Learning about wine, vines and vignerons whilst living in the Languedoc

The good, the very good and the ugly


Some recent wines. I was on a roll of good wine after good wine since the start of the year but that came to a stop on Saturday. The wine responsible for that was a Georgian amber wine from Pheasant’s Tears. I have had the good fortune to drink a number of similar Georgian wines from the Rkatsiteli grape and many were excellent. Sadly, this wine was full of volatile acidity. VA is caused by bacteria which create acetic acid (the acid which gives vinegar its taste). The bacteria could be produced during fermentation or by contamination by unclean equipment.


Sometimes a little VA adds something interesting to the flavour of the wine, Chateau Musar in Lebanon is famous for having  a little. It depends on individual preference whether you like it. I quite like it myself. However, this was way too tainted to be drinkable. Unfortunate.


As for the good wines. Unsurprisingly one was a Coutelou wine, Classe 2013, Grenache, Syrah and a little Carignan Jeff informed me. Still a lively purple colour with delicious red fruit flavours with soft tannins to support and add complexity. Classe ages so well, it is hard to resist when young but this showed the benefits of letting the wine knit together over a number of years.

From Sicily the Vino Rosso 2016 from Vino Di Anna was a fine example of how good the wines from this island are. I was fortunate to visit and taste many wines there a few years ago and met Anna Martens at a tasting a couple of years ago. This red made from 90% Nerello Mascalese and 10% Nerello Cappuccio had fresh, cherry flavours the clean acidity helping the red fruits. Lovely.


South African wines, on the other hand, are more of a mystery to me. Testalonga is the domaine of Craig and Carla Hawkins in the Swartland. Chin Up 2018 is pure Cinsault, one of my favourite grapes. This was very light in colour, almost a rosé or clairet. Yet Chin Up had power and plenty of light, juicy fruit. This was a genuine pleasure to drink and I am looking forward to trying more of the Testalonga wines.


Finally a port, Quinta Da Noval 2003. There was a lovely balance in this wine, the alcohol had blended perfectly with the Touriga Nacional grapes, there was no alcohol aftertaste that often happens with lesser ports. Apparently the vines are at high altitude and there was a lightness and freshness to this wine, full fruit which was long, long lasting. A reminder of how good port can be.





Author: amarch34

I'm a recently retired (early!) teacher from County Durham in North east England. I am going to be spending most of the next year in the Languedoc leaarning about wines, vineyards and the people who care for both.

4 thoughts on “The good, the very good and the ugly

  1. I’ve had a bit of a bad run of Pheasant’s Tears wines recently. Was giving a 2 bottle tasting, and one bottle of the Rkatsiteli 2017 was oxidised (caramelly rather than VA), and both Saperavi 2017 were IMO slightly corky. The other Rkatsiteli and both Mtsvane 2017 bottles were fine, but it is still not a great hit rate.

    I too have tried the Chin Up recently. Enjoyed it but would have preferred something a bit more punchy I think. I have like Testalonga wines in the past, and got the mixed case of 6 from Buon Vino, so I have a few more to try now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s where I bought the Chin Up and a few more of theirs. I liked the weight, food friendly but also easy to drink on its own.
    The VA was way over the top on the PT, no other aromas or flavours. Your experiences don’t persuade me that I won’t be buying any more of theirs.


  3. Not sure whether you intended the double negative in your last sentence…? Regardless, out of fairness I should say that earlier PT vintages I bought in the UK have been fine.


  4. I trust your judgement Steve and I had heard good things. But when I have experiences like that I would take some persuasion to buy again.


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