• How new agencies shone at the ’40 Years of Bibendum’ tasting

    The on-trade was out in force at Bibendum’s portfolio tasting last week which was celebrating 40 years in the business. Many familiar producers were in attendance along with many new faces – boutique producers like Casa de Mouraz, GLUP, Lenzmark, and Kumusha along with two high profile acquisitions Juve Y Camps and Gérard Bertrand. Peter Dean talked to the new kids on the block and chooses six of the best.

    The on-trade was out in force at Bibendum’s portfolio tasting last week which was celebrating 40 years in the business. Many familiar producers were in attendance along with many new faces – boutique producers like Casa de Mouraz, GLUP, Lenzmark, and Kumusha along with two high profile acquisitions Juve Y Camps and Gérard Bertrand. Peter Dean talked to the new kids on the block and chooses six of the best.

    mm By March 10, 2022

    “Nyamudoka is an ex-sommelier in Cape Town, who clearly knows what happens to the wine once it’s left the winery. All of the range which is made with partner Attie Louw was outstanding and ‘on the button’,” writes Dean.

    Bibendum
    40 years and counting: Michael Saunders, Bibendum CEO

    Bibendum’s 40 years in the business is being celebrated all year, of course, but proceedings got underway in style last week with its largest-ever portfolio tasting. Two floors of St Mary’s, York Street were comfortably full of producers showing 445 wines along with a range of beers and spirits, including Tito’s Handmade Vodka that, it’s worth noting in the current climate, hails from Austin Texas and not the wrong side of the ‘Iron Curtain’.

    There were many highlights and many familiar faces but it was a good opportunity to catch up with the new producers who have joined Bibendum in the past 12 months.

    Bibendum
    Gérard Bertrand’s export team Yann Bourigault, Emmanuel Jore and Marilyn Iranzo (l-r)

    Although the team from Gérard Bertrand were keen to point out that Hallgarten had done a good job for them, it was the wider distribution, particularly into national restaurant chains that had apparently attracted the Languedoc brand to Bibendum. Juvé y Camps the masters of Gran Reserva Cava is also a significant coup for Bibendum – both new agencies having sizeable portfolios that can comfortably sit across both on-trade and off.

    Bibendum

    More boutique in scale are Portugal’s Casa de Mouraz which has joined from Raymond Reynolds and has an impressive and nicely packaged array of field blends and indigenous single varietals from the Dao; Longavi Wines is a JV from Julio Bouchon and David Nieuwoudt from Cederberg which was showing its GLUP! project – six ‘glu glu’ wines made in a highly fashionable style; Kumusha Wines a new South African brand launched by Zimbabwean ex-sommelier Tinashe Nyamudoka and Attie Louw; super premium Chilean label Vina Vik with its heavy-hitting Cab Sauv from the Cachapoal Valley; and Austria’s Lenzmark which is a new wine project from Markus Huber and Lenz Moser in order to open up Grüner Veltliner to an international audience.

    Six of the best from the new kids on the block

    Starting a New Chapter: Markus Huber (l) and Lenz Moser

    Markus Huber, Falstaff’s winemaker of the year, was showing his range of delightful, organic, terroir-driven expressions of Grüner Veltliner at the tasting – wines that he has been making since taking charge of family estate Weingut Huber in the Traisental region of Austria back in 2000. What was particularly fascinating was New Chapter Gruener Veltliner 2020 (sic) which, as the name suggests, is a new take on the variety.

    From the style of the bottle to the ‘international’ style of the wine New Chapter is aimed at premium international restaurants – making a Grüner that is less driven by terroir and vintage variation and more fruit-driven and consistent. Made using a mix of formats – acacia foudres, second-fill barrels and steel – this manages to mix Grüner Veltliner’s delicacy with some mid-palate power. There’s more fruit, creaminess and a rounder mouthfeel. It’s an impressive new direction. (£21.94). (You can read The Buyer’s interview with Lenz Moser about the New Chapter project here.)

