This week Fiona Beckett of The Guardian and Victoria Moore of The Telegraph are extoling the virtues of viognier – a grape that was all but extinct in the 1960's, when only 40 hectares remained in the world. Moore describes the best of Condrieu – a northern Rhône appellation in which viognier is the exclusive grape – as smelling like “apricots and the distillate of dew from a Mediterranean garden in full bloom.” Quite a recommendation.
Moore recently visited Condrieu, tasting wines from Domaine Georges Vernay, with the "spicy" 2010 Coteau de Vernon standing out from the crowd. François Villard also gets a mention for his 2010 Les Contours de Deponcins Viognier.
While the winemaker from Domaine Georges Vernay sniffs at Australian viognier, Beckett enumerates her favorite examples from Down Under, including 2011 Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier (apricot notes) and 2011 Tahbilk Viognier (all round peachiness).
The other kind of Portuguese wine:
In the wake of a London tasting of “50 Great Portuguese Wines” (chosen from a gruelling 1,200 by Julia Harding), Jancis Robinson of The Financial Times writes about Portugal’s excellent whites.
Will Lyons at The Wall Street Journal is also impressed by the distinctive, frequently salty, and nicely acidic Portuguese whites. He urges an investigation into the wines produced by Afros, Quinta de la Rosa, and Fita Preta.
Experiments with Bolly:
Eric Asimov of The New York Times devotes his column to the “somewhat unappetizing term ‘disgorgement’”, after drinking two identical wines that tasted very different.
Disgorgement removes the dead yeast lees following the second fermentation in bottle, which Asimov likens to “an owl coughing up a pellet.”
After disgorgement, the bottles are sealed with cork and usually shipped off to market. R.D. (recently disgorged) Champagne tends to be more complex and fresher than its counterparts, having spent more time on the lees. There’s now discussion within the industry about whether Champagne houses should state disgorgement dates on the bottle.
To the Holy Land:
Spanish wine critic José Peñín has visited Israel in search of good juice. He expected to find miles of barren desert, but instead discovered “impeccable fields surrounded by thick groves of trees that could be compared to some areas of France.” His favorite wines included a “totally Bordeaux style” 2008 Domaine du Castel red from the Judean Hills. The wine, Peñín believes, could even be mistaken for a Medoc, but for the label on the bottle. Verdict? Earthy, reminiscent of black truffles and currants.
Terry Kirby of The Independent is an optimist, recommending pinks for summer. With reports emerging that the washout summer could lead to a rickets epidemic in Britain, most people aren’t in the mood for rosé. However, if the sun does emerge from behind the grey, rain-filled clouds, Kirby has a number of suggestions. The "Bargain Basement" 2011 Le Froglet Rosé is “just the ticket for a summer evening in the garden." Or for a midweek meal, try 2009 Montes Cherub Rosé, complete with an irresistible label designed by the “great Ralph Steadman" – the British cartoonist who illustrated the work of Mr Gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson. If you’re feeling flush, Kirby also advises purchasing a bottle of 2011 Secret de Léoube Rosé.
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