The amazing selection of red wines which are currently on the wine list.
13 Joseph Mellot ‘Destinea’ Pinot Noir, Loire Valley, 2018, 13%, Vg 4.70 22.00
How do we go about actually selecting the wines on this list? Well it’s not easy I tell you now, take this very wine for instance. I had to canoe from Pouilly (home of Pouilly-Fume) five kilometres down the River Loire to the town of Sancerre with four other hardy souls, in baking sunshine. Along the way we stopped five times and consumed industrial amounts of goats cheese and bread along with five bottles of wine, all in the name of research! This was one of those wines and it really stuck in my mind, this was stop number three and what I was craving was something chilled and refreshing and we were given red wine! But it is refreshing and it was chilled and it was oh so pretty with the most amazing brightness of fruit with a really crunchy palate and then a proper fruit compote of strawberries and black cherries. It doesn’t want serving chilled all the time as I find that it is all about the weather and situation and I don’t think that you’ll get the same effect canoeing down the Huddersfield canal in September. Superb wine.
14 Kloster Eberbach Estate Pinot Noir, Rheingau, Germany 2016, 13% 7.50 34.00
It’s only recently that this wine has had the grape variety shown as Pinot Noir instead of the proper German title which is Spatburgunder. Nowadays German wine gets a rough ride in the UK and the idea that German red wines even exist seems like nonsense. But if you look properly at German wine you will not only find some of the very best wines on the planet but you will also find some of the very best value. Whilst this beautifully elegant and gentle wine is hardly everyday quaffing price-wise it is hard to think of a Pinot Noir from anywhere that is this good for this money. Fresh, earthy, juicy, long and complex this is serious Pinot Noir but with a wonderfully approachable side. If you think that they are wimping out by using the international moniker then rest assured it is only for this wine as the big brother of it is called ‘Kloster Eberbach Crescentia Hollenburg Spatburgunder Trocken, snappy hey?
15 Fleurie La Madone, Beaujolais, France 2018, 13% Vg, 4.60 21.00
This is Beaujolais. This is not Beaujolais Nouveau. There we are that’s the distinction out of the way, those Nouveau wines gained the region plenty of fame but also plenty of notoriety for wines which had more in common with the aromas of nail polish remover. This wine comes from Fleurie, one of the 10 different Beaujolais ‘Cru’ and it has all the hallmarks of classic Beaujolais. There is that deep black cherry fruit with dark chocolate notes and the tell-tale acidity which comes from the carbonic maceration. This is the particular process which creates this style and is not to be confused with masonic carbonation which I think is a fizzy handshake.
16 Domaine Terres Georges ‘et Cetera’, Minervois, 2017, 14.5% 4.10 18.00
Carignan, Syrah, Grenache
This is the wine, yes read the rest but this is the wine you should drink. Wine is a simple joy it is grapes crushed and fermented and bottled and it has been happening for five thousand years and the warm feeling it gives us is part of its charm. Here we have a wine made to be enjoyed in its simplest form, to be drunk with good company, to be enjoyed with good food, a wine which revels in its rustic authenticity. Lovingly crafted by Roland Coustal from his vineyards in Minervois, an appellation that lies just outside Carcassonne, he describes this wine as being like him ‘simple’ but this does both him and the wine a disservice as what it actually is is ‘charming’, just like Roland.
17 Yalumba ‘Samuels Garden’ Bush Vine Grenache, Barossa Valley, Australia 2018 14.5% 5.60 26.00
Grenache is a grape which likes to grow and will very happily produce huge quantities of fruit which makes it great for making bulk wine. But if you want to make great wine then you have to be a little mean to Grenache, you have to make it work. So whereas you would trellis most vines to allow plenty of sun to get in it is best to just grow Grenache like a bush. This offers a little protection from the sun and slows things down a little and the result is much less fruit and much more quality. This wine is a riot, just filled to the brim with super juicy vibrant bright red fruit. There’s such a soft suppleness to this wine that is just amazing along with just a dash of spice. When Bridget first tasted this in London earlier this year her face immediately lit up, it’s that sort of wine, it puts a smile on your face.
18 Chateau Leoville Barton 2eme Cru Classe Saint-Julien, Bordeaux, 2008, 13% 28.00 140.00
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc
Ooh! Get me with my lardy-di-da, big name wines, but why not. Seriously top notch, big name claret is in huge demand the world over and so there is no surprise that the prices are high and by the bottle they can be a little prohibitive price wise. So I thought that by offering it by the glass it might become a little more accessible and then you would have the chance to see what the fuss is all about. This is a wonderfully well-structured Cabernet blend with flavours of cassis, black cherry and cedar. It is wonderfully well structured, with some serious depth of flavour and complexity. Is it worth it? Well a ticket to see Michael Buble costs more than a ticket to see The Proclaimers, both wonderful to listen to it’s just supply and demand.
