Wednesday, 26 February 2014

HV Wines - Cote du Rhone 2009 Tardieu-Laurent Cuvee Speciale

I returned to whole foods store in High Street Kensington to look for this week's wine. There was the usual debate with me and my mind to decide which wine to choose. The selected wines came from Spain, Greece, France and USA, it finally came down to a wine from the Rhone valley, France.

The reason why I choose this one was simply because of the wine makers, Tardieu-Laurent

This is a big house with many vineyards all over the Rhone valley, with great attention to detail. They are negociants but with good structured wines, carrying a personality and identity and above all many of their wines are at very affordable prices. This family has true Rhone DNA, for generations the families have been making wines.
Many of us when thinking French wines, we go Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne at first but Rhone is a beast of strength and stars not to be neglected. The Tardieu-Laurent enterprise is one good example of what the region has to offer.
Their range varies from Bandol in Provence to Rhone Meridional to Rhone Septentrional. They produce more reds than whites but Rhone holds a firmer hand in red wine making even so the lights of Condrieu, Hermitage, Crozes Hermitage, Saint Joseph, white wines are surely to be tested and enjoyed.

The Rhone valley is among France's oldest vineyards, traces from Greek and Romans times are apparent all throughout the region, even Papal stay has been marked and still is known today as Chateuneuf-du-Pape. Its star player is of course the Syrah  (Shiraz) grape, with its strength, power, flavor, depth, seduction, yes we often might not think how amazing Rhone valley wines are but for those who have not really stuck their lips (so to speak) into a Rhone wine.... what are you waiting for.
Also Rhone Valley is the only region in France by law which is allowed to blend a tiny percentage of white grape with their red, Cote-Rotie the main actor in this procedure.

Rhone's AOC are

Rhone Septentrional;
1.Cote-Rotie AOC (one of the most amazing reds one will ever taste but pricey)
2.Condrieu AOC (only white but if you look for something outside the normal habit circle please try)
3.Chateau-Grillet AOC (one of the most unknown appellations of Rhone only white wines)
4.Saint Joseph AOC (mostly reds produced and wines from good quality and affordable prices)
5.Hermitage AOC ( reds mostly but some good whites as well)
6.Crozes-Hermitage ( reds mainly and white to a smaller extent)
7.Cornas AOC ( just reds only)
8.Saint-Peray AOC (lesser known but only sparkling and white wines)

Rhone Meridional
1.Cote de Vivarais AOC ( predominately reds)
2.Cote du Rhone AOC ( predominately reds)
3.Cotes du Rhone Villages AOC (predominately reds)
4.Cotes de Tricastin AOC (predominately reds)
5.Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC (allowed to use 19 different grape varieties, predominately reds  but produces some great whgites as well)
6.Vacqueras AOC ( mainly reds)
7.Gigondas AOC (mainly reds)
8.Rasteay AOC (predominately reds)
9.Vinsobres AOC (mainly reds some good whites)
10. Lirac AOC (small appellation mainly reds)
11 Beaume de Venise AOC (just sweet wines)
12.Muscat Beaume de Venice AOC (just sweet wines)
12. Tavel AOC (mainly reds as well some rose's and whites)

The Grape varieties used in Rhone;
2.Brun Argente
5.Clairette blanc
6.Clairette rose
8.Grenache Blanc
9.Grenache Gris
10.Grenache Noir
15.Picpoul Blanc
16.Picpoul Noir
18. Syrah
19.Terret Noir
20.Ugni Blanc

Rhone's vintages

Rhone Septentrional;
1990 92 ready/ 1991 92 ready/ 1992 78 ready/ 1993 58 caution might be gone/ 1994 88 caution might be gone/ 1995 90 tannic youthful/ 1996 86 ready/ 1997 90 early maturing/ 1998 90 tannic youthful/ 1999 95 tannic youthful/ 2000 87 early maturing/ 2001 89 tannic youthful/ 2002 78 caution short life/ 2003 96 tannic youthful/ 2004 85 caution short life/ 2005 89 tannic youthful/ 2006 92 early maturing/ 2007 89 early maturing/ 2008 78 irregular wines/  2009 98 tannic yourthful/ 2010 94 tannic youthful/ 2011 88 early maturing

