Amazon.co.uk Widgets
 

2010 De Toren “Fusion V”, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Written by eleanor on January 21st, 2014

Vintage: 2010
Type: Bordeaux Blend
Country: Stellenbosch — South Africa

2014-01-21 19.21.43

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I travelled to South Africa for my first time in August 2013. I prepared a great deal for this trip through a destination management agent (Margot from “7th Sense” in Cape Town) on all details relating to airport transfers, hotels, restaurants, a rental car, safari expeditions, etc., but nothing could prepare me for the roller-coaster ride that is the South African wine industry.

My previous exposure to South African wines was limited: I had tried a couple of bottles of the famous Pinotage varietal over the years in London but that was it. I had not consumed enough South African wine to form a proper opinion. This first (and possibly last trip) to South Africa was a real eye- and palate-opener for me. South African vineyards, unlike those of the Canadian Okanagan region, are in my opinion, focusing on varietals they know work for their terroir and can therefore target oenophiles in foreign markets.

In separate posts, I will discuss my experiences at individual Franschhoek and Stellenbosch vineyards/wine estates.

Here I describe my first red South African wine, which I enjoyed in a group setting at a seafood restaurant based at the V&A Waterfront: the 2010 De Toren “Fusion V”.

Before jumping into the technical review, I would like to say a few things about this red wine. It’s a wine that is masterfully blended using five popular grapes that are grown in France, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot leading the composition. On this basis alone, I knew it had the potential to make our group of international diners very happy. Although I paired this wine with a meal made of langoustines and prawns, it would better suit dishes made from the exotic game of South Africa, such as slow-roasted Springbok shank or grilled Ostrich steak.

Technical Review

Appearance
Clear, deep Ruby.

Nose
Clean and pronounced. Aroma characteristics of ripened black fruits (plums, cherries), with hints of chocolate and something from the woodlands, like pine or mint leaf. A vanilla note comes through, possibly due to the use of new, toasty oak barrels.

Palate
Dry-medium sweetness, high acidity, with smoothened tannins. Medium-bodied with long finish. Flavour characteristics are similar to its aromas.

Conclusion
Excellent and worthy of a high price (>£15.99 per bottle); drink now, with the potential for ageing. This Bordeaux-inspired blend will drink superbly in 10 years. Resist the urge to open it because I am sure it will be worth the wait.

 

2010 Pinot Gris by Domaines Schlumberger, Les Princes Abbés, Alsace, France

Written by eleanor on January 19th, 2014

Vintage: 2010
Type: White (100% Pinot Gris)
Country: France–Alsace

2014-01-08 18.22.31

This is the only bottle of wine that I ordered during a business trip-turned-chaotic situation on the East Coast of the USA in early-January 2014.

In the middle of a terrible snow storm (or “polar vortex” as Americans started to call it), a reciprocal visit was arranged for me to the Cornell Club in New York City and I was fortunate to secure two seats at a Members’ “Wednesday Lobster Night” dinner. What a treat for me and my husband!

There was ample choice on the Club’s Cayuga Dining Room wine menu, but given that we would each be eating a 2 lb lobster with a variety of starters, we opted for an acidic white wine that might help cut through all of the salt and butter.

We selected the 2010 Pinot Gris by Schlumberger, which, with its elegant, elongated bottle neck and honeyed sips, brought back delightful memories of our driving tour through the Alsace region, also in 2010.

In retrospect, I should have elected to drink this wine on its own on a warm autumn afternoon (perhaps with a selection of soft, continental cheeses on the side), but it does make for a satisfactory accompaniment to a fleshy seafood dish.

(Apologies for the picture that I have uploaded. Photographs were not allowed inside the Cornell Club, so I had to sneak it without a flash.)

Technical Review

Appearance
Clear, pale lemon.

Nose
Clean, light aromas of stewed apple, honey.

Palate

Medium sweetness, medium acidity, low tannin.  Medium-bodied. Similar flavours to the aromas above. Medium length finish.

Conclusion

Good, ready to drink now (not intended for ageing). Could possibly command a medium price (>£12.99).

 

Special Edition: “The Apprentice: No Sour Grapes”

Written by eleanor on July 15th, 2013

I was on a very crowded, hot train home from Victoria Station this evening when my thoughts began wandering in the direction of wine. When one feels warm and dehydrated, it is not unusual to think about refreshment, right?

What was unusual was that I started to think about my favourite grape varieties and production regions and then I dared to compare them to the two Series 9 finalists of BBC One’s “The Apprentice.” Two business ladies are left standing: Leah vs Luisa.

I write technical reviews of wines on a regular basis, so why can’t I do a “technical” review of Leah and Luisa, so that I can come up with their counterpart grapes and then recommend some wines for audience members in either of the @DrLeahTotton or @TheLuluLife camps.

Please do indulge in either bottle when watching the final this coming Wednesday! For alternative wines, get in touch with me directly.

***Disclaimer: This is my idea of fun relaxation on a Monday night and I intend to be playful and respectful (please don’t take this too seriously!).

