The Chocolate Block 2010

Jeroboams; £20

The vineyards of Boekenhoutskloof in Franschhoek. To those of us not born fluent in Afrikaans, it’s certainly an intimidating combination of vowels. They seem to have far too many. Maybe they could lend the Welsh some; I visited north Wales on school trips many years ago, and I recall that most of the names of the towns seemed to be made up of a harsh combination of consonants and phlegm.

Boekenhoutskloof is one of the leading estates nestled among the glorious scenery of the South African wine regions near Cape Town. It makes premium wines – the ‘Seven Chairs’ Boekenhoutskloof range and the £60 Porseleinberg Syrah; it also makes cheap supermarket-happy wines in the guise of the Wolftrap and Porcupine Ridge ranges, the latter of which can be bought in Waitrose for £8.

choc-block-lgIn the middle is the ‘cult’ wine, The Chocolate Block. This can be found in a variety of places – Waitrose, Jeroboam’s and The Wine Society are the main sources in the UK, and tends to sell out very quickly. Much like Chateau Musar, the appeal of this wine is that it’s very different to the traditional approach to winemaking. Whereas many New World winemakers make ‘a Rhone blend’ or ‘a Bordeaux blend’, because that was how the Old World had always done it and presumably was best, The Chocolate Block is a veritable smorgasbord of grape varieties: as the bottle proudly states, it is a blend of 72% Syrah, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Grenache Noir, 6% Cinsault and 2% Viognier. So largely a Rhone mix, but with a good dollop of Cabernet thrown in for good measure.

And a good measure it is. This is a dense, brooding wine that has a purity of dark fruit at its heart and plenty of tannin and acid wrapped around it. There’s a blackberry and tarry nose and a spicy, zingy plum and blackberry palate. And, yes – there is a note of dark chocolate to it. Frankly, I’d be disappointed if it didn’t.

The finish is pretty long, and despite being fairly hefty it’s not at all overbearing. It entices you in for another sip. I shared this with one other person, and the bottle really didn’t last long.

As I say, this tends to sell out hugely quickly when it appears in the UK. As such, it will now be almost impossible to find any 2010 for sale. If you see any, do let me know. Even at £20 a bottle, which is at the upper limit of this site’s focus, it’s well worth seeking out.

Score – 17/20

La Petite Perrière Sauvignon 2012

Roberson; £10 – sample provided for review

There are a couple of things that worried me about this wine even before I’d opened it.

petite perriere 2012First was the word ‘Sauvignon’ plastered across the front label. A French wine that shouts about its grape variety, in my experience, is either designed primarily for the export market (and usually lacking any sign of France’s real selling point – its terroir) or isn’t from any AOC region and therefore probably rustic table wine.

Second was the description of this wine on Roberson’s product page (which can be seen here) as “fantastic value for anybody looking for the taste and quality of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé without the price tag”. This makes it sound suspiciously like a Loire equivalent of Petit Chablis to me, and as I’ve said previously, Petit Chablis is an experience that uniformly just makes me wish I’d spent the extra fiver on a better bottle.

The Clown Church Service, first Sunday in February at Holy Trinity Church in Dalston

Having said that, our taste buds have become inured to the acid-and-gooseberry assault of £10 Kiwi Sauvignon Blancs like The Ned, which I described in my review 18 months ago as “about as subtle as a clown that arrives in a car with falling-off doors, wielding a sledgehammer with a luminous handle and twinkly flashing lights”.

So, maybe there’s something in a move towards the more subtle approach of the original £10 Sauvignon Blanc specialists in the Loire Valley?

As it turns out, there is. I like this a lot, despite my initial prejudices and reservations about it. The nose is quite delicate and appley, with a touch of citrus and gooseberry. The mouthfeel is surprisingly luscious – it’s not thin and zingy like a New World equivalent. On the palate there’s a bit of a honey and lemon zest flavour alongside more the more anticipated gooseberry and green-pepper notes, and a really lovely aromatic air about the whole experience: think cut grass and the aroma of cooked thyme.  The finish is respectable as well; in fact the only thing that is missing is actually a touch of acid on the tongue. It’s subtle and interesting, and very moreish.

Actually, the other thing that is missing is the defining mineral, ‘gun-flint’ feel that a Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé would have. It comes up short on that front, which isn’t surprising – the top Loire wines start at three times this price. People will pay a premium for that taste. This isn’t a direct alternative to the big boys of the Loire, and I would argue it’s a mistake positioning it as such.

