Updated: Jun 6, 2020
In light of the horrific scenes coming to us from America of the death of George Floyd I wanted to shine a light on Meerlust Wine Estate, an amazing South African winery that pioneers black empowerment through the Meerlust Foundation and the Meerlust Workers Trust. The results have been incredible (see here for more information on the inspiring work they are doing). The owner, Hannes Myberg, the 8th generation of the Myberg family to own Meerlust, is a man who shows us that the opposite of racism is not non-racism but anti-racism; actively working to change the unjust imbalance. We were proudly drinking their iconic Rubicon 2016, a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It is a wine famed for its ageability though I have single headedly failed to keep a bottle in my house unopened for more than a month despite valiant efforts to the contrary. In its youth it is seductively velvety with svelte dark fruit and subtle yet utterly compelling notes of cigar, cedar and iris. Fresh, long, concentrated yet incredibly elegant this was meant to go with dinner after wine club but we accidently finished it, such is its incredible drinkability. £28.95 from Philglass & Swiggot
And now for the wines drunk but our friends in Thursday Night Club – all stories are their own as told by me…
We continue our trip through the winelands of Germany, living vicariously through the adventures of this couple. Led by her brother, viticulturalist at Schloss Vollrad, they were heading south last summer through the region of Pfalz and ended up at CEO Zum. As is generally the case when wine lovers congregate at a winery, the winemaker starts producing all manner of wines not usually available to taste. In this instance it was a Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) that hadn’t yet been labelled. Blown away by the quality they asked to buy some which they did, though he had to stick a random label on it, that of CEO Zum Bacchus (a white grape). That will keep anyone raiding your wine racks guessing! Bought at the cellar door E6.80
Another double whammy up this week from our thirsty sommelier but with a strong natural theme to them. The first is the Thierry Germain L’insolite 2018 Saumur from the Loire. Normally the Chenin can be austere but this 18 is showing beautiful stone fruit and an appealing roundness from some lees aging. It is unfiltered and unfined. Impressed by the quality and the natural philosophy she put it on the wine list and the gorgeous Spring Restaurant. Available from Fine and Rare, £17. Next up another natural wine from renowned Beaujolais producer Guy Breton with his Morgon Vieilles Vignes 2018. This wine is a long way from the Beaujolais Nouveaux for which the region is dubiously renowned, it is a far more serious expression of Gamay from old vines that are organically farmed. Minimal intervention is practiced in the winery with great skill resulting in a wine with incredible purity, liveliness and energy. Lay & Wheeler £22.
Next in was the Wine Society Exhibition Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaillons 2011. This is a style of wine often over looked for its ability to age, but the tasting descriptors used were beautiful and clearly showed this Chablis was still every inch the beauty, aided no doubt by 2011 being a very good quality year. When first opened it was very much stone fruit and vanilla, crisp yet soft. As it opened in the glass it developed an incredibly appealing herbal note of lemon verbena and lemon thyme with rich undertones of white almond. Another cracker from the Wine Society. Their current cuvee is from a different 1er Cru; it is the Exhibition Chablis 1er cru Montmains 2018 and is £22 per bottle
This has been a favourite summer white for some time, the Agricola Punica Samas 2016 from Sardinia. Though Punica may be little known, it comes with huge pedigree. It was a collaboration between renowned agriculturist Giacomo Tachis, and the two powerhouse producers; Santardi and famed Tuscan estate San Guido (makers of Sassicaia). It is based in the wild South West of the island, where gnarled vines overlook the ocean. This is a blend of 80% Vermentino and 20% Chardonnay and is a gloriously fruity yet fresh and elegant wine showing apricot and peach. Although a few years old now, it is still fresh as a daisy thanks to the screw cap closure. Armit Wines, current vintage 2017, £15.74
We seem to be getting a high success rate with random bottles left by guests, but there is a resounding need to figure out which these generous guests were and ensure they come again! Again a surprise bottle left as a gift at a dinner party, the Springfield Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Robertson, South Africa. These guys are fabulous producers of fresh, zesty and classy Savvy despite the warm growing conditions in the Robertson valley. Despite being firm fans of Kiwi Sauvignon this might just have converted them to look further afield. A delicious wine with a lovely mineral core to it which has surprised and delighted! Waitrose £12.99
Inspired but a fantastic road trip from Turin to Alba. Getting lost somewhere between Barolo and Barbaresco, they discovered a little restaurant and fell in love with the local truffle pasta. The Barolo’s were so overwhelming (in price and in tannin for a lunch time) but it was here they discovered the delights of Piedmont’s lesser known grape variety, Barbera. This De Forville Barbera d’Alba 2018 is not complicated but is a lovely medium bodied fruity, earthy wine, and more importantly brings back great memories of a wonderful trip. Majestic £12
And last but not least…. Forced to miss TNC due to his wife’s birthday (bit rude having a birthday on a Thursday) but determined to share some delicious wines they enjoyed with a slow roasted goat were the Graham Beck Brut Rose NV from South Africa to get the celebrations started (purchased at Wine Utopia, Stockbridge, £18.95) followed by the Delas Sainte-Épine St Joseph from the Northern Rhone, a stunningly fresh, complex and elegant Syrah available from Blanco and Gomez £87. By all accounts it was a very happy birthday!