Ordinarily we are models of restraint and restrict ourselves to sharing one wine each with the group, however Christmas fever seems to have taken hold and more than one person, myself included, seemed to be clutching two bottles.
I was sent two samples of a brand new wine from Abruzzo in Italy. It is the project of a history lover with a passion for wine who has set out to recreate the ‘Vinum Hadrianum’, a wine lauded by Pliny the Elder from Atri in Abruzzo. They are natural wines that are harvested late and undergo extended skin contact (60 days for the white, 90 days for the red) The 2020 harvest is the first that is both fermented and matured in clay amphorae… but that will be the subject of another future blog!
So first up was the Vinum Hadrianum Aelio 2019 Trebbiano D’Abruzzo DOC. A pale golden colour and a relatively neutral nose does not prepare you for the incredible intensity of flavour on the palate! It bursts into your mouth with dried apricots, sultana’s, sweet almonds, gorgeous savoury notes of hay and dried wild herbs and the most incredibly moreish saltiness. Despite the extended maceration the palate is not grippy or astringent, but beautifully structured with an elegant creaminess. The finish is long and savoury with a beautiful almost effervescent minerality that adds to the freshness. A very versatile food wine.
The Vinum Hadrianum Maximo 2018 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Colline Teramane DOCG has a nose showing intense and vibrant purple fruits and wild cherry blossom. The palate led with a textural minerality and spicy black pepper underscored with subtle, taut black fruit. As it opened up it reveals crunchy black cherry, damson and blackcurrant with a hint of wood smoke and lots of spice. Pure, nimble, spicy and silky, the wine is lithe and elegant rather than plush and rich with great freshness and balance while still in its very primary aromatic stages. The finish, like the white, has a fantastic mineral driven length.
The wines are not yet available in the UK, but can be bought directly from the winery at https://www.vinumhadrianum.com/
Next up we have another double header, the first is the tail end of a bottle of Viejo Mundo Ribera del Duero, Spain which has lots of ripe, rounded fruit and is a lively and thoroughly drinkable wine. It was part of a large Spanish tasting by Tim Atkin MW who sold the opened bottles for £15 a case with all proceeds going to charity.
As there was only a glass left of that it seemed wise to also open the Jean Marc Bouley Hautes-Cotes de Beaune 2012, Burgundy. A lovely wine, lighter bodied than the Ribera as you would expect from a Pinot Noir, but despite the lighter body and colour it has great depth and length. A really classy wine, lovely to have something with a bit of age, and good value. Our Glass £22
The next excuse for a 2 wines night was their 21st wedding anniversary (fair enough!). They started with the Lismore Pinot Noir 2018, Coastal Region, South Africa. We have been introduced to Lismore Wines before, and it has encouraged a number of members to seek out the wines, both thanks to the quality, but also the incredible story of fortitude displayed time and again by owner/winemaker Sam O’Keefe. A delicious wine, fresh yet fruity with lots of strawberry, cherry and floral notes with complex yet subtle sweet brown baking spices. Subtle, refined, smooth and silky, and only 13% abv. Corking Wines £28.32
Next up is the Kracher Beerenauslese 2017, Burgenland, Austria. A beautiful sweet wine that they last drank 10 years ago to the day. Definitely time to revisit! It is a wine they have been following since tasting the 1996 vintage many years ago. A lovely blend of 60% Welsch Riesling and 40% Chardonnay it shows peach, melon, honey, orange and mandarin; combined with the complex marmalade notes of Botrytis (the prized noble rot that both concentrates the sugars and adds layers of flavour), it is sweet and complex yet fresh and long. Tannico £20 (half bottle)
Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay, 2018, Margaret River, Australia. This drinker is continuing his global tour of chardonnay and is currently residing on Australia’s west coast. Vasse Felix is a well known name in Margaret River and this is their ‘entry’ wine. A good if not great wine, yellow citrus notes, and nice subtle creaminess and certainly went well with the jackfruit curry. Majestic £14.95 (£9.99 as a mixed 6)
Rustenberg John X Merriman 2018, Stellenbosch, South Africa. This was a visual purchase, the label was so reminiscent of a fantastic holiday to South Africa with its classic Cape Dutch architecture that they couldn’t resist the walk down memory lane. This is a beautiful wine; rich blackcurrant, pepper and cedar spice with a hint of leather, it is a wine that never disappoints. Complex and classy yet incredibly quaffable. Majestic £15.99
Glaetzer-Dixon Mon Pere Shiraz 2015, Tasmania. This was purchased at the winery 3 years ago. It shows raspberry preserve on the nose but then leads to an earthy, light, lean and focused wine. The colour is more reminiscent of Pinot Noir and it is fresh but with very light tannins. It seems to have lost a little of its zest for life, but improves with food. 30 Aussie dollars
Gaia Estate Agiorgitiko 2017, Nemea, Greece. One of the 3 wines from last weeks masterclass that we did not open and this is exactly the style of wine that this drinker really enjoys. Lots of fruit, subtle oak with gently structured tannins. Bright red fruit, subtle wild herbs, a silky texture and a lovely fresh finish. Absolutely delicious and crying out for some Greek lamb with oregano! Hic Wine Merchants £16
When you are only allowing yourself one glass, and it is winter, it really has to be Tawny Port as it lasts so much longer than table wine once it is open. This is the Barros 10 year old Tawny Port, and frankly Thursday night should be tawny port night in every house! It is absolutely beautiful with mixed spice, caramel and dried fruit, silky elegant, sweet and yet with a lovely mouth watering acidity. One of the world's most over looked wine styles. The Whisky Exchange £22.95