Finalist #1: Dr. Leah Totton

Technical review:

Clear, pale lemon. Clean, light nose, with aromas of stone fruit and nettles. Dry palate, high acidity, with crisp flavours and mineralic hints of flint or steel. Sturdy and well structured wine that shows rigour and precision. It gets straight to the point!

Based on these characteristics, Leah is a young Sancerre (based on the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety), with the potential for ageing well.

Recommendation:

If you are on Team Leah, then I recommend you try the 2012 Sancerre Blanc by Brigitte and Daniel Chotard (stocked at Berry Bros for £16.50 per bottle). I don’t think you will regret consuming or investing in this Loire Valley jewel.

Finalist #2: Luisa Zissman

Technical Review:

Clear, deep ruby. Long legs due to high alcohol content (growing in long, hot summers). Clean, pronounced nose, with aromas of plums, cherries and spice. Some herbaceous hints. Flavour characteristics of dark berries. Shows complexity, luxury and maturity.

Based on these characteristics, Luisa is a young Australian Shiraz, to be consumed in the short-term because it is now at the height of its vibrancy. This is a ripe, robust wine packed with flavour.

Recommendation:

If you are on Team Luisa, then I recommend you try the 2009 Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz (also stocked at Berry Bros & Rudd, for £22.50 per bottle). Drink it very soon … to put this one away in your cellar for years would be a real shame.

NB: The 2005 vintage was a true show stopper for me at a wine exhibition I attended some years ago.

 

Special Technical Review for Neil:

Lord Sugar regretted firing Neil Clough in last week’s episode of The Apprentice and I am sure that all audience members’ hearts sunk at the words, “You’re Fired”; however, I think it’s worth a quick ode here to Neil for his excellent effort and performance.

Technical Review:

Clear, deep ruby colour. Dark concentration of colour comes from a thick skin. Aromas are dominated by black fruits with hints of tobacco/cigars and spice. The palate is dry, not overwhelming, and with a long finish (some might even say velvety).

Based on these characteristics, Neil is a “young” Pauillac wine from the 2009 vintage (one of the finest Bordeaux years), predominantly made of Cabernet Sauvignon, with a tiny bit of Merlot to soften the edges. Pauillac vines have the toughest, gravel soils to grow in but if pushed to the limit and placed in challenging conditions, they will produce excellent fruits. The best fruits in turn contribute to the most highly prized wines for long-term investment.

Recommendation:

If you were on Team Neil like I was, do accept any commiserations and try drinking Berry’s Own Selection of 2009 Pauillac (chosen by the producer of the famous house of Lynch Bages). This is a well structured, lively – but not opulent! – wine priced at £19.95 per bottle that you can keep for a long length of time.

Maybe try drinking this Bordeaux wine while watching Leah and Luisa battle it out on Wednesday! If none of these wines take your fancy, feel free to ask me to come up with an alternative recommendation for you.

May the best candidate win … and please, no sour grapes.

 

 

2011 Rosé de Croûte-Mallard by Château Gros Moulin

Written by eleanor on March 12th, 2013

Vintage: 2011
Type: Rosé (100% Cabernet Sauvigon)
Country: France–Bordeaux–Cotes de Bourg

2013-03-09 15.19.06-2

This is a wine that was suggested to me by Les at the Villa St. Simon (Blaye) for my “Finding Value in Bordeaux” event at the London Business School on 8 MAR 2013. This particular event focused on the Right Bank of Bordeaux and it was a pleasure to start the evening with this bottle. It is a simple, easy-to-drink rose wine that the guests were pleased with.

(Apologies for the picture that I have uploaded. This particular bottle was placed in a bucket of ice and water for a long time, so the label began to peel off.)

Technical Review

Appearance
Clear, medium pink.

Nose
Clean, light aromas of strawberry and peach.

Palate

Dry, medium acidity, low tannin. Light bodied. Similar flavours to the aromas above. Medium length finish.

Conclusion

Good, ready to drink now (not intended for aging).

 

2009 Tres Hermanos (GSM) by Hart Family Winery

Written by eleanor on February 4th, 2013

Vintage: 2009
Type: GSM 62% Grenache, 23% Mourvèdre and 15% Syrah
Country: USA — California – Temecula Valley

2009 GSM Tres Hermanos by Hart

This is a “local wine” that I picked up at a specialist wine shop off Market Street in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego. The sales guy said that this was one of his favourites. Based on this recommendation, it came back to the hotel with me.

Technical Review

Appearance
Clear, deep garnet. (NB: lighting in the hotel was not ideal but I believe this wine was garnet in colour).

Nose
Clean, medium aromas of ripe plums with a herbacious note.

Palate
Dry, high acidity, medium body. Flavour characteristics of blackberry, raspberry and, again, that unidentified herbacious note.

Medium to Long finish.

Conclusion
Good. Can drink now but has potential for ageing. High price (USD$20+ per bottle).

