Even though I’m still wearing my shorts, I may have to concede that it’s well and truly Autumn. So it’s time to ease back into some comforting warmer clothes and wines!! So with this in mind, and with the influence of our recent Flight Club #5 featuring wines from España, I couldn’t think of a better pick than this one. I’ve been a fan of Spanish wines for some time, and the Pasión de Bobal is a chart topper for me.
Pasión is 100% Bobal – a grape is native to Utiel-Requena, Valencia, and one of the most planted grapes in Spain second only to Tempranillo in volume. Bobal has long been used as a blending partner to the region’s more glamorous grape varieties but here it’s featured as the star of the show – try some and you’ll see why! Utiel-Requena is situated just inland of Valencia and the Finca Fuenteseca Estate, where the wine is produced by Sierra Norte, is a 67 Hectare vineyard which lies 1000 metres above sea level. A combination of hot dry summers, very cold nights and limestone soil, make for relatively disease free vines and therefore this estate is dedicated to organic wine production.
The grapes are harvested at the end of October, and the bunches are carefully sorted into small crates. Vinification is a long specially adapted process, beginning with a pre-fermentation cold soak, followed by a short alcoholic fermentation at low temperature. It then undergoes malolactic fermentation in 100% new French Oak Barrels where it ages for up to 6 months. The final stages of fining, stabilizing and filtering are carried out very carefully before bottling to ensure the wine maintains its character.
The result is a wine with a deep black cherry colour, a nose of red berries and black fruits, such as blackberries, strawberries and damson, and has a hint of sweet spice. The flavour is very fruit forward (my favourite kind), and includes a touch of vanilla, smoke and liquorice. It is well balanced with rounded tannins and delicious texture and layers of flavour that develop on the tongue.
Pasión is such excellent value for money and can even be purchased in a Magnum, a wonderful centrepiece for any party table!
So, if you’re looking for some Pasión in your life, then this is definitely one of the best ways to get it!
Just £10.50 or £9.45 with Wine Club discount! Buy Now
I’ve had a soft-spot for this wine ever since my first encounter at the Painted Wolf tasting hosted by founder Jeremy Borg last Spring, so I was naturally eager to revisit it in preparation for our Flight Club #4 South Africa wine tasting and to check that my memory wasn’t playing tricks…I wasn’t disappointed!
Guillermo, 100% Pinotage, delivers on all levels. The nose is juicy, jammy with leafiness and a little spice. It’s a satisfyingly rich red, intense and brimming with flavour, ripe black fruits, sweet spice, the perfect measure of vanilla and some leathery and smoky characters to balance. The ripe tannins have a friendly grip and the finish is velvety and pleasantly lingering. Oh so memorable, and for all the right reasons!
The Grapes…Guillermo is made with South Africa’s signature red grape variety, Pinotage, the result of a successful cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault varieties way back in the 1920’s. The fruit comes from Painted Wolf’s pack member Billy (aka Guillermo) Hughes’ vineyard, where the vines are low-yielding and have seen minimal intervention, certified organic!
Why ‘Painted Wolf’? you ask… It’s the name of the ‘African Wild Dog’, an endangered mammal with a highly cooperative family and social structure and the inspiration for Jeremy and his colleagues. Fascinated by this animal Jeremy and his wife set out to form their own pack, organising a group of skilled individuals to join forces and craft a range of authentic and distinct South African wines.
A story of cooperation, innovation and conservation…Not only do they produce delicious wines but Painted Wolf are also committed to supporting the conservation of the ‘African Wild Dog’ and wild spaces of Africa with a contribution from each bottle sold going to the Tusk Foundation and the Endangered Wildlife Trust. They’re a good bunch these Painted Wolves!
A worthy cause and a fabulous wine, Guillermo Pinotage at £16.50 (that’s £14.85 to wine club members) has so much to offer and will bring a sure-fire smile, so don’t hold back.
In preparation for our Argentina Flight Club on 20th August (still a few tickets available folks – follow the link!) the lovely Charlotte has been helping us review our South American wines. I confess that we’ve not paid as much attention to this section as we perhaps should have, so when our very own Parisian wine-buff (who’s spent four years in Argentina) offered to help overhaul our Argentinian range there was only one answer.
Among the wines we tasted was this stand-out blend of Malbec (96%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (4%) from Mendoza. If you like big…if you like bold…if you like soft…if you like easy drinking then this approachable BBQ suitable red will be right up your street. Deep purple in colour, rich fruity aromas, lip-smacking flavours of strawberry and cherries, a hint of spice on the finish and really supple, soft tannins. Adding this to the range and selecting it as a wine to show at Flight Club was one of the easier decisions of the year. But the ace up its sleeve is the note of vanilla which hits you from first sip right through to the end of the finish. Very, very appealing and very, very moreish; I couldn’t put it down.
