Late, late, late yet again. So late we'll be taking the calendar year from now on as by 2015/16 we are dealing with something like July 2015 to December 2016. Apologies to all those who have been waiting for us to roll out the red carpet.
Following our visit to the 'Rencontres de Cepages Modestes in November 2015, we wrote
"Henri Galinié, retired director of the CNRS at Tours who is principally an archeologist specializing in the middle ages. [He] wear[s] his formidable learning and authority lightly. [He] is the treasurer as well as being one of the best lecturers of the event. Amazingly his Wikipedia entry makes no mention of any interest in vines or wine."
This is the first time we have chosen an academic for Slotovino Wine Personality of the year and it is fitting that it goes to this wonderful person.14/15 Pierpaolo Lorieri,of Podere Scurtarola
13/14 Rafa Lopez, Bodegas Lopez Diaz-Alejo
12/13 Oszkar Maurer
11/12 Paul Draper, Ridge
10/11 Pravis, Trentino
09/10 Alan Wallace Bruzzo, Colli berici
08/09 Francisco Figuereido, Colares
Red wine of the year;
Dr. Lajos Gal's Menoire, Eger, Hungary.
Now this is going to set the cat among the pigeons. Menoir (aka Medoc Noir) has a taste some will be hard put to accept as that of (a red) wine. We at Slotovino think that wine drinkers need to have their horizons broadened more than ever. There are still those who call anything else but Bordeaux and Burgundy 'Country Wine'. Give them a taste of Menoir and they may be willing to embrace the Jura even. By the way, it has been established that Menoir is a native Hungarian variety. See our post in June 2015.
Menoir has another trick up its sleeve. It is a parent of - wait for it - Turan, another ground breaking taste.
Tiszta Szivvel means Pure Heart in Hungarian. This red wine made from Turan smote us good and proper at Terroir Club in Obuda. Again, these wines are only for the open-minded but they are fantastic fun if you give them a chance. See our post in April 2015
14/15Palazzo Tronconi Zitore (Lecinaro)
13/14 Vedernikov Vineyards Krasnostop Zolotovsky
12/13 Forlorn Hope Suspiro del Moro Alverelhao
09/10 Tocai Rosso
08/08 Vernaccia Nera
White wine of the year;
Dierdre Heekin 'La Garagiste' Vinu Jancu (La Crescent), Vermont.
In April 2016 we wrote;
"Dierdre Heekin, 'La Garagista' was next [at the Real Wine Fair, London].. Dierdre and her husband have a farm and restaurant in Vermont where they also grow and make their own wine. We are aware that wine is now made in every single state in the US but the opportunity to taste wines from most of them is practically nil thanks to the still restrictive shipping laws left over from Prohibition and the innate conservatism of most wine drinkers, American or not.
....we knew that [Ms. Heekin] has managed to make not just drinkable but in some cases delicious wines from hybrids we outside the USA and Canada know practically nothing about: Frontenac Gris and Noir, La Crescent, Brianna, Saint Croix and Marquette. These are hybrids obtained by Elmer Swenson for the University of Minnesota in the last century."
Vermont must be the most challenging of any of the regions from which we drank wine in 2015/16 or any year. That La Garagista can make wines as lovely as this one is an achievement indeed.
14/15 Brintziki Estate Tinaktorogos
13/14 Salena Estate Ink Series Bianco d'Alessano
Rosé wine of the yearBodegas Schatz, Ronda (Malaga) 'Z'
We had driven past the Schatz Bodegas near Ronda before and had actually importuned Herr Schatz himself by phone and at Vini Veri where we met him one year. He brought Lemberger (aka Blaufraenkisch) to Spain but his Rosado is not Lemberger but Moscatel Negro. This is surprising because according to 'Wine Grapes' Moscatel Negro is a synonym for our friend Listan Prieto or the Mision grape of South and Central America. However, Galet has it that Moscatel Negro is also Black Hamburgh or our other friend Trollinger which would be understandable given Herr Schatz's Wuerttemberg origins.
