Never work with children or animals, they say, but Joanna Locke MW and colleague Steve Farrow were obviously quite taken with the latest addition to the Paul Cluver clan and almost as much by Niels Verburg’s inquisitive four-legged friends.
And that’s to say nothing of the wines!
The below is just an extract from the fascinating write-up in our online Travels in Wine™ feature. There is much more to read about in Steve Farrow’s report on his and buyer Jo Locke’s recent trip to the Cape, with insights into our growers, tempting tales of wines tasted and stories by the barrel-load.
Paul Cluver Wines
‘…we met celebrated winemaker Catherine Marshall to taste her wine. It was a very happy meeting. Quite apart from the warm welcome and the cheery banter between the ebullient Paul Cluver IV, his brother-in-law and winemaker Andries Burger, Catherine and Jo Locke, there was the presence of Paul’s baby son Maximilian (so not Paul then?) who won the hearts of everybody. What a smiler! No wonder doting daddy Paul, clearly and beautifully besotted with his son, was cooing and baby-talking with the littl’un throughout, and up and down to check on him when he was put to bed in another room. It seems inconceivable that he won’t find his own niche in this most familial of family-owned companies.
…Sadly it was time to take our leave, but not before Jo got to hold the baby. Her beaming smile as she held young Maximilian was a highlight of the trip.’
‘Niels Verburg farms close to the Bot River, just outside the town of the same name, where prized grazing land has also shown itself a prime site for vineyards too.
As we pulled up at Niels’ house we were met by several inquisitive dogs, including the irrepressible Doris, a welcoming Jack Russell who we were warned against accidentally taking away with us as she loves to climb into visitor’ cars. Apparently, she will follow anyone who passes by on the road too, and knowing this Niels was well prepared when a fun run was to pass by the gates. He took a washable marker pen and wrote his mobile phone number on Doris’ flank and was unsurprised to find that she was gone at the first sight of runners going by. Sometime later he received a phone call from someone at a stadium several miles away saying that Doris had finished the race and was safe with them. Apparently she made the local news. I got her autograph.’
At The Society, we are putting our wines in front of the press, including earlier this week at London’s One Great George Street, just off Parliament Square. This preview of wines in our forthcoming Christmas List (out on 30th September), as well as the next Fine Wine List (8th November) and offers later in the autumn, was well attended by many of the nation’s wine writers, including Jancis Robinson MW, Tim Atkin MW, Victoria Moore, Fiona Beckett, Jane MacQuitty, Sarah Jane Evans MW, Malcolm Gluck, Christelle Guibert and others.
Ten days before the event, the Buying Team and I got together to taste through over 120 wines that had been proposed for the tasting and whittle them down to the final 67. (It may sound a lot, but writers frequently complain about having 150+ wines to go through at some competitor tastings.) We always seek feedback from the writers after our tastings, and among the many positive comments regularly received is the fact that our selection is just the right size – big enough to make a detour, but not so big that they have to decide what to miss out.
You will be able to see the reviews of the wines in various publications over the coming weeks and months, and can check them out as they are periodically uploaded to our Society in the press page.
In the meantime, first impressions can be spot on, and below are just a few of the comments made during and just after the tasting.
— christos ioannou (@christoswineman) September 20, 2016
— Roger Jones (@littlebedwyn) September 20, 2016
Once the List is out, you too can post your own reviews, as well as post your star-ratings against the wines you have bought. Just click on any wine you’ve tried, visit the ‘Reviews tab’ and click ‘Leave a Review’ (Please note: you will need to be logged in). Then rate the wine in question from 1–5 stars. We look forward to hearing from you.
They say that every dog has its day.
Well, a quick browse of the web will quickly reveal that not just every dog but pretty much everything else has its day also!
For instance, did you know that September alone plays host to International One-Hit Wonder Day, Teddy Bear Day, Love Note Day (aww) and – my personal favourite – International Red Panda day (it’s the 21st for those who were wondering)?
So why should we even bat an eyelid at International Grenache Day?
International Grenache Day, or IGD, is on the third Friday in September (presumably it lost out on the first and second Friday slots to International Bring Your Manners To Work Day and those troublesome teddy bears I mentioned earlier). Why should we care?
