Monthly Archives: August 2011

tasting notes: Chateau la Noe Muscadet Sevre et Maine Vieilles Vignes 2009

I write these entries too often in the vague haze of half a bottle, thrilling at the brilliance of a particular wine. I’m only proving that to you now by writing about this superb muscadet which is everything a muscadet ought to be and more. I can reel off the classic mucadet notes – it’s flinty; it’s yeasty – but more than that, this has a really satisfyingly full centre of fruit. Melon de bourgogne is so often written off as “crisp”, but this (old vines) example has a lovely fullness that reminds me of chardonnay.

I know that among my last posts was a rapturous appraisal of chablis. It’s unfortunate that muscadet comes so soon afterwards, because the best examples have very many qualities in common. It will seem as if I fixate on a very particular kind of white wine as a standard of brilliance. Perhaps there’s something in that for me though. Like chablis, this is a wine I feel I can really drink. It’s not too high in alcohol, for one thing, and I could pour a glass of this alongside so many of the things I like best to eat: some poached fish and butter sauce, roast chicken, an omelette (which is how I drank it this evening).

This wine is also excellent value for money because people still underestimate this region.

Beautifully limpid; smells of wet flints, fresh yeast, white grapefrut, with a suggestion of something more substantial, a sort of bready, brioche quality that’s not at all rich or sickly. It’s a sweaty boulangere on a morning shift. It’s so everyday, and yet somehow so elegant too.

Chateau la Noe Muscadet Sevre et Maine Vieilles Vignes 2009 | 12% abv | £10 | Love this wine, 16

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the everyday drinker: Williams & Humbert Alegria Manzanilla

We just received a new case of Alegria halves at work. Thought I’d stick one in the fridge to bring home while it’s fresh and hasn’t stood on a warm shelf for too long.

I’m glad I gave in to the urge. This is a great little wine for the money. Of course it’s not the most sophisticated manzanilla by any means, but for £4.99 a half you can’t complain.

On the nose: typical fresh chamomile softness, milky almond aromas, cut through with salt, green apple and lemon. There’s also that slightly equine, stable-boy funkiness that I love about this kind of sherry, but it’s very delicate here. On the palate, this is all about the freshest wet almonds, chamomile, and the whip of marine salinity.

Williams and Humbert Alegria Manzanilla | 15% abv | Clean and appetizing, if not the most complex. Undoubtedly a very good value wine. Bring me almonds and prawns! 16

the everyday drinker: Jean Marc Brocard Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2009

I’m pleased to make a return from the holiday season – being on holiday and covering for others on holiday and being tired beyond tired – with this wine. It’s one of those ones that makes me say, This is my kind of wine; I could drink and drink this.

Beautfully deep lemon gold colour. Looks older than it is. Really concentrated chardonnay character. That is just what this wine is: a really local expression of that grape. The nose expresses its best paradox, being very fresh but also nutty, oatmealy, dairy. It reminds me of smelling greek yogurt, sour cream or a very fresh goats cheese or ricotta. It’s creamy with a sour shudder. Flinty is a word that gets bandied around to describe the smell of minerally wines but this smells unequivocally like flint that’s just been rained on. And then there’s the fruit: green melon, lemon juice. What’s so good about this wine is how defined all these elements are, how well they translate from nose to texture and taste, and how beautifully they chivvy each other along.

What’s more, this is a drink you can drink. I remember Hugh Johnson writing somewhere that chablis is the water of the wine world, not to do it down, but to say, This is a wine you can really drink. And I think that’s what I feel about it too. It’s terribly, humbly drinkable, and yet the quality and clarity of expression can be quite moving.

Good chablis is chardonnay as it is nowhere else in the world: racy, savoury, dairy, flinty.

This bottle is a good example. The difference between the £14 standard cuvee and the VV one at £18 is astonishing. The £4 you feel is worth it. I’ve tasted older and better chablis wines, but at the price and the age, this is great stuff.

Jean Marc Brocard Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2009 | 13% abv | £18 | 18, gorgeous, my kind of wine