Category: Sweet Wine

#HOTGV: On Canadian ice wine with Inniskillin’s Bruce Nicholson

This episode of Heard on the Grape Vine is all about Canadian Ice Wine.

Frozen vineyards at Inniskillin

Canada is perhaps the only place in the world where ice wine can be produced every year thanks to its consistently cold winters. And because of the quality and availability, the country has become famous for this delicious sweet wine over the past couple of decades.

But the history of this wine, which has its roots in Germany and Austria, is relatively recent for Canada, where the first vintages weren’t made until 1984.

Inniskillin sparkling vidal

I travelled to Niagara-on-the-Lake recently to meet Bruce Nicholson, the wine maker at Inniskillin, one of the oldest and best known ice wine producers in Canada.

I took a little tour of the winery and saw what’s possibly the oldest bottle of Canadian ice wine in existence and Inniskillin’s first vintage – 1984. There’s only one bottle left of this at the estate. True to the co-founder and wine maker Karl Kaiser’s Austrian roots, it was spelt eiswein.

Next to it was an 1989 Inniskillin, which retails at over CAD$500 right now for the half bottle. It was the first wine from the estate to have won an international competition, putting Canadian ice wines on the map.

It was just after the ice wine harvest and the grapes had already been pressed so I could taste a fresh sample of the juice for the Cabernet Franc. It was deliciously fruity and you can already see some of the rhubarb notes that Nicholson talks about later on.

As well as the wines on sale right now, I also tasted a little sample of the 1993 vintage at their bar. It had visibly oxidised in colour and flavour but oh, still so gorgeous and fresh.

Cold smoked scallops being prepared at Inniskillin

After a wine-friendly lunch prepared by their in-house chef Tim MacKiddie, I sat down with Nicholson for this podcast.

Join us now as we learn more about how this coveted wine is made at Inniskillin and what to eat with it.

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Rustenberg Straw Wine 2011

Rustenberg Straw Wine 2011The wine: Rustenberg Straw Wine 2011

The producer: Rustenberg www.rustenberg.co.za

They say: This wine has been made using a centuries-old process of drying grapes on straw in order to produce dessert-style wines. Grapes are harvested at the same ripeness required to make table wine and are then laid out on straw for a number of weeks. This allows the grapes to slowly dehydrate, concentrating their natural sugar, acid and flavour.

The straw also acts as a wick for any excess moisture, ensuring the grapes do not rot. After gently pressing the dehydrated grapes the concentrated juice is slowly fermented and aged in old oak barrels to create a balanced luscious dessert wine.

We say: A gorgeous golden wine with a luscious texture. Intense, alluring nose. There’s notes of ripe peach, orange rind, syrup, honey and maybe even a little fig. The incredible acidity balances the unctuous sweetness of the wine. Really nice stuff.

Try with: Apple tarte tatin

Price (RRP): From £8.99 for half-bottle.

Available from: Majestic

Chinese tasting notes and food match

品酒笔记: 丰盛美味的金黄色甜酒。闻起来激烈,诱人。有熟的桃子,橘子皮,糖浆,蜂蜜,甚至有点无花果的味道。酒甜与酸搭配很好。真不错。

中餐搭配: 糯米甜枣点心

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Four of the best Loire Stars at D&D Wine

Last month I attended a tasting at D&D London’s New Street Wine Shop, the theme of which was Loire Stars – the hidden gems and unsung heroes from the Loire Valley.

My previous encounter with the Loire was centred around Chenin Blanc, which was showcased in dry white and sweet wines. I liked it, a lot. But the Loire also produces fascinating wines from a number of other well-known grape varieties like Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Melon de Bourgogne; all of which I am comparatively less familiar with.

I tasted 13 wines altogether, ranging from sparkling to sweet (I skipped the rosé). The diversity between the wines is immense. But then for a region so widespread, you wouldn’t expect anything else. And just as equally, you wouldn’t expect to like everything.

Out of those 13, there were in fact only four that I really enjoyed. They’re all available at New Street Wine Shop but I will also bracket other places where you can buy them.

