Great Grog Co. Range tasting 2000

The Great Grog Company is an interesting young company, founded by two ex-employees of Oddbins in Edinburgh who decided to risk all and go it alone. They hope to offer a price advantage because of lower overheads, yet with the personal service you would expect of a small business. The founders are enthusiastic, hard-working, and they’ve put together a list with some interesting options and some very nice wines. They are slowly expanding their market, having built up a good client list largely by word of mouth and they say that a lot of repeat business has ensued. This tasting showed many wines from their range and I managed to taste about 90% of what was on show. Delivery is free.

Vintage details for some wines were missing from Great Grog’s list. The tasting was not blind. Retail prices are given in Pounds Sterling (approx £5UK=$8US)

Sparkling, Rosé & White

Deakin Estate (Australia) Brut – £5.99
Nothing complicated about this, but a rather nice fruity and mouth-filling fizz. Good value.

Serge Mathieu N.V. Champagne – £17.29
Nice golden colour. Very fresh and nettly with good fruit on the nose too. Palate is fairly crisp with lemony flavours dominating, but the mousse is persistant and there is some breadth to this and it’s quite long. Good.

Canteperdrix (Rhône) Côtes du Ventoux Blanc – £3.99
This wine has had some good local press, but it didn’t especially grab me. Very pale colour and light, fresh gooseberry and peach aromas. Some peachy fruit on the palate but to me a little thin and non-descript.

Canteperdrix (Rhône) Côtes du Ventoux Rosé – £3.99
100% Grenache. Lightish colour and fresh red cherry and raspberry aromas. Clean and crisp palate, with some crunchy, tart fruit falvours.

Canteperdrix (Rhône) Viognier – £4.59
As a bit of a Viognier sceptic I have to say this is rather good at the price. Good varietal nose with distinct peach and apricot fruit leads on to a full, ripe palate with plenty of freshening acidity. Good.

Domaine Chaume-Arnaud (Rhône) Côtes du Rhône Vinsobres 1998 – £6.49
60% Marsanne/40% Viognier. Medium gold colour. Nice quality of fruit on the nose with hints of apricot kernel in amongst juicy peach and apricot fruit, Quite buttery. Powerful flavours carry through on the palate too and it has decent length. Good.

Co-op d’Igé (Burgundy) Bourgogne Chardonnay 1998 – £5.69
Pale gold with a clean, precise nose of lemon and apple fruit. The palate is perhaps a little lean, but there’s a fine sense of purity and freshness.

Trimbach (Alsace) Gewürtztraminer – £10.79
Lovely gold colour tinged pink. Essence of freshly opened lychees with floral notes and nuances of orange and smoky bacon. Palate is full-bodied and quite powerful, with a spicy edge to the fruit, but a restrained style and all the better for it. Very good.

Willandra (Australia) Chardonnay 1999 – £5.69
Real crowd-pleasing nose with a layering of buttered toast giving way to intense pineapple tropical fruit. On the palate quite syrupy in both texture and that lush, ripe fruit again, but freshened by nicely judged acidity. Very good.

Willandra (Australia) “Soft Press” Chardonnay 1999 – £5.99
A nice savoury aspect on the nose here with butter and peach fruit and a nuttier edge. On the palate it is rich yet more reserved in style with a savoury, nutty appeal and good balance. Very good.

Trentham (Australia) Estate Chardonnay 1997 – £6.85
Quite a deep, burnished gold. Gorgeously toasty new oak nose. The fruit is powerful but there’s a lovely pure quality to it. On the palate more of the same with rich, buttery full-on oaked-Chardonnay flavours but it has balance and packs a lot of punch. Could easily be a £15 Californian Chardonnay. Excellent

Hollick (Australia) Sauvignon/Semillon 1998 – £7.79
Very fresh and pungent nose with bright tropically-fruited aromas of pineapple, passion-fruit and guava. Good body, this is smooth and powerful with a weight of fruit, yet it is clean and quite long. Very good.

Tyrrells (Australia) Long Flat White 1998 – £4.85
An unusual blend, mostly Semillon but with some Trebbiano and Gewürztraminer in the mix. Nice fragrant nose with flowery notes before buttery peach fruit. On the palate quite rich and alcoholic tasting, plenty of deep apricot fruit, and really rather good at the price.

Chateau Musar (Lebanon) White 1996 – £7.99
This didn’t show well considering how much I have enjoyed this wine in the past. Oxidised orangy nose (which is typical of the wine) with nutty, herbal aromas. The palate is disappointingly lean with awkward herbal flavours dominating.

Echeverria (Chile) Sauvignon Blanc 1999 – £5.29
Essence of gooseberry on the nose, which carries through powerfully onto the palate. Plenty of juicy, uncomplicated fruit, medium-body a hint of being off-dry and a long, clean finish. Nice summer wine.

Echeverria (Chile) Unwooded Chardonnay 1998 – £5.79
Distinctly nettly nose with plenty of orchard fruit too. Palate is quite full and more obvious high-ripeness tropical nuances creep in of mango and pineapple sweetness. Maybe a wee bit raw and alcoholic in the finish, but bags of fruit and a clean style.

