A big thank you to everyone who attended our Autumn Tasting last week. We were delighted to welcome so many producers from around the globe and have the opportunity to introduce you to them. We hope you enjoyed it too. With so many wines to taste, we have selected some of our favourites below;
2011 CROZES HERMITAGE Cuvée Albéric Bouvet, Domaine Gilles Robin, Rhône
I have to admit that I hadn’t been a big fan of Gilles Robin’s Crozes Hermitage, even though I absolutely adore Syrah however this 2011 Crozes Hermitage was a big hit at the Autumn Tasting! It feels more linear than the previous vintage and that’s how I like it! 100% old vine Syrah from 3 different vineyards all add to its complexity and style, creating this wine’s uniqueness. Aromas of violets and herbal notes with black fruits and spices jumping from the glass to my nose followed by velvety tannins, refreshing acidity and that really long finish which makes you reach for another glass. This can be savoured on it’s own however it would be a perfect accompaniment to game and meat dishes!
2013 LANGHE NEBBIOLO, Andrea Oberto, Piedmont, Italy
I have always loved Andrea Oberto’s wines but this time they blew me away. They were all showing brilliantly at our Autumn Tasting but I was particularly impressed with his 2013 Langhe Nebbiolo. This is a baby Barolo but matured for a lesser period than his top and more concentrated cuvées. Made from a 12ha vineyard in La Morra, Piedmont, it spends 6 months in oak barrels and stainless steel vats, and a further 2 months in bottle before release. A lovely bright ruby colour with the classic garnet tones of Nebbiolo and aromas of raspberry and cherry along with a hint of sweet spice and earthy notes. This is so drinkable on its own but also perfect with game. Superb value!
2012 BARBERA D’ALBA Campass, Cigliuti, Piedmont, Italy
Somehow I’ve had the pleasure of trying the ever-smiling Claudia Cigliuti’s wines 3 times in the past week. This single vineyard Barbera d’Alba has stood out each time and not just because of its colourful label. Grown on clay, south-east facing slopes in the Serraboella Cru, this wine always impresses me with its rich texture and sheer juiciness. Fermented in steel to keep the freshness alive, this then sleeps for 18 months in new or second use French oak, which comes as a surprise as it is perfectly integrated. Damsons and dark cherries on the palate with a creaminess that is punctuated by the refreshing acidity and tangy fruit. Always served slightly cooler by Claudia this would be a delight with grilled or cured meats.
2010 RIPPON Riesling, New Zealand
Anyone who says they don’t like Riesling clearly hasn’t tried this one. I can’t remember the last time I tried wine with quite so much power. These mature Riesling vines, at this now famous winery in Central Otago, grow in stoney alluvial and glacial schist soils. Winds from nearby Lake Wanaka provide the vines with continual refreshment and you can really taste it in the purity of the wines. Packed full of ripe lemon and lime flavours, this has a piercing acidity and steeliness which with bottle age is now perfectly poised. It’s hard to imagine this wine ever losing its power or zestiness and would be the perfect partner to any aromatic or slightly spicy dish.
2014 Cotes du Rhône Blanc ‘Les Gendrines’ Domaine Pierre Gaillard
A couple of years ago after spending a day at the Côte Rôtie & Condrieu Marche-aux-Vins (a must for any Northern Rhone enthusiast) we decided to pay Pierre a visit just before Sunday lunch on the off chance that he might be around so we could buy a few bottles to take home. His wife was picking leeks in the garden and explained that Pierre was in the vineyards. A quick call and he was on his way, 20 minutes later we were in the cellars and were kindly treated to an impromptu barrel tasting. This is the measure of the man, nothing it would seem is too much trouble. I have been a big fan of his wines for many years and this simply reinforced it.
Les Gendrines is his 100% Viognier Côtes du Rhône Blanc, the nose is perfumed with notes of white musk and flower, the palate is pure, driven and really well focused, it has a lightness of touch, with wonderful freshness which could put a few Condrieu at double the price to shame.
2011 Côtes du Rhône Reserve Château des Tours
I have been fortunate (lucky) enough to have visited both Château Rayas and Château des Tours. Emmanuel Reynaud, like his uncle who bequeathed him the duties at Château Ravas when he died, is a man who knows what he wants and doesn’t follow the normal fashions. He steadfastly sticks to his beliefs and opts to make his own style of wine which you’d be hard pressed to pick in a blind line up as they are not your normal run of the mill Côtes du Rhône. I love the nose, it has floral scented red fruits with hints of spice, in the mouth it is silky smooth with sweet red currants and hints of cinnamon, there’s a touch of hot volatile acidity on the finish but this shouldn’t detract from a wine that could happily sit in a line up of fine Burgundy and at this price its a bargain too.
