Updated: Mar 8
Footloose, fancy-free and theme-less tonight, despite a few tentative suggestions that a ‘pork sausage pairing’ theme might be good. We had some vinous highs, and an absolute crash and burn of a wine that elicited groans of disappointment, even from those not drinking it!
First up we have a red and a white from North Macedonia (yes I did have to have a surreptitious google map search on that one!). They have ordered a case of weird and wonderful wines, and by the sounds of it we will all be in for a roller coaster over the next few weeks! First up the white: Tikves Smederevka 2019 (Tikves is the winery name and the region, Smederevka is the grape variety) quite the mouthful both in pronunciation and tasting; a gorgeous crisp, fresh, friendly wine that is super easy drinking. Almost like a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Txakoli. A great lunch time wine or an aperitif. We received two big thumbs up for this. And at £8.99 from The Whisky Exchange it really is a knock out ‘house wine’.
The Tikves Cuvee Methodius 2019 is a blend of Vranec and Merlot. This opened up nicely in the glass to reveal lots of lush, mellow, plummy fruity. Not much subtlety, but for a lovely quaffer it matters not a jot. It would make a lovely companion to venison. Shaftsbury Wines £11.
Next up was the aptly named Weingut Scheiblhofer ‘Big John’ 2018, Burgenland, Austria. This is a blend of 60% Zweigelt, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Pinot Noir. It is inky coloured with dark berries, vanilla and hints of caramel with lovely rich tannin. Big bodied and really smooth. At 14% you “definitely need food before you scorch the bottle”. This was a gift from a friend who discovered it while skiing in Austria. Sold out, £13 delivery-wine.co.uk
And now for the shocker. About to move house, they are doing a thorough clean out and that includes their wine cellar where they stumbled across a bottle of Chateau Pichon Baron 1973, Pauillac, Bordeaux, and L Bernard Chateauneuf du Pape 1962, Rhone. There was a murmur of excitement as we all leant in to our screens, until with a laugh, they pronounced 'the smell is terrible’! There were desperate suggestions, does it need more air? It might be better on the palate? Maybe with food….? Sadly both wines were long dead! The Pichon Baron was reduced to vinegar with a fig finish, while the Chateauneuf was ‘the stewedest of stewed pruned that ever was stewed’. A quick glance at the vintage reports from those years revealed 73 in Bordeaux to be a wash out with weak, dilute wines, while 62 was deemed a good vintage in the Southern Rhone, this wine might have been a victim of poor storage. Thankfully the wines had been gifts!
In an effort to drink something that didn’t incite the gag reflex, they opened the Erich Meier Pinot Gris 2016, AOC Zurich. A young winemaker who is turning this traditional region on its head by experimenting with international varieties and a longer hang time for riper grapes. It is a sensational wine with notes of pear and hazelnut torte, no oak but a lovely rich, textural body. 26 swiss francs.
Dante Robino ‘Gran Dante’ Malbec 2018, Argentina. This is a continuation of Tim Atkin MW’s Argentinian tasting for his highly respected Argentinian Wine Special Report, he is tasting the wines and then selling on the bottles for £15 for a case of 6 with all proceeds going to charity. Although not a great fan of Malbec in general, this is very good with damson and black pepper, very appealing with rich fruit and elegant tannins. Approx. £35, not available in the UK
The Exhibition Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2019, New Zealand. This could only have been left in the fridge by his sister in law who only drinks Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc as it is not something he tends to buy at all. But if you are going to give something you don’t often drink a go, the Wine Society Exhibition range is a pretty good place to start. He was pleasantly surprised, it was fresh and crisp, with mellow ripe pineapple rather than the aggressive gooseberry notes he had been fearing, and altogether very drinkable. The Wine Society £11.50
Next up there was the very wise plan of tasting two wines of the same country (Chile) next to each other to highlight the differences… except on closer inspection she realised they were in fact made by the same winery and were both from the Carmenere grape! They were the Koyle Los Lingues Single Vineyard Alto Colchagua Reserva Carmenere 2018 and the Exhibition DO Los Lingues Carmenere, 2019, Colchagua. She has enjoyed Carmenere before so was keen to try it again. They are fairly similar in profile (unsurprisingly) and are easy drinking, feel good wines. Not too heavy with lovely ripe fruit, perfect after a stressful week as a wine to unwind with. Both are from the Wine Society, Exhibition £11.95, Koyle £8.50
Last up is the Recanati Carignan/Petit Sirah 2018, Judean Hills, Israel. As you might have noticed I am a big fan of Israeli wine and had the pleasure of visiting the winery back in 2014. I have had a pretty brutal week and really needed a comforting, friendly wine, but being fussy I also wanted concentration and complexity. That is exactly what this wine offers, it opens like blackberry velvet, revealing dark fruit layers interwoven with subtle spice and a lovely freshness. It is such a great midweek treat, and at £10 from M&S basically a guilt free purchase! If you have yet to dip your toe into Israeli wine, this is a great place to start.
Undurraga Terroir Hunter Syrah 2018, Leyda, Chile. This is a wonderful coastal region in Chile for making elegant Syrah and Pinot Noir, placed as it is between the cold Pacific Ocean and the Mountains to the east providing long sunny days and cold nights. Wild fruit, red fruits, spicy and textural rather with elegant tannins. Beautiful and yet very easy to drink, almost St Joseph in style due to the granite soils. Corking Wines reduced to £14.50