Updated: Jun 9, 2020
I’ve never seen people arrive into a Zoom chat so promptly, but then good wine and good company does seem to have that effect! As with last week, each person joining simply picked a wine they had at home, and told the rest of us a little bit about it…so I don’t get my butt kicked by GDPR, no names!
This week we really were drinking around the world and exploring some pretty unusual grape varieties as well as some whites with a bit of age.
First up we dived off-pieste with the Aranleon Solo Bobal from Utiel-Requena, in SE Spain. This is a delicious red wine with deep black crunchy fruit, silky tannins and a fresh, moreish finish. An indigenous variety to Spain it is actually the third most planted grape in the country, but it has historically been used as a blending wine. Not so anymore! This little beauty, like so many indigenous grapes is now coming into the spotlight and boy are they lighting up the stage! This is from vineyards 700m above sea level, altitude adding to the freshness, and is an organic wine from a husband and wife team. The reason this wine was shown was to highlight the exceptional quality and value that is so often found in the obscure grape varieties or wine producing regions. Definitely ones to look out for rather than shy away from. This is £9.50 from the Wine Society
Then we had The Wine Societies own Chenin Blanc made by Villiera in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Having holidayed there you can’t fail to fall in love with South African wine, and Villiera are a stalwart of the South African wine scene. Having previously enjoyed their wines, it was great to see The Wine Soc had teamed up with them to make a great, affordable everyday white. Having checked the website for pricing, it doesn’t seem to be listed at the moment – likely due to the lock down on shipping from SA, but keep your eyes peeled for when it is back.
Back to red, and again from the Wine Society we had the Elk Cove Pinot Noir 2015 from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. It is part of a cellar plan set up with The Wine Soc, so not one that had been tried before, but it certainly seemed to impress and had the rest of us leaning forward in our seats. Fuller bodied than its Burgundian counterparts, but every inch as stylish with beautiful cherry fruit and an earthy complexity. Interestingly one of the other group had drunk plenty of this wine when living in the US and were big fans! It is also really nice to see a wine on the market with a few years age. Oregon are producing some world class wines, particularly their Pinot Noir’s but look out for their exceptional Pinot Gris too. The Wine Society £23.50 per bottle
Speaking of wines with a bit of age, we then moved on to the Pazo Senorans Albarino 2010 from NW Spain. Not usually a grape associated with extended cellar aging, this had been unearthed at the back of the cellar. Though some wines can really surprise you with their ability to develop complexity and retain freshness with bottle age, this had sadly seen a little too much. The colour was a deep straw and showed major oxidation; it was definitely past its best. However memories of this wine in its youth still brought a smile, with its beautiful briney, peachy brightness. Back then it was a Wine Society number, but it is no longer listed there. It can be shipped directly via Decantalo at £11 a bottle
Another white wine with a bit of age, but thriving on it, was the Paddy Borthwick Pinot Gris 2015 from Wairarapa in the south of New Zealand’s North Island. This is deliciously rich, with golden fruit and spice and still showing a bright acidity. Despite being the same grape, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are stylistically a million miles apart, and this a prime example of just how impressive they can be. These wines have tremendous ability to age and are often made with extended skin contact, adding to the phenolic power which aids longevity. Armit Wines are currently selling the 2018 at £17.42 per bottle
Last but definitely not least, and inspired by the Camel Valley English wine last week was the Chapel Down Sparkling Bacchus 2018. Bacchus can be surprisingly like Sauvignon Blanc in its aromatics with elderflower and bright citrus. To keep those fresh lively flavours they add carbon dioxide in a pressurised environment to give it fizz rather than the traditional champagne method which adds rich, briochy notes and would interfere with the pure primary fruit that is the essence of this wine. It comes highly recommended as a quality alternative to Prosecco. Waitrose £17.99 per bottle.
So once again a great array of wines, and great fun share them with each other. Looking forward to the next one! Thurs at 7pm – let me know if you want to join in.