Straight to the Pool Room – Oct 2014

CDR A foreign crop for the cellar:

Leaving the Reservation: Côtes du Rhone wines, and one other

In September L and I attended a Côtes du Rhone: Worth Cellaring evaluation tasting with Geoff Kelly.

He contends that for wine-lovers of average means, the wines of the Southern Rhone valley are the most appealing, food-friendly and affordable red wines on earth.

In his opinion, affordable Aussie reds are too alcoholic, young, raw and oaky; too many cab / merlots are either unripe or too oaky; and good bordeaux and all burgundy’s simply too expensive, as are the better NZ pinot noirs. Reds of Spain and Italy offer good value, but are an unknown quantity to most New World drinkers.

For Geoff, good quality CdRs are well suitable for the cellar, contrary to the views of some overseas winewriters who favour consumption within 3-5yrs over longer conservation.

So, during the course of the tasting we tried blind 16 different CdRs – including Côtes du Rhone, CdR-Villages, CdR Named-Villages and odd wines from districts graduated to their own appellation i.e Cairanne. Chateauneuf-du Pape and Gigondas are the most noted so a couple of Gigondas wines were included in the hope that they set a benchmark.

As further background to the tasting, we were told that the better Southern Rhone reds are made from blends which must include Grenache (min 40% and upwards) and the noble grapes syrah and mourvedre in the greater wines, and carignan and cinsault in the lesser ones. Such wines when not over-ripened are gloriously fragrant, and redolent of pink roses, Sweet William, carnations, thru dark roses to cinnamon and black pepper.

Also, as we southern-hemisphere drinkers are used to ‘clean’ wines ie not tainted by sulphides, it was suggested we might find it a challenge to discover Rhones that are not ‘dumb’ with sulphide compounds. As I personally have found such funky wines appealing in the past, this ‘threat’ did not faze me in the slightest…

Vintage notes:

2010 – vintage with good ripeness and fine balance. The best wines will cellar very well.

2011 – generous crop in average temperatures. Commercial vintage. Some cellar-worthy wines.

So we drank, and judged, and discussed, and between L and I we selected a bunch of wines to buy for the cellar; as listed below, with comments from us and others:

Dom. Guigal Côtes du Rhone 2010 – $$ – drink 2015-2020 – Dark carmine colour. 14%. Floral nose, precision; tannic, rich, good extract and intensity, purity and expression. Epitomises the idea of CdR. Pure and wine-y, with a touch of oak. Long finish. 2.6m litres made!.

Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhone Reserve 2010 – $$$ – drink 2015-2016 – Dark carmine. 13.5%. Warm nose, floral. Soft in the mouth, with some spice. Correct depth and finish. Mellow and more substantial that other Rhones in the tasting, more ripeness and fruit weight. L liked this one.

Dom. Des Espiers Gigondas 2011 – $$$+ – drink 2015 – 2020 – Dark carmine. 14.5%. Slightly funky (ha!) and reductive. Pleasing richness of fruit. Very deep, bags of flavour, spice, pepper. Long finish. Wonderful aromas of black doris plums – it truly ‘rests on it’s fruit’.

Dom. Guigal Gigondas 2010 – $$$+ – drink 2016-2022 – dark carmine. 14%. A great nose. No words. Superb wine. Wonderful fruit, with cinnamon notes and cedar. Greater oak complexity in this wine, with stronger grip than others seen here. The last wine of the tasting, and what a finish!

We also absolutely loved the inexpensive Dom. Les Grands Bois Côtes du Rhone-Villages Cairanne Cuvee Maximilien 2011. It was up there with the Guigal Gigondas, and would have lasted 30 years but alas, RW’s allocation was sold out, and we couldn’t get any…:-)

Therefore, as our  case had a couple of holes, I filled one with a bottle of:

Greystone Pinot Noir Waipara 2012 – $$$ – drink 2016-2018 – This was the leading wine from the Under $30 Worth Cellaring NZ Pinot Noir tasting.

And the other with:

Plaisir De Merle Chardonnay Western Cape 2011 – $ – drink 2016. The SA cheapie L and I have enjoyed a few of recently. Let’s see how well it sleeps-in.

