I do apologise for this slightly self-indulgent post but if you can’t treat yourself in your birthday week then when can you? It also makes getting another year older a bit more fun!
Deciding what to drink over the weekend (starting on Thursday – the actual birthday) was always going to be fun, challenging and frustrating. Fun because I was going to open a couple of real good ‘uns, challenging because there is just so much choice, frustrating because I wouldn’t be able to open (or afford!) everything I wanted.
I set my sights on two whites and two reds. There was absolutely no decision to make on red number one, which came from one of my favourite winemakers in my very favourite appellation; a Volnay from Domaine de Montille. I bought a few of these from The Wine Society a few months back so that one was sorted.
Domaine de Montille Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds 2004 (The Wine Society £49.00)
Red currant, wild strawberry and ripe cherries scream up the nostrils, with earthy and leathery backnotes – quite butch for a Volnay, but what I expect from my favourite vineyard in the appellation. Big tannins upfront but they dissolve as the exhilarating acidity comes through. Lots of rich, wild red fruit and loads of earthy depth and what a finish; long, balanced and plenty of years ahead. Right, where’s the Wine Society’s number?? 95 points
For red number two I to set my sights a bit further afield. I considered a d’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz after the recent fabulous tasting I attended, along with a couple of big Cabernets from South Africa. But in the end found an old friend from California lurking on a low shelf (bought from The Wine Society but not available right now). Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel (renamed Esprit de Tablas since the 2011 vintage) is the flagship wine of a joint venture between American vintner Robert Haas and the Perrin family of the famous Château de Baeucastel in Chateuneuf-du-Pape. The vines are cuttings from the famous Rhone vineyards and the wine first came to my attention at a Berry Bros tasting some 18 months ago.
Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel 2004 (2006 available at Fine & Rare £26.40)
A wine with sweetness written all over it. The nose is mainly red fruits with just a hint of blackcurrant along with the autumnal hedgerow herbs I expect from the southern Rhone and some wonderfully developed smoke. The texture is rich, velvety and smooth. On the palate the fruit is darker with a hint of juicy red currants. The dried herbs and gentle black pepper combine beautifully with fresh acidity and very soft tannins. I would be convinced this came from the Rhone and not California if had been served blind. Excellent drop. 93 points
The whites were a bit more challenging. I looked through my current stocks and just wasn’t inspired. Most of my white Burgundy is a few years short of being ready to drink and I seemed to be all out of Riesling (shock horror!) – I thought I had a bottle of Grosset Polish Hill but alas no! Fortunately for me The Fish gave me a voucher for Roberson so I popped in on my way home from work on Friday and picked out a couple of beauties.
The order of the day was Riesling and Chardonnay. For both decisions I had a tough time weighing up New vs. Old World. With the Riesling I was stuck between the German majesty of JJ Prum and the Kiwi vivaciousness of Pegasus Bay. I am not a totally selfish bugger so I went with the German, as this is one of The Fish’s favourite wines after she tagged along to a tasting earlier this year.
JJ Prum Riesling Kabinett 2010 (Roberson £19.95)
Citrus central – limes and even a hint of pineapple, with undertones of slate and just a whiff of petrol. Sun-drenched fruit on the palate with ripe red apples, limes and just a touch of the tropics. Off-dry with magnificent acidity and just plain fruity, juicy and damn enjoyable. 92 points
The Chardonnay choice became a Burgundy vs. New Zealand toss up; mainly due to the wonderful Felton Road Chard I tried at Roberson recently. But I knew deep down that it was Burgundy I wanted so I bought the Felton Road anyway for future enjoyment! I like common threads between wines so when I came across a Meursault from the de Montille stable it just had to be done. Deux Montille is a negotiant business set up by Domain de Montille where white grapes are bought in from some of the Cote de Beaune’s best sites and the wine is made by Alix, daughter of Hubert de Montille and sister to Etienne, who now runs the business and is the chief red winemaker.
Deux Montille Meursault 1er Cru Bouchères 2007 (Roberson £44.95)
Beautiful deep almost golden colour. It doesn’t give an awful lot away on the nose at first but there is some subtle citrus and a hint of that wonderful hot buttered toast. Quite delicate for a Meursault but there’s a touch of delicious fatness which is balanced by lazer guided acidity. Lots of citrus starting with lemon than grapefruit, all underpinned by the toastiness of the village and just enough oak. 92 points
Suffice to say I was pleased with my choices and even more pleased with how well they all tasted. Roll on September 19th 2014!