What a pretty bottle -Elyssia, Spanish sparkling rose

Denise, would you like to come round to mine on Saturday for dinner? I can never resist a dinner invitation, especially if it’s from a good friend and so I found myself, on time for once, on the doorstep of my friend Luiz’ house with a bottle of the new Freixenet rosado sparkling wine, the Elyssia Pinot Noir Brut in hand. Freixenet, the Spanish cava usually found in it’s iconic black bottle with gold lettering is now launching a sparkling rosado wine. Freixenet has long been a big player in the cava stakes, being part of the Codorniu group, it has a wealth of expertise, state of the art wineries and plenty of marketing muscle behind it to launch a rosado sparkling on the market. The Elyssia is a blend of 85% pinot noir and 15% trepat which is a varietal native to Catalonia, it is often used in cava blends to give a uniquely Catalonian spin to the wines. We decided to have the Elyssia as an aperitif. When I pulled out the box, there were lots of oohs and ahhs, they definitely have not skimped on the marketing. The box it comes in is very smart, a soft pink with a defining silver stripe running down the middle, it looked like a very expensive champagne box. The bottle is also well posh, clear and in the shape of traditional champagne bottles, it looked very pretty sitting on the table. So how did it taste? Well, it was fine as an aperitif. I didn’t really find much in the way of defining characteristics. It was a pleasant little bit of sparkle to the evening but I thought it should have been a bit more flavourful. Seeing as it’s a pinot noir brut, I was expecting lots of red berries and red fruits on the nose and palate but didn’t really find much on either. A pleasant sparkly, not offensive in any way. I’ve had other Rosado cavas from Spain and this one, well...

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Jackson Estate Pinot Noir at the Stolen supper club

Somehow, I have become a foodie. How did this happen? One minute I’m just bebopping along, doing my wine thing, next thing I know, I’m reviewing Michelin starred restaurants and supper clubs. I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise as food and wine are meant to go together and like so  many of my wineblogging breathren, I do think that wine should be drunk with food close at hand. I have to say though that the wine always takes centre stage, although I do make an effort to think about the food too. Supper Clubs, great idea but a bitch to find! Luiz and I must have spent 10 minutes looking for the Stolen Supper Club in Notting Hill. Can you blame us, here is the door, sans door number: Our charming hostess, Mia (aka Bonnie) greeted us at the door and led us into a currently being renovated flat, cue lots of exposed ceilings and plasterwork. The only thing fully in place was the brand new kitchen where her accomplice Leandro (Clyde) was busy preparing our dinner. It was looking good as she led us past the oven and into a lovely garden where the other guests were chatting and drinking. The Stolen Supper Club’s USP so to speak is that they ‘steal’ famous chef’s  recipes to re-create their dining experience in their supper club at home. This week they were replicating Mark Hix’s menu and due to the fact that Mia had spent 10 years in the London restaurant scene, Mark is a friend and kindly donated Hix napkins for the evening as well as plenty of info on his restaurants and the aperitif for the evening. The menu was from Hix Oyster and Chop House and we duly started with oysters on the half shell fresh from Billingsgate Market that morning, served with a bloody mary granita on top and naked for the purists. I liked the bloody mary granita but I like my oysters unadorned  by anything but a splash...

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German pinot noir – Markus Molitor 2001

“It’s been a while since we had a wine meet up. Up for one this week? ” The Winerambler sent me that message one afternoon and who was I to refuse? He always has a great selection of German wines, many of which you just can’t get here in the UK. We had a selection of reds and whites but the most interesting was probably the Markus Molitor Trarbacher Schloßberg 2001 pinot noir. Markus Molitor has been the winemaker since the tender age of 20. Although his family has owned the vineyard for 8 generations, it was  Markus who had the vision to restore his family (and by extension the Moselle Valley) wines to their former glory. Pinot noir or spatburgunder has a long tradition in Germany but it’s only recently that the Molitor estate has  focused its full attention on the varietal. Molitor’s vineyard the the Trarbacher Scholsberg vineyard is situated on steep stony slopes with slatey soils, low yields, spontaneous fermentation and natural yeasts along with maturation in small oak barrels produce elegant, balanced wines. The WineRambler had a 2001 Molitor pinot noir set aside for us that evening and it was just fabulous. Autumnal leaves, mushroom, black truffle, tobacco and maybe a hint of pate (could have been the plate of pate that was sitting next to it but we won’t quibble on that). The nose was ever evolving and after some time we revisted it and I could swear that a savoury marrow aroma had now replaced the autumnal leaves. On swishing it around, a velvety palate, savoury black cherries with a smoky bitter chocolate finish. It was like someone had taken a bitter chocolate bar and stuck it in a smokehouse for a day or two. The ’01 was really showing well and Markus Molitor has certainly been able to do fantastic things with his pinot noir. Any red Burgundy lover would be very satisfied to have this wine to drink on a cool autumn eve. Thanks again to...

