So, last week was our annual family trip to Aberaeron in West Wales (if you’ve not been then go it is great) to see my wife’s side of the family. It is a week I always look forward to massively as we do lots of walking lots of eating and lots of drinking with a few cigars thrown in for me. So for the benefit of anyone who wants to see what was drunk/smoked and so that I can remember a few things about when to drink these wine again I have put them in this blog. The only real theme was that I wanted to a bit of comparative drinking (I’d say tasting but it was more than just tasting!!) so I got a few pairs of things out of my reserves, many are things I quite often sell as a merchant and others are wines I have bought elsewhere and just wanted to assess by drinking them.

So first up was Chablis 2008 from Vincent Dampt, I buy Vincent’s wines and give then 2-5 years before drinking so I am on the “basic” 2008 at the moment, deliciously mineral but nicely evolved enough now with that all important Chablis texture, great stuff on the harbour wall after the long drive there. To follow the Chablis and with a simple first night supper I dug out a bottle (for some weird reason there was one bottle on the system at work) of Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Petit Chapelle 2006 Rossignol-Trapet. These guys have been on a real charge from about 2005 onwards and I thought this would be fascinating to try. No decanting – I don’t “do” decanting with red Burgs – it was enjoyable from the off, the oak a little marked on the nose, this quite masculine and defo needs 3-5 years to be at a really balanced place, good fruit there, in a more black and creamy way…quite serious.

Day two was always going to be a monster as it was scheduled to have a massive bonfire (good timing as it drizzled the following day) and eat lots of meat – Pork Belly, beef shin in beer and much more two. So after a little nit of “work” pilling up the fire we got a first bottle down us – Brokenwood Cricket pitch 2010, Sauv/Sem, lovely actually, fresh but just the right blend to take edge off the Sauvignon. My two vinous contributions to the day were both designed to give unfussy pleasure in good volume. The white was a magnum of Macon Verze 2008 from Domaine Leflaive delicious but weirdly interesting too, one of the guys nailed it as greek yoghurt & honey. It is a wine where the texture is the key. I have been drinking the 2009 more of late as in many ways it is more ready and balanced now. This 2008 will reward a little more time in bottle but was great now, I love mags of white burgundy. My red choice was a Jeroboam (double mag but Jero sounds better) of Gigondas 2007 from Domaine Cayron, I bought it a while ago as I am a sucker of big bottles and it was not expensive, it really surprised me as I was expecting a quite funky rich and almost over the top wine but it was far more elegant and “lifted” than I imagined, strawberry, berry compote and vanilla cream (not vanilla from oak at all), it drank brilliantly and didn’t last that long. The freshness went well with the beautiful fatty Pork Belly, I’ll be buying a jeer of the 2010 to replace this one with. The bonfire was still raging so it was time to have a cigar with some more red wine. I selected a, slightly battered Ramon Allones Extra 2011, I have had this once before and have a box resting for a few years. An amazing smoke in a great size – Corona Gorda – that is just like the richest possible fruit cake in cigar form, delicious. I’ll continue to age the box I have but this was so good as a young smoke I may have to get another box. I was so excited by how good a day it had been that it was time for another cigar Por Larranga Robusto 2007 (Asia Pacific limited edition release) a mellow unctous smoke, honeyed and moreish. The photos of that day don’t do it justice.

On the evening of Day 3 we were very lucky to be going to Llys Meddyg ( as Cynan, Fran’s (my better half) Cousin and an up and coming author plus part-time wineman, had organised for us to have a specially assembled tasting menu. This is an idilic spot (I have no vested interest) and strongly recommend you search it out if you are down Pembroke way. Ed and Lou Sykes have got a great chef and a lovely relaxed set up. The meal itself was great, pictures don’t do it justice, with smoked duck followed by pigeon, followed by smoked salmon with amazing beetroot (they do a lot of smoking – the duck and the salmon themselves) then Lamb and finally a brilliant light pudding of Gorseflower Panacotta amongst over things. I wasn’t making detailed notes otherwise I’d say what we had with what but we were all chatting away so I’ll just go through the wines. Pre-dinner we had a Tasmanian sparkler Jansz 2005 (which reminds me that we had the Jansz NV the day of the Chablis and Gevrey) it was very good, balanced, more mellow but richer than the NV. I would say though on balance I think the NV was the more complete wine. To start the meal we had a trio of Egon Muller Estate Rieslings2010, 2009 & 2007– we drank them in that order. If I had to rank them in quality order I would go 2010 (fresh, brisk and complex), 2007 (very balanced, only a dash of development, try complete) then 2009 (still very good just less exciting than 10 or 07). They went very well with the food. I increasingly think that Riesling (especially at Kabinett type level) is the best food friendly white wine going. Once the food got a little meatier we move to Barbaresco 2006 & 2007 from Produttori del Barbaresco. There is quite a well documented little “savvy-buy” fact on the 2006 as they did not release their single vineyard Barbaresco’s and instead but it all into their “Basic” Barbaresco but this only 100% applies to the magnums, anyway enough geeky Piedmont info. The 2007 was, as expected more easily accessible as a wine, softer, lusher more obviously enjoyable. I liked the 2007 but really loved the 2006 which had feminine fruit with masculine structure. It needs (they both do) time but was so quintessentially Piedmont and Nebbiolo. With the Gorseflower Panacotta there was apparently only one wine to have – Lacrima di Morro, Querci Antica – I’d never had it before, it was very interesting, amazingly floral you’d swear it was fortified but it wasn’t. There was one more conventional sweet wine to close the evening – Clos Thou 2010 Jurancon – really fascinating, almost peanut butter but actually has an oily richness, great, would like this again.

