I’ve always found that BinTwo customers are interested in the stories behind our wines. But generally within the trade there’s increased interest from customers in the way the wines they buy are made. This has encouraged, in some instances, an almost cult like reverence for terms such as natural, organic and biodynamic. But it’s often far from clear what these terms mean and whether winemakers are applying them consistently.
Over the winter we’ve worked hard to source some great wines that are organic, biodynamic and even vegan. Although we’ve struck up partnerships with some fantastic new suppliers and winemakers along the way, it perhaps shouldn’t have surprised me that some of our existing winemakers have been quietly making wines that fit into this space for some time. They just haven’t marketed them as such because no-one’s been that bothered.
If you’ve read our interview with Joe Fattorini about natural wines, then you’ll know I’m not convinced about that particular ideology. But we’ve tried to get under the hood of these increasingly common terms to help us make smarter choices about the wines we can offer to those of you who are interested. What hasn’t changed is that we continue to hunt down interesting wines that taste great, that are made by people who love what they do and that have a compelling story to tell.
Here, writing for Imbibe, freelance wine writer Darren Smith does a first rate job of de-mystifying ten on trend wine trade buzz words. If it’s fired up your interest, then look out for our upcoming events featuring biodynamic wines on 26th May and minimal intervention wines from South Africa on 15th June…
A selection of wines to pair with Spring time dishes and others to simply enjoy on their own! We’re also delighted to introduce some exciting new additions in this months case including our ‘Wines We Love’, a new Organic Sicilian white. Happy Easter!
‘Logis de la Bouchardière’ Chinon 2015 £12.50
This is a deliciously succulent mid-weight red which has seen a touch of old-oak ageing. Fragrant, fruity and herbaceous combine with supple tannins and lengthy finish. A stylish, great value and very tasty Chinon indeed!
Bruno Sourdais is at the helm of The Logis de la Bourchardière, a domaine dating back to 1850 with its oldest vines being over 100 years old. The fruit for this Chinon come from grapes from some of the younger vines, approx 30 year old.
It just has to be Charcuterie.
Rebel Canyon Merlot 2016 £9
This new addition is a hit. Not only is it great value but it lives up to Merlot expectations, juicy fruit, ripe plums and dark cherries, soft tannins, rich and smooth, an easy drinking drop.
You’ll find no oak here just bags of fruit. The dark-skinned Merlot grapes reach optimum ripens in the Californian climate, Rebel blends Merlot fruit from different growers to make a rounded juicy wine with balance and elegance.
The perfect evening partner!
Bodegas Murviedo Bobal Cepas Viejas £12.50
Utiel Requena, Spain
Aromatic and bursting with flavour. Forest fruit characters sit alongside a little spice, vanilla and mocha notes. This red has plenty going on… structure, silky tannins, fruity yet fresh with a long and pleasantly dry finish.
The Bobal variety thrives in extreme conditions, long hot sunny days and cool nights, the result for these old vines is a low yet very high quality yield of fruit. After fermentation the wine is aged in new American and French oak for 8 months.
A great match for a Lamb roast.
Val D’Oca Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior, Rive Di Colbertaldo NV £15.50
A beautifully fine, dry and lively sparkling, layers of flavour, depth and finesse. Soft and appley with just the right amount of zing to get your taste buds tingling. It is rich in both aroma, flavour and structure.
The best grapes from the Colbertaldo area are carefully selected and hand-picked to make this delicious and favourite Prosecco.
For Easter time festivities or to pop open as soon as the springtime sun shines! Fabulous with shellfish.
Da Vero Vino Biologico White 2017 £8
Bright and crisp. Ripe stone fruits, citrus and zippy acidity makes for a fab combination and a very versatile light white.
Sicily’s dry climate is conducive to Organic agricultural practises and the vines for Da Vero have been grown organically since 2005. The fruit is fermented at a cool temperature and aged in stainless steel tanks retaining aromatics, acidity and freshness of fruit.
Pre-dinner nibbles suits this white just fine. Seafood or risottos are the go if you want to give this white a pairing.
Domaine Pré Baron Sauvignon Blanc 2016 £10.50
Touraine, Loire Valley
Our faithful friend, Pré Baron Sauvignon Blanc is a classic Touraine Sauvignon and a beautifully refreshing springtime wine. Intensely aromatic, herbaceous and fruity nose. The palate is bursting with gooseberries, fresh and zingy.
