Sunday, 14 November 2010

Wine: Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Another New Zealand Sauv. Blanc! This one is amazingly fresh and fruity. The aromas of light, tropical fruits rise from the glass and there's a vibrant peachy taste with a hint of pineapple and a lingering taste of gooseberry. Not quite Shelter Bay, but a damn good offering!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Wine: Sainsbury's Chilean Merlot (Valle Central)

This is something of a departure from my usual reviews. I think I bought a couple of bottles of this with the intention of using it for cooking, but one way or another, I ended up drinking it instead. This forgetfulness extended to forgetting the alarming fact that the bottle doesn't even list a year (!) so my tasting notes are unbiased by this...

Chilean reds are typically strong, spicy wines with a definite kick to them. They tend to be slightly stronger (in alcohol content) than the French equivalents, and this comes through as a warming aftertaste. Not so with this wine, which stands at a mere 12.5% alcohol. Still, what it lacks in punchy, boozy warmth, it makes up for in the light, floral bouquet and fresh taste.

The bottle tells me it has "red fruit flavours", but it's hard to pick any out. There's maybe a hint of the rich, blackcurrant and cherry flavours prominent in a lot of Chilean wines, but nothing to write home about.

Meanwhile, the wine tastes decent. It's less acidic than you might expect for a relatively cheap wine, and I already mentioned that it tastes fresh. Perhaps a little ageing would have done it some good, though.

There's nothing bad to say about this wine. It doesn't have a bad aftertaste (doesn't have an aftertaste at all, really). It doesn't smell bad, it doesn't look bad, and it certainly doesn't cost the Earth. It's just, well, there aren't many good things to say either. If you're looking for a wine for a beef casserole, or to pour into a spaghetti bolognese, this will do just fine. If you're looking for a cheapish bottle to drink, this isn't the worst option you could go for... but if you're looking to spend £4 to £5 on a bottle of wine, try to find a £8 to £10 bottle on offer at half price. The more expensive Chilean wines are really quite something, and this wine simply fails to deliver the warm kick I've come to expect from Chilean reds.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Fruit(y) Beers

Firstly, I've got to say, I'm far more of a beer man than a wine man. Especially since my choice of wine, and champage for that matter, extends only so far as rosé and sparkling rosé. Not a varied (nor cultured) interest I must admit. Anyways, now, onto the beer!

After several recent trips out to local "ale bars" (there seem to be very few "wine bars" in my local area, mostly pubs focusing on cheap lagers or, the much better, specialist beers/ales from continental Europe) I've been getting into the fruitier beers: such as Früli and Bacchus. Both of these are very good, and, most importantly, overwhelmingly fruity.

For starters: Früli.
I must admit, I was quite shocked by just how sweet it is. Infact, to be totally honest, the Strawberry sweetness of the drink is almost entirely the total flavour. For some, that might be a very bad thing, others, a good thing. I fall into the others category, having a vicious sweet tooth (but having almost zero desire for desserts), which makes Früli the (almost) perfect drink. As a beer, it's very light, which might not sort those seeking a longer lasting, possibly more substantial, drink. The smaller bottle size (and the almost-negligible aftertaste) will, more often than not, lead you into thinking "This is good. I might have just one more". I'd recommend it as one to start the night, possibly two to start the night even, but not one to last the duration. 

Conclusion: The very strong Strawberry taste will often leave you wanting more. However, be prepared to be deeply unsatisfied at the fact that "just one more" will never be enough (it's just that nice!).

Next up we have Bacchus Kriekenbier:
Here we have a cherry beer with a bit of an afterbite! At first this beer strikes you as being overwhelming, perhaps a bit too strong in flavour! However, don't let that fool you. You'll soon realise that the sour taste is that of tart cherries and that is has a smooth, almost mellow, aftertaste. Never does this drink get so sickly, or sweet, that it overwhelms your tastebuds. As an all-night drink, something to follow a meal out with friends for example, it works very well. It has almost no lingering flavour (in a good way!), a sweet yet reasonably palatable taste, which then gives way to strong, sour, cherry flavours. All of which help to provide a very reasonable drink that is excellent to talk over (that is: drink whilst talking at people)

Conclusion: Has a stronger bite than the Früli, albeit without being quite so drinkable. An excellent beer nonetheless, it manages to be a good  to sup at whilst whittling the night away.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Wine: Shelter Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2009

This sauvignon blanc is from Marlborough, New Zealand, and possesses strong gooseberry aromas with hints of tropical fruit. The fruit theme continues through to the taste, which is long and smooth. This is a very clean, dry white, with refreshing characteristics ideal for Spring and Summer drinking. I had it with tagliatelle carbonara, but it would go well with fish, chicken or light cheeses.

Wine: Domaine de la Vougeraie 'Les Petits Noizons' 2006 (Pommard)

A strong offering from Bourgogne, this 100% Pinot Noir has a dark red-brown colour. Initially it does not offer much by way of fragrance, but after leaving to the air for a little, strong notes of plum, cherry, melon and blackcurrant practically leap out of the glass.

The first taste similarly reveals little but a smooth, velvet character. Subsequent tastings open up the robust, fruity character of this wine, exhibiting many rich berry flavours; blackberry and raspberry in particular. There's a very smooth finish with a hint of very dark chocolate.

The entire experience is a velvety smooth, rich and full wine. There appears to be a very slight nutty character both to the taste and fragrance, though this may be a mental inference from the name, refering to a walnut plantation.

In all, an incredible wine, with a very long finish. It would go well with rare steak, lamb or other red meats. Avoid strong flavours such as cheese, which would detract from the fullness of this wine.

Wine: Santa Rita Merlot Reserva 2007

This merlot from Chile's Maipo valley has all the hallmarks of a decent Bordeaux. It has a wonderful ruby-red colour and rich plum aromas with a sweet, decadent note. The robust taste carries strong blackcurrant flavours with undertones of plum and blackberry. A smooth finish rounds off this classic Chilean offering. Strong and alcoholic, this wine is warming and has a good kick to it.

Drink alone (that is, without food, not without other people) or with food that will stand up to the strength of this wine; steak, blue cheese, mildly spiced or high-garlic foods.

Wine: Vistasur Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

This Chilean Cabernet has a rich cherry aroma and a deep red colour. It tastes light and smooth, with notes of ripe summer berries.The finish is powerful yet fleeting. Goes well with blue cheese!

Wine: Vistasur Sauvignon Blanc 2008

I had this wonderful Chilean white with salmon (and again with tuna). Chilled in the fridge, it was refreshing after warm June days.

The colour is delicate and clear with a hint of gold, and the fresh fruity aromas rise from the glass. There's a definite peach scent, with something that reminds me of citrus blossom. The taste is also fruity, again with prominent peach flavours. I also got a definite citrus note from the taste, which I initially pinned as lemon, then changed my mind to lime, then back to lemon again. It is a crisp, dry wine with a light finish, leaving the mouth refreshed.

Wine: Cono Sur Carmenere 2008

The first thing that struck me about this wine is the vibrant purple-red colour, indicating a young wine (of course, the 2008 vintage was a big clue here!) After that, the aromas; plummy richness with a hint of autumn berries. The wine has a very smooth, full-bodied taste, with the characteristic Chilean warmth; hints of spice. The taste lingers, giving the wine a wonderfully long finish, which can best be described only as sublime.