Last Saturday, The Editor and I met our excellent friend Richard for lunch. He was the first appointment in our social calendar for three months and so it was a true delight to see him. Oh yes… outside and socially distanced, of course – bloody idiotic rules are definitely not made to be broken, after all.
Nonetheless, we had an absolute hoot with Richard. The next appointment he have in our diary is in November, so we have the time to fit in a few engagements, should anyone wish to meet up for fine wine and general hilarity.
One of the four wines we had, 2016 Syrah ‘Porseleinberg’ from South Africa I am not going to report on this article. This is not directly due to idleness on my part. Rather, yesterday’s huge flurry of activity largely themed on replying to an enormous stack of emails I had been too emotional (not tired and emotional as a newt , you understand) to deal with earlier has made my fibromyalgia play up something rotten. Consequently, I am currently in a lot of pain.
Why should I be too emotional to deal with emails, you may be wondering? If you do not follow me on Facebook or Twitter you are probably unaware that Kisu, the Elitistreview cat for thirteen and one half years, had to be put down a few weeks ago.
This left me rather distraught. I was very attached to Kisu, he was a great companion and friend, albeit a not particularly talkative one, for a long time, and I was his favourite member of Team Elitistreview.
Kisu had been vaguely ill for a while, but his condition suddenly deteriorated. We took him to the vet who suggested a last-ditch treatment. Once it became apparent that this was not working and our poor family pet cat was just suffering more each day we had to perform the last duty of care we owed him.
Writing this brings a touch of moistness to my eyes even now, especially when I think how bad it was that we could not soothe him at the end and had to say goodbye to our wonderful little boy in a fucking car park. Excuse me whilst I take a swift break to clean up the tear-soaked, snotty mess that is my face.
Better. So PACE Kisu. All is not gloom, pleasingly. Firstly, The Editor’s cat, Fudge, is happy and friendly as ever (although still a little confused that his big brother has disappeared). Secondly, after a suitable pause, five months it seems, I will be acquiring Hector – a Burmese cat from a breeder in Wales. I say I will be acquiring, but this depends on there being a little boy in the gestating litter. Seems pretty likely to me.
With Hector (name decided upon already; Hector was the defender of Troy, if your classical education is a tiny bit more rusty than mine) being a pedigree cat I have to pay real money for him! The horror! My bank account has already taken a few steps away from me and is pretending we have never met. Right, that is the feline-related news out of the way.
You can read a review of the Porseleinberg by clicking here. You can read reviews of the other three wines we sampled, with varying degrees of relish, by continuing to read this article. Onward!
It is cracking to finally have a opportunity to write about a Gusbourne Blanc des Blancs! I have had the 2015 a couple of times now and, by bottoms, it has been abso-freaking-lutely amazing. However, that is a vintage to age. I shall do this with my last bottle of the 2015.
When I saw the 2014 on the Estate website I was pleased as chips. Gusbourne have the warmest vineyards in England and they considered 2014 almost too warm a vintage to make quality sparkling wine. This intrigued me.
Furthermore, the 2015 and this 2014 have spent 48 months on their lees after the second fermentation in bottle. This resulted in the 2015 have hardly any time on cork when I drank it, thus making it, realistically, incomplete in its progress of becoming a wine to drink. The 2014 had an extra year on cork – my debit card was smoking seconds after I scoped this.
The nose initially seems as light and delicate as any English sparkler when you start smelling it, with a pure and direct lemon juice/zest character to it.
Then one sniffs a bit more and discovers that the fruit has developed with air and is actually distinctly exotic! There is grapefruit and a hint of passionfruit. It still does not smell any less refined than your typical quality English sparkling wine, but it has a real depth of explosive fruit fun! Wehay!
There is a real chalky stoniness here as well. As well as the fruit developing with air, it has also seemed to put on weight. It is as complex, stylish and classy as the nose of the best Blanc des Blancs from anywhere (and I do mean anywhere) in the world! An incredible treat just to smell wine of this refulgent quality.
But there is more to the life of a wine than smelling it – I am diving in!
Bugger me! It is stunning! It has a layer of light but tropical fruit, whilst the mid-palate plays with ideas of complex, stony density. All these swirl together in a beautiful melange thanks to the ultra-fine mousse.
Intricate and lacy, this has extraordinary refinement and beauty with a finish that just goes on and on. This wine benefits from fruit grown at Gusbourne’s Sussex vineyard that has chalk soil that shows on the palate with a real stony grip on the finish that is extremely bracing.
Indeed, there is a core of stoniness to this wine that, along with the acidity, keeps the palate focussed, taut and direct even when the depth of the exotic fruit is charming your tits off. This is a brilliantly constructed wine that is just entering its first flush of drinking pleasure and shitting fuck there is a lot of pleasure here!
