Monday, March 31, 2008

WBW#44 Cabernet Franc from France

I really enjoy wine blogging wednesday as it really pushes you to taste something that is a little off the radar. This wine blogging wednesday theme, hosted by Gary Vaynerchuck, is that of French Cabernet Franc. For this theme I have decided to do two wines since neither of the wines I reviewed is a straight Cabernet Franc. Co-incidently both of these wines are entirely contrasting in style. So here goes.

2005 Villebois Cabernet Franc Malbec

Region: Loire
Country: France
Alcohol: 12%
Price: €9,00
Closure: Screwtop

Domaine La Chardoisie is based in the Loire Valley and is owned by four Dutch wine-crazy investors. They produce four wines including this Villebois Cabernet Franc Malbec (2005) which is a blend of Cabernet Franc (60%) and Malbec (40%) and is produced from 15-40 year old vines. While these grape varieties are of lesser importance in Bordeaux in the Loire these varieties play an important role.

Here is my tasting notes:

This wine has a deep purple red in colour. The nose is delicate with hints of raspberry and strawberry. The colour fools you as this is is a lighter-bodied wine with raspberry / strawberry jam, hints of cherry and some earth too. This is a very fresh with good acidity, balance and grippy tannins. A tasty lighter, fruity wine perfect for a warm summers day.

2005 Mas Champart Vin de Pays d'Oc

Region: Languedoc
Country: France
Alcohol: 14%
Price: €9,00
Closure: Cork

Mas Champart is owned by Matthieu and Isabelle Champart who took over the then run-down Languedoc (St Chinian appellation) domaine in 1976. Since then the estate vineyards have doubled in size from 8 hectare to 16 hectare. After initially starting out as grape growers selling their produce to the local co-operative they soon turned to producing their own wines. This is blend is primarily cabernet franc along with some syrah which is generally unusual for the Languedoc region.

Here is my impression of this wine:

Intense deep red with purple hues. Quite closed on the nose initially it opened up to reveal black berry fruit and violets. Medium to full-bodied on the palate with plum, black berry and solid almost chewy tannins. Quite a lot of spice in there too, almost paprika. Quite good length on the finish. Overall a really nice wine, that probably deserved some laydown time in the cellar before consumption.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

2005 Campolargo Vinha Do Putto Tinto

Region: Bairrado
Country: Portugal
Alcohol: 13.5%
Price: €5.95
Closure: Cork

Mention wine from Portugal and chances are people will be thinking Port. The production of quality tables wines, however, is definitely on the rise. Couple this with a wide range of indigenous grape varieties (over 500), a variety in wine regions, and in general very reasonable pricing can set Portugal apart from many other wine producing countries. In my opionion two words that can best describe Portugal as far as wine goes are exciting and individual.

Bairrado is one of the three wine regions (the other two are Douro and Dao) located in northern Portugal. Production is 80% red with the native variety Braga synonymous to the region. Of note is that the region has a huge number of growers, some 4700, with an average vineyard size of 0.2 hectare. The region was officially demarcated in 1979.

This red (Campolargo Vinha Do Putto Tinto a name that would possibly be found offensive in Spain) has been produced by Manuel dos Santos Campolargo a wine maker located in the Bairrado region. It is not made from the Braga grape, but is a blend that can comprised of some or all of: Cabernet Sauvignon, Tinto Roriz, Touriga Nacional and Syrah depending on the year. The composition is determined on a year-by-year basis. This is what I thought of it:

Deep ruby red in colour with an attractive nose of red berry fruits and some hints of tabacco. The palate is fruit forward and probably medium weight at best with the same red fruit and some savoury, green pepper elements. A dry finish completes a decent entry-level quaffer.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

WBW#43 Comfort wine

Region: McLaren Vale
Country: Australia
Alcohol: 15%
Price: €15,00
Closure: Cork

Initially I felt that this is one the toughest WBW topics so far. I'm not really all that sure that I drink wine as a comfort drink, although I certainly do drink it when I am unwinding. Anyway here is my effort at this months wine blogging wednesday theme (presented by Joel over at Wine Life Today).

The past weeks have been pretty hectic for me; a wedding to plan for August and a new freelancing world (it's my second week). Initially I thought maybe a nice bottle of vintage port or a bottle of Tokaji. Living so far from home, however, I could not go past relaxing with a good glass (highly likely a few more than that!) of Aussie Shiraz.