The best fruit is selected and hand-picked from 25 year old vines. After a slow three week fermentation the wine is aged on the lees until bottling in the Spring.
Enjoy with a Spring chicken dish or as a nicely chilled glass whilst cooking the dinner!
This month we gave free reign to David to choose a favourite wine from the shelves as our Wines We Love choice. And what a belter he’s gone for! A favourite of Kate’s and one of the best kept secrets in the shop hailing, as it does, from our cousins across the pond…
Qupé Syrah 2014, Central Coast, California, £24 (just £21.60 to club members)
California has much to offer the wine lover – and in the UK we only really scratch the surface of what’s on offer, with very few exceptions. In spite of this, at BinTwo we have always had a little corner of US goodness comprising a few carefully chosen bottles that complement our strengths elsewhere. As a part-organic and part-biodynamic winery, Qupé (pronounced kew-PAY) fits that bill nicely. I’ve described the open nature and texture of such wines in previous tasting notes – and this Central Coast Syrah reminds us of that warm and honest fruit delivery.
So what then of the history here? Qupé was established by Bob Lindquist in 1982 when he was working as a tour guide for Zaca Mesa winery in the Ynez Valley and it was there that he began to develop his winemaking skills. Qupé was always going to be Rhône led in terms of variety, with Bob’s love of the French Region’s wines, in particular Northern Rhône Syrah such as Cornas, St Joseph and Côte Rôtie. Such continuous improvement for over three decades is a great source of quality, and Bob picks up regular best-Syrah-in-category awards.
A taste then….and it’s a surprise from the word go: soft supple, jammy fruit; fresh but so ripe. But how so? I expected pepper and tobacco, something to chew on, but this is lush and plush. If we’re talking winter pleasures, this is the comfy, modern armchair, and not the firm button-back chesterfield, so will especially please those seeking a silky, comforting red. Overall style and softness is primarily due to the ripeness of the harvest in 2014. It became necessary to pick far earlier than usual, by 4-5 weeks in fact and even though the wine is fermented to dryness and aged for 12 months in French oak, it remains ultra-accessible. In variety, it is Syrah 88%, Tempranillo 7%, Grenache 4% and Mourvèdre 1%. I’m not sure I can taste each variety, but it’s fun to imagine isn’t it?
Alright, I’ll admit it. “Save the world” might be stretching the headline in order to drag your attention to the article, but there are some things that we’re doing to try and help the environment that you can support us with. We may not single handedly clean the oceans or save the polar ice caps, but doing your bit is the bit you can do and all that…
So here it is. The five things we’re doing to do our bit that you can support us with.
We’ll be critically reviewing the extent to which single use plastic is present in our supply chain. We’ll encourage our suppliers to eliminate it where we find it and we’ll take simple steps such as supporting the Final Straw Cornwall which aims to eliminate the use of plastic straws (even the compostable ones which don’t break down if they make their way into the ocean). We’ll be offering paper straws on request to lovers of gin and tonic and tiny tots guzzling apple juice.
What do you need to do? Nothing – we’ve done it for you (easy innit?)
Smug rating: 1 (C’mon all you need to do is not moan about not having a straw!)
When we took over BinTwo four years ago we stopped selling bottled water (even though doing so is quite lucrative) and offered free tap water instead. The whole process of bottling, transporting and selling water in a country with safe, clean water supplies has always sat a little uneasily with me. We’ve now signed up to Refill Cornwall which means we’ll offer to refill people’s water bottle with fresh Cornish tap water. We’ve always done this when asked but now we’re shouting it from the on-line roof-tops! It’s a free service and no purchase is necessary. Through this we hope to reduce the use of single use plastic water bottles. If you turn up with a plastic Evian bottle that you’re re-using then thank you – good job! If you go one stage further and turn up with a “proper” reusable water bottle then you may even get the added warm glow that only comes with a subtle nod of approval from the BinTwo crew.
What do you need to do? Not much really (I didn’t say this was going to be a stretching list of tasks!) Just hang on to your empty bottle and come to us for a refill rather than buying another bottle of mineral water. Simple.
Smug rating: 2 (rising to 3 if purchasing a reusable bottle).
Switching to compostable coffee cups.
