Wines for Christmas

FR-Quiot-Ventoux5Our autumn wine tastings were held on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd November. We had an impressive selection of wines on tasting. Those who ordered obviously approved as this turned out to be our best tasting ever, with record orders. Thank you everybody who contributed to this! Just for your information, best sellers were Pierre de Chanvigne Brut; Quincy Sauvignon; Les Fumées Blanches Sauvignon; Chateau Pierrail Sauvignon; Dog Point NZ Sauvignon; Laurent Miquel Chardonnay Viognier; La Bastide Viognier ; Macon Villages; Candidato red; La Bastide Merlot; Salice Salentino Limitone dei Greci; Chaponne Morgon; Chanrion Cotes de Brouilly; Les Hauts de Naudon and Château Pierrail reds; Château la Tour de By… and the winner by a mile, Quiot’s Ventoux.

Best newcomer was the Sixteen Ridges Pinot Noirs, red, white and rose. They are made on the Worcestershire/Herefordshire borders from Pinot Noir grapes planted on a south-facing site thought to have been used for viticulture as far back as the Romans. The big advantage is that they are wonderfully weak – only 11%, a thing which is so hard to find nowadays!

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc

dog_point_sauvignon_blancIt’s more than 15 years since Cloudy Bay took New Zealand Sauvignon from ‘niche’ to ‘cult’ and since then the world, and the UK in particular, has loved it. This has inevitably resulted in a huge number of cheap imitations – wines which claim similar heritage and quality but which are in fact made in industrial quantities by faceless conglomerates. So in order to make something authentic and worthy of attention, the makers of Dog Point have gone right back to basics.

Dog Point, which is the name of a peninsular, is a fabulous bit of Kiwi terroir managed by two people with 30 years’ combined experience in senior positions at Cloudy Bay. The immense quality of the wines, the result of a personal, careful and hands-on approach of the team (which extends as far as hand picking their grapes, something of a rarity in Marlborough) means that support for the Dog Point operation is not hard to come by. Leading Antipodean wine expert Tyson Stelzer sums it up perfectly: “There’s a consummately crafted dimension to this wine that propels it above the vast sea of New Zealand Sauvignons, a wine of genuine character and interest”. Clearly this is more than a match for Cloudy Bay and we heartily recommend it; as Mr. Stelzer says: “If you buy no other New Zealand Sauvignon…don’t miss Dog Point”! They also do a stunning Chardonnay which is in very short supply….but we do have a case of it if anyone is interested.

The 2013 Vintage in the Southern Rhone

The autumn and winter of 2012 and 2013 were fairly dry. This shortage was offset in the very late winter/early spring by heavy rain. The summer was very dry except for July, when the rainfall was three times the average. From past experience, heavy rainfall in July heavily influences the structure of the vintage, with supple tannins and a very distinctive finesse such as in 1996, 2001 & 2011. Temperatures were mild in the autumn, fairly cool in the winter and spring and normal in summer. During the peak flowering period in the middle of June very high temperatures hit the southern Rhone. This caused a surge in growth to the detriment of flowering. This resulted in heavily reduced fruit set in the Grenache grapes and therefore much lower than normal average yields when picking was over. The wines from 2013’s vintage are much lighter than usual, but they are delicious in a light, fresh, elegant, feminine way which many people will prefer.

Vintage Port 2011 – a very fine vintage, one to lay down

taylors-1985-vpThe winter of 2010 brought many wet days, which assisted the vines to resist the hot and dry summer that followed. As a result of a warm spring, the vines saw early blossom, allowing one of the earliest starts to harvest ever. However, two rainy days at the end of August were perfect for a cool-down of the berries, offering excellent conditions for the maturation process. The 2011 Ports are very concentrated yet elegant and fresh. In 2011, we have the better of the two worlds: the freshness, elegance and the exuberance of flavours of fresher vintages; and the power and structure of hotter ones.

We have various vintage ports here for Christmas: Taylor 1985; Graham 1997; Quinta de la Rosa 2009 and Dow, Graham and Quinta do Vesuvio 2011.