Thursday, 10 March 2016

Spring Newsletter

In this newsletter:
Wines chosen from a recent wine tasting – to spit or not to spit?
An evening in Italy by way of Newton-in-Bowland – The wines of Montresor
Malts of the Month and other whisky offers
Gin of the Month
Current Seasonal Case offers.


To spit or not to spit?

So, exactly what do we do when we attend large trade portfolio tastings where there might be several thousand wines to sample? Firstly we go in with a plan. Are there new wines we need to familiarise ourselves with? Are there new vintages we need to check out? Finally, are there new producers we need to meet? The later always being a joy.

What equipment do you need when faced with a room dripping (literally) with bottles from all over the world? First, and most important of all you need the ability to spit and the willpower to do so. As a fledgling taster you might think “oh, I’ll only taste a few, I don’t need to spit”, big mistake, a large tasting quickly robs you of your ability to count how many samples you have made. Also, with so many wines to discover, not spitting will radically reduce your options, and will you remember wine one when you have got to wine fifty five? I’m not going to teach you to spit in this newsletter, but do practice in the privacy of your own home, preferably whilst wearing a tie or scarf/necklace, just to make it an extra challenge!

Don’t get me started on the rather fetching purple teeth and tongue a wine tasting leaves you with.

Philip (champion spitter) and Judith (fledgling spitter) recently attended a portfolio tasting of over a thousand wines in The Point at Lancashire’s Cricket Ground, Old Trafford. This is a fantastic venue with a wonderful feeling of space that the architectural cube provides, made all the more stunning by the view from the wall of windows overlooking the ground itself. Needless to say we made the journey there by train and tram.




Any of the wines and spirits you see in this newsletter can be ordered by ringing us on 01200 423152 or 01200 422281 – please don’t order by email.


We started the day by reassessing the wines offered in our everyday range, wines for drinking any time of the week, with or without food, the happy sorts of wines you might keep handy for whenever you just fancy a glass.


Cape Heights Chenin Blanc - South Africa £4.99
This is packed full of juicy fruit and nice balancing acidity, it displays classic baked apple and zippy citrus aromas, Philip was really impressed by this one.

Les Oliviers Chardonnay Pays de Cotes de Gascogne - France £5.69
A recent addition and what a find! Racy acidity with a smooth and refined freshness, soft ripe fruit flavours on the palate finishes with a twist of melon.

False Bay Sauvignon Blanc - South Africa £5.99
Fresh and zesty with grassy notes, it has a palate with lots of minerality and citrus fruit. A very classy wine indeed.

Les Volets Malbec, Pays de la Haute Valle de la Aude - France £5.99
Vibrant garnet hues gleam out of the glass and invite one to explore further, extremely fine red fruit flavours fill the mouth, raspberries and chocolate and smooth silky tannins.

La Chapelle de Marin Cotes du Rhone, Patrice Armand – France £5.99
One of our past Reds of the Year. What a brilliant wine! This has now come down in price and is an absolute steal – rich, soft and packed full of fruit.

Domaine Mas Bahourat Merlot Pays d’Oc – France £5.99
Smooth ripe and seriously good. With flavours of prunes and a touch of herbiness mingled with pepper and spice.  

The following wines from New Zealand really caught our attention.
We now have the Crowded House & Catalina Sounds back in stock.


Sileni Selection Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough £7.49
Packed full of juicy gooseberry fruit, rich and elegant with a crisp zingy finish.

Crowded House Sauvignon, Marlborough £8.19
Pungent and full flavoured, a real mouthful. An abundance of natural acidity shot through with freshly cut limes.

Catalina Sounds Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough £9.99
Soft and approachable with citrus and white stone fruit, elements of crushed sweet herbs and floral notes.

Fromm La Strada Sauvignon Blanc, Marlbourgh £10.39
Vibrant and up front, brimming with crisp aromatic joy. Simply one of the top New Zealand producers.

Maude ‘Mount Maude’ East Block Riesling, Central Otega £12.59
Crisp with nice tart acidity and rich minerality, a vibrant nose filled with aromas of juicy ripe apple, lime leaf and orange peel, off dry in style, a wine with beautiful purity.

Maude Pinot Gris, Central Otago £12.59
Complex, exotic, smooth-textured Pinot Gris. Dry in style with a lovely persistence and balance.

Cloud Factory Pinot Noir, Marlborough £8.99
Cranberry and red currant aromas give a wine with enough bite and texture to be foody, but with great generosity of fruit to be enjoyed by the glass.

