The word in the trade is that customer interest in organic and biodynamic wines continues to grow. That’s certainly been our experience at BinTwo and even more so over at our sister business, The ARC Speciality Food Store.
So what’s all the hype about? Can you actually taste the difference? What does biodynamic even mean in the context of wine? Well, you could read our previous blog on the topic or, if you’re more of a practically minded student, you could come along to our free drop-in tasting on Friday 16th May. From 5.30 – 9.00 pm we’ll be opening up six fabulous examples of biodynamic wines courtesy of one of our favourite South African winemakers – Louis Boutinot from Waterkloof.
No need to book. Just pop in, have a free taster and see what you think. We’ll have the wines on sale by the glass if you find you’d like to settle in for a little longer (and we’ll keep them on all weekend in case you can’t make it on Friday). But it’s Friday when Louis will be on hand to answer any questions you might have and to tell you as much (or as little) as you’d like to know about the wonderful world of biodynamic wines. Louis is our kind of winemaker – he knows his craft but he talks about wine in a straight forward way. At his last event with us he summed up the Waterkloof philosophy very neatly and in a very memorable way – “we make wines that haven’t been dicked about with”.
Louis and the rest of the team at Waterkloof have been making biodynamic wines with minimal intervention before if became a “thing” – it’s just always been what they thought was the best approach to get the best out of their grapes. In fact Waterkloof are so artisan they still use a horse to pull their plough – the very horse featured in this post. Just chilling and enjoying the view.
The much anticipated Flight Club #8 Loire is happening on Friday 4th August at The ARC, Hawksfield at a cost of only £30 per person!
As a huge and graciously received thank you for all their hard work, we sent Kate and Harriet off to France to personally source the wines for this event. If you’ve seen either of them since, you’ll know that they had way too much fun for a ‘work’ trip!
But, does what happen in Loire stay in Loire? Of course not! They’re going to tell you all about their adventures whilst tasting the fantastic wines they chose to bring home. Accompanied by a casual canape supper this informal tasting is guaranteed to raise a few smiles (or nervous giggles from K & H – both self-confessed non-public speakers!)
You may be forgiven for thinking the Loire is all about Sauvignon Blanc with familiar names such as Sancerre and Pouilly Fume. But with the resurgence of Muscadet, incredibly lush Chenin Blanc and vastly understated Cabernet Franc, there is so much to discover.
Tickets are only £30 per person so BOOK NOW to join us on Friday 4th August from 7pm at The ARC, Hawksfield. Don’t forget, if you’re coming from Padstow let us know and we’ll arrange return taxi transport for you.
Read below for a little insight in to their trip…
Us girls, we went on a trip to France
Being more specific, we went to Nantes
Sent to Loire on a quest for great wine
Technically ‘work’ but we had a fab time
Thoroughly spoilt for the whole of our stay
We were plied with great food and Muscadet
Thinking we knew this particular grape
48 on one list surprised even Kate!
The weather was fair and warm in Loire
And particularly good for some terroir
But really not so in the case of Goulaine
Where the moat was bone dry, they really need rain!
We arrived at the Chateau where we met Pierre-Jean
What a character he was, Mr Sauvion
From 4 generations of wine ‘creators’
He referred to himself as a ‘pleasure maker’
His vineyard awaited, he called it his garden
He filled us with facts but avoided the jargon
Then on to the ‘house’ to taste lots of wine
Full of excitement for what we may find
There was plenty of choice amongst the wines
But we thought long and hard, overlooking the vines
Melon de Bourgogne or lush Chenin Blanc
Or Harriet’s favourite Cabernet Franc?
We made our decisions throughout the trip
And nearly missing the flight was the only blip
Over all, the trip was a huge success
So join us at Flight Club and be our guests
We’re often asked how we go about finding the wines we choose for our shelves. Often it’s a surprisingly methodical and well thought out process (yes really – stop smirking at the back!) What varieties are we missing? Which countries and regions are under-represented? Have we got the right spread of price points? Then a long search ensues involving loads of tastings to find exactly the right combination of wines to grace our shelves. Usually it takes ages with endless prevarication on our part and many disappointments along the way before we settle on a selection we’re happy with.
Other times a stunning wine just drops in your lap unexpectedly.
And so it was with an unscheduled visit from South African winemakers Neils and Penny Verburg of Luddite Wines which led to an impromptu tasting of their Luddite Chenin Blanc and Shiraz wines (already well established and very well regarded in Michelin starred restaurants). The Luddite wines were superb – an easy no brainer to add them to the shelves. But it was their Saboteur range that really captured our imagination.
Usually with a new wine we’ll say “sure…we’ll take a case and see how it sells”. Sometimes we might be confident enough to buy in higher quantities to try and negotiate a better rate. With the Saboteur range our questions were how much do you have left and when can you get it to us?
Unfortunately the Sabotuer 2015 white (a blend of 68% Chenin Blanc, 15% Viognier, 15% Sauvignon Blanc and 2 % Chardonnay) was pretty much sold out so we grabbed what we could for the shelves. It’s been a huge hit with staff and customers alike; I’ve had to ration Charlotte’s purchases as she was in danger of buying the lot. Read more about her thoughts in this month’s Wines We Love.