In theory our current takeaway cups are recyclable but the lamination that makes them (and all other “regular” cups) waterproof means they can only be recycled in specialist facilities. You’ll have seen the headlines – 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are used in the UK each year and only a tiny percentage get recycled properly. The remainder go to incinerators or landfill. So we’ll be switching over to Vegware takeaway coffee cups and lids which are made from plants not plastic. The clever thing about Vegware is that it can be recycled with food waste which will eventually produce nutrient rich compost. As an extra Brucie Bonus, the process for producing Vegware coffee cups also uses 72% less carbon than the alternatives. Imagine how much more satisfying your next flat white will be now that you know all this!
What do you need to do? Just pop your used coffee cup and lid in a food waste bin (or your own compost). Maybe enquire with your own local coffee shop if they’ve thought about switching to Vegware (don’t be all aggressive and challenging though – you don’t want to be “that” person).
Smug rating: 1 (rising to 2 if you dispose of properly and 4 if you bring another coffee shop on board).
Even better than the warm glow that comes with using one of our new Vegware cups is the smug sense of being on the cutting edge of environmental awareness AND high fashion that can only come from buying one of our funky new reusable coffee cups! Our BinTwo branded Stojo reusable cups are collapsible and fold down to a sort of hockey puck sized package that fits handily into a coat pocket or bag. They have a secure lid which, in my own field trials, means that those last few drops of coffee won’t leak into your pocket or bag once you’ve finished your drink.
We’ve opted for these over the more commonly seen KeepCups as I’ve always found that I never have mine with me when I need it due to them being a bit bulky. I’m gambling that some of you might be in the same position – particularly when you’re off to the the beach on foot once you’ve picked up your flat white from us.
To sweeten the deal when you buy one of our cups we’ll throw in a coffee for free if you have it there and then. Thereafter when you buy a takeaway coffee from us using our (or any other) reusable coffee cup, we’ll deduct 15p to reflect the saving made through not having to use a Vegware cup. We also guarantee not to roll our eyes when you ask us to rinse your reusable cup before filling it!
What do you need to do? Buy one of our reusable cups of course! But if the collapsible thing doesn’t work for you then do consider buying another brand – it’ll pay for itself in no time.
Smug rating: 5 when using a BinTwo cup (falling to 4 if using someone else’s because… well just because).
Upping the ante on our recycling.
We’re already pretty tight on this with recycling our bottles and cardboard (in vast quantities!) But we’ll be trying even harder to make sure that things than can be recycled don’t end up in general waste during the heat of service in the busy season. Call it working on the final 10% if you will. We’ll also develop a way of offering up our used coffee grinds to customers to use in their compost or as a slug repellant. I admit that this may be of limited interest to holiday makers (although you’re welcome to take some home with you) but hopefully we may be able to do our bit to keep the slugs at bay from the allotments of Padstow!
What do you need to do? Come and grab some coffee grinds… please!
Smug rating: 0 (but you’ll at least see off some slimy invertebrates so have a Slug rating of 5!)
Because life is too short to drink rank coffee – am I right? Of course I am. My dirty secret is that, despite owning somewhere that has a well-earned reputation for knocking out excellent coffee, I was very lazy about my coffee making habits at home. I even *takes a deep breath* used to say nothing…N-O-T-H-I-N-G when Mary added a bag of some awful pre-ground coffee to our Tescos shopping – I feel so ashamed.
But, praise the beans, a few months ago I went on a morning course about brewing better coffee at home run by local coffee guru, Hugo Hercod from Rising Ground Coffee. As the former UK Barista Champ and one of the top ten baristas in the world, he’s our very own Obean-wan-Kenobi if you will. A few simple tips have transformed my coffee-making at home and I asked if he could distill his teachings into five, easy to follow steps.
So here you have it. Five tips. Minimal faff. Awesome coffee. Over to Hugo…
Buy better coffee.
It sounds obvious but that means avoiding anything from a supermarket (a good rule of thumb where everything apart from toiletries are concerned). Good coffee is fully traceable; as well as its country and region of origin, it will often show farm/wash station name, bean varietal and processing method as well as a ‘Roasted On’ date, not just a ‘Best Before’. Look out for the term ‘speciality’, which is the good stuff grown, processed and selected for it’s quality. It will cost more, but you’re worth it.