Tuatara (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc 1998 – £6.59
I’m not convinced this wasn’t slightly corked, but as I’d already had them pour two other corky wines down the sink I quietly passed this by to let someone else cause a fuss. Rather subdued and underpowered on the nose, even for this atypically reserved vintage. Some decent ripe fruit on the palate but a touch non-descript.

Tuatara (New Zealand) Chardonnay 1998 – £6.59
Cool, creamy character on the nose with apple and melon aromas and hints of more tropical sweetness. Lovely ripeness on the palate and a clean, reasonably long finish. Good.

Matua (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc 1999 – £6.59
Much brighter, more pungent nose with masses of crunchy gooseberry and lychee fruit, Plenty of fruit on the palate too giving roundness and a nice mouthfeel before lime and grapefruit acidity freshens the finish. Very good.

Libertad (Argentina) Pinot Blanc – £4.29
First bottle corked. Nose is quite restrained, but there’s a clean quality of subtley peach and almondy fruit. Quite juicy on the palate, fruit is brighter and a chewy, almost nutty dryness develops. Quite nice and a bit different.

Libertad (Argentina) Chardonnay – £4.39
Creamy peach and buttery pear fruit in a reserved and well-balanced style. Quaffable.


Canteperdrix (Rhône) Vin de Pays de Vaucluse – £3.59
Nice warm ruby colour of medium density. Smoky bacon and earthy berry fruit on the nose with a little hint of pepper. Palate is well-balanced with a tannic bite to quite robust plum and blackcurrant fruit. Good.

Domaine Chaume-Arnaud (Rhône) Côtes du Rhône Massif 1998 – £5.49
has that slightly burnt rubber whiff of much southern Rhône, before juicy berry fruits and a smoky quality. Cool, more refined berry fruit on the palate, but still quite rustic with a herbal edge and plenty of body and spice. Decent length. Good.

Domaine Chaume-Arnaud (Rhône) Côtes du Rhône Vinsobres 1998 – £6.49
This has a lovely creaminess on the nose with plenty of sweet, juicy berry fruit that’s quite jammy and rich. On the palate a fairly serious mouthful with firm tannins and good acidity, but very juicy, savoury fruit dusted with pepper and showing a bit of complexity. Very good.

Co-op d’Igé (Burgundy) Oak Aged Gamay 1998 – £6.49
Fresh, light strawberry Gamay fruit on the nose, but buttressed and rounded-out by creamy vanillin oak. On the palate bright cherry and again softer strawberry fruit are quite clean and crisp, but the oak mellows the finish which is sweet and ripe. Rather nice stuff in an unusual style that was served lightly chilled.

Co-op d’Igé (Burgundy) Bourgogne Pinot Noir 1998 – £6.29
Some smoky fruit but a little bit dumb. Seems a little clumsy on the palate with alcoholic heat, some jammy fruit and an edge of sweetness.

Willandra (Australia) Merlot 1999 – £5.99
A big cream and juicy berry nose. On the palate very soft and full of lush fruit with plum, chocolate and plenty of spice. Very creamy. Quite long too, though acidity in the finish is just a touch prominent. Good value.

Trentham (Australia) Shiraz 1997 – £8.29
Big, sweet, creamy and powerful Shiraz with bags of blackcurrant on nose and palate. Plenty of deep, layered fruit and spice with a nice bitter edge to the fruit and plenty of body. Ripe, sweet tannins give a velvety touch to the finish. Very good.

Barefoot (South Africa) Pinot Noir – £8.89
This is a very nice Pinot in that richer, chunkier style. Lots of deep, sweet fruit on the nose and some spicy, aromatic notes. Palate is all ripe berry fruit, but there’s a core of tannin and a little herbal, vegetal edge that adds interest. Very good of its style.

Chateau Musar (Lebanon) 1994 – £10.99
A very good showing for this wine again after tasting a few weeks back. Gorgeous nose with a sweetness of cherry and blackcurrant fruit subdued by cofee, spice and a savoury grilled-meat quality. On the palate that rich seam of fruit is joined by firm but fine tannins, good acidity and plenty of spice, tobacco and woodsmoke. A very fine Musar for sure.

Campo de Borja (Spain) Crianza 1996 – £5.49
A really crunchy, pure summer berry red beneath a layering of sweet vanilla. This has lovely freshness on the palate with cherry and ripe red berry fruit leading into a long, pure and silky finish. Very good.

Enate (Spain) Cabernet/Merlot 1997 – £6.39
Loads of sweet and sour-edged ripe blackcurrant fruit. Medium-bodied, this is the epitome of clean, well made, creamily fruit-driven modern winemaking. Very easy to drink, this is top notch of its style.

Raimat (Spain) Merlot – £7.99
Brief tasting of this showed it to be very smooth and creamy with plenty of rich berry fruit and a nice herbal edge to add complexity.

Catena (Argentina) Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 – £8.99
Classy wine with a very ripe profile showing masses of crunchy cassis and cream fruit and plenty of sweet new oak. Very dense and chewy on the palate the black fruit flavours are backed-up by tobacco and spice into a long finish. Impressive stuff.

Los Vascos (Chile) Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 – £6.59
A property in which Lafite has an interest, this shows more restraint with a woody, cedary edge to ripe blackcurrant fruit. Medium-bodied, this is balanced and savoury. Though basically a straightforward style, it is nicely done.