These were the wines tasted first in the evening. They are not tasting notes by the Club, but notes published by the wine vendors.
(Sparkling wine notes: to follow)
2016 Ontanon Tempranillo Blanco, Rioja (Priory Wines, £9.60)
In 1988 a Rioja winemaker found a bunch of white grapes growing amongst the Tempranillo vines in his Murillo de Rio Leza estate in Rioja Baja. After several years investigation, the Consejo Regulador of Rioja accepted that this was a natural mutation of the usually red Tempranillo grape and approved it as a variety to be grown DOCa Rioja. It is thought that just one generation separates the white and red versions of the grape – similar to white mutations of both Pinot Noir and Garnacha. Only a handful of growers in Rioja have Tempranillo Blanco vines. Bodegas Ontañón saw the potential of this grape and planted 15 ha in 2010. 2016 is the first vintage Tempranillo Blanco that Bodegas Ontañón have released.
2017 Vermentino di Sardegna Iocalia Melis (Wine Society, £8.95)
Located in the Terralba commune in south-west Sardinia, the Melis estate was founded by lifelong winemaker Abele Melis in 1936, and is now owned by Flavio Melis. Covering a total of 30 hectares, the estate’s six vineyards enjoy a superb position on sandy soil on the west coast of the island, with a consequent mild climate, and are further protected by the Monte Arcuentu coastal mountain range to the south. Melis is best known for its superb vermentino, cannonau (the local name for grenache or garnacha) and mourvèdre (known locally as bovale sardo), and also grows malvasia, moscato, sangiovese and chardonnay. Winemaker Lucien Angei was for many years a flying winemaker, and has probably made wine in more different countries than anyone else. Having been born in Provence near the Bandol appellation, where the wines are made primarily of mourvèdre, it seemed only natural for him to make wine in Terralba, the Sardinian capital of the same grape variety. The team calls its traditional vermentino ‘iocalia’, a word that means ‘jewel’ in local dialect. Grapes are harvested early and fermented in temperature-controlled stainless-steel vats to produce a fresh, aromatic wine.
2016 The Society’s Falanghina, Campania (Wine Society, £8.75)
In 1960, a group of 33 winemakers in Italy’s central Campania region decided to join together and create a co-operative, and La Guardiense was born. Today, the company has around 1,000 members, who farm over 1500 hectares of vineyards between them along the 40km length of valley and slopes around La Guardia, near Benevento. This area is part of Sannio, a sub region in the north of Campania, which was named after the Samnites, a pre-Roman people whose wines were mentioned favourably by ancient philosophers such as Cato and Horace. The hillside vineyards here produce the best grapes as they avoid extremes of hot and cold temperatures throughout the year.The growers supply many local Campanian producers with bulk wine, but it is the co-op’s Janare range of wines that is its greatest achievement. Janare – a local word for a friendly witch, and a nod to the region’s famous history of alleged witchcraft – is a range produced and bottled by the co-op itself. It focusses on native grape varieties ideally suited to the region’s volcanic soils, such as falanghina (in fact, the co-op cultivates the vast majority of the world’s falanghina vines), fiano, greco and aglianico. The grapes for the Janare brand are sourced from specific vineyard sites – the range’s Lucchero Aglianico is even a single-vineyard wine – which imparts a more concentrated character. The company’s winery boasts much modern technology, including a fantastic and unique solar power system. Since 2006, the winery has undergone a revolution in quality and innovation, thanks to the company’s decision to employ Riccardo Cotarella, one of Italy’s most famous and well-respected oenologists, and the recipient of several winemaker awards. His influence and experience has transformed the co-op into one of the most important in southern Italy
2015 Columbia Crest H3 Merlot, Washington State (Majestic £16.99/£14.99)
Vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills are the source and inspiration behind the H3 wines. The hills have been home to Columbia Crest winery for more than two decades. Winemaker Juan Muñoz Oca combines innovative and traditional winemaking practices to highlight bold flavours in the wines that capture the unique terroir of the region.
GROWING SEASON: The 2015 vintage was one of the warmest growing seasons on record in Washington. Warm temperatures continued through the spring and summer, moderating slightly into fall and extending an early harvest. Overall, 2015 saw very favourable growing conditions, producing optimal ripening across varieties and yielding outstanding wines throughout the region.