Philippe Foreau Clos Naudin Vouvray NV Although there were alternative in the sparkling line up, with a younger, fresher feel, the sparkling Philippe Foreau Clos Naudin Vouvray NV was the first to catch my eye. It was rich in flavour with a blended flavour of toast and apple that was bolstered with incredible acidity. It also had smooth bubbles and was nicely balanced. I felt it was very comparable to Champagne, which is made in the same method. £19.65 Also available from Gauntleys.
Domaine des Roches Neuves Terre Chaudes Saumur Champigny 2013 The whites flew by and the first red to get my attention was Domaine des Roches Neuves Terre Chaudes Saumur Champigny 2013. Having been to the estate before, I felt like I had a vested interest in liking the wine. But I didn’t. At least not at first. As I tasted the wine though, I got more and more notes out of it and, well, I had to say it was pretty good. It starts with a sort of concrete hardness that melts into gentle tanning and a dark, brooding herbaceousness. It had great food potential as it is but then the long finish of residual fruit, red currant and black pepper really brought it together. £19.80 Also available at Excel Wines.
Domaine de la Noblaie Chinon 2013 In startling contrast to the Saumur Champigny, Domaine de la Noblaie Chinon 2013 was extremely open and friendly. It was rich and fruit-forward as well as being rounded and vibrant. It was simple and easy drinking – and you can’t fault it for that. £11.50 Also available at Haynes Hanson & Clark.
Philippe Delesvaux Selection de Grains Nobles Coteaux du Layon 2011 As a lover of sweet wines, I was of course pleased to find a good one in the Philippe Delesvaux Selection de Grains Nobles Coteaux du Layon 2011. It’s perhaps on the young side but its lush, fragrant nose is very appealing right now. The rich and complex blend of apricots finds a nice back bone in the balance of the sugar and acidity. Not too intense but thoroughly enjoyable. £18.60 (half-bottle) Also available at Fine + Rare Wines

Incidentally there’s still a few more days of the D&D Loire Stars Festival, which concludes later this month. There’s a few expert led tastings, some matched with food. You’ll be able to find more details here: www.danddwine.com/campaigns-and-partnerships/loirestars/


Amateur Wine was a guest of Loire Valley Wines and D&D London. For more information on what that means, see our Editorial Policy.

A taste from New Zealand’s Marisco Vineyards

My first taste of the 2015 vintage came from Marlborough, New Zealand, from the Marisco Vineyards. I tasted through part of the Marisco portfolio at The Merchant’s Tavern with owner and winemaker Brent Marris.

Wines at the Marisco tasting at The Merchant's Tavern

Wines at the Marisco tasting at The Merchant’s Tavern

Having tasted through a whole bunch of mostly okay, occasionally mediocre, 2014 vintages from other parts of the world this year, the 2015 from Marisco made a refreshing change. It should come as no surprise really – Marris has been in wine all his life.

Brent’s father, John Marris, had been one of the first contract grape growers for Montana (now Brancott Estate) in Marlborough. Following in his father’s footsteps, Brent went on to study oenology and made wines at Oyster Bay before creating Wither Hills. In 2003, on the 300 or so hectares of land on the banks of the Waihopai River, Marris established Marisco vineyards. Wine must run in the blood as his eldest daughter is also studying oenology with a view of joining the family business in the future.

But back to the wines. We tasted through 14 dry wines before dinner and three sweet wines with dessert from The Ned, The King’s Series and the Craft Series. There was also a Hartley’s Block Sauvignon Blanc. For ease, I’ve divided the tasting notes into their respective brands, followed by the sweet wines, rather than in the order tasted. There are a lot of notes and some stories too so brace yourself and read on.

Marisco brands

Marisco brands – yes, I’ve started scribbling on the page before taking this photo

The Ned

The Ned, named after the mountain which overlooks the Marlborough region, was the first wine brand created at Marisco vineyards. Marris wanted to make the stripped-back style of Sauvignon Blanc that first made Marlborough famous. And in the beginning, he worked exclusively with Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

We started with The Ned Pinot Noir Rosé 2015, a tank sample which will be bottled in July. It’s apparently Marris’ first attempt at rosé at Marisco and it’s made with Pinot Noir grapes grown specifically for this wine. It’s a very dry style, and at times a little hot on the palate, with vanilla and red fruit notes. It offered nice structure though and was generally quite elegant.

The Ned Pinot Grigio 2014 (sold as Pinot Gris in New Zealand) had a sort of onion-skin blush to its hue, which was apparently achieved purely through viticulture. It was a light, crisp and delicate wine with lychee notes coming through. I also tried a tank sample of The Ned Pinot Grigio 2015, which, with its slightly pinker hue, was much fresher with a crisp apple nose and a citrusy profile.