However, this is definitely a direct alternative to other £10 Sauvignon Blancs in this bracket, and better than the vast majority of them. Bold flavours are always going to be easier to sell than subtlety, but La Petite Perrière, from just outside Sancerre, offers a genuinely well-priced alternative to the standard Kiwi fayre on offer in the shops at the moment. Highly recommended.

Score – 16/20

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2010

Wine Society; £17

Another day, another review, another Chardonnay. This isn’t really my usual drinking pattern, but it seems that I’ve gone through a nineties phase recently. I’ll be watching Friends and listening to Britpop next.

If Sauvignon Blanc put New Zealand on the wine-lovers’ map, then Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are what will keep it there. Far from being the support act to Sauvignon’s gooseberry-laden acid-fest, New Zealand Chardonnay in particular is fast starting to take centre stage as a viable alternative to its Aussie and Old World competitors.

This one, quite a pricey bottle by Wine Society standards, certainly comes with a heavyweight billing. The winemaker is New Zealand’s first Master of Wine, the terroir is highly regarded – on the warmer North Island but still significantly cooler than Australian equivalents like Margaret River – and the estate’s reputation is strong. If you can bear to read such a technical document, articles like this wax lyrical (well, sort of) about the proliferation of natural yeasts on and around the estate, adding to the complexity and delicacy of the fermentation process.

kumeu 2010

All that means nothing to me, of course, unless the wine is good. But as I unscrewed the top, I was very aware of the number of gold medals won and the hefty price I’d paid for a bottle.

It’s a real shame, therefore, that I really didn’t like this wine. Actually, that’s a touch unfair; I can sort of see the appeal of it, certainly as a wine to drink in the future, but at this moment I can’t recommend that you spend £17 per bottle on it.

Let me explain. There’s unquestionably a wide range of flavours going on here – on the nose there is vanilla, toast, peach, pineapple and a steely-minerally note. As you take a sip there are some very bright fruit flavours: peach, apricot, lemon, melon. There’s also oak galore – it’s a major influence on the taste and mouthfeel. The finish is respectably long as well.

Um_BongoSo far, so good. Lots of tastes and flavours – all good, right? Well, not necessarily. Um Bongo has lots of flavours too, but I wouldn’t serve it at an ambassador’s reception. The greatness of a wine is reflected in how perfectly integrated all these flavours are and how nuanced the end result is. The Kumeu Estate doesn’t quite pull it off. The oak is too overpowering, and the palate is a bit lacking – all the fruit flavours seem to orbit around nothing much in the core of the wine. It’s also not quite as rich in its flavours as I’d expect from such a heavily-oaked wine.

This may develop into something far more delicate and nuanced. The oak may die down and the fruit may blend beautifully. But it is advertised as wine for drinking soon – and personally I didn’t enjoy it. I certainly can’t bring myself to recommend it at £17 a bottle.

Score – 12/20

Warwick Estate ‘The First Lady’ Unoaked Chardonnay 2012

Wine Society; £9

One of the enduring and mysterious quirks of the vinological world is the differing fate of the two principal grapes of that most revered region, Burgundy.  Pinot Noir has been taken to some of the finest terroirs available and, with only a very few exceptions, failed to come close to matching even the most everyday Bourgogne Rouge for quality and pure interest in the glass.

Chardonnay, on the other hand, has wrapped itself around the winemaking band of the globe like bindweed and made perfectly serviceable wines pretty much wherever it has been planted. True, it’s not always brilliant, and for a horrific period in the nineties was usually wrapped in layer upon layer of oak, but it at least feels like a style of its own, in contrast to Pinot Noir’s destiny, a sweet-candied version of the French original.

winelandsThis grape isn’t new to Stellenbosch, where the Warwick Estate is based. Winemaking has been going on in this stunningly beautiful region of South Africa since the 1700s. If you’re ever anywhere even vaguely near, maybe Cape Town for business or something, take a weekend out to make a trip to the winelands. You won’t regret it.

warwick-estate-first-lady-unoaked-chardonnay-2012-6007167-0-1392218975000

The reason that Chardonnay can flourish pretty much anywhere is that it’s quite hardy, and – to be brutal – fairly dull. You can do almost anything with Chardonnay in the the vineyard or the winery and it won’t really rebel. If it were any more submissive, it could play a character in Fifty Shades of Grey.

