So here are my thoughts and feelings about what's been in my glass.
Chateau Musar 2004 14%
£20.99 Waitrose and plenty of other stores.
Before we get on to how this tastes the very fact that this wine even exists is cool given the regions history and the fact that despite the vines being in a warzone for much of the last 40 years only once have they not produced a vintage. Following on from the success of Musar it's equally exciting that there are now more wines from Lebanon and the Bekka valley, widely regarded as the regions greatest terroir, starting to appear in the UK. I recently saw Marks and Spencer have listed some wines from the Bekka so it's not like you have to go searching very hard to find them.
Musar is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon Cinsault Grenache and Mourvedre and received oak and bottle ageing prior to release by the Chateau. The result is a brilliantly integrated yet vibrant and youthful red crystal clear and reminded me of some of the better Margret River Cabernet Sauvignon wines that I have tasted. Lots of sweet berry fruit and some cinnamon spice aromas were followed on the palate by cherry, cranberry and raspberry. The fruit was not stewed but surprisingly light and fresh with a fine tannic structure which would allow this to be enjoyed on it's own or with some good rare lamb.
I was expecting the Musar to beat me over the head with power in a Jeremy Clarkson kind of way, having heard all sorts of stories of this as a love it or loathe it wine. What I got was a brilliantly balanced and refined wine more like a fine Paulliac than the typical New World super concentrated Cabs that California and Australia so often produce. At twenty quid you may well say it should be good and I tend to agree however it was the style and grace of the thing that wowed me and might wow you too, if you've never tried it I urge you to hunt a bottle out. 20/20
Bodegas Y Vinedos De Pulenta La Flor 2007
Mendoza Argentina 14%
£13.99 Berry Bros
Produced in relatively small quantities under 57,000 bottles this is the entry level Malbec from this winery and very enjoyable it was too. The grapes are hand harvested and the wine is given 6 months oak ageing to provide a roundness to the wine.
All the typical Malbec notes were present and correct without being too concentrated or jammy. A big hit of ripe red berry fruit was evident from the start alongside aromas of tobacco and stewed damson and lovely drying tannin on the finish. I admit to expecting more tannin and extraction but this was really quite elegant. There is power here but it is balanced and held in check by a nice balance of sweeter fruit which stops the tannin from overwhelming the palate. I would definitely recommend this for any fans of big bold wines who fancy something with a bit more finesse than the average Argentine heavyweight.
These wines are not very widely available and this is one I picked up a year or two ago so I don't know if you will find them where you are but it's well worth keeping an eye out for. If money is no Option the Gran Corte will set you back around £25 but is the top wine from this estate and judging by it's little brother should be a fantastic bottle. 18/20
Casa Silva, Altura 2003
Colchagua Valley, Chile
Now this was the splurge and was used as the show stopper for a recent tasting. I don't know of any current UK stockists for this wine although others from the same stable can be located. I would add a note of caution as I have never been a big fan of the Dona Dominga wines which are the entry level for Casa Silva and very much a throw back to the bulk wines which the company made during most of it's history. So if you like the sound of this then try their Quinta Generacion as an alternative or if you do want to splurge then Errazuriz Don Maximiliano is another premium Chilean wine I adore.
The Altura is made in very limited quantities only 8200 bottles of this particular vintage and each vintage the quantity of grapes used to make up the blend changes according to which grapes have the required quality. The grapes are hand picked, hand selected and destemed before pressing and then the wine gets aged in fresh Oak barrels basically they throw everything they've got at this wine. It's this kind of winemaking that excites me and this wine did not disappoint coming out as the easy winner on the night.
So how did it taste well as you might expect heavy on the palate filling dark fruit blackberry and damson with some creamy chocolate notes adding a real sense of luxury to the whole thing. There were some nice cedary hints on the nose and cocoa with a bramble compote thing all mixed in. The length of finish was pretty epic and had some evolution to it as some savoury leathery flavours made an appearance. Now I realise this sounds like it would be too heavy for anything but the most extravagant of meals and certainly I would not suggest you try this with caesar salad but with some beef cooked rare or a decent steak you couldn't really do any better.19/20
I hope you enjoy the blog I'll be putting more on soon and trying to make these postings a bit more regular as I get going. Thanks for bearing with me and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the blog, website or wine in general.