Updated: Jun 9, 2020
The wines get more weird and wonderful each week and with every new wine introduced you can almost hear the mouths watering as people lean forward to hear more.
First up and proper curve ball. The Tillingham Estate Col 18 from winemaker Ben Walgate in East Sussex. This is traditional method English sparkling wine but with a twist. As per the norm it is a blend of Pinot Noir (dominant), Chardonnay (a third) and Meunier (a splash). As per the norm it undergoes secondary fermentation in bottle. But that is where the norm finishes. It is un-disgorged, unfiltered, un-fined, zero dosage and just 11.5%. Boom! Add to this a few boutique hotel rooms, a sustainable kitchen garden and a weekend restaurant, and come the end of lockdown you will know where to find us! £29 from Tillingham
Next up was Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2014 from Sonoma. A generous dinner guest must have left it at some point, and it got squirreled away to a dark corner. This is their first encounter with Zinfandel and I think it is fair to say socks were blown off. Despite the punchy 15% abv, it showed incredible freshness, with lashings of plum, damson and chocolate. Shame they can’t remember who the guest was, they’d definitely be issued with a return invite. £19 from 8wine. Current vintage 2016
Estate Argyros Cuvee Monsignori Assyrtiko 2017, Santorini, Greece. Santorini is making some absolutely breath taking wines and their shining star is undoubtedly the Assyrtiko grape. This white grape is grown on volcanic ash and has an unmistakable style; intense smoky minerality, laser like acidity, intense preserved lemon, green apple and a subtle hint of curry leaf. It was once described to me as being like ‘Chablis on steroids’. Bang on! This particular wine is from 200 year old vines. Yes you read that correctly! The crazy volcanic soil makes it impossible for phylloxera, the blight of most vines, to survive so these vines are also all on their own root stocks. It is incredibly powerful with a surprisingly creamy palate from lees aging which balances the acidity. The wine has a brooding power swathed in a cloak of elegance and pulsing with barely repressed energy. Yip, I quite liked this one! Philglas & Swiggot £27.95
Paco and Lolo Albarino 2019, Rias Baixas, Spain. This is a delicious, easy drinking white with a moreish salty tang on the finish. It does what it suggests on the tin; uncomplicated pleasure. First tasted in Spain, it has proved the perfect wine for soaking up the afternoon sunshine on the terrace. Another bargain from Decantalo at £5.96 (bare in mind minimum order for shipping from Spain)
Inspired by the glowing review of a dry Tokaji last week they set out in search of one to try themselves. The Patricius Furmint 2017 split the jury 50:50. In the ‘for’ camp; zingy and fresh with a long finish that is a touch reminiscent of drinking local Italian wines on holiday, something a little bit different that will certainly be revisited. In the ‘against’ camp it was just a touch too unfamiliar. A definite sense of delight from the ‘for’ camp on the realisation that the rest of the bottle was theirs! Waitrose £8.99 on offer from £9.99
The hottest day of the year meant it was finally time to accept that the summer is here, and with that, the first bottle of Rosé. This is akin to the first mince pie of the season and it is a seminal moment in any wine lovers' calendar. This is the M de Minuty 2019 from Provence and was inspired by their annual visit to Nice to stay with friends, polishing off bottles of this light, fresh and oh so drinkable rosé in the sunshine. Majestic £11.24 as part of a mix 6.
Trenel Coteaux Bourguignons 2016, Beaujolais. This was given as a gift by a supplier as part of a mixed case of wines, each accompanied with a hand written note about the wine (I bet we all wish we had suppliers like that). This note explained a bit about the Gamay grape, about the partial carbonic maceration that gives it its signature juicy drinkability, and a short tasting note – bright red cherry and strawberry. A super silky, juicy red perfect for a balmy early summer evening.
And finally, paying unwitting homage to World Chardonnay Day; Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay 2015 a multi-regional wine from this Australian power house producer. There are only two reasons for visiting Basingstoke, 1) to get the car serviced 2) the Berry Bros and Rudd warehouse which holds biannual sales. A temptation too great to turn down when the car is in for an hour, hell make it an hour and a half. The wine has lovely minerality and showed smoky, buttery, nutty flavours on the palate while still retaining a lovely freshness. I can see emergency car services happening every 6 months from now on! BBR £17.20 down from £21.50