In July we welcomed back Condor Wines, and on this occasion we were joined by Regional Sales manager Aaron Irons, presenting wines from their South American portfolio. We thank Aaron for a very enjoyable tasting and the wines showed very well.
In June we welcomed back Jane Sowter of Chateau Musar, with a tasting of four wines from their portfolio. The presentation was full of stories of what has been going on in the last two years in the Lebanon, and the difficulties they’ve had due to COVID-19, the massive explosion at the port of Beirut, and difficulties in shipping. Throughout all of this, business continues and a big thank you to Jane for her continuing support.
In May we held a tasting hosted by members of our committee, with wines in half-bottle sourced from a fantastic range from The Wine Society. A big thank you to the presenters and thanks to our members for your continuing support.
Casa Ferreirinha Planalto Reserva 2019 (Tim Hobbs) Straw coloured, lemon, mineral and stone fruit nose, fairly dry. A pleasant drinker with decent length and fair value for £4.50. Multiple Portuguese grape varieties lead by Malvasia. Food suggestions are Octopus, shellfish, pork or chicken.
Soave Classico Pieropan 2019 (Julian Osborne) Pale yellow, dry mineral nose. Crisp, dry, nicely acidic. Touch of grapefruit, with nice length and body. A well made quality wine which goes well with seafood, creamy risotto, and antipasti.
Jurancon Sec, Chant des Vignes, Domaine Cauhape 2019 (John Freeland) Pale apricot, with a shy nose initially. Admirably fruity Pyrenean white. Exhilarating and fresh, with flashes of grapefruit and pineapple. Plenty body and length which finished dryer. A well made wine from a sometimes overlooked area noted for sweet wines.
Chinon, Temps des Cerises, Dom de la Noblaie 2019 (Tim Edwards) Deep purple and quite dense, shy nose which initially comes over dry and fruity later. Fairly dry, nicely acidic with good tannins and a herby character which becomes dryer to the finish. Good body and length, hints of dark cherries. Would go well with sausage, beef and cheese. Well priced for an organic hand harvested quality wine.
Corbieres Rouge Dom du Trillol 2016 (John Malpass) Purple red, an obvious nose of dark rich fruits, with spicy tannins. Goes well with meats, duck and cheese.
Bleasdale Bremerview, Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2018 (Margaret Connor) Pure and vibrant Australian shiraz. Blackberry, vanilla and plums on the nose, with a twist of pepper and great concentration. Ripe tannins fall into place with the long, fruity finish.
Following the positive feedback from members after the last Wine Society tasting, we thought another half bottle tasting would be appropriate. It offers a broader range of 6 wines and allows members to buy some or all of the wines. The total cost of all 6 wines will be £38.25.
The Wine Society is an ultra-reliable source and the chosen half bottles cover a broad range. Members can choose all 6 or a selection.
In April we welcomed Ben Robson of The Bat and Bottle, Oakham presenting wines from Villa Giada. Villa Giada are based just south of Asti in the Piedmont region of NW Italy. Ben was joined Andrea Faccio and Matt Gregory for the engaging presentation. A massive thank you for the tasting.
Andrea stubbornly supports the wines of his territory with an unerring belief in their qualities. By dint of study and hard work he has fine-tuned the qualities of each individual wine and carved out a niche for each one. His work is meticulous in the vineyard and he has earned his reputation for being ‘a bit of a geek’ (rough translation) in the cellar. His friends Giordano (La Montecchia, Veneto) and Sergio (Rocca di Macìe, Tuscany) recognise this strength and allow responsibility to fall on Andrea for the final stages of their unique joint- venture wines: ‘Primo Volo’ and ‘Tre per Uno’.
All of the Villa Giada’s vineyards are hand-picked by locals who have helped the family for many years. Spraying and treatments are kept to an absolute minimum. The energy and funds that could have been wasted on certifications have been spent on real benefits to the environment; the petrol-head thing may not quite fit, but nobody is perfect.
The lifeblood of the estate is Barbera and Andrea makes five versions, each one recognising the potential of the vineyard.
The English Wine Maker – Mascot 2018 – GRAPE – Moscato This has settled into bottle very nicely, it is an expansive dry Muscat with aromas that take in lychee, orange, honeysuckle and lavender; the palate delivers these nuanced flavours with some restraint. It is an extraordinary, ethereal expression of the variety. 13% 908 bottles made
This is pure Moscato Bianco di Canelli, a highly developed biotype of Muscat that has been the focus for Canelli vine growers since the 1600s. Villa Giada’s Moscato vines are planted on a southeast facing slope at an altitude of 320 metres, the soils are chalky and the vines are kept well ventilated by constant breezes. Mascot’s grapes are from the heartland of the newly created Moscato Cru, ‘Moscato Canelli’, the pinup for Moscato d’Asti. (A low alcohol sweet and frothy white, very lovely and enormously successful and the antithesis of this wine.) The vines were harvested by hand, enough grapes to fill one 10 hectolitre (1000 litres) steel tank. A quarter of the bunches were left whole, the remainder went through the de-stemmer and were crushed. The fermentation started spontaneously, the temperature was moderated by the mass of whole bunches which acted as a natural break. The juice went through a complete fermentation leaving no residual sugar. The wine then remained on the skins for 63 days, during this period it went through a full malolactic conversion. The wine was then pressed using a traditional basket press and returned to rest in the steel tank. It was racked just after Christmas and bottled on 30th January 2019, no fining and no filtration and an absolute minimum of sulphur. There is some light sediment, you will see it, the bottle is clear – it is easy to avoid by pouring carefully, it can be mixed into the wine or left as an interesting last glass, all are good options.
