The Buyer
Elizabeth Gabay MW top picks from Daniel Lambert’s tasting

Elizabeth Gabay MW top picks from Daniel Lambert’s tasting

Daniel Lambert is just as bound to share a controversial viewpoint about the wine trade as he is to introduce buyers to new and exciting wines. Eschewing a London venue for his fifth portfolio tasting, and basing it in Bristol instead, Lambert believes that the wine trade is too London-centric and proved the point, he believes, with the outcome of the event. Elizabeth Gabay MW was there for The Buyer, talks to Lambert and picks out the interesting wines from the new producers on show.

Elizabeth Gabay
19th April 2023by Elizabeth Gabay
posted in Tasting: Wine ,

“As for the duty hike in August, it is easy to say that July should be a very big month…” says Daniel Lambert.

Marta Perez Molina, J Fernando Family Wines, Daniel Lambert tasting, Bristol, April 2023

The recent tasting of the Daniel Lambert Wines portfolio was the fifth edition and the first to be held outside London at the Paintworks in Bristol. Considering Lambert’s base in south Wales and his client reach across Wales and the west and north of England, the location made a lot of sense.

Lambert has always felt “the London-centric wine trade is totally out of touch with the rest of the UK. Even when we do host events in London most London merchants can’t be bothered to turn up due to the sheer volume of tastings held in London. This was the main driver for us NOT being in London. Moreover, being in Bristol was four times cheaper and, frankly, a much better venue and the result was we actually exceeded the number of visitors we were expecting. We will certainly be using the venue again.”

The event in Bristol, despite the cold, wet weather and a fire on the line at Reading had an almost 100% turn out of those who had registered attendance, indicating that the world of wine outside the capital is indeed thriving, with attendees from Scotland to Exeter, the Midlands and Wales. Most of those attending were small independents, with carefully curated wine lists largely appealing to loyal customers.

Over 30 producers were represented, some part of larger négociant groups. This was only a fraction of the portfolio with Lambert using the event to only show new vintages and new products omitting regions like Bordeaux, Rioja, South Africa and South-West France because these wines are all very well established now and were not new to the range.

Two of the new estates included Provence estates, Chateau Paquette and Domaine Valette, which – disclaimer here – I had introduced to Daniel Lambert and which I was presenting throughout the day. This also meant that, despite my best intentions, by the time I was able to walk around and taste – some wines had run out. I never made it to the Trefethen table but heard others raving about the wines.

Some favourites from the tasting

Daniel Lambert tasting, Bristol, April 2023

Champagne de St Gall’s Le Tradition NV with attractive ripe apples, marzipan, creamy richness and some gentle brioche fruit while its Orpale blanc de blancs grand cru 2008 has youthful pristine acidity with fresh citrus, herbal fruit, cream weight and toasty complexity.

Welsh estate Montgomery has a range of excellent sparkling and one still white wine, a blend of Solaris and Syval from the 2021 vintage with its rich, ripe, gooseberry fruit, creamy roundness and long vibrant acidity.

A range of Loire whites showed the diversity of the region. Vignoble Drouard’s Fief de l’Ancriere 2019 is an atypical Muscadet aged in chestnut barrels which had a Marmite reaction of love or hate. The fresh vibrancy of the Muscadet with firm wood structure created a wine with some interesting food-matching potential.

Domaine Philippe Raimbault’s Les Godons 2022 Sancerre has some delicate gooseberry fruit, and is primarily a weighty creamy version with some good leesy complexity and a touch of phenolics on the finish. Raimbault’s rosé Apud Sariacum 2021 is full of fresh red berry fruit and leafy notes and… noting the vintage, a reminder that Sancerre rosé is often better with a year of two (if not more) of age when the fruit fills out the palate.

Domaine Valéry Renaudat showed two very different whites. His Reuilly 2021 has creamy, leafy gooseberry freshness while his Quincy 2021 has charmingly delicious, honeyed florals and vibrant freshness. Fabien Murail’s Clos des Chaumes Fief Vendéens 2021, 90% Chenin Blanc with some Chardonnay is full of white florals, lemons and stone fruit with fresh leafiness on the finish while Domaine Chauveau’s Chenin 2022 from Coteaux Giennois has more mineral austerity, white stone fruit and long stony acidity.

Fernando Family Vineyards’ Sol Finca Navahermosa Sauvignon Blanc 2021 has fresh acidity, white peach, crisp crunchy apples and restrained minerality. Its Verdejo 2021 has lemon and grapefruit freshness, peach fruit and herbal notes. Lodi’s Bokisch Vineyards’s Terra Alta Albarino 2021 has salty, saline freshness with juicy peach fruit.

A range of Chardonnays included Domaine Lingot Martin’s Bugey 2021, with rich buttery, almost toffee aromas coupled with saline lemon minerality and soft apple fruit; contrasting with two Spanish Chardonnays. Enate’s Chardonnay 234 2021 is full of ripe tropical fruit lusciousness and Fernando Family Wines Sol Finca Navahermosa 2021 displaying ripe peachy fruit with chalky textured acidity. Westcott’s Estate Chardonnay 2020 shows similar peachy fruit with chalky acidity and some phenolic structure. Australian Hollick Estates’s Bond Road Chardonnay 2020 combines deliciously rich creamy toast and nuts with soft ripe fruit and fresh acidity.

Weingut Fritz Wallsmer showed a range of varieties, but the standout for me is their premium Spatburgunder M 2019. Pale intensity belied the intensity of silky cherry fruit, beautiful use of oak, mouth-watering acidity and overall elegance.

A range of Burgundian Pinot Noirs including Domaine de la Creuze Noire’s Les Champs de Voisin 2020, Coteaux Bourguignons is remarkable value with rich red cherry fruit, smooth tannins, and long, fresh, mineral acidity. Domaine Cornu Camus, Hautes Cotes de Nuits 2020 is full of intense vibrancy and dark fruit – violets, dark berries and exciting mineral edginess. His Savigny-les-Beaune 2020, is, in comparison, a classic example of how Burgundian Pinot Noir can be both delicate and silky and have intensity and structure.

Arloren’s Spirit of the Monastrell 2021 from Spain has salty, blue-black fruit, minerality and tight austerity, less rich than many fuller bodied Mourvedre or Jumilla Monastrell, its restrained freshness offering a mouth-watering appeal.

Bokisch Vineyards Tizona Petit Verdot 2018 has intense midnight blue fruit, velvety and lots of spice. Its Terra Alta Graciano 2018 has black chocolate, blue florals, fine minerality, supple, easy drinking tannins.

Calmel & Joseph’s La Fabrique 2021, an old vine Carignan is a serious example of what this variety can achieve with fresh black pepper, paprika, blue flowers and lovely structure. Packs a serious punch above its price. Its Pomone (orange wine) has pretty peach, orange peel, vanilla and orange blossom with a touch of salinity – an easy, approachable version of an orange wine for those not ready for the more tannic versions.

Lambert says his customers “are looking for value, quality and niche products. We can see within our own sales that Bordeaux seems to be having a tough time, yet Southern France and Spain are just getting bigger and bigger. We have seen good growth in the USA, even if this is being held back by the crazy lead times on shipping. As for the duty hike [in August], it is easy to say that July should be a very big month…”