(Hugo was too modest to add a link to his own coffee company, so here it is… www.risingground.coffee).
Buy a grinder.
Pre-ground coffee is stale, so buy your coffee in whole bean form and only grind it as you need it. In terms of flavour, it’s the single most important thing you can do. It’ll stay fresher for longer and you’ll be able to grind it to precisely the right consistency for your brew method. There are two sorts of grinder, Burr and blade. Burr grinders are like pepper mills, they produce an even grind which is good for an even extraction. Blade grinders smash the beans into powder and lumps which is bad, bad, bad.. and please don’t use your spice grinder.
(We bought a small Wilfa grinder available from Relish in Wadebridge. Quiet, fast and effective).
Store it properly.
The enemies of good coffee are oxygen, moisture, light and time. So buy your coffee in smaller quantities, store it like biscuits in an airtight, lightproof jar at room temperature and make sure to drink it within a month of opening the bag. Don’t whatever you do store it in your fridge or freezer, you wouldn’t do that to biscuits would you?
(This is going to sound like a blatant Rising Ground marketing pitch now, but they sell excellent storage tins with a clever one way valve to keep things fresh. They pass Mary’s “counter-top aesthetics” test too).
Follow a recipe.
Drink great coffee every morning by following a tried and tested recipe.I brew using a Clever Dripper, 25g of coffee, 400ml of water, 30 – 50 seconds of bloom and 3 – 5 minutes of brew (depending on freshness) using soft Cornish water at 93 – 95°C. That’ll change with a different coffee and brew kit but the important thing is I won’t guestimate, especially at 0630.
(Like, Hugo I favour the Clever Dripper and you can buy them at… you get the drift by now. But you can also up the ante with Hugo’s simple recipe for your cafetiere – because everyone has one of those in the cupboard: Put 49g of course ground coffee into your cafetiere. Add 100ml of water at 93 – 95°C, stir and leave to “bloom” for 30 seconds (blooming allows any remaining CO2 to gently bubble away), fill vigorously with remaining 600ml of water, leave for 2 minutes, stir gently, leave for two minutes, gently plunge then pour). (A ratio of 70g of coffee to 1L of water works well if you’d like to adjust the recipe to larger/smaller cafetiere).
Don’t buy an espresso machine.
I know you want a nice cappuccino in the morning, just like you get in your favourite café. But unless you are willing to spend a lot of money on kit, waste a lot of coffee, get frustrated, disappointed and drink lots of bad cappuccinos, don’t buy an espresso machine for your kitchen. Buy a decent grinder and accurate scales and spend what you’ve saved on better coffee. There are dozens of ways to brew coffee at home, the simplest are often the best.
(What sort of numpty would buy an under-powered, pretty little espresso machine and expect to make coffee shop grade flat whites at home! Pffft … shuffles from one foot to the other avoiding eye contact*).
It’s not too late to place your orders from our Christmas Wine Tasting.
Below you will find links to our full Christmas Tasting list and an order form. If you’d guaranteed availability of all of the wines listed, please ensure that you have emailed your order to firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than noon on Wednesday 6th December.
We can accept orders later than that but we can’t guarantee that all of the wines will be available (but we’ll happily help guide you to alternatives that we can supply in time for Christmas).
The dates for free local deliveries are Thursday 14th December and Friday 23rd December so please be sure to indicate your preference when placing your order.
The last date that we can dispatch wines by mail order is Monday 18th December.
We are delighted to announce the launch of this year’s Christmas Crackers case, a truly special selection of goodies tailored to the Christmas and Boxing Day festivities. We thought it was time for a treat, choosing twelve splendid bottles we know you will love, if you can’t do it at Christmas when can you?
Lallier Blanc de Blancs NV, Champagne, France £41.00, 2 bottles
When there are so many lovely Champagnes on our shelves, it’s really hard to pick a winner for Christmas Day. This year though, this gem just edges ahead of the rest – a seductive Blanc de Blancs from family-run Lallier in Aÿ. Made from Grand Cru vineyards in both the Côte des Blancs and Avize, it is at once both delicate and complex on the nose with seductive aromas of autolysis, akin to fresh-baked croissants. The palate delivers a full, creamy richness and beautiful clarity. You’ll be sipping again and again – so to plump for two bottles seems a really very good idea.
