Fri 06 Aug 2010

The Gang Way of Wine Appreciation


Olly, Tim, Tom, Ant, JoNo, this is not a way to taste wine as you board a ship, but simply a selection of tasting notes from The Gang comprises five of the UK’s best-known and most respected wine critics, namely (from left to right) Olly Smith, Tom Cannavan, Anthony Rose, Joanna Simon and Tim Atkin. Their website offers (for a small annual subscription) a wealth of tasting notes and commentary on wines available from all sources ranging from the largest supermarket to the tiniest corner shop specialist, on-line and on the street. Click on the link for details of how to join. recently tasted a selection from The Society’s range. Here are opinions on just 10 of the 40 wines which appeared in their July and August reports. 

The Society’s Exhibition Fleurie 2009, (Beaujolais), France, Dry Red (Cork), 13.0% abv. Yum, yum, yum. Juicy, gluggable, quaffable. Whatever adjective you choose, this is lip-smacking gamay from a great vintage, with bags of perfume and plum, cherry stone and raspberry fruit. Fleurie at its best. Picnic heaven. £9.50

Château Les Ormes de Pez 2001, Saint-Estèphe (Bordeaux), France, Dry Red (Cork), 13.0% abv. The 2001 red Bordeaux are starting to look like increasingly good value, given the silly prices of some of the 2009s. This light, elegant wine (for Saint Estèphe) has a touch of the farmyard about it, but it’s fine in context, with fine-grained tannins and supple, grassy fruit as a backdrop. £30.00.

Château de Lacarelle Beaujolais Villages 2009, (Beaujolais), France, Dry Red (Cork), 13.0% abv. If you want to drink something red and well chilled this summer, might we suggest a bottle of 2009 Beaujolais? This one is fresh, crunchy and bright, with lively cherry and raspberry fruit. Make sure you serve this straight from the fridge. £6.95.

Quoin Rock Oculus 2007, Simonsberg (Stellenbosch), South Africa, Dry White (Cork), 13.5% abv. This doesn’t quite hit the heights that the 2005 did, but it’s still one of South Africa’s most interesting whites, made from barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. Peach, spice, vanilla and refreshing acidity combine nicely here, even if the oak is a little intrusive.  £11.50.

Icarus Gravity Shiraz 2008 McLaren Vale (South Australia), Australia, Dry Red (Screwcap), 14.5% abv. It may be an indication of the crisis affecting the Aussie wine sector if you can source wines as good as this for less than £6. Sweet, smoky and ripe, with plenty of texture, prominent oak and a peppery, faintly raisiny finish. £5.75.

Malumbres Navarra Tinto 2007, Spain, Dry Red (Cork), 13.5% abv. This has to be one of the bargains on the Wine Society’s list: a Garnacha-dominated Navarra blend with no oak to interfere with the fruit. Peppery,refreshing and comparatively restrained. £6.50.

Jaboulet-Perrin Syrah, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes 2008 (Rhône), France, Dry Red (Cork), 12.0% abv. Nicholas Jaboulet has used fruit grown close to the slopes of Saint Joseph for this specially-commissioned northern Rhône Syrah. It’s on the firm side, but there’s good underlying blackberry fruit, topped with a dusting of pepper spice. £9.50.

Domaine Vistalba Temporada Malbec 2009, Mendoza, Argentina, Dry Red (Cork), 14.5% abv. Amazing value for money from Mendoza’s Vistalba winery, this violet-scented red is a fantastic base camp for Malbec lovers. Elegant, polished tannins and balancing acidity make this a delicious blend. The kind of thing that no party should be without. £4.95.

The Society’s Rioja Crianza, Rioja, Spain, Dry Red (Cork), 13.0% abv. Unashamedly traditional in style, The Society’s Rioja is light, elegant and nicely developed, with well-judged vanilla oak and sweet red fruits’ flavours. Very mellow and easy to drink. £7.50.

Three Choirs Midsummer Hill 2009, Gloucestershire, England, Dry White (Screwcap), 10.5% abv. A value for money (and you can’t say that about English wine very often) blend of Seyval Blanc, Reichensteiner and Madeleine Angevine, this is a catty, nettley, hedgerow-scented white with a crisp, dry finish. £6.25.

Stella Bella Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Margaret River (Western Australia), Australia, Dry White (Screwcap), 13.0% abv. We found a touch of funky reduction in this when we tasted it, although it did dissipate in the glass. Underneath the wine is crisp and almost minerally with tangy, nettle and gooseberry fruit.  £11.50.

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