Two Argentine whites for the holidays

Although it’s freezing cold outside,( in Europe at any rate, I’m still sunning myself in South America) there’s always room for white wine, whether as an aperitif or something to go with a roast chicken dinner, white wine is a lovely choice. Pinot grigio is often the go-to drink when people are looking for a light white wine but I’ve discovered a lovely Torrontes from Terrazas de los Andes, an Argentine winery situated in the wine region of Mendoza. Terrazas de los Andes has been producing quality wines since the 1980’s and have turned their hand at making a fresh and fruity yet dry white wine. Torrontes one of the flagship varietals of Argentina along with Malbec and is a hybrid that is unique to Argentina. A cross of malvasia and criolla chica, a native grape of Argentina, it has proven itself to be a real winner of a wine from the vines of Argentina. The Terrazas Torrontes Reserva 2009 is fresh and clean, a great wine with lovely tropical fruit notes, full bodied with great acidity and balance, it was refreshingly dry, an elegant wine which would work on it’s own or with Asian cuisine. Thai dishes, Japanese tempura, ginger, shrimp, all of these popped to mind while I was drinking this wine. Another of Terrazas wines I really enjoyed was their 2009 Chardonnay. Terrazas de los Andes’ vineyards are situated in the Lujan de Cujo region of Mendoza and the chardonnay vineyards sit at 1200 meters. This is great for producing fresh wines. Too much sun and not enough time to cool down at night would result in wines that are flabby and lack freshness and acidity. Terrazas does everything to ensure that their chardonnays are crisp and clean including NOT letting them go through malo-lactic fermentation to preserve freshness, while still exhibiting the true expression of Argentine fruit. So what does a true Argentine chardonnay taste like according to Terrazas de los Andes? A crisp, clean wine, tropical fruit notes with...

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Sonomo Cutrer 2006 Chardonnay – brief tasting note

California chardonnay. Not usually one of my go-to wines but I had a chardonnay from Sonoma-Cutrer the other day that was really quite enjoyable. Sonoma-Cutrer is located in the Russian River Valley and have been producing quality chardonnay since the early 1980’s. I was a bit sceptical as my memory of California chardonnays are oaky butter bombs but the 2006 Sonoma-Cutrer is nothing of the sort. A straight up chardonnay, it was a clear bright wine with flecks of gold dancing around the glass. A fresh nose of tropical fruits, most notably creamy pineapple along with mango and ginger and a faint aroma of honeysuckle. There wasn’t a butter bomb in sight. The wine slipped down quite easily. Quite a rich chardonnay, with more of the pineapple notes and a zesty lime finish. The oak was present but not overpowering. I had it with my dinner of roast chicken and salad and it was quite tasty. I’m no longer afraid of California chardonnays, at least not Sonoma-Cutrer’s chardonnays. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Who doesn’t like a Chablis?

Chablis. The word just rolls off the tongue. Chablis/Rhymes with glee/makes me hap-py… Ok, so maybe I’m being a bit silly as I write this (and yes, I am sober although a bit hopped up on my third cup of coffee this morning) but I do honestly enjoy a good Chablis. I’ve written about Chablis before, how people are often confused by this wine, not realizing that it is made from 100% chardonnay from the great land of Burgundy. Although Chablis is from Burgundy, unlike it’s cousins to the south, it is a pure expression of the minerality of the soil. Oak is not used as extensively as in southern Burgundy in order to preserve the fresh, lean qualities of  the wine. If oak is used, it’s usually big oak barrels and not the smaller barriques as is common elsewhere. The soil is an old sea bed that has been pushed up over time by the earth’s movements to form the Kimmeridgian ridge. Composed of the shells of tiny sea creatures, most notably the small oysters called Exogyra Virgula, this gives it its distinctive mineral overtones that is the hallmark of Chablis. Chablis is made up of 4 appellations – petit chablis, chablis, chablie premier cru and chablis grand cru. Each having their own specific production areas and conditions. I popped down to Central London for a short tasting of the nominees for the 24th annual Chablis Wine contest that the Burgundy Wine Board run every year. The wines were all from the Chablis appellation. Chablis is the biggest of the 4 appellations, producing wines that are best suited to age due to their structure, persistent flavour and volume on the palate. I had the pleasure to taste through a series of 13 2008 Chablis from the Chablis appellation and pick one that I thought was the best representation of the Chablis on tasting. I knew that the top Chablis was in there, as the winners had already been announced, but didn’t know which...