We had better luck with the 2014 red (a blend of 77% Shiraz, 19% Mouvedre and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon). The last 300 bottles of this big, bold, fruity, spicy, smooth abso-blooming-lutely gorgeous wine are on a ship steaming it’s way to our shores even as I write this post.
And I’m properly excited about it…really I am! Once it’s with us it will be usurping our Napa Valley Zinfandel from the “big New World red” slot on our terrace menu. Saboteur wine mounting it’s very own little incursion right here in Padstow – come and join the revolution!
Over to Penny for a few more words:
“We are particularly useless when it comes to any press releases so below is all off the cuff! (Ed. Don’t worry Penny – that makes you very much our kind of people!)
The idea behind the Saboteur range was to use the varietals grown on the farm that do not go into the Luddite, both being single Shiraz and Chenin.
We started with the red in 2009 and brought the white on board in 2015 – little did we know how well the wine would be received and how quickly we would have to call neighbours and ask them to sell us grapes to up production.
When we decided to start the white we re-worked the packaging as we did not want the Saboteur range to be a “2nd label” but rather something special, a stand alone brand.
The brand name allowed us to think along the lines of being radical in our packaging and Niels had always wanted to do something with a crown cap – a fantastic closure that is hardier than a screwcap and been used for bubbles for a long time.
The wording on the paper and the necktag describes the passion Niels feels in the cellar – a kid in a candy store at every harvest not a “Oh no! It’s harvest again”
2014 was a fantastic vintage but the trickiest so far this decade as the heavy rainfall at the beginning of December and again into January brought on early ripening and quite a lot of rot. Fortunately as a small producer we were able to realise the potential of early ripening and rot and picked before it was too late! Producers who weren’t paying attention got caught with their pants down. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre were fermented in small batches in open bins with regular hand punch downs. The larger Shiraz batch was fermented in stainless steel tanks with regular pump overs. The batches were pressed directly into barrel and allowed to mature with some fermentation lees. We also did malolactic fermentation in barrel which gives a fuller mouth feel and structure. After malolatic fermentation the wine was racked and returned to barrel for a further 18 months.
During blending we took great care to follow the house style of Saboteur which Mike loved so much – bold fruit, good spice and soft tannins. It’s great to see the last of the Saboteur 2014 red go to a good home and we hope BinTwo regulars enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it!”
Mark from Chateau Civrac tells us about his step into the brave new world of producing a decent wine contained in a box.
When Hamish Anderson (writer and wine buyer for Tate) first approached me with the idea of creating this wine, I was unsure about the potential market for good quality wine in this type of packaging. However, I was convinced by the Eco arguments and so the first ‘posh bag in box’ concept was born combining an easy drinking red Bordeaux wine with ultra contemporary packaging and minimalist modern art. There is also no technical reason not to put a good quality wine in a box: shelf life is actually longer and the wine keeps far better after opening – up to 15 days in fact! As an added bonus there is a 30% weight saving and therefore associated reductions in transport costs and the packaging is cheaper too.
Indigo is packaged in a three-litre box and is on sale at BinTwo for just £30. The equivalent bottle price would be £40 so the overall effect of this packaging to the customer is better value wine which keeps much better once opened…what’s not to like!
So really with the bag in box packaging we just have a perception issue that needed to be confronted. With the support of Tate and the help of my old school friend and artist David Pearce we designed a new type of packaging that presented the wine in a more elegant contemporary fashion. The box depicts bobbing boats in a harbour and has been compared by some to the rather funky packaging used by Apple…we’re happy with that compliment!
I chose the name “Indigo” for the wine as a nod to my childhood, which was spent here on the Cornish coast. I like to choose unusual names for my wines and I grew up next to the sea so Indigo seemed a perfect fit. Cabernet has a fantastic blue bloom on it, so it’s also a nod to that.
Indigo blends soft plummy Merlot with rich Cabernet berries from my 2012 vintage. The wine is ready for immediate drinking and a juicy, easy-drinker it is too with aromas of cherry and blackcurrent and a light oak finish. At 12% abv it makes for a nice fresh red option for Spring which is just around the corner (honestly!)
Engin and Liz from Trevibban Mill give enticing insights into their wines and the fruits of the last year at their Vineyard and Orchards just a stones throw from Padstow. It’s great to be supporting yet another local vineyard and winery with some nice new additions to our shelves.
As we start our 2015 harvest here at Trevibban Mill I find myself looking back to this time last year and the amazing crop we picked, 24 tonnes of incredible clean ripe fruit. BinTwo have selected 3 delicious 2014 wines from our available 8 releases. All made in our state of the art winery with minimal intervention and plenty of passion.