The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2014 had a sharp peppery nose and hints of tomato vine on the palate. There was nice acidity but also a certain roundness to the wine. The Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2015 had a slight foxiness about it before opening up to jalapeño peppers and a much more mineral-based palate.

The first red wine came in the form of The Ned Pinot Noir 2013, a cool-climate style Pinot Noir with a slightly spicy palate. There was a delicateness about it with notes of strawberry and vanilla over the gentle tannins. It’s a very likeable wine and I preferred it over the 2014 vintage. The Ned Pinot Noir 2014 was hotter on the palate with more tannins coming through. The fruit felt riper though and with great intensity, finishing with a slight hint of vanilla on the long finish.

Hartley’s Block

The Hartley’s Block Sauvignon Blanc 2014 came in the middle of the tasting and was the only wine from the brand. It was quite rounded for a Sauvignon Blanc (in contrast to the occasional sharp acidity) with a light, peppery palate and delicate nose.

The King’s Series

The King’s Series is a celebration of the Marris family name in the 12th and 13th century – De Marisco. Initially the family was in favour with the king but later, over the generations and as a result of piracy, they became a thorn in the king’s side. These were different kings obviously. Each of the wines in The King’s Series plays on this history of the Marris family – although it doesn’t literally translate into the style of the wine. Or does it?

The first wine we tried in The King’s Series was The King’s Thorn 2013, a lychee-rich wine with a short finish and perhaps in need of a little more acidity. The King’s Favour 2013 came next. It had distinct farmyardy notes with a very delicate palate, lots of minerality and notes of apple and lime. I’m not sure if it was because of the name but I really liked this one. The King’s Legacy Chardonnay 2012 (sold in the USA as The King’s Bastard) was a very light, citrusy Chardonnay, fermented and aged on the lees (with the yeast) in barrel.

On to the red wines we tried The King’s Wrath 2013. It was a herbaceous red wine with more prominent oak notes coming through and slight hint of development.

Craft Series

The Craft Series is the latest brand to join the Marisco portfolio, having launched last year, and is a more artisan selection. They were made on the principle that certain vines were showing exceptional characteristics which Marris wanted to capture. The result is a collection that’s intended to be for people who are really into their wines, know their stuff and isn’t afraid to try something new and interesting. I hope we’ll see these in the UK soon but they’re not widely available yet.

The wines came towards the end of the tasting starting with Brent’s favourite, The Craft Series Sauvignon Blanc Pride & Glory 2011. Like The King’s Favour 2013, this wine had the same farmyardy notes with apple, citrus, a hint of pepper but finished with a little lychee. It worked really well with the sea bream ceviche I ordered, which was surprisingly spicy, so I think it will comfortably work with other spicy dishes too.

The other white wine that I really liked was The Craft Series Viognier The Exemplar 2012. It was quite unusual for a Viognier in that it lacked the signature floral character of the grape variety. Instead, I got notes of sweetcorn and asparagus thanks to the barrel fermentation. It was quite a bold palate and maybe takes some getting used to – but I think that’s one of the reasons why I liked it.

The Craft Series Pinot Noir The Journey 2013 was restrained and elegant with a herbaceous character, black pepper and lots of tannin. It feels too young to drink right now but there’s potential. The 2014 vintage will apparently be divided into a feminine and a masculine wine as the parcels are so polarising.

The sweet wines

Marisco sweet wines with lemon tart and basil ice cream

Marisco sweet wines with lemon tart and basil ice cream

I’ve actually tried sweet wines from both The Ned and The King’s Series without ever realising that they’re from the same winemaker. Tasting them side by side, the difference is even more obvious.

The Ned Noble 2013 had a slight petrol note with highlights of citrus peel, tangerine and a floral quality. There was nice intensity and good acidity.

From The King’s Series, it was two vintages of A Sticky End. A Sticky End 2012 was more earthy while A Sticky End 2013 was much cleaner on the nose. Both, I felt, needed more acidity and, next to The Ned, didn’t show as well as they could have.

#HOTGV: On Sciacchetrà with Terra di Bargòn

For the third episode of Heard on the Grape Vine podcast, I travelled to Liguria, in northern Italy, to learn more about Sciacchetrà, a passito wine unique to the Cinque Terre.

View out to sea from Terra di Bargòn, Cinque Terre

You’ve probably seen the word passito on bottles of sweet wine from all around Italy so let me begin by explaining what that is. Passito is the Italian name for a type of sweet wine made from the juice of grapes that have been allowed to dry before being pressed. The drying process concentrates the sugar in the grapes so that sweet wines can be produced. The residual sugar, left at the end of the fermentation process, is what you can taste on your palate.