19 3 Ases Ribera del Duero Crianza, Spain 2014 14.5% 6.10 28.00
One of my fondest memories of drinking Ribera del Duero was sitting in an armchair, on top of a bed, in a hotel room in Rioja, at one in the morning. It was one of those nights which had followed one of those days which had involved tasting an awful lot of wine. But there’s the thing even at that stage of that day I can still remember that wine and that’s because the really lovely wines of Ribera del Duero have something about them, something truly memorable. This deliciously deep Crianza has those delicious hallmarks of rich, brooding fruit with a little Christmas cake spice and then that depth is only added to with 18 months ageing in barrel to add even more creamy, smoky layers. A gorgeous bottle of wine whatever chair you’re sat in at whatever time of night.
20 Chateau Musar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2012, 14.5% 7.00 41.00
Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan
This estate is rightly one of the most famous in the world and its wines are renowned for their distinctive style and ability to age. For me Chateau Musar is the home of the most individual vintage reports that you will ever read. For most wineries a vintage report will tell you about the weather, the 1991 vintage report from Chateau Musar, featured the line ‘took dog-leg to avoid Syrians’. As novel as this may be it also shows you that despite the troubles that afflict some countries life still goes on, the Chateau has only been unable to produce two vintages and that was due to shrapnel in the fruit during transport. This wine is a beauty, all rich, complex stewed fruits with little spicy notes bouncing around. It will age for another two or three decades but with release always being 7 years from vintage it is also really rather drinkable now.
21 Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos, Campo de Borja, Spain, 2017, 15% 5.80 26.00
At last! A Yorkshire wine, huzzah. Well it’s obviously not from grapes grown in the rolling Dales but Tres Picos does translate as Three Peaks and that’s Yorkshire enough for me. The name relates to the three wineries which make up the Bodegas Borsao and this wine represents the pinnacle of their efforts. Made using Garnacha fruit from 60 year old vines planted at high altitude that produce wonderful intense, low yielding fruit. This ensures the wine has a delicious depth of fruit, a real intensity and that wine is then allowed to age in French oak for several months and then bottled and unleashed on to you, the drinker. What a joy this is, it is so deep, soft, rich, almost creamy with such a weight of warming black fruit. I reckon it’s best described as like sitting in front of a roaring fire, in a pub in the back of yonder, after a having spent the day walking around the Dales in bracing weather. It’s that sort of comforting.
22 Colombo et Fille Cornas, Rhone Septentrional, 2015, 14% 10.00 52.00
Laure Colombo is utterly lovely and her joyful spirit is present in all of her wines and that is a very, very good thing. Laure has wine in her veins, growing up in Cornas on the family estate wine has always been part of her life, although like many she tried to escape the family business and went travelling the world, I tried it too and ended up down a sewer, true story. But when it’s part of your very fabric then the calling always drags you back, for Laure this happened one day in Delhi. This property is independent from the family estate, Jean-Luc Colombo, and shows that even at such a young age she is a serious talent. Growing up in Cornas you would expect her to truly understand the vines and she obviously does as that is evident in every drop of this wine. Old vine Syrah produced in that classic Northern Rhone style, all deep, deep leathery sweet perfume and the richest of fruits with that lovely white pepper finish. This is a wine with many, many layers. As an aside Laure has recently qualified as a bee keeper and the property has plenty of hives, after all without bees wineries would be in a lot of trouble.
23 Nugan Estate Dry Grape Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia 2016, 14.5% 6.10 28.00
Amarone, when done right, is a thing of opulent beauty and one of Italy’s most famous wines. So if it’s that much fun why doesn’t anyone else have a go at it? Well that’s exactly what Nugan Estate have done, this is Aussie Shiraz given the Amarone spin. The grapes are harvested and then allowed to bunch dry and then gently crushed and aged to produce this absolute belter. What is really lovely is that whilst this wine is opulent, velvety, rich and commanding it is not a brute. It isn’t aggressive, with that weight of fruit, instead it is actually very approachable with a really soft, spicy sweetness to all of that rich black fruit. Just a ridiculously tasty wine.
24 The Liberator Episode 20/20 Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics, Stellenbosch, South Africa 2016, 14.5% 12.50 56.00
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
This wine is a sham! Now that isn’t the normal way to start a positive tasting note but it’s the truth. This wine was crafted by the ‘World’s Greatest Living Winemaker’ not my words but the words of Andre Van Rensburg, the winemaker. It’s got a medal on it that states that it has been awarded 110 points, out of 100! That’s the thing this whole wine is a vinous grumble against the world of awards, trophies, ratings and the cult of the winemaker. So that’s the idea behind the label but what is the wine like? Well Andre is indeed a very, very talented winemaker and after a drink or two a very lively ‘character’ and he also happens to be the head winemaker at Vergelegen, one of South Africa’s oldest and most respected wineries. This comes from a tiny run of just 300 bottles and it reflects the Bordeaux style for which Vergelegen are rightly famous. It is bold and deep and rich and structured and you definitely know that you have a wine with some power in front of you. So let it mellow a touch in the glass and know that with every glass there is even less available in the world because as with all the Liberator series this wine is a one off.