Well, here’s what the team behind IGD have to say:
Why should you care about grenache, one of the most widely planted and least known red grapes in the world? Because you love wine; because you are bored with merlots and pinot noirs; because you are fascinated with pairing just the right wine with your foods; because you have an insatiable curiosity for the finer things in life; because your mother always said you should learn something new every day.
Maybe they have a point! It does offer the opportunity (or should that be excuse?) to try a whole load of different wines made from grenache. This is certainly something not to be sniffed at – if you’ll excuse the pun: given that grenache is so widely planted it’s still relatively low key compared to the cabernets and pinots of the wine world.
Pretty much all the major wine regions produce some decent single-varietal or grenache-blended wines. If trying to stick a pin in its spiritual home, most would aim for France’s southern Rhône valley, where it plays a big part in the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Spain would likely be another popular choice: here garnacha, as it is known here, can produce exceptional everyday wines and provide an important ingredient in Rioja wines.
But there’s plenty of choice globally when looking for grenache. Its popularity with winemakers looks set to grow, mainly due to global warming, as it has an ability to thrive in dry, hot climates and is fairly drought resistant.
Its ability to work well in blends is simultaneously its strong suite and its Achilles heel, sometimes suffering from sharing the limelight with better-known varieties.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some cracking single-varietal wines available (check out this beauty made from old vines by specialist Domaines Lupier in Spain, for instance); but grenache’s ability to contribute to a blend is where, for many, its true genius lies.
So what does grenache add to a blend? I asked our Buying Team for their thoughts and the recurring themes were juiciness and generosity of fruit, strawberry and raspberry flavours, and a sweet, ripe character. On its own, grenache can deliver quite high levels of alcohol, so blending it with other lower-alcohol varieties can be useful in providing balance in a wine. As Rhône buyer Marcel Orford-Williams put it:
‘At its simplest grenache makes round, heartwarming wines. At its best it has real majesty.’
Whether in a blend or pure and unadulterated, we therefore feel that grenache is a grape worth exploring. So if you’re not in the mood for International Teddy Bear Day, do consider raising a glass of grenache on Friday!
We guarantee it will provide more pleasure than International One Hit Wonder Day!
Marketing Campaign Manager
Ideas for celebrating International Grenache Day:
• Indulge in some vinotherapy by covering yourself in crushed grenache grapes and honey. Very good for the skin apparently.
• The International Grenache Case features six delicious under-£10 grenache wines selected by our buyers, and is available for £48 (including UK delivery).
• Go to The Society’s Cellar Showroom in Stevenage where all the wines featured in this case will be available to taste free of charge on Friday 16th September.
• Join in the conversation on social media: use the #GrenacheDay hashtag to share any grenache highlights and see what others are enjoying.
• Enjoy some delicious grenache wines!
I was thrilled to be asked to accompany Sebastian Payne MW on his trip to Italy earlier this year.
In the early days of my career at The Wine Society I used to travel abroad with our buyers quite often, sharing driving, taking photos, note taking and gathering information which may be of use later… recipes from the region, maps, leaflets printed by our growers.
I always felt there was such a wealth of information and rich experience to share with members that it was a shame we didn’t have more outlets in which to do this. Sure, such trips helped build up information for tasting notes, Newsletter articles, our printed offers, and later, this blog, but I have always been passionate about being able to bring our growers closer to our members; something I have endeavoured to do through Societynews and in the Wine World & News pages of our website and occasional blog posts.
So when we launched Travels in Wine, I thought this was an inspired way to bring members closer to the coal face of wine buying.
So, given the green light to go out and get the most out of five days in the field with Sebastian to come back and share the experience with members, set me thinking.
What do members want to know? What will they find interesting? There’s so much to take in – which aspects should I focus on to tell people about?
To a certain extent, you can’t predict what will emerge from these visits and it’s often the unexpected stories that you stumble across that have the most value. But for me, the interest has always been the people behind the wines. So that had to be my starting point.
Though I have visited Italy a couple of times under my own steam, I calculated that it had been almost 20 years since I had last been with Sebastian in a professional capacity. A lot has changed in the interim period. Indeed, one of the main purposes of this trip was to taste the new 2015 vintage and put together the blends of several of our Society and Exhibition wines – many of which either didn’t exist 20 years ago or came from different sources.