Jealous Sisters Pinot Noir, Wairarapa £10.39
Hugely lifted wild strawberry nose that follows through on the full earthy palate, this immensely drinkable Pinot Noir demands a second bottle.

Nanny Goat Pinot Noir, Central Otago £13.89
Fine elegant and beautifully understated. 

Super Nanny Pinot Noir Central Otago £16.59
Vibrant, rich with seductive soft tannins, packed full of savoury red fruit, soft elegant and classy, what more could you want?

Some young Punks epitomise the best of Australia
(Voted Australia’s Young Gun Winemaker of the Year)

Some Young Punks ‘Passion Has Red Lips’ Cabernet, Shiraz McLaren Vale £10.29
A rich mouthful of lip smacking Cabernet/Shiraz. An electrifying vibrant nose of ripe red cherry, cranberry, black fruit, aromatic smoke, vanilla and violets leads to a concentrated palate of sour cherries, and more savoury flavours, a precise and astute wine with plenty of appeal.

Some Young Punks ‘Naked on Roller Skates’ Shiraz, Mataro, Mclaren Vale £10.29
Expressive notes of musk, violets and savoury meatiness. The palate is dense with black fruit, and a little quince and juniper spice.


Cline cellars are a family-owned vineyard and winery in the beautiful Carneros region of Sonoma County, California. We can announce that after a short absence we now have their wines back on our shelves and at very competitive prices.

Cline North Coast Viognier £9.29 
A classic Cline Viognier. A rich, perfumed varietal, this wine has pineapple, peach, and apricot flavours with accents of floral and citrus notes. This has a very pure Viognier fruit character.

Cline Cellars Lodi Zinfandel £8.69  
Hints of both black cherry and strawberry, additional spice notes and with a lasting finish of vanilla oak ageing that add complexity to this wine.

Cline Cellars Nancy’s Vines Zinfandel £13.49 
Wonderful, fat strawberry with coffee chocolate character, ripe fruit and soft tannins make this a mouth-coating rich wine.

Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Mourvedre £13.49
Distinct and luscious. Flavours of dark plum and chocolate lead to a hint of oak and a smooth finish. A blockbuster of a wine, not for the feint hearted.

Cline Cellars Live Oak Zinfandel £17.99
Concentrated flavours of sweet red berries roasted coffee and liquorice, well balanced with good silky tannins and firm acidity. A big wine with elegance and charm


New wines added to the shelves
These are some of the new wines from the tasting that really impressed us.

Chateau Pinet la Roquette ‘Cuvee les Arpeges’ Blaye, Cotes de Bordeaux £7.69
Just what you want from a lesser Bordeaux, juicy fruit, nice complex structure, long length, and hints of spice. This would be great with beef dishes.

Sentiers de Bagatelle Cuvee Donnadieu Rouge, Saint Chinian £10.69
Wow what a find! Very long and fragrant on the nose, complex with fine tannins, soft red fruit with hints of black pepper and sweet spice, multi layered the flavour goes on and on. Brilliant!

Madai Oregen Mencia Bierzo, Spain £9.29
Bright red fruit with strong savoury flavour, nice structure with good balancing acidity, dark and brooding, a big beast of a wine.

Murviedro Bobal Cepas Viejas, Valencia, Spain £8.59
Aromas of forest fruit, together with notes of toffee and vanilla, the palate is complex and structured, with more blackberry and plum characters, smooth tannins, a touch of mocha and a long finish.

Tridente Prieto Picudo Castilla, Leon, Spain £16.99
Powerful blackcurrant and tomato stalk scented, with sweet savoury notes on the palate fine balanced tannins, the fruit is concentrated and intense … again black fruit textured, multi layered and extremely complex.

Domaine Feuillat-Juillot Montagny 1er Cru Les Jardines, Burgundy, France £15.99
This is how good white Burgundy should be, fat multi-dimensional with a blissful mouthfeel, great length, nice balancing tart acidity and freshness avail, we could happily drink this all day long.

Satinato and Soprano.
A special dinner with Giacomo Montresor.

