Following on from last week’s chat about Greek wine, I was asked to recommend some of my favourites, which I duly did. One I highlighted as an absolute must have, then I realised it really was a must have, so I bought a case! The Ktima Biblia Chora Ovilos 2018 is a phenomenal barrel fermented blend of Semillon and Assyrtiko from Kavala in Northern Greece. This is a magical white wine combining the richness, texture and aromatics of Semillon with the incredible structure and stunning acidity of Assyrtiko. Intense, powerful and taut, it offers up richly complex notes of preserved lemon, lime pith and caramelised grapefruit swathed in a rich creamy texture. The lengthy finish shows mineral finesse with smoky, chalky notes, a hint of chamomile and subtly spiced white pepper. This is a truly world class wine, and if I can keep my hands off it, the rest of the case will age beautifully over the next few years. Amazing value for this calibre of wine at £23.95 from Slurp.
Moving to our next drinker: The AA Badenhorst Papegaai White Blend 2019, Swartland, South Africa. Back from a 20km walk and in desperate need of refreshment, what was required was a real thirst quencher. Nothing too complex or heavy, but fresh, juicy, easy going and utterly ‘smashable’. This blend of Palomino and Semillon from the legendary Adi Badenhorst hit the spot in every way, and is only £12 from Swig
The Papegaai satisfied the thirst, but now something was needed to settle in with, appreciate and self-congratulate on a mighty achievement (the walk not finishing the white)! The AA Badenhost Family Wines Ramnasgras Cinsault 2017 from the Swartland. This is a super refined, almost Pinot-esque wine with beautiful perfumed red fruit, a juicy acidity and silken tannins. A beautiful long finish definitely makes this a reward worth waiting for. £42 from Swig
The next couple came up with a real surprise, a wine I had sold them 5 years ago that has been patiently maturing in their cellar, the Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc 2014 from Elim, South Africa. This is a brilliant project from David Nieuwoudt of Cederberg Private Cellars, the highest vineyards in South Africa. Having tasted a wine from the cool climate region of Elim and seen huge quality potential he went down there (they are the most southerly vineyards in South Africa near Cape Agulhas) and leased some beautiful vineyards which he planted with Sauvignon, Semillon and Pinot Noir. This wine has seemingly got even better with age; incredibly smooth with a lovely smoky, flinty nose and a creamy palate but still boasting its lovely signature freshness. This is being added to the ever expanding list of places we are all going to visit on (what is looking like it might turn into a year-long) wine sailing trip! Current vintage 2016 from Bancroft Wines for approx. £20
The next wine came as a chance recommendation. Conveniently their daughter’s best friend at school has 2 Master of Wine parents (there are not many in the world so place your bets which ones they are!) and standing on the side of the playing fields watching their kids they suggested he try the Beronia Rioja Reserva 2014 which was then on offer at Waitrose for about £10. Dutifully he opened an account with Waitrose to get an online delivery. Things were about to get better; new customers spending over £100 get a £30 voucher to spend even on products that are already on a deal. This meant that a wine that is usually £16 netted down to just £7.50 per bottle. Smooth and chocolately with red berries and black fruit it went a dream with lamb cutlets on the BBQ. Available at Waitrose, currently £15.99 (and we have been reassured it would be worth it at full price)
Possibly the story of the night goes to our next couple who presented the Herve Andre Sancerre 2017. You remember the booze cruises to Calais to fill your boots at the hypermarket?! Will this was a slightly classier version, an annual trip across the channel for a good lunch and a visit to a wine shop. One year the queue was huge and the card machine wasn’t working, the poor elderly man was in a fluster on the phone trying to figure out what to do. They politely suggested connecting the card machine to the telephone line and bingo, they were his new best friends, remembered by him every time they visit and he always seems to have something a little bit special to point them towards. This is their last bottle and it has become smoother and better with a few years of age, while still showing a lovely bright, citrusy character. It was approx. £15 and not available in the UK.
Finally the German/Irish contingent produced their house wine, but this wasn’t just any house wine, this was a wine that had all of us salivating; Schloss Vollrads Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2016, Rhingau, Germany. This is one of the standard bearers for excellent dry German Riesling, and her brother happens to be the viticulturalist there, hence their access to such a beautiful wine. This is a cool climate area for making wine, but the slatey soils and the steep slopes help maximise the heat enabling the grapes to ripen and produce wines of incredibly purity and freshness. Fine German Riesling has an almost ethereal, goose-bump-giving character to it, and this was no exception. Notice the kick ass glass stopper instead of a cork or screw cap, love it! If you don’t have a brother in the team there, the 2017 vintage can be purchased from Vinum for £18.95