Friday, May 11, 2012

Guigal Cotes Du Rhone (2007) - 18/20

Having finished a tasty bottle of (unreviewed) Cotes du Rhone on Tuesday night, I had an urge to find a suitable replacement and after a bit of internet searching came up with the 2007 Guigal Cotes du Rhone available for $20 per bottle locally.

I've had the 2005 Guigal Cotes Du Rhone at Bella's Cafe in Palmerston North a couple of times and always found it a good match for warm meaty meals, and a consistantly good example of a low end Rhone red delivering a great taste at a good price.

A big thumbs up to the superb website, that was able to help me track down the 2007 vintage of Guigal's Cotes du Rhone at a discounted price within New Zealand at Glengarry's, and thanks to the miracle that is the internet I was able to order a case online within 10 minutes - and have it arrive out at my "estate in the country" within two days for a mere $2.50 delivery charge!

50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre
Alcohol : 14.5%
My Rating : 18/20 - four stars

Guigal is a huge name is Rhone and a vast producer, but the top end of the range is always pricey with Chateauneuf du Pape, Condrieu, Hermitage and Cote-Rotie, while their Cotes Du Rhone can suffer a little bit from year to year as it has a huge vintage (3,500,000 bottles in 2007) and much of the juice is purchased.

But the 2007 blend looked to have a balance that would suit my palete, and having popped and poured the first bottle tonight I can confirm that the 2007 vintage is everything that you hope a Cotes Du Rhone will be.

The first thing that strikes you during the pour is the deep purple colour, and the wonderful complex nose that seems to contain cassis, raspberries, pepper and even a hint of bracken.

The initial taste is dark cherries and raspberries, with a touch of spice and a little bit of that earthy funk and tarry licorice that goes with the complexity of the concoction that is the hallmark of a great Rhone blend.

This is a complex wine, and to me it's amazing that I can source a bottle of CdR with 5 years age halfway around the world at such a great price.

Guigal's notes suggest that the wine will last a wee while yet, perhaps out to 2014, but I can tell you now that with ONLY 11 bottles left in the case there is little chance that this wine will last past the end of June - in my cellar anyway.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Christmas Gift Basket Surprise - Dom Perignon !

While working at home today I received a phone call from a courier at the gate to the estate - and he was delivering a great surprise - a gift basket from a (very!) satisfied client.

It was a hamper full of all the usual Christmas goodies - chocolates (several ways), sweets, mustard, olives and savoury snacks ... and a couple of bottles of New Zealand wine - from Fiddlers Green vineyard in Waipara - a Pinot Noir and a Sauvignon Blanc that I look forward to trying soon.

Fantastic stuff, and a great surprise. However it wasn't over.

Tucked to one side of the basket was a heavy retangular box, and inside was a fine bottle of 2002 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Brut Champagne! I knew we had done good work for this client - but this sort of treat is an amazing response!

Needless to say that we've marked this bottle out as being the one that will be starting our Christmas Day this year !!!  What bottle will you be looking forward to opening on Christmas day to make the relatives more bareable?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lunch Club : The General Practioner in Wellington

It's been a while - so I thought it might be useful to get back into the groove with the wine blog by covering the recent lunch in Wellington at the General Practioner restuarant in Wellington.

The General Practioner is probably best described as a "gastro-pub". Plenty of good beers to choose from - and lots of heaty fare on the menu - so it's no surprise that it has won a Monteiths "Beer and Wild Food Challenge".

It was the venue for a monthly lunch club, and the six of us arrived between 12:00 and 12:30 for a few beers on a Friday lunchtime, and then headed upstairs for a meal.

An Entree of CRAB BAYONNE was acceptable, tasty but a little less "crabby" than I'd hoped for. But it paired very well with a shared bottle of 2004 VINOPTIMA GEWERTRAMINER. Elsewhere I saw that the SALT AND PEPPER SQUID seemed popular with two of our group.

The mains were all good, with the BEEF FILLET popular, and the HARE AND BLACK PUDDING hitting the spot with our beer writer.

However, I was pleased to have the CONFIT DUCK LEG. It was superb, crispy skin, with a delicious layer of fat, and lovely juicy dark meat. Served with pickled red cabbage, a potato rosti and cranberry chutney it really hit the spot and did not need any side salads - and the food combined nicely with another shared bottle of wine - this time the 2009 PEREGRINE PINOT NOIR from Central Otago.

A cheeseboard for dessert was probably a wee bit of a letdown, it was just a standard three cheeses and crackers. Acceptable but at a level below the first two courses - although I noticed a CREME CARAMEL desert and a CHOCOLATE CAKE both over the other side of the table that looked the business if you have a sweet tooth.

Overall, the dining experience was good, two competent courses plus a superb main meal - and of course a very good wine list if you were prepared to take some time and look for the special wines. And the damage for pre-meal beers, three courses, wine, port and whisky was a mere $73 per person, which was outstanding value for the 2.5 hours spent there in my opinion.

I'd give the General Practioner a VERY GOOD (8/10) rating for food, service, and ambiance, and the great value price has left me pencilling in the restuarant as a place that I must return to. I suspect that it will be even better as a mid-winter venue!

General Practioner in Wellington RATED 8/10
2009 Peregrine Pinot Noir RATED 17/20 - Nice dark broody pinot. Possibly needs a bit more time
2004 Vinoptima Gewertraminer RATED 18/20 - A honeyed, citrusy well rounded glass. Aromatic and delicious

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Spy Valley - Pinot Noir (2007) - 15/20

Pinot Noir is a damned difficult grape for vintners to manage, to produce and also for drinkers to chase down and get it opened at the right time so that it is performing well in your glass.

