Unboxing My Wine – The Tingle…

The Complete Set.

I wrote quite recently about the beauty of being in a Wine Club and the excitement that comes with every arrival – a journey into the unknown. Opening the box and pulling out one joyous adventure at a time, wondering what the next delight will be.

(As I’m sure you can work out, if you would like more information on the wines I describe below, I have provided links to the Winemakers, the locations and even the odd link to a poet! Just click on the link and you will be whisked away).

Last week, my latest arrival was delivered from my Irish Wine Explorers Club from the wonderful folk at Wines Direct, and needless to say, I was far from disappointed with the gems that sprang forth.

The first out of the box was from the Loire Valley. A 2018 vintage Domaine Masson-Blondelet, Sancerre AOP, from the family run estate in the heart of the Pouilly-Fume Appellation. When I went over to their website, I found some of the best technical sheets I’ve seen, giving full details of the wine, and well worth a look for the geek in us all.

Next up, was the Pessoa from Portugal, Vinho Verde DOC wine, and I understand this is VV but not as you know it, made from the Loureiro grape, but in a Kabinett style. The winemaker, Jorge Goncalves, although Portuguese by birth was brought up in Germany, and studied wine making at Geisenheim University before travelling the world to hone his skills, reaching South Africa where he learned the secret to blend New World fashions to the Old World elegance, and he returned to Portugal to start up his winery, named after Fernando Pessoa one of Portugal’s most famous poets and writers (See you can learn more than just wine here!).

Third out of the box, and the first Red was a wine I have had the pleasure of before in earlier vintages, this being a 2018 Monastrell from Jumilla DO in Spain, and the Altos de La Hoya old vines of the Olivares Fernandez family. I’m looking forward to the deep ruby and dark fruits of this one.

Next up, the third of the white wines, and a Fiano from Coriole. Now, anyone who knows me, will understand that I have a huge love of Italian wines, and whilst I would never be presumptuous to believe I know all the makers of Fiano from Campania or Sicily, this was a new name for me – WAIT A SECOND – Underneath the name of the wine were the words McLaren Vale, definitely a new region of Italy to me! Yes, this Fiano is the first to come from Australia, and the hands of Mark Lloyd’s family. Another find from the folk at Wines Direct that will be enticing me to sample very soon.

Only two to go now, and these would both be red, unless I am very much mistaken. And lo and behold, it was back to France, after out surprise visit to South Australia, and back to the Loire Valley, although this time for a Cabernet Franc from Chateau de Montdomaine , from the hands of Frederick Plou and his wife Louisa, “Le Breton 2018“. This will be a good wine to eat with a hearty French dish such as boeuf bourguignon or a coq au vin, so it may lay on the shelf until later in the year. I have heard that the family make an exquisite Malbec, so knowing my love of that grape, I’ll be looking out for that in the future.

The box is nearly empty now, and the last bottle is always tinged with sadness as I reach into the empty sleeve of the winebox, knowing that it will be a month before I have the tingle of excitement again. But, I was saving the best, unknown to me, for last – with the emerging bottle being a Bordeaux, the label indicating Chateau La Fleur St Georges from Lalande de Pomerol AOC, the second wine of La Fleur de Bouard, on the right bank, in that wine mecca of the west of France. The winery is owned by the De Bouard family, who, for the connoisseurs amongst us, own the 1er Grand Cru Classé, Chateau Angelus of Saint-Emillion. Hubert de Bourd de Laforest has put as much pride into developing this gem as he has with every other wine he has been involved with in producing over more than 25 years in the profession. Again a wine for a hearty occasion, a beef dish, maybe stretch to some game, definitely one to savour me thinks.

So, the box is now empty, the wines are now on the rack, and while the excitement of unpacking the case is now over for another month, I have so much to look forward to from this months selection. Before you know it, another arrival will be sat on the table awaiting opening, and the journey around the world of wine will begin again – I’ll let you know……..

A Very English Evening

Around about the time that we first were locked down, I was fortunate enough to receive a supply of wines from East Devon, from Dalwood Vineyard and Mike Huskins. Included were a few bottles of the 2016 Brut, Seyval Blanc/Pinot Noir Sparkling Wine, which picked up a Silver Medal at the 2019 IEWA, and a Bronze at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards.

Before I restarted my Blog Posts, I wrote a review of the first bottle I drank not long after, and last night we popped the cork on another, no special reason, just fancied a bit of fizz, and I knew what to expect, perfection. rather than repeat myself with a further review, I thought I would share what I wrote at the time of the first bottle, and my opinions haven’t changed, aside from the fact that I wish I had ordered more!

“Let me start by stating that fizz, be it Champagne, Traditional Method, Cava, Prosecco, or any other bubbles, rarely rocks my boat, and aside from celebrations, would not be a regular in my glass. Having said that, I had heard really good things about Mike Huskin’s Dalwood Vineyard Brut 2016, and with a few bottle arriving last week, it seemed a good time to see if I could be convinced that “fizz” isn’t just for weddings and Formula One Wins!

