15 February 2011

My Favourite Wines

Now that I’ve put up a few delicious recipes in my blog, it’s time to recommend some nice wine to go with them. I am not an expert in wine and I am certainly not a wine connoisseur. Saying that, I am neither someone who will look for the cheapest bottle on the shelf and be content with anything called ‘wine’, regardless of how it tastes.

I like wine a lot. Especially red wine. I enjoy it with my meal or on its own (with moderation, of course). In order to discover some real gems I search for wines that have won many awards or have been recommended by many ‘so called’ experts. I buy them, try them and if I like them a lot I order a few more bottles.

Throughout this simple process I’ve learned that any Cabernet Sauvignon coming from Chile (regardless of price) is very good value for money. I also noticed that anything produced by Chateauneuf du Pape is delicious.

The most surprising outcome, however, was that my favourites do not come from France, Spain or Italy, countries with a tradition in producing quality wines, but from outside Europe. Yes, Australia, New Zealand, the US and South Africa seem to have caught up with the ‘big boys’ and are producing exceptional wines!

In this blog, however, I will let you know my most favourite ones. The ones I try not to run out of, the ones that are simply nectar to the pallet. I will keep updating this blog, adding any new gems as I go along, so keep an eye on a regular basis.

Many of the comments below are taken from various reviews. I copied them as they describe each wine a lot better than I would have. 

Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel 2008 (USA)

By far my favourite of the lot. It has a velvety texture and despite its 15.5% of alcohol content it goes down so easily that soon enough you will find yourself cosily seated in your sofa.  But here are some reviews:

“Zinfandel is considered America's own great indigenous grape, even though its origins lie on the Adriatic coast. Planted throughout California and the Pacific Northwest, Zinfandel is at its best in warm regions with cooler temperatures during harvest. The wines can range from off-dry Rosés, White Zinfandels, and light bistro styled wines, to big, rich powerful wines - even luscious wines for dessert bottling. The flavours range from plummy to raspberry, although deep blackberry fruit and brambly spice tones are most common.”

"It's heady stuff (15.5 per cent abv), so take it steady. This one isn't jammy, like zins can be, but it is brimming with flavours of blueberry, raspberry, cinnamon, cream soda and spicy oak notes. It should work brilliantly with gourmet burgers. "

“A treat at only $19.99, Seghesio presents an opportunity to taste the fruit from four estate vineyards. Seghesio is a well knows zinfandel producer with many awards under its belt. The Sonoma Zinfandel is a blend of old and newer vines that brings forth an experience of blackberry jam, raspberry, spice and a hint of liquorice. A higher level of acidity with great balance hints to a good amount of holding time. With 89 points from Robert Parker, this is one experience to sweep up and enjoy on its own or with food.”

“In the glass, the wine was a clear, dark ruby right up to the rim. It had intense, fresh aromas of dark fruit and mixed berry with black tea and a bit of a floral note. The flavours were more of the berry mix (blueberry, blackberry and raspberry) balanced with high alcohol (15.5% abv), smooth, medium tannins and medium+ acidity. It had a long, juicy finish with a bit of baking spice at the end. A very good wine at the price point.”

“In California we definitely don't lack the presence of ripe fruit in our wines, especially our Zins! This wine gives Zinfandel critics something to reconsider when analysing their next jam bomb. The 2008 Seghesio offers up a more focused and restrained style of Zin making it more elegant than ever before. It still carries the classic bright vibrant fruit characteristics of blackberry and raspberry that we love, but with structure and even a touch of vanilla spice in the finish. I love this style because it’s truly a chameleon with lots of food parings possible. From pizza, to chicken, to tofu stir fry, this Zin has got it covered! For dessert pair with pink peppercorn dark chocolate.”

Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2009 (South Africa)

This one was a great surprise during an evening of roast lamb. From the minute I opened the bottle and let it breathe, the aromas were overpowering and I had to try it! It did not disappoint! Reviews below:

“A lovely Pinot Noir - one with all the finesse of good Burgundy, but the fruit and finish of a New World contender. Lovely dark cherry flavours dominate with a nice punchy, racy edge to it that makes it last and last. A great South African Pinot that will help wash down a lovely tender bit of bird (choose your own) any time.”