Whether Listan Prieto or Trollinger, this Rosado is just what we like in a ros.It has the intensity of any white or red. It avoids the neutrality and wateriness of so many light-pink roses. Wine-merchants prefer the latter because the sell more easily.
Incidentally take a look at the Bodegas Schatz website and check out the Organic/Biodynamic panel.
Amazing what goes into this kind of farming!
13/14 Lopez Diaz Araujo Royal
12/13 Rien que du fruit, Ganevat
11/12 Grisard Rose de Mondeuse
10/11 Strohmeier Blaue Wildbacher
09/10 Ackerman Sparkling Cabernet Franc
08/09 Vitkin Israeli Journey.
Paul Reder, 'Le Gris', Aramon Gris, Languedoc.
In March 2016, we wrote;
Orange wines can disappoint. This one does not...
Light Red wine of the year;
Domaine Gauletteries Pineau D'Aunis (80%), Gamay (10%) and Cabernet Franc (10%).
In January 2016, we wrote
A cuv e of 80% Pineau d'Aunis and 10% each of Gamay and Cabernet Franc from Domaine Gauletteries which is just lovely. One of those wines we come back to again and again.
This wine comes from Leon Stolarski 'New Classic Wines from Regional France', Nottinghamshire, England.
14/15 Haut Planty Abouriou (12%)
13/14 Gourdon Chenin Noir (Pineau d'Aunis), Loir
12/13 Bedell First Crush
10/11 Thierry Navarre: Les Oeillades
Special award for the re-establishment of an endangered variety;
Domaine Grisard, Jean-Pierre and Marie-Jo Grisard.
"Ce cepage oubli pendant des decenies retrouve enfin ses racines sur les coteaux d' boulis calcaire avec exposition plein Sud du Domaine...
Domaine Grisard...vnifions et embouteillons a la propriete plus de 40 cuv es de vins de terroir lev s dans le respect de la nature."
Jean-Pierre and Marie-Jo Grisard have rescued many local grape varieties of Savoie as has Michel Grisard and others, but we would like to give the prize this year to the former only because they have made commercial wine from more varieties they have saved from extinction than their namesakes. In particular we congratulate them on their 'Etraire de l'Adui' which is as obscure as the name suggests. Well we certainly had never heard of it.
14/15 Fabio Bartolomei of Vinos Ambiz, Sierra de Gredos west of Madrid. Grapes he is using include Dore and Malvar
13/14 Ognibene family, Negrettino
12/13 Longanese Uva Longanese and La Sabbiona Savignon Rosso
UK Winemerchant of the Year (London);
Bottle Apostle have been around since 2009 but have really hit their stride in the last couple of years. The selection is really diverse and the quality very dependable. Their branches in Clapham and Regents Park Road brings them a little nearer to the centre of London compared to their original branches in Crouch End and Victoria Park.
|Heavenly natural white from the Bical grape in idiosyncratic 50cl bottles|
|Note 11% Abv. Bottle Apostle seem to be the only place to buy this wine in the UK.|
Their selection is very much to our taste. Their staff are excellent. They have won tons of awards including Decanter's Large Independent Merchant of the year (2015).
14/15 Park and Bridge
13/14 The Sampler
12/13 259 Hackney Road
11/12 Highbury Vintners
10/11 Troubadour Wines
09/10 Artisan and Vine + Bertrand and Nicholas
08/09 Caves de Pyrene + Zelas
Winemerchant of the Year (rest of UK);
House of Townend
We had never heard of House of Townend, the well-established Hull based merchant but we met on the internet and are now firm friends as any of their customers are made to feel.
We topped up our order with a bottle of French Alicante Bouschet at only 12% and a bottle of Zilavka from Macedonia.
