Having Brighton and Hove Albion season tickets for myself and youngest son, means we go down to Sussex every few weeks for a match. The Amex stadium is a wonderful ground set in the South Downs opposite Sussex University and Brighton, under inspirational Manager Gus Poyet, are playing lovely football. Having supported Albion through rough times, including the end of the Goldstone Ground, near extinction and wilderness years at Withdean Stadium it is great to see them winning matches in the Championship and still dreaming of Premiership football (although it is always good to be careful what you wish for as there is so much that is good about the Championship and a lot of downsides to playing in the top tier).
My mum, who lives outside Lewes, was one of many who opposed the planning application and although I was sympathetic to the arguments against it, my selfish desire for my team to have a decent ground won out over greener concerns. It really is a stunning venue and even visiting supporters rate it highly on fan sites. With beer from Harveys and Dark Star as well as pies by Piglet’s Pantry we are well catered for. There is lots of space around the stadium so no mad crushes getting in, great acoustics and comfy padded seats. No wonder we have loads of season ticket holders and are getting the highest attendance figures in the Championship (regularly 28,000 plus).
So how does a 2007 Southern Rhone fit in to this football soliloquy? Whenever we are down for a match we visit family and friends who always seem to have fantastic foraged food, game or homegrown veg. Recently I came back with some wild venison which stimulated a 2007 Rhone tasting as I was conscious I have a few that are probably peaking. It was a difficult but decent year, (especially when compared to Bordeaux) but is surrounded by the excellent 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010 vintages which tend to overshadow it. Forget about the 08s…
Chateauneuf-du-pape, Domaine de la Roquette 2007
This is designed to be more approachable than it’s famous sibling Vieux Telegraphe (which was great in 2007 but still needs years to peak). This was the third bottle I have tried over the last 18 months and I was surprised how quickly it seems to be fading. Perfectly drinkable but lacking the subtlety and the complexity I had hoped it might develop. Dark fruit, alcohol and a bit of spice. I could buy something cheaper from more recent vintages that would knock spots off it. Maybe it is in an awkward, slightly closed, stage?
Domaine de l’Ameillaud Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne 2007
Cairanne is often pretty humble stuff but this showed some nice garrigue notes which worked with the venison. Made with a deft touch by Nick Thompson everything was nicely integrated and balanced. I am not sure I would leave this hanging around if I had any left. I’m sure it might last but it is hard to see it gaining anything and it is really enjoyable now.
Côtes du Rhône Villages Secret de Famille, Paul Jaboulet 2007
Jacques Desvernois sourced Syrah from Dauzaman in the Gard to make this for the Wine Society. Some Grenache was added (10%) and this has proved to be a wise decision as it definitely adds another dimension to it. More than capable of another couple of years but I wouldn’t go past 2015. Nice purple showing some age, sweet and spicy. A good affordable effort from classy stable.
Côtes du Rhône Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2007
I love this wine in most vintages. The Mourvedre in the GSM blend is key. It often disappoints on opening but left to its own devices for an hour (or two), preferably in the open air, it starts to morph into something slightly animal. Crunchy when young this is well into its stride but shows no sign of fading. The brothers Brunier seem to take more risks, or exercise less control, with this wine than Roquette above. I am probably the one per cent that would rank this higher if I was forced to give scores.