This means Chardonnay can be steely and minerally, rounded and creamy, aromatic, full of tropical fruit… the list is almost endless. Everyone has their own taste but each will undoubtedly be catered for if you drink various Chardonnays for long enough.

This means that reviewing Chardonnay often reflects the personal preference of the reviewer. My ideal Chardonnay is in the Meursault style, which is to say rounded and creamy, with a delicate touch of oak and enough ‘bite’ from acidity to whet the appetite alongside subtle citrus and nutty flavours.

Unfortunately for me, Warwick’s The First Lady has none of these attributes. The nose is a rather musky citrus, banana and geranium waft, which is about as appealing as it sounds. The palate is very aromatic and perfumey – I actually wrote down the term ‘Gewurzish’ to describe it, which may be a little over the top but not far off. Alongside that you have a bit of lemon-line and an unusual elderflower note, but it’s all a bit of a clash, like hearing two radio stations very close together on the dial playing classical and rock music simultaneously.

If you like your Chardonnay a bit heavier and busier than the norm, it may be for you.  I didn’t really like this, and as such I can’t really recommend it. It’s obviously well produced, but it has a style that really doesn’t appeal to me. Horses for courses, and all that…

Score – 13/20 

Chateau Musar – Tasting Notes

Various wine merchants; £20+ (usually in case format)

In a change to the norm on this site, this is a write-up of a tasting I attended the other night. Most of these wines can’t be bought on the high street, or even through the Wine Society – Chateau Musar tends to move to the ‘secondary’ wine dealer market pretty quickly.

Musar is the pre-eminent Lebanese wine house – it’s been around for decades but only really made its mark in the UK in the 1980s. Through vicious civil war and local turbulence (most recently as a neighbour to the horrors of the Syrian conflict), the Hochar family have kept making their wine in a style all of their own. I wrote very briefly about the 2005 in my Wine Society show roundup last year.

There is huge variation between vintages in terms of the winemaking and blend of grapes – although always from a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan –  which made a ‘vertical’ tasting (i.e. from multiple vintages) a fascinating experience. See below my notes, starting with the most recent, and therefore most readily available, years. I’ve ignored price in terms of how I score on this occasion, as most of these wines are very difficult to source anyway.

chateau-musar-2002-front_hi-res2002: Feels very alcohol-heavy; perhaps still a bit too unsettled and exuberant. Lots of dark red fruits with a savoury, herby mid-palate. Fine and silky but rather too out of balance to be really enjoyable throughout. 14/20

2001: Quite varied colour – good ruby core but an orangey-brown at the edges. The nose is far more delicate than the 2002; not nearly as powerful or overwhelming. Cherry, plum, red apple on the attack with gamey and olive notes towards the finish. Feels very well crafted. Very good indeed. 18/20

2000: This one will divide opinion. Feels like it has aged in fast-forward, with lots of secondary / tertiary notes. Some black fruit but very barnyardy, with savoury flavours all over the place. Quite a ‘serious’ wine; certainly not one for quaffing. I liked it but many others found it a real struggle. 15/20

1999: Again, this divided opinion in the room. Quite uniform in colour and clearly the most ‘stable’ wine of the night, with less volatility and acid than the more recent vintages. Had an unusual, unctuous treacle / golden syrup note alongside subdued black cherry and dark plum notes. Obviously high-quality, but I actually found it quite monochromatic in comparison to the more ‘engaging’ (/unstable!) 2000 and 2001. 14/20

1998: A huge contrast to the 1999. Very light and ephemeral on the nose – fragrant, almost flowery. A touch of tomato leaf and earth (Rhone-like?). On the palate there is fleshy fruit – thick cherry jam, plum, raspberry, redcurrant. Huge acidity with a long, perfumed and delicate finish. Hard to pin down but I found the closest overall parallel to be a Martinborough Pinot Noir. Apparently this vintage had a higher-than-average proportion of Cinsault, which could explain the variation. Overall, a very alluring wine. 17/20

