Earlier this month, Bancroft Wines held its Spring Snapshot Tasting where clients and press came to try selected lines from the full portfolio. Who better to send than someone who is both a client and part of the wine press? Our very own Mike Turner tasted his way through nearly 100 wines and picked out his top picks for your lists this Spring and Summer including a Verdejo from Telmo Rodriguez, an unfiltered frizzante bianco from Veneto, and a ‘wild card’ acacia-aged red from Thessaly in Greece.
“The insanely concentrated flavours meant that I was still tasting it on the walk back to Kings Cross after I’d left the tasting,” Turner writes.
Of all the importers I use when I run my wine events with its accompanying online wine shop, I would say Bancroft Wines is probably the most well-known and widely distributed. I usually aim for the smaller, niche importers. That’s not me trying to ensure a weird and funky wine list, you just can’t afford to sell the same wines everyone else has. But with Bancroft, a mixture of some fun wines and an excellent and supportive sales team have meant that they’ve taken their place amongst the smaller and specialist importers I’ve used since starting my company.
I go to these snapshot tastings as both an interested member of the wine press, but also as a client looking to pick out wines for my next set of events or online offerings. The wines must taste good and have a good story, whilst also offering enough margin and sell-ability to make it worth my while to stock. With all that in mind, I’ve picked out a handful of wines from the Spring Snapshot tasting earlier this month to keep your eye on…
Great value wines
Basa Verdejo 2020, Telmo Rodriguez, Rueda, Spain
Although I’ve used the wines of Telmo Rodriguez for quite a few different tastings in the past, this was the first time I’d tried his Basa Verdejo. Telmo Rodriguez is a fairly well-known winemaker across Spain who, from his base in Rioja Alavesa, explores the lesser-known regions and grapes of Spain to produce some really interesting wines. This Verdejo is packed with fruit on the nose with red apples, peaches and guava popping out of the glass. When you drink it, there’s a lovely, coating, waxy texture that makes this a fun wine for the foodies out there amongst you. DPD £8.45
Les Cassagnes de la Nerthe Rouge 2019, Côtes-Du-Rhône Villages 2020, La Nerthe
Great value? At £14.25 DPD? I know, but this is a serious Côtes-Du-Rhône Villages from one of the oldest wineries in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It’s got both pedigree and super fresh and concentrated blueberries, blackberries, and violet petal notes. In the glass it’s got a really sexy purple hue, it just looks horrendously inviting. There are plenty of bang average Côtes-du-Rhône Villages wines out there, but this stands head and shoulders above. Well worth the money in my view. DPD £14.25
L’Ormarins Blanc De Blancs 2013, Anthonij Rupert Wyne, Western Cape, South Africa
I wasn’t holding out much hope when I got to the sparkling section and there were just seven wines to have a go at, three of which were empty bottles! But this Western Cape Méthode Traditionelle was where I started and where I kept coming back to. A fairly toasty wine, with bruised green fruit and stewed lemons, it’s beginning to get a touch of savoury complexity from the age. There is a lot of wine for your money here. DPD £12.95
Domaine Ostertag, Pinot Blanc Les Jardins 2019, Alsace, France
A truly fabulous Pinot Blanc from the famed Domaine Ostertag in Alsace. Father, André, has been a well-known personality in the biodynamic circles of Alsace for decades and, since 2017, son Arthur is carrying on that legacy. Pinot Blanc can often be relatively bland, but this really did blow me away on the day. Very bright and expressive on the nose, with green and stone fruits bursting through. The lees minerality (to add body) gives it another dimension when you drink it, but those fruit flavours persist for a long, pleasing finish. DPD £13.95
Casa E. Di Mirafiore, Barbera d’Alba Superiore 2019, Piedmont, Italy
Casa Di Mirafiore is one of Bancroft’s newest producers in the portfolio, an organic producer of top end Barolos from MGAs across Serralunga D’Alba and Barolo. A rule of thumb I use with Barolo producers is that their Dolcettos tend to be pretty damn good, as although the best vineyard space is used for Nebbiolo, the next best is often used for Dolcetto, due to its early ripening, making life a lot easier in the winery. Barbera D’Alba tends to be a touch overpriced. This was different. Although this is pretty toppy at £18.95 DPD, the Barbera was definitely the pick of the non-Barolos, with brooding ripe dark fruits, hints of liquorice, smoke, and a long luxurious finish. DPD £18.95
RB23 Brut Rosé NV, Exton Park, Hampshire, United Kingdom
Exton Park has always been one of my favourite producers of sparkling rosés from the UK and getting to try the RB23 just confirmed why. It’s so unbelievably fruity with sharp, well-defined strawberries, raspberries, and redcurrants. On the palate its cool climate acidic sharpness is balanced by the creamy mousse and leaves a long fruity finish. UK wines have to be good to command RRPs in the region of £45, but this one comfortably warrants it. DPD £27.95
Meth’Imon Acacia 2020, Dougos Winery, Thessaly, Greece
I picked this wine as my white wine Wild Card in the autumn tasting back at the end of 2021, and this tasting just confirmed how much I love it. Dougos is an organic winery based around 500m up in Thessaly, in the foothills of Mount Olympus. I love the glorious golden colour in the glass and the pronounced red apple, guava, pineapple, and honeyed lemon notes. This is one of those rare wines where it actually gets even more expressive when you drink it, combined with a touch of tannic grip from the acacia ageing. Wines from Greece are few and far between on wine lists in the UK, so this could really add some interest if your list needs a refresh. DPD £13.95
Domaine Jean Foillard, Morgon Cuvee Classique 2020, Beaujolais, France
It doesn’t look that impressive when I look down at my notes for this one. I’ve written a couple of other things, but it’s pretty much summed up by “red fruit and pencil shavings”. So why is it my top pick of the day? The insanely concentrated flavours meant that I was still tasting it on the walk back to Kings Cross after I’d left the tasting! The luscious fruit gave the wine plenty of mouthfeel to beautifully balance the refreshing acidity. Jean Foillard is one of the top names in the minimal intervention culture of Beaujolais, which gives you some great stories as well as a top wine. Probably my favourite wine of the day. DPD £16.45
INT3GRAL3 Frizzante Bianco Unfiltered NV, Veneto, Italy
Ahhhhh yes, the ol’ INT3GRAL3! I first came across this wine when I picked up a job lot on bin end offers in the middle of the pandemic. It caused a bit of a dilemma at Feel Good Grapes HQ as its unfined and unfiltered cloudy look is not what people are expecting when they buy a frizzante form Veneto. They want a Prosecco-style wine that’s nice and fruity and a touch of residual sugar to please the punters. This wine is fun, with savoury yeast notes and bitter lemon acidity. Potentially a tough sell, but if you’ve got some open-minded clients looking for something new to crack open with a cheese board or as an aperitivo, then this is well worth having a look at. DPD £9.25
Mike Turner runs Feel Good Grapes, an e-commerce and online tastings company showcasing the increasingly sustainable practices in the wine industry. To contact him use this address: firstname.lastname@example.org