We would be calling in on some of the same people I had visited with Sebastian 20 years ago, but now it would be the next generation we would be seeing; the same kids who were at college or just leaving school are now at the helm of their family businesses. It is important to find out what makes them tick and build relationships with them.
Something that certainly hadn’t featured at all in any of our lives 20 or so years ago was Prosecco. Who would have predicted back then what a global success story it would be today? So this was certainly something I was keen to find out more about.
How had the Prosecco phenomenon come about? What are the key factors behind producing good-quality Prosecco, as opposed to the vast quantities of indifferent and insipid bubbles that the market is awash with?
As well as visiting our Society’s Prosecco producers, the Adami family, we were also going to see producers of some of the region’s top-quality Prosecco, Nino Franco, so I was very interested to find out what differences there were between the two.
We would be going to the beautiful walled town of Soave, somewhere that had featured on the last tour when we had visited the Pieropans. This time we would be visiting their neighbours, the Coffele family, the other star turns of the denominazione. I was interested to understand the differences in style of these two houses and meet the family, of course.
Soave, like Prosecco, is another wine which is rather a victim of its own success. Cheap wines from the plains having done nothing for its image and are a world away from those made in the Classico district. While it is obvious to state that ‘the good wines come from the good vineyards’ I wanted to find out more about the key factors that influence the top-quality wines.
I have always had a soft spot for The Society’s Verdicchio but confess that I know little about its provenance. Perhaps this is because, unlike many of the wines under our label, this comes from a large (admittedly family-owned) outfit who are part of a global olive oil press manufacturing company.
In this kind of situation it’s just as important to keep up with those in charge. People come and go, winemakers change, priorities may shift. Happily for us, our man, David Orru has been in situ for many years now and is a great fan of The Wine Society. We had heard though that there was a new winemaker in post and that a consultant was involved in things, so we were keen to find out more about this.
I don’t quite remember when we first listed The Society’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, but I do remember we were ahead of the curve of popularity with this wine and that members were quick to spot a good thing when they tasted it too. Way before the pizza chains started listing rather pale imitations of the style!
There’s a human tale behind this wine, too – perhaps not what you’d expect from a wine sourced from a cantina sociable – so, with my inquisitive hat on, I wanted to get to the bottom of this story which involves one of Italy’s best winemakers along with the fortunes of current star of the Abruzzo, Rocco Pasetti.
Do visit our Travels in Wine pages to read about the first leg of our Giro d’Italia, and let us know what you think.
This recipe, while hopefully of use and interest to all, was written with the autumn selections of The Society’s Wine Without Fuss subscription scheme particularly in mind. Wine Without Fuss offers regular selections of delicious wines with the minimum of fuss. Why not join the growing band of members who let their Society take the strain, and are regularly glad they do?
Find out more about Wine Without Fuss in a short video on our website.
Risotto is stirring, in every sense of the word. And, at my advancing age, there are times when I have to be shaken first, to confront the hob-watching, ladling and wooden-spooning vital to the creamy, nutty, silky-smooth perfection one hopes to achieve. Once you get going of course, helpful adrenalin kicks in. The difficulty is the getting-going.
The other short-grain classic, paella is no pushover either. It’s not about stirring, but catching’, that is to say catching the rice before it catches on the bottom of the pan. Being a bad workman of the worst order, I blame my tools, from the authentically shallow pan to a ferocious hob that doesn’t do ‘gentle’. I have spent many a weary midnight hour scraping burnt residues off both of these and it’s enough to make you leave the remaining half of your hessian sackful of prime calasparra gathering dust at the back of the cupboard. Next to the half-full box of arborio, once hot, and now not, from the Po Valley carb belt.
As far as I know, the first influential mainstream cooker writer to ‘fess up to risotto fatigue in print was – how could it not be? – the eminently practical and consumer-friendly Delia Smith. Rather than pitching a glossy world of elegant worktops, unlimited brio and hand-picked guests who park bums on seats the minute dinner is ready and enthuse obligingly into Camera Four, Delia felt that if you could bake a rice pudding, why on earth could you not apply the same principle to a risotto, and put your feet up while it cooked? Her Oven-Baked Wild Mushroom Risotto, lubricated with Madeira, is one of the stars of her Winter Collection (BBC Books 1995).
