Episode 119 – Six beauties from Stone, Vine & Sun
27th July 2022
(w) www.stonevine.co.uk (e) firstname.lastname@example.org
2021 Las Colinas del Ebro, Garnatxa Blanca, Terra Alta, Spain £10.75
I have a soft spot for this wine, or perhaps I should rephrase this. I have a brittle, ice-pick sharp spot for this wine in my mental vinous directory of flavour, and in 2021 it is, again, in piercingly pure form. With crunchy, green apple skin notes and a bitingly fresh, chalky and raspy finish, this is a thrilling ‘Grenache Blanc’ from the wilds of Terra Alta. Look no further if you fancy a dramatic, dry, invigorating wine with the same shape and size as a crisp Chablis but with a wilder and more untamed attitude. One final thought – the price tag here is insanely competitive for this skill level.
2019 Koelfontein, Chardonnay, Ceres, South Africa £13.95
This is the first time I have tasted wine from this label, and judging by the number of gaudy medals hanging around its neck, a couple of excited souls have beaten me to it! I am always wary of gong-drenched wines, but this one is a beauty. It is not especially showy, but the fruit is ripe, smooth with hints of exoticism that tease the senses. What I admire most about this Cape Chardonnay is its brightness and freshness on the finish. Many wines build flavour and never seem to know when to stop. But Keolfontein flirts with your tasted buds, brings succulence and style, and then retreats gracefully and with impressive poise. Once again, the value here is staggering.
2020 Hoddles Creek, Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia £20.50
In contrast to Keolfontein’s impressive flavour/price ratio, you can expect more perfume, control, daring and length for your cash in this spectacular Yarra beauty, which is worth paying for. Weighing in at a fit 13.2% alcohol and keeping its oak corsetry to a bare minimum, this is a ravishingly alluring Chardonnay with more keen, green notes than many, and this keeps it focussed and nervy. The mid-palate is remarkably calm – the eye of the storm – and the finish kicks off with as much action as the glorious nose. This is a catwalk stunner – striding confidently, with mesmerising momentum, across your palate. It is bright enough to employ long before the main course hits the table, such is its energy, but it will want to maintain its position, centre-stage, long after the plates have been cleared. This wine commands attention and gets what it deserves.
2019 Cháteau Barréjat, Tradition, Madiran, South West France £10.95
It is hard to believe that I am writing up a ten-quid (OK, £11) Madiran in the hottest spell in our nation’s history, but there are many reasons why this wine should be unleashed this summer and into the autumn, too. Barréjat is a very rare wine indeed. This tender, silky, medium-minus, as opposed to medium-plus-weight wine, is as refreshing and as harmonious as the Beaujolais that follows. The main difference is that it has a darker punnet of berries forming its core of flavours with a hint of spice, coal and beetroot, giving it a faint Madiran signature. What I find so remarkable about this wine is that while it has wonderful minerality underpinning the exuberance of plummy fruit, there is no tannin here whatsoever. It is an effortlessly classy, inexpensive French regional glugger, and I raise a large glass to its success. I am not sure if anyone will give it a whirl, but I promise there is all the fun of the fair to be had here, and it chills spectacularly, too!
2020 Régnié, Vieilles Vignes Cuvée Gerard, Lagneau, Beaujolais, France £14.25
I cannot remember the last time I wrote up a Régnié, given it is the least starry of the ten Beaujolais Cru Villages, so it was nice that this wine stood up on my tasting bench and summoned me over with welcoming, generous, textbook Gamay generosity and openness. Fruit bomb? Yes, but controlled and with none of the puppy-dog enthusiasm, one finds in lesser creations. This old vine cuvée knows better than that, and this is why there is a lovely depth of plum, cherry and mulberry fruit under the surface that keeps it honest and centred. Once again, the value is amazing here, and it goes without saying that this wine will be a useful wine for all occasions and all palates, such is its seamless texture and crowd-pleasing flavour.
2019 Hoddles Creek, Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia £20.50
The yin to the yang or the yang to the yin of deliciously refined Chardy above is this equally leggy and lithe Pinot Noir. Everything about this wine is intriguing and sophisticated, from the curiously pale hue to the magical hedgerow perfume and the slim-hipped, resonant palate. The cherry stone flavour is crimson-soaked and floral as opposed to dark and/or oaky, which means that it casts a spell on the senses with its pervasive nuances and penetrates the palate, leaving one feeling lighter, headier and more keenly aware of one’s faculties. This is an enchanting wine that would be equally at home with fish or chicken main courses, given its poise and elegance, but I would be keen to try it with all manner of Asian and Indian cuisine, too, because there are herbal touches here that would chime perfectly with more challenging recipes. I urge you to taste this Hoddles Creek pair. They have uniqueness and authenticity to them that I particularly enjoy.