WINE CLUB

NOW THAT DRY JANUARY IS OVER , IT’S TIME TO DIG OUT THE CORKSCREW AND EXPAND YOUR PALATE BY EXPERIMENT ING WI TH A NEW SELECTION OF WINES…

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Underappreciated and under-priced
“What to drink more of? The key is exploration, exploration and exploration,” says Ewan Murray, PR manager for
The Wine Society, the world’s oldest wine club.
“The classics have always been there, and always will be, but there is so much else to be enjoyed from around the world at rather excellent prices to broaden horizons. “Why not try something from, say, Moldova or Uruguay,” adds Murray,
who recommends Juanico Benteveo Chardonnay 2015, Juanico, Uruguay  (£7.50, www.thewinesociety.com), an unoaked and lively chard with a hint of honey, along with Individo Feteasca, Chateau Vartely 2015, Moldova (£8.50, www.thewinesociety.com), a soft and fruity red made from feteasca neagra, the region’s oldest native grape.

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Salt of the earth
“Mount Etna (in the north east of Sicily) is a special place and the power of the mountain is captivating,” says Davy Zyw, wine buyer, Laithwaites, who works with a few different wineries on the north and south of the volcano. “Our Nicosia Classic 2013, Etna Rosso, DOC, Italy (£12.49, www.laithwaites.co.uk) launched last year and has been flying out the door.

“Stylistically, it sits between Burgundy and Piedmont – serious, perfumed wines with intensity, minerality and tension. The wine is a blend of nerello mascalese and nerello cappuccio, both varieties indigenous to the region, which gives
a unique fruity character and an electric volcanicity.”

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Hot property
Situated in the north of Chile, the Elqui Valley was previously a little-known wine region until Vina Falernia put it on the wine lovers’ map. A mecca for astronomers due to its high altitude, clarity of air and rural setting, Elqui has some of the most famous observatories in the world as the light is so pure, meaning it’s perfect for star gazing… and winemaking.

“The light is also perfect for the photosynthesis of vines, which translates into extra colour, ripeness and generosity of flavour, like our Alta Tierra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2015, Elqui Valley, Chile (£10.49, www.laithwaites.co.uk), and Alta Tierra Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013, Elqui Valley, Chile (£12.99, www.laithwaites.co.uk),” says Zyw.

Both are produced by the Falernia winery, who saw the potential for producing fine wines (with added complexity) in this semi-arid valley that benefits from the altitude and freshness offered by the mountains, compared to the fertile flat heartlands of the Central Valley.

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Cremant c’est chic
If you want to find wines with personality, FromVineyardsDirect.com deliver wine direct from the vineyard to the buyer
(cutting out the middle man) and they tip cremant as the next favourite sparkling wine.

“A gorgeous French champagne-like sparkling wine with lower acidity and alcohol, it’s half the price of its champagne equivalent (or English for that matter), and a big step up from Prosecco,” says Esme Johnstone, managing director, who recommends Cremant de Bourgogne Millesime, Cave de Lugny 2013, France (£14.95, www.fromvineyardsdirect.com) for its freshness and “nose full of fruit and hint of creamy nuttiness that enlivens the taste buds”, and the fact that it’s made from very high-quality grapes.

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Buying tip for Bordeaux
A claret for keeps, if you’re not familiar with some of the lesser known Bordeaux regions, Johnstone cites Fronsac (on the Right Bank) as the Bordeaux to be feted by savvy wine lovers.

“Fronsac is Bordeaux’s forgotten appellation that lives in St Emilion’s shadow. It often makes better wines at very much lower prices. Many of Bordeaux’s most famous wine makers have their own vineyards there, for example, world-renowned wine consultant, Michel Rolland,” says Johnstone.

He recommends Chateau La Vieille Cure Fronsac 2004, Bordeaux, France  (£19.95, www.fromvineyardsdirect.com), a mature Bordeaux from a respectable vintage that’s drinking beautifully and offers jammy fruit and savoury flavours from its predominantly merlot base. In perfect balance as it approaches peak maturity, Johnstone says the 2004 is a claret to be savoured now.

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Roaming down under
“In recent years, the pendulum has swung away from the rich, overly oaky styles of chardonnay and jammy Shiraz here in Australia,” says Mitchell Taylor, managing director and third generation winemaker at Wakefield Wines in the cool Clare Valley, South Australia.

Taylor reveals there’s been a movement towards very lean styles of chardonnay and highly restrained fruit in the reds – Shiraz and cabernet wines – almost to the point of being ungenerous and not always delicious to drink.

“In 2017, you will see the pendulum swing back a little towards wines with more balance or, as our winemaker Adam Eggins likes to call it, ‘powerful elegance’ – wines with more fruit character and full flavours, but with judicious use of oak and delicacy of winemaking.

“We recommend revisiting classic Aussie wines like our Wakefield Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz – both available in Majestic nationwide, to see this for yourselves.”

Wakefield Estate Shiraz 2015, Clare Valley, Australia (£11.99, or £8.99 mix 6, Majestic)
Wakefield Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Clare Valley, Australia (£11.99, or £8.99 mix 6, Majestic).

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