I’ve always found it odd that ‘holiday reading’ is somehow equated with ‘trash’; personally, I’ve always found that the only time I can concentrate for any period of time on a more challenging read is when I’m on a sun-lounger, or at very least sitting still quietly for more than an hour (a rare occurrence in the Cooper household, I assure you). In a funny way I feel the same about wine.
When most folk go on holiday, they tend to sup the local Kool-Aid (in the literal rather than figurative sense) causing, on their return home to the rain, a sudden uplift in the sales of Retsina, Rose, and many far, far worse things... well as you can imagine at BI we’re a fussy bunch and whilst every visit to foreign climes is a chance for a new vinous experience, we also like to spoil ourselves and drink a few special bottles we’ve been saving for just such an occasion.
Last week I spent a week lolling around in the sun (ok, shade) on a very small and rather beautiful Greek island and here are a few of the tipples we enjoyed:
Domaines Ott Clos Mireille Blanc de Blancs 2011
I confess to consuming nigh on gallons of Ott rose in my time, but this was my first encounter with the white. A lovely, waxy, rich textured wine with plenty of herby, bright, lemon and peachy fruit. This interesting blend of Semillon (70%) and Rolle (30% - known elsewhere as Vermentino) is easy drinking but with enough complexity to interest the drinker. 90pts GC
Pol Roger Brut 2002
What a beauty this is turning out to be. Anyone who has this in their cellar should allow themselves the opportunity to taste a bottle or two but for the love of god leave some for a few more years... already beautifully autolytic with fresh sourdough, almost marmite-y characters balanced perfectly by zesty, unwaxed lemons and a hint of seashell minerality, this is very, very good indeed especially when you consider what great value it is. Managed to hold up equally well with both my grilled octopus and lamb chops... 93pts GC
Chateau Rayas Blanc 2007
If you have any of this in your cellar, take a moment to thank the gods and if you don’t, hop over here and buy some. Now. You will not regret it. Freshly opened, it was a little tight, giving up some night flowers and hints of honey and wet wool. With a little time in the glass it spilled forth with ripe amalfi lemon, peach, honeysuckle and a slight acetone character – complex and all in absolute harmony. The palate was richly textured, almost thick, but completely balanced and not at all heavy. Fresh acidity kept the rounded, intense flavours in check. Stunning. 96pts GC
Armand Rousseau Clos des Ruchottes 2001
Ah, the magic of Rousseau. What can you say about this bottle? Incredible perfume of ripe cherry, wild strawberry, sweet spice – ground ginger, clove, Szechuan pepper – and a lightweight but incredibly concentrated palate of sweet red fruits and that elusive spice coming through again. It gets boring using the word ‘perfect’ but there are few more appropriate to describe the balance, poise, energy and harmony here. 96+pts GC
Pichon Lalande 1996
The first of two delicious clarets supped side by side, the Pichon is really coming into its own. This particular bottle was a beauty, its trademark perfume and texture not unlike a great Margaux but with a more austere, masculine firmness behind it. I love 96s right now: they provide all the essentials of great claret – harmony, poise, balance, effortless concentration and freshness – and they also sport an absolute purity of vineyard character which makes each specific region and even each piece of terroir within the commune speak loud and clear. This was no exception with gorgeous blackcurrant and plum fruit, a hint of white truffle and great freshness. 94pts GC
Lynch Bages 1989
Great old Bordeaux: you can’t beat it. Good friend and colleague David Thomas opines that 1989 is his favourite Bordeaux vintage of the last 30 years and with bottles like this you can see why. Almost entirely weightless but hugely concentrated, this is what Bordeaux does that almost nowhere else can do. Texturally sublime, with ripe black fruits, graphite, immense focus and harmony, this is the essence of Lynch. 97pts GC
Also wouldn’t do to finish without mentioning the regularity with which we enjoyed Gilpin’s Gin, primarily in Gibson form... this is a twist on a classic dry martini, with the ice-cold gin stirred long over ice, added to the tiniest dash of Noilly Prat (in a frozen glass of course) and finished with a pickled onion and dash of pickling juice, just for a hint of dirtiness. Bloody amazing.