    Tinashe Nyamudoka

    Tinashe Nyamudoka has only been making wines for five years but clearly will be making it for many more if his range of Kamusha Wines is anything to go by. Nyamudoka is an ex-sommelier in Cape Town, who clearly knows what happens to the wine once it’s left the winery. All of the range which is made with partner Attie Louw was outstanding and ‘on the button’ but it was his pure, beautifully-poised expression of Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 that made the biggest impression on me.

    Cab Sauv from South Africa is nothing new but this felt like it was – open, fresh, textured with wild bramble primary fruit and some liquorice complexity creeping in. The 10% whole bunch and 10% concrete format used in vinification gives the wine a vitality and balance to the delicious fruit flavours – and nice to see the alcohol resting at 13% abv.

    Casa de Mouraz Branco 2019 is a terrific 15-grape variety field blend from the Dao in Portugal made by Antonio Lopes Ribiero and Sara Dionisio. Although two of the five wines they were showing were single varietals – Encruzado and Jaen – there were three delightful field blends, sympathetically made and looking the bees knees design-wise. I particularly liked the whites, this Branco being pure, fresh and clean but with some weight on the mid-palate from eight months ageing on fine lees.

    This is a medium-bodied dry wine, structured, with balanced acidity, fruit-driven with some complexity also. You pick up citrus notes, grapefruit, green apple with hints of honey and minerals. Great on its own or with a variety of gastronomic uses. It’s not every day you find a wine of this quality, getting 17 points from Jancis Robinson and clocking in at £11.67 trade price.

    It’s not just the standout branding of GLUP! Rosado 2020 that is distinctive and playful. This six-strong range of wines from Chile are all expressive, distinctive and made in a crunchy, gluggable style. Sourced from Grenache, Mouvedre and Pais vines in the Maule valley that are over 100 years old and grown on granitic soil, the Rosado is a field blend, whole bunch-pressed, aged in old French barrels for eight months and then bottled without stabilisation, fining or filtration. The nose is pretty, with violets and fresh red and black fruit. In the mouth the wine is fresh with a good degree of tension and texture, the acidity is well balanced, and there is a ‘green’ crunch and herbal quality to the finish. This range is produced by Vina Longavi, Bouchon and Nieuwoudt’s joint venture which is a steal at £10.49.

    Merlot is the most prodigious grape in the Languedoc and the easy drinking, well balanced organic approach signified by Bertrand’s naturalys label makes Gérard Bertrand, naturalys Merlot 2020 both a crowd-pleaser and a shoe-in to a whole raft of ontrade applications. The wine is steel-fermented with full malo. and then aged in steel for six months before bottling.

    To look at, the wine is deep red with cassis, strawberries, sweet spices and a touch of garrigue on the nose; the mouthfeel is smooth with plush, ripe tannins well integrated and balanced. Although the fruit is picked at full maturity the wine is not overripe and has fine, silky tannins. If you are interested in the sustainability of projects like this it is worth noting that the wine comes with Ecocert certification, the bottles are made lighter at 490 gms each, the labels are produced from recycled paper, low environmental impact corks are used as is raw cardboard. (POA)

    Catarina Soares, export manager Juvé y Camps

    Juvé y Camps ‘owns’ the Gran Reserva category in Cava, of course, and Juvé y Camps, Singular Xarel-Lo, Gran Reserva Brut Nature NV was one of four wines it was showing at the tasting, and was the most unique and gastronomic. It is made exclusively from Xarel-Lo grapes grown on loam/clay/limestone soils in the estate’s Espiells and Can Rius vineyards.

    The wine is aged for three years in the bottle which lends the nose a toasted bread and brioche quality, it is also floral with almond blossom and white flowers, there’s yellow stone fruit, fennel and a hint of tropical fruit also; the palate is equally complex with a creamy and rich, deceptively generous mousse, the texture is grainy and mineral-driven with saline and a lovely almond skin, bitter quality and a touch of aspirin on the finish. I liked this a lot and it would be great fun pairing food with it – think Catalan fish stews, rice dishes, vegetarian or braised chicken. (£14.31)

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