Any Bibendum tasting tends to attract a large crowd of sommeliers and indie wine buyers. So it was with its latest #Tasting Notes bash, held again in the basement of London’s Phonica Records – an interesting space that oozes with cool vibes. There were plenty of fascinating wines, fortifieds and spirits on show plus a massive range of new wines being introduced to the portfolio for the first time. Peter Dean had his tasting glass at the ready.
There were 30 or so new wines at the Bibendum portfolio tasting at Phonica Records. Below is a selection of the 12 we thought ‘went to 11’.
This is the second #Tasting Notes event I have been to since this year’s rebirth of Bibendum, and it’s good to see palpable excitement – not just with the buying team which has been busy beavering away at getting in new suppliers but also with ontrade customers who are packing into the downstairs space that is Soho’s Phonica Records. The Poland Street venue has become de rigeur for importers wanting to showcase a little edginess about their portfolio but its space and layout allows for some inventive slicing up of the drinks offering – it also allows spirits to be tasted, something 67 Pall Mall doesn’t, which is important given Bibendum’s breadth.
Apart from the various tables showcasing producers, fine wines, buyers’ picks and Walker & Wodehouse, there is a record deck stacked with vinyl to play around on, Cannon & Cannon’s superb English charcuteries, a section for cider, whisky and one reserved for various ‘Taste Offs’ such as Pinot Noir Vs Light-skinned.
Good to see some fun being aired as well as serious tasting. I guess it’s not for nothing Bibendum is the holder of the Sommelier Wine Awards Merchant of the Year for two years in a row.
With 258 wine suppliers there’s no point going for an exhaustive tasting review so I spent a few hours tasting through all the new wines and picking out 12 of the best. All prices are trade & single bottle.
So here’s my dozen best new Bibendum wines
Fascinating limited-run dry white wine from this long-established Andalucian sherry producer that is almost tailor-made for a sommelier. It’s PX that has been aged for eight months under flor in amphora; this has a complex nose (as you would imagine) of old wood and barley sugar, the taste is a mix of dry white wine and a fino sherry. Given the price point and 90+ Parker points this is a shoe-in. 12% ABV (£8.68)
Rieslingfreak No.4 Riesling, 2017
There’s a lot of tension that crackles with energy in this ultra-dry Riesling. It feels like you’re going to get a hit of residual sugar from the nose – it’s very fruity and pretty – but on the palate the citrus is taut, crisp and fresh; a great year for Riesling in Eden Valley. This shows how. 11.5% ABV (£9.83)
Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Kritt Gewürztraminer, 2016
I’ve tried some great Gewürtz from more unusual spots this year – Romania and Alto Adige – but this is back to the ‘homeland’. Lifted, honey, rose petals on the nose; medium bodied with a richness and pineapple chunks notes, a bit of spice on the finish. Really delicious and versatile biodynamic Gewürtz. 13% ABV (£13.51)
Big flavours abound in this impressive Roussanne from the Alpine slopes of Savoie – dried grass and butter on the nose, medium bodied, yellow stone fruit, pear, almonds, beeswax and a lick of cream on the long finish. Nice to be able to try this grape in a cooler style. 12.5% ABV. (£13.71)
Les Deux Albion Vaucluse Principaute d’Orange, 2017
Southern French varietals are also handled with a light touch in this pretty, light, white blend of Viognier, Marsanne and Picpoul from the Southern Rhône. There’s notes of old style confectionery (foam shrimps, unbelievably), and ripe yellow stone fruit in this attractive blend. It reminded me of Guigal’s 2017 Viognier in that it’s going for lightness rather than broadness and viscosity in the mid-palate. (£9.60)
Alphonse Mellot Sancerre Blanc La Moussiere, 2017
Quite a funky nose to the entry level Sancerre from this biodynamic producer; on the palate there’s tarte au citron, lemongrass, with powerful minerality and lean acidity keeping it fresh and driven. (£15.61)
Litmus Orange, 2015
1st vintage of this impressive English ‘orange’ wine, made from 100% Bacchus, left on skins then 9 months elevage in used barriques. Light brilliant gold, sweet nose of quince, hazelnuts, stony texture, with notes of orange pith, aged marmalade. Very dry (1gm rs), long finish. Not too ‘out there’ – the kind of wine that could convert people to orange. Good with spicy salami. (£10.70)
Mouth-wateringly fresh CC from a great vintage, light, approachable, fruity, well integrated tannins – what more do you want from a Chianti Classico? So much fresher than the very developed 2014. (£13.93)
Domaine Michel Magnien Marsannay Mogottes, 2014
Delightfully light biodynamic Pinot with lots of character, flavour and texture. Light ruby in appearance which belies its firm structure; red and ripe red berries on the nose with hints of flowers and spices; on the palate there’s a touch of liquorice, ripe red berries, toast and a lick of menthol on the finish; beautifully integrated tannins. (£18.67)
Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Costieres de Nimes Grimaudes Rouge, 2016
Unpretentious, powerful and generous red blend of Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault with enough rasp to handle most food with a little fat or richness; the nose is all fresh blackberry; lovely long, complex finish. (£7.37)
Who would have thought this light, slightly funky red was from the Barossa? Grenache and Cinsault from 50-60 year old vines, 20% carbonic macerated; on the palate it is pretty, fruity with a confected blackberry Chewit on the finish. (£11.31)
Lacourte-Godbillon Terroirs d’Ecueil 1er Cru Brut NV
Complex on the nose and complex on the palate; light golden hue, generous mousse, brioche and almond notes; fresh and concentrated attack with fresh, ripe white fruits, citrus sherbet and delicate acidity. 85% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay. (£20.11)
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