Macon Pierreclos 2015, Marc Jambon, Burgundy, France £17.00, 2 bottles
White Burgundy on Christmas Day might seem a little obvious – but hey, let’s relax into this very tasty number from a small biodynamic producer. It’s the texture and flavour here that deliver well: plenty of ripeness, but also a good lick of limey freshness to back up all that fruit. A really expressive find with much of the versatility we all need for the Christmas Feast.
Ontañon Reserva 2005, Rioja, Spain £16.00, 2 bottles
And what better red accompaniment to all those vibrant Christmas flavours than a mature, spicy Rioja? Bodegas Ontañon is located in the Rioja Baja, among groves of peaches and nectarines, while the grapes for their Reserva come from their 800m La Pasada vineyard. Predominantly Tempranillo, with just 5% of the racy variety Graciano, the blend spent 12 months in American and French oak, with the rest of the ageing in bottle. A red that’s comfy enough for Auntie Mabel, yet with enough character for you, dear reader.
Morris Black Label Rutherglen Muscat NV, Rutherglen, Australia £21.00, 1 bottle (50cl)
Rutherglen, that small wine-growing region of Victoria, Australia – produces a rare creation: a wine that can stand up to the pudding itself. It is the ‘Muscat à Petits Grains Rouge’ variety that creates such sweet pleasures, but paramount is the skill of the winemaker David, himself a fifth-generation Morris. Wines both young and old are blended to achieve this level of perfection: caramel and candied peel aromas yield to sweet raisin on the silkiest of palates, while the rich balance is restored on the finish with a light brandy note. Please don’t drink this too cold: room temperature, or only very gently chilled.
Henriques 1998 Single Harvest Madeira, Madeira £28.00, 1 bottle (50cl)
And meanwhile, on a tiny island far out in the Atlantic Ocean, Henriques & Henriques have been making wine since 1913. Vintage wines are not unusual – but this example certainly is: the balance between rich, sweet fruit, grilled-almond ‘estufagem’ notes (from the unique Madeira process) and the typical racy ‘rancio’ acidity is nothing short of eye-opening. Drink this little gem with all your favourite cheeses: Helford Blue, grapes and crackers or maybe finest Lancashire and Mince Pies.
Langlois Cremant de Loire Rose NV, Loire , France £17.00, 1 bottle
What a way to unwind on Boxing Day – a truly relaxed Traditional Method Rosé made from a variety attracting a lot of buzz just now: Cabernet Franc. BinTwo die-hards will know well their Saumurs both red and white – but do leave space in the ice-bucket please for this dry and refreshing, strawberry-scented gem from the Langlois team. We’ll be sure at some stage to introduce you to the ever-ebullient François de Régis Fougeroux – the Grand Fromage of this extraordinary Loire Valley outfit.
Château l’Ermitage Cuvée Sainte Cécile 2013, Costières de Nîmes, France £14.50, 2 bottles
A traditional Languedoc blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre (with a little Grenache) from our favourite Southern Rhone producer. Selling out on our weekly ‘Decanter Saturday’ spot, you’ll immediately see why – and without wishing to beat the drum too hard, it’s all about the balance. Solid, chunky fruit, yes – but also a gentle hand with the oak notes – only small old oak barrels are used here. Dark, dry bramble fruit on the nose, and with the deep fruit in the mouth, a refreshing tightener of juicy Mourvèdre tannin. The finish is long and velvety, with subtle, oaky backbone. A wine that’s as much at home with glazed ham as it is with a Boxing Day roast. We think two bottles might not be quite enough – this red offers such cracking value.
‘Max’ 2014, Miles Mossop, Stellenbosch, S. Africa £20.00, 1 bottle
One would hope that by the Christmas fire, there’s time to sniff, swill and savour as well as quaff? Either way, Max delivers superlative after superlative. It’s a classic Bordeaux blend, crafted from Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Merlot – yet is unmistakably New World, even behind the solid French oak and minty Cabernet structure. A delight in so many ways – and as delicious to sip on its own and wax lyrical on Christmasses Past as it is to enjoy with a roast beef sandwich during Christmas Present. A long-standing BinTwo fave.
It comes beautifully gift wrapped, when collected from the shop or delivered locally, and lovingly packaged when sent by courier.
Local delivery is included in the price and national delivery of the Christmas case is just £10 to all of our customers.