This vanilla element perfectly illustrates what can be achieved with judicious use of oak. After fermentation the Kaiken Reserve spends six months in French Oak barrels. 10% goes into new oak barrels and 90% into new. Why does this matter… I’m glad you asked. The tight grain of French oak (as compared to looser grained American oak) is good for longer ageing as it allows controlled interaction between the wine and a small amount of oxygen during the ageing process. French barrels are valued by wine-makers for adding flavour with more subtlety; American oak tends to add more flavour, more quickly (typically vanilla and nutty notes) which makes it suitable for shorter ageing of some big, bold, heavily-flavoured reds.
So as it’s the new oak that adds most flavour, wine-makers tend to use it carefully to ensure that it doesn’t over-power the wine (hence the 90/10 split with the ageing of the Kaiken). After three to four fills barrels have imparted all of their flavour and are then used for further ageing. It’s this ageing, and the continual controlled interaction with oxygen through the barrel, that helps tone down the tannins that might otherwise have you puckering up your lips and scrubbing that furry feeling from your teeth – it’s what makes a big red like the Kaiken feel oh-so-silky in the mouth.
So oak is what makes wine smooth and silky and is also what brings along those lovely vanilla flavours and toasty, spicy notes that make a wine more interesting. And just to prove that rules are made to be broken, you’ll have spotted that the pronounced vanilla notes I raved about in the Kaiken would normally be associated with American oak. How have they achieved that effect from French barrels? no idea I’m afraid! Let’s put it down to artisinal magic. And before we leave the topic of oak…that buttery mouth feel that you love your white Burgundies for – that’s oak at work too. But that’s a story for another time. Clever stuff indeed. Wine-makers in France will tell you that the properties of oak grown in different regions impart different characteristics into their wine – who are we to disagree.
Anyway – back to the Kaiken. It’s lovely and ridiculous value at £12.50 (just £11.25 to wine club members). It’s reminded me to dip into the South American section more often when I’m grabbing a bottle to enjoy at home and it’s reminded me that a well made Malbec can be so much more than just “BIG!” – Enjoy!
Domaine Les Grands Presbytères Muscadet Vieilles Vignes, Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie, 2013.
Maybe it’s a sign of my age. Or perhaps my love of all things retro. It could be that I enjoy championing neglected underdogs. I’m sure all those things have influenced my wines we love choice this month, but it does help that this is such a darn fine wine. The fact that Muscadet has something of a naff 70s association makes it cracking value too. All of which means that smart cookies like you wine club members can bag yourself a delightful, versatile wine for not much money!
This very same Muscadet came oh so close to making it onto the terrace menu as a wine to enjoy by the glass this summer (narrowly pipped by the Italian Gavi which got the majority public vote on taste tests). It’s flinty character, lightly mineral edge, fresh apple fruit flavours and deep, savoury textured complexity make it a delightful summer white to enjoy on its own. But it really comes alive when you pair it with shellfish. A lot is written about food and wine pairing; and often the benefits of the matching are pretty borderline. But this is one of those classic pairings that has become a cliché for the very good reason that it just works so well. No debate. Fact!
Truth be known I wish I’d stuck my heels in and put it on the menu (democracy and customer surveys being much over-rated when they don’t produce the result I want) as a glass of this little belter with one of our dressed crabs from the Padstow Shellfish Co would be about as close to a heavenly experience as I could ever hope to promise you! Subscribers to our monthly club case will already be able to sample this wine as Kate wisely included it in her July selection. For the rest of you it already represents great value at £11.00 but becomes almost criminally well priced at only £9.90 to wine club members.
For those who like a bit more information:
Domaine les Grands Presbytères is based in St Fiâcre, southeast of Nantes, at the mouth of the beautiful River Loire and was established by Nelly Marzelleau’s grandfather in the 1950s. St Fiâcre is considered one of the best sites for Muscadet Sèvre et Maine due to its soil composition, mainly granitic gneiss with loose flints. Nelly Marzelleau runs the estate and is passionate about everything from vine to bottle.
Wines are made from vines close to 50 years in age – a rarity in the area as most are dug up after 40 years. Nelly qualified in vinification and winemaking top of her class and completed her first vinification in 1985, aged 18.
The vineyard lies on one of the best sites in Nantais at St Fiacre. Here the soils are layered with ‘orthogneiss’, a cracked mineral rich rock through which the vine roots weave and nourish the vine. ‘Vieilles Vignes’ is made from Nelly Marzellau’s oldest 45 year old vines – a rarity for Muscadet where most are dug up after 40 years.
Made traditionally at this small estate. The grapes were hand-picked, lightly pressed to keep all the delicacies and purity of flavour and fermented at cool temperatures to preserve aromas. The older vines need longer on their fine lees – five months in fact – and so are not bottled until a year after harvest in October.
Saluez Le Saboteur 2015, Cape South Coast, South Africa
A blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Blanc Fumé and Chardonnay made by Luddites
Saluez le Saboteur: say hi to a beautiful wine you won’t easily forget and my biggest “coup de coeur”(crush) of the summer…
The neck label says it all, this wine is for those who “break the rules and defy the status quo, the craftsmen, the artists, the pionneers”. It definitely doesn’t conform with anything on our shelves with its unusual outfit: instead of a cork, a beer cap, black and white side-ways written label. But the best thing is that it keeps its promises, and even more so, when you open it…
The nose opens on a stone fruit basket with earthy notes, sea spray background and shy buttery hints. The palate is driven by a dominant mouthwatering freshness and a beautiful silky texture, the delicacy of the juicy pear and mango aromas, and the elegance of the oak with a buttery touch on the finish. For me, it is a stunning expression of South African terroir, that would go great with both sea and land food.