This was by no means the first of Delia’s tips on how not to get in a paddy. Her Summer Collection (BBC Books 1993) came up trumps with Pesto Rice Salad, a delicious and effortless buffet bowlful wherein good risotto rice is boiled in a light vegetable stock for 20 minutes and tossed with pesto sauce. Both these recipes can be found on deliaonline.com.
What Delia did for risotto fatigue, Bob Andrew, chef at Riverford Organic Farmers has done for paella. Many members will already be familiar with Riverford’s thoughtful meat and vegetable box schemes and the innovative recipes that often accompany them.
His Seville Duck is a glorious baked rice dish with an authentic Andalucian vibe, made salty by olives, smoky by chorizo and sweet by the surprise addition of a soupcon of Seville orange marmalade. I’m on record, and a cracked one at that, as recoiling in horror at the vinicidal potential of duck à l’orange, but this works and it’s pretty fabulous even without the duck: swap the chorizo for a good pinch of smoked paprika, it’s a vegetarian feast. Once the ingredients are combined, it goes into the oven for 40 minutes while you have a well-earned 40 winks, or at least a relaxing copita of chilled manzanilla.
It’s neither risotto nor paella but the combination of soft grains and really bold flavours is irresistible. As is the fact that there is no catch, and you won’t go stir-crazy making it.
Janet Wynne Evans
Fine Wine Editor
BOB ANDREW’S SEVILLE DUCK
Recipe by Bob Andrew, chef at Riverford Organic Farmers
• 2 duck legs
• salt and black pepper
• 2 tbsp light olive oil
• 1 large onion, finely diced
• 1 celery stalk, finely diced
• 1 cooking chorizo, 100g approx
• 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
• 1 sprig thyme, leaves only
• a pinch of saffron
• 1 bay leaf
• a pinch of cayenne pepper
• 150g calasparra rice
• 125ml fino sherry
• 2 tbsp marmalade
• 30g black olives
• 500ml hot chicken or duck stock
• a handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
• Lightly score the fat on the duck legs. Season with salt and pepper. Put a casserole pan on a medium heat and warm the olive oil. Fry the duck until golden brown on both sides, remove and keep to one side.
• Add the onions and celery to the pan and fry in the duck fat over a gentle heat for ten minutes until soft. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
• Skin the chorizo and break into 1cm chunks. Fry in the pan for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic, thyme saffron, bay and cayenne. Cook for a further 2 minutes before adding the rice. Turn everything gently to mix. Add the sherry and cook until mostly absorbed.
• Gently stir in the marmalade and olives, Pour in the hot stock and bring to a simmer. Tuck the duck into the rice, skin side up. Pop the lid on and bake in the oven until the rice and duck are tender – about 40 minutes. Check the seasoning and garnish with the parsley.
This is a dish of many possibilities, easily adapted to suit just about any bottle that tickles your fancy in the autumn ‘Fuss’ collection.
Served as it is, it’s perfect with Zorzal Garnacha (£6.50) in the Buyers’ Everyday Reds or our other hispanic hero Koyle Carmenère (£7.95) in Premium Reds. It also works with the resolutely foodie Navajas Blanco Crianca (£7.50) in the Premium Whites selection.
But then again, it could come over all Italian, with pancetta, sun-dried tomatoes and basil, topped with grilled bream fillets (Pieralisi’s £7.95 Verdicchio in Premium Whites), seasonally mushroomy like Delia’s (De Morgenzon Chardonnay, £8.95, in Buyers’ Everyday Whites) or even a bit exotic with coconut milk, lemongrass and coriander (The Winery of Good Hope Chardonnay, £6.75, Buyers’ Everyday Whites).
Sebastian Payne MW has been buying Italian wines for Society members for 30 years. A piece published on this blog last year looking back over his career describes his first visit to Sicily in 1992, where international grapes were in vogue, often at the expense of local character:
‘It took years of external influence from winemakers and buyers alike to help push Sicily back on track and to regain its confidence in its own individuality.’
How times change.
This month’s Staff Choice is in many ways a testament to this confidence in individuality. The Society’s Sicilian Reserve Red, made from the island’s indigenous nero d’Avola grape, has been one of the most popular additions to our range in recent years.
This soft but generous red has quickly become a wine-rack staple in our home because it works equally well on its own or with a variety of food (pizza, lasagne, barbecues). You always need a dependable, crowd-pleasing red that’s versatile, and this fits the bill perfectly.