The 12 bottles came in a really solid cardboard box in record time accompanied by a beautifully produced set of notes tailored to our selection printed on luxurious paper with a message from John Townend which sounded both warm and sincere. In the bottom of the case was a 'Thank You' slip offering 10% off 'any of our bottles of fabulous wine.'
No wonder Hull will be European City of Culture in 2017.
13/14 The Good Wine Shop, Kew
0/11 Hendersons, Edinburgh
Winemerchant of the Year (rest of world)
Enoteca Trimani, Roma
Enoteca Trimani has been run by the Trimani family ever since its inception in 1821. According to Winesearcher, they list 3,218 wines. The Sr. Trimani we had the pleasure to meet (Francesco?) was familiar with the contents and back-story of every bottle we discussed. Admittedly these were only a fraction of the total but they were some of the less obvious ones and based on this experience we are convinced he could discuss all his stock in the same way.
That is not only impressive, it is possibly unique.
14/15 Barolo, Madrid
13/14 Chapitra 20, Paris
12/13 La Cartuja, Marbella
11/12 Ricerca Vini, Milano
10/11 Chambers St., NY
09/10 Caves des Pupilles, Paris + Auge, Paris
08/09 Astor Wines, New York + Per Bacco, Milan
Best UK Supermarket;
We've had fun at Aldi in Spain in the past. Their Tinto and Blanco only cost 89 cents a bottle and were not bad at all. You can't buy these bottles down the Old Kent Road however but you can buy a Hunter Valley Semillon with a bit of bottle age (2011) for only £6.99. We've had Hunter Valley Semillons which were not as good at twice the price.
Any supermarket that can do this gets our 'Supermarket of the year' award hands down. Aldi does other wine too!
11/12 Marks and Spencer
09/10 Whole Foods
For the first time we hail a Wine Importer as opposed to a Wine merchant (who may also be an importer). Our winner is
For sure they are merchants and also run a wine bar but their work in sourcing fascinating bottles from a shortlist of producers is what stands out here. For the moment you can't buy their wines online. As they have it on their website;
Welcome to The Winemakers ClubWine importer, shop and bar, we are passionate about high quality, organic and biodynamic wines from small, traditional wineries around the world.
We partner with our winemakers, those producing regional wines that reflect local flavours. We welcome the unusual and the interesting. Let us introduce you to the unsung heroes of the winemaking world.
After a decade of roaming to locate the finest vintners, we've made our home in the vaults of Holborn viaduct. Featuring brickwork of a Victorian magnitude, our space is packed to the arches with atmosphere and wine heritage.
In August 2016 we wrote;
Isabelle Legeron, moving spirit of the RAW Wine Fair has become involved in a marvelous initiative to help producers such as our favourite Oszkar Maurer to bring their wines to a wider public. This Kadarka is outstandingly fruity and delicious. Mr. Maurer's situation near the Serbian/Hungarian border means that his access to the EU is sometimes literally blocked by Hungarian border guards keeping him as well as immigrants and refugees out.
Jose Miguel Marquez is the only producer of wine from the Montpilas grape anywhere in the world.
Dino Briglio Nigro, Antonello Canonico and Emilio di Cianni are the world's only producers of a white wine made from 100% Guardavalle (Calabria).
Continuing with the sole producer and rarest grape variety theme, this is a 100% Medina from our recently discovered Hegy Kalo winery in Hungary (see our Terroir Club post). Medina? A variety unknown either to 'Wine Grapes' or even Galet. There's some Turan in the ancestry and indeed the wine has that unmistakable and to us marvelous black muscat taste. This is a dark rose with Cseres (Cherry) in the name.
Also from Hegy-Kalo was a red Turan/Kekfrankos blend, Oroksegul. We asked John Baum how come he was so interested in Hungarian wines and speaks what sounded like good Hungarian. He explained that he had had a Hungarian girlfriend before she threw him over. A sense of humour is obviously one of his many talents. He serves as a Decanter World Wine Awards judge and has experience in running pubs, being a Sommelier and selling wine to restaurants.
