Grapevine Archive for February, 2010

2009 Spy Valley RieslingThe Daily Telegraph
Jonathan Ray includes, among his top 10 Kiwi wines:

NZ4611 2009 Spy Valley Riesling, 13% vol (£9.50 The Wine Society 01438 740222) Marlborough is best known for its remarkable sauvignon blancs, but ‘aromatics’, such as riesling, gewurztraminer and pinot gris also thrive. Spy Valley – so called because of its giant golf ball-like government listening post – is a fine spot for such varieties, and this riesling is charming. It makes a delicious aperitif.

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Wed 17 Feb 2010

Wine Society Exhibition NZ Chardonnay

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Wine Society Exhibition Chardonnay Planting

I recently received this photo from Paul Brajkovich of Kumeu River. who said, “…photo taken by a friend of ours who is a helicopter pilot and it shows the vineyards around the winery quite well. I thought you would like to see this as we have marked for you where the Wine Society Exhibition Chardonnay comes from.”

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The Guardian
Victoria Moore writes:

Membership of The Wine Society may cost £40, but for the wines it has on offer that’s something of a bargain.

“Can’t speak,” I texted my brother. “I’m about to be picked up by ­someone from The Wine Society.”

“That’s an alcoholic line if ever I heard one,” he texted back.

Fair point. The WS’s 90,000 active members don’t just like to drink, though. They like to drink well, as a rummage through the warehouse at its Stevenage HQ demonstrates. There are several un-surprises: a slew of The Society’s own labels, including its CE3291 Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, made by Viña Leyda, and AR1301 Argentine Malbec, made by Susana Balbo – nothing but the best for the WS. There are loads of boxes of Alfred Gratien champagne (reassuring that some are still able to count this as an essential); crates of d’Arry’s Original shiraz-grenache, which sells at £10 a bottle and “flies out”, says the WS’s Ewan Murray. But what’s this? SH421 The Society’s ­Exhibition Viejo Oloroso Dulce (£10.95; 20% abv)? Surely he’s not telling me an aged sweet sherry is fast-moving? “It was at Christmas,” he says, blinking with satisfaction.

Here are the Wine Society basics. It was founded in 1874 to introduce “its members to the best of the world’s vineyards at a fair price”. Being owned by the members, it still aims to sell the best it can for the lowest price, rather than to buy whatever it can at the lowest price to sell for as much as it can get. Anyone can join. Lifetime membership costs £40 and your share can be ­bequeathed to a friend or relative on your death.

So what’s good? Quite a lot, as it happens, starting with the rich, ­raisiny, aforementioned oloroso, which was superb with a slice of ­Lincolnshire Poacher. AU12411 Plantagenet Riesling 2008 (£10.95; 11.5% abv), from Australia, is so rousing it ought to be prescribed as medicine for ­anyone who struggles to get up in the morning. Dry, succulent, striated with the taste of lime cordial and mandarin, and, with its ferocious acidity, beautifully mouthwatering, more realistically this makes a fine pre-dinner drink. The new vintage of CE5291 De Martino Legado Limari Valley Chardonnay 2008 (£7.50; 14% abv) is looking every bit as elegant as the last – you can almost see the crayfish swimming towards it, ready to go on a plate with some mayo. SP3501 The ­Society’s ­Rioja Crianza 2006 (£7.50; 13% abv), made by Bodegas Palacio, is a ­triumph of savour, fruit brightness and structure: with gentle ageing in American oak, it’s an easy drink for paella or pork chops. And last, IT12981 Poderi Colla Barbera d’Alba 2007 (£8.50; 14% abv) is very stylish and adult for the price, as smart as an Armani suit, with a light fragrance of petals and a twist of sour cherries.