What we’re tasting

(by peter)

Over the last week or so, Susie and I have been working our way through some samples we’ve kindly been sent recently.

Some went straight down the sink (a carbon crime, I know, as well as egregious wastage that we find thoroughly distasteful, but until we find some decent way of recycling such evil wine – and any ideas very welcome on that point – that’s the way it’ll be).

Some went to the neighbours (and, before you ask, yes we do like them, and thus this reflects very well on the wines).

And some we rated highly enough to road test with whatever we happened to be eating.

And that, in essence, is a pretty good way of reflecting how we felt about the wines. So without more ado…

M de Murviedro rosé 2008, Valencia, 12% (£5.48, Asda) – vibrant ruby hue. It’s bright and fresh to the smell, with lots of fresh cherry fruit. The palate is juicy, fruity and fresh, with a pleasing succulence. Classic warm-climate Spanish rosé. Muy rico. The neighbours will love it. 3+/10

Storie di Vite Pinot Grigio Trentino 2008, LaVis, 12.5% (£7.11 by the case, Waitrose) – this is a step up from your average mind-numbingly bland PinoG. And so it should be for the price (if it were a pound or two cheaper, it would be fantastic). Aromas include pear drop, wool and herbs. To the taste it’s clean, crisp and fairly persistent, with a bit more concentration than the basic stuff. Smoky edge and grassy notes. It’s a modern style with a nod to Trentino terroir and works well enough. One for the neighbours. 4/10

Natureo Free Muscat 2008, Torres, 0.5% – seasonally relevant given its almost alcohol-free status (made by removing the alcohol after fermentation). And a difficult one to rate, really. What to compare it to? We thought it’s only fair to compare it, not to other wines, but to cordials and other low-alcohol drinks out there (of which we have, surprisingly, quite broad experience). And in this context it’s OK. It smells of fresh grapes and herbs, also a bit lime cordial. The acidity is a bit sour (fruit picked too early?) and the sweetness a bit cloying. Altogether a bit palate scouring. But it’s drinkable. Susie, uncharitably but accurately, describes the taste as a mix of bubble bath, rhubarb and watered down elderflower cordial. Bizarre but refreshing is her conclusion. We hang on to this one for further scrutiny (a good sign). 2/10

La Différence Viognier-Muscat 2008, Vin de Pays d’Oc, 13% (£5.79, Asda, Morrisons, Tesco) – an increasingly reliable brand, this. Nose shows grape and sherbert aromas with lime and rose petal hints. The palate is succulent and pleasantly scented, with nice juicy flavours and a dry finish. Simple but effective – ideal for spicy dishes. I’ve used it before on Saturday Kitchen and I’ll use it again – great value. 5.5/10

Analivia Rueda Verdejo 2008, Pagos del Rey, 13% – impressive packaging (see photo). Nose is more expressive than your average Verdejo – tangy, sweaty blackcurrant bud tones with herbal and citrus hints. Some tropical fruit too. On the palate it’s full of gooseberry and pear juice, with pleasant herbal and vegetal flavours. Crisp, crunchy but also quite rich without being overwhelming. Blaanced, persistent. Very good Verdejo. Smart stuff. Goes creditably well with chicken laksa (and the bottle’s finished). 6/10

CVNE Rioja Rosado Tempranillo 2007, 14% – we wondered if this might be a bit old and tired but no: very much alive and with a pleasant hint of maturity. Some Rioja rosés really are very well made and serious. This one is crisp, well structured and elegant, albeit a tiny bit alcoholic. Very good though. The neighbours welcomed it with open arms. 4/10

Castillo Perelada Brut Rosado Cava 11.5% (£8.99, Stevens Garnier) – this blend of Trepat, Monastrell and Pinot was aged for 12 months and it’s a very decent style of pink (actually nearer ruby) Cava. Red fruits and herbal/straw notes lead into a frothy, fine palate that’s clean, juicy and refreshing. Quite lightweight but balanced in its style, refreshing, works fine. A good producer. 5.5/10

Altano 2005 Douro DOC, 13% (the 2006 is £5.99 at Waitrose) – a surprise, this one. A bottle we’d had a bit too long but we needed a winter warmer to go with our roast chicken and halloumi salad and this, the fourth bottle we opened, was lovely (we weren’t thirsty – the other three were particularly bad). Elegant oily and cedary notes, good red fruit. Palate is balanced and crunchy with a bit of leathery age. Mid-weight and very drinkable. On current form, we’re loving Portuguese wines of all colours. A keeper. 6/10

La Châsse du Pâpe Shiraz-Grenache 2007, Vin de Pays de Vaucluse, 13% – this widely available brand shows it can do wines that have a sense of place. This one tastes like a decent southern Rhône style, with spicy warming fruit and a hint of sausage and black pepper. It’s not just a sweet-fruited sugar bomb, which is always good for a big brand. Decent stuff. Worth trying again. 4.5/10

La Différence Carignan 2008, Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes, 12.5% (£5.79, Asda, Co-op, Tesco) – superior to the Grenache in this range, the Carignan delivers lovely savoury easy-doing drinking with an agreeably rustic edge. Aromas include jam, wild berries and a hint of flowers. On the palate it’s juicy and refreshing, with a decent nip of tannin. Very quaffable. 4.5/10

Tahbilk Marsanne 2007, Nagambie Lakes, Central Victoria, 12.5% (£8.99-9.99, Sainsburys, Wine Society, Philglass & Swiggott) – Susie used this one on Saturday Kitchen to pair with Galton Blackiston’s cod in beurre bland with roasted winter veg. Delicious. Honeysuckle, apple rind aromas lead into a subtle and rewarding palate of creamy apples and almonds. Lovely. A drinker. 7/10

Tim Adams Semillon 2007, Clare Valley, 13% (£9.99, Tesco) – this one divided the family. Susie thought it a bit too oaky; I loved the oak and thought it will mellow with time. The nose is full of toasted nuts, grapefruit and waxed lemons. An extrovert style, almost a white Bordeaux style, smoky and oily. Mouth-coating texture on the palate with elegantly toasty oak, broad golden silky feel. Balanced acid, all nicely integrated, very different from your classic early-picked Hunter style. This one’s more generous and voluptuous. Could leave it 2-4 years in the cellar. This one’s got Peter’s name on it in the fridge. 7/10