£7.50 – Bottle
£90 – Case of 12
View Wine Details
This busman’s holiday (on a bike…) all started on a tactically late lunch break last year to catch the end of the Tour De France climb up Alpe d’Huez.
French rider Thibaut Pinot had taken the stage win, and the crowds, which had swollen to just allow the bikes to pass, were full of a party atmosphere.
I looked at my colleague and fellow cyclist Freddy Bulmer, and said, ‘we’ve got to go.’ And that was that.
This year, the big climb was Mont Ventoux, so with the thought of a pretty long drive through some of the most famous wine-producing areas of the world, it was somewhat impossible for a couple of oenophiles not to stop off on the way down.
The break in the journey up came in Epernay, Champagne, and who better to visit than one of our oldest suppliers, Alfred Gratien?
After a quick cycle through the vineyards and a walk down the Avenue de Champagne, we had the opportunity to sample the forthcoming 2004 Vintage Brut with Gratien’s head winemaker Nicolas Jaeger. It really is something special!
Society members are regular visitors to the Gratien cellars, and Nicolas is extremely proud of the winery. He was especially keen to show us the innovative stacking system for the barrels: The Society’s Champagne is fermented in old Burgundian barrels to give the wine depth, and these can now be easily moved, drained and racked via a roller system, instead of backbreaking lifting.
Next up was Champagne Boizel, where we met with Florent Roques-Boizel. The cellars are cut out of the limestone, and there is plenty of evidence of riddling the bottles by hand still going on to this day. The soil above is very porous, and after a downpour of rain the puddles can get quite deep!
It was an absolute pleasure to taste back through some of the range currently in bottle. The Boizel non-vintage is a personal favourite of mine – a hidden gem in our List – and the back vintages are developing beautifully. The real treat was looking into the vintage room, where bottles date back to 1893, but unlike some other houses these bottles were stacked up against the walls, as if ready for drinking, as opposed to being hidden away as museum pieces.
Driving through the Rhône, and back up through Burgundy on the way home, is quite an experience in itself, with the steep valleys home to some of the world’s finest examples of syrah down through Rhône. Although we did not have time to stop off, the signs for Jaboulet and Chapoutier stood out from the hillside, enticing a future trip and earning a cross on the map for reference as we drove past.
Arriving in Bedoin, at the foot of Ventoux, the sun was out, the spectators had plenty of local wine inside of them, and two days of cycling had arrived. Along with a few thousand others, Freddy and I ground our way up the mountain on the first day. Even more were camped up in the prime spots for the following day, to watch the professionals pass through, and were in high spirits cheering each amateur as they passed by, pushing themselves to the limit.
We both made it, completely wind-battered and with jelly legs, but proud of the achievement. Nothing could have prepared us for it, but watching the tour riders shoot up a lightning speed the following day left us with a new found respect, both for them and the crowds which had amassed up the entire climb.
A trip to Burgundy’s Château de Beauregard was the icing on the cake. Welcomed by Bertrand, the export manager, as Frédéric Burrier was on his yearly trip walking through the Alps with friends, we were blown away by the location. A beautiful refreshing breeze cooled the sun-drenched vineyard positioned in the middle of Pouilly and Fuissé, and just out of eye shot of the Beaujolais vineyards.
A tour of the cellars, and tasting of the 2015 vintage (available en primeur now) and others confirmed that not only are Beauregard’s wines beautiful in bottle, this quality is also showing through into the future, both in barrel and in the pristine vineyards. The Saint-Véran La Roche 2015 is beautifully ripe and rich, but also balanced with grip and freshness. A real treat to look out for is the Grand Beauregard, which is an assemblage of the best barrels, parcels and crus, blended when Frédéric has tasted every one of them. Possibly the best wine I’ve ever tasted from the region.
All in all, it was a trip I’m sure neither of us will forget in a hurry, and we’d like to extend our thanks to all the producers who welcomed us, and were so generous with their time. There’s no better experience than visiting a producer or the sport you love, and to see the dedication to their passion.
All I can say is Allez Allez, Va Va Froome, and we’ll be back next year!
While one part of my job is to get out and about among the great and the good of the wine trade and press (and do a little bit of tasting on the way!), another is monitoring the press and social media for what is being said about The Society and our wines.
