of Murcia.

godello coop(450 x 600)Firstly the Godello, I’m a big fan of this grape, almost extinct at one time now seems to be getting a reputation as being Spain’s ‘great white hope’ and in publisher and renowed wine expert Jancis Robinsons words “combines the structure of white burgundy with the finesse of a juicily mineral grape”. It also happens to be my current favourite Spanish white wine.
The Co Op have released their ‘Truly Irresistible’ range which includes this Godello Ondas del Alma 2012 which I bought on offer for £6.49.
Very, very pale looking in the glass with aromas of pear, peaches and cream.
Taste – Quite a creamy velvety taste, although still with a sharp, fresh acidic finish. Pears dominate with a hint of apples and peach. Great with food, cleansed the palate beautifully. Easy to drink, had this with some pork and mediterranean vegtables but it would probably suit fish dishes better. What I must point out is don’t chill this too much, initially I drank this far too cold, tasted much better when it warmed up a bit.

vinahonda2010(450 x 600)Next a wine I bought while browsing the duty free shop in Murcia airport. I’m not a great fan of airport duty free wine as there doesn’t seem to be as much of a saving, with a lot of the wines on show much cheaper if bought locally. Saying that this particular Vinahonda Crianza 2010 caught my eye and I decided to buy it at around 9 Euros. This is a blend of Monastrell , Cabrenet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.
Look & Nose – Bright ruby colour, intense complex aromas of fleshy rich cherries, spices, vanilla and chocolate. Taste – refined tannins, long finish, a little on the sweet side, Vanilla, smokey and a mild kick of spice.

Summing up, two pretty good wines, the Godello a little more easy to find here than the Vinahonda but if you are in the Murcia region of Spain the Monastrell is definitely worth checking out.

7.5corksTruly Irresistible Co Op Godello 2012

My Rating 8/10 Corks


8.5corksVinahonda Crianza 2010

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Murcia & Monastrell

On a recent visit to Spain where my daughter is currently on her year abroad studying for her degree in Spanish/Italian at the University of Murcia my aim was to try some alternatives to Rioja and try local wines made with grapes of the area, oh yes, also managed to fit in seeing our daughter as well.
Monastrell (Mataro in Spain) also known as Mourvedre is from the Jumilla region which is situated just north of Murcia, it features heavily around the bars and restaurants, often used blended but it can be found in its 100% form widely around Murcia. This thick skinned grape makes wines that are high in tannins, plenty of dark fruit flavours with spice and sometimes slightly herbal. The Monastrells I tasted were bright and juicy, vanillary, full of dark cherries, slightly tart and quite meaty in flavour and very tannic.
Serrella(450 x 600)Browsing the shelves of local wine shops and supermarkets (while my wife and daughter were off browsing the local clothes shops) there were lots of reasonably priced local wines on show and I took a chance with a couple and as it turned out, both were pretty decent.
The first was a ‘2007 Serrella’ a blend of Monastrell, Pinot Noir and Petit Verdot, priced on offer at just over 7 euros. When poured it was very dark in colour with a rusty tinge to the rim, it had heady aromas of Morello cherries, plums and dark chocolate. If I’m honest the taste was not what I expected after the lovely smells coming from the glass. On first sip it was initially bright fresh and very fruity but did have a sharp sour finish, it also had a rustic harshness about it, although strangely I still thought it was still a pretty good tasting wine. I kept a little back for the next day and it became a totally different drink it was smoother, slightly sweeter, dark fruits were still there and a little tobacco was coming through.In hindsight I think I should have let this breathe for at least a couple of hours and it would have made for a better first experience. Overall though for the price a big thumbs up.
Senorio bullas(450 x 600)The second bottle was the ‘Senorio de Bullas Reserva 2009’, around 9 Euros again reduced on offer.

Now this was a different beast altogether, a blend of Monastrell and Syrah. When poured it was very dark almost inky in colour but after sticking my nose in the glass and giving a good sniff not much was coming out, there was a little plum and woodiness but not much else.

I drank this straight after opening and was instantly impressed with its intense and powerful flavour, oaky, dark ripe plums, liquorice, figs and spices. Still a little tart on the finish and quite tannic but the taste was much better than the nose suggested, very much the opposite of the Serrella. The similarity to the previous wine was again on the second day, much smoother, less tannic altogether nicer to drink especially as a stand alone drink without food.
Drank quite a few different Monastrells and Monastrell blends in the local bars during my week in Murcia not paying much more than 1 to 2 Euros a glass and most of them very nice with a few exceptions. Great to taste these local wines and great to see our daughter, shame her time in Murcia is coming to an end, it really is a brilliant place, good food, friendly people and good wine.SE


Serrella 7.5/10 Corks



Senorio de Bullas 8/10 Corks