Episode 78 – 22nd September 2021
A Baker’s Dozen from Amathus
72 Old Brompton Road
London SW7 3LQ
I have never been to an Amathus tasting before. I have tasted loads of their wines, but never in an Amathus store. If you haven’t ever visited one either (there are eight in the country), then get on down. The selection of spirits is like nothing I have ever seen – simply staggering (my photo shows some of the elite whiskies under lock and key). I know nothing about spirits, so this was not the reason for my visit. I was there at the invitation of Jeremy Lithgow MW, wine buyer, who has assembled a rather quirky and intriguing collection of wines. Jeremy has a laser-guided palate, if ever there was one, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of all of his finds to boot. Here is a baker’s dozen shopping list with some of my ‘one-liners’ on the bottles which caught my eye. I am sure that a handful of these finds will pop up in my various columns over the next few months, but my WW fans deserve a head start today.
NV Robert Roth, Crémant d’Alsace, Brut 1845, France £19.50
Made from a single Pinot Blanc vineyard, this is a fabulously classy wine with a unique stance on the palate, and it has a lot more freshness and zip than I was expecting. A delightful surprise.
NV Terra Serena, Prosecco Rosé, Veneto, Italy £12.50
No messing around here – this is an epic little number with just enough Pinot Noir to lend it a degree of sophistication on the nose, too!
2019 Fireman’s Line, Ribolla Gialla, Schiopetto, Friuli, Italy £23.00
Stunningly perfumed and evocative on the palate, this is a sensational Ribolla, and it is a revelation to discover this entry-level Schiopetto range for the first time.
2020 Abad, Godello, Dom Bueno, Bierzo, Spain £14.50
Great value, clean fruit with just the right amount of Godello flesh around its hips. This is a mildly exotic wine with a stylish finish and a lovely lick of acidity that perfectly balances the generous mid-palate.
2019 The Azores Wine Company, Branco Vulcânico, Azores, Portugal £25.50
I love the label, and while the price is jolly steep, this Arinto / Verdelho blend certainly offers a wildly different flavour than any wine I have tasted before, and for that reason alone, it is worth a punt. If you are a cruel sort then take it around to wine friends and watch them flounder as they taste it blind and attempt to determine its origins!
2019 Menetou-Salon, Berthier, Loire, France £18.00
It’s nice to see a benchmark Menetou, at the top of its game, and from a lovely vintage that is drinking perfectly right now. Cool, pebbly, honest Sauvignon is a surprisingly difficult style of wine to locate these days!
2018 Gewurztraminer, Terres de Grès, Robert Roth, Alsace, France £17.50
I rarely drink Gewurz, but when I do, this is what I am after. Everything is in place, and nothing is too forced or showy – just as it should be with this oft-extrovert grape. This is the second Roth wine in this line-up, so well done to this estate!
2018 Nebbiolo d’Alba, Bosio, Boschi dei Signori, Piemonte, Italy £15.00
While this wine is, strictly speaking, a little too youthful right now, I cannot ignore the accuracy and value afforded here. Grab a few bottles and give it another six months, and I venture this will be a stunning find, especially as prices continue to rise every year in this epic wine region.
2020 Barahonda, Tinto Barrica, Yecla, Spain £14.00
Made from 60% Monastrell and 40% Syrah, this is a hilarious car crash of black fruit, sweet spices and coffee beans and I absolutely love it. Epic value, non-stop action, mouth-filling, interesting and unexpected, too – this is a must-buy.
2019 Head, Red GSM, Barossa, South Australia £22.00
This wine is about as mellow and soothing as any Grenache / Syrah / Mataro I have tasted. Imagine an Aussie Rhône blend made by a cool-climate Pinot aficionado, and you are halfway there. Indulgent and also extremely clever, this is a delicious wine, and it is drinking now.
2019 Paritua, Stone Paddock Syrah, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand £20.50
There are clearly a large number of stones in this particular paddock because the minerality and pepper spice in this dark-hued wine is almost overpowering. The perfume is terrific, and there is a delicious cigar box note here, too, which I find very attractive. This is a great red to throw into a mass of Crozes and St.-Josephs to see which will be the last bottle standing.
Sweet & Fortified
2017 Jurançon, Pas de Deux, Domaine Nigri, South West France £12.00 half bottle
Spot on. An ancient style but with a modern, tender, freshly fruited appeal, this is a beautiful wine with a gentle, soothing palate and expressive, fruit-driven sweetness. Divine.
NV Argüeso 1822 Amontillado, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain £20.00 50cl bottle
Only heroes need apply here because this is a brutally honest and searingly dry Monti with 20 years of slumber under its belt. All it wants to do is to re-educate your palate and raise your Amontillado bar to newfound heights.