With a gin garden, a beer gallery and a fine wine zone, Enotria&Coe certainly knows how to get noticed. Its 2019 portfolio tasting involved a take-over of London’s Saatchi Gallery. The Buyer’s own culture vulture Chris Wilson was there, to select his own ‘works of art’ from the wine selection, including a potential by-the-glass classic as well as assessing the overall range of one of the UK’s most important national distributors at what has become one of the benchmark trade tastings of the year.
The annual Enotria&Coe tasting featured some Italian classics, alongside some newer world surprises.
Heinz famously has 57 varieties (more of course, but it’s a great bit of marketing spin). Enotria&Coe can beat that – it had 157 gins on show at its portfolio tasting last week.
Once again the architecturally spectacular Saatchi Gallery on London’s King’s Road was transformed into a treasure trove of boozy delights – from the aforementioned gins to a raft of other spirits, wine from around the world, and beer in its many guises – for the annual showcase.
For the first time E&C showed customers its newly curated beer and cider range, with more than 40 craft brews available for the trade to try. It was a busy area of the tasting and it’s clear that CEO Troy Christensen and his team consider beer and cider an integral part of their offering now and for the future of the business.
As well as the beer gallery, gin garden and various ‘Focus’ areas in each room where themes and flights were explored on free-pour tables, this year’s tasting also included a fine wine zone, tucked away beneath the stairs where some top, top wines were dispensed via Verre de Vin machines.
It was here, of course it was, where a selection of the tasting’s most impressive wines were to be found, but there was plenty to get excited about across the rest of the portfolio with Italy proving as strong as ever, propped up nicely by the rest of the old world and some new world stunners.
Here’s a selection of the tasting’s most delicious, interesting and on-trade friendly wines.
Ken Forrester Wines Sparklehorse, 2015
A really classy, slightly wild, Chenin Blanc sparkler from the inimitable Ken Forrester. The label is bright and shiny, and so is the wine. It’s crunchy with tree fruit, a delicious acid bite and a dash of toasty development.
Hattingley Valley Blanc-de-Blanc. 2013
A new release from the ever-impressive Hampshire sparkling wine specialists. This was disgorged five months ago and shows very prominent developed, bready notes on the nose. The fruit arrives on the palate and its red apples at first, then pears and apricots. Lovely delicate mousse.
Stargazer Chardonnay, 2016
A focused, lush Chardonnay that’s opulent but not overblown. Tropical fruit is a foil for the flinty minerality, while nutty oak balances the citrus acidity. All the components chime off each other very nicely.
Howard Park Mount Barker Riesling, 2017
This is very dry and that’s no criticism. It’s fresh lime acidity is worn on its sleeve, and backed up nicely by grapefruit and candle wax aromas and flavours. This would be a wonderful aperitif on any list.
Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile, 2011
Dense, honeyed, structured and rich… which is exactly what you’d expect from this flagship Alsatian wine. The 2011 has great depth and character, its honeycomb and peach nose leaps from the glass before a complex coming together of quince, lemon zest, mandarin and green tea enliven the palate.
Esporao Reserva Blanco, 2017
A nailed on buy-the-glass bargain. Less than £13 in the price list for this fleshy, sumptuous greengage-y white which carries its weight wonderfully.
Jermann Dreams IGT, 2015
This Chardonnay from Friuli has great poise and a wonderful weight in the mouth. Guava and ripe pear hit you first, backed up my meadow flowers and a wet soil earthiness. Lovely sweetness from the fruit but bone dry and addictively smooth with it.
Domaine Yves Cuilleron Condrieu es Chaillets, 2016
As rich and complex as you’d expect; a buttery nose of crisp French biscuits gives way to blossom, lavender and honey. Crisp green apple acidity carries it effortlessly like a World’s Strongest Man contestant delivering the first Atlas Stone to its plinth.
Ascheri Langhe Nebbiolo DOC San Giacomo, 2017
A serious and effortless Nebbiolo which is clean and dry yet sumptuous and long. Violets and red berries dominate, and there’s a savoury, Marmite-y note too which adds to the complexity and finesse.
Fontanafredda Barolo di Serralunga d’Alba DOCG, 2014
The labels across the Fontanafredda range are simple and alluring, classy and timeless. The wines tick most of these boxes too, but this Barolo is far from simple; it’s deep and intense with oak, spice and hedgerow fruit. Dry, soft and bristling with life.
Planeta Syrah Maroccolo, 2014
It’s refreshing to see a Syrah from Sicily from one of the island’s best-known producers. Planeta knows that Syrah loves dry climates and sunshine so this island is perfect for a modern-style wine from this international grape. It’s a powerful pour, dripping with blackcurrant fruit, creamy spice and a herby freshness. This will age for a long time.
Omero Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, 2016
A lean and spritzy Pinot from Oregon that’s light on its feet and fresh yet has deep characters of rhubarb, redcurrant jelly and raspberry Love Hearts. Sippable, versatile and bright.
Bonterra Young Red, 2017
A beautifully packaged, interesting wine from California’s leading organic producer. This is made by adding a dash of Malbec to the ‘hard press’ juice from Bonterra’s rosé wines and results in a medium-weight red that’s punchy and bright with raspberry, melon and rose petal characters. Delicious served slightly chilled.
Kir-Yianni Ramnista, 2015
E&C added Kir-Yianni to its list late last year, so it was exciting to taste the range for the first time. Both Assyrikos were impressive – sharp, textured and refreshing – but the Ramnista red was the standout. Made from Xinomavro from Naoussa, it’s complex and savoury with powerful tobacco and olive characters duking it out with cherry and blackberry fruit on the palate. The result is a big, hearty wine.