We reached our seventh bi-monthly Oddities lunch at Rochelle Canteen yesterday, and I think for many of the regulars it was possibly the best yet. Of course, the food was exceptional (hake fritters followed by rabbit for me), and it’s somehow hard to beat the venue when the throw open the long glass doors in warm weather (and London was perfect yesterday). But the wines were also on top form and the jovial banter of blind tasting made all seem well with the world.
As every wine deserves a comment I’ll avoid any more small talk, but I must say that the thought which people put into selecting their wines is appreciated.
Scholium Project “Blowout” 2014, California – Verdelho and Gruner, vinified and then carbonated (yes!) in tank, yet it was refined, refreshing, with a very fine bead and brisk acidity. One of my wines of the day. My blind guess was Savoie!
Le Clos des Cyprès Vin d’une Pluie 2012, Ctx Languedoc-La Clape Blanc – A refreshing blend of Clairette, Roussanne, Marsanne and Picpoul, picked (by an attendee) during a thunder storm. It seemed to have the precision and electricity of the lightening conveyed into the bottle.
Crama Girboiu “Epicentrum” 2014, Romania – Smelt strongly of Muscat on the nose with acidity and backbone supplied by Aligoté. Fruity but also a little hefty, decent, possibly fresher in winter?
Forjas del Salnes “Cos Pès” 2013, Vinos Atlanticos (Galicia) – 100% Albarino, but not typically so. In fact I thought it had a bouquet remarkably like vanilla fudge, but it was stunning on the palate. A skin contact white (sic) that didn’t look like one. Only 12.5%, another clear contender for my wine of the day. Impossible to find, yet it retail for less than £12, which is amazing value.
Channing Daughters “Clones” 2014, Long Island – A real blend here consisting Chardonnay, PG, Gewurz, Tocai Friulano and Muscat. Although the Chardonnay component is 60%, the Gewurztraminer, for me, is the grape you notice first. One of those blends which doesn’t necessarily make a better whole, but I’m sure everyone enjoyed trying this. You don’t see it on the shelf every day.
Szaraz Szamorodni “Hetszolo” 2006, Tokaji Region, Hungary – Marker pen on the nose was the first shout, then, for me, burnt apple and a hint of mushroom. A dry wine which you expected to be sweet or off-dry. Very good indeed, and if we thought the Galician was a bargain, this (and the 2006 seems still available on Winesearcher) will cost you about £5. There’s no hurry to drink up. 50cl.
Bodegas Puiggros “Sentits Blancs” 2013, Catalunya – A white Grenache (Garnatxa) with a heft of alcohol (14%) and rich fruit. Quite complex as it evolves and warms. I had this as a Viognier-Chardonnay blend from somewhere like Israel, which only goes to show how little I know…or remember (I do really like Mediterranean whites, though on a hot day 14% can be a bit much).
Kalleske Plenarius 2012, Barossa – Kalleske have been growing grapes in the Barossa since 1838, but Troy Kalleske has been making real waves, especially with Shiraz. This newer wine is a single vineyard Viognier, about a week’s skin contact, low (12.5% but tasting rather more like 6%) alcohol, almost like an oddly orange-tinged apricot fruit juice, somewhat cloudy. Obviously I took this, and it is certainly an odd and even provocative wine. Lines were drawn between the noises of appreciation and those who just said “no”. If Solent Cellar ever get any more I’ll certainly grab one, though not a case (they did have their Clarry’s GSM last time I looked). As an aside to those who asked, I think retail this was probably closer to £20/btl.
Radford Dale “Thirst” 2015, Western Cape (S Africa) – A wine that pretty much does what it says on the label, in that it quenches it. Light cherry, no real guesses what the grape is. 11.5%. Simple but really tasty. And that label’s well designed too. Chill it.
Passionate Wine “Via Revolucionaria Bonarda Pura 2013, Argentina – This was impossible to guess. We had Mondeuse, Nerellos, Marzemino and Refosco. The last was nearly right. Bonarda Pura is an apt description. Only 10% alcohol, Mendoza fruit. For me it’s one of the new wave of wines giving Argentina the edge over Chile (without forcing us to drink jammy Malbec).
Forjas del Salnes “Goliardo Loreiro” tinto, Rias Baixas – Another of those wines you’re never going to identify unless you’ve drunk it. And even when you have, you will be pushed to identify it again. But that said, it’s a lovely wine. The vines are about 100 years old, the variety rare. Crunchy red berries and (cough) minerals from Rodrigo Mendes, the only known grower of the grape.
Cavas Weinert “Gran Vino” 1989 – Another from Argentina but quite special due to its age. A smooth old wine, holding up remakably well. Claims to be 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, though cellartracker has it as a “Bordeaux blend”, which on taste seems right. You don’t need to be a lover of classical Bordeaux to appreciate it. In sedate maturity.
Lungarotti “Rubesco” Rosso di Torgiano Vigna Monticchio 1977, Umbria – Not one or two of us shed a tear of recognition and memory when this was revealed, so many having bought it from places like Majestic in the early days of our wine journey. Mostly Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a bit of local colour thrown in, so in some ways one of the original “Super Tuscans” (well, Umbria’s close enough). Still good today.
Domaine de Ravanès “Le Prime Verd” 1999, Murviel (Languedoc) – Despite it being sixteen years old this was pretty oaky and hard to penetrate, but it’s obviously very good with a rich and dark purple hue and great concentration. Of course, as a 100% Petit Verdot the colour and a slightly peppery hint made it hard to guess (Marcillac was one shout).
Maydie Tannat Vin de Liqueur 2009, Pierre Laplace, Madiran – Effectively a sweet, fortified, Madiran. I called it “darkness on the edge of town”. Concentrated but great balance giving it an unexpected freshness.
Muscatel Madeira, est 1840-1850 – Good provenance, pre-phylloxera Moscatel which, like every old Madeira I’ve ever tried tastes so much younger, vital and full of life (if also sediment and cork, but I’m not complaining. A stunning end to the lineup, and my third contender for wine of the day – although one couldn’t fail to give the crown to this wine and its generous provider.
After a quick palate cleansing beer around half of us repaired to Winemakers Club (Farringdon Street), where we sank back in the cool of the arches under Holborn Viaduct to savour four more bottles as diverse as a Colli Orientale del Friuli Merlot, a Calabrian “Mantonicoz” with skin contact, a Sesti Rosso di Montalcino, and for the last men standing (see the state of that photo below), a Marco de Bartoli Zibibbo from Sicily. The last was a great palate cleanser, but I’ll admit, perhaps a bottle too far (not sure how I avoided having a hangover this morning).
Hope to be there again in October so watch the Winepages Offline Planner for details soon.