2012 IL CANTICO DELLA FIGURA Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Azienda Agricola Andrea Felici, Veneto, Italy
I had the pleasure of meeting Andrea Felici at Vinitaly earlier this year and was immediately taken with the quality of the wines from his organically farmed 10 Hectare estate. The Il Cantico della Figura Verdicchio is a single vineyard wine from 50 year old vines on clay/limestone soils. The wine stays in contact with the skins during fermentation and is then transferred to concrete for one year prior to bottling. Only 7000 bottles are produced and from next release this will become a Cru wine.
Quite savoury, ham, baked bread and petrol notes with stone fruit, broad and expressive. The palate has richness, lovely steely acidity running through, again baked bread, citrus, petrol and mineral notes, sappy and fresh on the finish.
2012 PAZZO ‘CALL ME CRAZY’ Bacio Divino, California, USA
The wines of California have been generating a lot of noise in both the press and restaurants over the last couple of years so I was intrigued to try the wines from one of our longer standing producers Bacio Divino when I first joined Lea and Sandeman a year ago. What further piqued my interest was both the name of one particular wine, Pazzo ‘Call me Crazy’ and the fact that it was based on old vine Sangiovese, not something you find every day in somewhere like California.
A supple and beautifully polished nose of blackberry, plum, cassis and dark chocolate. The palate has similarly sumptuous black fruits, mocha/dark chocolate, but then a delicious bite of balancing acidity and fine ripe grip of tannins that gives lovely definition to the long finish.
2009 VINO NOBILE Bossona Riserva, Dei, Tuscany, Italy
I first visited this estate with the late Patrick nearly 20 years ago (!) when it was really in its infancy and Patrick had the foresight (with Charles) to see that the wines had enormous potential. Replanting was taking place and a huge hole had started to be dug that now houses the terrific new amphitheatre-style winery. I revisited properly again in 2014 and stayed with the family for several days where I tasted the Bossona with Caterina Dei, going back to 2001. I distinctly remember raising a glass to Patrick from our lunch table overlooking the rows of vines (interspersed with fava beans to demonstrate their commitment to as close to organic production as they can get) and the estate with a tinge of sadness but tempered by a knowledge of his tremendous ability to spot great wines in the making that would age beautifully. They were nothing less than sensational and brilliant value for money in comparison to the raft of hugely over priced Bordeaux that was not being sold at the time. It spurred me to take several Bordeaux-heads there in 2015 to show what the next obvious buy was. Italian! They all bought into it immediately.
2008 Bossona is sadly no longer. As Galloni said, ‘built on intensity but beautifully balanced’ and scored it 94/100. The 2009 in my view has more complexity and even greater potential for ageing. I have always thought this wine is worth twice the price. Unfortunately when Caterina returned from a recent trip to the US, she was told exactly that by a host of New York Sommeliers! There was a move to increase the price significantly, as I suspect will happen with the glorious 2010 but a sub £30 price has been agreed for the 2009. Given that it outshines a lot of Bordeaux that is priced around £50-60 a bottle and we can sell wines under £30 with more ease (think Tassinaia), then it’s an absolute no brainer for anyone wanting to venture into Italian wines to lay down. £29.95/£26.95 inc by the case! It has also just picked up a GOLD in Decanter Magazine.
2011 L’EXPRESSION DE PAUILLAC Ulysse Cazabonne
I can’t really say it any better than the notes given already. Ulysse Cazabonne is a Bordeaux merchant based in Margaux, with close links to many top Châteaux. It is owned by Chanel, who also own Château Rauzan Ségla and Château Canon. Director John Kolasa was previously régisseur of Château Latour. Using these connections Ulysse Cazabonne has been able to source wines from famous estates that have not made the cut into the ‘grand vin’ for whatever reason – young vines or parcels that in these years have not been quite as successful, but which nevertheless benefit from the considerable expertise available in these top properties.
Perhaps ‘wine for grown ups made by grown ups at immature prices’ would be my strap line. Under £20!! I couldn’t think of a better selection of wines to drink throughout the Rugby World Cup.