December 6th: Oveja Negra Sauvignon Blanc Carménère

Oveja Negra Sauvignon Blanc Carménère wine review

Wine Advent Calendar December 6th: Oveja Negra Sauvignon Blanc Carménère 2015

I’m sorry if I’m going to repeat myself here, but today’s choice  is another from the Oddbin’s wine tasting held at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral the other day.

Why is this wine here? Because I went “oooo,oooo,oooo, look, oooo, it’s a white wine with carménère,  ooo , look, Cambo, look”.

My mate Cambo just ignored my giddiness. He activates his Jane Has Wine In Her Hand Force Shield when we’re at tastings; ever since I shouted, very loudly, “ooooooo, SAUSAGES” at the London Wine Fair a couple of years ago.

I think he’s still taking the tablets  – but I swear blind I could smell raw sausage meat from my tasting glass as I stood by the Bordeaux stand. I can’t remember what the wine was. I’ve had a drink since then.

So, when I go “oooo, oooo” in my giddy lowbrow  kind of way, Cambo usually looks at me in his highbrow kind of way and goes “oh, Jane”.

But this time he was genuinely interested. A white wine made with carménère? It was a new one on us.

Here it is.

Oveja Negra Sauvignon Blanc Carménère wine review

Oveja Negra Sauvignon Blanc Carménère 2015

What is it: It’s a white wine. An unusual white wine.

Where’s it from:  Chile, the Maule Valley to be more precise.  Find out more about the region here courtesy of Winerist.

I’ll tell you some more: The carménère bit is why I was excited. Much like Argentina has made the Old World grape malbec its own; so the same has happened with Chile and carménère.

I’ll quote a piece I wrote a couple of years ago (if you click on the linkOveja Negra Sauvignon Blanc Carménère 2015 you’ll see my Mille the Moo doggie  – but don’t go just yet) …. I said:

“This is a grape which up to a few years ago was thought to have disappeared. In the 1870s a phylloxera plague of small aphids destroyed most of Europe’s vines.

“Carmenère was as good as lost in its heartland of Bordeaux.  But some early winemakers in Chile had taken the grape across the ocean, where for many years it was thought to be merlot. In 1997 DNA tests discovered that it was in fact carmenère and the following year Chile hailed it as an official variety.”

The grape creates some amazing red wines  but I’ve never seen it in a white blend until now. What, I hear you say? But it’s a black grape so how can it create a white wine? Well, if you squeeze the majority of black grapes the juices run clear. Red wine is created by the grape juice maintaining contact with the dark skins.

The grapes: Carménère and sauvignon blanc. I’ve said what I need to say, other than the Oddbins’ techie details explain the wine is a split of  84% sauvignon blanc and 16% carménère.

What of the taste? Well,  as you know, I went “oooo” and that’s what I wrote down. I’ve spent loadsamoney  on wine exams and I write the word “oooo”. Although I also scribbled “a new one on me” “a bit grapefruity” and “oregano”. I’m relieved to read Oddbins’ description as “spices and herbs over a strongly grapefruit-y backdrop”.

The small print. Oveja Negra Sauvignon Blanc Carménère is 12.5% abv and is screwcap. You can buy in Oddbins shops, or online here, for £8.75. You’ll need to add a delivery cost depending on the size of your order.


December 4th: De Bortoli Botrytis Semillon

De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon

Wine Advent Calendar December 4th: De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon

Here we are, December 4th, and my first sweet wine of the 24-day wine advent calendar countdown. You might not want a sweet wine; it’s Sunday so you might be wanting a red with your roast.  But let me get this out of my system because I love sweet wines.

Here’s the story of this one. When I go to walk-round wine tastings with my pal Cambo, tradition dictates that we start with sparkles, then head for the whites, then the reds, then finally make a beeline for the sweetie table which is the biggest treat of them all.

The sweetie this time was at a wine fair organised by the delightful Mike Stoddart, manager of Oddbins  in Liverpool and was held in the Crypt at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral (nicknamed Paddy’s Wig Wam by the Scouse wags here).

I’d done a visual sweep of the room when I arrived – where were the sweeties? – and with ten minutes to go before “last orders” were called I headed to the  Australia table and smiled nicely at the young chap pouring tastings of the De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon.

The smile worked a treat, as you can see.

De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon
Eerrmm … yes. I asked the chap to pour a generous measure



De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon

What is it: It’s a dessert wine. I love, love, love, love, dessert wines. 

Where’s it from:  Australia. The region is Riverina  in New South Wales. Find out more here

I’ll tell you some more: I fell in love with sweet wines when I visited De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis SemillonSauternes a couple of years ago. The wines are delicious in themselves (it’s odd that I love them so much because I don’t have a sweet tooth when it comes to food) but more than anything I admire the way these wines are made. Patience and skill  beyond measure. And who on earth discovered that mouldy grapes could produce such amazing wines.

Eeeeek!! Mouldy? Well, yes.  Don’t look away in disgust just yet …. Botrytis cinerea is a mould which develops on grapes if the conditions are just right. It needs damp misty mornings and warm dry afternoons. The rot – known as noble rot – weakens grape skins, so the water evaporates, the grapes shrivel, and the sugars and acids intensify. The grapes are then hand-picked one by one over many days by incredibly patient people.

The grape: Semillon – other grape varieties are also susceptible to noble rot.

What of the taste? Oh my.  It has aromas of marmalade, and apricots,  and honey, and lemon citrus, and pear, and vanilla, and  – oh – the taste – the same fruity sweet richness is offset by a cleansing acidity. Which sets you up nicely for another glass. Yummmmyyyy.

The small print. It is 11% abv and was marked at £9 for the 37.5cl bottle on the Australia table. Mike tells me he still has about a dozen bottles in the Liverpool Oddbins shop but you might have to hurry.

I’ve also found it here on Amazon for £45.57 for a case of six, which equates to about £7.60 each.

And you don’t have to think desserts for this wine. It would be perfect next to slithers of blue cheese.