A fabulous gift for wine-loving family or friends or the perfect treat to aid your Christmas preparations and festivities. Wishing you a Merry Christmas!
If you’re reading this over breakfast then I do apologise – no one should have to face the sight of me in my boxers and a climbing harness whilst choking on their muesli. But I think this partially-dressed moment was the point at which my love was confirmed and I knew that I’d found someone I had to bring home to introduce to you. I think you’ll love her too.
I need to backtrack. We’re often asked how we go about sourcing our wines. I’d love to be able to say that we visit every winemaker ourselves and that we buy direct from the vineyard – wouldn’t that be a fab way to live life? Although we do find some of our wines that way (in fact we’ve just sent Harriet off to search for wines in Austria), the truth is for the most part we work with trusted partners who import a range of wines from which we make our selection. Some of these partners are one-man/woman-bands who’ve developed a specialty within a particular country or region, and some are bigger outfits with a network of local experts who import wines from around the world.
Boutinot falls into the big boys category. In fact Boutinot is so big they’re the playground equivalent of that lad we all knew at school who was a foot taller than his mates and was shaving at the age of 12… they’re big. I guess we buy about a third of our range from them and they do an amazing job of sourcing interesting wines that also represent incredible value. They’re masters of their trade. But, and here’s where they’re unusual, they also make their own wine.
Now, I’m going to be really honest with you. I hadn’t paid too much attention to their own wines and, looking back, I’m not sure why that is. I think it’s maybe because psychologically I’d put their wines into an “own label” bucket. Somehow, without me consciously thinking about it, Boutinot wines had in my mind become synonymous with the mince that gets labelled as Tesco’s “Value”… well priced, and it might be alright at a push, but you wouldn’t have it as your first choice. So I was really interested when they invited me to their vineyard in the the southern Rhône to see how they make their wine up close. Shall I cut to the chase? I was wrong. I was very, very wrong.
Located in the South East of France, the Rhône produces over 4 million hectolitres of wine each year. Over 400 million bottles are sold each year and every 13 seconds someone in the world pops the cork from a Rhône wine. Some cracking white wines are made in the Rhône but it only accounts for 6% of their production. There are some interesting rosés to be found too (in fact in the Rhône apparently one glass drunk in every four is a rosé) but the region is of course best known for its red wines. Wines of Northern Rhône are best known for big reds made only from Syrah (think in terms of Crozes-Hermitage and Cornas) while the Southern Rhône is better known for blends from famous appellations such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape. But it was the lesser-known appellation of Cairanne that we were headed for. Pretty isn’t it?
Cairanne has just been elevated to a Cru – the highest classification for a Rhône wine. This is the classification that Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Rasteau fall into. Confused by the classification of Rhône wines? Me too. Here it is (I think…)
Côtes du Rhône: Entry level. Can be used by the whole Rhône region covering over 140,000 acres and 6000 producers. So there’s lots of variation in terms of style and quality.
Côtes du Rhône Villages: Formed in 1953 this appellation describes wines that come from a tightly defined region to the North and West of Châteauneuf-du-Pape covering less than an eighth of the land that Côtes du Rhône does. Stricter controls apply in terms of grape variety and maximum yields. Better land and tighter controls on production methods should result in better wine.
Côtes du Rhône Villages (named villages): Told you it was confusing. Since the named village appellation was formed in 1966, sixteen villages have been awarded their own appellations which, in simple terms, means that you’ll see the name of the village on the label. It also means that even tighter controls apply to their maximum yields which is intended to further improve quality. Some of these appellations are so small that you rarely see them outside of the region. Others have a density of increasingly well-regarded producers that means their reputation has grown. Cairanne was among this number before being elevated to a Cru…
Cru: Named villages which are thought to be capable of making the best wines in the region. Just to add to the confusion, a cru may have just the village on the label with no mention of the Rhône at all (like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, St-Joseph, Hermitage, Cornas, Gigondas and the newbie Cairanne)
Why…on…earth have I bored you with all of this guff (assuming that anyone has read this far). Well it’s because right now the wines coming out of the Boutinot winery in Cairanne are labelled as Côtes du Rhone Village but they’ve been using the same methods and controls that have just seen them elevated to a Cru. This means you’re getting an awful lot of wine for your bucks and I reckon you should snap some up before the labelling and pricing catches up with their new classification!
