Grapevine Archive for February, 2016
Our exclusive Blind Spot range can sound too good to be true. A little like The Wine Society… however, both really are transparent!
How does it work?
Mac Forbes, one of the hottest winemaking talents in Australia at the moment, collects samples of wines from winemaker friends and sends them to me each year to try.
I sample up to 20 wines, and cherry-pick the range.
The wines are usually surplus wines made by sought-after names, who have to limit their own-label production due to demand, and so sell to us at a huge discount, which we pass on to Society members.
This means our members have access to an ever-evolving line-up of delicious, authentic expressions of Australia’s best regions at everyday prices.
Mac took some time to explain the process himself in this short video below:
What’s new for 2016?
The Blind Spot range is dynamic by nature, thanks to the opportunities afforded by each different vintage and Mac’s clever detective work. I only select the very best samples to be bottled, and this year’s selection includes four new additions.
They are available by the bottle or in a 12-bottle mixed case with a saving of £11.70.
• Blind Spot Old-Vine Clare Valley Mataro 2014 (£9.95) is a truly serendipitous find, and Mac was thrilled when he came across this tiny-production gem made in tiny quantities from very old vines. Mataro may be better known to many members under its French name of mourvèdre or Spanish, monastrell, and it’s the archetypal winter warmer for bangers and mash and hearty stews.
• Blind Spot Frankland River Cabernet Franc-Merlot 2013 (£9.95) is a blend whose elegance, we feel, belies its price tag. It’s a perfect Sunday-roast wine. Indicative of the value that can be found in this range, this under-£10 wine will also repay cellaring (though it may prove difficult to resist now!).
• The garganega grape is more commonly associated with the production of Soave in northern Italy, but the King Valley in Victoria is starting to produce some very good examples. Blind Spot King Valley Garganega 2015 (£7.50) is crisp, dry and thoroughly refreshing, with a pleasant mineral quality and plenty of fresh-lemon flavours.
• Australian riesling is capable of world-class quality, and our Clare Valley bottling is joined this year by a new Blind Spot Frankland River Riesling 2015 (£9.50), an area that’s quickly gaining a stunning reputation for its flinty dry interpretation of this noble white grape.
I’m really excited about these wines, and hope members enjoy them.
Sarah Knowles MW
Today is apparently ‘National Drink Wine Day’, a day that according to the promotional website is ‘to celebrate and spread the love of wine.’
We need little excuse to indulge in such a noble pursuit, and would love to know what, if anything, our readers will be cracking open today.
Our members often let us know which wines from The Society they’ve been enjoying, and it’s great to see so many leaving reviews on our site, tweeting or writing in to leave their feedback.
Having been selling wines since the 1870s, it’s perhaps not a surprise that, from time to time, we receive some more unusual finds from the backs of cellars and cupboards – but it’s something that we love hearing about.
Such as this one, tweeted just the other day…
— Subadra (@SubadraConsult) February 12, 2016
…and that Wine Society bottling of 1966 Savigny Marconnets that turned up in South Africa…
…not to mention the 1914 Cognac that led to the remarkable discovery by our own Liz Cerroti that her grandfather had also worked at The Society!
Society buyer Marcel Orford-Williams recently unearthed a surprise too, in the form of the 1997 vintage of our Society’s White Burgundy – the biggest surprise being that the wine, designed for drinking young, was apparently fabulous…
So if you’ve found any buried Society treasure, we’d love to hear from you!
It is some years now since McLaren Vale producer Wirra Wirra was forced to rename its flagship cabernet sauvignon when the ‘international naming police’ ruled that it was too similar to that of a leading Bordeaux château.
The 3/4-tonne Angelus bell that sits atop Wirra Wirra’s cellars had been retrieved from a wreckers’ yard after its former life calling the faithful to prayer at the Jesuit church in Norwood, South Australia. Traditionally rung at the start and end of each vintage and to mark special occasions, it seemed fitting that its name be used for the property’s top cuvée of cabernet.
When forced to change the label, the late Greg Trott, with typical wry humour, chose to call the wine ‘Dead Ringer’. In case there was any doubt, the back label of the first wine to be sold under the new nomenclature read:
Dead Ringer: Colloquial for “resemble exactly.”
…the wine formerly known as The Angelus is now The Dead Ringer. It is indeed a dead ringer for The Angelus – being a blend of 80% McLaren Vale and 20% Coonawarra cabernet, and matured in French oak barriques for 20 months. Whatever the name, this wine is quite simply the best cabernet sauvignon we can make from each vintage.
Members can now try the wine for themselves in the form of the 2013 and 2012 vintages, and a mixed case including the 2005, 2009 and 2012, in the ‘Wirra Wirra: The Name Rings A Bell’ section of our current Fine Wine List.
After a (ahem) dry January, our Staff Choice section returns for February, and will be updated every month with a new recommendation from our thirsty team!
February’s selection comes from our Marketing Team’s Gareth Park:
I’ve been a fan of this wine for a long time, mainly due to its honesty. It’s not a showstopper or flashy in any way but instead is a good juicy red that, at less than £7 per bottle, comes in at a very reasonable price.
I particularly like the way that there isn’t anything confected or false about the wine. It tastes like product of soil, sun and man all in balance; as they should be. A lovely example of Loire cabernet franc from a cracking vintage.
Marketing Campaign Manager
£6.95 – Bottle
£83.00 – Case of 12
View Wine Details
Below is one of the recent additions, from one of the Rhône’s brightest winemaking talents, Richard Maby of Domaine Maby.
The Wine Society has championed the wines of Domaine Maby for almost 40 years. Situated in Lirac, across the river from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the soil here is also scattered with the famous ‘galets’ or pudding stones that litter the vineyards of its better-known neighbour.
The property has vineyards in the Lirac, Tavel and Côtes-du-Rhône appellations and the wines, in red, white and rosé, feature regularly on our Lists and en primeur offers and continue to offer excellent value for money.
Richard Maby took over the running of the estate from his father in 2005, re-energising the business and taking it to new heights, together with his wife Natasha.
Before returning to take up the role of vigneron, Richard worked in the French Stock Exchange in Paris. Alongside wine, Richard is also a lover of opera, as members may have gathered from the names of some of his cuvées (Nessun Dorma, Cast Diva, Prima Donna)!
1. When did you know that you wanted to work in the family business?
I always knew that I would work in the family business. I just needed to wait for my father to retire!
2. What’s the most memorable bottle you’ve drunk?
Cheval Blanc 1964, the same age as me!
3. Do you swap wine with other producers? If so with whom?
I swap wine regularly with other producers and especially with very good and friendly producers like Gilles Ferand and Marcel Richaud.
4. Your cellar is about to be flooded. What bottle would you save?
Some bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti that I bought went I worked for the Stock Exchange.
5. Who would you most like to share a bottle with?
With my wife, as I do almost every evening!
6. If you could travel back in time and redo one vintage which one would it be?
2005, because it was a wonderful vintage and my first one. I think that if I would manage it as I do today, the wines would be extraordinary.
8. If your winemaking philosophy could be described in three words what would they be?
Respect of the terroir, respect of the grapes, respect of the wine
9. What is your most memorable food and wine match?
Escalope of foie gras with oranges and a three year-old Tavel Prima Donna.
10. What would be your desert-island wine?
Château Rayas (Châteauneuf-du-Pape).
11. If you weren’t a winemaker, what would you be?
I suppose I would still work for the Stock Exchange…
12. If you could only work with one grape variety, what would it be and why?