My choice of wine for this theme is the Gemtree Uncut Shiraz from the low yielding and excellent 2003 vintage. Here is my tasting note:

Really good colour; deep red with tinges of purple. Nice nose with plenty of plum and berry fruit. Big and full bodied the palate is smooth with concentrated plum and black berry. Some spice in there too. Oak is there but definitely takes a back seat. Fine grained tannins provide for a nice lengthy, dying finish. This is delicious wine that really is great value for money.

Friday, March 07, 2008

2005 Leasingham Magnus Clare Valley Shiraz

Region: Clare Valley
Country: Australia
Alcohol: 14%
Price: €11,95
Closure: Screwcap

The Stanley Wine Company was established in 1893 by Joseph Knappstein (a merchant), Doctor Wein-Smith (a general practitioner), Magnus Badger (a solicitor), and John Cristion (a noted brewer). Now known as Leasingham (changed in 1984), and run by the Hardys Wine Company, it was started by the quartet in order to produce high quality wines in the Clare Valley.

Around one hundred and fifteen years later Leasingham has certainly shown that their vision for quality wine in the Clare Valley has certainly been realised. This is the Magnus Shiraz, a relatively new range, named as a tribute to solicitor Magnus Badger. Here is my tasting note:

Really dark, teeth-staining purple-red, almost black in colour. The nose is made up of peppery black fruit, along with some herbs. Quite tight and elegant on the palate with plenty of black berry fruit and nice firm tannins. Some vanillan oak comes through on the lengthy finish. This is the real deal, a lovely and good value for money wine.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

2006 Calvet Reserve Du Ciron Sauternes

Region: Bordeaux
Country: France
Alcohol: 13.5%
Price: €10,50
Closure: Cork

Calvet was founded in 1818 by Jean-Marie Calvet, and was where the great Emile Peynaud started his illustrious career in the wine industry. The company was once one of the best family-owned negotiants in Bordeaux although this changed in 1982 when the company become a subsidiary of the Whitbread group and was subsequently consumed by the giant multinational Allied Domecq.

1997 saw the company once again become an independant French-owned company under the leadership of Jack Drounau. There was limited success and the 188 year old Calvet went through several restructures in an attempt to move into profitability, selling off its property holdings and bottling line, making a large number of redundancies and finally being taken over by H Mounier. In 2006 it was finally sold off to Grand Chais de France, a wine company based in the Alsace.

Anyway, lets get to the wine. This wine is a blend of semillon (80%), sauvignon (15%) and muscadelle (5%). The aim behind this blend is as follows: the semillon forms the base of the wine and provides the wine with body and sweetness as it lacks in acidity and aromatics. The sauvignon blanc, on the other hand, gives the wine these aromatics along with lively acidity. Last but not least the muscadelle gives wine the more elegant, subtle aromatics. Here is my tasting note:

Yellow-gold in colour; maybe some tinges of green too. The nose is more elegant than powerful; lightly floral with honey and some hints of botrytis. More honey on a palate that is not all that sweet and a lot lighter than I expected it too be. Some flabbiness too which is kind of dissappointing. Finishes with the sweetness giving way to some slightly bitter characters. A lighter style that really lacks the weight. Disappointing.

Monday, March 03, 2008

2001 Tatty Road Cabernet Pertit Verdot Merlot

Region: McLaren Vale
Country: Australia
Alcohol: 14.5%
Price: €15,95
Closure: Screwcap

I've read many good reviews about the wines produced by Gemtree Vineyards and have been looking forward to trying their wines. The vineyard is owned and run by the Buttery Family, and the wine made by Mike Brown (who is married into the family).

Mike Brown's winemaking philosophy is all about quality fruit and minimal intervention in the wine making process. He aims to produce wines that are powerful, concentrated, and express the true characteristics of each variety and the region.

The wine is a Bordeaux blend of cabernet (70%), petit verdot (25%) and merlot (5%) from a good year in 2001. According to the information on the wesbite cabernet dominates the blend and creates the platform and base, petit verdot gives the aromatics structure and tannin, and merlot the juiciness.

Here is my note:

Terrific colour: very deep, dark red in colour with purple hues. The nose is not that powerful but shows some olives, black currant and hints of oak. The palate is full-bodied and all about the fruit with spices, plums, and sour cherry. Oak takes a definite back seat as it should. Grippy tannins complete a solid wine that for some reason doesn't really do it for me.