‘The Society in the Press’ section of our website is updated at least weekly, and is a great place to go to discover the word on the street about what’s currently hot in our range.
Putting together a summertime Top Ten of wines mentioned in the press is hard, because we have so many mentions as a result of our quarterly press tastings and periodical samplings to the journalists, so perhaps I’ve erred on the side of some of my personal favourites. You could therefore view this as ten Staff Choices in a row for summer, backed up by some of the very best palates in the land.
The Society’s Exhibition English Sparkling Wine 2013: “Sourced from Ridgeview, one of England’s best-known and most reliable producers of bottle-fermented sparkling wine, this fine vintage blend of mainly chardonnay with dollops of pinot noir and pinot meunier shows fresh aromatic complexity and the vivacious apple and hedgerow fruit mousse whose tangy, crisp and refreshing dry bite is one of the hallmarks of good English fizz.” The Wine Gang, 2nd August 2016
Duo Des Mers, Sauvignon-Viognier Vin de France 2015: “‘Must-try’ white – made by LGI, a company set up by Alain Grignon in 1999 to source wines made by co-ops between Roussillon and Gascogne. Its goal is to deliver inexpensive wines for export and this must be the best-value wine in the UK. The sauvignon blanc is sourced from Gascony, the viognier from Languedoc. Refreshing gooseberry, citrus and apricot fruit with great texture. The perfect summer party wine.” Christelle Guibert, Decanter, September 2016
Altano, Douro Branco 2015: “I can’t imagine there are too many other wines at this price that can boast the same quality. This is the only white made by the Symington Family Estate … High altitude helps reveal the freshness in the grapes here and that’s very evident in this wine. Lemon zesty and aromatic, there is also plenty of ripeness in the palate with a slight hint of an almond nuttiness.” Andy Cronshaw, Manchester Evening News, 13th August 2016
Matetic Corralillo San Antonio Gewürztraminer 2015: “Alsatian gewurz tends to be quite rich and oily, but in coastal Chile it’s lighter, fresher and dry. With ginger, pear and peach, zippy acidity and oodles of perfume, it’s a winner with spicy food.” Tim Atkin MW, Jamie Magazine, 1st August 2016
Jurançon Sec ‘Chant des Vignes’, Domaine Cauhapé 2014: Jurançon is known predominantly for its sweet whites, but the local grapes (gros and petit manseng) can also produce dry whites with a citrusy edginess … Fresh and aromatic, as soon as you’ve poured a glass the fruit races off the starting line and its zingy with citrus, grapefruit, spice and a hint of white pepper on the finish. Sam Wylie-Harris, The Press Association, 23rd July 2016
Hatzidakis Santorini 2015: A lemon nestling in a bed of oregano! Dazzlingly the perfect pairing for a Greek salad. Olly Smith, Event Magazine (Mail on Sunday), 24th July 2016
Scala Dei Pla des Àngels Garnacha Rosado 2015: This incredible wine … comes from a legendary Spanish estate famed for making massive reds. The delicate, haunting, rose petal perfume of this rosé is remarkable and this sensual aroma is backed up with a firm, long, masterful palate. It’s worth every penny! Matthew Jukes, matthewjukes.com & Daily Mail, 13th August 2016
Cirò Rosso Gaglioppo, Santa Venere 2014: You don’t often come across wines whose price seems genuinely incredibly low but this is one of them … Another stonkingly good value offering from this small denomination on the sole of Italy … distinctive rose-scented nose as well as massively friendly, fruity palate … Masses of character and charm. Very good value. Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com, 12th August 2016
The Society’s Exhibition Mendoza Malbec 2014: Penetrating, cool black fruit, black pepper and bitter chocolate, with softening tannins. Concentrated, sensitively oaked and even better in a couple of years. Joanna Simon, joannasimon.com, 27th July 2016
Fitou, Domaine Jones 2013: Katie Jones has had to deal with quite a bit in her wine-making career, but this doesn’t stop her making an impeccable drop … A classic blend of carignan, grenache and syrah, resulting in an inky dark colour in the glass. The spicy bouquet of the darkest fruits has touches of blackberries and tarter blackcurrants. In the mouth the fruit is held in line with the structured tannins and a smidge of spicy wood tones. The warming black pepper heat continues through to the long earthy finish. An opulent style of Fitou from Katie’s vineyard in the village of Tuchan. Neil Cammies, Western Mail, 6th August 2016
Cheers! Here’s to the rest of summer and – who knows – perhaps an Indian one too.