1995: The low point of the evening, although one or two people raved about it. Just a very odd wine all round, even though Musar themselves proclaimed the 1995 vintage ‘outstanding’. The nose felt slightly oxidised, with browned apple and animal / meaty notes. The attack has very little up front but then gives way to very sharp, acidic candied plum and apple notes. The finish is sharp and tangy, but quite short. Not a particularly pleasant experience, this one. Possibly a bottle issue? 12/20

1994: Definitely the highlight. Hugely intense, alive with vitality and totally fruit-forward. Probably the most ‘Bordelais’ nose of the night, with blackcurrant, cigar box, spice, some gamey notes. Beautifully integrated tannin on the palate – very fine but just enough to remind you they’re there. Bright and ‘shiny’ cherry, raspberry and strawberry, alongside mocha and a touch of bitter orange. It has a real zing about it and is utterly bewitching; you wouldn’t believe this is 20 years old from taste alone. 19/20

1989: An oddly subdued wine to end the evening on, certainly compared to what immediately preceded it. Clearly showing some signs of age – very pale and brown to the point of almost yellowing at the edges. By far the most subtle and refined wine of the night, with spice and dried fruit notes (fig, prune, raisin) on the nose, and delicate raspberry and cherry on the palate. Surprised that there weren’t more ‘secondary’ notes – actually just feels like a slightly dried-out version of a young wine, rather than the complexity of a mature wine. This might be the destiny of the 2001. Clearly has a lot of life left in it, but probably too pricey to justify buying now at well over £60 a bottle. 15/20

The Society’s Exhibition Single Vineyard Martinborough Pinot Noir 2011

Wine Society; £16

I’ve been looking back at the page of my most recent reviews. (‘Recent’, of course, being a relative term, given that I’ve only published four posts since last summer. Bad blogger.)

Somehow it looks like I’m being a bit down on the Wine Society. Not only do I rate their Chilean Chardonnay as ‘good at best’, I’ve had a go at some, but certainly not all, of the Italian stuff they sell, as well as their (recommended elsewhere, but still unpleasant) Cotes de Castillon.

The reason that I’ve published these reviews is that they are out of the ordinary. Over the last couple of years, the Wine Society has become my go-to wine merchant of choice – they have very rarely disappointed, and on the rare occasions that I’ve not completely enjoyed one of their bottles I’m moved to write a sniffy review in a fit of pique. I’ve tasted several of their wines that have been superb but I’ve just not written up – their glorious Exhibition Vacqueyras, for one.

Well, here’s one that I am taking the trouble over. And it’s one that I didn’t even order – I was sent it in error. I would instinctively go for whites, rather than reds, from New Zealand; however, someone in the Wine Society’s stock-picking team decided that I needed to broaden my approach. Having paid them for this helpful intervention, I opened it with the warm feeling of receiving an unexpected present.

CannedVsFreshPumpkinFifteenSpatulasThe reason I tend to ignore the reds of New Zealand is that I sometimes find them a bit too squeaky-clean, particularly the Pinot Noirs. I am of the opinion that Pinot should be a bit grubby and earthy, like a properly farmed product, rather than something that tastes too sterile. Think of it as the difference between the fresh vegetables aisle in the supermarket compared to tinned veg – sure, they’re both the same basic thing, but one just has the more pleasing crunch of a less-processed product.

socNZmartinboroughPinotnoirThis wine, from Hawke’s Bay in the north of the country, manages to walk the tightrope between the two – it has a clean, bright nose full of cherry and raspberry notes with spicy violet tones. It’s quite intense, and feels airy and youthful. But then when you take a sip it has the dark, brooding flavours you’d expect from a serious Burgundy – dark cherries, earth, unwashed strawberries, a hint of plum. Despite all this, the fruit flavours are still clear as a bell – they don’t feel jammy or baked in any way. There’s good, piercing acidity and a good long finish.

This probably has a few years left in it before it reaches its absolute peak – that acidity could probably do with dying down just a tad – but it’s lovely now. The only thing I can hold against it is the price – £16 per bottle is a touch heavy, even for a Pinot Noir. Still, I very highly recommend this; it’s exactly the level quality I’ve come to expect from the Wine Society.

Score – 16/20

The Society’s Chilean Chardonnay 2012

Wine Society; £7

Research suggests that something between 0.5% and 4% of people have synaesthesia, the propensity to conflate two senses. For example, synaesthetes can ‘see’ a colour linked to certain dates, musical notes, numbers or letters, or ‘smell’ some colours. It’s an extraordinary phenomenon; I’m quite envious of the idea of a free light show from my subconscious at a music concert.

