’07 Qupe “Santa Ynez Valley” Marsanne

Whenever I need to get into Central London, and I have time, I prefer to take the bus. I don’t know why, the train is usually faster (unless someone has jumped on the tracks,which happens more often then you’d think) and anyway,  I just love watching the streets of London pass by. My bus, the 176, goes straight thru Dulwich and along Lordship Lane where there is a wineshop, Green and Blue Wines. Everytime I pass by I swear I’m going to get off and check it out but I was never really motivated to do so until I found out they specialized in natural and organic wines. Well, anyone who’s been reading me for a bit knows I’m a big fan of those wines so I jumped off the bus the other night to check it out. They had a nice selection and I was tempted by many until I spotted the ’07 Qupe “Santa Ynez Valley”  Marsanne/roussane – on sale! Down from £20 to £12. I snapped it up and jumped on the next bus home. Qupe specialize in making wines using Rhone varietals and the grapes are sourced from carefully selected growers. The grapes are all organic and/or biodynamically grown. The grapes used for this wine were no exception coming from vineyards around Los Olivos, CA. The wine was a bit too cold when I opened it but after giving it 15 mins to warm up it proved to be a delight. Bright straw yellow, at first it didn’t have a very intense nose but after a bit of time, I started to get apricots and white stone fruits with a certain, slight waxiness to it.  When I sipped and swished, I got ripe apricots and peaches on a round medium bodied wine. There was a pleasing minerality on the palate along with hints of bitter almonds and it finished with a citrus peel finish, kind of pith-y. I had it with salmon en croute, a lovely match, the wines fruity qualities shining on my palate, loads of peachy, stone fruits and enough acidity to keep...

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A birthday wine – the ’99 Opus One

Last night’s wine was, among others, the ’99 Opus One. A gift from my good friend Nick, he insisted, “Denise, you must open this wine on your birthday”. Who am I to argue?   I was having a small dinner with a bunch of wine professionals and their partners so I thought it would be fun to do a blind tasting and see what they guessed. The verdict was half New World, half Old World. Ana thought it smelled Old World but tasted New. Penny was thinking Old World, Nigel was convinced it was Italian. Funnily enough, it was the partners of Penny and Eleanor who came up with the the main varietals and provenance, guess they must be paying attention to all that grape talk. I think it’s quite apropos that a wine made jointly by Robert Mondavi and Baron Phillippe de Rothschild should exhibit the best of both New and Old World wine. The wine was lovely, savoury on the nose, heavy minerality, graphite, lead, lots of secondary aromas. I have to admit I didn’t take notes, just busy inhaling the aromas. On the palate it was still quite fruity, loads of rich, ripe plums and black cherry, smooth, round tannins but plenty of acidity still left, the finish was nice and long, a really delicious wine. That’s all I remember. Well, what do you expect after a couple of bottles of champagne? I’m glad I remembered that much. A great wine with great friends, what better way to spend a birthday. For the record, the ’99 was a blend of : Cabernet Sauvignon 84% Merlot 7% Cabernet Franc 5% Malbec 3% Petit Verdot 1% Retailing online in The States for about US$250. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Riedel at the Bluebird

I’m sitting here sipping the leftover ’06 Katnook Founder’s Block Chardonnay from the Guilty Pleasures dinner the other day and I’m really liking it. Could it have anything to do with the Riedel chardonnay glass I’m using? Probably, in my tastebuds opinion. Before the Riedel tasting at the Bluebird, I would have said pshaw but now, I’m convinced they really do enhance one’s wine drinking experience. I’ll be uploading a video in the next day or two but here is a quick rundown of the wines: Started off the night with Philipponnat brut champagne. A forest of Riedel champagne glasses were laid out on the bar when we arrived. It was a comparative tasting of 4 wines and a cognac. The first wine we tried was from Quincy in the Loire Valley, Joseph Mellot ’06 Sauvignon Blanc. In the taster glass it had a very closed nose and muted fruits, seemed a bit flat. In the Riedel, it really came alive, the nose was bouncy and fresh, the fruit really came thru, a sort of lemony sherbert taste with  a much smoother mouthfeel and balanced acidity. The next white was a Napa Chardonnay from Groth, an ’05. In the tester, a bit alcoholic and very oaky. In the proper Riedel the transformation was amazing. Caramel, buttery nose, hazelnuts,quite intense with sweet, ripe fruit on the palate and a nice long finish. A definite transformation. We then moved onto the reds, the first one, an ’02 Beaune 1er cru from Louis Jadot.  In the taster, not a very pronounced nose with definite tannins, it seemed quite vegetal. When we swapped glasses – much more delicate nose, very perfumy with lovely floral notes. Soft and silky. The last red was an Australian from Platagenet, an ’04 Cabernet. The nose at first was all red chili peppers, it was like walking around a Mexican food market, chewy tannins and pronounced alcohol. In the proper glass, the wine was smoother, less alcohol and the aromas and flavours of ripe black fruits came to the forefront, although there was still plenty of...

