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!”