Sunday, 22 February 2009

Penistone Court Wines

I have never been to such an excellent wine shop!!
Chris Ward has been running his business in Penistone for twenty years. Based in the fabulous still in use railway station building, the site of the shop used to be the railway canteen!
The cavernous whitewashed vaulted cellars used to house barrels of beer for the bar upstairs. Now the constant temperature and humidity down there provides Chris with an unlimited amount of storage for all his stock. He is happy to show you down there which for me was the most interesting bit (well I did buy some wine as well!). He gave me some wooden wine boxes to take my wine home in which was nice.
Years ago, the old codgers from the village would become snowed in at the railway bar for days at a time! The place really feels very yorkshire, very real. Chris is knowledgable and talked about selling Spanish wines 'before Rioja got too expensive'
But now he has a fantastic wide range of stuff.
look out for my notes on these wines!

Monday, 16 February 2009

Tardieu Laurent

2006 Tardieu Laurent Chateauneuf-Du-Pape
Anna visited Chateauneuf Du Pape when she was 3, she tells me that she remembers sitting on some steps. I imagine that it must have been a wonderful holiday!

This wine is produced by the renowned negociant Michel Tardieu. Although not a grower himself, Michel likes to buy select parcels of grapes from vineyards with particularly old vines with a focus on quality.
Chateauneuf-Du-Pape is primarily made from Grenache which is a wonderful strongly flavoured spicy grape variety with upright vines that have a strong wind resistance!

2006 Tardieu Laurent Old Vines Chateauneuf-Du-Pape
Deep dark purple black in colour cased in a thick almost champagne-weight bottle, this wine has a sophisticated aroma of sweet vanilla oak, dark fruit and a licqourice depth.
On the palate this wine is powerful and full bodied with a beautifully soft texture that leads to fruit and a coffee chocolate complexity.
There is a satisfying rich long length to this wine that really stays.
Really impressive wine that I would dream to drink in 10 years time.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009


2003 Rocca di Montegrossi
Chianti Classico
A really wonderful Chianti brought back from Tuscany in my rucksack from a holiday long ago. This bottle has followed me around the recent years of my life from the little shop in Radda to the little fattorias that we visited, the back of vans to lofts. It has been lovingly stored and now is the time to drink it!

Chianti is an area in the province of Sienna, not the name of a grape variety. Traditionally the wines are composed of 100% Sangiovese but now the rules have changed and it can be as low as 80%. Grown on the beautiful hillsides of Chianti the wines are subject to very old fashoined and strict wine making rules.
Chianti Classico is a sub area of Chianti and produces more premium wine due to the favourable conditions and soil found there.
some trivia for you, the emblem for Chianti Classico is the Black rooster which is often found on the neck of the bottle.

2003 Rocca di Montegrossi. San Marcellino
Chianti Classico from the village of Gaiole in Chianti

Made from 100% low cropped Sangiovese aged in small oak barrels for 18 months before bottle storage.
A really serious glass of wine right from the start.
Light crimson colour with elegant perfumed nose of warm sandalwood and tobacco notes. Nice and dry on the palate with balanced cherry fruit acidity and integrated but grippy tannins on the tongue give it the chianti look!
This is what it is all about, superb!

The Feast of Saint Tlaloc

Hey baby,

Here is a brief summary of Friday night's holy Feast of Saint Tlaloc, which was held at Trevol's house, who did a stellar job of hosting a 'clench' on his first attempt.

To celebrate, we invited an Argentinian girl to come round and give us a presentation of red wines made by the winery she works for, NQN. It has to be said, before anything else, that she came round with a very open and positive attitude considering it amounted to a busman's holiday for her. Gracias Julia.

We had a wee tour of several reds, starting with the younger ones and then trying a couple with a bit of barrel. To boot off, a coupage called Picada 15, from 2006, made from cab sauv, merlot, malbec and pinot noir. I personally get thrown by these blends sometimes, not knowing exactly what it is I'm sensing and why, but with more experience and a little shared reflection, you can begin to see what the different varieties bring to the bottle. The deep ruby red colour, for example, is the mark of the malbec, the sweet berry nose the calling card of the merlot. For a youngster, this wine was quite rounded and dry in the mouth, and the cabernet sauvignon made it's seductively gutteral presence felt at tasting time, bringing assosiations of black pepper and spice.