Another favourite from Paris this time was miraculously to be found at Winemaker's Club. More thought-reading than same wavelength it seems.
Here's the Winmaker's Club team. John and Robin Baum are 2nd and 3rd from the left. We congratulate them and wish them good luck for their excellent enterprise.
Worst Airport Duty Free
|that's about it.|
14/15 US Airports
13/14 Hong Kong
09/10 Berlin Tegel
Best Airport Duty Free;
|Matthies 'Souvenirs and More' the place to go for Schloss Wackerbarth's lovely local wines.|
If you go to Handelsgalerie Matthies 'Souvenirs and More' opposite the official Dresden Duty Free shop there are a few bottles of what looks like rip-off tourist stuff but are actually quite wonderful; Schloss Wackerbarth.
These were just two grape varieties on offer and count as some of the best Kerner and Scheurebe we have ever had the pleasure to drink. Don't be put off by the price; they are worth it. Sad that they are not sold at the official Duty Free but their presence here is enough to make this lowly tchotchke shop outstanding even in comparison with enormous Duty Free shops at major hubs selling just the usual suspects.
13/14 Hungaricum, Budapest Ferihegy Airport
10/11 Vino Volo (various US airports)
Most surprising wine discovery;
Aglianico vinificato in bianco.
|Aglianico is an extraordinarily versatile variety.|
|Sparkling Aglianico Rosato and Rosso|
|Another Aglianico vinificato in bianco bought in London|
Secondly there are Ros s as well as white wines from Aglianico not to mention sparkling wines both rosato and rosso also from Aglianico. Is there any grape as versatil
14/15 Colli di Candia Alpi Apuani
13/14 Jordanian Wine
12/13 Forlorn Hope Suspiro del Moro Alvarelhao
11/12 Chenancon found at Le Touquet
10/11 Biddenden Dornfelder
Most interesting wine trend;
|Could they have started it?|
14/15 Wine Education. There seems to be an ever increasing demand for wine courses, tutored tastings and so forth.
13/14 15%/16% wines
2/13 Emerging regions
11/12 New bottling materials (including paper)
10/11 Orange Wine
Most pleasant surprise;
English and Welsh Reds.
English and Welsh whites have generally been accepted as much better than the reds. There was a time when there were no drinkable reds at all if we remember correctly. Wines from Bernard Theobald's Wrotham Pinot vines in Berkshire and, before it became Sharpham, Beenleigh's attempts to grow Merlot in tunnels were not a huge success. Now we have a raft of not just drinkable but downright delicious reds.
Pioneers have included Biddenden's Gribble Bridge with their Dornfelder and yes, even their Gamay which we rather liked and then some of the grander Sparkling wine estates such as Gusborne making a Pinot Noir from what was not used in their fizzy cuv es. Expensive for what they were but very decent. At the other end of the price spectrum, Marks and Spencer have done an amazing job by commissioning young winemakers from Plumpton College to make a red exclusively for them. Their Rondo/Dornfelder was top notch. Chapel Hill are also up there with their Union Red Fruehburgunder/Pinot Noir/Dornfelder blend.
A big surprise was Ancre Hill's Triomphe made by carbonic maceration. We have chosen this as our best English or Welsh red only because we know to our cost how difficult it is to make a palatable wine out of this 'mal aimé' variety (see below).
At a garden party this year we came across Winbirri's 'Insignia' Dornfelder, Regent and Rondo blend. It was the perfect summer wine, from Norfolk noch.
Another small miracle is Yearlsone's No. 4 (Rondo); positively the best 100% Rondo we have tasted and the answer to those who consider Rondo as only good for adding colour. How do they do that? Roger White writes;
"We make our red a little differently to most. While the wine colleges teach traditional techniques of 7 days skin contact before pressing, we have evolved towards a much lighter touch - with 3/ days only. We feel that balances the Rondo better - without too heavy tannins. We also try our best to keep the must very cool before pressing to get more of the " primary " aromas."
