Friday, 26 March 2010

Oddbins - Taste of Spring

Have been meaning to check out a resurgent oddbins for a little while now, and only haven't because it's 2 miles away and bit of a pain carting back tons of wine that far with no car... So when I found out they were having a "taste of spring" wine tasting it seemed like a great opportunity to go and take a look. On offer were 15 wines to taste, £10 for a ticket or £15 for a couple! If you spent £75 you'd get the ticket price refunded. Bargain.

The wines were all European. 3 champagnes. The pick of which for me was this Blin, but none of them really blew me away. Heidseck Gold Top is my benchmark at the moment and still a much better bet, and currently an absolute bargain.

We had 5 whites, including 3 from the same Alsace producer Bollenberg. They were; Pinot Blanc, which was interesting but I didn't really like it. Not very balanced, too dry, a bit minerally, Riesling which was very good. Dry Riesling isn't really my thing but this was a good one and a Pinot Gris which I really liked and bought one of. Balanced, dry, fruity and smokey. Don't get any of the mushroom they mention but a great wine.

There was also an interesting Sancerre by Phillipe Rimbaud which was very interesting. Very fruity, quite New World in style, in a good way. Gooseberry, green apple flavour. Nearly bought that but didn't. The Puilly Fumé from Waitrose I mentioned last time still a great bet there.

The final white was an Italian Gewurz which had an incredible smell. And tasted just like Turkish delight. If you like Turkish Delight, you'll love it. I don't really... still a very interesting wine.

On the red front the pick of the bunch was a Gigondas, a really deep complex wine with heady fruit and deep tobacco and leather flavour.

There were three Spanish Reds on show, El Cayado was made from Mencia grapes, which I'd never even heard of let alone tasted. Apparently related to Cabernet Franc and it did taste like a Spanish Cabernet Franc, interesting but didn't wow me. El Quintanel from Ribera del Deuro split opinions. Ann loved it, I found it was too young and a bit harsh. We bought one and I'd like to keep it for a year or two and see what happens. We also bought another Ribera that I didn't find on their website. Finally there was a Priorat Grenache blend that was an absolute monster. Huge nose, really fruity and smooth. 15%. In structure it felt like a really big Californian Zinfandel. I really liked it. We bought one of them too.

There were a couple of Bordeaux wines that I was a bit ambivalent about. Nothing wrong with them, they did what they said on the tin. But they weren't interesting either really. De Brague was pretty good value though!

At Oddbins you get 20% off if you buy a mixed case, so we explored the rest of the shop to fill up our dozen. The first thing that caught our eye, was a couple of wines from Matetic. Makers of the great EQ I mentioned in an earlier post. They had the Syrah and the Winemakers Blend from the Matetic Coralillo range, which is the second wine after the EQ. The Winemakers blend (67% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec and 6% Pinot Noir) sounds great and it will be especially interesting to see how the Syrah matches up to the EQ. This Late Harvest Concha y Toro Dessert wine also caught our eye and we picked up a couple of bottles of Dr L a fantastic off dry fruity Riesling.

Overall I was really impressed. Not sure when the last time I went into an Oddbins was, but these days it's great. Lots of really interesting stuff, I'm sure we'll be back.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Burgundy, Alsace and winemaking

Right. Lots to catch up on, I've been incredibly busy.

Important news, I found out the name of the amazing Cinsault I had. We actually revisited the restaurant we tasted it and had some more. It's still amazing. Fruity, spicy, really well balanced. Absolutely delicious. VdP De L'Herault, "Le Pradel", Dom La Terrasse D'Elise 2003 100% Cinsault.

It's absolutely amazing. Only found one place to buy it online in the UK. Just over £150 for a case of 6, £25 a bottle and I'm seriously tempted...

On the wine course front we've covered winemaking and Burgundy and Alsace. I'd tried my first Alsace Gewurtz a few weeks ago and really liked it and that's been reinforced. I found the Alsace Reislings just a bit too dry. The Burgundy's were great. We had two fantastic classic examples of Burgundies, a Beaujolais and a sneaky Chilean Pinot Noir and I was able to pick all those out (without knowing that's what we were getting) which was reassuring. A classic Burgundy and a Beaujolais have such distinctive smells, I'd hope to always be able to pick them. Along with Kiwi Sauvignon which are all likely things to have on the tasting exam.

At home we're endeavouring to have one day a week where we both bring mystery wines to try and practice for the exam. Last week we brilliantly both got Pouilly Fumés. Which was quite funny. I got a brilliant one from Waitrose, which was 25% off. Le Pont du Milieu Pouilly Fume, 2008 A really cracking wine. Fruity, balanced, slightly mineral, delicious. Ann's was also pretty good but suffered from being tasted just after a slightly better one. Hers was the Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Pouilly Fumé. That was a 2007 and just slightly less complex, and less fruity. So the evening turned into quite an interesting comparison of the two.