Mister Greg Visits

The last week has been a rarely-paralleled delight. Last Tuesday I finally had my Spinal Cord Stimulator implanted and what a success it has been!

Spinal Cord Stimulators are considered successful if they relieve 50%+ of an individual’s experience of pain. The device in my back relieves between 80-100% of my pain. I cannot express how wonderful it is, after seven years of appalling pain, to be able to sit down to write an article, happy in the knowledge that it will not leave me screaming.

With this medical improvement deeply embedded in my conscious (as well as my back), it was a great delight to host my friend Mr Greg, the consultant plastic surgeon, yesterday. I was at school with him – I’ve known him 6 months shy of 40 years!

Being a rather senior doctor, Greg can usually drink for Britain. Unfortunately, he had some important office work to do today so told The Editor and myself that he would just drink a glass of each wine! I was stunned! That, I suppose, is how one gets to be a rather senior doctor – not just by being able to drink like a fish, but also knowing when not to.

Our fizz was Roederer 2015. My associate, the infamous fizz writer, Steven Pritchard is forever banging on about how hot 2015 was and that a lot of wines suffered from having the character baked out of them. I hoped this was not the case with this Roederer 2015 as I have a couple of bottles in storage.

We then moved onto white Burgundy: Pouilly-Fuissé en Carementrant 2021 from the Bret Brothers. I have reported on this before and hoped this, my final bottle, would be as enjoyable.

Our red wine, Kāmaka 2021 from Graeme and Julie Bott – the coolest couple in Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu, is planted on reclaimed vineyard terraces on the on the opposite side of the Rhône to Côte-Rôtie from near the site of Roman city of Vienne. It is pure Syrah. The name ‘Kāmaka’ means ‘stone’ in Maori – the Bott’s being from New Zealand. 2021 Northern Rhône’s seem to be turning out better than the initial impressions suggested.

Finally, a half bottle from another hip and groovy winemaking couple, the Mullineux from South Africa. Their 2020 Chenin Blanc Straw Wine is made by drying out fully ripe Chenin bunches placed on straw mats in the ample sunlight of Swartland. The dried grapes have the sugar concentrated in them, resulting in the final wine being intensely sweet.

We dined on The Editor’s slow-roast shoulder of lamb with pommes boulangere. The lamb came from the peerless online butcher Thomas Joseph who services all our meat requirements. They have excellent sausages and terribly good special cuts of beef. Well worth checking out.

Two, four, six, eight, drink up! Don’t wait!

Roederer 2015

Vintage Champagne 2015, Maison Louis Roederer

Roederer 2015 has rich, broad brioche and toast aromas with plenty of sun-kissed fruit. It is ripe but certainly not over-cooked. The fruit has the density and power of the Montagne de Reims with some elegant and refined lemony, limey background notes.

It is clear the some of the base wines have been fermented and aged in oak, there is the breadth to them. This is not the sweet vanillin of new oak – old oak roundness is a scrumptious polish on this ample wine.

Even with this oak treatment I get no real signs of oxidative character. That can be attractive in some wines but generally I prefer my fizz to be reductive – they age better in that state.

The palate is generous with a lot of ripe red berry and citrus fruit with good toasty flavours to support these. Plenty of acidity, pleasingly, it remains lithe enough to be a balanced, quality Champagne.

I think the generosity on the palate comes from fruit and oak contact rather than heavy dosage, even though it is clearly not an Extra-Brut or zero-dosage wine. Seems perfectly balanced to me. With the ripe fruit, oak-influence and vivacious zip, Roederer 2015 has plenty of complexity and 2015 clearly merits being plucked out to have been made into a vintage wine.

There is real length to it with a great chalky, stoney grip to the finish. It ends on a refreshing, sapid note that is highly attractive. Totally delicious vintage Champagne that will reward medium-term ageing at the very least.

Pouilly-Fuisse Climat en Carementrant 2021, Bret Brothers

Pouilly-Fuissé Climat en Carementrant 2021, Bret Brothers

What I love about this wine is its nervous tension.

Once one moves out of the screeching and acrid-end of the Pouilly-Fuissé spectrum, one hopes they will be light, nervy with a floral, lemony aspect. This wine certainly has some of that character.

At the other end of Pouilly-Fuissé range one finds wines from people like Chateau de Fuissé and Domaine Ferret that are weighty, dense and almost Côte de Beaune-like in style. The Pouilly-Fuissé en Carementrant 2021 also have flashes of those types of wines.

It plays with ideas of power and lightness, florid and buttery, edgy and plush. This makes it a highly engaging drink.

I should say, I took this out of the fridge and decanted it an hour before we drank it. Quality white Burgundy should not be drunk too cold and it often improves with a bit of air (assuming it has not already been oxidised in the bottle, something that is still all too frequent).

I use the term ‘quality white Burgundy’ in a relative sense, because flash Côte de Beaune Chardonnay is not only muy expensivo, it costs so much it is made for people with platinum credit cards in the sense of them being made of solid platinum. This is ‘quality white Burgundy’ that costs about £35 a pop.

Not being too cold and having been decanted allowed this Bret Brothers Climat to show at its most complex and engaging, with all its dissociative identity disorder intricacies at their most overt and incommensurate.

Kamaka 2021, Bott

Kāmaka – Terroir de Seyssuel 2021, Graeme and Julie Bott

What a lovely nose! Pure, perfectly ripe fruit bursts out of the glass and gives your hooter a really good time! It is plummy, with hints of blackberry and cherry. Not the powerful black cherry of South African Syrah, but the lighter kind that can just about ripen in Blighty.

There is a grind of pepper to it, some of that Syrah character that gets labelled as spice, a suggestion of chipped granite stoniness and… That’s about it…

No, it is not wildly complex, but complex enough for a £35 wine. And it is overtly attractive and up for pleasure. Somewhere between a good Saint Joseph and a Côte-Rôtie in character. Not heavy and booze-driven (it is 12.5%), it a charming young thing that is eager to please.

The palate is delightfully soft and accessible, with plenty of fruit, some pepperiness and a touch of stoney complexity.

One could hardly ask for a more lovely wine to drink over the next 5-7 years. A quick fumble in the coatroom rather than intense passion with your true love, this will titillate, slap a grin on your face, then leave you alone. Until you pop another that you very sensibly bought for happiness-reasons. It does what it does with excellent execution and I cannot fault it.

Straw Wine 2020, Mullineux

Chenin Blanc Straw Wine 2020, Mullineux

The extreme sugar levels in this wine has resulted in yeast only managing to ferment this to 7.5% alcohol. This is not an issue, as you are drinking this for the sugar.

My, does it not smell sugary? Dates, toffee, caramel and baked apple. Very rich, not really complex but it is definitely a sweet wine.

Lordy, it is sweet. It tastes of all those things I mentioned above and sugar. A lot of sugar. It has pretty good acidity, though. And that’s about it.

Excellent if you want a very sweet wine, not so great if you want a scintillatingly complex sweet wine. Drink it soon whilst the acidity and that baked apple fruit still persist. Do not believe all those wackos who say you should keep things like this for 20 years, they are completely hatstand.

That is well over 1,340 words and guess how much I hurt? That is right, not at all!


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