In the Cinque Terre, a special type of passito is produced and it goes by the name of Sciacchetrà. It is made by fermenting the juice of the raisined grapes with the must (grape skin, pips and all) to produce a concentrated, tannic sweet wine.

In Riomaggiore, one of the villages of the Cinque Terre, I met Roberto Bonfiglio and Alessandra De Cugis. They are the husband and wife team behind Terra di Bargòn, a cantina which produces only Sciacchetrà. Alessandra and Roberto welcomed me to their home somewhere half way up the Ligurian hills. Surrounding it were gnarly vines of some 25 years, trained in a high pergola. There, looking out over the Cinque Terre, they talked about their Sciacchetrà.

Roberto Bonfiglio and Alessandra de Cugis at Terra di Bargòn, Cinque Terre

For me, it was incredibly awe-inspiring to learn that the couple, now in their 60s, are producing this passito wine which the younger generation has abandoned because they deemed it too hard. But I’ll let them explain their own wine.

The wine we tasted was the Terra di Bargòn Reserva 2009, a concentrated wine with notes of bruised apple, prune, dried apricots and a nutty tang. It’s far from the lusciousness typical of passito so if you’re not a big fan of sugar, this could be the sweet wine for you.

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Quinta do Portal, Celeirós

This is a post in the Spotlight on: Oporto and the Douro Valley series

The winery at Quinta do Portal is impressively large (it’s capable of producing some 1.2 million bottles of wine a year) considering that the estate itself is only around 15 hectares. But that’s because the family owned estate is also part of the group that owns Quinta do Confradeiro, Quinta dos Muros and Quinta da Abelheira. Between all those Quintas, the area under vine is more like 105 hectares.

Winery, Quinta do Portal, Douro Valley

The man in charge of creating all those wines is Paulo Coutinho, who has been at Quinta do Portal for more than 20 years. You get the sense that he is very self-assured as he claims to be able to make any wine that he wants to.

The considerable creative flexibility that he’s been afforded has allowed him to experiment with wines that you probably won’t find on many other estates in the Douro Valley like a sparkling rosé. That rosé, incidentally, was the Super Reserva Rosé Espumante do Douro 2008, which, while a little too tart on the palate, had a nice strawberry nose with a slightly savoury finish. It’s a one-off, however.

Moscatel is the other grape that Coutinho liked to play with. We tried a Moscatel Galego Branco 2013, a slightly tart and savoury wine that’s otherwise classic in the moscatel category. Quinta do Portal also had a Colheita rosé, the Colheita Douro Rosé 2013, which was fresh, aromatic and crisp with plenty of strawberry notes and a very dry finish.

The aforementioned three “fun wines” were what Coutinho later introduced into cocktails. In fact, he was one of the strongest advocates for wine cocktails that we met on the trip.

Wines, Quinta do Portal, Douro Valley

To more serious wines, we started with a Douro Branco 2006, a well rounded wine with notes of honey, melon, lychee and a fresh, creamy finish.

Switching to one of the few sweet wines (that’s not port) in the Douro Valley, we tried the Late Harvest 2009 – honeyed nose, white fruits and a hint of Botrytis on the finish. A second sweet wine, which we tried later, was the Moscatel do Douro Reserva 2004, a floral but nutty and raisined wine that’s slightly oxidised.

With the reds, we started with a Grande Reserva 2007, a fresh, violet-forward wine that’s backed with blackcurrant and a little taste of iron. The still-evolving Touriga Nacional 2001 had a hint of mushroom and leathery overtones though there was still plenty of fruit.

Finally, finishing with a small round of port, we started with a 20 year old tawny. It felt a little one-dimensional but had good acidity to counter the sweetness. The 1999 vintage port, meanwhile, had developed with mushroom notes, a hint of chocolate and a smoky savouriness.

www.quintadoportal.com

Fairview La Beryl Blanc 2012

Fairview La Beryl Blanc 2012The wine: Fairview La Beryl Blanc 2012

The producer: Fairview www.fairview.co.za

They say: Fairview La Beryl, a traditional handcrafted straw wine, personifies the quintessence of grape. The grapes were carefully handharvested into small baskets and transferred to an old barn where they were delicately laid out on beds of straw to desiccate. Eventually the bunches lost about 75% of their volume, intensifying flavour and sweetness. The grapes were gently pressed and the juice fermented in French oak barrels. La Beryl is an opulent and concentrated wine, with a rich balance of fruit and spice flavours.

