Domaine la Serre des Cades

This is a basic wine from the Aude subtitled “la Rousse” and made from Syrah grapes. This is a 2013 wine, and really not that much to say about it: a zesty, very mildly peppery flavour, and a nice mix of flavours of juniper and berries. 12 January 2015/ *

Codorniu brut cava

Made from Macabeo, XArello and Perellada grapes. A decent Cava with a musty flavor . 4 January 2014/ *

Les Dauphins Cotes de Rhone 2013

This is a cotes de rhone villages grande reserve from waitrose . There is zesty peppery lightness which I really like. Not much depth to the flavor but there is a brief intense burst of spice at the start and underneath that a mild elderflower taste. Nice. 4 January  2014 / *

Esprit de Puisseguin 2013

This is a 2013 wine from Puisseguin Saint-Emilion, a mix of Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes. Drank this with Jeremy Page. It’s a well balanced and smooth wine with typical Bordeaux / St Emilion taste, still quite young and so not particularly well rounded, but a zesty fresh flavour. 30 December 2014 / **

Rioja Marques de Solariego

Our third Christmas day wine – a 1996 Rioja gran reserve, full bodied, lots of fruit and berry flavours. 25 December 2014 / **

Chateau Musar 2005

This fantastic red from Gaston Hochar has a huge flavour, full classic fruit flavour with loads of tannin and a deep velvety aftertaste. I remember drinking the same wine in 2000 before the arrival of my son in the world, and it had the same beautiful deep nuanced flavours.  A great experience on Christmas day! 25 December 2014 / ***

Chateau Haut-Nouchet 2005

This is a Bordeaux wine from the Graves area, by a vigneron called Louis Lurton. This is an exceptional wine, very smooth, balanced, not fruity but with an understated fine dryness, beautiful. There is a very mild peppery taste that is quite pleasant, and a hint of spice underneath. This is a Grande Reserve wine from the Pessac-Leognan appellation, and is made organically from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. 25 December 2014 / ***

White Rioja Marques de Murrieta “Capellania”

This Rioja is made from 100% Viura grapes, and has a rather appley flavour, astringent and rather like Calvados. This is a 2009 Capellania wine, aged 20 months in new oak. We tasted this and were not totally comfortable with the very neutral, unbending flavour but when I taste it again after a couple of days, it has a very distinctive yeasty flavour, something like chenin blanc with that clear perfumed cedary taste that doesn’t admit nuance in the response. Overall, it feels like a wine to be savoured and annotated, rather than to be fully embraced. 25 December 2014 / **

Tescos Premier Cru Champagne

very generic lovely champagne. 25 December 2014 / *

Valais Suisse Chardonnay

My Christmas Eve wine is this Chardonnay by Jean Rene Germanier from Vetroz in the Valais region of Switzerland. It’s a slightly acidic but smooth chardonnay with a rather toasted flavour, a young 2013 wine, excellent drunk on its own and to excess. 24 December 2014 / *

Vina Maria Rioja Crianza 2010

This is a classic rioja, fresh tempranillio flavours, one of the Tesco’s finest range. I agree with the label that there is a mix of vanilla and pepper in this, although not really any “ripe berries” as far as I can tell. December 2014 / **


Pasos de la Capula 2012

This is a Castilian wine made of tempranillo grapes. It has a very young and spicy taste, and in fact the spice taste is so strong it masks that usual tempranillo freshness that you tend to get in Spanish wines. In fact, I find this rather chemical in its taste, a strong sawdusty start and then something more like a zesty pinot noir that definitely doesn’t taste very natural. Might be worth leaving to breathe for a while, to allow it to become more mellow! December 2014 / **

Cette Nuit Rouge 2009

This is a very easy drinking Merlot from the Pays d’Oc in southern France. It’s a smooth red that tastes initially of berries, but then there are hints of pear drop in the follow through. It isn’t the most complex of wines, and it’s pretty light at 13% alcohol, but definitely it’s one I would have again, and I love the name Cette Nuit. There is a UK web site listed on the label December 2014 / **

