Saturday, 7 January 2012

'Noe' Pedro Ximénez Viejo

If you take some white grapes, ones that would probably make a rather indifferent table wine, then you let them dry out in the sun, make a wine from the juice that's left, fortify it, and generally - in contravention of just about every other rule of wine storage/making you haven't broken yet - let it oxidise over thirty years or so, do you have any right to expect the stuff to be drinkable?

Well that's kind of what the folks at Gonzalez Byass have been up to with this superlative dessert wine. The wine itself is dark and syrupy. Unctuously sweet, viscous, treacly-brown and chock full of fig, date and raisin flavours. It was the perfect match for Christmas pudding, which of course no Christmas meal is complete without, or even just with a cheeky mince pie on boxing day.

At £15 for a half bottle it's obviously not cheap. But I think you've got to put that into some sort of context. Are there many better sherries on the market than this? I'd suggest not, and so what do you compare it to as one of the best examples of its type on the market? £15 won't buy you a lot of First Growth Claret, or Château d'Yquem, or even vintage port. All of a sudden it looks like a bit of a steal - a great treat for Christmas at least. I've already got one squirrelled away for next year.

15.5% abv. £15 (ish) from Majestic

If you're interested in discovering a bit more there's a great piece about sherry at the Wine Anorak.

Friday, 6 January 2012

'Z' de l'Arjolle 2005

2012 is upon us, and I'm hoping to get the opportunity to try more wines this year than last, although I have probably said that every year!

I just wanted to mention a couple of wines I had over the festive period (the next I'll cover in another blog post). The first I had saved for Christmas dinner. Since we had eight adults eating all sorts of different dishes I toyed with the idea of something non-controversial, but then I wasn't sure how much attention anyone would pay to it anyway, so dug this out...

Zinfandel from the Languedoc. I'm pretty sure there's not a lot of that about, it's not a wine that comes under QWPSR jurisdiction, which is probably all the better for us consumers. It also means the vintage has to be kind of disguised as a 'harvest/récolte' 2005 and the grape isn't allowed to be displayed at all - hence the rather cryptic 'Z.'

All EU-driven red-tape aside this is a really excellent wine, still lots of blackberry fruit and peppery spice even six years after the vintage. It's big and full-bodied, but it's not a 16% Californian fruit bomb, and the dryness brings an elegance that can be lacking with trends towards excessive 'hang-time.'

13.5% abv. The Wine Society are currently on the 2007 vintage, selling it for £13.95 a bottle. At that price, I think it's a bit of a bargain.