As I have just hinted at on the new Wine of the Month page, with the Autumn setting in and the change of season comes a host of new wines and an abundance of grapes are being picked across the Northern hemisphere, from Mendocino to Slovenia and Barolo to New York state! So its a fabulous time to tell you about new wines that Mr Whirly has found in the last six months and imported from Wagram and Niederosterreich in Austria, Limeray on the Loire, Limoux, Bandol and Corbiere in the South of France, Macon and Bordeaux! Phew, there’s a lot of wine to look at in the shop here in SW17 so please do pop in soon!
(from left the Sparkling wines from Robert in Limoux, 2015 Mehofer Gruner and “Late Harvest” Gruner from Bayer and the amazing Bandol Rose from Chateau D’Azur)
Do you know we are now serving our ” Post Referendum ” wines here in the shop. Come on in and have a look and taste the Corbiere wines from La Bouysse that I am serving out of the barrel. The wines are red and white, Carignan and Viognier based from a very small producer that I visited when I was down in Corbiere on the 27th June. They really are stand out wines and perfect for that relaxed mid week meal when you don’t want to spend a fortune on wine but need something great for £7.00. And thats what its costs! ONLY £9.50 for a 1 litre bottle! The wines really are very well made, the Carignan energetic and full of summer berry fruits, really juicy and the Viognier wine is again exciting and savoury with some hints of green herb too. So I urge you to pop in soon and see how Whirly wines is revolutionising the choice of wines that you can find in Tooting and Balham.
These PR wines aside, its a problem where to start since there are so many wonders just in! Like a little boy in sweet shop I am indeed. I think we have to start with Limoux! What and where I hear you say! Limoux is a town and wine region just east of Corbiere, which is just south of Carcasonne. Limoux makes sensational and individual sparkling wines and yet no one know’s about them which is a terrible shame. So its time to taste and get a feel for Limoux. I have imported two wines from Robert the ” Blanquette de Limoux” Domaine de Fourn” Brut and the ” Carte Ivoire” which is a little demi sec but both are quite delicious and a lovely intermediate wine between Procecco and Champagne at around £15 here in the shop.
Also from “Domaine La Bouysse ” we have their savoury and slightly minty Viognier 2015, very fresh and easy to drink at £12.95 here in the shop and straight out of the tank. Their Carignan 2015, pictured below with the Viognier is juicy, energetic and full of summer fruits with a really clean nature and is priced at £13.35 in the shop.
Also just arrived from Austria are new vintages of the ever exciting and fresh ” Organic” wines of Stefan Mehofer in Wagram. His wines have been so well received in the last few years and their Gruner veltliner in particular, has a very passionate following around the UK now from my restaurant clients. Their Gruner 2015 sings fresh apple and pear and is also only 11.0% alc vol. Price: £12.75. Also in are new vintages of his smokey red Zweigelt and Cabernet 2013, top billing for a light juicy Autumnal red at £14.50. New vintages of his Riesling 2014 ( £15.25) and Roter Veltliner, fuller and richer than the Gruner, 2014 at £14.95. From Bayer in Niederosterriech I have their “Envoy” 2015 Gruner. I thought this wine was so clean and fresh when I tasted it and its in such contrast to the Gruner from Mehofer. Picked a month or so later, I imagine in late October 2015, you can really see the difference when the grape is ” Late Harvested”, with a little more sugar inside, this wine would match some spicy Thai or Vietnamese food perfectly. Rich ripe pear on the nose and palate with some ripe plum too, price is £16.95 here in SW17.
More to follow…the perfect rose, Chateau D’Azur 2015 ” Le Jardin de Soleil” and why rose should be drunk not just in the summer months. October offerings too with some new Chenin and Malbec from Prevote in the Loire. Its not Vouvray I know, but I tell you what, in terms of mouthfeel these wines wrap you up and they are wonderful value compared to more famous Chenin neighbours like Vouvray and Savenniere.
Its now September and the wines are beginning to flow, in more ways than one. All over the Northern Hemisphere the grapes are beginning to be picked and the year of hard toil in the vineyard culminates into the anxiety and relief of the next few weeks, one hopes. Its an exciting time for the winemaker but also a worrying one. Last minute storms and rain are not in anyway a desire.
