A Journey through France, Italy and Spain with Stephen Bennett MW
Notes by Sue Courtney
Wines were not tasted blind
The Cup & Rings Godello 2015 – Monterrei, Spain
There’s an oily appearance to the yellow hue, the bouquet is lightly honeyed with hints of almond, savoury leesy notes and loquat, and the taste is steely with texture and vinosity, hints of green apple, apricot and peach and refreshing acidity on the bone dry finish. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $23.99.
Champagne Charles de Cazanove NV – Reims, France
Light yellow gold with striking snow white mousse that froths and subsides. The enticing yeasty bouquet hints of freshly baked lemon bread and touches of malt and it’s vibrantly fizzy in the fairly dry palate with a steely undercurrent to the rich, toasty, creamy leesy finish. A tasty cuvée made from 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier and 10% Chardonnay. 12% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $39.99.
Tesouro Segredo Albarino 2016 – Rias Baixas, Spain
Citrine gold in hue with a rich inviting fragrance of apricots and orange blossom that’s almost heady. Concentrated and oily textured in the palate that’s dry and just a little spicy with apple, apricots and almond notes and a long finish with salivating salinity that makes you want to take another sip. This oak free wine was aged on its yeast lees that adds to the textural complexity and Stephen had us drooling over his descriptions of seafood matches. 12.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.
Mont Rocher Viognier Vieilles Vignes 2016 – Pays d'Oc, France
Glossy citrine gold. Ethereally fragrant with apricot kernel and an intriguing savoury earthy nuance. Very appealing lift and brightness in the warm, rounded, oily textured palate that hints of apricot, nuts, a touch of musky spice and a hint of honeysuckle that implies sweetness although the wine finishes dry. A smooth, curvaceous, textural wine to accompany rich buttery foods.13% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $15.99.
Viento Aliseo Tempranillo Petit Verdot 2016 – Las Perdronas, Spain
Purple red in hue with an intensely fruity, winey bouquet. Full of flavour in the palate with warm gravelly tannins, vibrant red and purple fruit, earth and mushroom notes and a long dry finish with accents of tobacco and spice. A young biodynamic organic wine without any oak, which lets the fruit sing. 13.5% alc. Screwcap. First Glass Price: $17.99.
Gran Familia Rioja Reserve 2012 – Rioja Alta, Spain
Rich ruby garnet with watery edges indicating some age. Red ‘jelly baby’ candy on the nose with just the slightest suggestion of barnyard and leather. A mellow wine that’s soft, supple and gentle in its flow caressing the palate with its fine, velvet-fringed, silky tannins with harmonious touches of vanilla-tinged savoury oak, red summer berries and a succulent finish. This current release, aged in barrel then in the bottle before we see it, is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 10% Garnacha with 50% American oak. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $19.99.
Il Mandorlo Negroamaro 2015 – Puglia, Italy
Dark red black in the glass. Savoury on the nose with leather and spice and hints of rosehip jelly and brimming with flavour in the juicy powerful palate with firm almost teeth-coating tannins, succulent purple and black fruit and a lovely violet-like fragrance floating through then later, as the bright finish lingers, hints of anise and crushed chocolate biscuits. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $15.99.
Soprasasso Valpolicella Ripasso 2014 – Veneto, Italy
Rich red black with moderate density. Savoury on the nose with hints of barnyard and leather that follow through to the medium-bodied, firm-tannined palate but overall bright to the taste with woody herb characters, slightly confectionary red fruit flavours, mouthfilling vinosity and spiciness, and a warm fresh finish. Made predominantly from the dark coloured Corvina grape using the Ripasso method, it’s best enjoyed with food. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $23.99.
Chateau Loudenne AOC Cru Bourgeois 2011 – Medoc, France
Deep dark red with a very enticing bouquet that’s a harmony of mellow fruit and cedar with earthy savoury accents. Classically earthy, savoury flavours with subtle plum and currant fruit and hints of cigar box, cedar, leather and thyme. What’s very striking, however is the fine but still unresolved and slightly tongue coating tannins and the very dry finish. A blend of 52% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc that has the elegance and class of top quality Bordeaux at a fraction of the price. 13.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $38.99.
Pietra Primitivo Susumaniello 2015 – Puglia, Italy
Susumaniello is a grape variety that’s blended with 60% Primitivo in this brightly hued black red wine. The concentrated bouquet has cigar box-like woody notes infusing the luscious red berries and the taste is succulent and heady. It seems super ripe and luscious with ripe berries, creamy oak, chocolate, anise, sweet spices, a sprinkle of pepper and big tannins that sit in well with the overall opulence that’s underpinned by fresh acidity. Plush and flirtatious. Fabulous with cheese. 14% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $28.99.
Piqueras 100 Anos Limited Edition 2011 – Alamansa, Spain
Made primarily from Monastrell and Garnacha Tinitoreo with a little Syrah and Grenache from 100 year old vines at 900 asl, this deeply hued wine is totally different. The wonderfully fragrant bouquet is full of winey extract with salty, saline, leathery notes and the taste suggests dusty gravel roads, graphite (pencil lead), earth, clay and possibly even a suggestion of mint. The vinosity of the red fruit is deep, like every last drop of juice has been squeezed out of the grapes and the tannins are dry and mouth-coating. Fantastic wine to muse over with vinously minded friends. 14.5% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $38.99.
Soprasasso Amarone della Valpolicella Ripasso 2014 – Veneto, Italy
This has a fairly saturated dark red hue and a sweet, grapey, biscuity scent laced with raspberry, plum and cherry. Made from sun-dried grapes this smooth flowing, mouthfilling wine is concentrated, heady, warm, spicy, almost peppery. A big wine, yet a harmonious wine with succulent berries and noticeable tannins that are more noticeable on the finish. Superb with rich dishes like casseroles or to enjoy after dinner with cheeses. “Decant in the morning, drink at night,” says Stephen. Good advice. 15% alc. Cork. First Glass Price: $47.99.