“Rich but elegant, with alluring cinnamon, sandalwood and black tea shadings to the mulled red and black cherry fruit. The long finish lets the incense edge play out. Drink now through 2011”

“Good medium red. Musky aromas of red fruits, cinnamon, dried flowers and earth. Quite dry and laid-back but with sneaky intensity to the flavours of red cherry, redcurrant, smoked meat, minerals, spices and earth. Pure and soil-inflected pinot with a dry aftertaste featuring a fine dusting of tannins. Wears its 14% alcohol very gracefully. This should benefit from a year or two of bottle aging.”

“A breath-taking wine. It has the classic gamie-ness of top end Burgundy.”

“Though it might seem like a lot of cash, were this from Burgundy, California or the best sites in Australia or New Zealand, you'd be looking at double the money plus. For what it is, this is a steal!”

“If you're looking for a great wine that's also a great dinner party talking point then this is the wine for you.”

Musella Amarone Riserva 2005 (Italy)

Wow! This is a powerful but delicious wine! After opening it I had to let it breath for a good hour but its aroma kept on drugging me to have a taste. This is what Italy is about and I will be stocking up on this and its 2006 vintage! 

'Amarone has the reputation, and rightly so, to be an absolute powerhouse of a wine, huge in alcohol (16%) and big in flavour. If it were a film character it would be Godzilla marauding through Tokyo squashing all underfoot and, like the big rubbery reptile, it holds a special place in my heart. '

'It smells beautiful and is everything I’d expect from a good Italian wine. There are hints of blackberries, pine nuts even basil in this glass. The wine is extremely diverting and leaves you with the kind of taste you’d perhaps experience on holiday in Europe when tentatively ordering a good wine from the menu to accompany a platter of continental delicacies. This wine almost represents Italian cuisine and it’s absolutely astounding. The colour is a rich burgundy which tapers off in the light to provide an elegant clarity indicating its age. The taste is undoubtedly civilised, warm and fulfilling. I am fully intending to serve this wine to guests during our Christmas Festivities.'

'Some would say that this Amarone is the jewel in Italy's wine crown. This big, brooding Italian has sweet toffee notes on the nose to go with the warm, punchy fruit. Big sweetness on the mid palate and gentle restrained tannins on the finish. An absolute pearler.'

Bodega Benegas Don Tiburcio 2005  (Argentina)

'Smoky dark berries, black cherry, plum, violet and chocolate on the nose. Suave and sumptuous, with harmonious acidity giving definition and grip to the sweet dark berry flavors. Structured and mouthcoating, the finish really lasts. A very clever blend, and a great value.'

'Big, Powerful wine. Tons of fruit on the front end, almost has a cognac like finish as it stays with you in your throat. Seems like more than 14% alcohol.'

'From the banks of the Upper Mendoza in the foothills of the Andes lies Bodega Benegas. They've been making wine here since the turn of the century and are considered amongst the finest vineyards in Argentina. The Don Tiburcio is a Malbec based blend, a fruity smooth wine matured in oak. Bright ruby and purple, it's ripe with red fruits and a hint of vanilla chocolate. It's an impressive wine which lingers in the mouth for absolutely ages.'

Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Marlborough (New Zealand)

By far the best white I’ve tasted and also the easiest to find from the ones in this blog. In fact, even ASDA stocks it. Its exotic fruit aromas and taste makes it seem as if you are drinking a liqueur, rather than wine.

“A classy Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with piercing aromas of ripe gooseberries and intense lime and passion fruit flavours. The wine was made from a blend of fruit grown in the Wairau and Awatere Valleys spanning a range of different climates. Would be an ideal match with a herbed salmon dish.”

