Wine consultant, chef and international judge, Roger Jones is well placed to give his verdict on the Fells annual portfolio tasting. The very full house was testament to the re-awakening on-trade, but also the generosity of the importer which always shows older vintages and larger formats to help sommeliers see where upselling opportunities may lie. Amongst the wines that Jones picks out are The Laird 2010, Tom Cullity 2014, and Vilafonté Seriously Old Dirt 2019.
“A rumble in the jungle, this wine is just waiting to deliver with layers of complexity, dark black fruit, toast and spice, intense clusters of blackberries – I would love to see this in a decade,” Jones writes.
The sun was shining as were the wines, as Fells continues to showcase the very best of its range including both mature wines and large formats to highlight the benefits of both and allow their Trade clients to upsell to their customers.
There were some fabulous white wines at the annual portfolio tasting including Rieslings from both New and Old World, French Chenin Blancs, Hunter Valley Semillons and some classy bubbles from Tasmania. On the reds we cross the globe looking at superlative reds in magnums including a magnum of the truly iconic The Laird 2010 from Torbreck served from magnum with a RRP of £1,300.
It is essential to educate restaurateurs in highlighting how important aged wines (and wines in magnums) is in upselling and to enhance their customers’ experience, as a part of getting the On Trade back on its feet. Even so one must congratulate Fells in being so generous at these tastings.
I confess I did have to bite my lip as I waited patiently in line to enter the tasting whilst two ‘On Traders’ held up the registration desk as they had failed to pre-register and were in “desperate need of coffee after a 2 hour train journey” and then asked what time lunch was served and what was on offer (!). Happily an hour later I did see them try their first wine.
My pick of the white wines
Famille Hugel Gentil 2019 RRP £14.99
27.1% Gewurtztraminer, 27.1% Sylvaner, 16.4% Riesling, 15.9% Pinot Gris, 7% Muscat, 6.5% Pinot Blanc
The components of this wine change every year, to ensure that they achieve the best possible balance. This is a great gentle introduction to their wines combining the attributes of each grape to give an aromatic, fresh wine that oozes charm – a multi-purpose wine that not only is a great aperitif, but combines well with shellfish.
Famille Hugel Riesling Classic 2019 RRP £20.49
Classic Alsace Riesling at its best, refined, balanced and such elegance. The great thing about this wine is that it is such an easy wine to drink, and therefore a great introduction to give to guests who may be new to Riesling. It is all about being focused with the balance between citrus freshness and texture.
Famille Hugel Pinot Gris Classic 2019 RRP £20.99
With Burgundy hitting big prices, you have here a wine that oozes class, with a full-bodied structure but with that refined citrus acidity that makes it a perfect, great value, quality wine to match the finest of restaurant dishes. It delivers a beautiful experience in the mouth – pears and apples, a hint of peeled nectarines, brioche – rich but that refreshing finish enticing another glass.
Famille Hugel Riesling Grossi Laue, 2012 RRP £57.49
This 2012 was released after the 2013 as it had been late in evolving, but it certainly was worth the wait, and so important that Hugel held it back till it was ready; this is stunning, textured and layered, highlighting how grand Alsace Riesling can become, from the very best sites and with age. This is a classic ‘dry’ Riesling that is concentrated, focused and perfect with food, think Cornish hake, chorizo and wild garlic.
Famille Hugel Riesling ‘Schoelhammer’ 2010 RRP £118
Purity and focus, this Single Vineyard Riesling is a remarkable wine and drinking well – lemon citrus curd lifts this rich, layered, complex wine, leaving a lovely precise mouthfeel.
Famille Hugel Gewürztraminer, Vendage Tardive 2010 RRP £67.49
Hugel were the forerunners on late harvest wines, and this spectacular wine from the outstanding 2010 vintage is thickly set with a bevy of ripe white nectarines and peaches, golden sultanas, apricots and rhubarb, textures of sauce anglaise, freshened with jasmine, acacia honey, and hints of oriental fruit such as lychees.
Famille Hugel Gewürztraminer Selection de Grains Nobles 2000 RRP £144
Stunning nectar of a wine, white truffles, succulent, essence of white peaches, rich apricots, dried juicy fruits, fresh ripe clean acidity. Pure elegance and opulence.
De Ladoucette Pouilly-Fumé 2019 RRP £35.49
With a shortage of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, why not upgrade to this classy Pouilly-Fumé? This is elegant, refined on the palate with tiny clusters of flavours gentle evolving from the palate – hints of oriental flavours from mango to herbal teas – there is also a charming texture to it.
De Ladoucette Baron de L. 2018 RRP £77.99
Pure Sauvignon Blanc at its best, restrained, mineral, then it just sits on your palate, gentle giving aromatics of clementine zest, refreshing pink grapefruit, white flowers, with peeled pear william flesh.
Marc Bredif Vouvray 2019 RRP £19.99
With South Africa having highlighted the quality in Chenin Blanc, it is worth remembering the quality of Chenin available from the Loire. This Vouvray is bright, charming and delivers a floral but crisp wine, brimming with class, citrus lime curd, apricots, pears and quince jelly… beautiful.
Marc Bredif Vouvray 2009 RRP £24
This Chenin has a further 10 years of ageing and is quite stunning – a bargain to have on your list – the precision of the orchard fruit is superb – pear william, juicy apricots straight from Antibes market, delicate honey and an oriental-infused citrus freshness.