Dalwood’s Brut in 2016 was a blend between Seyval Blanc (70%) and Pinot Noir (30%), and once the cork was gently removed, and a glass poured, the immediacy on the nose was of ripe green apples, straight away, which I can already associate with Seyval from my sampling of the still wine from Dalwood with Seyval as the base of the blend earlier this week.

The colour was light gold, and the stream of bubbles looked impressive. A stronger sniff and the notes of the bakery were there, indicating the autolysis. I subsequently learnt that the wine spent 30 months in second fermentation in the bottle this way, before a very low amount of dosage, 4g in the 2016, as I was ready to savour the full flavours.

A crisp cool explosion onto the palate, with good acidity, but totally balanced by the Pinot, as Seyval at its peak is high on the acidic front, leaving enough to get the mouth watering, but no hint of burn. Those green apples, along with pear, more of the candied type than from the tree, and a yeasty bread/biscuit note, emanating from the time spent on second fermentation were to the fore.

Absolute dryness gave a wonderful texture to the wine, without puckering at all, and the finish remained fresh, leaving those apples lingering in the mouth long after the swallow. I read how someone had described the lingering flavours as that of Apple Crumble, and while the thought didn’t hit me at the time, this is a very apt description.

While I may not have been totally converted to making “fizz” an everyday wine in my house, this particular version has certainly raised the thought that it will appear more likely. An excellent English Sparkler, well worth seeking out if you are ever down in East Devon, and one that compares very favorably with higher priced offerings from the Continent.”

An Unmarried Woman – Sicily

Yes, this wine’s name evokes the local dialect, and Sketta, roughly translates as Unmarried Woman. I know not why this name was chosen for this wine, but if this is an example of unmarried women in Sicily, then there will be plenty making the flight there.

In recent months, Sicily has featured high on my wine choices, although, up until now, it’s mainly been the reds of Etna, the Nerello Mascalese’s, and the Nero d’Avola’s on the island. However, between my Wine Clubs, I have a number of Whites on the shelves, and I decided that this would be one to try.

Grecanico is the grape on the label, which is synonymous with Garganega, the Northern Italian grape of Soave, and a little research told me that Cantina Marilina is run by two sisters, Marilina and Federica Paterno, whose father, Angelo, had bought the 60 hectares on a hillside in the southeast of Sicily near the town of Pachino, after 25 years working in the industry locally.

Opening the bottle, the colour immediately hits you – Deep golden, dare I say, even Orange. Whether it was this amazing colour, the photo does not quite do it justice, or not, but the first aroma I noted was marmalade, the golden type from Sevilla sprung to mind, quickly followed by a surprise, petrol hints. It was fleeting, but it was there, not something I was expecting, but it didn’t detract at all, in fact, it enhanced the experience.

First sips showed the honey texture, and a zingy punch of acidity, before the cacophony of fruit came through, There was apricot, there was lime, the citrus giving the tang, then there was orange peel, that marmalade sensation, and raisins floated around the palate. On the finish, there were notes of caramel too, that lingered as the glass was put down, demanding a further raise to the lips to make sure the pleasure was maintained – It was…

The vineyard is organic, grown on calcareous soils, extended skin maceration leads to the wonderful colour, with fermentation in concrete tanks for six months, before finishing off in the bottle for three months prior to release.

The wine marries well with what you would expect from Sicily, with seafood in abundance on the island, and pasta with green vegetables, and shellfish would be perfect. It may not stay Unmarried as a Wine, a perfect wine as a change from Soave, seek it out.

Albarino at it’s Best

A very enjoyable Albarino indeed. One of the dangers of any style of wines becoming popular, is the tendency to dumb down the style to cater for the popular demand, maintaining a common level. I’m glad to say that this wine does not fit into that category, it’s an excellent example of the grape, blended as it is, 70% albariño, 15% caiño , and 15% Loureiro.

On pour, a delightful deep straw yellow appearance abounds in the glass. The nose has what you expect, with lemon citrus, hints of apple, and slight floral notes. The first thing that grabs you as you take the first sip is the tangyness of the acidity, mouthwatering delights, before mellowing into the flavours of the tropics, with mango, peach, that zesty green apple, and of course, the citrus of lemon and grapefruit. An almost cream like texture adds to the overall enjoyment of the combinations of flavours.

The finish to this perfect glass lingers long after the swallow, and left on the palate is that hint of salinity, not powerful, but there, and reminding you that the Ocean is not far from the birthplace of the wine.

All in all, an excellent example of the quality coming from Galicia, and one to look out for. It should be widely available, as Emilio Rodriguez and his team created just short of a million bottles in 2018, seek it and you won’t be disappointed.