After a hectic few weeks – my first review!

22nd November 2018

My first wine was tasted and noted some time ago but unfortunately a wide variety of things have prevented me from transferring the notes to here!

Owing to a cold snap that the South of England encountered at the end of November, I thought it would be fitting for my first wine to be a warming heavy red, tasted (drank) in front of an open fire.

The wine in question is a French red from the Southern Rhône region (seen on the map below), more specifically Vacqueyras, a relatively newly certified AOC (only having been established in 1990). The certification of AOC (Appellation D’Origine Contrôlée) means that in order for wines to be called Vacqueyras, they have to come from the specified region in France. This protectionist policy by the French Government is designed to prevent wine made in other parts of the world being passed off as wines from the region of origin in France; the most famous example of AOC is possible Champagne, which can only be made in Champagne.

Screenshot 2018-12-07 at 12.45.06

 

So, to the wine!

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2017 Le Comte de Saint-Geric – bought at Lidl for £8.55. Lidl’s in house sommelier rated this wine 86/100 and was described as rich, strong and velvety. The grape varieties were quite difficult to identify, with no information on the bottle and little online. However, given the region it comes from, I would say it’s probably some parts Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.

When wines are tasted, noted and reviewed its common procedure to split the process into 3 sections; sight, smell and taste. I then consider what foods the wine would be well suited and review how it was with the food I drank it with.

So, for sight:

The wine is plum in colour, a result of the grapes used to make it, but the colour is of low intensity. This low intensity will almost certainly be a result of the wine being 2017 vintage. Given that it’s so young, it can’t have spent a great deal of time on the grape skins (where wine gets its colour and intensity from) in barrels or vats.

For the smells of the wine:

The wine had scents predominantly of red and black fruits such as cherry and plum. These are common for Rhône wines and are characteristic of the grape varieties. A Rhône wine would normally have some hints of having been aged in Oak, this would include scents like smoke, vanilla, tobacco and caramel (which exist due to the toasting, or gentle burning, of the inside of the barrels before the wine is stored in them). This wine, however, did not have any oak related scents. This is because it will most likely have been stored in stainless-steel vats because it’s both a young wine and quite a cheap wine (oak barrels cost a lot!).

And arguably, most importantly, taste:

Similarly to the smell of the wine, the main tasting points were red and black fruits, particularly cherries and plums. However, in addition to these, the wine also displayed tastes of spices such as pepper (flavours of spices in wine can come from either the grape variety or from oak barrelling, in this case it would be my assumption that it’s from the grape varieties). The wine was ever so slightly tannic (what causes the drying sensation in your mouth), not as much as I would have expected from a strong red, but without much time on the skins, it wouldn’t be notably tannic. Although, for a relatively low intensity, and low tannic wine, it did have a relatively long finish.

All in all, to be quite frank, there wasn’t really a lot going on. It wasn’t too in your face, but I’m not sure it wasn’t quite a bit too weak. A result of a young wine, and probably young vines I’d have thought. Having said this, at £8.55, it was never going to be a Château Mouton Rothschild, or even a Châteauneuf-de-Pape.

Food pairing review and suggestions:

I would normally have a strong red wine when eating a strong gamey type meat, such as venison. The strength of the flavours in the meat and the wine would complement one another.

However, I had this wine with a beef mince & onion pie from my local butchers; it worked surprisingly well. Having said that, now I write this out and think about it, it’s almost certainly because this ‘strong red’ isn’t really a strong red, but more a medium to weak red.

 

Overall ratings of the wine:

At tasting the wine, when it had been open for a relatively short period of time, I rated the wine 4/10.

When I drank some more with the delicious pie, I rated the wine at 5/10 (although it had been open for some time at that point).

 

Value for money?

I put this wine down as a neither not good, nor bad value for money, which probably isn’t fair. There isn’t anything unpleasant about the wine, but there isn’t really a lot going on with it. So actually for a bottle of wine for £8.55, it probably was a 6/10 for value.

 

 

 

Again, apologies for the delay in publishing this, I have notes from another wine which I’ll get up as soon as I can find the time!

Thanks for reading, please feel free to share and let me know what you think in the comments!

 

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A brief introduction

A little introduction to me and the purpose of my blog!

My name’s James and I’m a 22 year old, indecisive and relatively unambitious Geography graduate, with a passion for wine!

I don’t really remember where my passion stems from but I’ve been interested in oenology since I was about 14 years old. As I’ve grown up, my passion has grown and developed into an interest in viticulture, production and tasting, rather than just the historical significance of wine.

Since turning 18 (the legal age of alcohol consumption here in the UK), I’ve been fortunate enough to taste and drink some truly remarkable wines, sometimes costing, frankly, obscene amounts of money (Partly this is down to having earned progressively more and having more cause to celebrate with friends and family; but also to further my knowledge). The main purpose is to debunk the idea that to drink a really good bottle of wine, you have to spend a large amount of money; and to share with you some reviews of wines bought in ordinary places for a nonobscene amount of money. However, other purposes are to vent a desire for creative writing and to keep me occupied in the evenings and out of the pub!

The price point poses a challenge because everyone has a different idea of what constitutes an expensive bottle of wine. I aim to review wines and give recommendations mostly within the price range of £5-£15 per bottle. This is slightly above the average price of supermarket wine (£5.58 in 2017) but probably in the price region of those expecting to get a reasonably good quality bottle of wine.

The idea of this price range is that I skip over the likes of Echo Falls and don’t review the likes of Chateau Lafite Rothschild (being out of reach for over 99% of people), at either end of the price spectrum. Having said this, every now and again I’ll review a more expensive bottle of wine and compare it with the standard range.

This blog really is testing the water and I have no expectations of grandeur or great success, but if I can help one person buy a better quality of wine for the same price as they would normally spend, I’ll be quite pleased.

In addition to try to provide people with recommendations of better value wines, with each review I’ll add a little background into the area and grape variety. Therefore, offering some educational value as well.

My aim is to review 2-3 different wines a week, sometimes perhaps more, sometimes perhaps less.

I hope you all enjoy,

JamesIMG_0935