VINEYARDS: The Horse Heaven Hills vineyards are located in Eastern Washington. This region is mostly dry with less precipitation due to the rain shadow effect from the surrounding Cascade Mountain range. The terrain consists of south-facing slopes that provide excellent sun exposure for grape ripening, and protection from cold airflow during the winter months. Strong wind patterns in the Horse Heaven Hills reduce canopy size and density and contribute to even ripening by moderating temperature extremes.
VINIFICATION: Grapes were crushed and then fermented 7-14 days on the skins to extract optimum fruit and structural components. Malolactic fermentation occurred in stainless steel tanks and oak barrels. The wine was barrel aged in 74% older oak and in 26% new oak barrels, both French and American, for approximately 15 months.
2010 Definition Rioja Reserva (Majestic £13.99/£10.99)
At Majestic we’re a little obsessed with Rioja, so we decided to push the boundaries, to try and bottle a wine so rich, so vanilla laden, smoky and chocolatey that it would cause riotous shouts of ‘phwoar’.
2015 Kangarilla Road Primitivo, McLaren Vale (Majestic £13.99/£10.99, BIN-END)
Primitivo, while not readily associated with Australia, is clearly benefitting from a New World residence. Exuberant flavours of fruit cake, stewed rhubarb and scents of wild herbs – a wine not to miss!
These are the wines from John Harris’s cellar. A mix of published notes and John’s notes:
2008 Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block
Hints of dark chocolate and ripe fruit dominate the aromatic profile of this wine. Hedonistic; smouldering dark chocolate sheen, viscous texture to a bold ripe and polished palate. Shiraz-led with Grenache, Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier. 15 months French oak, mix of new and used. ‘The Chocolate Block’ name was originally created by Tony Allen, former buyer for Oddbins. He asked Boekenhoutskloof to do an own label Shiraz under this label. They then created a blend in a Southern Rhone style a few years later and then asked him if they could use the Chocolate Block name for the wine. The Syrah fruit comes from Malmesbury with its unique growing conditions and dry land farmed vineyards to ensure its deep-rooted vines and therefore optimal concentration of colour, flavour and tannin structure. The Grenache Noir, from some of the oldest vines in the country, is sourced from Citrusdal. The blend is French oak matured in a combination of used and new barriques. The wine spent approximately 15 months in oak, was then assembled and egg white fined (free range eggs), prior to bottling. The Grenache component was matured with some Syrah press wine as Grenache has a typical high oxidative potential, using press wine lowers the oxidative potential and preserves colour. Blend is69% Syrah, 13% Grenache, 10% Cabernet, 7% Cinsaut and 2% Viognier.
Awards: John Platter 4 Stars, Decanter – Silver Medal, IWC – Silver Medal
2004 Bodegas Berberana Reserva Etiqueta Negra
Tasted at the Bournewood Shoot and a very good quaffing wine, well worth 89 points. Decanter Magazine Silver Medal.
2006 Michael Rolland Clos de los Siete, Mendoza, Argentina
Wine Advocate # 174 Dec 2007 Jay Miller 92/100, Drink 2007 – 2010
The 2006 Clos de los Siete is a slightly different blend with 50% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Syrah. Opaque purple-colored, it has a similar expressive nose including fragrant plum, blueberry, and black cherry. Ripe, sweet, and seamless, it admirably hides its tannin under all the fruit. It will evolve for several years but who will have the willpower to defer gratification? It is an awesome value. Clos de los Siete is a project of Michel Rolland. The vineyard, located about 60 miles south of Mendoza at about 3000 feet of elevation, has 300 acres in production with another 875 planted. (Tom Cannavan of WinePages) 45% Malbec, 35% Merlot, 10%CS, 10% Syrah. 15% ABV. Fragrant, quite crisp and brightly fruity on the nose with small raspberry and violet nuances, and the creamy and cedary oak in the background. In the mouth plenty of extraction, with real grip from tight, grainy tannins and a real liquorice grip. Good acidity, with plenty of sour cherry. Needs time, but a big, savoury wine. 89/100
2009 The Crossings Pinot Noir, Awatere Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand
Lisa Perrotti-Brown ; 85/100 . Drink: 2011 – 2013
Pale ruby coloured, the 2009 Pinot Noir gives notes of ripe raspberries and warm strawberries with a touch of powdered cinnamon. Light to medium bodied, it has a decent concentration of pure red berry flavours, high acid, a low level of soft tannins and a medium-long finish. Drinking now, it should keep through 2013.