Jansz Tasmania Premium Cuvée NV RRP £19.99
Sourced from across Tasmania, Jansz continue to excel in making refined sparkling wine, fresh bright and clean with delicate stone fruit, a controlled fizz and a lingering, fresh palate.
Jansz Tasmania Premium Rosé NV RRP £19.99
One of the best New World sparkling rosés, this has texture and vibrancy; delicate red berries give it a lift, whilst the stone fruit keeps it savoury and serious. Perfect as an appetiser or with food such as BBQ shoulder of lamb, the freshness of the wine cutting through the fatty sweet meat.
Jansz Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 RRP £52
This stunning single vineyard sparkling from Pipers River is only produced in exceptional years, and is truly outstanding, with remarkable purity. Less than 3,000 bottles of this wine was made, matured on the lees for 6 years, sea spray, honey, brioche, lemon peel, a real classy Grand Marquee Champagne style, I just wished they had not put it in a clear bottle.
Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling 2021 RRP £16.99
The Pewsey Vale Vineyard is dedicated to just making superb New World Riesling, this 2021 is funky, bright, refreshing, lemon and lime with herbaceous flower buds, great with oysters, Thai food or simply with a few cashew nuts.
Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Contours 2015 RRP £27.90
Citrus and floral nose with a waxy feel, lime marmalade with toasted brioche, textured layered, this has a wonderful mouthfeel that excites. One of the best New World Rieslings, drink now on release at seven years of age or watch it evolve over another decade or more.
Tyrrell’s Hunter Valley Semillon 2021 RRP £19.99
Gentle stone fruit and apricots with a mellow feel, buttercups and willow, gentle herbs and spring flowers, fresh and precise with a backbone.
Tyrrell’s HVD Single Vineyard Semillon 2015 RRP £30.99
This is fresh and forward, lovely purity and precision, gripping with perfect fruit, linear, mineral, chalk and wet stone, sourced from a vineyard planted in 1908, called Sign Post Block.
Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon, Library Release, 2008 £77
The purity and quality of this aged Semillon is breathtaking, and it will continue to excel over the next few decades.
Tyrrell’s Johnno’s Basket Pressed Semillon 2014 RRP £63
I have been collecting this wine for some years now, and they excel with age. The vineyard was planted in 1908, and is situated in front of the winery. The basket pressing ensures only the purest free-run juice goes into this sublime Semillon, the purity is quite breathtaking.
My pick of the red wines
Vilafonté Seriously Old Dirt 2019 RRP £29.99
This second wine of Vilafonté’s Series M and C offers exceptional value and quality, 85% Cab Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 6% Malbec and 3% Cabernet Franc deliver a wine that is easy to drink whilst giving that Bordeaux elegant style, fruit-forward but restrained, velvety on the mid-palate with dark, black fruits brooding, Christmas cake spice, cedar and spice. This will also age well.
Vilafonté Series C 2019 RRP £82.49
A rumble in the jungle, this wine is just waiting to deliver with layers of complexity, dark black fruit, toast and spice, intense clusters of blackberries – I would love to see this in a decade.
Chryseia 2015 RRP £125 in magnum
This joint venture between Bordeaux (Bruno Prats) and Portugal (The Symington family) is made from 65% Touriga Nacional and 35% Touriga Franca, and regarded as one of Portugal’s finest non-fortified wines. The juicy forward fruit, lightens up the palate with dark cherries, roasted plums, tea and rose petals – silky and elegant on the finish.
The Caley, Yalumba 2012 RRP £539 per magnum
The classic Aussie Claret, Cabernet Sauvignon (both Coonawarra and Barossa) and Barossa Shiraz blend. I was delighted to retry this inaugural release as I have quite a few cases in the cellar, and the benefit of being in a magnum has raised the level another notch. It still needs time but this savoury, delicate, spiced, precise wine is gently growing, exotic oak, five spice, polished. Drink from 2025 and will evolve for decades.
RunRig, Torbreck Vintners 2014 RRP £184
Aged dry-grown vineyards, giving a luxurious, spiced, intense perfection – it is focussed, fragrant, think top Côte-Rôtie with an Aussie kick.
The Laird, Torbreck Vintners 2010 RRP £1,313 per magnum
Sourced from The Gnadenfrei vineyard in the Barossa sub-region of Marananga, which was first planted in 1958 and is a five acre site, dry grown, aged in Dominique Laurent’s ‘Magic Casks’. 2010 is recognised as one of the best and this superlative Shiraz is truly one of those wines that you will remember trying, especially from magnum. Exotic spice, meaty, bilberries and blueberries, stunningly good.
Tom Cullity, Vasse Felix 2014 RRP £248 per magnum
Rich red fruit, cranberries and cherries, bright and focused, there is a lovely freshness to this, it has power and intensity, balanced by the fresh ocean breeze. There is a background of stone, earthiness from mushrooms and delicate truffles, cedar but, above all, it is pretty seamless and perfect, especially in magnum.
Coleraine, Te Mata, 2015 RRP £162 per magnum
54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. First produced in 1982, this classic Bordeaux style delivers perfection, clean and seductive on the mid-palate, focused with restrained clean fruit, blackcurrant, blackberry and damsons, rich and textured but perfectly balanced by the acidity. Drinking well now but will evolve well over the next decade or so.
Clients interested in buying the more exclusive wines detailed above should contact Richard Girling, Fine Wines Director, 01442 870900 who will give you indicative prices.