Red BBC1

The Overton BBC (bring a bottle club) has a cheerfully random air about it.  This is particularly the case with ‘BBC1’. As the idea is to taste the wines blind, there is no plan about who will bring what.  Usually this works absolutely fine and often some fascinating themes emerge.  By chance three people will bring bottles from a single Burgundy village or there will be a couple of wines from the same vintage and comparisons can be made. 

October’s meeting was a bit unusual. There were more people present than in recent months with a resulting 14 bottles to taste and, of these, one was a sweet wine, no fewer than 11 were red, with just one white and, unusually, a rosé. With all the benefits of hindsight we had a fair selection of the important red wines of the world with the following areas being represented:

  • Burgundy – Savigny, Volnay,
  • Languedoc – Corbières
  • Tuscany – Chianti Classico, Montalcino
  • Spain – Rioja
  • Lebanon – Bekaa Valley
  • South Africa – Swartland
  • Australia – McLaren Vale
  • mandatory off-piste region: Morocco!

We will make up for the missing Bordeaux in a themed tasting next month and no doubt California will get its chance to shine sooner or later.  Let’s deal first with the white and the rosé minorities.  The white had people fairly foxed – warm climate certainly but then Southern France, Spain and Italy were all canvassed.  In fact it was La Forge Vineyard, Paul Mas Estate, Languedoc, 2010: bright citrus fruit, light oak notes, fullish in body, with a creamy texture.  A good start, followed a bit later by an outstanding rosé, and you can’t often say that:  pale salmon pink in colour, attractive strawberry notes, outstanding freshness, just  a hint of leafiness.  To add to the pleasure, this wine was bought at the winery by one of our members who had visited it recently, Ch. de Pibarnon, AC Bandol 2010. The reputation of Provence for top rosé from high inland sites continues.  

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To bring some order to the evening, here are the two red Burgundies together, both slightly surprising in their own way. First up was Savigny-les-Beaune ‘Les Talmettes’ Premier Cru, Domaine Chenu, 2007, a pale ruby; most guessed straight away it was Pinot Noir and some were in Burgundy.  Quite savoury on the palate, but rather leathery and not really fresh – the relatively poor 2007 vintage has aged very fast.  By contrast 2001 seemed quite spirity and hot, some good savoury fruit, a good depth of flavour if a bit rustic. This turned out to be Volnay AC, Nichoas Potel from 2001

La Tour, Chateau Grand Moulin, Jean Noel Bousquet 2009 moved us to a hotter climate, with its rich, plummy and forward fruit, dense and compact on the palate, with medium length.  40% Syrah, 40% Carignan, 20% Grenache. 

On a roughly similar latitude, we move to our Tuscan trio, starting with a 100% cru Sangiovese, Reciso IGT Toscana 2006, created by Pietro Beconcini by massal selection from old vines present on his family estate, grown on soil rich in fossils and white clay.  It is made a in a very traditional way: fermentation in cement vats, using indigenous yeasts,  five weeks of skin contact and 18-24 months of ageing in a mixture of French tonneaux and large Slavonian oak barrels.  It has a richness in the fruit which is not typical of more classic, austere Sangiovese.  Rancia, Beradenga, Chianti Classico riserva 1999 led with coal dust, tar, some sweet leathery and floral notes which had some of our number thinking this was Barolo, if without the imposing tannic structure.  There was no shortage of tannins in the third example, Tenuta La Fuga, Brunello di Montalcino riserva, 1995.  Dusty, tea leaves and herbs on the nose, some fruitiness still, lively, mildly aggressive tannins. 

The Tuscan wines can be followed by Mediterranean West and East – better known as Spain and Lebanon.  Contino Rioja Reserva 2007 was much appreciated by people, even if only one person got close to identifying it.  Some smoke, liquorice and quite a lot of vanilla on the nose points to American oak in combination with French oak, with fruit from a single vineyard of 66 hectares.  Very good depth of flavour – though some thought not enough for a Reserva quality – perfume, good acidity, highly drinkable and elegant.  At the other end of the Med is to be found Massaya Gold, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2000, a fascinating blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Mourvèdre and10% Syrah. Plums and raisins and orange peel on the nose, very good density of fruit, persistent tannins – with all that Mourvèdre. 

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From one of the oldest civilisations of the old world to the so-called new world of South Africa and Australia.  A.A. Badenhorst’s Family Red, South Africa, 2007 is a Rhone blend: Shiraz (80%), Mourvèdre (10%) , Cinsault or Cape Hermitage (7%) and Grenache (3%). Heavy weight, deep flavoured with high tannins – we claimed that they there was 10% Mourvèdre and 10% Mataro, but at that stage we thought we were in Australia!  Actually in Australia, Willunga 100 Shiraz Viognier 2007 also takes its inspiration from the Rhone, if on this occasion further north: 97% Shiraz with 3% Viognier which is co-fermented with the red grapes.  Good fruit, cool climate in style with a slightly flat middle.  Perfumed with some nice softness. 

Every blind tasting needs a somewhat unusual bottle: Domaine de Mayole Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah 2007 Beni M’Tir, Meknes, Morocco fitted the bill.  A 60/40 blend, it had sweet plumy fruit, some of it perhaps a bit stewed, with lots of mouth-filling glycerol,  and rather drying tannins.  However, no ‘essence of rubber’ as some one remarked! 

A sweet and rich conclusion to the evening.  Following our excellent ‘every style of Sherry except Fino’ evening of a few weeks ago, we enjoyed this moderately luscious, coffee, liquorice and walnut scented Moscatel from Lustau, 2007.  A few more white wines next time?  I expect so, but it is northern Italy so we will see.   IMG_0651

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