We had never intended to produce a red wine but our early Pinot Noir was too ripe for sparkling by the time our new winery, just 3 miles from Padstow, was ready to go. The wine, Trevibban Mill Black Ewe Red 2014, 100% early Pinot Noir, has good colour intensity and very fruity on the nose (blackcurrant, red fruits, forest fruits) and some spice (anise, clove, vanilla). In the mouth, rich in fruit (blackberry, red apple, red forest berries) with spice (clove) and herbs. For it’s age very complex, full-bodied with good alcohol impression (12.5%) and soft tannins. A great wine for this autumnal weather and it was awarded a Silver Medal at The International Organic Wine Awards in Germany.
Our Black Ewe White 2014 is 100% Reichensteiner which grows well on our mineral rich slate soils. On the nose very fruity, dominated by citrus aromas and elegant passion fruit. A complex wine on the palate with passion fruit, grapefruit, kiwi and gooseberry paired with some green pepper and accompanied by a lovely minerality and a warm finish.
Trevibban Mill Constantine Dry White 2014 is 70% Chardonnay and 30% Seyval Blanc. Fruity fragrances of nectarine, tangerine, pineapple combined with some smooth vanilla. In the mouth follows a beautifully structured and balanced wine full of fruit (peach, nectarine, pineapple) paired with warm aromas of honey, nuts and vanilla.
I should mention here the reason for our ‘Black Ewe’. The vineyard and orchards at Trevibban Mill are Organic, certified by The Soil Association. We do not use any herbicides and to help with weed control we graze a flock of native Southdown sheep in the vineyard during the winter and the orchards during the summer. Our first black ewe had such character that we have named our wines after her.
We also have apple orchards and today we are pressing for cider using our new apple press, the aroma of apples is wonderful. This year is a bumper year for apples and the grapes have been enjoying the September and October sunshine. Grape and apple picking will continue throughout October so let us hope the sun keeps shining.
So what’s harvest time like for a winemaker in Bordeaux? Mark Hellyar, winemaker and Cornishman from Chateau Civrac tells us all…
Well the grapes have survived to this point. All that can go wrong now is me messing up in the winery: right?. I’m sorry, does that sound too negative? Sorry, but it’s about now that I pointlessly go over in my head all the things that I may have not done correctly this year, or at least all the things that I could have done better. You see they say that a good wine comes from good grapes: You can still make a bad wine from good grapes but you can’t make a good wine from bad grapes. So the pressure is now on.
The weather this year for harvest could not be better. 25 degrees and sunny by day 10 degrees and dry by night. So more important ripening sun and no dangerous night time humidity. We’ve waited a little longer than everyone else to take advantage of this ‘parent from the wine gods’. The Merlot and Malbec are looking great, the Cabernet Franc is looking good and the Cabernet Sauvignon is still a little behind. Hopefully these last warm days of 2015 will ripen them fully before the frost starts.
Everything you do in the vineyard all year long counts when it comes to the final stage of making the wine; so I’m driving down to Bordeaux now thinking of all the things that I might have got wrong. Nothing I can do about it now but it seems to be part of the winemakers psyche.
A big problem now is getting an enthusiastic and loyal workforce. It’s a problem every year and I was complaining about this the other day whilst in a fab Cornish bistro in st Agnes called No4, run by Nola. I was chatting with ‘Cosmic’, a festival organiser. As if obvious, he suggested that as it was at the end of the festival season then there would be many people on the festival circuit that would jump at the opportunity. Brilliant! The result is here , the response was immediate and the prospect of the Civrac vendage festival now lives for 2016. Well that’s 1 less worry then…
Riana van der Merwe from Seven Springs Vineyards, South Africa continues where Mark Hellyar from Chateau Civrac left off in last month’s winemaker guest blog. It’s almost like they’re trying to convince us that there’s some hard graft that goes into producing wine! You’re fooling no-one guys…we know you’re living the dream!
Thanks to Riana for taking the time out to contribute to our little newsletter. We’re huge fans of her work. My personal favourite you ask? For me it’s got to be her luscious Pinot Noir… NO WAIT! Her Sauvignon Blanc… Hang on…nope – it’s definitely the Pinot Noir…I think. You don’t make this easy Riana…
It’s time to put those sandals and sunscreen in the closet and take out the wellies and woolies, because they don’t call it the Cape of Storms for nothing. Having a bout of heavy rains and snow, yes, snow in South Africa, granted nothing as severe as in the Northern hemisphere, but ask any South African; it’s cold at the moment. We as people might not like it, but this is vital for the vineyards, and any fruit really. Cold units are needed during this time, called dormancy, for the vines to properly rest in this period, kind of like hibernation, so it can start the whole cycle again in spring. If it’s not sufficiently cold you could get uneven or early budding, and uneven flowering etc., meaning the whole vintage would be out of balance and the final product would suffer for it. So curl up with a nice glass of red wine and appreciate the cold.
While it’s a quiet time of year in the cellar, lots are still happening quietly. The reds are maturing oak barrels and the whites are awaiting bottling in Spring. At the moment, it’s more topping up of barrels, getting ready to take a bit of leave and rest ourselves before the whole vintage starts over again. Getting to all the things that had to wait because of busier times. And then of course, marketing and selling of the glorious nectar of the gods. It’s not just enough to make it anymore, now it’s a tough business out there and selling is a 24/7/365 job. Just ask the guys at BinTwo!