_46465226_synaesthesia466Despite its apparent rarity, it seems that most people that have it end up writing tasting notes for wine. Wines are ‘bright’, ‘green-tasting’, with flavours of ‘stony mineral’ and a ‘strong backbone’. Of course, a certain amount of artistic licence is required if you’re to differentiate between wines – if you just described them as ‘yellowy, liquid and acidic’ it might all get a bit samey.

What wine notes try to do, rather than define a wine scientifically, is evoke a certain sense-memory in the reader. For instance, one of my favourite notes for a smokey red, like a good Rhone, is ‘bonfire’. For me this has a comforting glow about it that means I find it a very positive thing to write about a wine – much more than just ‘smoke’, which can actually be overpowering or unpleasant.

socchilchardThe point I’m coming around to, in a very roundabout way, is that this Limari Chardonnay is a perfectly good wine. But it doesn’t evoke the right images for me. My ideal Chardonnay is a bit creamy and rounded and elegant, with a hint of acidic bite and a long finish. It should be a lazy summertime stroll in the breeze, as opposed to a Sauvignon Blanc’s ice-cold shower on a hot day.

Speaking synaesthetically, if that’s a word, I think great Chardonnay should evoke a vibrant but soothing golden colour – even unoaked versions like this, which tend to have a slightly sharper edge to them. This wine doesn’t, I’m afraid.

For me, it has a slightly dull greeny feel about it. I think this is due to two things – a rather harsh metallic taste in the mid-palate that overwhelms the elegance of it, and a green-apple note on the attack that is somehow ‘hollow’ and impure. It’s the metallic note that I have most of an issue with. It’s not steely-edged and sharp like a razor blade, but lumpen and hefty like a clawhammer.

This is all despite a fresh lemon-and-lime nose up front and a fairly pleasant finish. It’s just the bit in the middle that rather spoils it for me. Notwithstanding the fact that it’s hugely keenly-priced, and probably better than anything you’ll find in a supermarket for under £9, this is a just a good wine. It’s not a very good wine.

Score – 12/20

Lafage Bastide Miraflors 2011

Costco; £9

Produced deep within the Languedoc Roussillon region of southern France, this wine demonstrates just how difficult blind-tasting wines can be. I tasted this blind with a few friends, all of whom know a fair bit about wine – they’ve got qualifications and everything – and we all agreed that this was from the New World. Depending on who you asked, it had the softened edges and huge fruit of an Australian blend, or maybe showed the winery methods of the larger South African producers, or even the power of a Californian blockbuster.

(Side-note: they say that blind people’s other senses are enhanced. Do blind people make better wine-tasters? Seems that even a blind wine-taster doesn’t know.)

Fair to say, we were stumped. Despite some suggestions of it possibly being a southern Rhone, the one thing we were all agreed on is that it wasn’t from ‘regional’ southern France.

There are three possible reasons for us being totally wrong: one, we’re all morons. That’s probably the case in general, but actually our hit-rate is usually pretty reasonable when blind tasting; we’d expect to at least get vaguely the right continent. Two, the ‘Parkerisation‘ of wine has now reached the level that we can’t actually tell the difference between historically different wine regions any more. I think there is an element of this, no matter how much Parker objects. It’s not surprising that he rated this highly (93 points) – it’s pretty much his style in a nutshell, all huge black fruit and clean tannin.

Three, the average standard of Languedoc Roussillon is so far below this wine that we didn’t even consider it as an option. With a few notable exceptions, Languedoc Roussillon makes vast quantities of cheap wines for bargain-bin bottom-shelf supermarket purchases.

Henceforth, this is one of those exceptions. Belying its £9 price-tag, this is a superb wine. It has a clean, youthful nose full of blackberries, cassis and a slight red apple tinge to it. Once you take a sip, the fruit hits you – blackberry dominates until the peppery notes come through leaving your mouth almost tingling by the finish through soft tannin and surprisingly low acidity. And the finish is long – far longer than you’d reasonably expect from any wine under ten pounds a bottle.

This is a blend of Syrah and Grenache, and it brings out the best of both grapes. You get the soft, round palate of the Grenache and the power and spiciness of the Syrah. I still maintain that it doesn’t feel particularly French, but honestly, who cares? I’m guessing this will have run out of stock by now, as it was only made in relatively small quantities, but should you ever see it I recommend you snap it up immediately.

