Winefriend by David Way

Writing about the wines of Piemonte, Italy and France

Acid and balance

Guestblogger: Rob

The final BBC1 of the year gave us some good wines and some interesting wines, and an interesting study in the importance of balance and the role played by acidity.

Terra HelveticaStrangely no one spotted the first white. Attractive pale gold colour, strong yeasty, wet wool and lanolin nose, which carried through to a buttery taste (oak or battonage?), with good weight and a nice greasy mouth feel that suited the wine, but was sadly not quite balanced by enough acid. With a bit more acid, this could have been a really good wine. Though we would never have spotted the “Terra Helvetica” Fendant, F & D Giroud 2010.

Wine two nearly got that balance right, but just over stepped. Its mild mid straw colour reflected the mid (muted even) lemon nose. This continued onto the palate Ch. de la Chauvinierewhich was reserved, but hinted at white stone fruit. The balance however was, initially, lovely. Somewhat surprisingly (once we knew the wine’s identity) it had body and substance, lip-coating body even, balanced by a good dose of acid that shone through to yield a crisp, refreshing mouth feel. The acid didn’t stop however, or perhaps the muted fruit fell away too quickly, leaving a tart sourness on the finish somewhat detracting from the overall enjoyment. Nonetheless, this Chateau de la Chauviniere, Granit de Chateau Thébaud, 2006 was agreed to be amongst the better Muscadet-Sèvre-et-Maine we had had.

Bouchie ChatellierWine three also nearly got the balance right, though it could be argued that the slightly tart finish was intentional. Regular readers may recall the fondness some members of the group hold for oaked Sauvignon Blanc. Although not oaked, extended skin contact and time on lees meant that these members were very happy with Bouchié Chatellier’s Premier Millesime, Pouilly-Fumé, 2002, offering a mid nose of classic oaked gooseberry giving way to pink grapefruit and a lovely crispness that only slightly outstayed its welcome.

The final white continued a tradition in the group of the, shall we be polite and say, outsider. Its contributor had presented to a recent tasting a New Zealand sauvignon Carmen Puthodblanc of such classic style that it was spotted immediately by everyone. At his whimsical other extreme, we can now say that we have tasted white Sangiovese! And surprisingly good it was too. It did not have quite enough acid to balance its bulk (a consequence of the extreme wine making required to avoid extracting even the merest hint of colour from the grapes perhaps), but it did have a delicate almond marzipan nose, an attractive, if slightly unbalanced, oily palate and a finish that built and built and built. We all detected oak, certainly the weight imparting affects and classic buttery taste of oak, however, we were assured that the wine had never seen a barrel. It was a most enjoyable and unique experience from one of the region’s major producers: Bianco “Carmen Puthod”, Teruzzi e Puthod, Toscana IGT 2009.

Louis JadotThe first red disappointingly demonstrated the mine field of Burgundy, when a famous name on the label belies the less than famous content of the bottle. We would have hoped that Louis Jadot would have endeavoured to uphold the reputation of a fine négociant, but its 2006 village Vosne-Romanée was disappointingly all that basic village level wines from the region can be. The muted taste and unbalanced sour acid were as extensive as my notes permit a description.

Happily, the second red demonstrated successfully what an excellent producer canSequillo 4 do with its lower classification wine. Eben Sadie is undoubtedly one of the new world’s and South Africa’s rising stars. His 2004 Sequillo from Swartland showed a wonderful wine and one that reflected the more rapid aging associated with the new world. Its deep garnet colour only slightly suggested aging, but its strong savoury, OXO nose becoming full-on stewed fruit with a South African characteristic burnt edge, suggested reaching of an ideal tasting window. The richness was balanced by well integrated acid perfectly presenting a big wine held in delicate check.

Marques de Casa ConchaThis guest blogger who has been, not unreasonably, declared a wine snob on a few occasions, must admit that when he has tried the wines from Concha y Toro blind he has been impressed. The Marques de Casa Concha, Cabernet Sauvignon 2007  being no exception. Yes it was made in a modern (Parker?) style, but let’s be honest, that can be attractive when done well! A big nose of bright berry fruit and oak belying a well balanced and delicate palate of more fruit, silky oak and fine chewy, close knit tannins. Perhaps simple in its way and trying to please, but well made and showing very attractively; besides what is wrong with trying to please?

The McRae WoodThe fourth red was surely another Cabernet Sauvignon? Dense purple in colour it too had a full-on fruit nose with, for one member characteristic, eucalyptus. High acid again held in check the new world opulent fruit of dark red berries, smoke and some mintiness framed by more new oak. That this came from the Clare Valley was not surprising, that it was Jim Barry’s, 2005, The McRae Wood Shiraz, was!

The final wine of the night completed a new Torzi Matthewsworld quartet, but showed a slightly over the hill version. Deep browning garnet with strong tertiary leather, mushroom and rotten vegetables gave hope for a good end to the evening. Sadly the initially weighty and albeit stewed fruit flavoursome palate all too quickly fell apart leaving an unbalanced spirit and sour finish. Past its best, but the Torzi Matthews, Eden Valley, Frost Dodger Shiraz 2003 was further over the hill than expected.

With many thanks to Rob – here’s to many great tastings in 2013. 

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