Over the next two nights, amongst other things, I had Guardiola 2009 and 2010 from Andrea Franchetti’s Passspisciaro Estate in Sicily. This is a wine I always buy and I wanted to compare the vintages and the wine at a different stage. In Sicily they’ve probably finished the 2011 already but I am convinced that in the same was as Chablis – Guardiola is also unoaked Chardonnay – it is best with a couple of years to mellow. The 2009 was seriously good, melons and ripe limes but with an almost sherbet like texture that I love. The 2010 was as expected a little more streamlined and focussed and a little more one dimensional now…I think there is very little between the vintages in quality but the extra year made for an improvement for me so I will look to give Guardiola that sort of time in the future. I took a pair of Margaux 2006’s along with me – Kirwan & Giscours – and tried these over the same two nights. Kirwan was impressive, good balance, classical left bank Cabernet but not over the top or over-extracted has that Mgx soft charm, it is no out and out star but is is good and enjoyable. Giscours was decent but no more to my mind, it had a slightly green side but was charming enough, good Cabernet but no more than that. I find Bordeaux 2006’s (on both banks) to be “solid” but no more than that, I would rather drink 2001 on both banks and 2004 on the left bank. The 2006’s just remind me of better 2002’s. I know this is not a general view and would welcome any 2006’s that people feel are stars.

Another evening and another pairing. My son (aged 10) with a lot of help and guidance from Cynan had designed a four course meal. The wines were a pair of Gruner Veltliner’s as described next. Dom Gobelsburg Gruner 2010 Neiderosterreich, pear and cream with grass on the nose then a prickle on palate, good.

Dom Gobelsburger Lossterrassen Kamptal 2011 delicious very mineral in a stoney way, more taut than the 10, both delicious but I prefer this (we left a little of each for the following night and both had improved). The two reds were both Cote de Nuits 2009 “Lieu Dits” from Giles Jourdan – La Robignotte & La Montagne – I was hoping they would be interesting and not overpowered by the 2009 factor. We had them side by side – La Robignotte, very good indeed has fresh fruit but also real depth and a good density with out weight, complexity shows too. La Montagne 2009 very decent but without the depth of the La Robignotte, more red fruited and nervy. I will try both again this time next year. i was left with the impression both were good but that the La Robignotte is the class act.

Having had a few grey days (this is Wales!!) we went for a great coastal walk the next day as the sun was out. Along the way I enjoyed a Cohiba Siglo VI it may have needed to settle a bit more, was good but one dimensional, I have a couple more so will give them a couple of years I think. I like Cohiba but don’t buy masses of them and this kind of reassured me that this was a decent tactic. The last eeving would be used to hoover up any food and also bottles we have left so another bottle of Chablis Dampt 2008 disappeared but I had saved one last tasting pairing both Barolo 2006’s from a producer I had been recommended – Guido Porro – the two wines were Vigna Mazzairasco & Vigna S.Caterina. I wanted to taste these two as I have bought 6 (now 5) bottles. Barolo Vigna Lazzairasco 06, Guido Porro, very balanced, old skool (a very good thing) drinking but will improve, red stewed fruit. Barolo Vigna S.Caterina 06, Guido Porro, very balanced like the Lazzairasco, not quite drinking a little more structure here. I was impressed by both and both are very much in the traditional camp. And so to the last wine of the holiday…Umathum Auslese 2009, Burgenland (Chardonnay/Scheurebe) really fresh. Lychee, white fruit delicious…