“Since George Fistonich founded Villa Maria in 1961, it has grown in reputation to become New Zealand's most successful privately owned winery and maker of New Zealand's most awarded wines. Many respected wine writers and critics support this statement; the new Sotheby's Wine Encyclopaedia stated of Villa Maria "Probably the best all round producer in New Zealand. Villa Maria has a vast array of wines, yet they are all beautifully crafted to enhance fruit and finesse.... if the quality is super, the consistency is supernatural". This success has been achieved through the Villa Maria team's total commitment to the quality of its varietal wines which is continuously rewarded in national and international wine competitions. This vibrant Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc is bursting with a fruit-salad-bowl of flavours including ripe gooseberry, passion fruit, fresh citrus lime and exotic herbaceous aromas. The wine has an exciting palate with layers of juicy flavours, intensity and fullness, finishing with a refreshing crisp, clean and racy acidity. Enjoy this exuberant and delightful wine with any number of light summer dishes, such as salmon or green bean and potato salad.”

"This bottle slopes down imperceptibly from the gold screw top to the gold label. Once poured it looks almost like a glass of water. Deceptively innocuous, like 'butter would not melt...'. But it packs a 13.5% punch full of passion fruit and gooseberry. No matter how shot your palate, you will identify the aromas. There is no escape...... So if you have just under £10 to spend on a Sauvignon Blanc, I would say this is a good bet..."

Blackford Estate Colombard Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Australia)

 “A super fantastic Sauvignon Blanc here, that would rival most Kiwi Sauvignons. And because I got such a great deal on it, I can bring it to you for as little as £8.99 a bottle. This is easily a bottle worth a lot more. Simply sensational served with grilled fish and works perfectly with spicy cuisine. You will find this zesty Sauvignon irresistible.”

Clos Du Gaimont Vouvray Demi Sec 2007 (France)

Another amazing white, full of flavour and aroma.

'Insanely good wine from a vintage so exciting that our wine buyer's hair went completely grey upon tasting the wines from barrel earlier this year.'

Champagne Taittinger Brut Reserve NV (France)
 I am not a fan of champagne. In fact, even though I’ve tried the likes of Moet, Dom Perignon, Lanson, Bollinger, etc., I never made it past the first glass. The stuff just doesn’t do it for me!!! Well, this one has certainly changed my perception of champagne. I bought it because it just kept on winning worldwide awards, so it sounded excellent for a special occasion. And it certainly lived up to it! Enjoyed with sushi, this is a champagne that, like a typical French, I will enjoy again with my meals.

“Taittinger is one of the older Champagne houses and what's more, it has a higher proportion of Chardonnay in its non-vintage. This gives a fizz that is lighter, fruitier and more elegant than many.”

“Taittinger is golden straw yellow in colour with very fine bubbles. The nose is very expressive. It is both fruity and bready and exudes aromas of peach white flowers and vanilla pod. On the palate this is a delicate wine with flavours of fresh fruit and honey. It is aged for three to four years in the cellars where it achieves perfect maturity.”

“A fine old house with a distinctively light, pure style, Taittinger is a consistent crowd pleaser. Pale in colour with a fine, strong bubble, the nose is of clean green fruit, matched in the mouth with a pleasingly refreshing acidity that makes this excellent Champagne to drink with delicately flavoured food.”

"In my opinion Taittinger is a much under-rated grandes marque Champagne.  A sign of its quality is that it a high percentage of Chardonnay in the blend and that it enjoys a minimum of 3 years cellar ageing prior to release.  Taittinger Brut Reserve has complex aromas of stone-fruits, white flowers and vanilla which carry on to a lovely rich palate."

Champagne Gremillet Brut Selection NV (France)

'A stunning, award winning Champagne that delivers on all fronts. It shows fine mousse in the glass and fresh floral aromas mixed with characteristic sweet, doughy overtones, which are balanced by richer fruit, peach skin characters and classic baked biscuit flavours with a crisp finish.'

'Champagne Gremillet are a small, but beautifully formed family-owned Champagne house. Due to its southern latitude the grapes achieve greater ripeness which leads to a richer fruit, and classic 'baked-biscuit' flavours mixed with characteristic toasty yeast overtones. This champagne shows fine mousse in the glass and fresh floral aromas, with a crisp citrus finish.'

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