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Warwick Estate, S. African wine I like!

“Denise, there has been a slight change in our lunch plans today. Could you please call us? ” That was the first voice mail that greeted me on a recent Monday morning. I knew it was all that damn Icelandic volcano’s fault even before I returned the call. I was supposed to be attending a tasting and lunching with a Burgundy white wine producer that afternoon but I had a niggling feeling that lunch was going to have to be rescheduled due to the flight ban caused by the volcanic ash spewing into European air space. Rebecca,the PR rep, was very apologetic and to make up for the cancelled lunch offered me a lunch and tasting with James Dare, the stranded marketing director  of South African winery, Warwick Estate as a substitute. Much as the French winemaker couldn’t fly in, no one could fly out. James was stuck here until flights resumed. I’d gone from  a white Burgundy lunch to a S.African lunch in the space of two seconds. I was a bit hesitant because as many of you may know, I’m not a big fan of S.African wines but agreed because lately I have had some positive SA wine experiences and was curious to see what Warwick Estate had to offer. Lunch was at the delightful Islington restaurant, Frederick’s just off the high street. Walking in, it’s an oasis of calm with a lovely garden which is where we were seated. We sat down and James proceeded to give me a brief history of Warwick Estate as well as the Stellenbosch region since I wasn’t very well informed on the whole region.  Originally a fruit farm, in 1902 it was bought by Colonel Willam Alexander Gordon of the Warwickshire Regiment, converted into a vineyard and renamed Warwick Estate in honour of the regiment.  In 1964 the estate was bought by Stan and Norma Ratcliffe. The couple decided to plant cabernet. At first the grapes produced were sold to neighbouring wineries but Norma found...

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Castello Banfi Brunello and a long Friday lunch

My infatuation with Italian wine continues. A is for Amarone. B is for Brunello di Montelcino, bodalicious, complex, tasty, lipsmackingly satisfying (ok,so I’m skipping around the alphabet and making up words) you get the point, I do love those Italians. Growing up with only the familiar wicker covered funnily shaped bottles of Chianti, that was my only exposure to Italian wine, that and the cheap dross I encountered when I first came to London as a student. The good old days. Why do they call them the good old days? I’d much rather be in the now and the fabulous wines I had the other day at lunch. A typical wet, dreary London afternoon found me on Savile Row on my way to the smart Italian restaurant, Sartoria, for lunch with Bibendum and Cristina Mariani-May (the next generation and co-CEO of the company) and Dante Cecchini (regional manager) of Castello Banfi . Bibendum is now importing the Castello Banfi range into the UK so this was our opportunity to sample their wares. Castello Banfi orginally started out importing Italian wines to America early in the 20th century and built up a very successful import business but in 1978 they decided to head back to their native land and founded the Castello Banfi Vineyard Estate. Once there they spent a considerable amount of time and money on research and are now one of the leaders of classifying sangiovese from Tuscany.  They’ve spent over 30 years on research and catalogued over 160 clones which they’ve narrowed that down to the 15 best clones for their wines. And Castello Banfi has generously shared their research with the world because they believe ..”all ships will rise when the tide comes in…” and their research can only benefit all of Montalcino. Castello Banfi were also one of the first to plant international varieties in Tuscany, creating the “super-Tuscans” and we got to sample one during lunch. Nothing more civilized then a 5 course meal with matching wines for lunch, now is there? The food was fantastic but the real stars of the...

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