Tasting Room: A round-up of the latest wine tastings

Imbibe Editorial

Imbibe Editorial

22 September 2017

It was a busy week on the tasting circuit, with a number of merchant portfolio tastings, as well as the annual collection of specialist importers, SITT. Here are some of our highlights.

Lea & Sandeman, 020 7244 0522

Piemaggio, Le Fioraie Chianti Classico 2008, Tuscany, Italy
This small, 12ha vineyard was revived in the 1950s, though vines were planted here from the 12th Century. The winery works traditionally and doesn’t release young vintages – this is almost 10 years old but still fresh and packed with layers of fruit and spice. Aromas of stewed plums, dried fruit and spicy black berries leads to a smooth palate with nicely integrated tannins. Savoury, leather and spice notes are matched with blackcurrant and cranberry fruit. Lovely for winter lists. JS

Domaine des Trinités, L’Imaginaire Rousanne 2016, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Extended lees contact and regular battonage give this wine an interesting, textured palate – perfect for food. Herbaceous character in the mouth with fresh acidity, a touch of smoke and slate, plus a honeyed peachy character that lingers on the finish. More peaches, plums and a delicate whiff of smoke again on the nose. JS

Domaine Anne Gros et Jean-Paul Tollot, LA 50/50, Côtes du Brian, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Hailing from organic vineyards planted just north of Carcassonne, this is a blend of Carignan from 100-year-old vines, with Grenache and Cinsault. A savoury nose with vibrant cherry notes leads to a black-fruited palate with black pepper spice. Medium-bodied and with grippy tannins, this is a versatile food wine. JS

Domaine Fernand & Laurent Pillot, Pommard Les Charmots 1er Cru 2011, Burgundy, France
A simply stunning bottle: pure Burgundy class. Attractive raspberry fruit on the nose has a savoury edge of smoky sausage and a note of autumnal bonfire. Pinot vines are planted in a rocky soil with soft yellow limestone, which adds a precise mineral undertone to the palate. Lovely harmony of flavour, with initial silkiness of ripe raspberry fruit followed by white pepper spice and good tannic grip for food. JS

Red Squirrel, 020 3490 1210

Bellwether Ant Series Bianco d’Alessano 2016, Coonawarra, Australia
When Sue Bell found a vineyard of Bianco d’Alessano, she found other Aussie winemakers to buy the rest of the fruit, so there’s a pocket of people experimenting with this varietal right now. The grape is originally from Puglia and is slow ripening with thick skins, which is ideal for the Coonawarra climate. Beguiling aromas of juicy lime, dried apricots and floral notes of honeysuckle and rose lead onto a medium-bodied palate of lemon and lime with fresh apricot and rose. LF

Kloster Eberbach, Riesling Kabinett 2016, Mosel, Germany
Australian winemaker Martin Cooper is rightly proud of this biodynamic Riesling, which displays the classic lime characters of the Mosel. Aromas of kaffir lime leaves, ice tea, Golden Delicious apple and a dusting of rose-scented talcum powder hint at the easy drinking pleasure of this wine, with its pronounced apple and lime characters, slight grippy texture and medium acidity. LF

De Kleine Wijn Koöp, Knapsekêrel 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa
‘Knapsekêrel’ is Afrikaans for ‘blackjack’, the weed that grows in this biodynamic vineyard. The Cabernet Franc grapes are basket pressed and the wine is aged for 18 months in old oak, resulting in a warming yet light-bodied wine bursting with blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, which is balanced out with spicy pepper and graphite notes, a seam of eucalyptus and a smooth vanilla finish. LF

Armit Wines, 020 7908 0655

The Hobo Wine Company, California, USA
Winemaker Kenny Likitprakong doesn’t own any vineyards, but rather leases different sites, preferring to live the hobo life at least professionally. Before he takes on a vineyard, he and his family camp in it in order to discover the light and temperature variations throughout the day. Folk Machine Pinot Noir ‘The Small Hours’ 2015 (£18.60) is a biodynamic, elegant wine with strawberry, cherry and black tea perfume, and a silky, delicate palate with a good lick of acidity. The Camp Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (£11.60), meanwhile, is a mix of different plots across Sonoma County, resulting in a restrained Californian Cab with plenty of bramble fruit, violets, pencil shavings, a herbal edge, powdery tannins and juicy acidity. LF

Astrolabe, Marlborough, New Zealand
Family owned and run, Astrolabe’s wines focus on purity of fruit. Winemaker Simon Waghorn is interested in the differences between the Marlborough sub-regions of Awatere Valley, Wairau Valley and Kekerengu Coast, and it is the Kekerengu Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (£12.60) that really jumped out with its expressive, mouth-watering tropical and berry fruits. Passion fruit, pineapple, mango, blackcurrants and redcurrants are overlaid with a slick of salinity, marram grass and rapier-like acidity. Chenin is a bit of a passion project for Waghorn, and The Wrekin Chenin Blanc 2014 (£12.60) is lees-aged, partially wild-fermented and 40% barrel-aged. The  result is a delicate, ripe-fruited wine with stone fruits, garrigue herbs and honeydew melon, a fierce acid structure and excellent waxy texture. LF

Pietradolce, Archineri Etna Bianco DOC 2016, Sicily, Italy
A Carricante made from grapes grown on 120-year-old, ungrafted vines, this nose on this wine is a fresh sea breeze rustling through lemon groves while the sun bakes the chalky stones underneath and you walk on a bed of lemon verbena and thyme. The palate reveals grapefruit, an intense granitic quality and a crack of black pepper. LF

