Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Equipo Navazos La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada Bota "NO"

Manzanilla Pasada - occupying that important phase of maturity between Fino and Amontillada (not Amontillado, which comes after Amontillada. I think.). I didn't drink this with Broomie, I drank it with Andy. And then I saved a bit which I meant to bring into work, but then got greedy and finished before that could happen. Because it was very, very tasty.

Quite light, but with beginnings of brass.

Sea salt and hay with smoked nuts and toffee. There's some citrus there as well as butterscotch and dough.

The palate starts off quite invigorating. Fresh salt spray, citrus tang and the dust from the bottom of a bowl of dust. Then it softens, becomes quite velvety and textured. Melts on the mouth sort of like dried bits of seaweed with sushi. Fresh notes of mint, some other herby notes. Complex. Nuanced. Yet more amazing sherry from these folks.


Tasted 8 & 11 January 2013 at Millers Court

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Equipo Navazos La Bota de Palo Cortado 34

I opened this and the Amontillado with my mate, Broomie. He and I went to Jerez together 8 years ago (seems like yesterday) and share a love and nerdery for sherry such that we occasionally get a bit lost. His fiancé was with us and thought we were a combination of amusing, boring and ridiculous. We waxed lyrical and philosophical for over an hour about this, pouring forth praise and pondering nuances. 

I have one more bottle of this left in the cellar. I'm trying to forget it's there; to leave it as a sort of surprise to myself, but it keeps calling to me.

Darker, like Greek honey and brass.

Deep, rich and inviting nose. Roasted oranges and maple-glazed walnuts. A touch of amaretto. Occasionally there's a bit of spearmint, often there's deeply varnished mahogany, leather and a bit of cured meat. Dust. Toffee. Pecan pie. Bonfire smoke. It's all there.

I don't think I've ever had sherry so red-fruit like. It bursts right out with roasted and raisined strawberries, plums and raspberries, all with baked orange rind acidity to lift them. Proper waxy honeycomb, with those hardened clumps of honey sugar. Bone dry but rich and leading you along that path to thinking there must be sweetness there somewhere. But there isn't, and it's better for it. This is incredibly complex - again, every sip is different. It draws the tongue right up to the roof of the mouth and makes you tug as much as you can from every sip. Nutty, intricate, powerful, delicate, and seemingly endless - the finish is hard to determine as you want another sip before it goes away. There isn't anything out of place with this. If this isn't the best sherry I've ever drunk, it's pretty bloody close.


Tasted 26 & 28 December 2012 at Miller's Court

Monday, February 11, 2013

Equipo Navazos La Bota de Amontillado 37 'Navazos'

I secured a parcel of these as a sort of Christmas present to myself. It's expensive for sherry, but for what other wine can you secure some of the absolute best available for about £50 a bottle? We all have different priorities of course. I spent most of January living on muesli as a result, but there you go. 

Pale brass, with a bit of a honey hue to it.

Pecans and almonds on the the nose, with a hint of brûlée. There's smokiness there too, depending on the whiff. It changes with every sniff. Sometimes a bit of dusty, woody varnish comes out. Sometimes it's quite orange-y.

It clenches around the tongue, permeating the channels between tasted buds. It gets in there. Like drinking polished mahogany. Those nuts from the nose are roasted more on the palate. It's surprisingly elegant, delicate, with the structure somewhat like delicately spun sugar around the edges, but at it's core is beautifully rich, dry, salted caramel. There's something different with every taste. Long; incredible.

Tasted 26 & 28 December 2012 at Miller's Court

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Champagne Savart 'Calliope' 2006

This was a bizarre moment. I was at a grower Champagne tasting with my mate, Pete, the Champagne lunatic. We tried the wines, some of which were lovely and some of which were not-so-much. We were in the gallery where Ronnie Wood from the Rolling Stones hangs his art. It made for surreal surroundings to say the least, as did the presence of those working in the gallery. High fashion, ridiculously glamorous art nerds meet low fashion, low glamour wine nerds. Anyway, at the end of the tasting, our host pulls this bottle out and tells us we've got to try it. It's the first bottle to leave Savart's cellars and he's only made 600 or so bottles. It's 60% Chardonnay 40% Pinot Noir and zero dosage - he doesn't really know what he's going to do with it. After tasting it, I reckon cellar half and drink the other half: it was awesome.

Pale lemon gold with fine, quick bubbles.

Hay and lemon and apple and salted shortbread with just a hint of sweet butter.

Champagne shot through a laser. Incredibly tight, lemons rind spray, touches of salinity bit of quince, remarkable stone finish that lasts a good long while. Lean but powerful stuff. This is seriously fine Champagne - I'd put it up against a gamut of prestige cuvées without hesitating. I don't know if it's going to be available for sale, but if it is, you should buy it.


