A similar tasting to last year's Discoveries. Over the past twelve months I have continued to go to a wider range of tastings than I would normally, as background research for the new edition of my book - now due for publication in April 2017. In doing so I have, not surprisingly, come across some exciting finds in terms of originality and style, as distinctive expressions of their grapes and origins, as value for money and, above all, as pleasurable drinking. These ten discoveries ( re-discoveries in a few cases) are some of them. Four whites and six reds ranging in price from around £16 to £75 a bottle. One each fromSpain, Italy and South Africa; a trio fromAustralia, and a quartet from New Zealand.
They range in age from a dry Sherry barely six months out of the cask, to mature Bordeaux Blends, and Shiraz, of seven, nine and twelve years, which demonstrate just how beautifully New World reds age, and why they are just as worth salting away as the European classics. And we finish up with a real beauty, an eleven year old Amarone della Valpollicella - magic with parmesan shavings.
The 2013 Mulderbosch Single VineyardChenin shows just why South Africa is second only to the Loire for first rate examples of this grape; and it is years since I have listed aSavagnin based wine; more’s the pity as these two Marcel Cabelier Juras will show. The2009 Côte de Jura is a delightful example of a blend we rarely see over here: 80% Chardonnay plus 20% four year old, 'nascent' Vin Jaune ... with the Chardonnay’s flesh, and the Vin Jaune bouquet, but not its austerity. 2008 is a great vintage for Château Chalon Vin Jaune, and this is a lovely combination of subtlety and power.
Australian Cabernet Sauvignon seems currently to live in the shade of Shiraz and Pinot Noir, but these two pure Cabernets, 2010 Woodynook Gallagher’s Choice from Margaret River, and the 2006 Rockford Rifle Range from Barossa are a reminder of the delicious, soft textured, ripe fruited refinement that defines the best of these. Pinot Noir is increasingly aping Chardonnay in its ability to produce wine, from sites round the globe, that is both moreish and fine at price points which make the Burgundy model look ever more expensive. Both the 2011 Oregon Cristom and the 2013 Yarra Valley William Downie are perfect examples.
Finally, there are three distinctive, thoroughbred varietals, Grenache, Baga and Mencia, which particularly impressed me from the Iberian Peninsular. Domaines Lupier’s 2010 La Dama Old Vine Grenache demonstrates the great class of which Garnacha is capable from old vines and low yields at high altitudes in Navarra, Spain. Varietal wines from Portugal are rare, and Baga is often forbiddingly tannic, but this single vineyard, old vines 2005 Luis PatoVinha Pan from Beiras, in central Portugal, has the qualities of a good, mature Classed Growth claret but with, yes, softer tannins. Mencia, as a varietal wine, is new to many and is perhaps best known for its easy drinking, fresh, lightly tannic, juicily blackberry-fruit cored reds, but the 2007 Dominio de Tares Tares P3, from Bierzo in north western Spain, is of a very different order, a sort of mature Châteauneuf in style: seductive in bouquet, with spice, vigour, generosity and class – fine wine in every sense.
2013 Mulderbosch Single Vineyard Chenin Blanc, Block S2; Stellenbosch,S.Africa
2009 Côtes de Jura 39 La Côte (Marcel Cabelier); Jura, France
2008 Château Chalon Vin Jaune (Marcel Cabelier); Jura, France
2010 Woodynook Gallagher’s ChoiceMargaret River Cab. Sauvignon; Western Australia.
2006 Rockford Rifle Range Barossa Valley Cab. Sauvignon; South Australia
2011 Cristom Mount Jefferson Pinot Noir; Oregon, USA
2013 William Downie Yarra Valley Pinot Noir; Victoria, Australia
2010 Domaines Lupier La Dama Old Vine Grenache; Navarra, Spain
2005 Baga Vinha Pan Luis Pato; Beiras, Portugal
2007 Dominio de Tares, Tares P3 Mencia; Bierzo, Spain
10 Wines, with cheese ...... £89.00