What’s in the glass tonight August 8th


Leaving the reservation: Champagne Jean Marc Vigreux-Frere Brut NV

From a family owned wine grower out of Cauroy-les-Hermonville , a small village in the Champagne part of the Massif de Saint-Thierry, north of Reims. Small fruit parcels, juice sent to an Epernay establishment to “be sparkling”.

Only available via Don McLean and L bought this to celebrate her birthday, which is tomorrow. We are warming up our ski boots before the fire, as we are getting up VERY early in the morning to head up to the hill.

I enjoy Champagne perhaps once a year, so am in no position to judge this wine with any great knowledge. However this is quite good. 12% ABV. Effervescent, with nice fine lasting bubbles, French stick loaf nose; crisp apples in the mouth with a strong crusty bread finish. 3+.

What’s in the glass tonight Oct 18th

Delas Ventoux 2012

Leaving the reservation: Delas Ventoux Rouge 2012

What I have imbibed this week I have blogged about already, like the rapidly-becoming-favourites Kumeu River Village Chardonnay 2010 and Yealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012.

Or forgettable like the Brancott Estate South Island Pinot Noir 2011 brewed for the indiscriminate World Of Wearable Arts crowd…

So I am left with this clunker:

A cheap Rhone blend I picked up from Regional Wines. Dark red. 14%. Soft tannins. Red berry fruit. Non-complex. No ambition. Dying in the glass. Might even be making me feel ill. That’ll learn me for not buying local.  Not even gonna score it.

What’s in the glass tonight Sept 9th

Sebastiani Zinfandel 2009

Leaving the Reservation: Sebastiani Sonoma County Zinfandel 2009 – $$

I have never tried a Zinfandel. I’ve never bought a wine from the United States of  America, either. Here I hit two Goliath’s with one rock.

USA wines we get ‘round here are somewhat rare, and expensive with it. We are part of the New World, so I am not in a big hurry to get acquainted with other new world suppliers unless they happen to be close, like Aussie. I save my overseas dollars for Bordeaux…

But I do have a desire to try an Oregon Pinot Noir, a good Californian Chardonnay, and a Zinfandel, just to see what the fuss is about…

Why is this particular wine so affordable? Caros Wine Merchants offers a clue: The weakness in the USD and with Bill Foley being the owner ( he owns Vavasour, Clifford Bay, Te Kairanga etc ) these wines are now being imported into NZ. Ahhh…

This wine is 79% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Syrah, 2% Syrah, 2% Barbera. From three areas Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley and Russian River.

The wine looks scarlet black in the glass. 14.5% and very leggy. Lovely rich nose of blackcurrants/black plums and black tea, like nothing I have ever smelled in a NZ wine. The syrah component really lifts the bouquet here.

In the mouth there is dense packed ripe black fruit. I taste liquorice, vanilla, cedar, and dark chocolate. It’s a straightforward wine given weight of 4 years in bottle. Long and very moreish.

Sensational. I am buying more. 4.5

What’s in the glass tonight June 23rd

Coto de Hayas Grenache Syrah NV

Leaving the Reservation: Coto de Hayas Campo de Borja DDO Grenache Syrah NV Magnum – $$

It seems to be Big Gulp month at two of my regular bottleshops:

They are selling magnums of Spanish red at knock-down prices for the Winter Solstice. I have bought a couple – a Granacha Syrah, and a Sangiovese…

Now there is no way I intend to polish off 1500mls of wine quickly – my body is a temple(!) – so I’ll take the opportunity to taste this wine over three-four  nights, and record my thoughts on the evolution of the wine as it is exposed to air. I suspect Day 2 will be the best, but who knows?

The Coto de Hayas has the coolest looking bottle, so it goes first. I have lamb roasting in the oven too. Ole!

Day One: The wine hails from Aragon in north-east Spain. 70% old vine Granacha, 30% Syrah. Colour is deep ruby. It was poured with my wine-air-ater. There is some simple syrah florality showing, and violets. In the mouth it is medium, fruity, a bit grippy, with blackberries. This is easy to drink! Expect lots of toasts from a bottle of this volume. Ole! 3