Tasted in Mayfair, 14 December 2012


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Friday, February 08, 2013

Chateau Lafite 1955

This was a little too old. I was lucky to taste it anyway, but it would have been better 10 or 15 years ago. That's snobby and picky and hypercritical, yes, but I think people stand in awe of age too much with wine. I love old wine. But sometimes it's not at its best. That doesn't make it any less charming. 

Pale as burgundy, but clearly claret.

Stewed plums, some real bright ripe berry notes, lovely forest-y secondaries. Bit tarry. Quite sweet and rich. Something creamy about.

Charming and complete on the palate. Elegant with some nice life to it. Gentle and caressing. All red fruits, strawberry cream and leather.


Tasted 7 December 2012 at The Sampler


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Thursday, February 07, 2013

Musigny Grand Cru VV 1999 de Vogüé

I love Musigny. I prefer Mugnier's to de Vogüé's these days, but that's totally academic as I cannot afford either. 

Dark, deep and gorgeous.

Quite mute to start. Slowly showing strawberries, cherries and some glazed ham.

Incredibly tight knit at the moment, with fruit and secondaries pulled taut like rope in the palate. Finely texture, like beautiful wood. Echoes long after it goes down. Intense. Focused. Precise, but still with elegant poise. Lifting. Glorious.


Tasted 7 December 2012 at The Sampler


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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

101 > 81

In my first year at university, my friend Matt and I bought a bottle of Wild Turkey, booked the tv room in the basement of our hall and had a bit of a Billy Connolly stand-up marathon. This was in 1994. Everyone else was going to the pub that night, but we wanted to drink bourbon and laugh. We didn’t want Jack Daniel’s (not a bourbon), we didn’t want Jim Beam, we wanted Wild Turkey; bourbon to burn holes in the stomach, incendiary liquid that informed you beyond a shadow of any doubt that you were drinking something serious. Something strong.

Thus was Wild Turkey etched into my memory, and throughout the course of my adult life, it held a special place. The label looks like it should be the pattern on some 70’s shag carpet, its unapologetic bottle-shape, and the proof, proud and large, at 101. 8 years old and 101 proof, it was not a pleasure whiskey; it was the drinking equivalent of self-harm. Every sip blazed a trail across the palate and down the throat like a blade across the forearm. While most of my drinking was whisky-drinking, those rare times for whiskey-drinking were ones of intense reflection, misery and doom. It was the perfect accompaniment to such things. It didn’t smack of refinement and poise, it just smacked any refinement and poise off your smug face.

Latterly, I found it to be ideal in Old Fashioneds. Too many bartenders err towards the sweet. Wild Turkey served as the perfect foil to this. A mere sugar cube soaked in bitters was no match for it. It merely took a bit of the edge off. A whiskey cocktail; now with only half the self-harm.

I finished off the bottle at my local a few weeks ago. When next in, standing in its place on the shelf behind the bar stood a pale replacement. It still said Wild Turkey, but instead of ‘70s shag carpet, it was a pre-Miami Vice ‘80s airport lounge. Muted and staid. Designed. It didn’t say 8 years old on it, and the bold 101 was replaced by a larger 81 signifying far less. No longer a throwback, it was firmly a product of its time. I seethed. I took photos of it with my phone and lamented this ridiculous ‘diet’ bourbon. I shouted at everyone who listened. Countless wincing sips came back to me and slipped away again. 

I calmed down. 

It makes sense. Duty on spirits in the UK is based on abv, folks are drinking responsibly, or at least being told to. The rough edges all around are being smoothed out, curtailed. Rubber bumpers put on sharp corners so toddlers don’t bang their heads.

I don‘t know if it’s the whiskey itself, or if it’s just another marker of the passage of time. I do know what I’d like to wash the taste out of my mouth, but I guess I’ll have to look a bit harder to find it.


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Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1955 Bouchard Aine & Fils

A friend and I decided to try a few icons at The Sampler before Christmas. 

Lovely colour, still with some weight.

Young on the nose, but not too young.

Still quite juicy and elegant on the palate, gripping and structured, with bright dark cherries, leather and dusty herbs. Lovely.


Tasted 7 December 2012 at The Sampler


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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Grands Echezeaux 1969 Leroy

Pale and beautiful.

Strawberries and mulch on the nose. Burgundian barnyard that gets heady cocoay and perfumey.

Ripe, candied strawberries with beeswax, a touch of rosemary and the most silky delicate texture that hides this tight, zingy citrus. Juicy still. Lovely length.


Tasted 7 December 2012 at The Sampler


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Monday, February 04, 2013

yet another pause...

I have about 1000 tasting notes to post, as well as some opinions/rants on Bourbon, cocktails, craft beer and morons who claim to know about all those things, but the book is taking precedence at the moment. I'm sorry about that. This thing is only really useful if it's updated regularly. The coming weeks will see that happen. If you are still popping by, thank you. There should be some interesting things to read soon enough.


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