Recent Wines November 2022 (Part 2) #theglouthatbindsus

Part 2 of December’s wines (and a cider) drunk at home starts off in Czech Moravia, then we hit closer to home with Hampshire, try a brand-new Sherry (bottled in a flute!), before the run home with Burgundy/Tuscany/Burgundy.

“p.a.n” 2020, Jaroslav Osička (Moravia, Czechia)

Will I ever stop telling you about the time I visited this legend of Czech natural wine this summer? You know, I’ve spent more time in The Jura than any other wine region, but I’ve never met Pierre Overnoy, nor Jean-François Ganevat (though at least in his case I’ve met his sister a couple of times), but at least I’ve met this guy. A couple of hours with him taught me a lot, including the importance of humility.

Now working with his son, Luboš, he still farms the same small domaine at Velké Bílovice with as much thought for the fauna he shares these slopes with as for his vines. The result is wines which clearly have soul as well as substance. He is certainly one of perhaps three Czech producers I feel should be up there on the international stage with all the other greats in the field. Increasing numbers of sommeliers are coming to the same conclusion.

This is a blend of Pinot Noir and André. Developed in Moravia in the 1960s, André is a crossing of Blaufränkisch (aka Lemberger) and Saint-Laurent. The André grapes in this blend come from a site, Panský, only planted in 2014. When the vines are mature there may be a varietal cuvée to look forward to, but currently these grapes are blended with Pinot. On my summer visit I tried the 2021 from barrel (3-4-y-o oak), and this is the previous, but current, vintage in bottle.

Garnet red in colour, it has a lifted cherry bouquet. The palate has the same vibrant cherry fruit, but with a savoury edge to the finish. The acidity is noticeable, but it’s that concentrated fruit acidity which is really nice. I think this is a wine you’d find really interesting. Vibrant. It’s also under £20 a bottle, just £19.50 from Basket Press Wines.

Perfect Strangers “Bojo Hack” 2022, Charlie Herring Wines (Hampshire, England)

Tim Phillips is not only a perfectionist and a wine philosopher, but he’s also an inveterate experimenter, which makes having a relationship with his wines and ciders so exceptionally exciting. His secret plan for 2022’s Beaujolais Nouveau Day was to release a cider from newly pressed apples with the idea that it could be sold inexpensively, by the glass, at the Bojo celebrations.

Tim has made cider before by adding a dash of his own South African Shiraz to the bottle, rather as Tom Shobbrook did in Australia. That is what we came to expect from Perfect Strangers. Next level for Tim was to ferment his apples on his Pinot Noir skins. The crush was on 12 October, immediately after harvesting from the orchard. Pressing was on 29 October, so after just over two weeks spent on the grape skins. Bottling was just in time to be ready on Bojo Noovo day.

The result was raw and fresh, in fact as fresh as you can imagine possible. I can imagine some could find it a bit left field, but you cannot deny it’s a crazy idea that has really worked. I loved it, and in fact I wish I’d got more than one bottle. It shows 7.5% abv, which whilst low for wine is actually higher than many ciders, so that alongside the freshness and rawness of it, there’s no lack of substance. Definitely genius at work.

This bottle came directly from Tim. I know his local indie wine shop, Solent Cellar, had some for their Beaujolais Nouveau night. I suspect it all went, so it’s probably one to jump on next year. They do nevertheless have some of the 2021 Perfect Strangers (SA Shiraz dosed) for £18 at the time of writing.

Manzanilla, Diatomists (Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain)

Only a couple of articles back I wrote a piece about Diatomists, whose wines I tasted for the first time at the Cork & Cask Winter Wine Fair in Edinburgh in November. If you want to read more about this new Sherry bottler, and to get some more details about this particular wine, take a look either for the article in the most viewed list (to the right), or search Diatomists using the search box above it.

Suffice here to say that this is a single vineyard Manzanilla from Miraflores Baja, a site with especially fine albariza soils producing very fine grapes with a characteristic chalky-mineral streak. The colour is pale yellow and the bouquet doubles as both floral and saline. The palate unquestionably has that expected saltiness, but it is also surprisingly fruity for a Manzanilla. This is exactly what they have intended. It’s also fairly smooth as well, something a little different but extremely appetising.

Cork & Cask, Edinburgh, is my source, although I’ve since seen it listed by other independents. The Manzanilla is £12.95 for a lovely 37.5cl flute bottle. The other Sherries in the range (Amontillado, Oloroso, “Medium” and PX), are all £17.95 per half.

Love and Pif, Recrue des Sens/Yann Durieux (Burgundy, France)

Yann Durieux has four generations of winemaking in his blood, and in fact legend has it that he bottled his first vintage age thirteen, but that has not stopped him following a unique path to fame, at least in the natural wine fraternity.

