Imported Wine – New Release

Wholesaler tasting: 19th May 2013

Several wholesalers recently banded together to put on a trade tasting of some of their imported wines. Whilst my focus of the tasting was the Rhone Valley, I took the opportunity to look at a number of different wines.

Unusually for me, I have not pointed the wines. The format of the tasting did not really lend itself to a critical analysis of the wines, so my notes are more about my impressions.

  • Wines tasted: 24
  • Wines reviewed: 12


Pommery – Champagne – 2004. A real step up in intensity and penetration compared to the standard NV. The palate is bright and fresh, with grapefruit and melon over subtle complexity from extended lees maturation. This is taut, fine and demands a second sip. Worth saving up to drink (instead of the NV), this is long and focused, the gentle mousse adding to the package.

Pommery – Champagne – Cuvee Louise – 1999. Again, this is a clear step up from the 2004. The sense of presence on the nose is superb. This is a wine that demands attention.  Complex, complete and totally delicious, though the finish is very dry, leaving the palate refreshed and wanting more.

Warwick EstateThree Cape Ladies – 2010. I like this for the bright primary fruit and supple texture. This is an easy-drinking style that will work well with food. Not overly complex, but there is decent length and persistence. Drink this winter.

Domaine St Damien – Cotes du Rhone – Vielles Vignes – 2011. Lovely perfume to this that I assume comes from a high percentage of grenache. I would go as far as saying that this is a pretty wine. The palate is fresh and juicy, with lovely white pepper running through to the long finish. Not complex, but excellent drinking over the next year or two.

Bastide du Claux – Cotes du Luberon – Le Claux – 2009. More obvious density and structure compared to the St Damien. The palate is dense, yet the balance and mouth-feel make this surprisingly supple and slippery in the mouth. Fine, dusty tannins coat the tongue on the finish making this a great foil to food. Good now, but will also age well in the short term.

Domaine La Colliere – Rasteau – Rouge – 2010. Some perfume to open, with red fruits and a touch of licorice. The palate is quite tight, with the structural components suppressing the fruit characters at present. Savoury tannins round out the package. Give it a couple of years to really hit its straps.

Domaine Les Grands Bois – Cotes du Rhone Villages – Cairanne – Philippine – 2010. Nice balance here of fresh fruit and structural notes. Quite a simple wine that is well suited to a simple pasta meal. This sees no oak.

Domaine Les Grands Bois – Cotes du Rhone Villages – Cairanne – Maximillien – 2010. A more “serious” nose compared to the Philippine, this wine sees some oak treatment. A savoury wine that has spice aromas to complement the fruit. The palate is savoury, spicy and textured. The tannins are remarkably fine, but really close down the fruit on the finish. This is a great each way bet, as it drinks well now, but will also age well for a few years.

Domaine St Damien – Gigondas – Vielles Vignes – 2010. Structured, but with pretty, peppery, spicy fruit peeking out from around the edges. The palate is flooded with pepper and spice. The tannins are plentiful and the acid cuts a swath through the finish. No doubt that this will be an excellent drink, it just needs 5 years to come around.

Vivanco Dinastia – Temperanillo – Reserva – 2005. Lovely nose that combines floral perfume (think violets) and earthy aromas. There are also hints of coconut from the oak that is very attractive. The extra age really makes its presence felt on the palate, which is silky, supple and totally delicious. This is not tremendously complex, but presents a compelling argument to be drunk and enjoyed. The tannins build and make their presence felt on the finish, suggesting that some tapas would only make this even more enjoyable. Better buy a second bottle J.

Condo de San Cristobal – Tinta Fina – 2008. This wine is less compelling than the Vivanco, but this is an unfair comparison as this is tighter and less developed. Opens to show lovely tar and licorice characters. It really needs food to show its best.

O.Fournier – Centauri Blend – 2009. A very interesting and somewhat old-fashioned wine. This is luxuriously dense and delicious, with ripe fruit complemented by quality oak. There is a fair whack of tannins on the finish, but good mouth-feel and texture. This needs 10 years for the fruit to soften and build complexity, but when it gets there, it could be very interesting.