Rhone Meridional;
1990 95 ready/ 1991 65 caution might be gone/ 1992 78 caution might be gone/ 1993 85 caution might be gone/ 1994 86 caution might be gone/ 1995 90 tannic youthful/ 1996 82 caution might be gone/ 1997 82 caution might be gone/ 1998 98 early maturing/ 1999 90 early maturing/ 2000 98 early maturing/ 2001 96 tannic youthful/ 2002 58 caution short life/ 2003 90 irregular/ 2004 90 early maturing/ 2005 95 tannic youthful/ 2006 90 early maturing/ 2007 98 early maturing/ 2008 86 ready to drink/ 2009 93 early maturing/ 2010 97 tannic youthful/ 2011 88 ready

Cotes du Rhone 2009 Tardieu-Laurent Cuvee Speciale

Vintage: 2009
Appellation: Cote du Rhone
Color: Red
Terroir: Les Garrigues
Grape variety: Grenache noir
Age of the vines: 70 years
Alcohol degree: 14%
Wine ageing: In oak by two parcels of wine, Allier and Troncais
Bottling: Without bonding and no filtering
Cork: None treated natural

Bought: Wholefoods High street Kensington

Price: £19.99 $30 €23

Visual: It appearance is a dark ruby/cherry red color, a beautiful transparency, knowing that they avoid filtering their wines talent sits definitely behind this wine, the brilliance is fair but the legs are heavy indicating a high content in alcohol. The wine appears masculine, big, young and strong.

Nose: The first smells on the nose are hints of dried spices, garrigue a typical character of Rhone wines. Little Marjoram, Rosemary and Thyme are apparent, with the influence of oak a warm smokey hint is present, then fruits are taking over, Cherries, Figs and little Blackcurrant, the high percentage of alcohol is not dominating this wine which is a good thing. As said before when alcohol overpowers your wine when smelling, it is a default of the wine maker.

Palate: The attack is dry and the tannin's are still well present, which indicates that when storing well, this wine will go for another 5 years at least. The acidity is there but could have bee a bit more, it give the wine still a good freshness and does not falls heavy on the stomach. The main characters on the palate are the fruits, Figs and Cherries in dominance. The wine feels warm and is medium long,

Conclusion: This is a wine that has all the Rhone valley characters, big, bold, deep , warm and talented. This wine is made with great attention and care, it is a wine that is destine for a dinner and drinking on its own will come as a very heavy wine. Meat is definitely on the table with this wine, and those who love their big bold wines will definitely like this one. This wine is very well made and deserves respect. For the price i paid it is absolutely good value for money,

Score: I rate this wine 17.5/20 75/100

Until next time please do drink responsibly

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

HV Wines -The perfume of wine: Dominant Floral / Garden flowers: Part 4

Part 4, we now look at what flowers are associated with wine. There are 2 types; 1. Garden flowers and 2. Flower shrubs.

Garden flowers
Image result for garden flowers images


The essence of the Roman Chamomile is obtained by steamed distillation from the flower L'Anthemis noblis. Most likely originated from Asia, we meet this plant principally in Eastern Europe and Meridional Europe, as well in North Africa and both in North and South America.
Chamomile holds a very important place at the time of the ancient Egyptians, who used it to make offers to the sun. The Pharaoh Ramses II was himself waft in chamomile oil.
According the Greek mythology, the goddess Athena, appeared in a dream to Pericles indicating him a remedy based on Chamomile, to treat a worker injured working on the Acropolis.

The principal components

Smells/ Molecules

Chamomile; Acide tiglique, Angelate d'isobutyle, Coumarine.

The relevant wines containing notes of Chamomile

The grapes Amigne, Marsanne, and Rolle sometimes reveal notes of Chamomile. We can also frequently detect Chamomile in old white wines and in particular old Muscats.

Smells close to Chamomile

Cinnamon, Tonka bean, Acacia flower, Elderflower, Hay, Broom, Lavander, Green tea, Black tea.