100% Pinot Noir
Alcohol : 13.5%
My Rating : 15/20 - three stars

Spy Valley have a reputation for managing to do it right - but the latest tasting of their highly rated 2007 Pinot Noir has left me a bit ... Meh!

It's light, bright, cherry flavours, with a little bit of strawberry, and it's quite quaffable but at a price of NZD$30 it's not really delivering enough taste. The nose is promising, richly scented, displaying dark plum, spice and savoury mushroom characters and a bit of farmyard funk. It's just the palate is a bit lightweight really.

There is nothing wrong with it - but this is not really a satisfying glass and does not seem to be aging well to me which does seem to be a perennial problem with this light style of pinot.

This wine was definately delivering more when it was first released - and with Spy Valley readily available in New Zealand at supermarkets and bottle storres it's probably best to stick to the latest vintages and drink within 12 months.
(or you can buy direct from the Spy Valley Website)

If you have any Spy Valley - Pinot Noir 2007 left in your cellar - it would be best to consume it soon.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Trinity Hill - Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot (2002) - 17/20

So - I was minding my own business, walking down a local New World supermarket in Manawatu, when I just happened to spy a row of black coloured wine bottles, containing a meritage blend of grapes with 8 years of age, from a well respected Hawkes Bay winery.

Fantastic - who needs to cellar wine when you can buy this sort of quality, ready to drink, at the local market?

62% Cabernet sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 10% cabernet franc
Alcohol : 13.5%
My Rating : 17 / 20 - Three and a half stars

Produced and bottled from the Gimblett Road area by Trinity Hill, you know that you're going to get a serious wine - and the $35 supermarket price tag seems fair value.

Initial tastes are dense, deep fruit, a firmly structured red with strong drying tannins. It is a solid, serious red with significant oak and chocolate undercurrents, spice and tar flavours. Blueberries and spice.

I saved a couple of glasses for the next day, vacuum pump sealing the bottle overnight, and the palete had barely changed, still retaining that complex savoury taste.

It's good but does really need some food to go with it as it is a big, big flavour. It was perfect with roast meats - roast pork in this case. Mmmm.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Clos du Mont-Olivet - Montueil la Levade (2007) - 18.5/20

I'm a big Rhone fan - and of course Chateauneuf-du-pape is a wonderful appellation, but the prices on CNdP are rocketing up, and I'm always on the lookout for a more budget concious alternative that still delivers the taste.

This Cotes du Rhone wine may be it. 

80% old vines Grenache, 5% Syrah, 15% Carignan
Alcohol : 14.0%
My Rating : 18.5/20 - Four and a half stars.

This wine has a rich, licorice, fruity, spicy flavour, and wonderful deep purple hue, and a very complex nose offering hints of citrus, lavender and of course wonderful rich red fruit.

It's 80% grenache, but all "Vieilles Vignes" giving a depth and complexity that only comes from advancing ages, with the grenache planting having an average of 40 years in the terroir.

Surprisingly this wine is 100% tank aged and fermented and to have all this spice without foudre wood barrel aging says volumes about the quality of the fruit from 2007 - a fantastic vintage for Southern Rhone.

Produced by Clos Du Mont-Olivet and obviously a second tier wine behind their CNdP range, this Cotes du Rhone is imported into New Zealand by John of Truffle Imports of Wellington (he does mail order), and it is retailing for around NZ$35 a bottle.

Frankly it has a taste and intensity that puts many weaker CNdP producers to shame and this wine is a fantastically priced alternative to Chateauneuf du Pape. Get it while it lasts.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Te Mata Coleraine (1997) - 19.5/20

Let's start this wine blog with a real star - over the last two nights I've enjoyed a bottle of Te Mata's premium wine - the 1997 vintage of Coleraine.

55% Cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot and 15% cabernet franc

Alcohol : 13.0%

My Rating : 19.5 / 20 - Five Stars

I've been a fan of Hawkes Bay reds for a while now, and the Te Mata vineyard in particular, but truth to be told I've usually found the Coleraine just a little bit too "big" and not to my taste - instead prefering the little brother "Awatea".

This bottle of 1997 Coleraine has changed my mind.

I wanted something to enjoy with a nice rack of lamb, and the Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot blends of Hawkes Bay came quickly to mind. A quick check of the Te Mata wine vintage chart on their website showed that the 1997 Coleraine and Awatea were at their peak, and as I have a few bottles of the 1997 Coleraine stashed away I broke one out.

Previously, I've found that Coleraine is a little too overpowering, and despite the rave reviews that this wine often gets from mainstream wine journalists, I've personally found the individual elements on the palette are usually far from merged and quite astringent.

But, always prepared to give a wine a fair trial, especially if I've already stumped up for a dozen bottles, I took the website at it's word and popped the cork and decanted, via an aerator. The smell was instantly attractive, a merge of wine, oak, and a faint hint of the musty smells of the cellar.

This vintage is perfect, a wonderful blend of three classic grapes, and right now I would say that it's a match for the best of it's style and would hold up against the best of Bordeaux. The 1997 Coleraine is a perfect wine with lamb, and most roast meat.

The 2008 Coleraine is available from Te Mata Vineyards now (at NZ$69 per bottle) and it's a very similar makeup of grapes and has been very well praised by those in the know, and the 2008 could be a real treat in 10-11 years time if you can wait that long. It will be worth the wait !