Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chateau Poujeaux Moulis en Medoc 2008

I tasted this wine and got as close as guessing it as close as Medoc. Amazing! But what's more amazing is the variety of aromas and flavours, check it out...

Appearance: clear, deep garnet with tawny rim indicating age, thick legs indicating high alcohol or sweetness.

Nose: clean, med+ intensity, developing.

Aromas: blackcurrant, blueberry, black cherry, baked plum, vanilla, rum and raisin ice cream, clove, forest floor. Distinctive sherry aroma indicating oxidation.

Palate: quite watery on front of mouth indicating age, dry, medium acidity, high tannin, med+ alcohol, med+ body, med- intensity, med length.

Flavours: plum, blackcurrant, black cherry, jam, raisin, black olive, liquorice, black pepper, charred wood, resin, hot Tarmac.

Quality: very good, drink now not for further ageing because it doesn't have enough fruit to develop further, high priced.

Identity: Bordeaux, left bank, Medoc, containing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a tiny bit of Petit Verdot. At least 3yrs old.

BOOM!! I got it so right. Only thing I could have got more right bar the Chateau which I could not have guessed (!) was that it is actually 6yrs old.

I am awesome!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hewitson Old Garden - Best wine ever?

I forgot just quite how amazing Hewitson's Old Garden is. We bought half a case from DVine Cellars and it has since almost doubled in price. I wish we'd bought a case. Or five.

Before you even taste it you can smell the complexity of the aromas and you know you're in for a treat. Then as you taste it, the flavours change over time. Last night I went through a journey starting with black fruits and chocolate, tobacco and eucalyptus. Then later I got notes of leather and buttered toast. Then it progressed to toffee and finally ginger biscuit. Delicious! The balance is perfect, it will age well, and its made from Mourvedre (aka Mataro).

It's such a treat, I highly recommend you get a bottle to try, even if it is just the once. If you can't justify the price, try the Baby Bush instead which is a cheaper version and also very good.

No brainers for choosing new world wines

A friend of mine asked me "I've bought a Chilean Maipo Shiraz for £4 do you think it will be nice?".


To start with, you should never spend only £4 on a bottle of wine if you care about taste. Even if the supermarket says its RRP is £8, it is still only worth £4. My advice is to spend at least £7 on a bottle of wine. Think about all the factors that are involved in getting the wine to you, by the time money has been spent on bottling, shipping, marketing, distribution and taxes, there is little money left to pay the guy to actually make your wine. In a £5 bottle of wine, you are only getting about 20p of wine. For 20p how much is he going to care what actually goes into the bottle? See an earlier post on this here:

Regardless of the price, a low cost shiraz from Chile is unlikely to be great. Chile is best known for its Merlot/ Carmenere, and well-known normally means they know what they are doing. For good value wines at low price points it makes sense to go for the varietals that are best known. Maipo specifically is actually better known for its Carmenere.

NB. Merlot and Carmenere are not the same grape, but many Merlot vines were planted later to be found some were Carmenere, but many producers still call their wine Merlot.

Also, Maipo is more of a gamble as a region in Chile as it is a flat valley and has some good sites and some less good sites. It would therefore be more reliable to choose a Chilean wine from a region that produces more consistently good wines, such as Colchagua or Casablanca.

It is also worthy to note, the more specific the region is on the label, the more likely it is to be better wine, e.g. Wine of Chile < Central Valley < Maipo. So if you see a label with "Wine of [country]" you should keep looking. Another one to watch out for is "Wine of South Eastern Australia" this is a cover-all label to say any grapes from anywhere could have been used, and it would be better to find "South Australia" or better still "Barossa".

New World is easy to find good value wines at £7-8 (except USA), so here are my no-brainers for the new world. If you find these in your price range,  buy without worry:

Chile Merlot / Carmenere (specifically from Rapel / Cachapoal / Colchagua)
Chile Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay (specifically from Casablanca)
Argentina Malbec (from Mendoza)
South Africa Pinotage
South Africa Chenin Blanc
Uruguay Tannat
Australia Shiraz (from South Australia / Barossa)
Australia Cabernet Sauvignon (from Coonawarra)
Australia Riesling (from Clare Valley or Eden Valley)
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (from Marlborough)

There are better wines than listed above, but these will provide options at cheaper price points. I haven't included wines from USA, because they tend to export very basic wines and very good wines, so if you're looking for a good value wine at a low price point I would avoid USA. Although I will mention my very favourite wine at the moment is Ramey Russian River chardonnay, but at around £30, it doesn't get near this list. If you want something close to it, you could try a Californian chardonnay from Monterey or Santa Barbara.

Make a comment on this post if you would like me to write a blog on no-brainers for the old world, and remember to include your @handle if you want me to let you know when its up.

Hope this helps!

Monday, April 7, 2014


I went to a Penfolds tasting at Spirited Wines last weekend, and although the wines were enjoyable, none of them smacked me around the face. Unfortunately the manager has my tasting notes to process my order, but I will get them back.

What I went back to at that tasting was my old way of describing wines. I have been so focused on getting my WSET Advanced that I've actually strayed what's true to me. Usually when I taste wines I get a sense of where I am, what I'm doing, who I'm with, rather than if its black cherry vs red plum.I promise to go back to those descriptions, but you have to stick with me for now. On Saturday we had a ballerina wine (poised, elegant, but muscular). I shall be bringing these back to you.

But in the meantime, let me just say, I LOVE Penfolds wines, and I have a Penfolds Grange in my cellar and I can't wait to try it. Although I can, because I'll also be sad once its gone. Bottle of Bin 389 (baby Grange) please...!

Shiraz or Syrah

At the bottom of the page are my tasting notes for a Syrah that I got wrong. I guessed Pinotage, but somehow feel I should have guessed a French wine. I'm doing Rhone next week as part of my WSET Advanced, so hope it will get better.

How to tell a Syrah (old-world) from a Shiraz (new-world). They're both packed with black fruit and spice. Shiraz normally has a higher alcohol content (due to hotter climate), tastes sweeter, although that's just the fruit, and the spice is sweeter, with cinnamon and clove. Syrah (same grape) originates in the Rhone valley (but is now a term used in e.g. Chile where they are trying to develop the same complexity). Syrah has more peppery and even leathery notes depending how old it is. If you drink the two side by side Syrah is sophisticated and Shiraz is the fun cousin. Aussie Shiraz feels like a Ribena-berry has smacked you in the face, but Shiraz is more discerning, more savoury, likes to take its time in your mouth.

I think where I got lost is this is a vin de pays, which means there will have been less strict rules applied, and although the savoury flavours were developed, it was a little unbalanced, and had a colour purple - which I had assumed was new-world, but was due to it being so young.

All good though. It's going down nicely.

Syrah Vin de Pays, IGP, L'Ardeche, Rhone, 2012, 12.5%
Appearance: Medium, ruby almost purple, clear
Nose: Clean, med,legs, developing
Aromas: blackcurrant, plum
Mouth: high alcohol, med intensity,  high acidity, med+ tannins, dry
Flavours: blackcurrant,  cherry, stewed plums, pepper, herbaceous
Quality: Short length, good, inexpensive