The essence of Geranium is obtained by steamed distillation from the leaves of Pelargonium graveolens, the Geranium Rosat. Originally from Southern Africa, it is now cultivated as well in North Africa, Russia, France, China, Madagascar, and LA Reunion.
The different varieties of Geranium can exhale the numerous smells that's in addition to the basic smell of : Lemon, Pepper, Rose, Mint, Pine, Green apple. It is the leaves that shows the most intensive olfactory and not the flowers.
The Latin name Pelargonium comes from the Greek word Pelargos, which signifies; "Stork" because of the form of the grain which looks like the beak of a Stork.

The principal components

Smells/ Molecules

Geranium; Citronellol, Geraniol, Rotundone.

The relevant wines containing notes of Geranium

The smell of Geranium and its characteristic notes of citrus mixed with vegetable touches and spices is often found in grapes like; Garganega, Gewurztraminer, Jacquere, Kerner, Mansois, Muscat. Sometimes, the smell is so powerful that it becomes unpleasant, and often this will indicate a bacterial fault in the wine.

Smells close to Geranium

Hawthorn, Basil, Lemon, Lemongrass, Ginger, Redcurrant, Marjoram, Black pepper, Rose, Thyme, Lemon verbena.


Composition perfumer reproducing the scent of Iris pale, Iris pallida.
Originating from southern Europe, the Iris is notably cultivated in the Balkans, North Africa, Asia minor and the United States of America.
Its most fragrant part is underground, it is its rhizome.
Sacred flower for the Egyptians, the Iris was also the messenger of the gods in the Greek mythology. In France it symbolizes Royalty under the name "Fleur de Lis"

The principal components

Smells/ Molecule

Iris; Alpha irone, Beta ionone, Lauric acide, Palmitic acide

The relevant wines containing notes of Iris

Light earthy and floral facets of the Iris often is found in wines make from grapes like, L'aleatico, Gamay, Mondeuse, Syrah, and Touriga National.

Smells close to Iris

Ambergris, Beeswax, Hay, Jasmin, Lily, Blackberry, Blueberry, Narcissus, Violet.


The composition perfumer of the Hyacinth is originated from the Middle-East, the Hyacinth or Hyacinthus orientalis, finds itself now in most tempered countries of which Holland is the principal producer.
According the Greek Mythology, the Hyacinth was born from the blood of Hyacinthus, a young man killed by Zephyr demigod (wind from the west), during a discus throwing. Sorrowed Apollo, made a red Hyacinth appearing from the blood of Hyacinthus to revive him eternally.

The principal components

Smells/ Molecules

Hyacinth; Phenylethylique alcohol, Aldehyde phenylacetique, Acetate benzyle, Cinnamique alcohol

The relevant wines containing notes of Hyacinth

The grapes, Altesse, Fiano, Gewurztraminer, Humagne banc, Pinot noir, and Riesling, as well as the traditional method of Cava making, can exhale relevant bouquets smells of Hyacinth.

Smells close to Hyacinth

Cinnamon, Beeswax, Broom, Jasmin, Lilac, Lily, Lychee, Lily of the valley, Narcissus, Carnation, Watermelon, Peony, Rose.


The composition perfumer reproducing the smell of Lily; Lilium candidum, originating from Asia minor, Lily is principally cultivated in Asia and Europe, especially in France and North America. 
Symbol of power and coronation in many civilisations. The Lily is quoted in the Greek mythology, when Hercules was breast fed by his mother Hera, wife of Zeus. Two drops escaped, one hit the sky and formed the milky way and one fell down to earth and made born the Lily flower. 

The principal components

Smells/ Molecules

Lily; Salicylate the Benzyle, Phenylethylic alcohol, Anthranilate the methyle, Beta ionone, Isoeugenol

The relevant wines containing notes of Lily

Sometimes discreet and then sometimes very powerful, the smell of Lily in as much in floral as animal aspects appears in grapes like, Cornalin, Bonarda, Poulsard, Rauschling, Tempranillo. 

Smells close to Lily

Cloves, Acacia flower, Orange flower, Broom, Iris, Hyacinth, Jasmine, Lilac, Lily of the valley, Blackberry, Carnation, Peony, Rose, Violet. 

