Video winetasting – Wakefield Chard from Oz

There seems to be a lot of debate in the twitterverse at the moment about free samples and whether or not we bloggers seem to “owe” it to the wineries (or PR flacks) positive reviews. And how objective are our reviews if they’re free? I don’t think I “owe” anyone a good review because they’ve given me wine. Although they’re probably banking on me writing a positive one. It may be a tough balancing act but I find that I write about wines I’ve enjoyed  as opposed to wines I’ve disliked. Why? Well, there are enough negative people out there and intelligent readers of my blog have probably already figured out what syle of wines I prefer anyway. Besides, my motto is “always looking for the good stuff”, do you really want to read about the bad stuff? If so, drop me a line and I’ll start bashing wineries and their wines left, right and centre.  I do consider myself lucky in that, since I work in the wine industry, I have trade access that other winebloggers  may not. And, living in London (which really is the centre of wine universe) I’m lucky enough to be able to attend the numerous trade tastings that seem to be constantly on the calendar.   So why am I talking about samples? Because I got one the other day, that’s why! It’s from Wakefield winery, based in the Clare Valley, South Australia. Wakefield Estate wines were the first estate grown and bottled wines from Wakefield winery and were first released in 1973. Since then they have been consistently winning national and international awards. The estate is situated in the Clare Valley on Australia’s famed “terra rosa” . Check out their website to get the full story. In the meantime, I received the ’07 Wakefield Cabernet and the  ’07 Wakefield Chardonnay. I did a bit of winetasting and cheesematching with the chard, check out the video…. [viddler id=d2973d84&w=437&h=333] And the ’07 Wakefield cabernet? I liked it, here are my brief notes: nose –  first impression, fresh – ripe, rich blackcurrants, lots of minty goodness,...

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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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Sunday lunch and Levendi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ’05

When I was in Sonoma, Ca, Levendi Winery and The Wine Spies got together and had a bash for us bloggers after the WBConference. One of our going away gifts was a half bottle of the Levendi Napa Valley 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon to try at home. I brought mine home to see what my English friends would think of it. In England, the opportunity to try good California cab doesn’t really come along often so I had a bunch of willing testers. I went over to my friend Ele’s house for a bit of Sunday lunch and the Levendi cab. Here are my thoughts, as well as the others. A savoury nose, not very fruity but what I could detect were black stewed fruits,prunes, blackcurrant jam, bit of spiciness, words like dark and harsh were thrown about but I think that was because of the alcoholic content. A surprisingly medium bodied wine on the palate with more of the black fruits, particularly blackcurrant and very ripe plums, soft tannins which was again a surprise. I think everyone was expecting a monster of a wine when in reality, it was more like a pussycat. Having said that though, it did have a nice acidic balance which meant the wine went really well with the mature English cheddar Ele had on hand. The cheese made the fruit a bit brighter on the palate, a nice foil. Rachel said she thought it was light, not heavy, black grapey, she liked it, ok with cheeses, food didn’t really make a difference for her, it was still good. She’d drink it again, it had an inviting quality. Juliene thought it tasted much better then it smelled, a surprisingly soft wine, quite medium bodied, plenty of fruity goodness, an easy going wine, nothing too complex. She also thought it went well with food.   Sophie was the naysayer of the bunch, she couldn’t really get a handle on the aromas and she thought it was too acidic, very intersting. She did however, think that it greatly improved when adding food into the mix....

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Rockaway Vineyard Walk at the WBC

        Slogging up that hill I was silently cursing myself for not riding my bike to work more often, but when it’s crappy weather you don’t think about your upcoming trip to Sonoma Valley and how you should be getting into shape. I thought going to as many tastings as possible before I left would suffice. Wrong! And now I was paying for it. All part of the US wineblogger conference. I should have followed Joe and Amy (anotherwineblog.com) and done the Russian River vineyard walk. But I’d opted for the Rodney Strong Vineyard walk. It wasn’t really that bad except for a couple of hills. I think I’ve become a bit of a crybaby in my dotage, time was when I’d run up the Himalayas with barely a whimper. Oh, to be 24 again! We did get a box lunch at the end and the company of Jim Murphy (one of the growers for Rodney Strong) and Doug McIlory (Director of Grower and Vineyard Operations) to take us thru the vineyard. We walked through the Rockaway Vineyard where some of their best cabernet sauvignon comes from and where we ended our walk with a beautiful view of the surrounding Anderson Valley.   We were lucky enough to taste our way through the current vintages of Rodney Strong Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and the 100%, estate grown, single vineyard cabernet sauvingon, The Rockaway. The Chalk Hill Chardonnay and Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc were both excellent examples of California whites, the Sauvignon blanc quite full and fruity with plenty of lush fruit. The chardonnay was quite creamy but not too buttery or oaky  with lovely tropical fruit as befits a chardonnay from California.   The highlight of lunch was the Rockaway Cabernet Sauvignon 05, which has been involved in some blogger controversy but we kinda skipped over that. The most important thing was the wine itself. What did I think? I thought it was quite well made, lovely balance, well structured with good tannins to handle the loads of black fruits on the palate. A...

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Mexican Wine – Estapor Venir Mezcla Tinto ’07

Yes, that’s right, the heading says Mexican wines and that’s exactly what I had the other day. Now, don’t go pulling funny faces, there is such a thing and it’s not bad. People used to snicker about English wine but whose laughing now that English sparkling wines have shown that they can compete with the best sparkling wines that France or any other country has to offer and have won numerous awards to prove it. Estapor Venir is a joint venture between Bibendum and Hugo D’Acosta, a Mexican winemaker who makes wine for Casa de Piedra, a well known and  respected Mexican winery where his wines are sold for $70 per bottle en primeur in Mexico and California. The idea behind Estapor Venir is to create sustainable viticulture in the Guadalupe Valley in Baja California. The valley is situated at altitude and benefits from the cool Pacific breezes that run through it. I love the fact that they use as many natural resources as possible, and both the main winery and the winery they built in the local village are constructed from local wood and adobe.  The village winery was built so that the villagers could learn wine making, giving them a means to support themselves independently.  Because many of the villagers are illiterate, they leave handprints on each of their barrels as a way of identifying the wine they have made. All that is great – social responsibility, sustainable viticulture – but what about the wine? I had the chance to try their first offering, the Estapor Venir Mezcla Tinto 2007 at the Bibendum‘s wine show the other day and I  have to say I was quite impressed. My first reaction was not to spit it out, although since I was at a tasting, that’s what I did, but only after carefully thinking about what was in my mouth. The Mezcla is, appropriately enough, a blend (since that’s the translation of the word into English) of petit syrah, cabernet sauvignon, barbera and zinfandel. ...

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