Enjoy Saboteur and raise a glass to great wines that are always much more than just fermented grape juice, being the result of hard work and artistic spirit, and an excuse to put the world to rights.
You will find this fabulous white on our shelves at £20 a bottle (£18 to wine club) and certainly worth every penny!
Palacios Remondo La Vendimia 2014, Rioja is a juicy new addition to our terrace menu this year and is proving to be a very popular choice.
It is a medium bodied Rioja made from a blend of Tempranillo and Grenache grapes grown on 10 – 40 year old vines which haven’t been touched by any chemical fertilizers or pesticides for 7 years. This organic wine is aged in wooden vats and barrels for 5 years. A fruit forward, silky red is the result, with a palate of cherries and plums and a sweet spice on the nose.
It is a versatile Spanish red which can be served lightly chilled and is perfect for enjoying on our lovely terrace in the sunshine! A charcuterie and manchego cheese platter wouldn’t go amiss either.
This incredibly quaffable drop is £12.50 a bottle, so just £11.25 to our wine club members.
It might be Spring (or so we’re told!) but the nights (and days!) are still chilly and perfect for a classic red. With April being host to Malbec World Day, this month’s choice may be an obvious one but we really do love it!
Nieto Don Nicanor Malbec 2013, Mendoza, Argentina
From Nieto’s premium Agrelo vineyards, the grapes are handpicked and selected and the winemaking process is finished off in French oak, aging for 12 months. The result is a very serious wine for the money with considerable complexity.
An intense wine, deep red in colour but with remarkable shades of purple and blue. The nose is bright and fruit driven with blackcurrant, blackberry and hints of vanilla and the palate is smooth and rounded with evident yet supple tannins. There are hints of bitter chocolate and black fruits on the impressive, lasting finish.
Predictably, this great Malbec seems to have been made to pair with the finest steak, however it would also work very well with any grilled or roasted red meat, game or even a spicy pasta dish.
Malbec World Day on April 17th is a world-wide celebration of this well-loved varietal – like we need a reason?!
Pop in for a bottle of Don Nicanor to celebrate the occasion, impressive value at £12.50 and even more so at £11.25 for BinTwo wine club members.
Val D’Oca Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Rive Di Colbertaldo D.O.C.G.
With the first days of sunshine and no wind here at last, it feels like spring has finally arrived and what better way to celebrate than with a glass of fizz? My recommendation would be our recent arrival; the Val D’Oca Prosecco Superiore. Rich in aromas of apple and wisteria, and enjoying a complex structure, it has a great balance between softness and acidity and a pleasantly long lasting finish.
This Extra Dry sparkling wine is sublime as an aperitif or a great accompaniment to steamed mussels.
At just £13.50 (that’s a cracking £12.15 to BinTwo wine club members) Val D’Oca Prosecco Superiore is a wine which doesn’t hang around on the shelf so be sure to try a bottle before it’s too late!
Shaw & Smith M3 Chardonnay, 2013 Adelaide Hills, Australia
With love in the air this month we thought it only apt to present this gem of a white in time for Valentines. Shaw & Smith was established in 1989 and comes from the heart of cousins Martin Shaw and Michael Hill. With the picture perfect Adelaide Hills as the backdrop, their passion and devotion to superior contemporary wines is truly unsurpassed.
This unctuous Chardonnay oozes lip smacking appeal with toasty buttery biscuit notes and a welcome freshness of lemon and peach. The M3 Chardonnay is a generous wine of great depth and concentration …. Become a ‘new romantic’ this February and trade your hearts and flowers for sexy style with satisfaction built right in!
Treat someone special (or yourself), £29.50 a bottle or £26.55 with our wine club discount.
Boom! Boom! Syrah 2013, Charles Smith, Washington State, USA.
So now we are well and truly in the depths of winter, and comforting luscious reds are a must, there isn’t a much better way to start the New Year with a ‘Bang’ than with this explosive offering from Washington State, USA.
‘Boom Boom’ Syrah, is the product of Californian rock band manager, turned award winning wine maker Charles Smith, who started producing wine when he met a fellow Syrah-loving french winemaker whilst on a road trip. His philosophy is to focus on the way he believes people generally consume wine today: immediately. So his wines are best for those who want to drink their wine now and not have to lay it down for years before enjoying it…works for me!
Boom Boom is 97% Syrah with 3% Viognier to help soften things up. It is a full-bodied, fruit-forward, soft, medium-tannin wine. On the nose there are immediate earthy, herby aromas, followed with a delicious palate of dark cherry and tobacco, ending with a lingering spice and for me a little twist of bitter chocolate. This wine is very drinkable without food, but would be perfect with a hearty winter stew. One of those wine that makes the darker, colder, wetter months seem almost bearable!