a handful of favourites
Quinta do Ermizio; Portugal
Vinho Verde DOC
Vinho Verde means 'green wine' but refers, in fact, to the region, Minho, just north of Porto, which is the most humid and green region in Portugal. Here, Loureiro and Alvarino are the main grape varieties, indigenous to the region. Loureiro brings structure and cooling acidity to the wine, while the semi-aromatic profile of Alvarino brings citrus and floral aromas. Serve chilled and expect a light fizz to add to the freshness.
Stanlake Park; Berkshire
Pinot Noir Rosé
Yup, that’s the one - 100% Pinot Noir grown and fermented in Berkshire. Stainless steel tanks used to preserve the intense strawberry and raspberry aromas. It’s England’s answer to a clean, crisp Provencal rosé for al fresco vibes - only better! It has more fruit intensity and definition, but with laser-sharp acidity that brings all the freshness, you need on a hot summer’s day. Plus I designed the label, so… maybe a bit biased...
Cantina Lunaria, Italy
Pet Nat, Ramoro, Pinot Grigio
Not your average Pinot Grigio. Pet Nat is short for Petillant Naturel (naturally sparkling), Ramoro means skin contact and Pinot Grigio is a grape variety with a slight pinky-grey-ish tinge to it. The wine starts it’s fermentation in contact with the grape skins, which adds a pink colour, along with a chewy texture and fruit intensity. Halfway through the fermentation, the wine is bottled and the fermentation finishes in the bottle, carbon dioxide dissolves into the wine, making it fizzy. When there is no sugar left, the yeast dies and can be seen as a cloudy sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Give it a gentle roll before serving.
Ch. Peybonhomme Les Tours; FR
Blaye Côtes de Bourg, Bordeaux
I usually avoid Bordeaux wines, as I find them overpriced and producers are slow to take up sustainable and organic farming, however, this Merlot dominant Bordeaux from the right bank, just North of the Gironde Estuary, has been certified Biodynamic since 2000. The wine is a supple blend of 75% Merlot with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec grown on limestone and clay soils in the Blaye sub-region. A mixture of red and black fruits on the nose with slight earthy notes and grippy tannins that create a chewy mouthfeel that make you crave another sip.
Stanlake Park; England
King's Fumé, Chardonnay
Nico and Natalia have been running this gorgeous little estate for just 2 years and have turned the direction and quality of the wines round astronomically. This unfiltered, oaked chardonnay has a depth of character and complex nose that you’d expect at the price point, but with a crunchy freshness that brings the harmony into balance. Watch this project go from strength to strength, while enjoying the juice with langoustine and chips.
A blend of Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay, with skin contact on the part of the Chardonnay, but 100% aged in Qvevri. A combination of the skins, the Qvevri and the laser-sharp English acidity that gives this wine the chewy, yet refreshing texture that makes you want more, more, more. Drink with caution, it’ll go quickly!
Archil Guniava; Georgia
Using the 3 white indigenous Grapes: Tsitska , Tsolikouri and Krakhuna, the wine is fermented and matured on the grape skins in a Qvevri (pictured on the label - a Qvevri is a type of Amphora, a clay pot traditionally used in Georgian wine production and buried underground to moderate the temperature and hide the wine from the Russians). During maturation, the wine draws colour, flavour and texture from the skins, making it amber/orange in colour giving it a chewy texture with light tannins, much like a red wine. For me, this wine tastes like dried orange, burnt caramel and Christmas spices. Serve chilled.
Xinomavro is the flagship red grape of Greece and is sometimes compared to Nebbiolo for it’s light colour, but full body, persistent tannins and generous acidity, that make them truly age worthy wines. This wine, from Naoussa, in the North of Greece, has aromas of ripe tomato, fresh red fruit, sage and plum paste. Spicy medium volume mouthfeel and tingly tannins indeed offer all the structure, suitable for ageing with a peppery and juicy aftertaste. Enjoy now or in
5 - 10 years.