This neatly explains how things evolve and why it is only now that good reds are coming through.
14/15 Massaretta/Barsaglina and Pollera
13/14 Glinavos 'Paliokairisio' Sparkling Orange wine, Zitsa, Greece
11/12 Bordeaux Clairet
10/11 Alternatives to Prosecco: Passerina, Pignoletto, Spergola
Prediction for the year ahead;
Looking at our previous predictions, we are clearly not infallible although these predictions may come to pass one day, probably many years ahead. Timing is everything. One of the first people to import Australian wine was Willie Lebus. He had the right idea but just before its time. He wasn't able to sit tight while the great British public woke up to the wines of Australia so he joined Bibendum where he has been a Director for many years so there was a happy ending.
2016 has been such a momentous year that the consequences particularly for us in the UK may be radical post Brexit. On the one hand, you can relay on people to keep going whatever is thrown in their way but it seems to us that imports from outside Europe may increase and those from Europe decrease.
|Rajeev Samant of Sula 'The man who got India drinking wine.'|
|Wu Lizhi, a winemaker with over 30 years' experience in Australia and China.|
Recent years have seen wines from Brazil, Uruguay, Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia, Turkey, even Peru and Syria becoming available here. China and India will surely eclipse thse countries one day?
14/15 Sadly ever more internet outlets will fail to remove out of stock wines from their websites and be recalcitrant in replacing or refunding faulty bottles.
13/14 Greece will have its day
2/13 Supermarkest to play safe while independents press ahead and prosper
11/12 The Chinese will buy up ever more producers
10/11 Fine Wine bubble will burst
09/10 Ever more branding
08/09 Lower alcohol
Best Restaurant winelist;
Morito, Exmouth Market and Hackney Road, London
Let it speak for itself;
dominio de tharsys
6.00 / 30.00(750ml)
cava brut nature - valencia
glass / carafe / bottle
4.00 / 11.00 / 20.00
airen – ourense, galicia
5.50 / 16.00 / 30.00
100% garnacha blanca - navarra, organic
adega de moncao 2014
4.50 / 13.00 / 25.00
vinho verde, albariño, treixadura - portugal
vina de martin 2014
7.75 / 22.50 / 43.00
treixadura, albariño, lado, torrontes – galicia
fp branco, filipa pato 2015
6.25 / 18.50 / 36.00
bical, arinto - bairrada, portugal
riu l’infernal 2013
8.25 / 24.00 / 46.00
grenache blanc, macabeo - priorat, organic
godello godeval 2014
6.00 / 17.50 / 34.00
100% godello - valdeorras, galicia
4.00 / 11.00 / 20.00
tempranillo – ourense, galicia
tinto joven, guimaro 2015
6.00 / 17.50 / 34.00
100% mencia - ribeira sacra *served chilled
ribeiro santo dao 2013
5.25 / 16.00 / 30.00
alfrocheiro preto, tinto roriz, touriga - portugal
tajinaste, listan negro 2014
6.50 / 19.00 / 37.00
100% listan negro - tenerife
vina almate, alfredo maestro 2015
5.75 / 17.00 / 32.00
100% tempranillo - valladolid
6.25 / 18.00 / 35.00
carignan, syrah, garnacha - montsant, organic, bio
5.75 / 16.50 / 32.00
syrah, touriga nacional - tejo, portugal
txakolin etxaniz rosado 2015
6.50 / 19.50 / 36.00
fino & manzanilla
5.00 / 32.00 (750ml)
tio pepe fino en rama
6.00 / 38.00 (750ml)
5.50 / 20.00 (375ml)
cesar florido, chipiona
5.00 / 35.00 (750ml)
bodegas sanchez ayala
5.50 / 36.00 (750ml)
11.50 / 42.00 (375ml)
6.00 / 40.00(750ml)
11.50 / 42.00 (375ml)
5.50 / 38.00 (750ml)
5.50 / 36.00 (750ml)
11.00 / 40.00 (375ml)
el maestro sierra
7.50 / 25.00 (375ml)
bodegas el maestro sierra
6.50 / 22.50 (375ml)
cesar florido, chipiona
14/15 Enoteca Marcucci, Pietrasanta
13/14 Maialino, New York
12/13 Caravan, London
11/12 Nouvelle Vague, Genova
10/12 Cafe Muzio, New York
09/10 Locanda Locatelli, London
08/09 Gramercy Tavern, New York
Best kept wine secret;
You can read all about our Debut in Romania in our post from December 2015. It was quite an eye-opener given that our experience hitherto had been limited to the two Feteascas and some Pinot Noir.
