At Imbibe HQ, our desks are lined with tasting glasses. We're constantly heading out to boozy, beery events, and we nose more wine than we could possibly write about. In Imbibe's Favourite Things, our editors trawl through their liquid memories from the past month to pick the bottles, books and drinking experiences they're loving at the moment
Bodegas Aldonia, 100 Rioja 2015
Chris Losh, editor in chief
I bought a case of this Aldonia 100 2015 a year ago more or less on a whim, mainly because I like old-vine Grenache. My plan was to see how it ages over a period of several years, but it’s so enormously, joyously drinkable that these honourable intentions have been totally blown out of the water. Six months after opening the first bottle, there’s knack all of it left.
There are two things I particularly like about this wine. Firstly, it’s 100% Garnacha (Grenache). Rioja is so obsessively all about Tempranillo that I always feel that the supporting cast of varieties don’t get much of a look in, even when they’re from venerable old vineyard such as this.
Secondly it’s from Rioja Baja. This latter sub-division of the DO has recently been renamed Rioja Oriental (Eastern Rioja) because ‘Lower Rioja’ was felt to be a bit, well, derogatory. And for sure, the flat lands south-east of Logrono don’t get much in the way of publicity, overshadowed by the more aristocratic Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa.
So, an overlooked grape variety, from an overlooked region. But my love of this wine is not just because it’s an underdog that’s punching… this ancient vineyard has weathered the warm 2015 vintage beautifully. The wine is rich and exuberant, but also silkily contained with a juicy fresh-strawberry lift: a big man in a well-fitting suit with a well-judged floral buttonhole.
And a sub-£20 wine from 100-year-old vines? Excuse me, I just need to make a phone call…
Tanners Wine Merchants, tanners-wines.co.uk
Laura Foster, deputy editor
A recent holiday to Cornwall demonstrated all the culinary and scenic delights this county had to offer. I have often found English still wines rather insipid in the past, but two meals brought two different wines to my attention and made me re-evaluate my opinion.
First up was a tasting menu pairing at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw – an incredible belated birthday treat – where sommelier Damon Little paired Camel Valley’s Darnibole Bacchus 2015 with a dish of cured brill, pea and mint. The Darnibole is the only English single-vineyard wine to be awarded Protected Designated Origin, and it’s a dry, herbaceous drop with clean acidity that played with the green flavours of the dish.
A trip to Prawn on the Lawn in Padstow, with its laidback seafood tapas vibes, introduced another wine: Trevibban Mill’s Harlyn 2018, a blend of Seyval Blanc and Madeleine Angevine that results in a moreish, peachy wine that’s perfect for hot summer days. We bought two bottles to take away.
The stories behind The American Bar’s new menu
Millie Milliken, managing editor
Yes – most of the time I just want to drink my cocktail without having to feign enamour at the obligatory snore-athon about its inspiration. But the stories that accompany some of the cocktails in The American Bar’s new Savoy Songbook menu are worthy of telling. One cocktail in particular, Playing in the Stars, pays homage to The Moonwalk, a cocktail created in 1969 by then-head bartender Joe Gilmore in honour of the astronauts who landed on the moon. He sent a portion to each of the crew at NASA – the thank-you letter from Neil Armstrong still sits in the Savoy Museum.
Bodegas Argüeso 1822 range
Jacopo Mazzeo, news editor
In April the new Argüeso 1822 range of sherries from Sanlucar de Barrameda-based Bodegas Argüeso landed in the UK though distributor Amathus Drinks.
Argüeso’s new lineup is a classic one; it includes a fino, an amontillado, an oloroso, a palo cortado and a PX. They’re all delightful, but the fino is seriously impressive, with great character, flavour and depth. The colour is deep and inviting, the nose powerful yet elegant at the same time. Ripe red apple, blossom, lemon peel, camomile and almonds on the nose lead to a harmonious, relatively full palate. It’s tart and nutty, at all stages showing the fino’s classic saline element.
Amathus Drinks, amathusdrinks.com
Saké and the Wines of Japan
Kate Malczewski, editorial assistant
In my time at Imbibe, I’ve managed to amass a library of drinks books with topics ranging from pickle-juice cocktails to the future of bespoke hospitality. Last autumn I received a copy of Anthony Rose’s Saké and the Wines of Japan. I eagerly perused it, but it’s only in the past month that I’ve had the opportunity to really dive in to the book – and it's got me hooked. For someone like me, with an interest (read: obsession) with saké who hasn't yet made it to Japan, its rundown of the country’s breweries offers valuable and in-depth insight into the state of the category. My favourite bit? Rose’s section on the umami-rich sakés of Tamagawa, one of my go-to producers. He describes the range in impressive detail, and has me craving a hefty glass of Red Label by the conclusion of his tasting notes.