So this is in its first stage of wild, orgiastic brilliance. How long will it age for? I think it will stay in this stage for around five years. Beyond that? I really cannot say. Blanc des Blancs fizz, even ones a superlatively fantastic as this, have ageing profiles that are very hard to predict. Will the fruit persist to act as a foil for the nutty, mushroomy characteristics of age? Will its incredible vivacity see it through into a stylish old wine? I really do not know.
However, this wine is so far beyond electric sex pants pleasure that Richard, The Editor and I are going to split a case and some of those bottles we will do the experiment with. We hope the supreme class of this wine will last and last, and we will give it a chance to demonstrate that. I will let you know.
One thing is certain, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of Blanc des Blancs fizzes I have had that are of the sheer, breath-taking quality of this one. You are a moronic, rancid fool if you do not buy some and drink with mind-boggling pleasure!
Peter Lauer categorically produces Saar wines one leaps at with greedy hands to fill whenever one sees them. When I saw Howard Ripley had Auction Kabinetts of his from the stunning 2018 vintage I immediately thought, “Fuck the mobile phone bill, one of them will be mine!”. I paid the mobile bill the following week so you can still call me, if you like.
How to approach a wine of this phenomenal personality… OK, how about this:
Imagine the Koh-i-Noor, seasoned with fresh lime juice and powdered slate, etching the words ‘Ecstasy’ and ‘Perfection’ all over your teeth, palate, stomach and mind with such intensity that they would glow with lambent energy even when you are dead and in a little urn on your offspring’s shelving.
No? Well, if the impressionistic sketch will not do I will try something a bit more conventional but, I am warning you, it will be less entertaining so I will make it brief.
This wine is the tense conjunct between focussed precision and delightful bliss. It also hurt my stomach, but that is irrelevant!
Stick your nose in the glass and you can smell it is going to be very acidic, but there is an incredible amount of just-cut lime fruit that is pertly fresh. This wine also demonstrates brilliantly why we wine scribes say Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Rieslings smell of slate. It just does, OK?
It is a beautifully classy, wonderfully stylish nose. If you smelled this and did not get goose bumps because you knew you were having a close encounter with true perfection you may as well just not bother coming to this site again, you philistine. This is Elitistreview and wines such as this are the currency this site deals in.
So let us have a taste.
I do not know exactly what happened as I tasted that, but somehow the entire universe was cooled to absolute zero for several seconds and nothing, no atoms, molecules or capybaras, moved during that time.
The vivid tension between acidity, slate, citrus fruit and sugar glows with lambent… Oh I tried that. I mean that it excites, thrills and pleasures you immensely. It is a deeply intellectual thrill, but it is also really scrummy, so drink up, keep brain engaged, and hope the next wine is even half as good.
Buy future vintages from Howard Ripley.
Oh cripes, it is not good at all. I bleeding hate Ghislaine Barthod wines. Their only redeeming feature is that you can pour them away.
Let me give you an example of how much this wine failed to deliver. The Editor and I were given this blind. We could tell it was Cotes de Nuits, but the very last Cote de Nuits village we guessed as its source was Chambolle. How appalling is that? The village that makes the most beautiful and generally lovely wines on the Cote and we were guessing it as things like Gevrey and Nuits before we finally got to Chambolle. Epic Fail.
Les Cras may be the most structured and masculine of the Chambolle 1er Crus. Guessing it as Gevrey? No. Fail.
The wine was tough, too acidic and lacking almost any form of fruit. That does not sound like Chambolle, now does it? This wine not only failed to deliver the unabashed love of Chambolle, it completely failed to deliver any of the charm of Pinot Noir.
If you cannot make lovely, winning Chambolle 1er Cru wine in 2005 you seriously need to be sent to a re-education camp. The Editor thought this might even be the swine Grivot’s wine, so a cruelly torturous re-education camp is called for.
Richard attempted to defend this as a valid expression of old-style, manly Burgundy. Hmmmm… old style and manly in that it was a carving of a chap made in Roman times with its beautiful head removed and its body generally mutilated with pickaxes by evil Christians at some point in the past. Honestly, the dust that head would have been turned into might have seemed less dry and dreary than this.
Sorry, Richard, I do not enjoy being rude about your wine, but I bloody hated it and I tell it like it is. I am sure will not take it personally – at least I hope you will not because it would really hurt if a rock-climber like you thumped me. This only really reinforced my hatred of Barthod wines. Oh dear.
Well, thank you for cooking a brilliant lunch of fantastic steak, Richard… Oh yes, outside…
Sell to an idiot.