We associate Corney & Barrow with many of the grand wine estates, most of all Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Petrus of course but at its Spring tasting a very different side to its portfolio was in evidence. The buying team have been beavering away picking up new ranges from Greece, Romania, Hungary, Italy and Chile amongst others and very good they were too. We tasted through the new range and pick out 10 that particularly caught our palate for the on-trade.
Falanghina, Assyrtiko, Furmint, Latino and Xinomavro are just some of the indigenous varietals being used in these new Corney & Barrow wines.
From the faded grandeur of the Hunter Penrose venue through to the welcome nibbles from the likes of Motherclucker and other uber-trendy nearby Borough Market eateries, it was clear that Corney & Barrow was showing off its contemporary on-trade side at its Spring portfolio tasting.
Quite apart from the quality and value of many of the wines on show what was also very noticeable was the quality of the new labels. Some central European countries that, face it, are still stuck design-wise in some areas of the 1980s are not showing their best side with their wine labels. When you get to taste the wines there is genuine quality in many of them but it’s getting past the label.
Corney & Barrow has picked up on this and through new, contemporary designs will be able to make these work a lot harder. There is clearly a lot of fun being had designing them as well as good practical, design knowhow – a row of the new Minervois design or Falanghina will leap off any shelf.
The proof though was in the pudding and these Top 10 wines really punched above their weight. All prices are ex-VAT per bottle.
Incantesimo Falanghina, 2016
Loving this label – comic book meets bling meets religious Baroque. The other plus is that this 100% Falanghina from Campania is cracking value for an easy drinking wine that delivers in all the right places. The nose is orange rind, jasmine with just-picked black fruit on the palate and a lovely, tidy finish with hints of almond. (£8.75)
Sanziana Pinot Grigio, Cramele Recas, 2017
New Pinot Grigio and one of the hits of the tasting. Sourced from Romania’s Cramele Recas, that has to date produced the UK’s best selling Pinot Grigio. The law change in Veneto moving all Pinot Grigio from IGT to DOC status has led Corney & Barrow to seek one from outside Italy. It has a grassy nose, touch of herb, summer fruit (greengage), floral with well-balanced acidity. On the quality end with a ridiculous trade price. (£6.63)
Santo Santorini Assyrtiko, 2016
From the largest cooperative on the Greek island of Santorini comes this bone dry Assyrtiko that is our pick of the new Greek range. On the nose there is cantaloupe melon, lifted honeyed fruit; the palate has a sea-spray freshness, bright acidity, and a slight smokiness on the finish. A good afternoon wine with some plates of tapas. (£16.36)
La Curiosité Minervois, 2017
It also looks a little like the old Vertigo record label that you used to get on all the Black Sabbath albums (or is that just me?!).
This is 100% Syrah from the top vineyard site in this area, it has a savoury, meaty, spicy nose, a dense, black fruit palate with an attractive green edge to the fruit. Stonking value. (£8.75)
Oreg Kiraly Dulo Furmint, Barta, 2015
Complex expressive nose, almost funky, floral, apple; lovely texture on the palate – ripe yellow plum, pineapple, white peach – with a nice bite on the finish, coming from the oak and mineral qualities from the unique Oreg Kiraly Hill where the grapes are grown. Delicious. (£19.58)
Marsannay Rosé, Domaine Josephy Roty, 2013
A Rosé with a difference – made from Pinot Noir in the Côte de Nuits – with five years on the clock! Pretty nose of wild strawberries with an interesting broad depth to the palate. Great wine to have by the glass paired with fish, vegetable dishes and dessert. Very interesting. (£11.04)
Douloufakis ‘Dafnios’ Liatiko, 2015
Typical 100% Liatiko from Crete with a nose of black fruit, olives, spices; the palate is very different mixing ripe red cherries with earthy qualities, resin and pine. The finish is quite tight with tannins that will be rounded off by a nice Mediterranean mezze. (£15.31)
Jeunes Vignes Xinomavro, Thymiopoulos, 2016
Young vine Xinomavro from Thymiopoulos Vineyards in Greece, a grape that bears some similarities to Nebbiolo, although no wood is used here to retain the wine’s freshness. This is one of those red wines that feels so finished you cold pop a straw in the bottle. It’s almost Rosé in colour with a lifted nose of strawberry jam. The palate is lively, juicy with great elegance and balance. (£13.54)
Arboleda Carmenère, Viña Arboleda, Valle de Aconcagua, 2015
Ripe, spicy Carmenère from Chile’s Aconcagua Valley and our pick of this new range that bears Eduardo Chadwick’s name. Concentrated, ripe, black fruit on the nose with hints of mocha and cooking spices. There are rounded tannins on the palate, lovely grainy texture, a good depth and complexity and the acidity keeps the wine fresh. It all works very nicely. (£14.13)
Double Trouble Shiraz Cabernet, Barossa Boy 2016
There is considerable tannin and texture here which ‘reins in’ the fruit as does the acidity, giving the wine balance, and a redcurrant grip on the finish. I’d be tempted to lay this one down. (£16.25)
Grüner Veltliner, Strass Allram, 2016
This entry level Grüner Veltliner starts soft with ripe apple and pear aromas, then it has a terrific lean, mineral, racy acidity in the core. The finish is long with nice ripe fruit overtones. Great texture and mouth-watering. (£13.29)