Spring kicked off early this year with a great presentation by Nicholas (Nic) Corfe from Go Brazil, a specialist expert and reseller concentrating solely on the burgeoning Brazilian wine producers. The wines were surprisingly good for a region which despite its massive size is relatively unknown as a source of wines. This near anonymity isn't going to last long going by the wines sampled. Below are the six wines.
Very well presented Charmat method sparkler made from 100% Chardonnay, benefiting from three months on the lees. Pale straw yellow colour with green reflexes; clear, clean and bright. Lemon and green apple notes on nose, with subtle hints of biscuit and candied fruit. Small persistent bubbles and a surprisingly soft mousse. Green apple, lemon citrus and sherbet on a light palate. Dry to off-dry, with bright acidity and an unexpectedly long finish. Lowish alcohol, so a great lunchtime or party tipple! Good-looking bottle too!
Produced by the Don Guerino winery from grape of Central European origin, also known as ‘Welschriesling’. Ripe tropical fruit notes on nose, some floral hints. Spends 4 months on lees prior to bottling. Palate is light to medium-bodied with restrained pineapple, melon and peach flavours. Dry, but without the minerality and high acidity associated with German Rhein Riesling. Soft stonefruit and pineapple show on a longish finish. Drink chilled as an aperitif or serve as an accompaniment to hors d’oeuvres, seafood and fish.
100% Moscato Giallo from Sanjo, a winery based in Santa Catarina, Brazil’s coldest state. Day/night temperature differences are high, giving wine real freshness. Very pale colour, with greenish highlights. Intensely aromatic and floral, with guava, lychee, mint, elderflower and even grapefruit notes apparent. Palate not sweet, as might be expected, instead dry/off-dry, grapey, perfumed with a touch of spice. Medium bodied, with a marked cleansing acidity. Try with Thai curries or similar.
Another wine from our best-selling ‘Sinais’ range, this time an unoaked 100% Merlot. Concentration of youthful ripe fruits on nose, with plum and black cherry dominant. Warm ripe berry fruit continues on medium-bodied palate, which is both smooth and supple. Soft tannins and moderate acidity combine to make this a very approachable and easy-drinking wine. Goes well with pizza, pasta, salami, roast chicken or lightly flavoured cheeses.
An intriguing, unoaked red blend comprising Tannat (55%), Cabernet Sauvignon (35%) and Ruby Cabernet (10%). Concentrated hedgerow fruits on nose, with damson and bramble showing strongly. Palate is well rounded, with a slightly gamey or savoury character, while other notes of licorice, fig, mint and herbaceousness add complexity. Warm ripe tannins are sufficiently robust to ensure wine can be kept for another 2-3 years. Try with lightly spiced dishes, steaks, sausages or casseroles.
Seldom seen grape variety of northeast Italian origin, this is a 100% example from 17 yr. old vines. Aged in French and American oak for approx. 6 months, then a further 6 months in bottle before release. Attractive, very deep purple in colour. Concentration of youthful dark fruits on nose, overlaid with lighter raspberry or redcurrant notes. More ripe fruity aromas on medium palate, which shows a moreish black cherry and licorice core, with hints of smokiness and vanilla off well integrated oak. Tannins still in evidence but overall wine is smooth, with fairly high acidity and touch of sour cherry on a long finish. Recommended with roast lamb or pork.
February's choice of Italians wines turned out to be popular as we had a good turnout of members and even a couple of new members joining, despite the inconvenience of school holidays. The wines proved to be good too. Below are the scores for each wine. All the wines came from Waitrose with one exception, the Passimiento, which turned out to be the best according to the 23 members that voted. This was purchased through the web. (I can provide the link if members want it). All the wines were well priced and only the Chianti seemed to disappoint, although I've tried it since with an Italian meal (Spag-bog) and it was very pleasant. The tastings were accompanied, as always, by relevant cheeses, most of which were Italian also.
Wines & Prices (at time of purchase)
Points Given By Each of the 23 Members That Voted
In December we tried six great drinks. First we started with a Crémant sparkling wine. It's created in the same way as Champagne but not in the Champagne regions. Next we tasted the perennial favourite Bollinger, followed by one of the UK's best Bubbly's Nyetimber, to see which the members thought was the best.
We then moved to the ports. First we tried an inexpensive bottle of Cockburn's white port. We followed that up with tasting the same port but mixed with tonic as a 'Portotonic'. As a result the scores for the white port jumped-up as many people tried it for the first time and were instantly converted. Next we tried a favourite tawny port, Graham's 10 year old Tawny. Most people loved it, but it was soon put in the shade by Graham's little gem, The Six Grapes ruby port. Of all the drinks we tried, that's the one to keep well stocked on your shelf.
When it came to voting for the best value for money, the winner was pretty clear.
Don't miss out on these great tastings. Join the Club! www.horspathwine.club
I was privileged to visit Horspath's own Sunnyhill vineyard recently. It was a nice sunny Saturday lunchtime prior to their upcoming open day on this weekend's bank holiday (25-27th August).
This is not the best time of day to be downing close to a full bottle of red wine you might think. That was certainly my fear. But you know what, I felt perfect all day and had no headache at any point. I also didn't fall asleep for the afternoon as might have been the reasonable response to such hospitality (ok, I had ten minutes on the sofa - but it was really hot!! :). Next morning I was up bright and early, with absolutely no after effect except a smile on my face.
One might think that this immunity is the result of my body being pickled over many years and not reacting to a great 12% red in the midday sun.
The truth is that this is a truly local organic wine, not something mass produced and full of chemicals to preserve the wine through months of time spent in distribution centres.
On first opening it's got a weird smell, something that's unfamiliar except if you're in the habit of sticking your nose in a jar full of blackberry jam. It doesn't smell like wine, it's more like a fruit juice smell. And there's the danger. It tastes great, possibly a little too great!! :)
It's the sort of wine to have with some nice danish blue cheese and biscuits and a good conversation. It's a wine to be enjoyed, it's not a wine to be downed while sitting watching Coronation street - unless the bottle happens to be open at that time.
The wine has extraordinarily long legs, a great body and lingers just long enough as to not interrupt the Formula 1 on the TV. Basically it's a perfect catch.
Sunnyhill has kindly offered to talk to the club at our event in October and the wine will be on sale at the vineyard from this weekend. They also make still and sparkling cider, plus a still and sparkling white.
Seriously, this is a great village!!!