The next bottle up to bat was another Picada 15, this one cien por cien malbec: a grape which had previously been derided as a producer of poor quality wine but seems to be flying in Argentina. This one was even darker in colour than the previous, like a smashed prune perhaps. At first whiff, not much doing, but after agitation of the vessel, a forest fruit medley ensued with branchy interventions. A few sips revealed a tanic and cynical character with a haunting sense of humour.

After these whippersnappers had been put to bed, it was time to get aquainted with a couple of bottles demonstrating the effect of doing grape hard time in American and French oak slammers. A duo of crianzas: a Spanish term to mean that the wine has been aged for a while, in this case, six months. First a 100% malbec from the Malma line, whose appearance was not disimilar to the previous tipple in terms of eye and nose, but the gentle toasted touch coupled with vanilla to create a more complex and special brew.

Shortly afterwards, a Cabernet Sauvignon from the same name and maturing process. This time, the beautiful orange hue was as plain as day around the fringe of the liquid. The wine provoked meaty dreams as it was nasally inspected and was the heavy hitter that we had been expecting after sampling its like with the first bottle: long and strong like the holy month of Ramalamadingdong.

Finally we were presented a duo of reservas. If the last two had done a stretch in chokey for not paying their telly licence, these next ones were pure GBHers. Again going by the family name Malma, we tried a 100% merlot number who had 12 months under its belt. Purple and bright, this had similar qualities in hooter and gob, feminine and perfumed as it was, interesting contrast to the previous variety as it also was.

To round off, a logical conclusion and an effective way to appriciate the effect of quality maturing. A Malma malbec reserve, almost black in its pot-pourri appearance. Hints of chocolate had been aquired to the nose, and its flavour embelished with a generous clout of tannins.

I'd recommend organising a night like this, a tasting trip through the cellars of a particular brand and appelation, so as the qualities of grapes and processes are made evident without the distraction of varying zones, soil types, maturing processes and the like.

Many thanks to all that took part.

Bye bye baby.

Mark Philip Dix I

Chateau Grillon

A lovely Sauternes

A bit of a treat, something that you don't open very often. The thick golden liquid often comes in a half bottle due to the sweetness and intensity.

Grown in Bordeaux, Sauternes demands a high price due to the low harvests and unusual production methods.

The wine is made by encouraging semillon grapes to catch a disease called Botrytis which shrivels the berries and produces a concentrated grape juice with wonderful texture and complexity! It is capable of aging for many years whilst still improving.

New Zealand produce sweet wines based on another method of late harvesting which leaves the grapes slightly dried on the vine producing lighter and more fruity dessert wines from grapes such as Semillon and Riesling as well as Sauvignon Blanc of course!

Here's a bottle we opened recently with some friends after supper!

2003 Chateau Grillon

A deep golden apricot colour with a noticable thickness of body in the glass. Swirling it shows a strong nose of dried fruit and a herbal edge with a soft oak style showing toffee and caramel. Strong honey fruit and a very long length on the palate means that this is good for taking your time and enjoying slowly.

Love it! Sauternes!

Thursday, 5 February 2009


Some news!
We have a new domain name!
I have bought the name and have registered the email address
steelwine at gmail dotcom
This is to future proof the site and give us some continuity if we ever need to move servers etc!
Excellent! have been going totally IT mad at home. Im testing the new version of windows called windows 7 which is so far proving to be lots of fun. It absolutely flies and looks really good too. Some of the new navigational and networking features are really handy.

Welcome to Joe our new contributing writer and heads up about a new website set up by my friend Ron to talk snap in Sheffield!

check it out and check yourself out!


my cellar

Monday, 2 February 2009

Fine fine fine wine

Ambrose gave me an account of his recent trip to
Fine food and wine located in hunters bar. It is a good place for an informal spot of lunch. The raw beef salad comes recommended and the seating is communal around a shared table in the middle of all the wines.
Specialising in prestige wines, the shelves are temptingly stocked with bottles of top Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and also a great selection of Spanish wines. The place reminds me of the very upmarket off licence called Viniteca in Barcelona which I visited with Mark. (below)