There’s something about a spell of sunny weather that makes me want to drink more wine. Something to do with long evenings and tables out in the garden. I thought I’d share a few recent bottles that seemed to fit the bill really well.
We have an Oddities Lunch again this Friday, and it’s devoted to The Americas this time. I could quite easily have taken the first wine here, Wind Gap Trousseau Gris 2013, Russian River Valley. This is a white with a tiny touch of skin colour. I’d been warned this needed drinking up, but it was a good bottle, fresh on the nose, with a waxy lemon palate, with fresh but not sharp acidity. This unusual variety is almost unknown in Jura, where it is not related to the region’s Trousseau Noir. In California it was known as Gray (sic) Riesling before Jura became fashionable, and most was pulled up. This wine is quite neutral, like some Southern French whites, but it does have some character, and a good reputation. And it does work in the garden.
Stockists: Try Roberson
Du Grappin Beaujolais-Villages 1.5 litre #bagnum. This is Andrew and Emma Nielsen’s version of their Beaujolais-Villages in a bag. There’s no vintage on it, so not sure how that works, but as I bought it very recently it may be the 2015 I tasted at Raw Wine? Anyway, it’s a cracking bag of wine, not just a carbon footprint-reducing packaging format. Perfect for picnics and festivals, but this cherry cola was glugged in our back garden on the warmest evening of the year so far. These bagnums are highly recommended – there’s a Macon-Villages white, and a pink as well. The best thing is that they can be combined with other wines over several days (they are supposed to keep fresh for a couple of weeks, but surely no one will keep away from them for that long?).
Champagne Ulysse Collin Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut “Les Perrières”. NV, but based on 2009 fruit, disgorged 07-03-2013, therefore with three years’ pda. It’s all Chardonnay, from Olivier Collin’s holdings around Congy. It’s not the most famous terroir in Champagne, but Collin is gearing up towards stardom and makes a very fine bottle, albeit already pushing beyond the prices charged by some quite good growers. Some say Extra Brut doesn’t age well. This has some maturity, but underneath a mineral, almost steely, structure. If you don’t like your Champagne to be at all bracing, this may not be for you. If you want to slake a thirst in the heat, with something which will then accompany food, then give it a go…if the price isn’t too shocking.
This bottle was purchased in Epernay at a good £10 cheaper than UK prices, but I have previously purchased Olivier Collin’s wines from Selfridges. The link is to a slightly different BdeB cuvée. North American readers may have a wider choice.
Almost the antithesis of Champagne is the fun concept of the pét-nat. It’s a style I love for its lively simplicity. The Loire, Jura and Austria are increasingly good sources of these wines, along with Southern France. This bottle, Domaine des Bodines Red Bulles, is made by a young couple, Alexis and Emilie Porteret, at their tiny domaine on the edge of Arbois. I love all the Bodines wines I’ve tried. Alexis did a stint at Domaine de la Tournelle, so he’s been well taught, and shares the philosophy of the Clairets – one I would describe as kindness to everything. Red Bulles is a sparkling Poulsard of unusual fruitiness and a wonderful vibrant pink colour. Bulles translates as bubbles (but, you knew that), so the pun is humorous, but I feel more invigorated by this than by any energy drink.
Purchased in situ, I’m afraid. You might have to go to Arbois for these wines, though I’m sure someone will let me know if I’m wrong. Certainly Californian readers will be able to call the excellent Selection Massale in San Leandro (or via their NYC and Chicago sales people).
Fabien Jouves “You Fuck My Wine” is a result of that old chestnut, the appellation regulations blocking certain grape varieties, in this case, Jurançon Noir. Fabien makes very terroir specific Cahors, but this wine is released as a Vin de France. It’s sappy, brambly, with crunchy fruit. Someone told me they thought this tasted like Malbec anyway, but not the sort of South American Malbec we have come to know. This has just 10.5% alcohol. I love it, and like the label, it’s a fun wine. But not as rebellious (in a good way) as the name might suggest, so it won’t frighten those unsure about natural wines. Jouves was all set to become a doctor before he turned to winemaking as a career. His 20+ hectares are biodynamic, and he seems to apply the sensibilities of a caring physician to his chosen path.
This one’s easier to find in the UK. The Sampler often stock a good range of Fabien’s wines and got a new delivery not all that long ago.
I visited Heidi Schröck at her winery in Rust last May, but I’ve enjoyed her wines for several years, currently via her importer, Alpine Wines. For some reason I’ve had a bit of a Heidi blitz in the past couple of weeks. I drank the very refreshing Blaufränkisch Kulm 2012, her fruity, dry, Gelber Muskateller 2013, and the concentrated yellow-gold Pinot Blanc Beerenauslese 2008. Heidi makes a variety of wines from her ten-or-so hectares, and she’s probably best known for her sweet wines. But I love the reds too. This Blaufränkisch is made from vines planted in the 1950s and it combines depth with really lively dark cherry fruit. She’s another winemaker who oozes warmth, both for visitors and for her wines.
As I said above, Alpine Wines bring in Heidi’s wines, for which I am very grateful. Rust is a long drive!
Argile Rouge 2011, Domaine des Ardoisières is a Vin des Allobroges St-Pierre de Soucy, made by Brice Omont near Freterive, on the Combe between Chambéry and Albertville. This IGT designation used to be called Vin de Pays des Allobroges and I first came across its wines in the very early 2000s. I think it was a co-operative wine, which I bought near Evian. Anyway, it was tart and acidic enough to remember it well. But Brice Omont unquestionably makes some of the best wines in Savoie today. This red is made from 80% Gamay (de Chautagne) and 20% Persan. Gamay with bite is how I’d describe it, or just a damned good wine.
Vine Trail in Bristol bring in Brice Omont’s white and red Argile, along with his top white, “Schiste”. This bottle came from Solent Cellar, but I’m not sure they have any left?
It may be a little bit past spring, but I’m throwing this wine in at the end as we drank it at the end of May, when “Beaujolais Season” in our house usually hits full stride. Yvon Métras Fleurie “Le Printemps” 2013 is cherry red in colour, cherry scented and it tastes of cherries too, simple as that. Though it’s not simple to craft such a delicious wine, where the fruit bursts on the tip of the tongue and again on the back of the palate. Essence of Beaujolais, and delicious.
This Métras Fleurie was procured in one of Paris’s natural wine shops, though I can’t rightly say which one because on my trip there last summer I did buy rather a lot of Beaujolais.