We introduced a number of new wines from South America, Australia and South Africa. It was interesting to compare a more modern, lower intervention approach from a number of pioneering winemakers mixing up the traditional methods. Below is a picture of us holding our favourites.
Clockwise from left: Matt chose the Grus de Alcohuaz, Kate picked Jim Barry's Assyrtiko. Tanya loved the Grand Itata Rogue Vine and Heather the Fox Gordon's Fiano.
These are all available to buy in the shop. Here are the highlights from the evening:
White wines: a New World take on European classics
We had open five of the great white grape varieties normally associated with France, Italy and Greece;
· Swartland’s Force Majeure Semillon has an intense, fresh, saline example that will cleanse the palate.
· The Fox Gordon Princess Fiano is a cool-climate Australian take on the famous Italian grape, a complex, slightly herbal wine with a rich texture, stone fruits, almonds and a touch of spice.
· The 2012 Marsanne from Tahbilk has showed so much complexity, with blossom, bees wax and spice on the palate - yet incredibly fresh after seven years.
· The Clare Valley Assyrtiko is made by Jim Barry, a family of innovators in Australia for generations, being the first to plant this Greek variety of Assyrtiko. It has an intense, bracing, lime and mineral edge, Riesling-esque.
· Lismore's barrel aged Sauvignon Blanc is unlike any of our other Sauvignons in the shop, so often surprises our customers. From a cooler part of South Africa, this wine has real richness, complexity and creaminess, balanced with some delicious tropical notes.
In the UK we don't see so many wines from these regions of Chile, owing to their sparse and wild nature. Both of these wines are made very naturally and are Organic or Biodynamic. The Rogue Vine is mainly Old Vine Cinsault and the Grus (named after a constellation that is visible from the vineyard, in one of the highest altitude winemaking regions in the world) is a French-style blend of Syrah, Grenache, Petite Syrah and Petit Verdot.
Brothers from Tupungato
The Michelini brothers - all three of them - live and have their own wineries in the Tupungato region of Argentina, in the Uco Valley. Juan Pablo owns Zorzal, which in based in the highest point of the Uco Valley - his wines are all about enhancing the fruit without the addition of oak - so all of the wines are aged in concrete eggs. 'Filoso' ('sharp' in Spanish) - is a vibrant, fresh, electric example of Pinot Noir. The Salvo - from Gerardo Michelini - is a bright and aromatic style of Malbec, made with minimal intervention, again highlighting the fruit and freshness of the grape.
The Syrah Four-Way-Off
We do love Syrah (or Shiraz) and we've picked these four to illustrate the diversity of the grape - and its capacity to age. The Tinta Tinto and the Dune are cooler-climate, lighter styles of Syrah that highlight the fruit and freshness. The Paringa is from Mornington Peninsula, now one of the top wine regions of Australia, and we've managed to get hold of a case of the 2009 Shiraz. This is a more powerful example of Shiraz - with longer age in oak - but the extra bottle-age which adds an enticing sweet-spice and softness. Finally, to finish the tasting, is Swartland's upfront, spicy, full-bodied Syrah, from old bush vines in South Africa wild-country. Enjoy!