The premise is simple. Pick any bottle you have at home, join us and tell us about what you are drinking. It comes with a warning, you end up so psyched to try the other wines that are being tasted you end up buying a lot more wine than you might have intended. I write the reviews up using your stories and your tasting notes, and I add in any teccy snippets I think you might find interesting.
An eclectic range of refreshing wines were on show to help us deal with the scorching temperatures last night
Tesco Finest Premier Cru NV, Champagne. The sun is blazing down, even at 7pm and life is all about celebrating the small things. So for no other reason it felt like a champagne kind of night. This is an extraordinarily good value champagne, made by the Union Champagne co-operative. There are more than 300 villages in Champagne, but only 44 are designated as Premier Cru quality (and 17 as Grand Cru). The designation signifies that they have all the attributes (soil, aspect, microclimate) to grow excellent quality grapes. This example is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and spends 30 months aging in the bottle, far longer than the 18 months required by law for a NV. This additional maturity gives it extra depths of richness and brioche notes to balance the refreshing green apple and pear. Tesco, £18 (on offer)
Christian Patat Grecanico 2019, Sicily. There was some ingenious white wine cooling action going on in this garden, with a sports injury ice pack wrapped around the bottle and tucked into the ice bucket! At the start of lockdown many people were reaching for familiar and reassuring brands, but 3 months on there has definitely been a sea change towards the experimental. Tonight is the obscure Italian grape Grecanico which is increasingly being planted in Sicily, and has recently been found to be genetically identical to Garganega in Soave. Both flourish on volcanic soils so it is no surprise it has taken like a duck to water to the Sicilian terroir. This example is fresh and fruity with a lovely underlying minerality and a crisp dry finish. Naked Wines £9.99
Alexander Gysler Kammerton Riesling Trocken 2018, Rheinhessen, Germany. There is little that can touch German Riesling for pure, electrifying refreshment. This example is from the much maligned Rheinhessen region, historically the source of much of the very cheap bulk wine, but in recent years the scene of a revolution of young, quality minded producers exactly like Alexander and his family. This wine shows lots of crunchy green apple, kaffir lime leaves (memories of picking the leaves back home in the garden in Australia) and fresh lime. Bone dry and delicious. Oddbins £18
Blackbook Nightjar Pinot Noir 2018, England. Blackbook is about the hippest winery in the UK at the moment. An urban winery set under the arches in Battersea, sourcing grapes from across the UK. It was created by an ex-sommelier who travelled to the world's great wine regions learning how to make wine before returning to the UK to set up shop with his wife. And as it is English wine week? Well it would be rude not to fly the flag. This is a lovely elegant wine, with 40% whole bunch adding to the aromatic, juicy lift. A very light kiss of oak allows the fruit to sing. Natural but not funky, this is a really top example of an English still wine from a stellar vintage. D’Vine Cellars £22
Via Vinera Bulgarian Heritage Dinyat Orange Wine 2018, Thracian Valley, Bulgaria. Determined to take my own advise and try something completely new I found a bottle of Bulgarian orange wine (white wines made by doing an extended maceration on the skins - similar to the red wine process - oxidatively made and natural with little or no sulphur), from the Dimyat grape, which I had never heard of. However, I do know Bulgaria are making some excellent wines so I figured it was a fairly safe bet. I was really impressed, this little fellow was punching well above his weight. On the nose set honey and orange peel, on the palate, blanched almonds, toasted hazelnut, orange pith and a hint of jasmine with a crunchy bite of greengage on the finish. The slight phenolic grip (from the skin contact) really enhanced the freshness, as did the slightly savoury nutty finish - it has bags of character. Stepping off the well trodden path once again paid dividends. The Wine Society £7.50 (out of stock)
Chafor 2015 English Sparkling Wine, Buckinghamshire. Continuing the English wine week theme, and happy to be championing the wine from their only local vineyard, these grapes are grown down the road from them in Buckinghamshire and then made by expert winemaker Emma Rice at Hattingley Valley in Hampshire. A bracing acidity, perhaps expected from these more northerly vineyards, lots of green fruit with richer brioche notes. Bought from the beautiful Waddiston Manor wine shop £24.95
Lyrarakis Assyrtiko 2019, Crete. Kicking us all into touch with their awesome situational drinking, streaming live from their yacht out near Poole harbour as they chilled on the deck in the evening sunshine, sipping on the Lyrarakis Assyrtiko, these guys know how to roll with Thursday Night Club! Seriously, it could only get better if they were moored off a Cretan port. Mineral, balanced, chalky and salty with a subtle floral and lemon note, it really is class in a glass. And despite the growing cult status of Assyrtiko, this example is brilliant value. Philglas & Swiggot £14.50
PS pretty impressed with the photography this week folks!