Eight of the best indie importers showed up for a Movember tasting at top South London indie wine bar/ shop D Vine Cellars where 30 wines were shown to highlight small production, artisanal wines that are sustainable, organic or biodynamic.
Les Caves de Pyrene, FMV, Indigo, SWiG, Red Squirrel, Alliance, Armit and the Winemakers Club each presented wines at the Movember charity tasting event held at D Vine Cellars, run by South London’s on/off trade specialist Greg Andrews who also runs wine bar Cellar SW4.
To raise money for Movember, Greg Andrews threw a tasting party at D Vine Cellars.
He himself battled “Man Cancer” earlier this year, and through doing Movember (his ‘tache was doing very well at the time), he has helped raise a brilliant amount for charity and raise awareness of the cause through this tasting and fundraising.
On the night there were 30 wines to taste, with suggested donations of £15, as well a representative of each of the eight importers to speak to customers about the four wines they were showing.
Having someone from the importers there is a brilliant way to set up a tasting of this form: it takes the consumer on a bit of a journey, and each representative is able to go into depth about his or her select wines.
Greg Andrews is all about highlighting unique and amazing wines, promoting discovery, broadening consumer perceptions, and giving everyone a little bit of new-found knowledge to take away with them.
Not only does he champion small production, artisan wines that are sustainable, organic or biodynamic, but he also has many options for every price point and wines from pretty much every corner of the globe. The wine bar and shop are both real treasure troves, and impossible to leave without something interesting.
Chardonnay 2014, Sorrenberg Wines, £42 (Les Caves de Pyrene)
Sorrenberg is an estate of just 3ha, in Beechworth, Australia, established in 1984. Sorrenberg is one of the highest vineyards on granite soil in the Beechworth region, as well as having red mudstone, which gives the soil greater water holding capacity and the wine structure. I’ve been told the winemaker runs his car on recycled kitchen fat, which is pretty cool.
I wrote in my notes, “best white tasted all year?” and that’s no mean feat. I still maintain that. It’s an amazing wine. French oak (25-30% new), natural yeasts, extended lees contact for ten months with weekly stirring, followed by a further eight months in barrel. I think it is on par with some of “the greats” of white Burgundy, and at a fraction of the price. It has immense capacity for ageing.
Tasting notes – Rich yet subtle apricots and peaches, with a distinct mineral edge. This leads to a brioche finish, almond and yeasty notes. The wine has an unbelievable length. Phil summoned me back to taste it again after the bottle had been open for a while, and it had developed softer, hazelnut and biscuit aromas, and the length was even more persistent.
Birichino Petulant Naturel Malvasia Bianca, Birichino £27 (Fields, Morris & Verdin)
Birichino (meaning naughty in Italian, because as they say, “who doesn’t consider themselves a bit naughty, after all?”) are Alex Krause and John Locke: a duo from California’s Central Coast, founded in 2008. John worked with Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard, as well as André Ostertag of Domaine Ostertag in Alsace in 1993, as well as with small producers across Italy and SW France. Alex started in 1992 with Randall, working with John in the cellar, and then worked in sales, today working as Director of Export sales for Bonny Doon.
Having tasted the still version of this wine before I knew I’d likely be a fan. Birichino’s tech sheet for this wine starts with “forecast: cloudy with a chance of amazeballs.” They aren’t wrong. From 25-year-old vines, Birichino winemakers take aromatic malvasia still wine and add a small bit of actively fermenting muscat canelli (5%). The resulting lightly sparkling wine is then left on its lees to develop.
Lovely soft, floral, peachy notes with a delicate presence on the palate. Lovely softer style of Pét-Nat, with lingering white flowers and pear on the finish.
Picarana Albillo Real 2014, Bodega Maranones , £18 (Indigo Wine)
Located in San Martin de Valdeiglesias, a sub-region of the Vinos de Madrid DO. The young winemaker, Fernando “Fer” Garcia, is a natural wine producer who has been heavily influenced by the biodynamic wines of the Loire and Burgundy. He’s part of the los chicos del terruar group.
40-80 year old vines from four parcels. Granitic soils lend minerality. The high altitude (750m) prevents the vineyards from overheating. Handpicked grapes are cold macerated, naturally settled with open top fermentation with natural yeasts. Seven months of lees stirring, no filtering or fining, with very little sulphur.
Really complex nose – floral notes joined by fruity aromas of pineapple, pear and nutmeg. Creamy, rich and textural palate with prominent pear and cream notes. Seriously good. My first, and highly inspiring Albillo from the Madrid DO.
