Wednesday Wines – Episode 3

This week, I have totally and utterly bent my own rules, as I feature a sub-tenner wine which is only a half-litre bottle!  In full bottle format it would be £12.00, so apologies!  My over-£10 wine is a true game-changer for its winery.  I hope that you enjoy reading about these two delicious wines.

NV La Gitana, Manzanilla, Hidalgo, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain (£8.00, 500ml bottle, select Sainsbury’s & 

La Gitana is already a world-famous wine – I am sure that I don’t need to tell you this, but it doesn’t stop me banging the Manzanilla drum as often and as loud as I can.  This benchmark Manzanilla is a white-knuckle ride of bitingly fresh citrus fruit with a faint salty tang.  This ultra-dry sherry is water white in colour and rapier-sharp in flavour.  It is the ultimate aperitif as well as being the expert match to all manner of tapas.  Make sure you keep a bottle in your fridge door every single day of the year – you never know when a quick glass might be needed to calm your nerves.  In these testing times, I imagine that you might have a small glass every day!  It makes sense to stock up on the 500ml bottles because they keep their freshness better than a larger bottle once they are open.  Cheers.

2015 Wiston, Estate Cuvée (approx. £36.00,,,,,,,,

I have been following the Wiston story for a long while now and this is definitely one of the most reliable wineries in the top echelon of English sparkling wine.  While the wines are always correct and professionally assembled I have felt, privately, that there has always been a little something missing.  Nothing dramatic, just a nagging feeling that this estate has yet to truly hit the high notes.

I sense that this ‘little something missing’ issue happens a lot in the wine world, more often than not with wineries with lofty reputations.  I call it the final 2%.  I am fortunate to have tasted a fair number of ‘perfect’ 20/20 wines in my 34 years in the wine business.  These are wines that have benefitted greatly from the stars aligning as well as the winemaking working in perfect harmony with its epic raw materials.  These wines line up hallowed ground, a great growing season, intuitive picking dates, super-sensitive and patient winemaking and highly experienced ‘finishing’.  When all of this is done, then, and only then, can you tell if a wine stands the chance of attaining a perfect score.   If not, no worries – these wines will always be able to achieve 98% of their potential and who doesn’t admire a near-perfect creation?  But the final 2% is as hard to come by as the other 98 individual percentage points combined.  Only those estates who understand this philosophy will be able to shoot for the stars.  They may never achieve a perfect score, but they will not stop trying.  Those who think 98% is enough will always, by definition, fall short.

This rambling introduction to my impression of this wine is important in this instance because 2015 Wiston Estate Cuvée is a wine that finally knows where is sits in the pursuit of perfection.  While this is not a perfect wine it is a very impressive creation indeed.  What I noticed when I tasted this wine was that it has that tiny bit of magic that I was searching for, but never found, in previous vintages.

This shows me that something has happened at Wiston – a realisation if you will.  I have no idea what this might be, only they will know, and I doubt they will share, why should they?  But what excited me about this wine is not only its elite pedigree but its self-confident swagger, complete control, and lack of any arrogance or bluster and this has allowed it to bare its soul to the taster.  This is a stunningly honest piece of winemaking.

Made from 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay and 22% Pinot Meunier and fermented in a mixture of old Burgundy barrels, it remained on its lees for three years and was treated to only 8g/l dosage.  Released in January this year, this is a pivotal wine for Wiston and I am certain that it will shock anyone who tastes it.  Drinking now, it will age gracefully for five to eight years, too.  I urge anyone who reads this note to track this wine down because I hope that you will see in this wine what I do.  It is genuinely impressive.

Every Wednesday, during this extraordinary ‘lockdown’ period, I will select one wine under a tenner and one wine over a tenner that I think offer particular value for money and also a huge amount of joy on both the nose and palate. These two wines are designed to lift your mood while we are all confined to our homes. Each of the merchants featured during this series is able to deliver to your doorstep, so you should be able to order easily and receive the wines without too much delay.

I hope that you enjoy this bonus feature on! It’s the very least I can do to keep my readers topped up with excellent wines. As always, I will only feature wines which I adore and which also represent terrific value for money.

Stay safe.

Best wishes, Matthew