We say: The intensity of this wine is immediate with a rush of complex sweetness coating the palate with its unctuousness. Sultana comes to mind first, lightly bolstered by a slight floral note from the Muscat in the blend. The well-structured back bone comes later with the refreshing acidity of the Chenin Blanc.

Try with: Pear crumble and clotted cream

Price (RRP): ~£14

Available from: The Drink Shop

Additional notes:

Chinese tasting notes and food match

品酒笔记: 这个高浓度的甜酒马上带来多层次的口感。最先是葡萄干的味道。之后有一些由Muscat葡萄带来的花香和Chenin Blanc葡萄的高酸度。整体平衡。

中餐搭配: 咸鸭蛋

Domaine Ogereau, Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay

This is a post in the Spotlight on: the Loire Valley series

Domaine Ogereau’s production is absolutely tiny.

At just 20 hectares, 10 of which are devoted to Coteaux du Layon, they are heavily influenced by the saleability of sweet wines. Perhaps that’s why, with the addition of their son Emmanuel as the new winemaker, the owners Vincent and Catherine Ogereau are exploring the terroirs of Coteaux du Layon for dry Chenin Blanc.

Emmanuel Ogereau, Domaine Ogereau, Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay

Emmanuel Ogereau becomes the fifth generation of the family to be a winemaker at the property. Having studied wine business in Dijon, trained in Burgundy and made wine in Oregon and Central Otago, he will certainly be giving the family’s wines a facelift.

We tasted their current, mostly sweet, selection starting with the dry Domaine Ogereau Anjou en Chenin 2012 – a lemony fresh wine that was vibrant on the palate but not that exciting.

The Clos le Grand Beaupréan Savennières 2011 felt a little austere with its crisp apple note, steely minerality and tannic finish. With a little age, the Clos le Grand Beaupréan Savennières 2007 had a lightly oxidised nose but revealed a distinctive wine that was very complex with notes of apple and bees wax.

From then on it was the sweet wines.

The Coteau du Layon Saint Lambert 2013 was an entry level sweet wine with floral, white fruit and peach notes.

Domaine Ogereau own a cherished parcel of land that they call “bonnes blanches” which is essentially schist soil that looks like chalk. From that parcel, they produce a few different wines.

The Harmonie des Bonnes Blanches Coteaux du Layon Saint Lambert 2011 was rich with apricot and floral notes as well as intense Botrytis nose and a long finish.

The Clos des Bonnes Blanches Coteaux du Layon Saint Lambert 2011 had a slightly truffled nose followed by dried apricots, honey and lemon peel. Best described as a rich nectar, it had an extremely long, lip-sticking finish. With a little age, the Clos des Bonnes Blanches Coteaux du Layon Saint Lambert 2007 had an even more pronounced truffled nose with stunning intensity and concentration of honey and caramel, lifted by a floral note. It was really reminiscent of a great Sauternes.

The last wine was the Cuvée Nectar Coteaux du Layon Saint Lambert 1990. Again, the wine was intense and concentrated with notes of floral honey but it also had a tannic, bitter tinge. Developing into a syrup, it somehow felt passed it. A shame, because it could, and should, have been a great wine.

www.domaineogereau.com

Domaine des Forges, Saint Aubin de Luigné

This is a post in the Spotlight on: the Loire Valley series

The family owned Domaine des Forges began when Pierre Robineau purchased two hectares of vines and named it “le Clos des Forges”. Robineau, at the time, was a grocer and draper and the vines were just a sort of side project. It wasn’t until the second generation that more vineyards were purchased and the Domaine grew.

Vineyards, Domaine des Forges, Saint Aubin de Luigné

The current owners, Stéphane and Séverine Branchereau, are the fifth generation and own 47 hectares spread across the Anjou. While also making a fair selection of dry wines, their main focus has been sweet wines – they have vines in Coteaux du Layon and Quarts-de-Chaume.

What is notable is the fact that they have sweet wines at various price points, making their product potentially very accessible to price sensitive consumers. However, it’s also a shame because, while their top end product is stunning, the journey to the top is a slow slug of nice but not quite nice enough.

We tasted a sizeable selection starting with the l’Audace du Domaine des Forgres Anjou Blanc 2013, a simple, citrusy wine with light minerality.

