From organics to a zero-alcohol sparkling wine, the Jascots Autumn tasting certainly captured the zeitgeist this season
Descregut Memòria, Gran Reserva Cava 2012, £22.12
Husband and wife duo Arantxa de Cara and Marc Milà have been making wine at the family's winery Can Descregut for the past 13 years. Organic and following biodynamic principles, they make minimum-intervention wines from the classic native Catalan varieties, using no sulphur.
The Descregut Memòria comes with a quirky brown paper capsule or ‘coiffe’ that highlights its organic pedigree. It is 60% Xarel-lo and 40% Macabeo, and spends around 60 months on lees. The bottles are disgorged depending on demand, and each bottle comes with the bottling and disgorgement date on the back.
It is a full-bodied, brut nature fizz showing that Cava is capable of world-class winemaking. Full-on toasty nose, with roasted nuts, chopped granny smith apples and hints of honey. In the mouth, it has a very delicate, creamy mousse, with apples and citrus, hints of sultanas, nuts and an exceptionally long and persistent finish.
Cantina Trexenta, Monteluna Vermentino di Sardegna 2017, £9.41
Cantina Trexenta was started by 23 growers a little over 60 years ago on the Island of Sardinia. It now covers some 200ha, growing Vermentino, Cannonau (Grenache) and two local varieties Monica and Nuragas.
The co-operative places a real emphasis on sustainability, often spending more time talking about the local wildlife than the wines themselves. And while getting consensus among multiple growers is always a challenge, they pride themselves on limited use of pesticides.
This Vermentino really punches above its weight. One sniff floods you with bruised apples, very ripe bananas and honeysuckle, while a sip gives you a crisp acidity, with loads of tropical fruit and a hint of herbs. It has the variety's typically characteristic waxy note with more length than you'd expect for this price point.
Zsirai, Tokaji Hárslevelű 2015, £12.23
Run by sisters Petra and Kata Zsirai, this small estate of around 15ha near Mád in northeastern Hungary has been going since 2005.
Hárslevelű literally translates as ‘linden leaf’ and is an offspring of the Furmint, which is a slightly better known Tokaji variety. This is a modest 11.5% alcohol and pretty dry with only 3.7g/l RS and a racy acidity.
As the name suggests, it has very strong aromas of blossom (presumably linden), with a good deal of peach and apricot in there too. Eight months in second-use oak gives it some texture to integrate the acidity and a level of creaminess, before a lingering finish.
Bodegas Frontonio Telescópico Garnacha 2014, £15.99
Another interesting Spanish addition to the Jascots portfolio, this small team of winemakers Fernando Mora MW, Francisco Latasa and Mario López make garagiste-type wines in the north-east of the country.
The winery is named after the patron saint of the town St Frontonio, and only 1000 cases of this Garnacha were made. Crisp red and dark fruits are the most obvious characteristic on the nose, but backed up with a brilliant savoury, meaty element as well. Some 10 months in second-use French oak has given the wine enough structure to stand up to the 14% alcohol, with firm, but fine-grained tannins. It’s complex, interesting and well balanced.
Schloss Vaux Träublein, Zero-Alcohol Sparkling Wine, NV, £8.76
This is something of a wild card, that isn’t really a wine - but it certainly added something to the Jascots tasting. Made from a malt base, it is closer to a beer, with grape juice added later. A ‘fermentation’ is done using malolactic bacteria, which provides a far more grown-up complexity than is typical in soft drinks. It has a RS of around 55g/l, so is still relatively sweet, but isn’t over the top.
Smelling this is like shoving your head into a bag of haribo and fruit pastilles. It’s got an undeniable, malty taste to it, which carries the grape flavours very well. It’s great fun, looks cool and provides a very welcome alternative to the usual designated-driver menu.