I‘ve seen first hand the sheer effort, graft and craftsmanship that goes into making a wine designated as a Cru. Take the fetching photo of me in my pants with my feet in a massive vat. That vast, 6000 litre oak vessel has been filled with grapes that have been harvested carefully by hand from rocky, hillside vineyards. No mechanical methods were used and only the best grapes were selected. Whole bunches were laid in the tank and left to ferment naturally using nothing more than the natural yeast on the skin of the grapes. After a few days fermentation starts and the grapes start to release their juice. CO2 from the fermentation forces the remaining grapes to the top of the tank to form a cap. Now you could use a mechanical method to force the grapes back down or, if you’re a Cru winemaker, you get someone lowered into the tank a couple of times a day to perform “pigeage”. Or, as you or I might say, to stomp the grapes back under the surface.
I can testify that pigeage is hard work… really hard work – I had the thigh burn and wine-stained legs to prove it. And, although behind the smirking French winemaking team there was a long, metal hand-held, pole-type tool that looked like it might be used to do the same job that an unwitting visitor had just done in his pants, the manual nature of the technique was indicative of the care shown for the quality of the wine from harvesting to bottling (incidentally what does a French winemaker do and the end of a long day crafting fine wine? Have a fag and a Heineken, naturally).
As is always the case when I visit a vineyard, I’m left wondering how they do it. There’s the sheer graft of the agriculture and the sheer craft of the winemaking. How do these wizards taste a murky old tank sample and discern how it’s going to taste when it’s been blended with five other grape varieties and aged in oak for up to a year then aged in bottle for a year or two? I don’t know. That’s the magic of the wine-making process and it always leaves me startled that this amazing product costs as little as it does.
So, of the any and varied wines I tasted on your behalf over a hectic two days (as depicted in the image to the right – you’re welcome) there were three of four stand out wines that we’ll be adding to the shelves. But the one I kept returning to (and the one I ended up drinking far too much of each evening) was the Les Six 2014. A blend of all six grape varieties (hence Les Six) that Boutinot grow on the chalky slopes above Cairanne (Grenache, Mourvédre, Syrah, Carignan Noir, Consult and Counoise).
It’s freshness and elegance comes in part, I am told, from the high chalk content in the soil (where just 2 inches of top soil sits on a deep bed of chalk and clay). It’s very smooth with peppery red and black fruits and just a hint of oak from the ten months spent in that vast oak vat.
It’s so good that Kate even made room for it in this month’s Select 6 case.
I found it very, very drinkable and incredible value at just £13.00 (or only £11.70 to club members).
So, that’s a wine that now sits up there with Châteauneuf-du-Pape for just £11.70 (for now). If this wine is an “own label” then it’s very much “Waitrose 1” rather than “Tesco’s Value” and I’ve been reminded that only an idiot judges a book by it’s cover. BUY NOW
A case of wine which celebrates Mike’s recent ventures in Southern Rhône, showcasing a few of his fabulous finds: A superb value Rhône favourite, an interesting blend from a prestigious Village, an elegant Rhône Rosé and a delicious Mediterranean white (not found on Mikes travels but one we LOVE). And…To mix things up just touch we have also included a tasty Tempranillo and a very versatile white Rioja to boot.
Côtes du Rhône Villages ‘Les Coteaux’ 2014 £10
One of our best-sellers and understandably-so, Les Coteaux is an impressive wine with both quality and value on its side. Velvety and opulent black fruits, specifically blackberries, satisfying sweet spice and hints of oak combine to make a very tasty and comforting wine.
Eric Monin selects the ‘crème de la crème’ fruit from 17 of the Cotes du Rhone Villages vineyards to make Les Coteaux . He then goes one step further by enriching the blend with wine from the more prestigious and classified wines of Sablet, Cairanne and Séguret.
The perfect partner for a hearty casserole.
‘Les Six’ Cairanne 2014 £13
Cairanne, Côtes du Rhône, France
The virtues of this gem certainly struck a chord with Mike. ‘Les Six’ is a wine which exalts the qualities and character of 6 Southern Rhône grape varieties, including the lesser known Counoise variety. The result is a rich yet elegant palate with soft, sweet red fruits, integrated tannins and judicious oak.