 

2008 Merlot by Franciscan Estate Napa Valley

Written by eleanor on January 28th, 2013

Vintage: 2008
Type: Merlot
Country: USA — California — Napa Valley

2008 Merlot by Franciscan Estate in Napa Valley

This is a bottle  of wine I picked up at a local grocery store in San Diego. I paired it with leftover pizza but I think this wine deserves much more! It deserves to accompany a proper slow-cooked Sunday meal. It would certainly develop nicely in your glass over an evening of good conversation. This is a very good wine from Napa Valley that reminds me of some wines I have tasted on the Right Bank of Bordeaux.

Technical Review

Appearance
Clear, deep garnet.

Nose
Clean, pronounced aromas of cherry, ripe strawberry and plum. A subtle herbal note.

Palate
Dry, high acidity, light tannins, medium body. Medium alcohol.
Flavour characteristics similar to the nose but with a smooth vanilla feel. Long finish.

Conclusion
Very good with potential for ageing. High priced (approximately USD$20) per bottle.

 

2010 Pinot Noir by Ranch 32 Monterey County

Written by eleanor on January 21st, 2013

Vintage: 2010
Type: Pinot Noir
Country: USA — California — Monterey

2010 Pinot Noir by Ranch 32

I was recently in sunny, warm San Diego, where I was working in a conference hotel during the day and discovering the city at night. January evenings were surprisingly balmy, which allowed me to walk all around the Gaslamp Quarter looking for interesting restaurants and wine bars.

At the intersection of Market Street and 12th Avenue, you will find a new sushi and wine lounge called Infuzon. Open since mid-2012, this restaurant fuses the art of Japanese sushi rolls with the sophisticated (but relaxing!) atmosphere of a wine bar.

The owner of Infuzon recommended Ranch 32′s 2010 Pinot Noir to accompany his abundant selection of sushi rolls. Ranch 32 is considered a “local vineyard.”

NB: my Japanese boss from Austria always insisted that sushi is best accompanied by fruitier red wines … and he is always right.

This wine on its own might be viewed as weak and lacking in character; however, when specifically paired with Japanese sushi and sashimi, I think it really enhances the dining experience. It won’t be overbearing and drown out the subtle flavours of ginger, radish, avocado, etc. that is found in and beside sushi rolls.

Technical Review

Appearance

Clear, medium ruby.

Nose
Clean, medium aromas of sour cherries and non-specified, unripe dark-skinned berries.

Palate
Dry, medium acidity, low tannins, with light body.

Flavour characteristics of sour cherries and some floral hints.

Medium alcohol and medium length.

Conclusion
Good. Drink now; not meant for ageing. High-priced, especially if sourcing from outside the USA.

 

Berry Bros. & Rudd Extra Ordinary Red Burgundy 2009

Written by eleanor on June 5th, 2012

Vintage: 2009
Type: Pinot Noir
Country: France – Burgundy


Hosted on Fotki

Berry’s team of experts were behind this beautiful Pinot Noir from the Bourgogne. Berry’s website describes this wine as intense, perfumed and pretty. I would agree. Save this bottle for a nicer meal at home, for example, when serving a rotisserie chicken with dressed vegetables. When I drink this wine, I can imagine myself dining al fresco on a tiled patio of a Chateau, overlooking the rolling hills covered in vineyards. It’s a lovely wine.

Technical Review

Appearance
Clear, light Ruby.

Nose
Clean, with aroma characteristics of raspberry and vanilla.

Palate
High acidity, with flavour characteristics of raspberry, strawberry and cherry. Light body, light tannins but a long finish.

Conclusion
Outstanding

 

Brancott Vineyards Pinot Noir Terraces 2009

Written by eleanor on May 25th, 2012

Vintage: 2009
Type: Pinot Noir
Country: New Zealand – Marlborough

This is another wine that I sampled at the Tesco Wine Fair 2011 and I just had to buy a case. At first sip, I fell in love with the Burgundy-style wine. This is Brancott’s 7th iteration off this flagship T wine (its predecessor won several Silver medals at international competitions) and it does not disappoint. Enjoy this wine with a rich meal, like a creamy mushroom risotto with venison sausages. That would be excellent!

Technical Review

Appearance
Clear, deep Garnet.

Nose

Clean, pronounced aromas of cherry, vanilla and spice. Some plummy notes.

Palate

Medium-high acidity. Light tannins. Medium body. Flavour characteristics of ripe cherries and hints of mocha.

Conclusion
Very Good.

 

Berry Bros. & Rudd Berry’s Own Selection Pomerol 2009

Written by neal on May 10th, 2012

Vintage: 2009
Type: Red Bordeaux Blend
Country: France – Bordeaux – Pomerol – Château Feytit-Clinet

Another excellent wine Berry’s. The Pomerol is full of blackberries and dark fruit with a full body and excellent finish.  Good value for money and will age well for a few more years.

Technical Review

Appearance
Deep purple

Nose
Clean, pronounced notes of blackberries, black fruits a bit of plum and spice

Palate
Dry, medium acidity, high tannins, full body with lots of black fruit and a bit of oak.  Medium finish

Conclusion
Very good especially for the price point