Our friend and colleague selected an eclectic flight of what he feels are very summer-fresh wines from Italy, Chile, Spain, South Africa, France and Argentina. Max knows several of these small producers quite well and always unearths some interesting good-value wines and this tasting was very much in that vein. These wines are mostly available from Priory Wines in Lymington, of course.
1) Starting with a fizz, and an unusual one at that, the 2016 False Bay Slow Ferment Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch was a surprise, rich and with good minerality, fermented slowly from natural yeasts. Amazing value and popular on the night at £7.95 (£7.16 to BWC members)
2) 2016 Tabali Pedrogoso Viognier, Limari Valley, from Chile was quite subtle on the nose, off-dry on the palate with an almost Riesling-like limey prickle and just a hint of petrol on the nose. Please and interesting, not typical of the grape. (£10.95/£9.86)
3) 2016 La Battistina Gavi, Piemonte, from a famous Italian house, made from 100% Cortese. Very soft, rich and with nutty hints and an apple and lime nose, this wine divided opinion on the night, some thinking that it was rather thin – I love this subtle style though (£11.85/£10.67)
4) 2016 Valenciso Rioja Blanco, a blend of 70% Viura and 30% Grenache Blanc. A fine white Rioja, a distinctive herbal and slightly smoky nose, rich and delicious on the palate with a hint of orange peel, maybe cough sweets, very long and with excellent balancinf =g acidity. A fine wine, now available from Rannoch Scott Wines and Noel Young Wines around £17-£18)
5) Pasquiers Grenache Noir, Languedoc, an easy-drinking soft and spicy wine, slightly off-dry and sweetish on the finish as many Grenache-based wines are, very good value at around £7/bottle (now from Slurp.co.uk and many others)
6) Pra Morandina Valpolicella Superiore, Veneto. Max says “A sappy, fragrant un-oaked Valpolicella with intensity yet delicacy from the low yields of the hilly Morandina vineyards. Herbal and red berry aromas with notes of wild thyme lead to a fresh, sappy wine with layers of raspberry leaf, liquorice and cherry characters. Fresh, with taut balancing acidity and a bitter plum twist” I got sweet vegetables on the nose, others a touch of roses, and a slight “greenness” on the palate – from a blend of Corvina and several other local varieties (£16.25/£14.63)
7) Castell del Lupo “La Gioiosa” Bonarda, Lombardia. Typical red cherry fruit and balancing acidity, a bottle of sun and very well made if not of outstanding character (KWOFF, Manchester, around £11)
8) Cadus Tupungato Malbec, Gaultillary, Argentina. Max says “The combination of altitude (1300m) and rocky soils provide a platform for Malbec to excel. Intense purple in colour, the wine displays great depth of black fruits, fresh herbal notes and spice. The palate is elegant with lovely weight, bright black fruits and fresh acidity. The finish is long and has silky tannins” I got that lovely slight tarry nose, maybe a touch of pine resin, and gorgeous balance on the palate, very long. For me the stand-out wine of the evening and excellent value at £15.95/£14.36. Classy Malbec, 90 Parker points!
9) 2013 Ferghettina Franciacorta Milledi, Bressia. Franciacorta is the very much less known distant cousin of Prosecco and Italy’s excellent answer to Champagne. Made from Chardonnay grapes by the Methode Traditionelle unlike Prosecco, it is of course more expensive! Offered in a very unusual square-based bottle, it spends a long time on the lees and the square shape is considered to enhance the lees contact and biscuit notes. The wine had, to my mind, a slightly reductive nose and some thought the bubbles/mousses and little aggressive, but nevertheless and a very interesting and high-quality alternative the champers or English fizz. (£34.99/£29.99)
Thanks to Max for a fun and very educational evening.