Familiemoord 2014, BLANKBottle, £25 (SWiG)
From one of my favourite ever producers comes this Grenache, Cinsault and Pinot Noir, with a funny story behind it. “Familiemoord” in Afrikans means family murder. The police suspected winemaker Pieter Walser of killing and murdering his own son. In fact what had happened was that Pieter had been digging a sandpit with his kids, fooling around, and fake-buried his son.
Meanwhile, some neighbourhood kids on bikes saw what he was doing, went home and distraughtly told their mum, who then found the “grave” and reported the crime… Thus, the bottle has the newspaper article printed in organic paper.
Lovely, pure bright nose of red and black cherries, as well as a little zingy raspberry. On the palate, the fruit is dense and crunchy with elegant and silky tannins, and it has a lovely soft and subtly smoky finish with a touch of spice.
Bellwether Ant Series Vermentino 2015, Bellwether Wines, £20 (Red Squirrel)
I had the pleasure of meeting with Sue Bellwether at the Artisans of Australia tasting. An awesome lady with a negociant-style micro-winery in Coonawarra, who works with grapes sourced from passionate growers in diverse Australian regions. This includes classics as well as less usual varietals such as this Vermentino from the Cambrian soils of Heathcote, in Victoria.
This Vermentino is grown by the Chalmers family. It is hand picked and pressed locally, fermented on full solids with natural yeasts, unfined. It is then matured in breathable tanks.
Zesty and fresh on the nose, a little shy on initial opening but after a couple of minutes expressing lovely jasmine, citrus and lime aromas, with a specific salinity/minerality to the palate, with the saline edge lingering on the finish.
Zuccardi Emma Bonarda 2013, Familia Zuccardi, £26 (Alliance Wine)
From a family winery of Mendoza, founded in 1950. The third generation of the family, Sebastian Zuccardi, began making wines in the Uco Valley in 2000. In 2008, he commenced the Research and Development sector dedicated to terroir studies. The vineyards here are of high altitude, with cold and dry climate with wide temperature ranges. Through extensive research and technology such as electromagnetic mapping of soils, the Zuccardis are reaching great understanding of the Uco terroir and which varietals suit it.
From sandy silt and clay lime soils, handpicked grapes are destemmed and crushed gently. Cold maceration for seven days, before classic vinification in concrete vats with indigenous yeasts. Maceration for 20-25 days with daily remontage and delestage. Malolatic fermentation then takes place and 60% of the wine is aged in new French oak barrels for 12 months.
Fruity, fresh and juicy wine showing cherries, red cherries and fresh blackcurrants. Silky, elegant tannins, with very good structure and balance and a distinct liveliness.
Agricola Punica Montessu 2013, Isola dei Nuraghi IGT, £17 (Armit Wines)
From Sardinia, this is a joint venture between four leading figures in Italian wine: Sebastiano Rosa, celebrated oenologist and winemaker at Sassicaia, Santadi Winery President Antonello Pilloni, legendary Tuscan wine consultant Giacomo Tachis and Sebastiano’s stepfather Marchese Nicolo Incisa Della Rocchetta, owner of the famous Tenuta San Guido Estate.
I have quite a love for Carignan (Carignano), of which this is 60%, the remainder being 10% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Merlot, from calcareous, clay and sandy soils. Must is fermented with the skins, and it is periodically pumped over. The wine is aged in used French oak barrels for 15 months.
Juicy and fruit-forward wine, with a palate-coating attack. It revolves on blackcurrants, blackberries, cherries and plums, with a distinct spiciness on the finish, joined by liquorice tones.
Syrah 2013, Shobbrook Wines, £40 (Winemakers Club)
Tom and John (of Winemakers Club) met working for Sean O’Callaghan in Chianti. They then tasted their way around Europe for six years, with the eventual conclusion that Tom would return to Australia to make wine, and John would sell it. Tom returned nine years ago, and has since been creating a new vision of South Australian wines, veering away from the heavy style, working biodynamically with an elegant touch.
This Syrah comes from his home vineyards in Seppeltsfield, from a specific, small plot. The wine is fermented in old French wood tonneaux for five-six years, and then barrel matured. After fourteen months it is bottled with just a tiny addition of SO2 (20ppm) (this is the only sulphur added to any Shobbrook wine).
A delicate yet intense, floral, earthy and lifted nose of violets, fresh blueberries with a herbal and spicy edge. Lovely rich palate with blueberries and blackberries, with a meaty/gamey finish with an added subtle peppery, lifted edge. A lighter, more delicate and intricate expression of South Australian Syrah.