Saturday, 30 May 2015

What's not to like?

May 29th and a virtual trip to South America, not just South America but to Chile.

Who took us on the trip? None other than Lee Isaacs, wine consultant and South American wine specialist.

One of the great advantages of being within a Wine Club is the opportunities it gives to try new wines and to be taken on the journey with those that know the way around and so it was last night. Lee was able to bring to us six wines, no duff wines to be seen and some really very exceptional.

So a big thank you Lee, a very good tour and such good wines.

His talk was not only supported by a very good selection, and more of this in a mo, but also the background to the wine industry of Chile as well as the background to the people and vineyards of those producing the wines.

It was not only wines were staring last night but also some amazing cheeses. Another thanks is called for now, all the cheeses were provided by "Open Air Foods" a seller of artisan cheeses and available via the market in Witney each Thursday.

So the wines:

Its always a danger for the writer of this Blog to say which was the best wine, we all see/taste in a different way but for me the first one was a very good wine indeed.

Interestingly Lee asked how many consider Riesling as being their favourite grape, two hands showed only, something of as surprise that, mine was one of those hands.

So the wine: The Cono Sur Reserva Special 2013 Riesling. Here we have a very good wine sold by Tesco at £8.99. Really very good indeed.  Lee was able to explain why there is the mis match between those that like the Riesling grape and the quality of the wine. All to do with it smelling of petrol it seems, this a bigger problem if the conditions of growing are not good for the grape. Well it would be a bit of a put off I guess, but fear not, no petrol overtones here just a well balanced and typical Riesling with no great tannin overtones.

Well worth checking out the philosophy of wine makers by going to the website of the company, one of the biggest producers of wine in SA and the world.

The next white was a good but , how do I say this, a different Savignon Blanc.  The grape is the mostly drunk white in this country, and why not what?  A great wine and even better in the summer with all that citrus flavour, but there we have it, this wine had almost none of those tones.  Lee was able to clarify, if you have a Kiwi Savvy Blanc you will have and expect to have those fruit and acid notes, but if you take the same grape from the Loire, this is not the case and this wine needs to be compared to the European Savvy Blanc.  As such it was very good but not what was expected.

As they say, your call.  Casa Silva, ColchaguaValley.   £15.00 @ OWC

The last white wine was the wine that people love to hate, Chardonnay, the 2014 In Situ estate bottled Reserva, OWC @ £10.00.

This was the lightly oaked classic Chardonnay.

As Lee was able to tell us its not everyday you come across wines like In Situ or winemakers like Horacio Vicente.

Horacio trained at Bordeaux first-growth Château Mouton Rothschild and California’s boutique Chalone Vineyards before returning home to work on his dad’s estate in Chile’s stunning Aconcagua Valley. After working for the best of the best, he was keen to prove that Aconcagua Valley could make wines to rival the best in the world and so the In Situ range was born.

The high altitude of the vineyards (around 850m above sea level) makes for a very fresh, fruit-driven and elegant Chardonnay.

After the whites the raffle and the spot for trivia.  This was all about cheese, a lot of information about Cheddar, did you know that the US produces c1.5 million TONS of the cheese? And did you know that Mozzartella is the UK's most eaten cheese after Cheddar.     There we are - trivia.

The cheeses we had were exceptional, some the mix of Gorgonzola and Feta too exceptional for many.

They were:

Delice de Bourgogne. Made with much additional cream. Trust the French to add cream to cheese. Good for them - what a great cheese.

Old Winchester, a cross of Gouda, Parmesan and Chedder but unlike any of them. Aged for 18 months. Salty and good.

Bayden Blue, the mix of Italian and Greek types, very pungent and loved and hated in equal measure.

Brie de Maeaux. A delight.

Gorwydd Caerphilly, a multi prize winner and understandably. Beautiful and great with a white wine.

Farmhouse Chedder. One of five farmhouse cheddars made now in the UK and allowed the POD label. Stored in the Wookey Hole caves of Chedder.

The reds.

The night of surprises continued with  the Shiraz, this is the grape that can be very 'spicey', but no this was not,  this was just a good red wine and a wine that would go so well with pasta or pizza.

This wine is made by the massive wine producer Casillero del Diablo. Clearly there is no reason why a large producer cannot produce great wines but, lets be honest, you tend to think the best wines come from smaller vineyards.  Not the case here. A good wine.

£7.99 at Tesco.

The best wine of night followed, but I need to add a question mark to this sentence. This was a very good Pinot indeed.  As we all know the Pinot Noir grape is a very tricky grape to grow and to make good wine from. When it all comes together well the value is high and so it should be, a beautiful wine emerges. And this was such a wine. Very impressive indeed.

The grapes are hand picked, double sorted, softly destemmed and crushed, then placed in open top stainless steel tanks. Prior to fermentation, grapes undergo a 3 to 7 day cold soak at 8ºC. For fermentation and only native yeasts are used by which the wine develops more complex and distinctive aromas and flavours. Final blend is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.

This a bit, no, a lot  more expensive though at £20.00 a pop from the  OWC.

The final wine was the variety that is now associated almost exclusively with SA, the Carmenere grape. We tasted the Casa del Bosque wine. Lee was able to ell us of its near relative Merlot and the closeness in many ways that the two grapes have.  It confirmed itself as being a fine grape and a fine way to taste it in the vineyard's wine.

From the owners website:

Vinification :After being hand harvested the grapes were then crushed and destemmed to stainless steel tanks. The must was then warmed and inoculated with selected yeasts and fermented during 12 days with temperatures peaking at 33ºC/91ºF. Following the completion of fermentation the must was subjected to an additional 5 days of post fermentation maceration (to give a total of 17 days total skin contact). The wine was then pressed off skins and put to French oak barrels for 10 months during which time it was racked twice: once in the spring when it was first sulphured (following the completion of malolactic fermentation) and then once again shortly before bottling.
Tasting Notes : Intensely violet in colour, on the nose this wine exhibits heady notes of cedar, bacon fat, and graphite with just a hint of fresh lavender. In the mouth an initial attack of black cherry, sweet tobacco and cinnamon gives way to just a touch of earthiness and ripe bell pepper. Ripe tannins and fresh acidity combine to give good balance and length.

£10.99 at OWC


Date of the next meeting

July 30th 

Check out this blog.  Both amusing and good.

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