Lily of the valley

The composition perfumer of Lily of the Valley Convallaria majalis occurs in the tempered regions of the Northern hemisphere. If labour day is held the 1st of May on the same day as the day of Lilly of the Valley, this is not for as much as these two celebrations have the same origins.

In France offering a Lilly of the Valley on the 1st of May goes back to the XVI century; Charles IX would have launched this fashion after he received a strand a 1st of May a a lucky charm. So he decided each year at this date to offer at all the ladies of the court a Lily of the Valley.  

Principal components

Smells/ Molecules

Lilly of the Valley: Phenylethyl alcohol

The relevant wines containing notes of Lily of the Valley

Plant and flower accents from Lily of the valley can unveil in wines made of Chasselas, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Jacquere, Muller Thurgau, Picpoul, Savagin blanc, Vernaccia and Rose's of vence.

Smells close to Lily of the Valley

Grass, Lilas, Lychee, Hyacinth, Lily, Carnation, Peony, Rose, Linden.


The absolute of Narcissus is derived from the concrete, extracted from the flowers the Narcissus poeticus. Probably originated from the eastern European mountains, this plant mainly is represented Central and Eastern Europe, Minor Asia and North Africa.
According to the Greek Mythology, Narcissus was a very handsome man imbued by himself. As many pretenders and contenders a Nymph named Echo fell desperately in love with him. Ignored by the latter, she died in despair. A curse was then thrown onto Narcissus: one day when he was drinking at a water source, he fell madly in love with his reflection to the point of dying of it. De Narcissus appeared next to the spot they found his body.

Principal components


Narcissus: Acetate the benzyle, Eugenol, Indol, Cinnamaldehyde, Acide Linoleique, Palmitic acid

Relevant wines containing notes of Narcissus

With its floral notes enhanced by a good animal dimension, the Narcissus reveals itself in different wines like the ones made of, Aligote, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Primitivo.

Smells close to Narcissus

Ambergris, Cacao, Cinnamon, Blackcurrant, Castor, Beeswax, Cloves, Leather, Orange flower, Hay, Broom, Iris, Hyacinth, Jasmine, Mango, Musk, Nutmeg, Carnation, Rosemary, Horse sweat.


The composition perfumer reproducing the smell of Carnation gardens Dianthus caryophyllus. Originally from the around the Mediterranean borders, garden Carnation grow naturally in Central Europe, Mediterranean basin and North Africa. Outside these regions, carnation is also cultivated in North and South America.
In Portugal a historic event hold the name of this flower: the carnation revolution of the 25th of April 1974, day that led to the downfall of the Salazar dictatorship. Militants and citizens find themselves at the flower market richly supplied with Carnations. Adorning this flower to their barrel of their guns, gave the insurgents a name to their revolution.

Relevant wines containing notes of Carnation

We can encounter the smell of Carnation in wines vinified with grapes like, Feteasca alba, Garganega, Montepulciano, Nero d'Avola, Pinotage.

Smell close to Carnation 

Apricot, Ambergris, Cinnamon, Blackberry, Beeswax, Cloves, Strawberry, Hay, Raspberry, Broom, Redcurrant, Grass, Iris, Hyacinth, Jasmine, Ivy, Lilac, Lily, Lychee, Mango, Lilly of the Valley, Nutmeg, Narcissus, Green Olive, Garden peas, Peony, Green apple, Rosemary, Rose.


The absolute of Violet is derived from the concentrate of violet, produced by the extraction of the leaves of Viola odorata. Originally from the Mediterranean, fragrant violet grows in thickets in Europe, North Africa, North East of Asia.
Fragrant violet is one of the few species whose flower is fragrant. Most of the times it is the leaves that are fragrant. When Napoleon Bonaparte met Josephine Beauharnais, she was wearing a bouquet of Violet around her waste attached to her belt.
Following this he showed a huge attraction for this flower, Napoleon was nicknamed the father of violet during his exile on the island of Elba. This flower became the rallying sign for the Bonapartist during the hundred days war.