From CJH – This is a VERY ungenerous score – tasted at Topes in Rochester and a beautiful summery PN, more like a good Beaujolais on steroids – light bodied and drink soon, not for laying down but worth a score of 90+. Tasted again 1/13 and holding up exceptionally well – will keep another 3 years for sure.
2006 Ken Forrester FMC Chenin Blanc
Was one of the wines in the Cambridge circle tasting November 2008. I gave it top score of 92 points – lovely off-dry slightly buttery style, I loved it but not to everyone’s taste. Tasted again April 2010 and absolutely superb. Won a lot of medals. Tasted again at Xmas 2012 – sweetish notes more pronounced and this went well with cheese but not a main course wine.
Galateo Banyuls Rouge 2004
100% Grenache Noir, and 100g/l sugar here, giving an awesome dessert wine with really beautiful berry fruit and luscious mouthfeel. We also tried the 05, which showed the variation from vintage to vintage with darker black cherries. Both wines were perfectly balanced, not too heavy, and absolutely excellent.
2004 Ch.Musar White 2004
Blend of Obaideh, Merwah. This is a really interesting wine, in the good sense! With enticing, intense aromas of toasted brioche, almonds, apricots, baked apples and vanilla. The palate it opulent with a buttery, honeyed texture and vibrant flavours of tarte tatin, vanilla and butterscotch. It is rich and mellow with a very long, indulgent finish.
2008 Chapel Down English Rose
Rondo, Schonburger and others. beautifully balanced dry rose with crips strawberry acidity and a swirl of summer fruits, redcurrants and shortbread on the palate.
2014 Tbilvino Qvevris Rkatsiteli
A dry, gently-textured and quince-flavoured wine, this intriguing white is something well out of the ordinary. Produced in Eastern Georgia, this is an amphorae wine using an ancient and traditional maturation method unique to the region. About this bottle: The grape juice and skins are fermented together, then partially matured in large clay jars known as Qvevri that are buried in the earth for several months, developing the wine’s rich, unique style. Marks & Spencer winemaker Jeneve Williams was inspired by the unique style of this wine during her Eastern Mediterranean travels and worked with the local winemakers to create this fascinating blend and floral character.
2004 Gustav Lorentz Altenberg de Bergheim Pinot Gris
We loved it at Paul Boyle’s! Gustave Lorentz Pinot Gris Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim 2004, 14,5% abv; 15g/l rs; 5 g/l acidity. Golden colour. The wine smells of spice and glue and promises sweetness and richness. It is, indeed, rich, but the sweetness promised in the scent is restrained and it comes off as off-dry. Fair acidity and liveliness despite the richness. The high alcohol is not noticeable. I did admire much in this wine, but I do prefer a lighter style of Pinot Gris (e.g. Domaine Loew) when it comes to these dry or almost so examples.
Community Tasting Notes (average 92 pts. and median of 92 pts. in 2 notes). Tasted by Scotty M on 4/14/2011 & rated 92 points: Slate comes together with stone fruit to show fantastic length, that finishes slightly waxy and oily on the palate. Awesome wine!
2005 Turkey Flat Shiraz
Wine Advocate # 167 Oct 2006 Robert Parker 95 Drink 2006 – 2021
Cut from the same mould as the 2004, the spectacular 2005 Shiraz exhibits an inkier purple colour as well as a deeper, richer, more nuanced style. Cropped at 0.8 tons of fruit per acre, which no doubt accounts for its awesome concentration, it is even better than the 2004, and should be longer lived, evolving for 15 or more years. 5 stars – Stephen Brook, Decanter March 2008
NV Michel Altimus (Chile, Cafayate Valley)
This wine is a blend of the best red wines of Michel Torino and changes from year to year. This wine is a blend of 54% Malbec, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc and 10% Tannat. This is glorious wine that will impress in the most demanding of circles. Altimus means “Altitude” in Latin and is the name given to the icon wine of Michel Torino, in honour to the high altitude of Cafayate region
Professional Wine Reviews for Michel Torino Altimus 2012, Rated 94 by James Suckling . A red with a linear seriousness that gives the wine form and verve. Full to medium body, silky tannins and a long and flavourful finish. Plenty of blackberry and stone aftertaste. Well crafted. 61% malbec, 25% cabernet sauvignon and 14% cabernet franc.