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And now for something a little different… Argentine pinot noir, Torino ’08

I don’t know what it is but recently whether knowingly or not, I’ve been encountering organic wine everywhere. I was out to dinner with fellow wineblogger, Sarah of Wine90, the other night and she spotted an Argentine pinot noir on the wine list. Now I know Chilean pinot noir’s quite well, even had some very good stuff from Cono Sur  the other day but Argentina is not my go-to place for South American pinot so it was with a bit of hesitation that I agreed to order it. The Michel Torino vineyards are located in the northeastern province of Salta, in the foothills of the Andes.  The vineyards are some of the highest in the world, over 1700 m above sea level, nestled in the Cafayate Valley. The vineyards get over 350 days of sunshine a year but because of the altitude there are plenty of cool breezes to cool down the grapes and because it is isolated on all sides by desert, it makes the region virtually free of viruses and pests, enabling Michel Torino to practice organic wine production. They’ve been certified organic since 2006. So I ordered the Michel Torino 2008 ‘Coleccion’ Pinot Noir. It certainly was like no other pinot noir I’ve had before. It wasn’t bad at all, as a matter of fact, it was very well made but it certainly wasn’t what we were expecting. It was quite an intense deep ruby colour. I thought it was smooth but medium bodied whilst Sarah thought it was more medium to full bodied. We both agreed that there wasn’t much of a nose, I got some minerality, loads of rocks and dirt but not much fruit. I was really trying hard but just didn’t get much and neither did Sarah. The taste however was some intense berry flavours coming out of the glass. Dark berries, blueberries, berries,berries, berries! I was diggin the intensity of the fruit. The finish was toasty and nutty and I even detected a bit of dark cholocate. Nice balance of acidity kept it from being an overblown fruitbomb. For me, it didn’t have...

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Kai Schubert

What if I told you, you could get world class Burgundy at a fraction of it’s normal price? You’d jump at it wouldn’t you? Well, here is your opportunity but it’s not from France as you might think, it’s from New Zealand. I was at the Wine Cellar at the Bluebird the other night for a wine tasting of NZ wines made by the German winemaker Kai Schubert. Kai Schubert and his partner, Marion Deimling, both graduates of the Viticulture and Oenology University in Geisenheim, Germany worked in vineyards around the world, stopping in Europe, Oregon and S. America before finally settling in New Zealand to grow and make the notoriously difficult pinot noir. They found what they thought was the best site in Wairarapa Valley, near the town of Martinborough and founded Kai Schubert Vineyards. The pair bought an established vineyard in 1998 and began planting pinot noir which comprises more than 75% of their plantings. The remainder is comprised of syrah, cabernet and merlot as well as some white varietals. Their first vintage of pinot noir was released in 2003 and they haven’t looked back since. Schubert’s 2004 Pinot Noir “Block B” even beat out the 1999 “Musigny Grand Cru” of Comte de Vogue, Chambolle Musigny (€450 in Germany) in a blind tasting held in Berlin recently. Kai brought a couple of whites and his prizewinning pinot noirs for us to sample. I was a bit late so I missed the white wines but I was able to get my mitts on the pinots and the syrah. Kai’s pinots were cool, sleek, elegant offerings like the afghan hounds one sees lounging insouciently in 18th century paintings.   I loved the Marion’s Vineyard 2006 pinot noir (£26). Kai says that legend has it a Kiwi winemaker travelled to La Tache in Burgundy and stole a few clippings. On returning to NZ he was busted by customs trying to smuggle the cuttings into the country. Of course the cuttings were confiscated but rather then burning the plants, the Customs Officer took them home and planted them. Thus the Able clone...

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