Wines from Canada, France Spain & Portugal

Notes on 4 wines tasted/drunk in London at a get-together with some other wine-on-the-web pals including Jamie Goode of The Wine Anorak and Peter May of The Pinotage Club. An enjoyable evening of food and wine conversation.

Marqués de Griñon (Spain) Dominio de Valdepusa Petit Verdot 1994
Very unusual to see Petit Verdot bottled in its own right: it is best known as a minor component in red Bordeaux wines. This comes from the progressive estate of Marqués de Griñon. The colour is a healthy, deep ruby, but a first sniff suggests something is amiss. There is a dull greenness and a slightly dank quality indicating the wine is mildly corked, though there is also smoky, spicy black fruit. On the palate my suspicions are confirmed as the wine is very muted and hollow, the fruit not really evident. Some tannins and again a rich spiciness power through the finish, but a wine that is clearly out of condition. What a pity.

Cartuxa (Portugal, Evora) Tinto Colheita 1995
Nose has a distinctly gravelly, earthy quality with some blackcurrant and cherry fruit. The palate is restrained and cool with a twist of lemony bitterness. It is medium-bodied and well-balanced, the cool, fruity character staying juicy and interesting, yet there is also a certain nervy edge to the wine due to highish acidity. An unusual style, but full of interest.

Henry of Pelham (Canada, Ontario) Baco Noir 1996
Big, fat, smoky-bacon (is this just word association??) nose with very rustic but powerful earthy berry fruit. There’s a hint of sweetness on the nose, but this wine has a robust and chunky character with a liquorice and chocloate depth. On the palate it is slightly disappointing, the depth and concentration of the nose not quite following through, but that is relative: this still has a rugged, fruity, very forceful personality that shines through. The finish is a little short, cut off abruptly by a lemon acidity, but all-in-all this unusual wine delivers a lot of pleasure, power and interest. This bottle was a gift from a Canadian visitor so I’m not sure of availability – but well worth looking out for.

Chateau Batailley (Bordeaux) Pauillac 1982
A wine I’ve tasted a few times before, this has a lovely, subdued but concentrated nose of sweet cassis fruit and savoury old oak. The palate delivers a well-knit, rounded mouthful of moderate fruit, fine tannins and good balancing acidity. Fairly straightforward, but structured, grown-up and harmonious. This was lovely with a venison dish and had good length with a fine, composed finish. Mature now, but should drink well for 5 – 8 years.