If you didn’t manage to make it to the Berkmann annual portfolio tasting in London last week them never fear, Michelin-starred chef Roger Jones was on hand to taste the wines for you and recommend which ones will work and which will not work in the premium on-trade.
Plenty of wines to recommend at the Berkmann annual portfolio tasting including wines from Jean-Marc Brocard, Delas Freres, Domaine Beauregard, Caves d’Esclans, Castello della Sala, Katnook Estate and Neil Ellis amongst others.
Berkmann’s annual wine tasting was themed on the political merry-go-round that has been so much in vogue over the last 12 months.
This fun theme (which was covered in signage and in its booklet) was to encourage the attendees to vote for (buy) some of the 420 wines on show at The Brewery in London’s Chiswell Street.
Berkmann is an independent, family-owned company that was established over 50 years ago and, going by the attendance, certainly has a huge following.
Chablis Jean-Marc Brocard
As noted in a previous Buyer feature on Chablis, with 2016 being a bit of a disaster, buying up older vintages from 13, 14 and 15 now makes sense.
Jean-Marc Brocard is one of the greats from Chablis, highlighting individual plots, showcasing each terroir, and searching for purity.
Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis, 2015 WSP £12.80
A classic value-added wine that delivers at this price.
Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis, 1er Cru Montmains, 2015 WSP £18.30
Clean bright, delicate, lovely purity, fresh.
Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis, 1er Cru Vau de Vey, 2014 WSP £20.63
Lovely purity, but an added dimension from age, limey, wet stone, floral, drinking well.
However what really excited me were the wines of Jean-Marc’s son Julien and he produces these biodynamic wines under his own label Julien Brocard.
Julien Brocard Chablis, La Boissonneuse, 2013 WSP £17.20
This elegant wax-sealed bottle was a funky, savoury, wild herb, citrus-packed wine that had texture, and great value, his 1er Cru Côte de Léchet 2013 was more refined but priced at WSP £24.13
Mure Riesling Grand Cru Clos St Landelin, Alsace 2013 WSP £22.04
Tantalising, wet stone, juicy, forward, bright purity of fruit, lovely vibrancy and freshness together with texture and layers.
Domaine Rolet Arbois Chardonnay/Savagnin “Tradition” 2008, Jura WSP £17.83
50% traditional Savagnin with its Flor blended with 50% Chardonnay to give a Vin Jaune, the oxidative style is nutty, sweet hazelnuts, aromatic and floral then with a luscious depth from the Chardonnay that carries it well. This would be great with foie gras or juicy, garlic-infused grilled langoustines.
Spotlight on Rhone – Delas Freres and Domaine Beaurenard
Delas Freres has always been a favourite of mine, offering great value, a structure and ability to evolve ones budget with these wines. Here are some highlights.
Delas Côtes du Rhône, St Esprit Blanc, 2015 WSP £8.69
(70% Grenache Blanc, 10% Clairette, 10% Bourboulenc, 10% Viognier). Bright clean, fresh, with lots of young fresh fruit bustling to the surface, a great value introduction to white Rhône blends.
Delas Condrieu, La Galopine, 2014 WSP £32.00
This 100% Viognier has a beautiful structure, beeswax, honeyed, white and yellow flowers, gently soothing the palate with a luscious, creamy, layered texture with bright wet river stone, it is both fresh and deep, a great balance.
Delas Syrah, Pays de l’Ardeche, 2015 WSP £7.11
This 100% Syrah is juicy, forward, bright clean blueberries, delicate flavours and offers great value.
Delas Crozes-Hermitage, Domaine des Grands Chemins, 2010 WSP £16.53
A seamless, well-balanced Crozes-Hermitage, deep purple colour, black cherries, spices, mineral.
Delas Côte-Rôtie, Seigneur de Maugiron, 2009 WSP £34.32
Loved the purity of this wine, raspberries, cassis, liquorice, spice, long and lingering but an underlying freshness, bright luscious Christmas cake.
This domaine has been with Berkmann since 1989, I am not sure how I have missed this in the past, what a pleasure not only to meet the owner and winemaker Frederic Coulon but to try these wines, which Frederic called “Gastronomy’s friend”.
Domaine de Beaurenard, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, 2015 WSP £231.10
(30% Clairette, 25% Bourboulenc, 22% Roussane, 20% Grenache Blanc, 3% Picpoul & Picardan). This is a vibrant, long lingering wine that has texture, sex appeal, full luscious flavours, long aftertaste, fabulous intensity, layers and layers of fruit and yet more sublime layers. A stunning wine.