Here are some of Romania's indiginous grape varieties and crosses and hybrids obtained there;
Busuioaca de Bohotin
Cadarca si Steinschiller (Steinschiller is 'Kovidinka in German!)
Francusa (aka. Mustoasa de Moldova)
Galbena de Odobesti
Grasa de Cotnari
Majarca Alba (ancient Balkan variety producing generally uninspiring whites. aka, Slankemenka)
Mustoasa de Maderat
Plavaie (said to be no longer cultivated but still grown by Podgoria Odobesti (bless them!)
Zghihara de Husi
Many of the white grapes seem to have a Muscat element. We discovered the delights of Feteasca Regala over the more prosaic Feteasca Alba. The reds of our acquaintance (Novac and Feteasca Dragosani) are warm, substantial and age-worthy. Winemaking skills are rather good and it is inspiring to see how many historic estates and properties are coming back to life and how many new initiatives are undertaken. Talented people these Romanian winemakers!
14/15 Czech wine.
13/14 Greek Wine
12/13 Lighter style of Bobal
11/12 Georgian Wines
08/09 New York State
Best English or Welsh Red;
Ancre Hill, Carbonic Maceration Triomphe
We have bemoaned the variety Triomphe d'Alsace throughout this blog because we mistakenly planted it ourselves in our little plot in the Thames Valley in the early 1990s. Since then not only we but everyone else has failed to make a drinkable Triomphe in our experience. Even wines with Triomphe in the blend are no good. It's like having one tone deaf singer in a choir.
How impressive then is Ancre Hill's effort by Carbonic Maceration.We also know to our cost that this is a tricky procedure but Ancre Hill have brought it off impressively. They have invested seriously in their winery in Monmouthshire (Wales) and it is expensive for what it is at the moment at least but here is the proof that miracles are possible.
14/15 Plumpton College Rondo/Dornfelder
13/14 Seddlescombe Regent
12/13 Biddenden Gamay
11/12 Bolney Pinot Noir
Best English White;
Somerby Vineyards 'Magna Carta.' Solaris.
This wine has appeared more than once in our blog and for a good reason. It is delicious in itself. It avoids the old cut-grass Englishness of yore and it is made from the No-Spray variety, Solaris. 'Wine Grapes' has it that Solaris produces tooth-rottingly sweet wines. That may be the case 'on the continent' but in Lincolnshire it doesn't get ripe enough to cause dental problems and turns out well balanced and lovely. We bought 6 bottles from Waitrose online when they were having one of their promotions which brought the price down to a reasonable level. Highly recommended.
14/15 Charlie Herring's Sauvignon Blanc
13/14 Quoins Orion
12/13 Stopham Pinot Blanc
11/12 Biddenden Gribble Ridge Ortega
We didn't read any wine books this year (shame) but constantly consulted the three winners below. We look forward to the new edition of 'Wine Grapes' in particular as well as Carla Capalbo's tome (rumoured to be 400pp) on Georgian Wine and food.
14/15 Wink Lorch's 'Jura Wine'.
13/14 Ian D'Agata's 'Native Winegrapes of Italy'
12/13 'Wine Grapes' Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and Jose Vouilamoz