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Cline ’06 Ancient Vines Mouvedre – The video tasting

The other night, after we closed up the shop, I persuaded my colleague Ayesha to go halfsies with me on the Cline ’06 Ancient Vines Mouvedre.  I even talked her into doing a video tasting but she chickened out in the end so all you see is her hand. The Brixchicks out in Nor Cal  recommended this wine on their blog. Technically, the vineyard is in Contra Costa  County appellation and the price is £12.99 NOT £13.99. Click to see what I thought of it. [viddler id=ddb63858&w=437&h=333] Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Bibendum & Twitter Taste Live!

Bibendum had their annual trade tasting last week and what a show! It was at the new Saatchi Gallery in the old Duke of York’s HQ in Chelsea. They’ve done wonders with the old barracks, perfect gallery space with lots of connecting hallways and stairs to who-knows-where. Every turn revealed a delightful surprise of winetasting. The show was an opportunity for Bibendum to showcase their catalogue and they had everything from Asda own brand to Krug vintage with plenty of stops in between. I was there not just to taste but also to participate in the firstever Bibendum Twitter Taste Live! Dan Coward of Bibendum and Rob McIntosh of  wineconversation organized the event. There were about 10 of us. Lots of food bloggers, not enough wine bloggers. C’mon winos,  you need to show up! Surf4wine, Spittoon, wineconversation and me, The Winesleuth,  representin’ the wine-rs. Food Stories, Eatlikeagirl, Hollowlegs, CheeseandBiscuits, a couple others I can’t remember and Documentally, who, I think, was the techie guy. He certainly seemed like it with his Mac, I-phone and portable router. We twittered on 3 wines, the Austrian Laurenz V. ’07 Friendly Gruner Veltliner, the Spanish Dinastia Vivanco ’05 Rioja crianza and the Californian Delicato ’06 Old Vines Zinfandel. The twittering was a blast! Lots of bloggers from around the UK and one even stripped off his shirt (via webcam) for us ( thanks for the suggestion, HollowLegs!). I lost my twitter notes but if memory serves, the Gruner was med bodied, nicely peppery, with notes of hay and grass. The Dinastia Vivanco (or “dinosaur” as one twitter so eloquently put it) – loads of cherry and spice and the Old Vines Zin, bit confected and full bodied, smokey with lots of black fruits. That’s all I remember. Have to remember to save Twitter notes next time! I had a chance to speak with David DeBoer, VP of International Sales of Delicato at the end of the day, more on that in the next post or two. For now, back to editing my next video. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Reds (mostly) and lamb for dinner

  Sunday dinner at mine. Rack of lamb, good friends and lots of fab wine. Ayesha, John and I provided the food and everyone else had to bring a wine. The aperitifs –  ’02 Blin vintage champagne and the Balfour Brut Sparkling Rose. The Balfour again getting rave reviews, Penny said that it could easily be confused with the Taittanger Rose. The Balfour was great with the bacon wrapped chestnuts but not so good with the chili olives – live and learn… I twittered the evening so I have some record of what we drank. Here are the highlights. Starting off with Albert Bichot ’06 Puligny Montrachet and garlic prawns. A lovely village level wine from the Cote de Beaune, still quite fresh and lemony with a great balance of fruit and alcohol, washed down those prawns in no time. What to have with the rack of lamb? I started with Penny and Paul’s contibution, the Rene Bouvier ’03 Cote de Nuits-Village, fantastic gamey, savoury, meaty pinot noir with plush raspberry and other red berry fruits – perfect with the lamb. According to my tweets, the next wine was the Qupé Los Olivos Cuvee ’06. A Rhone style blend from the Santa Ynez Valley that I had picked up when I was CA for the WBC in Oct. Comments on the Qupé – black fruits, a bit alcholic, slightly unbalanced we thought because of that but full and rich with hints of sweet spice and a  licorice finish. Penny said it was a bit scatterbrained, still needed time to age but the potential was definitely there.  Great structure with a long lasting finish. Back to the Old World with a St. Julien, Ch. Lagrange ’96 that James dug up. Amazing nose on this bordeaux, it smelled like a butcher shop, dried blood, mint, wood spice, cigar box notes – Ana observed lots of secondary characteristics. It was excellent with the food, the tannins still quite evident  but not harsh and standing up to the lamb beautifully.   Jumping across the Atlantic, the Chilean Domus Aurea...

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