For me as the importer its also a really exciting time since there are so many new wines to look at with the change in season from summer to Autumn. Its the major change on wine lists throughout the country and whereas the focus for the last five months has been on rose and white suddenly the focus now changes to reds with the already the wonders of Grouse on the menus of top restaurants around the UK and soon in October with the shooting season the added joys of duck, pigeon, partridge and pheasant. With such delights I long to match the succulence with a juicy, honest red and this wine performs this job admirably. Its a young Tempranillo, no oak and its full of energy and delight, with plums and Autumn blackberry prevalent yet velvety soft tannins. Ribera de Duero is fast becoming one of the most exciting red wine regions of Spain and with this wine you can see exactly why. It oozes class and value at £12.45 per bottle, available here in the Whirly shop on Ritherdon road, SW17 8QD so do pop in soon and give it a whirl!
October: new wines! So many to choose from but has to be the Post referendum wines out of the barrel from Corbiere! So two wines but heh they are both a real joy!
Recently, following a failed attempt to get there in May, I visited the home of the two great red varietals of Italy, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, Brunello de Montalcino and Barolo. Despite the miles in between the two towns and the crazy late night driving along the Mediterranean curve near Genoa, I had a fabulous time visiting both towns. They are held in so much admiration in the wine world of Italy and indeed the whole world and this reputation is growing every day.
After the most delightful night in Siena watching the people in the main square and not going un-noticed was the lovely sight of young people not looking at their i-phones but talking to each other enthusiastically! Wow it would be lovely to see a bit more of this in London. But what a city and Square this place is: I love the way it is hidden up and above the town so that if you did not know there was a beautiful city with the most amazing panoramic square that is beyond belief in terms of atmosphere and feel. Do go if you have never been.
( Manzone Single Vineyard wines above the highlight of which is “Il Castelletto 2011”, the small vineyard around the Castle)
I skipped Chianti the next morning and headed to the smaller yet to me, far more individual grower of the best the Sangiovese can offer in Italy, Montalcino, which received its DOCG status in the 1970’s. Another beautiful little hillside town, as many wine towns are, Montalcino is located about 20 miles south of Siena on the small road to Rome! It took be about 2 hours to find ” Terralsole” and the vineyard of Mario Bollag and his lovely wife Athena, since the signs are very difficult to follow and no one knows the vineyard when asking! Its not surprising since when I eventually do get on the right road its down the end of a gravel track of about 3 miles, as seems to be nearly always the case!
( The view from Monforte D’Alba across to Serralunga D’Alba and below the cellar at Manzone)
As Athena shows me around the house and cellar ( Mario is tasting 2012 vintages before blending with some of his consultants or friends) she explains to me that Mario was the black sheep of a prominent Basle family in Switzerland and he was an artist who studied at ” Ballata” in Florence in the 70’s. He fell in love with wine as well as art and worked his first vintage in Montalcino in 1990. However ” he wanted a bigger palate” so he bought the land we were walking on in 1993 as well as some land called ” Fonte Latta”, meaning “milk fountain”, since legend has it that if you were short of breast milk for your baby you drank the water from this fountain and the milk would flow. In 1995 he started planting the vines up here and built the house I stood in which was built from scratch.
Mario uses 600 litre barrels of French oak from Alier,for his wines and somehting about 220 litre wines and they are nowin the second year of conversion into Organic status. They also have higher elevation vineyards here in Montalcino which means the grapes are far more expressive and these vineyards are called ” Pian Bossolino” up to about 410 metres.
What I like about this whole set up is the clear passion for producing some of the most individual Brunello’s that one could possibly wish to find. They are up there in price too mind you but the quality and precision behind the winemaking is wonderful to witness. Mario also does not release his wines too early. Their present vintage is 2006; 5 years ageing in barrel and two in the bottle.
We tasted some 2012’s wines that were at present single vineyard wines. His Reserva 2012 was very soft and elegant, the Trio 2008 was a blend of grapes from other countries, Cabernet franc, Merlot and Syrah and velvety too. The 2013 ” Milk Fountain” was out of the barrel as well as the 2013 ” Pian Bossolino” which is a special cuvee of “Sangiovese Grosso”. The last wine we tasted was my personal favourite and was called ” Anata” and was a blend of the two vineyards and is clearly going to be an excepttional vintage, very bright and light.
(Mauro with his delightful father Giovanni)