Delicious Riesling from Alsace


Domaine Lucas & Andre Rieffel, Brandluft Riesling, Alsace, 2012

100% Riesling, 13% Alcohol.
Bin end reduced to £9.50 from £15.50

Appearance: Clear pale lemon.

Nose: Intense characteristic Riesling nose: lemon and petrol.

Palate: Very slightly off dry, intense flavour, again lemon dominant. Very well balanced and given focus from piercing acidity.  Finish long with high salinity and minerality.

Conclusions: I found this an evocative wine and incredible value for money.  To date I have often been underwhelmed by Alsace but this really shines.  Off-dry mineral heaven.  [Again the family also enjoyed this.]

Score: 91/100 (DT)

Wine purchased from Berry Brothers Basingstoke store.


Dinner at The Cherwell Boathouse, Oxford


Oxford is a vibrant city, characterised by its tradition, grandeur and architecture. Surprisingly, its restaurant scene is limited to only a handful of fine dining establishments, making it difficult to identify reasonable wine lists.

Thank goodness for the Cherwell Boathouse. This restaurant, set on the banks of the Cherwell River, boasts an impressive list of boutique rarities and expensive greats (note the love poem to, and 7 listed wines from Domaine des Comtes Lafon).

The list is impressive not only because of its variety, but because of the pricing.  Usually, I despair when paying £25 for a bottle of distinctly average Chianti at the local Italian trattoria. However the Cherwell appears to make a policy of limiting price ups to twice the retail value. So, I was tempted to pay a little extra for a lot more.

We started with an aperitif of English sparkling wine and Champagne. We tasted these semi-blind (we knew which wines were present but not which was which). My tasting notes are below:

Pol Roger (NV)

Pretty nose, lightly floral with baked apple. Great acidity on the attack, some white fruit and a little honey on the finish. Not long, but pleasing. 89 points. (Note: I guessed this was the English sparkling wine)

Gusbourne Brut, Kent 2009

Baked apple again, but more open on the nose, with richness and brioche. Great acidity, developing into white fruit and some nuttiness on the finish. 90 points.

There were only 2 of us at the dinner, so we decided to choose 2 half bottles. To go with octopus carpaccio we chose Chablis:

Domaine du Colombier, Chablis, 2012

Good entry level Chablis. Focussed, balanced minerality with peachy white fruit. 88 points

Tempted by the passionate sommelier, we chose an Oregon Pinot noir to pair with lamb:

Domaine Drouhin, Dundee hills, pinot noir 2013

Burgundian start, delicious ripe red fruit. Cherry and raspberry in particular. Some complexity from 10 months in barrel and the transition to mellow vanilla-tasting American oak on the finish was lovely. Very pure and not over-extracted. 93 points.

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This was a delightful experience; good wine at an affordable price. Learning point: I need to drink more Oregon Pinot.


A Loire White and Chilean Cab Sauv

21/2/2016Domaine des Forges, L’Audace, Anjou, Loire, France 2012.

100% Chenin Blanc, aged in oak barrels, 13% alcohol.
Bin end wine around £10.

Appearance: Crystal clear, pale gold, good legs.

Nose:  Intense and clear notes of green apple.

Palate:  Dry white wine with high acidity.  Light in body with medium (+) alcohol for the style.  Medium intensity of flavour, again dominated by green apple with an undercurrent of pear.  Oak adds a slight buttery complexity, particularly as the wine warmed up and on tasting the second day.  Racy minerality works well with the acidity leading on to a medium length finish.

Score: 88-90/100 (DT)

Conclusion:  Maybe not for everyone but I found this a refreshing and somewhat different aperitif.  In a way it reminded me of a Chablis but with the dominant green apple flavour at the front of the palate.  A well made and food friendly wine.  Not quite as good as the Coteaux du Layon and Savennières I have previously tasted from the same producer.

William Fèvre Chile, Espino Cabernet Sauvignon, Pirque, Maipo Valley, Chile, 2011.

85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, aged in oak barriques, 13% alcohol.
Bin end reduced from £10.95 to £7.11.

Appearance: Deep garnet, clear, good legs.

Nose: Intense nose of predominantly red fruits.

Palate: Sour cherry dominates in this fruit forward Bordeaux blend.  Medium tannin,  and sweetness with sufficient acidity to give focus.  Well balanced and surprisingly elegant with medium length finish.  Complexity added by herbal, vanilla and cedar notes.

Conclusion: A good quality wine, ready to drink and great value for money.  This was also a hit with the rest of the family (not always an easy task).

Score 89/100 (DT)

Both wines were purchased from Berry Brothers Basingstoke store.