Domaine de Beaurenard, Rasteau, 2015 WSP £12.16
(80% Grenache, 20% Syrah) Bright and clean, great vibrancy from the Pinot-style Grenache lifting this wine and giving it a lovely gentle perfume, juicy, long fresh mouthful with hints of hidden spices.
Domaine de Beaurenard, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2012 WSP £23.12
(70% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, 6% Cinsault, 4% others) Earthy, farmyard nose in a nice way, spiced, velvety, perfumed, intensity is incredible, nose opens up to a more delicate perfume but still masculine, luscious long and shows great purity, a perfect match to some succulent English game.
Rosé – Caves d’Esclans
Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel, Provence Rosé, 2016 WSP £15.97 (Grenache, Rolle & Cinsault) I have been a great fan of these wines for many years, giving texture and depth to Provence Rosé – clean fresh bright and vibrant, steely and masculine.
Caves d’Esclans Rock Angel, Provence Rosé, 2015 WSP £21.78 (Grenache and Rolle) A step up, purity is excellent, fresh bright and focussed, restrained but still gives a bright Grenache lift.
Caves d’Esclans Les Clans, Provence Rosé, 2015 WSP £40.40 (Grenache and Rolle) Much lighter in colour, free-run juice. To me I prefer this to the more expensive Garrus as it seems more approachable and gives more vibrancy. Rich but masculine, deep but pure, intense but controlled, superlative wine.
Bodegas Valdemar Conde Valdemar Rioja Blanco, 2015 WSP £10.09
100% Viura, classic style, fresh zesty, hint of tropical fruit, Moroccan preserved lemons, fresh and exciting.
Castello della Sala, Umbria, Italy
I have followed these wines from Umbria for many years, and am currently serving the Cervaro della Sala 2006 by the glass from magnum in my restaurant.
Castello della Sala San Giovanni Orvieto Classico, 2015 WSP £11.95 (50% Grechetto, 25% Procanico, 25% Pinot Bianco and Viognier) Bright, clean and fresh, I love the vibrancy and spices. Excellent value Italian white wine that has some balls to it.
Castello della Sala Conte della Vipera, 2015 WSP £16.28
(60% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon ) This wine ages wonderfully and has a pleasant waxy and floral texture with zesty citrus fruits in the background.
Castello della Sala Cervaro della Sala, 2015 WSP £32.32
(90% Chardonnay, 10% Grechetto) on reflection this superlative iconic Italian Chardonnay has not risen much in price over the last decade or so, offering incredible value for such a complete wine. The 2015 which is in short supply is another masterpiece.
Katnook Estate – Australia – Coonawarra
These wines offer great value from an area, Coonawarra, which has lost some of its popularity in the UK, but please do not dismiss this lovey region with its red soils and wonderful Cabernets, from the Founder’s Block (at below £10) to The Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 WSP £16.98 to the rare but sublime Odyssey Cabernet, 2009 WSP £37.68.
Lethbridge, Geelong, Australia
A new Australian winery for me, the Lethbridge Chardonnay 2015 was a wonderful, full expressive Chardonnay, citrus and spiced oak, layered, and long lingering flavours. Of the two Pinots I preferred the cheaper Lethbridge Ménage à Noir Pinot Noir, 2015 WSP £15.79 a funky wine with crunchy freshness from raspberries and cherries, exciting flavours, fresh and vibrant whilst the Lethbridge Pinot Noir, 2013 WSP £20.27 was more typical of Geelong with savoury, truffled flavours dark berries, delicate perfume and a wine to evolve.
South Africa – Neil Ellis
Despite my numerous outings to the cape I had not met Neil Ellis, so it was a delight to see him manning his own stand. lots of great value here including a Sauvignon Blanc; Neil Ellis Groenekloof Sauvignon Blanc, 2016 WSP £8.88 with its bright fresh clean fruits and green herbs, above all this is classic South African freshness that they can achieve with Sauvignon Blanc.
The Neil Ellis Whitehall Chardonnay (Elgin) 2015 WSP £13.80 is restrained elegance, the cool climate of Elgin with the sea fresh coast gives this Chardonnay a lovely lift.
Overall a great experience and some fabulous new wines to VOTE for, if I had one major criticism is that guests attending were not given name/business tags, so it was hard for winemakers to recognise past clients.