…Relative newcomer, anyway, the first bottlings from this model ‘Stellenbosch’ (Somerset West) estate being sold from 2005. The elegant surroundings (already busy with Saturday morning visitors enjoying wine tasting and coffee around a roaring fire) made a delightful setting for a tasting of wines from across their range.
• Current and new vintages of Circumstance Cape Coral Mourvèdre Rosé (the 2015 is available for £8.95 in my South African Buyer’s Shortlist offer), a wine that is ideally suited to these southerly-facing, windswept vineyards with stunning views out over False Bay (somewhat lost in fog on our visit!).
Our host was talented young winemaker Nadia Barnard (pictured below with my colleague Steve Farrow) who has responsibility for the impressive cellar and works closely with the vineyard team.
We missed visiting the homemade compost and (frankly foul-smelling when I was treated to it on my last visit) biodynamic preparations which are par for the course in this environmentally respectful & friendly ‘biosphere’ of the Cape Winelands!
Nadia may have a very big job for one so young but she has a super-well-equipped, high-tech cellar with plenty of fashionable tools of the trade.
Her pride and joy is this new gentle giant of a press. Several tanks had to be removed to get it in, and Nadia confessed it took some getting used to (high tech does not mean physical hard graft is avoided altogether!) but the results are speaking for themselves.
Look out for Waterkloof, and Boutinot’s other wines here and in the Cape. If you do go, treat yourself to a meal at the restaurant (last experienced last year, and not only good, fresh & imaginative food but good wine matching advice too) and try the fruits of their latest venture: an on-site cheesery!
Jo Locke MW
One of the real gems of Umbria is Barbarani’s delicious sweet white wine, Calcaia. It is a hard wine to sell, as it falls into its own category in a way, however whenever it is shown at a tasting, it gets a very warm welcome indeed.
Calcaia Orvieto is made with thanks to botrytis cineria aka noble rot, which is brought on by the vineyards’ proximity to Lake Corbara. The fog which develops through the night envelops the vines until the cool morning winds clears it away so the vines can enjoy the sun. This process brings on noble rot, which dries out the grapes, causing them to shrivel on the vine, concentrating the sugars and the flavour.
As sweet wine goes and in comparison to Sauternes, the Calcaia is a beautifully light and elegant style. Alcohol tends to come in around 10-10.5% and the wine is beautifully crisp, fresh, pure and bright – no wonder it is so often a hit with our members when it is tasted.
In order to really get the best idea of how this wine will age, we recently opened a few back-vintages, which Italy buyer Sebastian Payne MW had very handily tucked away over the past few years.
Sebastian explained how this wine is painstakingly produced, with individual berries being picked, over sometimes five or six harvests in order to account for the different grapes achieving the same level of noble rot at different times. The varieties used are grechetto and trebbiano procanico, two grapes widely planted in Umbria, although grechetto actually has Greek origins and it tends to be these two grapes which feature in most vintages of this wine, albeit with a few tweaks from one year’s blend to the next.
The first vintage of this wine was made in 1986 and although we didn’t have the opportunity to taste that far back on this occasion, we did have a bottle of 2005, 2006 and 2007 vintages, along with the 2013 and the soon-to-be-released 2014.
2014: Bright, pure beeswax on the nose with a mouthwatering touch of honey and apricot. Light on the palate, very fresh and clean with perfectly poised acidity. Youthful and fine.
2013: Slightly deeper fruit aromas on the nose with a little more botrytis evident. Fresh acidity remains and a nice weight on the palate. Complex, layered and delicious.
2007: Golden in colour. Unctuous palate with more of the beeswax notes and barley sugar. Some of the acidity has now rounded out but is still very well balanced with stunningly vivid caramelised orange-peel notes and a slight hint of burning incense.
2006: A more herbal nose, again with quite a pronounced botrytised character. The acidity is still there but this wine is much more full and viscous. Showing signs of age but wearing it well.
2005: Orange peel and candied fruit but with an intriguing savoury note which adds to the complexity. Lost a touch of the freshness but the charm is still there.
I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how it tastes in a few years… if I can manage to keep my hands off it before then…