Grapes are carefully selected, hand-picked then co-fermented. Manual pigeage (grape stomping) is still carried out here in order to mix the grape skins (break the cap) with the juice. The wine is aged for under 12 months in very large oak vats.
I’m thinking Duck confit, however this wine would pair nicely with beef, lamb and game whether roasted, grilled or in a casserole.
Meseneros de Castilla Roble 2015 £12
Ribera del Duero, Spain
A classic, lip-smacking Ribera del duero. This sturdy wine has the perfect blend of rich black fruits, warming spice, smoky oak and fine tannins. Layers or aroma and flavour, structured and tastily dry.
From the Arroyo family-run estate steeped in 400 years of winemaking history! The fruit is sourced from vines between 40 and 80 years of age, fermented in steel then aged for 6 months in American oak.
Superb with Roast Lamb.
Côtes du Rhône ‘Les Cerisiers’ Rosé 2016 £9.50
Côtes du Rhône, France
Here at BinTwo its proving that the love of rosé wine goes well beyond the summer, so no better reason to include another one of Mike’s delicious finds as we edge gently into November! Pretty salmon -pink, beautifully and delicately aromatic with a full-flavoured ripe red berry palate. Soft and textured whilst elegant… very moreish indeed.
Meticulous selection of vineyards, specific plots and fruit is paramount to winemaker Eric Monnin in the quest to produce expressive, balanced and flavoursome wine.
Food-friendly… pop open with lunch.
Château L’Ermitage ‘Tradition’ Blanc 2016 £10
Costières de Nîmes, Rhône, France.
A juicy and fleshy blend which evoques the Mediterranean with its orange blossom, ripe stone fruits and citrus characters. The ripeness is deftly balanced with freshness and an underlying minerality.
Situated on the South facing hills rolling towards the Mediterranean, Château L’Ermitage enjoys optimal sunshine and cooling sea breezes resulting in fruit of even ripeness and plenty of flavour. The winemakers strive to preserve these qualities thus avoiding the use of oak and plumping for some lees ageing to develop rounded texture and enhance flavour.
Rich and creamy chicken dishes or grilled white fish.
Ontañón Vetiver Rioja Blanca 2014 £10
Vetiver is a stylish white Rioja combining tropical fruit, citrus and delicious toasty flavours all in perfect measure. There is even a subtle vanilla streak thanks to the 4 months spent in American oak. This lovely-weight white is a personal and very versatile favourite!
A wine from the driest and hottest Rioja region, Rioja Baja where the Meditteranean climate is conducive for consistent ripening and little disease, allowing for some organic production. Vetiver follows traditional white Rioja ageing, 4 months in oak then 6 months in bottle.
Naturally great with tapas and Paella but equally delicious with sumptous shellfish.
We know for a fact there’s many a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc fan among us but there’s so much more to discover with these fantastic New World wines and luckily, we’re here to help with a New Zealand Day on Saturday 28th October in BinTwo, Padstow.
Last year we discovered Left Field Albarino. Better known as a Spanish varietal, this Albarino has proven to be hugely popular with all who tasted it. Fresh, light & peachy with a crisp acidity but oh so juicy with it. It feels like each grape used to make this wine has soaked up every last bit of sunshine that kissed its skin! We really weren’t surprised to discover that the Left Field Pinot Noir is equally as delicious amongst others from their wider portfolio too.
So, as you can imagine we were really excited to hear that NZ wine whizz Angela Lewis was over in the UK and willing to come all the way to Padstow to share with us her vast knowledge about the wines from the Left Field and TeAwa collections. Bonus! Angela will be on hand to talk all about the wines and answer any questions you may have. Located near Hawkes Bay on New Zealand’s North Island, Te Awa sits within the famous Gimblett Gravels Wine Growing District, known worldwide for producing premium wines.
The cracking selection we’ll have available as tasters and by the glass/bottle/case include:
I’m sure you’ll agree it’s an impressive line-up and something for everyone. Angela will be in the shop between 12-5pm to share her wealth of knowledge on all things NZ wine related but worry not, it doesn’t end there, we’ll be carrying on with the selection right the way up until closing time.
Date: Saturday 28th October 2017
Time: 12pm – 9pm (Angela Lewis until 5pm)
Location: BinTwo, Padstow
Tickets: FREE ADMISSION – just drop by and sample some lovely wines!