Villa Giada Suri Barbera DOCG 2018 – GRAPE – Barbera All bramble and raspberry, a totally joyous and vibrant wine. The little black dress of our selection, eminently flexible: the full, crunchy forest fruit is the perfect with a linguine and wild boar ragu and equally at home (when served slightly cooler) well with spiced seafood dishes. Andrea’s Barbera is grown in the heart of Barbera country, the Asti province in Piemonte, in the communes Calosso and Agliano Terme. His vineyards are Vadrini, Spessa and Ponticelli, all have excellent exposure from West to Southwest. The vines were hand-picked in the first part of October. The bunches are de-stemmed and macerated before a spontanous fermention , which once started, lasts from 10 to 12 days. After this, the wine is racked off the skins and held in tank where it undergoes a malolactic conversion and a little refinement lasting 4 to 5 months. The wine is then bottled and given a short period to catch its breath before being released.
Villa Giada Quercia DOCG 2017 – GRAPE – Barbera Crushed sloe, Victoria plum and black cherry, black pepper and strawberry. Rich dark fruit, liquorice and violet, deep brambly fruit with a twist and cinnamon and pepper. Classic Barbera that balances the grapes natural acidity with its generosity of fruit, a vigorous and lovely wine. Villa Giada’s ‘La Quercia’ is a wine named after an old oak tree that stands in the vineyard. This Barbera is made from the best grapes selected from this Agliano vineyard. Fermentation lasts three weeks in steel vats where the wine also goes through a malolactic fermentation, after which it rests before being transferred to the traditional 7hl (7000 ltr) barrels where it languishes for just under a year. This is a typical recipe of the area which Andrea has pretty much perfected.
Moscato d’Asti DOCG – GRAPE – Moscato Andrea’s Moscato d’Asti is made from Moscato Bianco di Canelli grown on the Ceriole hill in Canelli. The vineyards face South-East to South-West and there are some plantings on the northern slopes to help with freshness and perfume. The Audrey Hepburn of sweet wines. 5%
Villa Giada with Ben Robson of The Bat and Bottle, Oakham
In April we welcome Ben Robson of The Bat and Bottle presenting wines from Villa Giada. Villa Giada are based just south of Asti in the Piedmont region of NW Italy. Ben will be joined by the winemakers for the presentation.
In March we hosted a wonderful tasting by Lance Foyster MW of Clark Foyster. They are a specialist wine importer founded by husband and wife team Lance Foyster MW and Isabelle Clark.
Lance’s introduction to the company reads “As part of our university degrees, both Isabelle and I studied the history, culture and literature of Ancient Greece. This required visits of course, usually during summer months, and involved beaches, tavernas, souvlaki, ouzo, retsina etc. and we loved it. So much that we spent our honeymoon in Crete and The Mani”.
Oenops Apla Red 2019 Nikos Karatzas (Drama) Nikos Karatzas is the face behind ‘Oenops’ (= ‘wine face’). He studied in Bordeaux then became chief winemaker at a very young age at the high-profile Pavlidis winery, in Drama, Eastern Macedonia, before setting up his own project in 2015. Apla red is a Xinomavro, Limniona, Cabernet Sauvignon blend.
Zafeirakis Malagouzia 2020 (Tirnavos) Christos Zafeirakis’ family have lived in Tirnavos, by the foothills of Mount Olympus in Central Greece for numerous generations. His Malagouzia whites come from a grape variety which in 25 years has reached a high level of popularity in Greece having previously been almost forgotten. It’s a dry but moderately aromatic white, a delicious, charming and versatile wine with or without food.
Argyros Estate Assyrtiko 2019 (Santorini) Assyrtiko is the indigenous grape of the volcanic island of Santorini with a marvellous ability to produce strong but vibrant, crisp, energetic and minerally wines. Argyros Estate, founded in 1903, owns 65 hectares of vineyards. Some of these are recently planted, but many are of an age rarely found anywhere else, and the grapes from these vineyards are used for the Estate wines. Santorini Assyrtikos are, according to Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book (2021), “still cheapest 4* whites around” and Argyros is a “Top Santorini producer”. This should be a spectacular bottle.