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STRAIGHT OFF THE VINE.

Byline: Neil Cammies

NO SOONER had we spent all weekend packing me thermals away - yes, they really are that voluminous - than the weather took a chilly turn and the rose was poked back into the rack and the dirty great reds returned to prominence.

The poor plants in the garden are having a right time of it, too, showing all the signs of spring shoots (try saying that with a glass on board) and then meeting with treacherous frost.

Luckily we have the central heating on so high that it affects things within a quartermile radius, a bit like the blast zone of a thermonuclear device.

You can gently ease yourself into the reds with an approachable merlot, and the ERRAZURIZ ESTATE SERIES MERLOT 2013 (RRP PS9.99, Majestic, Tesco, Nisa, Budgens and many independents) fits the bill perfectly.

This Chilean example from the Curico Valley has the warm, sweet wood bouquet from time in French and American barrique.

In the mouth, the pliable ripe blackberry fruit has plenty to say, especially with the evidence of the fine integrated tannins.

An excellent all-rounder with impeccable manners.

The DOMAINE DES PASQUIERS 'SABLET' COTES DU RHONE VILLAGES 2011 (PS11, Daniel Lambert Wines Ltd) has a deep colour in the glass and has full earthy notes to the dark, hedgerow fruit.

In the mouth, the sense of place is keenly felt, with the terroir and tannic structure often attributed to the wines of the Rhone.

Plenty of spice through the mid-palate in this dark-hearted powerhouse of a Cotes du Rhone, with weight and poise in equal measure - and it demands food.

There has to be a malbec in a list of warming reds and some of the best French examples I've had of late have come from the Chateau du Cedre stable.

The CEDRE HERITAGE 2012, CAHORS (on offer at PS9.99 from PS12.99, Fine Wines Direct UK, Cardiff) has a rich, dark colour in the glass and a very perfumed nose of ripe blackberry fruit with a whiff of the soil.

On the palate, the fruit has a full tannic attack and a nice lively clip of acidity. But it's the spice from the tannins that dries off across the palate and adds a little licorice note. This is a classically styled malbec full of panache and elegance.

There has to be an Aussie in here as well, and they don't come much bolder than a GSM blend (short for grenache, mourvedre and shiraz).

The MCGUIGAN SHORTLIST GSM 2010 (RRP PS15, Tesco Online) is a blend of this rich trio, aged in a mix of new and one-year-old French and American oak. The result is a bouquet of perfumed port notes to the berry fruit.

The texture across the mid-palate is crunchy and has a bright acidity to it. The finish is fresh, vibrant and leaves the palate with that juicy mouthfeel. Could easily deal with a hearty red meat dish.

@NeilCammies neil.cammies@walesonline.co.uk Gilbert Viader is hosting his first tasting of 2015 at the office in Cardiff on Saturday, May 9, 2015, noon-2.30pm. The event is a tutored vertical tasting of Domaine de Mayat in Bergerac. This is a unique opportunity to taste 11 vintages dating back to 1994 - including the 2012, which is yet to be released. At the end of the tasting, Gilbert will serve a delicious Coq au Vin!

The cost of this tasting is just PS25 per person. Places are limited, so please don't delay if you would like to come.

For more information, telephone 029 2036 9222 or email gilbert@viader.co.uk

The weather took a chilly turn and the rose was poked back into the rack and the dirty great reds returned to prominence
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 2, 2015
Words:625
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