Score – 17/20 

The Wine Society – a Selection Box

It’s been a while since I posted anything to this site, as the tedious vagaries of Real Life have generally got in the way of writing anything wine-related for a few months. To make up for it, here follows a quick round-up of four well-priced wines from The Wine Society – some recommended, some best avoided. Let’s start with the best and work down.

Etna Rosso Fondo Filara 2010, £11: Sicilian wines, particularly those grown from the mineral-rich volcanic soils of Etna, are very much in fashion at the moment. But often they flatter to deceive – either too soft and easy-drinking, or too harsh and thin. This manages to split the difference. It’s light bodied and elegant, but and a deep and powerful texture about it, all blueberry and wild damson and raspberry. It’s a bit challenging as well, with far more than initially meets the eye and nose – think of it as a Nebbiolo in Beaujolais’s clothing. Lovely. Score – 16/20.

Domaine de la Noblaie Chinon 2011, £9: This one, which the Wine Society also sells by the half-bottle, will probably split opinion. Whereas the Etna Rosso is clean and shiny and bright in flavour, this Chinon tastes like it’s been sieved through mud. Which, to my mind, is exactly how a Loire Cabernet Franc should taste. Earthy, grubby and fuzzy round the edges. At first it feels almost chewable, but once you get used to the texture there’s good strong redcurrant flavours, and a strong and supple dark-cherry finish that sneaks up on you. Not perfect – some good terroir expression but obviously the product of a tricky vintage – but still rather nice. Score – 14/20.

Allegrini Valpolicella 2012, £9.50: Go to any Italian restaurant, or any borderline-Italian high-street chain pizza place, and the standard red wines will be Chianti and Valpolicella. That’s exactly what this tastes like – standard. It’s very light, with fresh red fruit flavours, but it lacks any real concentration or punch so it doesn’t really engage you. Decent value, I guess, but I wouldn’t consider buying it again. I’d spend the extra £1.50 for the far more interesting Etna Rosso… Score – 12/20.

Chateau Puy Garance, £7: Important point to note on this one – despite appearing in the ‘Bordeaux’ section of the site, this isn’t a proper Bordeaux. It’s from the Côtes de Castillon, off to the East of the region, which is undoubtedly an area on the up. However, it’s not there yet. This is a £7 wine that feels overpriced and pretty rough. It’s got a high proportion of Merlot, but lacks the delicacy and elegance of a right-bank Bordeaux. Instead, the producer appears to have gone for the punch of alcohol over and above anything else – at 14.5% abv the whoosh of alcohol and tannin overpowers anything other than the simplest flavours. Poor. Score – 7/20.  

Mayu Valle de Elqui Pedro Ximénez 2012

Sainsbury’s; £8.50

Pedro Ximénez is a grape that would probably be scarcely be heard of if it weren’t for that most middle-class of drinks, sherry. PX grapes are dried out and then fermented to form an intensely sweet fortified wine, but it is rarely made into a dry table wine, as in this example.

Never one to shy away from tasting the odd and unusual, especially when it turns up in as unlikely a setting as Sainsbury’s in Croydon, I snapped it up immediately. I set my expectations fairly low; every article I’ve read about this grape tells of how insipid and tedious dry PX wines generally are.

It was with a smile, therefore, that I found that the nose is actually quite appealing, almost unoaked-Chardonnay-ish. It’s quite light, with a strongly mineral character and pleasant lemon, lime and grapefruit. I threw away any prejudices I had and took a decent sip with my standards set slightly higher.

It’s a shame when you don’t enjoy a wine, but when you have your hopes raised and then dashed again, it’s even worse. On the palate it’s rather thin, mineral to the point of tasting metallic, and alongside some light, fruity notes – lemon, quince – there’s a savoury-salty tang that is slightly reminiscent of Manzanilla sherry.

This might appeal to you. It shouldn’t. There isn’t enough acid or roundness to pull these flavours off. Coupled with a disappointingly short finish, the whole experience is rather unpleasant. It’s not often I don’t go on to finish a bottle that I’ve parted with £8.50 to buy, but this one got poured away.

A worthwhile experiment, certainly, but one I won’t be repeating.

Score – 8/20