The Not So Wild Bunch

POSTED ON 17/10/2015

‘With new cellars opening, the development of mobile-friendly wine lists, a book with a new take on learning about wine, and the opening of several retail outlets, there is a constant buzz about us’. If the term independent wine merchant has a stuffy old fogey, pinstripe and Pall Mall gentleman’s club ring to it, the six-strong wine merchant group, The Bunch, made the point at this autumn’s tasting that established doesn’t necessarily have to mean establishment.

Showing that they have seamlessly moved from 19th to 21st century is clearly a virtue, but there’s more to good independents than keeping up with the times. The Bunch’s autumn selection of wines with Christmas in mind illustrated that the wine merchant’s job of marrying inspiring wines of character with in-depth ranges, good customer service and the modern virtues of internet shopping are the aces up their Savile Row sleeve.

For the traditional, and modern, few wine merchants can match Berry Bros., which put its best foot forward with an inspirational white burgundy-style Chilean chardonnay, the opulent, complex and restrained 2012 Pandolfi Price Los Patricios Chardonnay, £19.75, from Chile’s deep south. Not for faint hearts, the distinctive sherry-whiff honeyed nuttiness of the saltily dry 2011 Arbois Savagnin, £31, makes it a quirky masterpiece; and from Sardinia, the 2013 Nerominiera, Enrico Esu, Carbonia, £15.95, is a fragrant, succulently moreish damson-filled rosso.

Lea & Sandeman showed its class in a stylish, rich and complex 2011 Saint Aubin 1er Cru La Chatenière, Hubert Lamy, £39.95, but equally Domaine Treloar’s good value 2011 Three Peaks GSM, Côtes du Roussillon, £11.95, a satisfyingly full-flavoured rioja in the pure, berry-fruity 2012 Graciano, Bodegas Casa Primicia, £12.95, and sweetly voluptuous, sour cherry-savoury 2012 Rosso di Montalcino, Ginestreto Fuligni, £20.95. Corney & Barrow showed Plaimont’s distinctive 2013 Folie de Roi Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec, £9.95, and a surprisingly approachable Bordeaux classic, the 2010 Château Rauzan-Gassies, £42.50.

West of England’s Tanners came up with some beauties, notably the approachably fresh and peachy 2014 Susana Sempre Blanco from Mallorca, £10.95, and a classic mulberryish, mineral 2013 Allegracore Etna Rosso, Romeo del Castello, £19.50. The biggest surprise was an intensely flavoured, , meursault-like 2014 Three Valleys Branco, Douro White, from Cristiano van Zeller, £23.95, the best, the great Dönnhoff’s lusciously rich 2011 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese, £38.95.

From Somerset-based Yapp Brothers, stars included a spicy, sweetly dark berry-fruited 2012 Saint Chinian Les Truffières, Château Milhau-Lacugue, £13.75, and a classically elegant, spice and pepper-scented 2012 Côte La Viallière, Domaine Champet, £33. By no means least, Southwold’s Adnams showed that wine merchants can do great value too, a case in point being the juicily savoury 2014 Adnams Selection Chianti, Fattoria San Donato, £8.99, and the 2012 Petite Sirah, Pali Wine Co., £12.99, a spicy powerhouse California red.

Something for The Weekend 17 October 2015

Night In

2014 Extra Special Fiano

From the reliable, giant co-operative of Cantine Settesoli in Sicily, this is a refreshing, seafood-friendly dry white made from the southern Italian Fiano grape with floral bouquet and juicy apple and peach fruit with a twist of crisp acidity. £7.30, Asda.

Dinner Party

2015 Old Bush Vine Chenin Blanc Lot 07 Series

A wine from Aldi’s new upmarket Lot Series, this is a Cape blend showing complex aromatics and deliciously opulent guava and peachy fruit supported by subtle notes of toasty oak and zesty dry finish. £9.99, Aldi.

Splash Out

2011 Taste the Difference Barolo

From the family winery of Cantine Ascheri in Piedmont, this good value, mahogany-hued red made from the nebbiolo grape shows typical floral fragrance and a succulently ripe cherry and plum fruitiness defined by classic, textured grip and freshness. £16, Sainsbury’s.

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