One of the highlights of Davy’s portfolio tasting held at the Over-Seas League in February was a table boasting just 11 wines which were all limited edition, small volume, artisanal wines that, in order to have first dibs at, you actually had to come to the tasting and put an order in.
A first ever bottling, a final vintage, a first time allocation, a single wine estate and the most Southerly Tempranillo grown in the world were all highlights of the Small is Beautiful table at Davy’s portfolio, on-trade focused tasting.
I do love the venues that the wine industry finds for its tastings.
On the one hand you have the edgy, warehouse-style conversions in the East End favoured by the indies. At the polar opposite you have the Royal academies and societies that ooze old school colonial charm with old duffers dozing off in armchairs while Denholm Elliott-lookalike butlers clear away their port glasses.
For its annual portfolio tasting Davy’s had chosen very much one of the latter. So old school was the Royal Over-Seas League in Mayfair that overseas was spelt in a way that feels like it went out of common usage centuries ago.
On the walls of the hallways are paintings and adverts that come from another time.
Given the fact that Davy’s has been operating since 1870 and is London’s oldest family-owned wine merchant, the long-established Royal Over-Seas League seemed entirely appropriate a venue.
The fact that ROSL is a private members club ‘dedicated to championing international friendship and understanding’ also fitted in with the mood of bonhomie and a personal touch.
‘Small is Beautiful’ – a limited edition tasting table
The tasting was 31 well chosen tables that boasted ranges of wines from single estates, countries, regions, categories and spirits. There was also an interesting masterclass from Raimond Prüm that will be featured at a later date.
Davy’s, incidentally, has two thirds of its overall business wrapped up in the wine bars and one third in wholesale – this tasting being a part of that and a recently re-vamped on-trade focus.
But of all the tables showing wines I was most taken by one called ‘Small is Beautiful’.
There were only 11 wines on show but they were all worth taking note of.
All of the wines were selected because they are of limited production – in some cases Davy’s only has 200 bottles – have a story to tell and are drinking well now.
Because of the wines’ uniqueness, Davy’s was not only using the tasting to showcase them but also to sell them. Sommeliers impressed by them (of which there were many I talked to) had the first opportunity at securing them right there and then.
Six of the best from the Small is Beautiful table
Masia Carreras Blanc, Empordà, Spain 2013, £13
A blend of Carignan Blanc, Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc made in Catalonia. The nose is rich and complex with herbs, nuts and anise and the palate has got wonderful texture and minerality with honey and citrus fruit on the finish. One of the wines of the tasting and only 360 bottles available.
Vacqueyras Blanc, Château des Roques, Rhône, France 2015, £11.25
A blend of Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Viognier made in the spectacular 2015 vintage. The nose is classic white Rhône with stone fruit and white flowers, on the palate there are flowers, oranges and a nice dry finish.
Miquel Merino Mazuelo de la Quinta Cruz, Rioja, Spain 2011 (unfiltered) £16.23
This Mazuelo made in Rioja is already distinct, the extra selling point of the Davy’s table was that they have one unique barrel that is unfiltered. The nose is profound – intense, rich black fruit. On the palate black cherries, balsamic, spice. There is a lovely intensity but also great structure and fine integration of wood.
Catherine’s Block Tempranillo, Waipara, New Zealand, 2013, £13.17
The first vintage of this, most Southerly produced Tempranillo in the world was in 2011. The nose is quite bestial and, as you might expect the fruit is thin and acidity high. A contemporary style.
Edition Limitada Mencia, Viña Albares, Castilla Y León, Spain 2007, £22.50
The second to last vintage of this 100% Mencia comes from vines that date up to 150 years old. Gorgeous nose of morello cherries, black cherries, plums and a (surprisingly) light palate, savoury, herbs, spices, tightly wound tannins.
Muscat Grand Cru Froehn, Jean Becker, Alsace, France, 2015, £16.86
After much asking this is the first time that Davy’s has had an allocation of this medium-dry sparkler from a winemaking family that dates back to 1610. Only 120 bottles, mind, which will be snapped up pretty quick I fancy. Lovely lifted aromatics, great depth and layers of fruit.
All of the wines are available through Davy’s (wholesale)