River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Odd, Ends & Things The Kindness Of Friends....

March 2007

Gile provides his monthly light hearted canter around the winery's.

Hallo! And welcome to another instalment of wine related Tom-foolery. At the outset I feel I should apologise for what is to come as, as you will see, it gives new definition to the word 'random', but in common with the weather and of greater day to day significance, the wine trade at large, this is the time of neither one thing nor the other. But enough of such musing, time to get on with the boozing and lets start with the odd...

Odd. My first wine is certainly that. For a start it's a white Corbieres (a strange fruit indeed, as white wines account for only about ten percent of the appellation's production, with that number falling fast) and secondly its really rather good. My surprise that this wine is of even vague drinkability is due to it being made of 100% Grenache Blanc - a varietal that usually holds the interest of drying paint. In this instance though this workhorse grape has given a wine of genuine character and, if not style, then certainly purpose. From its rich, tropical fruit and honey nose to its weighty, luxurious palate, this is an easy going, if slightly lumbering wine. There are tones of peaches, pears and melons delivered with customarily low acidity and plenty of oomph. Not a wine that will take too food all that well, its naturally low acidity making food matching tricky, it does however make a cracking aperitif or even sipper. Oh, by the by, it's the Reserve de Comte Corbieres Blanc 2005 (Tesco £3.99 (half-price offer - but there is no way this is an £8 wine!)

The charming phrase 'bin-end' is often much in evidence at this time of year. It's a term whose etymology comes from the halcyon days when wines were stored in concrete bins in impressive subterranean cellars. In these days of yore, merchants would often group together these odd bottles to make room for new stock and sell them at a discount. These days though it is has been corrupted into a marketing term that sounds somewhat more charming than 'discontinued' or even more pertinently 'we bought too much of this and now we need to get rid!' One such wine is the 2005 Rawnley Shiraz-Viognier (widely available, but £4.99 (half-price Tesco) Interesting wine this, not least that the Australians, in common with the South Africans and Americans, have hit upon the idea of blending a white wine into a red, the French having been doing it since the venerable Bede was in still taking creative writing lessons. This fine fellow of a wine follows the model of the northern Rhone wine of Cote Rotie in that it seeks to add softness, roundedness and an extra degree of weight to the mighty Syrah (Shraz) through the addition of the creamy Viognier. To this end they had done a rather fine job. The Shiraz/Viognier is more fragrant, complex and diverting than their straight Shiraz, which is prone to, as is the grape, to rather one dimensional. This is a big, powerful wine with good red and black berry fruit, touches of vanilla and an intriguing not of feminine sweetness. Perfect with roast beef or new spring lamb, it is a wine that needs food to deal with its admirable power.

No column by me would be complete without some mention of Spain (the country at the moment as far as the trade is concerned) and what could be better than a great value, seriously well made Rioja? Well if that tickles your fancy then look no further than the Marques de Grignon 2005 (widely available £6.99) Grignon have long been a producer of good to very good wines who have managed to resist the temptation to ratchet up their prices unlike many in the region. Produces of modern, yet characterful wines, the 2005 reflects the quality of the vintage and delivers fresh tasting red and black currants with a generous undercurrent of vanilla, cranberries and spices. Still a babe in bottle, this will drink well for the next two-three years, though if you are looking to stash some, then I'd wait a few months for the reserva which will give you a much greater reward.

Last and by every means last, a little something for special occasion (or in my case when a chum brought a pair round when he came to supper!) It's the Chateau Talbot (pronounced the English way, he was the Earl of Shrewsbury) 2003 (£25 FRW.co.uk) I have had an affair of the heart with this wine since my student days and each time I encounter it I am left with the impression that fine wine can represent value for money. OK, £300 for a case of wine is not cheap, but when you consider that this is a wine that will live for 50 years and for each of those years offer a superlative drinking experience, then to my mind it is something that every wine lover should consider. Afterall, how many times have you spent more on a bottle of Champagne only to be disappointed? Anyway, back to the wine. Still a youngster, the 2003 delivers a gloriously complex bouquet of truffles, blackcurrants, vanilla and woodsmoke. In the mouth its velvety with a richness of smoked salmon and a harmonious balance of fruit and acidity that is to a claret lover sheer bliss. The finish is long, evolving and touched with highlights of raspberries and strawberries. Ah, oh for another bottle....

Well, more, slightly more coherent ramblings soon!


Giles Luckett

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