Lots of lovely Rhones

Lunch today with 19 other readers of Tom Cannavan’s wine-pages.com and more Rhone notes which must give readers of this blog the impression that I drink nothing else.

Recently that’s been pretty much true – mostly because every time I’ve drunk anything worth noting in the past few weeks I’ve been with Keith Prothero, a fellow director of Bid for Wine, organiser of this event and a massive Rhone fan. As it happens Keith did add some regional variety to these proceedings with samples from another project of his, Mullineux Family Wines, who are producing a Chenin/Clairette Blanc/Viognier/Grenache Blanc blend and a Syrah from Swartland in South Africa.

Mullineux Family Wines, White, 2008, South Africa
Restrained; some white fruit, a touch of vanilla oak. Opens up to show a mineral/plasticine character I associate with Grenache Blanc – it seems this element is probably dominating now. Quite oily, nice length. Very good indeed.

Mullineux Family Wines, Red, 2008, South Africa
Massively ripe nose; out of place amongst the other (much older) wines here. Still smells of fermentation. With time some leafiness emerges. Young and hard to assess – clearly will benefit with time but I liked the way this evolved in the glass.
Very good+?

The main event and some lovely wines – great generosity all around.

Risotto of Squid with Cauliflower, Pinenuts and Winkles Sauteed in Sherry

A dish I’ve written about before and equally excellent this time.

Condrieu, Pichon, 2006
Full, dense nose – apricotty, creamy and a touch of peach. Slightly grainy texture, surprisingly high acidity and lovely length. Very good indeed

Hermitage Blanc, JL Chave, 1995
Honey, marzipan and a slight parsnip character plus a suggestion of oxidation. There’s some subtle vanilla oak in here too. Honied, nutty palate with a rich mouthfeel but not terribly giving at this stage. The nose opens with time to show some toasted nuts, a slightly perfumed character and lots of
spicy ginger. Very good indeed

Warm tart of Wild Mushrooms and Partridge with Walnuts and Truffles

Cornas, Clape, 1989
Lovely dark fruit at first backed up with spice, tea, cocoa and earth. A blueberry note in the mouth with some savoury elements too. Firm, well structured wine – this could handle a lot more age, though drinking well now too. With time in the glass, the fruit changes to gain a figgy/pruney character. Excellent.

Hermitage, La Chapelle, Paul Jaboulet, 1995
Tarry, plummy fruit with smoke and bacon. Astringent and lean at first but the palate fills out with time to show cherryish fruit and smoky bacon. Creamy texture and loads of black pepper too. This wine seems to be drinking well now with food but there’s a lot of firm, chewy tannins that could benefit from time to soften.

Haunch of Roe Deer with Chervil Roots and Licquorice
Lovely tender venison. This was accompanied by some celeriac puree too. The chervil roots were odd but lovely – a texture reminicent of a floury potato crossed
with a roast chestnut with a sweet, slightly parsnip like flavour.

Hermitage, Delas, 1997
Very ripe blackberry fruit; this smells like a cool climate new world wine – perhaps an Eden Valley Shiraz. Shows some tertiary aromas with time – some smoke, meat and cinnamon. Relatively giving and perhaps a little lacking in structure. Very good

Hermitage Blanc, JL Grippat, 1997
Weird swimming pool/pig farm/lactic aromas. Clearly not right – maybe secondary malolactic fermentation in bottle? Not rated

Cote Rotie, Cote Blonde, Rene Rostaing, 1986
Dominant salami and licquorice at first. Kept evolving – smoke, a hint of game, leafiness. Acid holding this together rather than tannins now and quite delicate. Nice length and elegant. Similar structure to Chave ’82? Very good indeed/Excellent

Quince, Roquefort and Verjus

This was presented very cunningly – a verjus granita spiked with quince paste topping a custard made with Roquefort and a touch of vanilla. The cheese in the dish was very subtle at first but seemed to explode in the mouth as one swallowed.

Brown Sugar Tart with Muscat Grapes and Vin Cotto

Muscadelle, Gehrig, NV (Rutherglen, Australia)
Perfumed, orange peel, spice and tea. Not that sweet. Very elegant, poised and balanced. Very good/excellent.

Setubal Moscatelle, JM Fonseca, 1902 (Setubal DOC, not Madeira as previously stated)
Quite volatile at first. Shows some coffee, raisins and figs. Creamy texture, lovely balance. Excellent

I also tasted a few other bottles throughout the proceedings – what follows are more impressions than firm notes though.

Hermitage, B Faurie, 1991
Very strong black pepper character. Dense, tannic – foursquare. Is this the house style? Similar bottles of the ’97 and ’85 would suggest so.

Cote Rotie, Jamet, 1989
Raspberry fruit with some menthol, smoke and bacon. Leafy and smokey on the palette. Beautifully fine tannins and very elegant. Very good indeed/excellent

Cote Rotie, Jamet, 1999
Hugely aromatic nose – lots of Viognier? Not sure where this will go – doesn’t seem to bear much resemblance to the ’89.

Cote Rotie, Cote Blonde ‘La Garde’, A Dervieux, 1985
Hugely gamey and farmyardy. Smells like a well hung pheasant rather than wine.

Hermitage, La Chapelle, Paul Jaboulet, 1989
Full and ripe on the nose. Very primary. Quite creamy palate, ripe and figgy. Seems much younger than the ’95.

Cote Rotie ‘La Landonne’, Guigal, 1986
Wow – oaky nose. More savoury and less oaky in the mouth.


2 Responses to “Lots of lovely Rhones”

  1. David Riach Says:

    The 1902 Setubal from J M Fonseca is from mainland Portugal surely?

  2. Thanks David, you’re right. I stand corrected!

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