Recommending Wine

Fellow Wine Lovers,

What has happened in the world this week then? From our unseasonably mild, socially distanced outside seat we have noticed that all is not well at No.10. Lee Cain, who has nothing to do with oven chips yet everything to do with running the country as an unelected “communications officer” who has Boris Johnson’s ear, has resigned.

For our part we’re hoping he gave Boris his ear back before he left but also there is an outside hope that self-proclaimed superspreader (err, I think you might mean superforecaster!) might himself take off on a one way trip, as Lee was his mate.

Fortunately, there is nothing else pressing on the agenda, the global pandemic has turned tail and fled, and the country is absolutely fully prepared and ready for the all the opportunities that the Brexit deal is presenting us with in January.

Here at Park Vintners towers there’s been a bit of a to-do as well. Both Wayne and Alex were tasked with recommending a red wine to a customer, who took both home for the weekend to try. Now when we recommend wines, we obviously try and fit the wine to the brief we’ve been given. In this case there had been talk of low intervention, interesting grape varieties and genuine drinkability and interestingly we both chose wines from countries that speak Spanish, and indeed even contained similar grape varieties.

Expecting the big reveal on Monday, we waited on tenterhooks wondering whose choice had proven most drinkable. Well I can tell you we were both disappointed to hear nothing on Monday, the jury still being out by all accounts. Well, when the result came to us on Tuesday there was some surprise and consternation , Alex well and truly spat the dummy out,  refusing to accept that Wayne had chosen the more approved of wine. Rufus, in his capacity as Chief of Spaniels, hastily arranged a press conference in the car park at Pets at Home and Wayne cheekily recommended Alex’s choice to another customer in the interim. Fortunately sense has prevailed, we’ve sorted our differences over a game of tiddledywinks, and it has been agreed that wine recommendation is not a competitive sport unless you’re an American Sommelier in Molly Birnbaum’s “Season to Taste”. The usual zen like calm has returned to 126 Arthur Road.

In other wine news, we’ve had a backwards and forwards with our chum Jack. Those of you with long memories will recall he is a long-time confidant who tends to provide us with the occasional bit of posh kit, interesting information on obscure parts of the wine trade and good laughs on the odd occasion we get to the pub. Not so many laughs this year for obvious reasons but we have to hold our hands up and say we’ve bought some nice bits of claret from him.

We’ll start off by saying that, as always, we’ve tried to choose wines that are just coming to their perfect spot for maximum pleasure, we’ve unusually gone with all the same vintage because 2006 is just bang on the button now. Personally, I’d have to say the Haut-Bailly isn’t one we see very often so we certainly weren’t going to pass up an opportunity to get what Jean Delmas, winemaker at Haut Brion for 40 odd years, described as the best terroir in Pessac-Leognan bar none.

Château Haut Batailley 2006, Pauillac – £55

“Tasted at a vertical tasting at the château. The 2006 Haut Batailley is a wine that I have always appreciated and at ten years of age, I have no reason to change that view. It has a such a lively and vivacious bouquet, especially when compared to the sultrier (if ultimately superior 2005 Haut-Batailley). The palate is underpinned by very fine tannin, the acidity quite noticeable but simply lending freshness and tension. There is a sense of this being a Pauillac that is tightly coiled and there is a lot of energy on the finish. This is a great success for the vintage, but if you can wait another couple of years, it should manifest more intriguing secondary notes and turn into a more interesting Pauillac. Tasted July 2016. Drink Date 2018 – 2035”

Score: 91 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (231), June 2017

Château Haut-Bailly 2006, Pessac-Leognan – £90

“The 2006 Château Haut-Bailly has a refined and pure bouquet with hints of dark chocolate infusing the precise red berry fruit. I love the way this seductively unfurls in the glass, as if a finger is beckoning you. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, a keen line of acidity, quite grippy and backward towards the finish, suggesting that this will benefit from another year or two in bottle. Elegance and power here, a Haut-Bailly cruising at a high level.” 

Score: 93 Neal Martin,, May 2016

Leoville Barton 2006, St Julien – £90

“Not surprisingly, this wine is closed, masculine, but super-rich, with a denser, more complete and full-bodied style than its sibling, Langoa Barton. Some toasty vanillin is apparent in the black currant aromas intermixed with tobacco leaf, cedar, and spice box. The wine is full-bodied and has a boatload of tannin, not unusual for this estate, as well as an impressively pure, long finish. Everything is here, but this wine, made with uncompromising vision, is meant to be cellared for an exceptionally long period of time. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2035.” 

Score: 91+Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (181), February 2009

Domaine Belleville Chambole-Musigny ‘Les Drazeys’ 2015 – £62

Tasting the wines at this estate are one of the reasons we joined an independents buying group. This is beautifully aromatic with violets, dark cherry, raspberry and black tea leaf character. The palate has a lovely mouthfeel with silky tannins, those same berry fruits, a touch of minerality and a really long finish. When we first tasted it, we gave it a very rare 3 ticks on the tasting sheet. As far as we can see keeping a little back in the cellar for an extra year has meant we’re just about the only stockists in the UK now. Very Limited.

For the white wine drinkers amongst you lets chat about Christian Bellang…

In 1974 Christian Bellang took over his parents’ estate with vines mainly in Meursault as well as some of his father in law’s vines in Savigny-Lès-Beaune. His son Christophe joined him in 1995 and together they expanded the estate to a total of 9 hectares. Today Christophe manages the estate and bottles around 40% of production under his own label. He makes wines which are fruit forward, easy going and perfect for drinking young.

Vines are grown according to the principles of Lutte Raisonnée. The wines are vinified in oak barrels using indigenous yeasts and are aged barrel for between 10 and 18 months depending on the vintage and the appellation.

Meursault 1er Cru Les Charmes 2017 – £55

This 1er Cru  at the southern end of the village is probably the best known of Meursault’s lieux dits, it is also the largest. This land has some of the best terroir in the Cote d’Or for white wine with its rocky, calcerous soils underpinned by broken limestone bedrock. This is wonderful, fruit forward in the house style but with some velvet glove power and a real elegance to it. Scrumptious!

Now that we’ve whet the appetite a little, who’s thirsty?

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