The latest gathering for lovers of the odd and obscure in wine took place at Rochelle Canteen last Friday, and generally we all felt that these lunches get better and better. As usual, the food was stunningly good and the friendly reception we receive is very much appreciated.
Without writing extensive but dull tasting notes, the list below with a few explanatory words gives an idea of what we drank. Anyone interested in attending future lunches (usually every second month) should keep their eyes on the Winepages forum and associated offline planner (www.wine-pages.com). All wines served blind.
Bulles de Syrah NV, Limoux, Jean-Louis Denois Delicious and refreshing sparkling Syrah but vinified as a blanc de noirs!
Vin Jaune 1989, Arbois, Jacques Puffeney What can I say, stunning, a shame we now have a finite number of bottles from this amiable master of the Jura.
Vinochisti E3, Toscana, Tim Manning Erbaluce, vinified dry. Not quite as stunning as the last bottle but a marvellous wine, please do try it if you can.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano “Tradizzionale” 2011, Montenidoli Vernaccia how it used to be or just a new interpretation, whichever it is, a classy wine.
Picarana 2013, Bodega Maranones, Madrid Rich white with a chalky finish, from Albillo. Great Spanish whites just keep turning up at these lunches.
Piedi Grandi 2012, Clarine Farm, Sierra Foothills A Californian field blend, old vines (Nebbiolo, Mourvedre, a little Syrah and Semillon), pale and refreshing.
Fence Panel Block Pinot Noir 2012, Chateau Hambleton, Esher (UK) Chris Hambleton’s hand pressed micro cuvée, around 8% alcohol, a very creditable effort at a refreshing English red, a very rare sighting too! Pretty much unobtainable.
Spirit of London MMXIII, London Cru Gavin Monery’s Cabernet/Barbera blend, made in London’s first urban winery in SW6 and commercialised through Marks & Spencer. Dark, plummy and dark fruits, a creditable effort. Currently £13 (on offer) or cheaper with their 25% off six deal, so no excuse not to try it.
È Iss 2011, Tenuta San Francesco Pre-phylloxera vines, Tintore di Tramonte (a teinturier variety) from Campania. Fascinating.
Gestad Syrah 2010, Deutscher Landwein, Ziereisen, Baden From southern Baden, towards Basel, any Ziereisen wine is a treat (try the Jaspis) but this experimental trial planting shows genuine potential for this grape in parts of Germany. Very good.
Patras 1947, Achaia Clauss, Greece A bit of a mystery wine but probably made from Mavrodaphne, not in its prime but hanging on in there.
Gamay 2012, Sorrenberg, Beechworth Probably the best Aussie Gamay I’ve tried and afaik the only pure Gamay from Beechworth. It has that lively Beechworth fruit, very good indeed. Wouldn’t mind grabbing some of this for myself, for sure. Cool retro Chablis-esque/burgundian style label.
Moscatel “Pico Plata”, Chipiona (Florido Hermanos), Sanlucar de Barrameda This was pre-war (Civil War), 1920s 0r 1930s, a gorgeous nose, mahogany brown, thick, delicious, indeed possibly the wine of the day, though the Puffeney VJ and the Tondonia pink (see below) were also contenders. A wonder! Truly.
Vermut de Reus Reserva De Muller, Tarragona Served with orange segments and ice, a very fine and pungent vermouth, heavy with the scent of oregano.
The Tawny 22-y-o, Dutschke A fine “Barossa port”, bottled May 2004, butterscotch and rancio and everything you’d expect.
Vina Tondonia Rosado 2000, Lopez de Heredia, Rioja Pale, almost more orange than pink, that scent of tea, that dry and almost herby palate, I know I’m a LdeH fan but there’s something special about this rosé, certainly one of my favourite dozen still pinks. A lovely end to the lunch.
As always it is difficult to do justice to the wines without writing a book. I often wish at these lunches that I could just place an order for a mixed case, and that was certainly true of this one.
These lunches serve as a major education. When the best classic wines from the classic regions are getting too expensive for many of us, it’s a revelation to discover star quality in less likely places, and often from varieties we may have never heard of. That world of wine is wide indeed!
Massive thanks to Dave Stenton for taking on 100% of the organising of this one whilst I was swanning around Nepal in search of the most obscure wine on the planet south of the Arctic Circle (see previous post). Here’s to May.