On Saturday evening we enjoyed another joyful and hugely successful winemaker dinner at The Parkers Arms in Newton, our special guest for the evening was Vittoria Sassi from the Montresor Winery in Veneto. Giacomo Montresor are a long established Veronese family company, headed by Giorgio Montresor, they produce wines which increasingly rival the offerings of the region's more fashionable names. The estate wines, from 100 ha of vineyards in Valpolicella and Garda, offer remarkable value for money, particularly the Capitel della Crosara vineyard near Negrar which produces fine, richly-flavoured Ripasso and a generous, classically-styled Amarone with great concentration and texture. 
We chose a selection of six wines that best represented the estate, and head chef Stosie matched the wines with a superb menu inspired by typical ingredients from the Veneto.

The evening started in fine fashion with a selection of canap├ęs accompanied by the… Montresor Rose Royal Sparkling Pinot Noir £8.99
This wine really epitomises the sort of quality/value for money to be had right across the Montresor range, and guests were blown away by the concentration, fresh fruitiness and sheer drinkability of this unbelievably reasonable fizz.   
A delicate pale pink colour, with lifted aromas of flower blossom, ripe apples and cherries. The palate is rich and winey with very soft red fruits leading to an elegant and lengthy finish. Quite a number of guests compared the quality of this wine to a ‘reasonably famous’ Rose Champagne which is at least £40 a bottle more expensive. High praise indeed for a humble fizz from the Veneto. 

For the starter plate we enjoyed a light and tasty duck terrine with pickles and this was paired with the two classic white wines of the Veneto: 
2014 Montresor Soave Classico £6.99
I would openly admit that value priced offerings from Soave are not the sort of bottles that I would normally seek out for a point of interest or pleasure, but this wine had many of us stumped. There are some truly fabulous wines to be had from the Soave and even the most expensive wines offer incredible value for money, so it turned out to be no real surprise that this very well made example was exactly that. 
Made from 100% Garganega grapes, this is fresh and lightly fruity with delicate floral aromas of honeysuckle, elderflower and a hint of spice. Crisp and refreshing on the palate with good depth of lemony fruit, lively acidity and a dry, lightly nutty finish. 
2014 Montresor Lugana Campo Valentino £9.59
This wine has been one of our most popular Italian whites for a number of years and the 2014 vintage is a classic.
  Made from 100% Turbiana this is a subtle and restrained white with delicate stone fruit and lightly nutty aromas. The palate is textural with more nutty characters and good concentration, all beautifully balanced by peachy fruit, a dash of lime, and taut acidity on the finish. 
Both of these white wines are perfectly in tune with the current trend for clean and fruity flavours, nothing to rich or serious just light, honest and dangerously drinkable. Try some.

And on to the main event, a main course of Gallina Ubriaca (drunken chicken). This is a very tasty dish that is similar to coq au vin and it was the perfect foil for our next pairing of wines.
These are the classic red wines of the Valpolicella region and made from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes.  
2013 Montresor Capitel della Crosara Valpolicella Ripasso £11.99
Unsurprisingly Vittoria informed me that this is the most popular wine in the Montresor portfolio with listings as far flung as Vietnam and Sweeden. The Ripasso name is such that it has become more of an internationally recognisable brand that is synonymous with quality rather than a style of winemaking.
Intense aromas of fresh morello cherry and ripe plum give an attractive first impression. The palate has bright crunchy cherry fruit with spicy vanilla notes and the classic bitter cherry finish typical of Ripasso. This is a very appealing wine from the single vineyard ‘Capitel della Crosara’ that offers beautifully fresh fruit and silky smooth, spicy tannins.
2013 Montresor Amarone della Valpolicella Classico ‘Satinato’ £22.99
Few wine lovers can resist the sort of thought provoking hedonism brought on by the words Amarone della Valpolicella, and tonight we would enjoy two of these great wines.
The first Amarone was the ‘Satinato’ which refers to the distinctive black frosted bottle, this is a more modern and approachable wine but no less delicious.
Hints of coffee and chocolate on the nose with ripe crushed berry, bitter cherry and sweet plummy fruit on the palate, this is backed by notes of bitter chocolate. Rich and warming yet fresh and well-balanced, with supple tannins and a rich texture.

A simple cheese course then followed, and this was always going to be a match made in heaven with a ripe and pruny Amarone.
2012 Montresor Amarone della Valpolicella Classico del Fondatore £25.99
A complex nose showing notes of black cherry, plum, violets, coffee and raisins. The palate is smooth and rounded, with a richly-textured mid-palate and a medley of spice, dried fruit characters and supple tannins. The wine remains elegant, being so beautifully integrated and sweetly rich, but with a long and complex, dry finish. A truly great Amarone that offers real value for money in the region.

