The Tasting Room: Highlights from Out of the Box

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Drinks: Drinks
Location: UK

This week we checked out the Out of the Box tasting. The tasting included small production, minimal intervention wines from an exciting line up of young importers, and we spotted a poetic Grenache and beguiling Chenin…


Slobodne Hlohovec Oranzista 2015

The owners of this estate have spent 20 years rebuilding it after the destruction of communism (‘Slobodne’ means ‘Freedom’). This orange wine is a great introduction to the style without being too out-there – only 10% of the wine has skin-contact. The nose is beguiling – wild strawberries and nectarine – before a more savoury black-tea palate that mixes succulence and grip in equal parts.

£14.20, Modal Wines, 07776 322 374

Ota Sevcik Frankovka 2015, Czech Republic

Ota Sevcik, one of the grand old masters of Czech wine, has just 2.5 hectares of vines, but he does good stuff with them! His white Pinoty (Chardonnay/Pinot Blanc/Pinot Gris) with lees-work, skin contact and time in acacia wood, is a multi-layered, textured beast of a wine, worthy of serious consideration. This Blaufrankisch is more straightforward but utterly lovely. Effortless, silky plum fruit with a sweetly spicy sheen and wonderfully integrated acidity. Delightful.

£15.60, Basket Press Wines, [email protected]

Jaroslav Osicka Chardonnay 2012, Czech Republic

The grape variety really is only part of the story here. Osicka painstakingly picks off individual grapes and leaves them in the barrel for 4 months along with the wine. No stems. Just berries. And plenty of time on both gross and fine lees. As a result, this is a fascinating mix of sweet, savoury and spice flavours. It resembles nothing so much as walking through an apple orchard on a cool autumn evening, with the smell of windfalls, hedgerow and faint bonfires.

£16.00, Basket Press Wines, [email protected]

Fredi Torres La Deva Velles Vinyes 2014, Montsant, Spain

Fredi Torres is not like most of the producers in Montsant. He’s more interested in texture than size, and it shows in this nicely put together blend of Grenache, Macabeo and Carignan from 60 year old vines. Fairly pale, the nose is at the poetic end of the Grenache scale – flowers and red fruit – and though the palate has good intensity and grip, it treads with precision rather than weight. Yum!

£16.75, Modal Wines, 07776 322 374

The Great South African Wine Co, The Great White 2015, Stellenbosch

The team at Swig fell in love with winemaker Carl van der Merwe’s work over ten years ago and now he’s here doing his own thing. This wine is a Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon/Chenin blend, and it’s beautifully put together. A beguiling combination of citrus zip and green fig ripeness, with a touch of orange skin lurking in the background, it’s multi-layered and complex, but never showy. Versatile for food or by-the-glass.

£11.95, Swig, 020 8995 7060

Fitapreta Vinhos, A Touriga Vai Nua 2016, Alentejo

The name – A Touriga Vai Nua – means ‘Touriga Goes Naked’ so it’s no surprise to discover zero oak on this wine. Zip. Nada. It really works, though. The format allows the grape’s beautiful aromatic qualities to shine through: damson and strawberry fruit with wafts of cherry top notes and succulent, juicy tannins. It’s immensely gluggable, which could be a problem because there are only 900 bottles of it in existence. More please!

£12.50, Swig, 020 8995 7060

About Author

Chris Losh

After five years working on My Weekly magazine (during which time he learned how to write horoscopes and make things out of mince) in 1995 Chris Losh entered the world of drinks writing and, despite all advice from his doctor – and the wishes of most South African winemakers – has stayed there ever since. He began on Wine and Spirit International, editing it for several years before moving on to edit Wine Magazine. Both publications have since gone the way of the Dodo, but he claims to have nothing to do with their demise, and his alibi appears solid, since he was freelance writing for anyone who would pay him at the time. In 2007, he helped to set up both Imbibe magazine and the Sommelier Wine Awards, and has spent much of the last three years eating, drinking, and listening to French sommeliers talk about minerality. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer Feature Writer of the Year, but didn’t win. Perhaps he should have stuck to horoscopes. And mince.

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