Much of their other dry wine selection was focused on Savennières.

Le Moulin de Gué Savennières 2012 was fruity, rather than savoury, with white fruit and apple notes as well as a slight sweetness and minerality. Le Clos du Papillon Savennières 2012 was a crisp wine filled with apples and pears.

Standing out more was La Roche aux Moines Savennières 2012, which had a much richer palate, greater balance and, I felt, greater potential for interesting ageing. Equally rich was Le Clos du Papillon Savennières Demi-Sec 2011, a honeyed, savoury wine with notes of white and tropical fruit as well as a floral highlight.

Moving on to their Coteaux du Layon we started with the entry level Coteaux du Layon 2013, which was not too sweet after the Demi-Sec and had a bit of a minty, eucalyptus touch.

The Cuvée des Forges Coteaux du Layon 2010, which was good for its price point, had a slight petroleum, Botrytised nose with dried apricots and good acidity.

The quirky, but not unpleasant, Coteaux du Layon St Aubin 2013 had a slightly musty, funky nose with lots of tropical fruit and pineapple flavours. The Coteaux du Layon Chaume 2010 had a nice amount of sweetness balanced with acidity but while there were notes of tropical fruits, it wasn’t very complex. The “En Aparté” Coteaux du Layon Chaume 2010 had better intensity from a period of oak barrel ageing.

The concentration really stepped up with the Coteaux du Layon Premier Cru Chaume 2011, which had nice minerality alongside Botrytis notes and fresh acidity.

Next up was the Quarts-de-Chaume 2008, which felt strangely like a Botrytised Riesling but with dried fruit peel and less viscosity. The Quarts-de-Chaume Grand Cru 2011, in contrast, had a rich syrupy texture and incredible acidity blended into the caramel and dried fruit notes.

Finishing things off was the stunning Sélection de Grains Nobles Coteaux du Layon Chaume 1997. It’s the most concentrated wine of the lot, with the highest residual sugar, but still showing a youthful character. With pronounced nose of lychee, caramel, truffle and candied fruit and a rich, syrupy texture, it’s, at last, where great terroir and great winemaking meet.

www.domainedesforges.net

Domaine de la Paleine, Le Puy-Notre-Dame

This is a post in the Spotlight on: the Loire Valley series

The village of Le Puy-Notre-Dame is known for its subterranean caves, used at one time to grow mushrooms. These days, they form the basis of the cellar at Domaine de la Paleine.

The Domaine is an interesting proposition.

As well as being a mix of private home and working winery, the estate is also open to eno-tourism. And they just so happen to fall between the Anjou and Saumur appellations so produces a little of both.

Winery dog, Domaine de la Paleine, Le Puy-Notre-Dame

Unfortunately on the day that I visited, the winemaker wasn’t around to explain his wines, but what was obvious was the fact that the owner loved opera – many of the wines had names that were related to Italian operas, with each vintage given a different name. The results were pretty haphazard and I didn’t have a whole lot of joy with the tasting.

The tasting started with an Arpeggio Saumur Blanc 2013 tank sample; a simple citrusy wine that’s yet to integrate. The Toccata Saumur Blanc 2012, the same wine as Arpeggio but under a different name, had a slightly honeyed character with a ripe and rounded finish. There were plenty of white peach notes but again, simple in style.

The La Paleine Saumur Blanc 2011 felt disjointed somehow despite boasting some good peach and floral notes. Similarly disappointing was the Pamina Saumur Blanc 2011 – off balance and hot on the palate at 15% alcohol.

The Traviata Saumur Blanc 2010 was an unoaked demi-sec; boasting a savoury nose, it wasn’t quite enticing enough.

The Pamina Anjou Blanc 2010 was made a viscous moelleux-style wine, which was sadly a bit one dimensional with little complexity of fruit.

Moving up to La Paleine’s more premium wines, the Aria Saumur Blanc 2010 had hints of oak with a lemony honey note. The Casta Diva Anjou Blanc 2009 had a pungent peppery and stinky gunpowder nose, followed by orange peel bitterness – it’s a good name for a difficult wine.

Finally it was on to the sweet wines. The Coteaux de Saumur Late Harvest 2011, at last, showed some complexity with floral notes coming up top. The older Coteaux de Saumur Late Harvest 2010 had a sort of savoury tropical fruit note but had lost much of its freshness.

www.domaine-paleine.com

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