To finish we enjoyed a perfectly executed panna cotta and as Montresor do not import a sweet wine into the UK we finished with….
2012 Il Cascinone ‘Palazzina’ Moscato Passito £5.99
This is a delicate and floral Moscato from Piemonte that is absolutely gorgeous paired with lighter pud’s such as panna cotta.     
A nose of intense lemon curd, marmalade, and citrus peel with lightly floral notes. The palate has lots of ripe apricot and acacia honey characters with honeyed sweetness, well-balanced by a citrus zest bite on the lingering finish.


And thus ended another glorious winemaker dinner, a splendid evening filled with fun and far too much fine wine………oh and an unexpected surprise. Unbeknown to us prior to the dinner, Vittoria our lovely and larger than life special guest was a bit of a star. Following the introduction of each wine Vittoria would burst into song. In an operatic and almost tuneful soprano she belted out renditions of Nessun Dorma and several other Opera stalwarts including that very famous Dean Martin classic ‘Volare’, such is the joy of Amarone.
As Vittoria says “Wine is music in a bottle!”
   
Malts of the Month

GLENFARCLAS 10 Year Old, Speyside Single Malt £29.59
Delicately light, with a mouth-watering combination of maltiness, smokiness and sherry sweetness. Hints of dried fruit, vanilla, cinnamon and cloves tempt the taste buds further. Long smooth and spicy finish, with a delicious, yet delicate, lingering smokiness.
GLENFARCLAS 15 Year Old, Speyside Single Malt £43.29
Full bodied with super balance of sherried sweetness, malty tones and peaty flavours. Long lasting finish, glorious sherry notes, sweet, gently smoky and distinguished. With greater complexity than the 10 year old, this is a great whisky drinker's whisky.

Other Whisky Offers

AUCHENTOSHAN American Oak, Lowland Single Malt £26.99
Chocolate coconut, citrus peels and peaches. A little bit buttery, with golden barley and oak spice developing on the mid palate. Lasting notes of grapefruit and toffee.
THE ARDMORE Legacy, Lightly Peated Highland £26.99
Light, silky peat-smoke and creamy vanilla, balanced with sweet honey and spice.
HIGHLAND PARK 12 Year Old, Orkney Single Malt £28.99
A uniquely smooth, balanced single malt, with a rich full flavour and a gentle smoky finish.
LAPHROAIG 10 Year Old, Islay Single Malt £33.59
Bold smoky taste, followed by a hint of seaweed and surprising sweetness. This full-bodied variant is the foundation of all Laphroaigs expressions and comes with a long finish.
GLENROTHES Vintage Reserve, Speyside Single Malt £33.99
Red berries and nutty, light fruit cake, apple skin and creamy caramel. A light and easy-drinking introduction to the distillery’s range.
MACALLAN Gold, Speyside Single Malt £33.99
Citrus and boiled sweets rule the palate, along with hints of ginger and cinnamon, while soft oak tones reveal toasted apples. The finish is medium-sweet, malty and slightly dry. 

Gin of the Month

WHITTAKER'S Small Batch Distilled, Harrogate £31.99
Whittaker's Gin (Harrogate Distillery Ltd) is a family business run from Harewell House Farm in the heart of Nidderdale in North Yorkshire. They are passionate about Yorkshire and where they live and about their amazing local produce which they are so proud to be part of.
Their aim is to produce an artisan small batch, handcrafted spirit which reflects the Yorkshire countryside in a bottle. Predominantly Juniper mixed with Coriander and Angelica Root. Bilberries bring sharpness, complementing the Juniper berries keeping the gin character intact. Hawthorne berries, which grow on the beautiful hardy trees and hedgerows throughout the countryside, bring background sweetness. Bog Myrtle grows on the stunning Yorkshire moors and has a spicy aroma and tastes both bitter and balsamic at the same time (rich like vanilla). Just before distilling, citrus and delicate thyme are added to their gin basket, giving it a fresh yet savoury flavour.

If you want to browse one of the largest ranges of gin anywhere in the country, check out our website:
http://www.dbyrne-finewines.co.uk/spirits/gin
Any of these gins can be added to your order.


Seasonal Cases
All of our current seasonal case offers can be found on our website:
http://www.dbyrne-finewines.co.uk/wine/seasonal-case


For orders or enquiries about any of the cases or wines in this newsletter, please contact us by phone at the shop on 01200 423152 or 01200 422281, thank you.


If you tweet, tweet with us here:
@dbyrnefinewines