In the world of wine buying, spring is a period that I love. Whilst respecting everything that governments around the world are doing to overcome Covid-19, it has been wonderful to see the most magnificent displays of daffodils and blossom on the precious occasions that we can venture outside. It has certainly helped revive my spirits during these difficult times. In normal circumstances I would have been in Bordeaux and Burgundy these past few weeks, enjoying vineyard visits and admiring a new generation of life on the vines, with the initial stages of budding giving birth to a new harvest and crop.
Sadly, it is not to be this year. However, I’m lucky not to have been denied all the pleasures of a wine buyer’s life, namely sampling and tasting the latest vintages from the wineries. Tasting a wine for the first time still fills me with as much childlike excitement as it did on the very first day that I entered the world of wine. There is something about the unknown to it, never really knowing what to expect. It is possibly the envy of my colleagues that my place of work is totally mobile: I have simply moved the Goedhuis tasting room from Bermondsey to my home in the Suffolk countryside. Our search for new and exciting wines continues as fortunately it is still possible for our wine producer friends to deliver samples and they remain as eager as ever to send their latest wines for me to assess. What has changed though is my buying team and assistance, which is no longer an army of Wine & Spirit Education Trust educated colleagues but the next generation of keen and avid wine drinkers, my children, the 20 to 25-year olds!
I am enjoying sharing my passion and love of wine with them, but they’re also teaching me a thing or two, notably that tastes and fashions change. Whereas I might seek layers of mature secondary and tertiary flavours, they are a wonderful reminder of the joys of youthful exuberance. The hedonistic expression of rich succulent primary fruits can be equally intoxicating and similarly exciting and, whilst I might in some instances think a wine still a little too young and may benefit from an additional year or two in bottle, they are keen to put me right and are chomping at the bit to pull the corks!
This last week’s sampling has consisted of a wonderful selection. Firstly, the new 2019 vintage from the Loire with Bernard Reverdy’s intoxicating 2019 Sancerre and then arguably one of the most consistent performers on our list year-on-year, Benjamin and Mallory Talmard’s wonderful Mâcon Montbellet. The 2019s certainly lived up to all my expectations and pallets of both wines have now been collected from the two estates and are heading back to our warehouse as I write.
2019 Sancerre Domaine Bernard Reverdy
Gentle lime tinge in the glass. Attractive aromas white peach, hints of lilac and fresh currants. On the palate it balances a subtle ripeness with appealing ripe fruits. This is a very clean, pure and scented style with a gentle line of freshness providing an uplifting and refreshing finish. Drink 2020- 2023
2019 Mâcon Montbellet Mallory Benjamin Talmard
Light lemon-yellow colour. Plenty of floral aromas with notes of nectarine and honeysuckle. On the palate this is a lovely expression of an unoaked Chardonnay from the Mâcon region, clean, pure and bright. A wine of charm, appeal and harmony with hints of peach and tangerine and a delicate seam of freshness on the finish.
Next off was an education for the boys on the wines of Bordeaux and the philosophy behind the second wine at the great classified estates. We could not have selected three more benchmark estates: Ch Léoville Barton in St Julien with their 2016 Réserve de Léoville Barton; Ch Rauzan Ségla in Margaux with the 2015 Ségla and finally Ch Canon in St Emilion with the simply superb 2015 Croix Canon. All three express the concept of a second wine to perfection as not only are they totally reflective of their origins, showing both the characteristics of the château itself and of the appellation, but they are also a true example of the style and quality of the vintage. Finally, they all have a youthful accessibility and offer great value for money. This was a stunning range which will be exciting additions to our list in the very near future.
2015 Croix Canon
Hints of scented vanilla and mocha with a touch of violets on the nose. This is a true expression of the volume and richness of high-class Merlot fruit, with exotic dark summer fruit flavours. It has a fine velvety texture thanks to harmonious tannins and the wine remains fresh in the mouth thanks to Cabernet Franc that gives wonderful list. A lovely touch of St Emilion poise and ideal for drinking over the next 5 years.
Striking dark cassis aroma with a hint of graphite and that typical iodine Cabernet scent. This is a wine with weight, depth and structure. Ch Rauzan Ségla is always a bolder style of Margaux than some of its neighbours and this is felt in the superb 2015. It possesses all the richness and sweet rounded tannic core one would expect while also giving great drive and energy, as well as superb length. My final comment was that this is a Margaux with attitude. Exciting!
2016 Réserve de Léoville Barton
Deep opaque colour, this is full of dark bramble fruits and has an enticing fruit compote character. There is excellent intensity of fruit as well as vigour, weight and composure. A wine expressing some of the finesse of St Julien but with a degree of Pauillac power. Great length and will benefit from a further year in bottle before hitting its prime.