A SURPRISE gift from The Daughter. Surely a prompt to begin a new wine-related retirement project. But what shall it be? Any suggestions, wine or journal-writing lovers?
The Wine List is my retirement project to sample wine made from the main grape varieties listed in Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book.
The wine: Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico Riserva 2011
Alc Vol: 13.5%
HJ says: “Principal red grape of Tuscany and central Italy. Hard to get right, but sublime and long-lasting when it is…Dominant in Chianti.”
The label says: No idea. It’s in Italian. I don’t understand Italian.
We drank it with: Roast duck.
Retired Bloke Verdict. I liked it a lot; so did The Current Mrs Feeney, who is not normally a red wine fan. We’re both guessing that the producers got the Sangiovese right. I’d very happily drink this again.
The Wine List is my retirement project to sample wine made from all of the main grape varieties mentioned in Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book.
Alc Vol: 14.5%
HJ says: “One of Italy’s best grapes. Intense, nobly fruity, perfumed wine with steely tannin.”
The label says: “A powerful red with rich, ripe fruit and chocolate flavours enhanced by classic layers of floral and savoury notes. . .Ideal with roast meats and strong cheeses.”
We drank it with: 1) Meat pie and chips 2)Beef Wellington
RBVerdict: Another Italian wine that was nice enough, but didn’t quite deliver what it promised. I certainly didn’t get intensity. Perhaps I should sample them only in mid-summer’s heat. Fruity, tannic, good acidity.
The wine: Tesco Finest Grechetto 2016, Umbria, Italy.
Alc Vol: 12.5%
HJ says: “Ancient grape of central and s Italy, noted for the vitality and stylishness of its wine.”
Label says: “A crisp, refreshing wine with lovely ripe lemons and hints of stone fruit flavours. . .Serve as an aperitif or match with grilled chicken or seafood.”
We drank it with: 1) Brittany scallops in a Muscadet sauce. 2) roast chicken with roasted vegetables.
Verdict: Like many Italian whites I’ve tried, this would be better suited to a pleasant summer afternoon than a cold Welsh winter’s day. It was pleasant enough in an inoffensive way, but didn’t make any particular impression on the nose or tongue. Crisp and refreshing maybe, but we found the fruit flavours pretty muted. However; The Current Mrs Feeney didn’t like her scallops, so substituted a plate of smoked ham and tomatoes; she discovered that Grechetto + smoked ham = petrol flavours like an expensive Riesling. Who knew?
The wine: Kleine Zalze Cellar Selection 2014, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Alc Vol: 14.5%
HJ says: “Singular South African cross. Has had a rocky ride, getting better from top producers.”
The label says: “Wine has been made here since 1695. Today, this family-owned winery, situated outside Stellenbosch, in the heart of the Cape Winelands, continues the tradition of producing wines of outstanding quality.”
Food combination: None on the label, which was unusually reticent in talking about the wine in any detail. We had it with a range of dishes, including chicken casserole and fish&chips.
RBVerdict: I had never liked Pinotage before, but this changed my opinion. It is one to add to the wine rack.
The wine: Pasquiers Grenache Noir, Pays D’Oc 2014, France.
Alc Vol: 13.5%
HJ says: “Widespread pale potent grape now fashionable with terroiristes, who admire the way it expresses its site.”
Label says: “A full and fruit-rich red from the Midi. The intense, dark berry fruit carries a touch of sweet spice and is balanced with a good level of tannin, adding structure and scale to the wine.”
Food combination: Nothing suggested on the label. I (on this occasion The Current Mrs Feeney declined my offer to share) drank some of it with TCMrsF’s renowned lasagne, and finished it the next night with a meal of black pepper-, smoked salt-, and garlic-chicken, served with roasted potatoes and sweet chutney.
RetiredBloke Verdict: First things first; there are no outlandish claims on the label of flavours and smells that would do justice to a fruit stall at Swansea Market: good. I have previously drunk Grenache blended with Syrah and Carignan in French wines, and (as Garnacha) blended with Tempranillo in Rioja. This was the first time I had drunk it a single varietal wine. I was a little disappointed at first; it was not as darkly intense as the label had led me to expect. Having said that, I enjoyed it with the chicken, but wouldn’t go out of my way to have a bottle on my wine rack.
The Wine: Danaris 2014, Austria (Laithwaites)
Alc Vol: 12%
HJ says: “Austria’s fashionable flagship white grape. Remarkably diverse; from simple peppery everyday wines to others of great complexity and ageing potential.”
Label says: “a pale gold with zesty lime and crunchy green apple fruit, a crisp structure and a long, refreshing white-pepper finish.”
Food combinations: The label says the wine can be enjoyed with white meats, grilled fish, cheese boards, and that it pairs particularly well with Asian cuisine. That’s pretty comprehensive. I’ve never been convinced about wine and Asian food, but we are nothing if not open-minded in the Retired Blokes house, so we ordered a Thai chicken green curry and a Japanese chicken teriyaki for home delivery; 90 minutes later we were still waiting for delivery, the roasted peanuts were all gone, and the level of expectation had dropped from Acute to Sod It. When the food eventually arrived (“sorry, very busy”) it proved not to have been worth the wait. So our first tasting of this wine was in less than ideal circumstances. We finished the bottle the following day, with one of TCMrsF’s excellent roast pork dinners. The wine was clean and pleasantly acidic, and we both enjoyed it with the meal.
Verdict: Not only can they detect apple, they can tell they are green and crunchy? Wow, they are good, these people! Personally, ‘fruity’ is about as precise as I can be in these situations. But The Current Mrs Feeney and I agree about the zesty and crisp. This was the first time either of us had drunk wine made from this grape. Would we buy more? Probably not, because there was no wow factor to make it stand out in a crowded field of pleasant light whites.