It is English asparagus season and, to my mind there is only one type of wine that goes with it: fino Sherry or Manzanilla. I adore good, dry sherry and consider it to be one of the world’s most civilized and uplifting aperitif wines, at least on a par with a glass of good Champagne.
It is spring in the Serra. I heard the first cuckoo today. After a long, cold wet spring (there was snow in the Serra da Estrela as late as last weekend) we finally have some summer warmth with temperatures rising into the mid-20s.
It has been an extraordinary year throughout Portugal. I have talked to people in their eighties who cannot recall a year so dry. Springs and wells have been drying up all over the country. But far from being a disaster, some good wines have been made from varieties like Touriga Nacional and Trincadeira that seem to withstand the drought.
The silence on my website has been deafening over the past few weeks, at least to me. I have been busy finishing the third edition of my book Port and the Douro which is due to be published in the autumn. With nearly all the i's dotted and t's crossed I can go back to posting tasting notes on my website.
I celebrated a significant birthday this year and with the help of some enthusiastic members of the Port Forum (click on ‘links’ for more information) we uncorked some splendid wines:
Meursault Les Rougeots 2004 (Coche-Dury) *****
Mid-straw in colour; lovely, taut minerally aromas, subdued smoky new oak with much more ti give on the nose; fine streak of acidity, very fresh, almost steely but with plenty of underlying richness, sublime length. Outstanding. Better still in 10 years. 19
Corton Charlemagne 2004 (Bonneau de Martray) *****
Viña Ardanza, Bodegas La Rioja Alta, Reserva 1996 ****
Another wine from my Christmas mixed case from the Wine Society:
Château Grillet 2004 **** / *****
I am very grateful to Father Christmas for bringing me a mixed half dozen of Tuscan wines from the Wine Society which came together with a book called The Finest Wines of Tuscany by Nick Belfrage.
Chateau Haut Bailly, Pessac Léognan 2000 ****
I have been on a sugar-free diet since the beginning of the month (which sadly precludes alcohol) but I allowed myself the luxury of sharing a bottle of white burgundy with friends this weekend.
Chassagne Montrachet, Grande Montagne 2005 (Louis Jadot)
Pol Roger Pure n/v ****
I am about to go on a month's health and fitness plan which virtually rules out alcohol (apart from the occasional taste). At lunch with Brown Shipley Private Bank in Manchester I was very grateful to be given a choice of wines to accompany a plate of monk fish.
Le Reve, Carneros Sparkling Wine 1996 (Tattinger) ****
Every year I try to celebrate my birthday with a wine from the year that I was born. It is fortuitous that this was 1961 but unfortunately no one had the foresight to lay down any Claret at the time!
I share some of my best bottles with Philip Tuck who has a great appreciation of wine, especially Burgundy. He works for Hatch Mansfield who represent Louis Jadot in the UK and supplied the first of the wines below.
Corton Charlemagne 1996 (Louis Jadot)*****
19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)
17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)
15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)
13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)
10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)
8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)
Below 8 Faulty