You don’t really expect techno and wine tasting to go hand in hand, but that’s what Bibendum offered at its spring tasting, held in the basement of electronic music shop mecca Phonica.
The bright and breezy space offered a cocktail bar, coffee cocktails stand from the Sandows cold brew coffee people, and a dedicated whisky area, but we were there for the wine. Everyone was raving about Alsatian producer Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss, but the table was so mobbed we could only glance longingly before we had to dash.
Here are a few of our top producers from the day…
Husband-and-wife team Géraldine Lacourte et Richard Desvignes are at the helm of this champagne grower brand that was created by Géraldine’s parents in 1968. The family owns 19 hectares (ha) in the Premier Cru village of Écueil, and 1.5ha in Les Mesneaux, with 85% planted to Pinot Noir and the rest to Chardonnay. They’re currently in the process of converting to organic production, having gone eight years without pesticides, and place an emphasis on low dosage in their wines.
Their Brut Nature NV (£32.09) boasts a zingy, sherbet-y nose of apple and papaya fruit, while the palate is all lemon n lime and green apple, with pronounced acidity and a distinct grip. The Terroirs d’Ecueil NV (£27.88), meanwhile, has been aged for 31 months and consequently displays more richness. Aromas of chopped almonds and hazelnuts, raw croissant dough, oranges and lemons and Granny Smith apple peel give way to a palate of fabulous nervy tension balanced with yeasty richness in the form of almond croissants and sourdough bread.
R Pouillon & Fils
Yes, another grower champagne. This time from a family that’s been growing grapes for over a century. The business is now under Fabrice Pouillon’s control, and the vineyards are organically managed with biodynamic principles such as pheromone confusion thrown in for good measure. They age their reserve wines for up to 18 months in old oak, and have six hectares to their name, with three planted to Pinot Noir, two to Chardonnay and one to Pinot Meunier.
The Cuvee de Reserve NV (£30.41) is predominantly Pinot Noir, and is a perfumed number with lime blossom, beurre noisette and lemon zest aromas leading onto a richer palate with depth and freshness: butter, lemon, Golden Delicious apples, apple blossom, worn leather notebook and a hint of chalk provide a very satisfying whole.
The Terres Froides NV (£43.47) is a blanc de blancs made from fruit from the Montagne de Reims, and spends three years on the lees. The dosage is only 3.5g for this wine, and this shows on a mineral, lean palate with pronounced mousse. Buttered baguette, apricot jam, lime zest and grapefruit bitterness complete the picture.
It’s another husband-and-wife duo behind this South African brand. Rianie and Louis Strydom both have other jobs at established, respected wineries (Rianie as winemaker at Haskell Vineyards and Louis as winemaker and MD at Ernie Els), but in 2006 they established their own vineyards in Stellenbosch. Rianie shared a trio of humdingers with us…
The only white, Strydom Chenin Blanc 2016 (£16.38), is made with fruit from 28-year-old vines. ‘We try to make something mineral and fresh. This has been aged for eight months in old barrels,’ explains Rianie. It’s light, bright and breezy, mineral and saline, with grass, gooseberry and white pepper – ideal drinking on a hot summer’s day.
The Rock Star Shiraz 2014 (£18.69) is made from whole bunches of grapes ‘to get the pepperiness out of the stalks’ and has been barrel-aged for 18 months. Those nose is alluring, with violets, blueberries, blackberries and a touch of eucalyptus; the moreish palate is light-to-medium bodied, with blueberries, blackberries, black pepper, pencil shavings and a hint of vanilla pod on the finish.
Bibendum, 0845 263 6924