Yann was mentored at the famous Domaine Prieuré-Roch, where he began making the wine in 2008. After a couple of years Yann began to create his own cuvées from vines in the then very much under-appreciated Hautes-Côtes-de-Nuits. Such are the boundaries between appellations on the Côte d’Or that despite this lowly origin for his vines, his neighbour is the famous DRC. The vines sit below the abbey of Saint-Vivant, from which one of the famous appellations bottled by the DRC is of course named.

This is a completely natural wine, aged in vat, and made from Aligoté. I like this grape, and in fact I wrote an article about Aligoté in 2018 which, although perhaps a little dated, remains a popular read even today. So, bearing that in mind, I’d say that this is the finest bottle of Aligoté I have drunk. It is bottled as Vin de France, but a batch code suggests the vintage may be 2015. I know I’ve had it a long time. It reminds me more of Chardonnay than the usual profile of Aligoté with that cliché of searing acids. This is especially noticeable in its smoothness and velvet mouthfeel. It also has a kind of “unpasteurised” freshness to it. The depth and length here are close to profound.

Certainly, the age of the vines (45 years plus) has made its mark, as has prolonged bottle age, and initial skin contact and lees ageing. It’s one of those wines I’d planned to save to open with someone who would really appreciate it. You know how it is, sometimes you are wondering what to open and you just think what the hell…

This was purchased in the natural wine shop, Les Jardins de St-Vincent in Arbois, at some point before the Covid pandemic.

Chianti Classico Riserva “Rancia” 2004, Fèlsina Berardenga (Tuscany, Italy)

Here we have another wine, rather like the Aligoté above, which I opened without guests, wondering whether it would be over the hill. Crazy! This is one of the great Classico estates and Rancia is the single vineyard Riserva. The estate has been in the hands of the Poggiali family since England last won the World Cup, something I can now sadly say with no fear of being wrong.

Made from 100% Sangiovese, so no Merlot to see here folks, the wine is pure essence of the variety at the heart of the Chianti region. The vintage, certainly in the village of Castelnuovo Berardenga, was an exceptionally good one, but I had heard mixed reports of ’04 Rancia. Some of my Tuscan-mad friends, who are very picky indeed, had mentioned bottles either out of condition or over the hill.

This was nothing short of magnificent. Vines for Rancia are at 400 masl on limestone-derived alberese soils, more than 50 million years old, with galestro marls. They produce grapes which see a twenty-day maceration with punchdowns. Ageing is in new French oak for 18 months, followed by eight months further in bottle before release. The result has a classic brick red rim with a darker core, some cherry fruit but an abundance of tobacco and spice. There’s still a tiny bit of tannin, which coats the tongue with the fruit riding on top. The palate is complex and savoury, but that fruit has a sweetness which comes through.

Where from? I’m not sure. The Sampler, possibly, but it has been cellared by me since release.

Beaune 1er Cru “Cent Vignes” 2005, Albert Morot (Burgundy, France)

I’ve always had a soft spot for a raft of Premier Cru vineyards from Beaune. Of course, they often lack the structure, might, complexity and seriousness of the red wines from the Côte-de-Nuits, but the best, with age, from a good vintage, can have a silky-smooth texture which envelopes the fruit. If they lack structure, they can nevertheless often have a lovely sensuous quality to them.

Albert Morot is a leading name on the Côte de Beaune, but aficionados would not place the firm in the top rank. The 8-ha they farm is all in Premier Cru sites (so whilst they have no Grands Crus, nor do they grow vines in the village AOPs). Cent” Vignes” (spelt singular by Morot, but plural for the official AOC, and by author Jasper Morris) is an easy to remember vineyard name, yet it is not considered a producer of the finest wines, with Morris saying that it can suffer in drought years (which 2005 was), and that its light and sandy limestone can produce wines which “lack punch” and can “lack energy if the fruit gets overripe” (Inside Burgundy, BB&R Press, 1st edn 2010).

I’ve seen some tasting notes in this wine’s early years calling it forward, so things didn’t bode well. Yet it was far better than I expected. It’s certainly still going strong, even having travelled by lorry to Scotland a dozen weeks previously. There’s no tannin to speak of but the wine still has definition. What it also has is gentle, Beaune-like, plump cherry fruit on a smooth and silky palate. No old-fashioned farmyard or chicken shit thing going on, just the slightly faded cherry, which went down very nicely indeed.

This bottle came from Majestic Wine, bought on release. No idea how much it cost.

On a final note, we also drank another bottle of Breaky Bottom Cuvée David Pearson 2015. I don’t plan to say much as I’ve written about this wine before, but boy is it drinking well and I really am starting to be very content that my BB stash is well stocked.

About dccrossley

Writing here and elsewhere mainly about the outer reaches of the wine universe and the availability of wonderful, characterful, wines from all over the globe. Very wide interests but a soft spot for Jura, Austria and Champagne, with a general preference for low intervention in vineyard and winery. Other passions include music (equally wide tastes) and travel. Co-organiser of the Oddities wine lunches.
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