There are two reasons to avoid a blog post on holiday wines. First, what could be more dull than reading someone’s self-aggrandising pontifications about all the very smart wines they drank, and second, like many people I know, I don’t actually drink either loads of wine, or certainly loads of posh wine, over this period. Too much driving and lots of meals with family who would not always appreciate some of the stuff we drink alone or with wine friends. But then again, after a few rare gems it seems mean not to share.
Like most people who enjoy wine, Christmas is a chance to open things that will survive a few days in the fridge. In this case we had one nice surprise and one which exceeded even the high expectations placed upon it. The first was Hughes Béguet‘s Macvin du Jura. HB are a lovely, young, family producer in Mesnay, walking distance out of Arbois. Caroline is English, Patrice French. I recommend a visit. The Wine Society have sold some of their wine but the range is quite exquisite. I’m not usually a Macvin fan, but the key here is a very fine spirit and not skimping on the quality of the Ploussard juice. You get something fresh and refined in taste. It’s very fruity yet there’s a strata of clean spirit in the mix as well.
The wine which exceeded expectations was Equipo Navazos PX “Bota No” 36. Dark brown, almost teak in colour, complex on both nose and palate, and above all, not sickly sweet. Thick enough to paint with, an inch a day must surely work as well as any medicine. And yes, I did pour some over two scoops of good, organic, vanilla ice cream – transformational (of both the ice cream and me).
A very small Christmas lunch for just two this year. Goose legs, so what to drink? Decided to go left field as I had a 2004 “En Barberon” Pinot from Stéphane Tissot in need of opening. Sadly it was the only dud of the season, very hard and not showing too well. I was more disappointed knowing how Stéphane’s wines have thrilled me for two decades than for the wine itself, which may just be past its best? Or maybe in a dumb phase?
Three very new (to me) wines really did excel, and the fact that they are new to me (doubtless not to some of you) made me want to share my discoveries. The first is Gut Oggau‘s Winifred Rosé. An Austrian Landwein of real vivacity, a nice spritz, fresh strawberries and raspberries with a hint of maceration…a wine that truly sings. A producer to explore in 2015. Like the labels too!
Perhaps the star of the holidays came from an unlikely source, the grape Cinsault. But when it comes from the hands of Australia’s Tom Shobbrook via John at Winemakers Club, you get a better idea of its potential. This is a wine not now commercially available, I think, but the “By Didier” Vine Vale Cinsault made from 90-year-old Seppeltsfield vines was a marvel, both to behold (vibrant pale red) and to drink. Very fruity, starts as pure cherry, a bit of strawberry comes in…you get the idea. Dry with zippy acidity and amazing purity, like a very intricately carved piece of netsuke which yet retains its simplicity.
The last wine must be a contender for label of the year already. “Somewhere on Another Hill” is a Chenin/Gewurztraminer blend from the Erskine Family’s Jauma Wines (South Australia). It doesn’t sound an appealing combination, but the Erskines seem to make wild and expressive wines on the outer edges, and this walks a tightrope of freshness, acidity, skin contact and so on. Citrus and apple acidity balance almost precariously with the structure of a red wine and they pull it off magnificently. Another producer to seek out this year.
So back to work? Well not exactly. A long break this year and more family meals to come. Tomorrow we shall try a David Clark CdNuits-Villages from a sadly ever smaller stock of his lovely wines, though I’m pretty sure Berry Bros will still have some if I’m quick. And a big family celebration next weekend where I can open a handy litre of Blaufrankisch (Groszer Wein, Sudburgenland, from Newcomer at Shoreditch Boxpark) and Riverby Estate‘s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2011.
Back to work proper on 14th with the Vinoteca tasting for Le Grappin (Andrew Nielsen) and Mark Haisma. That should be good! I’ll certainly share my impressions. We tasted Le Grappin’s 2013s this autumn in Beaune and were impressed, and a multi-vintage look at Mark’s Bourgogne Rouge at Picture (north of Oxford Street/Marylebone-ish) in October showed the classy winemaker he is.
HAPPY NEW YEAR – happy drinking, and general all round success and fun in 2015.