Laibach, South Africa
This Bordeaux blend really packs a punch. It’s Cabernet Sauvignon dominant at 33%, which gives lots of acidity, tannin structure and black fruit aroma. The 27% Merlot is giving ripe red and black fruit aromas and makes the wine full-bodied. Generous amounts of Petit Verdot are further enhancing the depth of tannins and body of the wine. 15% Cabernet Franc gives a green bramble aroma and refreshes the tannins, while the 7% Malbec adds length to the tannins. A powerful wine which at this price is cracking value. Will benefit a decant before serving.
Chardonnay - Muscat
This Spanish wine is made up of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Muscat. The Chardonnay offers structure, acidity and body, while the Muscat adds a generous, but not overpowering, aromatic profile of Lychee, Mango, Rose petal and even Turkish delight. Serve chilled and enjoy with aromatic or spicy food.
Cantina Lunaria; Italy
Italy is homage to tannins and acidity in wines and Primitivo is the most important grape varietal in the South. Bitter dark chocolate dominates the nose and palate in this powerful Southern Italian wine, with wood spice, such as cinnamon and dried bay leaves. On the palate we have baked black cherry, lovely velvety tannins and a persistent finish.
Chile is an amazing source of excellent value wines, even at premium quality levels. This wine has a distinctive stalky-green aroma which pays tribute to Chile and the green bell pepper aroma associated with Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition, however, I was surprised by this wine, which has very ripe fruit and a gamey /cured meat aroma, with dense wood smoke. A real food wine; decant and pair with steak, venison and oxtail soup. Father's day on a budget.
This wine is a field blend of exotic grapes coming from ungrafted bush vines on the rugged volcanic soils of Taganana on the Northern tip of Tenerife. 50% of the wine undergoes a skin maceration which gives it a goldish colour with aromas of ripe peach, dried apricots & kumquat and a chewy, tannic texture. After blending, the wine is aged in old oak barrels for 10 months, which gives the wine an oxidative flavour of baked apples. The acidity is seemingly high, thanks to the tannins and the finish is saline, nutty and bitter orange. Serve chilled and don’t share with more than one person, as you’ll need another glass or two!
Stanlake Park; England
This wine is in fact a blend of multiple vintages, a tactic invented in cool climate Champagne to make up bad vintages. Here it’s a way of making a more complex English red wine. Not an easy thing to do. It’s ripe black cherry aroma and savoury smokey lamb is balanced with an inescapably ragingly high English acidity. I would serve this lightly chilled with a daytime BBQ. Think pulled pork burgers, smoked aubergine, bunting, sunburn, screaming kids and a juicy English red wine.
Cantine Paolini; Sicily
Nero d’Avola is a native grape of Sicily which produces a rounded, soft, plummy red wine. This wine is made from Organic grapes. It has a fresh and fruity aroma, harmonious on the nose with floral notes of rose and violet. On the palate it has a broad taste with velvety and elegant tannins. Pleasant and medium-long persistence. Ideal with hearty Italian pasta and light meaty lunches.
At Blackboys vineyard, they believe in making wines that taste like the vintage they were made in. 2013 had an early frost-free spring, which then led to a cool spell with very good, but very late, flowering weather. Grapes developed slowly with one of the latest harvests on record in modern times, with some growers still picking in mid-November. Not a great year for still wines but sparklers are long-lived as the fruity flavours took their time to develop whilst preserving that all-important acidity. Fresh strawberries and cranberries, balanced by a gentle aroma of boulangerie.
Truly traditional without unnecessarily lengthy ageing times or expensive marketing campaigns. Just decadently elegant and beautifully British.
Only 300 bottles made. In-law-worthy.
Gallimard Père et Fils
Champagne; Blanc de Noirs
I am a firm believer that small producers offer better value for money and higher quality than large recognisable names and never is this more true than in Champagne. This wine is from Les Riceys in the South of Champagne and made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes. The ‘vin de reserve’ is kept in old oak barrels rather than stainless steel tanks which offer slight oxygenation and create a yellow apple aroma to complement the ripe peach and nectarine. Think freshly baked tart with ripe crunchy apples, crispy pastry and tantalising acidity.