2013 Warrabilla Reserve Durif, Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia
Very youthful but spectacular inky black colour with a deep saturated dark purple black hue. The nose exudes pronounced dark morello cherry and liquorice scents followed by some dark chocolate, cedar, vanilla and spice. Full bodied and dense , the palate is engulfed with a blast of black cherry, morello cherries, liquorice and dark chocolate with a spicy vanillin/cedary oak background. Enormous fruit weight with velvety, structural tannins providing the framework. Very long aftertaste of black cherry, liquorice, dark chocolate, vanillin oak and spice. A Durif dynamo that will continue to develop for 6-8 years or more. Alc 17% b/v but NOT fortified.
Royal Tokaji Dry Tokaji 2015 (Hungary)
Royal Tokaji was founded in 1990 with the aim of restoring the international reputation of the wines of Tokaji and has been named as on of the worlds top 100 wineries by the prestigious Wine & Spirits magazine. This is a wine that is in perfect balance with fine green fruit and herbal flavours complimented by a touch of oak. The finish is long and complex with a crisp cleansing acidity. This makes a great aperitif but will also compliment seafood and white meats.
This wine is a pure expression of Furmint’s unique character. The bouquet shows it has charming grape flowers and fruit (gooseberry/lime) with a hint of nuts. On the palate the wine is dry and sleek. The barrel components gently round out the wine which remains fresh and has a long finish.
Royal Tokaji was founded in 1989 by well-known author Hugh Johnson and a small group of investors, who were inspired after the fall of Communism to restore and preserve Hungary’s precious wine legacy. Royal Tokaji’s ensuing success can largely be contributed to its unique combination of first and second growth vineyards, including one of Hungary’s two great first growths: Mézes Mály. The winery produces several exceptional wines, including four single-vineyard Aszú wines. Its Aszú wines are crafted using traditional gönci casks and aged in the winery’s 13th-century underground cellars. Richness with vibrant acidity is the hallmark of all the Royal Tokaji wines. Situated along the southern slopes of the Zemplén Mountains, Tokaj is characterized by late springs and short growing seasons. The average temperatures are generally cool, with long, sunny summers and dry autumns. Tokaj’s soil is largely clay or loess with a volcanic substratum; vines are approximately 20 years old. The meeting of the Tisza and Bodrog rivers in Tokaj creates a mist similar to that of the fog in Sauternes. The mist encourages “botrytis cinerea,” or “noble rot,” which dries and shrivels the Furmint, Hárslevelü and Muscat grape varieties that comprise Tokaji wines, and concentrates the sugars. Grapes that are infected with botrytis are commonly referred to by the Hungarian term aszú. Royal Tokaji owns a unique combination of first and second growth vineyards that have always been privately owned, including one of the two great first growths: Mézes Mály. At one time, first growth vineyards Betsek, Szt. Tamás and Nyulászó were owned by Prince Rakoczi I. His vineyards were sold in the late 1660s to save the prince, who was involved in a conspiracy that would have otherwise cost him his life. His son, Prince Rakoczi II, was able to buy back the prized land in the 1700s. Three centuries later, these vineyards continue to be highly valued.
Pale green colour, very fresh and clean, showing good Furmint fruit, with hints of fennel and mineral character. Dry, with a long flowery finish. A good example of the Furmint grape.
2007 Le Plein de Sens, Jurancon
The winemaker Jean-Louis Lacoste has expressed all the personality of the Petit Manseng grape variety in this wine, with its full richness but without excess of candied fruit aromas. On the palate it skilfully combines the roundness of the grape with balancing sparkling acidity. Should be good with smoked fish.