Relevant wines containing notes of Violet

Fruity and floral on the same time, violet complex the bouquet of wines in many grapes. Here are some of them, Altesse, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Gringet, Humagne red, Malbec, Merlot, Mondeuse, Negrette, Nebbiolo, Nielluccio, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah, Touriga nacional, Viognier.....

Smells close to Violet

Raspberry, Iris, Lily, Mango.

These smells will come along in wine more then you might imagine, so keep on training that nose, till the next series, be good.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

HV Wines - Barolo: A king in Italian wines

So often our gaze is turned towards Tuscany and the super Tuscans. But when it comes to the punch Barolo is pretty much up there in what Italy makes best. Based in the region of Piedmont around the city of Alba.
Nebbiolo is the grape required for this wine, and Barolo is a DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata et Garantita), the highest acclaim a wine can receive in Italy.

Piedmont Region of Great Reds

With 43 DOC and 7 DOCG wines, Piedmont is on of the most prestigious regions in Italy and according to many the best in terms of quality, and I would agree with that pretty much. This is a territory that is synonymous with culture of wine and the commitment of hard work and centuries-old artisan tradition. It also is one of Italy's most prosperous regions where the terroir is sacred and precious, much has been done to look after the identity of the soil, the environment and preservation, so when in the glass one can instantly see, smell and taste the identity of Piedmont.

The territory of Barolo and Barbaresco, soil and climate combined in the Langhe and Montferrato hills has given way to create wines of exceptional levels the Barolo DOCG and Barbaresco DOCG, factually named the King and Queen of Italian Wines. Even so there are greats white wines and sparkling wines, Barolo and Barbaresco are truly the two standing pillars of the region.

Nebbiolo the grape; this grape has been cultivated for Centuries and is truly at home here in Piedmont. Nowhere else in the world will this grape produce its talent and secrets than here. Overall in the region about 70% of the vines are planted with red grapes, even so Nebbiolo is not the most planted grape (Barbera is), to produce a Barolo you are required to use 100% of it.

Barolo DOCG
The old slogan goes "Barolo, the king of wine and the wine of Kings". Made from the Nebbiolo grape which is a vine that has been documented since the 14th Century and most likely originated in the Langhe area. The term may derive from the pruinose grape skin, which looks as though mist (nebbia) had condensed on it. The wine obtained by pure vinification has many good qualities: fine amounts of alcohol and good acidity which predispose it to ageing; aromas and complex elements develop throughout the years evolving this wine into many interesting factors.

Barolo as a wine is garnet red with orangey highlight, intense characteristic aromas with hints of fruit and spices, austere but velvety taste with great texture. The rules as such that a Barolo needs a minimum of 13% alcohol and a minimum of three years ageing and for the riserva it goes to five years. The region producing Barolo hits about 7.5 million bottles a year.

The Barolo wines give you true Italian Identity and no wonder that the two top wineries in Italy come from Piedmont producing amongst their range a Barolo, they are Angelo Gaja and La Spinetta.

Some of the realm of kings producing a Barolo

  1. Angelo Gaja
  2. La Spinetta
  3. Giacomo Conterno
  4. Giacomo Fenocchio
  5. Marcarini
  6. Prunotto   
  7. Pio Cesare 
  8. Renato Ratti 
  9. Elio Grasso 
  10. Elio Altare 
  11. Domenico Clerico
  12. Brunoo Giacosa 
Barolo's vintages rate from 1990 to 2009

1990: 4 stars 
1991: no quote
1992: 1 star 
1993: 2 stars 
1994: no quote
1995: 2 stars
1996: 5 stars
1997: 4 stars 
1998: 3 stars
1999: 5 stars
2000: 4 stars
2001: 5 stars 
2002: 2 stars 
2003: 2 stars 
2004: 5 stars 
2005: 4 stars
2006: 5 stars 
2007: 3 stars
2008: 4 stars
2009: 3 stars

These are general quotes over the entire region for Barolo and Barbaresco (source Gambero Rosso)

What great is about these wines is that they are still fairly accessible, of course some of them have reached already astronomical prices, but not all. So when opportunity strikes please have a go and try these most amazing and beautiful wines. 

So till next time please do drink responsibly