Georgia 1 Switzerland 4
It’s not every day you get to taste Georgian and Swiss wines on the night that Thierry Henry single-handedly denied Ireland a place in the 2010 World Cup finals.
But then, over the years we’ve learned to roll with things, so we took it all in our stride.
There wasn’t any particular design behind it (the tasting, that is) – just that we had been kindly sent some samples and were keen to try them. So we did it together. For a bit of fun.
(We don’t get out much.)
The upshot was that, sadly, the Georgians were not on top form. (Two bombed out due to being out of condition, which left two. The medium sweet red from Marani I struggled with but Susie was more generous, deeming it “fun” and imagining it with her classic match of fruit cake and Wensleydale. Which left one red – more of which anon.)
But at least we got to brush up on our Cyrillic script. And we learnt that there is a grape variety in this world called Aleksandrouli. Which, when you say it quick enough, sounds quite funny.
By contrast, the Swiss wines were thoroughly intriguing. Weinbau Cicero Mattmann is now firmly on our vinous map, with some decent Chardonnay and even better Pinot Noirs. The only real disappointment from this stable was the Pinot Rhein 2007, which seemed somewhat homogenised and lacking the grip and thrill of the other Pinots. “A bit safe” was how Susie put it.
We might not get out as much as we should, but we darn-well don’t do “safe” in this household when it comes to wine.
Mattmann, Churer Rheintal AOC, Chardonnay 2008, Cicero Weinbau AG, 13.5% – buttery, upfront oaky nose. Almost New World in its lactic sweetness. Pleasant viscosity. Creamy leesy flavours. OK balancing acid – correct, not vibrant. Aggressively buttery and leesy. Lacks that elusive savoury edge such heavily oaked Chardonnay needs. A good, impressive wine, but ultimately lacks charm. Susie says it’s an Old World/New World cross, ambitious and stylish but a bit “made”. Quite. 6.5/10
Der Mattmann Churer Rheintal Pinot Noir 2004, 14% – Elegant sappy creamy red fruit nose. Quite Burgundian and leafy. But with hints of riper, darker fruit a la Oregon or Otago. Palate is smooth, sappy, vivid and liquid. Crisp red fruit, elegant sappy wood smoke depth. Crisp acidity. Lovely red fruit core. Finish is warming but balanced. Lovely stuff! Beautifully bittersweet. Fine tannin. Touch of feral meatiness on the finish. Just lacks the depth and layers of the best Pinot. But it’s impressive. A Burgundian nose with an Otago palate. And it went on to win best on show with my sausages and baked potato. For Susie, there’s slightly too much oak and extraction, but it’s another intriguing OW/NW blend. 7-7.5/10
Mattmann Churer Rheintal Pinot Noir 2007, 13.5% – very pale ruby. Toasty sappy leafy red fruit. Young. Quite inviting, classic. Hint of earth and meat. Palate is zippy red fresh fruit. Juicy. Balanced, quite light but rounded and persistent. Lighter style, and it works. More classic Burgundian mould: Hautes Cotes style. Very good. 6.5/10
Der Mattmann Churer Rheintal Pinot Noir 2007, 13.5% – very pale ruby. Nose is minty and slightly resinous, which I find off-putting. Seems lean and oily. But the palate is more dense than the previous 07: good brambly bittersweet fruit, with spice and roundness. Savoury. Needs time to open up – give it one or two years yet. But bodes well. Good balance and density. 7/10
Orovela Saperavi 2004, 12.5% – the Georgian wine that I’ve most commonly come across, from the country’s foremost red variety. Coffee and leafy red and black fruit nose, a bit like a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Oaky. Soy hints. Dried fruit. Palate is dry, firm and round, with grainy tannin and a certain austerity. Finish is drying but relatively well judged. Needs food. But the tannin, while there’s lots of it, is at least fine. Sound. Stolid wine. Bit woody. And it probably won’t soften much further. Clever winemaking, but ultimately a bit of an odd combo of big body and lots of tannin but light in alcohol (not that I’m complaining about that last part). Susie doesn’t like it. “Interesting but not pleasant” is how she sums it up. And she certainly didn’t agree with my score, which is: 5.5/10