Chablis Grande Cuvee 2013

A fruity and less flinty Chablis than some we’ve tried, not too acidic. It has a slightly perfumed /floral and grapey flavour. The usual fresh, clean flavour that you associate with Chablis, very definite Chardonnay flavours but not oaked so still nice. This is from the Tesco Finest range, and we are drinking it on a Sunday night around the woodburner. December 2014 / **

Gamay de Geneve

I got this wine at Geneva airport, and am drinking it back home after the flight. I didn’t particularly register that Switzerland made its own wines, though I’ve drunk a few from the Savoie region, so I was intrigued as to what this would be like. It’s actually pretty drinkable, balanced, fairly light, young from the colour, despite no date on the bottle, and not at all complex, despite being billed as a Grand Vin de Geneve. It has a very muted taste of pepper, I don’t get any fruit at all despite the label’s suggestion of “lovely aromas of red berries” ! It’s not actually petillant but the taste is almost like a wine that is. So certainly interesting to try Swiss wine, it may even be the same wine we tried in the restaurant in the Old Town, but not terribly distinctive. December 2014 / **

Castillo Albai Rioja Reserva

This is a wine from 100% tempranillo grapes, 13.5% proof and quite a heavy rioja taste. This seems to go under the label of Pagos del Rey. I’m not clear which region of rioja this is from, but for some region I suspect it is from the Alta region. The wine has a pronounced minerality and while the flavour is full, it also does not seem fruity. Big almost sulphurous explosion on the palate, not very refined but certainly distinctive. November 2014 / *

Pinot Noir from Wairarapa

This 2013 Pinot Noir is from Wairarapa in New Zealand. It’s from Aldi’s “Exquisite Collection” and really pretty good. It has that slightly sweet vanilla taste that Pinot Noir often does. November 2014 / *

Chilean Merlot by Luis Felipe Edwards

This interesting Merlot has a taste of blackberries and a slight pepperiness. According to the label, the Bin 31 wine is from Valle Central in Chile from 2014. (This is a bit confusing as it appears to have received various awards from 2012/13, although this maybe is for the wine maker rather than the wine itself). The wine has a smooth flavour and is fairly light in texture. The Edwards family has been making wines in Chile for many years, and the vines are claimed to be 75 years old. November 2014 / **

Macon Louis Jadot 2013

This wine is from Macon in the Beaune region of Burgundy. It has a peppery taste but not a very distinctive flavour, rather bland but enjoyable. November 2014 / **

Panamericana Merlot

Not quite sure to make of the labelling on this enjoyably light and fruity merlot. The label notifies that the Pan American highway takes you along the whole length of Chile, and adds: “Our wines will do just the same”. A romantic notion which I quite like. This Merlot wine is from Valle Central and was produced in 2012. V region 5 appears to refer to some taxonomy of wine production but is not explained further on the bottle. Overall, this is not a bad wine, with a vanilla flavour, quite simple but also not that challenging. October 2014 / *

Pegairolles de l’Escalette

This red wine from the village of Pegairolles de l’Escalette is absolutely distinctive of the terroir — a heavily peppery flavour, shared by some of the wines to the south at Soubes. Tasted the 2013 from the Chateau, very full flavoured, gutsy wine with a deep ruby colour and rather sharp acidity. October 2014 / **

120: A red wine from Santa Rita in Chile

This is a decent Merlot from Vina Santa Rita in Valle Central in Chile. The wine has a vanilla taste, and some plum, and there is a kind of spicy taste afterwards that is rather like that of pinotage, but I can’t quite place. The bottle says the wine is named after 120 patriots from Chile’s independence struggle who took refuge in the vineyard’s cellars in 1814. The vineyard is apparently in Buin which is in Maipo province near Santiago. Bought this bottle from Majestic. October 2014 / **