Helen’s blog

Thoughts and tastings from Helen Savage, wine writer.

Archive for January, 2013

The Wine Society’s excellent range of own label wines

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

The Wine Society offers a superb selection of wines, a great resource, I’ve found, for my wine educational activities.

When I visited the society’s warehouses and offices in Stevenage recently I was especially pleased to taste some of the Society’s own label wines, including some of its ‘Exhibition’ range. Together, they are a vivid illustration of the keen wine buying skills of the Wine Society team.

Here are brief notes on some of them:

The Society’s Reserva Brut Cava (Sumarocca) abv 11.5%  £7.50

Typical lavender oil aromas, then soft, creamy acidity and just off dry (though I’m told the residual sugar is actually below 5 g/l). Excellent value fizz: nicely rounded and gentle.

The Society’s Celebration Crémant de Loire (Gratien et Mayer) abv 12%  £6.25

Even better value, this clean, creamy, fresh-tasting fizz, doesn’t show a great deal of yeasty autolysis, but is beautifully balanced. A blend of Chardonnay, Chenin and Pinot Noir.

The Society’s Exhibition Grüner Veltliner 2011 (Bründlmayer) abv 12.5% £11.95

Fresh, green, grassy aromas, then clean herby fruit, fresh, savoury/mineral and lingering.

The Society’s South African Chenin Blanc 2012 (Villiera) abv 13% £6.50

Quite scented, green apple aromas, then slightly mineral. A creamy, leesy palate that balances rich, soft, green apple flavours and a mineral finish. Outstanding value.

The Society’s Pinot Grigio (Lorenzon) abv 13% £7.75

Ripe melony aromas, then a palate that balances more ripe fruit, with fresh acidity and ends with a perfumed lift. Far more complex and interesting than most Italian Pinot Grigio.

The Society’s Exhibition Sancerre 2011 (Domaine Serge Laloue) abv 13.5% £12.50

Typical grassy, gooseberry, blackcurrant leaf aromas. Ripe but crisp and a mineral finish – all it should be.

The Society’s Chilean Chardonnay, Limarí (Concha y Toro) abv 14% £6.50

Fresh, mineral and apple aromas and a round, creamy, savoury palate. Hints of pineapple, but the accent is firmly on restraint and elegance, despite the high alcohol.

The Society’s Exhibition Tasmanian Chardonnay 2011 (Freycinet) abv 12.5% £14.50

Real complexity and finesse here, justifying its price tag. A creamy, nutty aroma, then ripe melony fruit, with subtle use of oak.

The Society’s Saar Riesling (von Kesselstatt) abv 10% £8.95

Very fresh, lemony aromas, with honey. Savoury, clean and fresh in the mouth, with softer acidity than I expected, and gentle sweetness. Lovely wine.

The Society’s Exhibition Gewurztraminer (Hugel) abv 14% £13.50

The Society have splashed out on a wine that fully justifies the ‘exhibition’ tag: big and ripe, but balanced by freshness, and underpinned by soft, ripe, very spicy fruit, with a particularly seductive middle palate and a dry finish.

The Society’s Pinotage, Eilandia 2011 (Bon Cap) abv 12.5% £6.95

Lighter and juicer than some, it has grassy, plummy, even raspberry aromas, vey juicy acidity and quite firm tannins. Organic too.

The Society’s Exhibition Morgon, Côte du Py 2010 abv 13% £8.95

Cunningly blended from three different growers, this is a real success, with lovely spicy, fresh, savoury, cherry fruit – and surprising depth.

The Society’s Rioja Crianza 2009 (Bodegas Palacio) abv 13.5% £6.95

The colour is already maturing, leading into a rich, typically oaky aroma, and quite chunky, spicy plum and cherry fruit.

The Society’s Chianti Rufina (Grati) abv 13.5% £6.95

Utterly typical bitter cherry fruit dominates. Clean, quite soft and easy.

The Society’s Exhibition Haut-Médoc 2008 (Château Beaumont) abv 12.5% £11.95

Well-made claret, with the vivid aromas, typical of the vintage, and a fresh, spicy palate. With supple tannins it’s fully ready.

The Society’s California Old-Vine Zinfandel (Delicato) abv 13.5% £6.95

Big and brambly with lots of spice, but balanced by quite fresh acidity.

The Society’s Exhibition Crozes-Hermitage 2009 (Cave de Tain) abv 13% £9.95

Plenty of ripe bramble and black cherry fruit a chewy texture and a spicy finish. As it should be in this ripe vintage.

The Society’s Exhibition Victoria Shiraz 2007 (Mount Langi Ghiran) abv 14.5% £16

Real concentration of ripe, plummy Christmas cake fruit and yet again, balanced by juicy acidity and nicely integrated oak.

The Society’s Exhibition Sauternes 2010 (Denis Dubourdieu) abv 13.5% £18

Still marked by scented oak, but also by plenty of ripe, sweet, apricot fruit, with the elegance of Barsac.

The Society’s Exhibition Viejo Oloroso Dulce (Sanchéz Romate) abv 20% £10.75

A real treat to finish with and a bargain to boot: a huge nose of intense, figgy, raisiny fruit and walnut, then an equally concentrated mouthful of the same. Sweet, but not excessively so.