Bancroft Wines, 020 7232 5470

Champagne Joseph Perrier, Champagne Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs NV, France
This non-vintage Blanc de Blancs is the perfect occasion, or everyday, champagne: fruity and delicate yet complex and intense. Fresh flavours of lemon juice and green apple envelop the palate, with a hint of bitter zest. These fruity flavours are quickly enveloped by creamy vanilla, hibiscus and buttered toast, with an intense biscuitty finish. All balanced with high, but smooth acidity. IS

Domaine Didier Montchovet Bourgogne Blanc 2015, France
While only faintly aromatic on the nose, the palate surprisingly kicks in with a complex array of flavours and good, fresh acidity. Malolactic fermentation gives those distinctive buttery, dairy-esque notes, while fruity flavours of green apple and pear stand out, refreshing the palate. While this wine is mainly fruit forward, subtle notes of smoke, coffee and vanilla can be detected on the finish. Its crisp acidity would make it the perfect pairing for an oily fish dish. IS

Bodegas Altanza, Lealtanza Rioja Reserva Limited Edition 2011 (150cl), Spain
Presented in magnum, this Rioja is a suitably big wine. Aromas of forest fruits and worn leather envelop your nose, leading to black cherry and those same dark forest fruits/black forest gateau flavours on the palate. The wine develops into a juicy, chewy and complex liquid, with liquorice flavours, herbaceous undertones and a spicy black pepper kick. The wine is also gamey, with a taste slightly reminiscent of certain country smells, making it an excellent match for rich red meat dishes. IS
£19.99 (£8.62/75cl)

Jascots, 020 8965 2000

Trisquel Gewürztraminer 2016, Valle de Curicó, Chile
This Chilean Gewürztraminer is delicate, floral and medium bodied, making it the ideal match of spicy food dishes. Aromas of tropical fruit, particularly passionfruit and pineapple are most apparent, while floral scents of blossom also pull through. The palate follows this floral theme, with elderflower taking centre stage. Crisp salinity and a great level of acidity balance out these floral flavours, with hints of lychee and camomile kicking in, with a medium, consistent finish. IS

Mon Rosé de Montrose, 2016, Languedoc, France
Harvested at night to preserve freshness, you can’t go wrong with this Grenache-led Provence rosé. Eye-catching and bright rosy pink, fruity aromas of red cherry, orange hibiscus and confected strawberry entice you to take a sip. On the palate, the same confected strawberry flavour is apparent, but balanced out with refreshing acidity and a slight salinity. Red fruit flavours dominate, but a certain creaminess adds another layer of depth. We’ve love to try this with tomato-based dishes or raw seafood. IS

Era Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC, 2016, Abruzzo, Italy
A big Italian wine where even bigger tannins are softened by medium acidity and juicy black red fruit flavours. Cherry is the standout flavour here, almost confected and reminiscent of Basset’s Cherrydrops, but a liquorice note is also detectable, giving a refreshing, herbaceous flavour on the finish. We also detected a hint of all spice, making this wine a complex pairing for heavy meat dishes. IS

SITT London

Domaine Faiveley, La Framboisière 2015, Mercurey, Burgundy, France
What more could you ask for from Mercurey, or from Pinot Noir, for that matter? A light and very elegant nose, with juicy cranberry, strawberry and raspberry notes, leads into a serious but no less elegant palate. There's minerality and a little bit of grip from its time in lightly toasted barrels, all leading to a very fresh and juicy finish. An exceedingly drinkable wine. CC
£15.51, Maisons Marques et Domaines, 020 8812 3380

Sonberk Winery, Pálava 2015, Czech Republic
A new addition to Ellis of Richmond's portfolio, this aromatic white is made from Pálava, a grape made from a crossing of Gewürztraminer and Müller-Thurgau, and named after a protected region of the same name. Sonberk's highly regarded take on this variety is beautifully balanced, with soft and approachable aromatics on the nose, including fresh grape, bright citrus and stone fruit notes, as well as a floral element. The palate follows up with more bright fruit, rounded out by a touch of residual sugar. A versatile food wine, and capable of matching with a variety of spicy dishes, but just as good on its own. CC
£10.79, Ellis of Richmond, 020 8744 5550

Simeonides Merlot 2009, Pageo, Greece
This Greek Merlot is developing beautifully, from its russet colour to the slight savoury note that joins some developed plum and dark berry aromas. Use of new oak is evident on the palate, but it's well integrated, alongside more rich fruit, and some toasted cocoa notes too, all lifted by good acidity. You'd be hard pressed to find many other wines with this kind of development and ageing potential, at this price. CC
£13.49, Wine Lovers Collective, 07549 479630

Mas de Dames Le Blanc IGP Pays d'Oc 2015, France
One highlight among many from the Sud de France Languedoc-Roussillon Top 100 table, this Grenache Blanc opens with some peppery, spicy and vegetal notes on the nose, already suggesting that this is a wine built for food. The palate starts off rounded and waxy, but freshens up towards the finish, accompanied by some pleasant minerality. There's some oak ageing in evidence too, giving some grip, and further enhancing this exceptional wine's food-friendliness. CC
£15-£19.99 RRP, Roberson Wine, 020 7381 7870

Tasting notes:

CC - Clinton Cawood
LF - Laura Foster
JS - Julie Sheppard
IS - Isabella Sullivan

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