How does the 2019 edition of Wilson on Wine compare to the first from 2015? Well it’s a different colour for a start, but the changes have been subtle improvements with each edition. The indices in the back are very helpful, so you can look up particular wines or see which wines are listed from your favourite wine merchants. For the first time there’s a natural wine section – wines that can be a little different so might not suit the unprepared – but what better way to prepare than having someone recommend a few!
Part 1 looked at the wines we tasted that were particularly good value for money; now we look at some which were just exceedingly good:
Granzamy Brut Champagne NV (12.0%, RRP €34.95 at O’Briens)
This Champagne has a few unusual facets considering its distribution through a multiple retailer:
- It’s a “Grower Champagne”, i.e. the grapes used are the producer’s own rather than being bought in (see this post on Champagne types for more background).
- It’s made from 100% Pinot Meunier, the third Champagne grape which is often unfairly looked down upon.
- It’s totally delicious!!
Granzamy fully deserves its normal price of €34.95 but is sometime on promotion at €5 or even €10 less, making it an absolute steal. When Champagnes are discounted this low they aren’t usually that nice, but this is an exception. Looks out for promotions and fill your boots!
Gaia Wild Ferment Assyrtiko 2016 (13.0%, RRP €24.95 at O’Briens)
Gaia’s Wild Ferment Assyrtiko is a regular on Frankly Wines and the 2016 vintage is now singing sweetly. It manages to reflect both its volcanic and maritime origins with thrilling acidity and soft stone fruit. As always, the Wild Ferment makes itself known through an attractive funkiness on the nose. The simpler little brother Monograph gives a good introduction to the grape, but this is still one of the finest examples I’ve tried.
Stonier Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay 2016 (13.5%, RRP €26.95 at O’Briens)
The Mornington Peninsula is one of the most southerly wine regions in mainland Australia, giving cool conditions which are great for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. For me, this wine is the proof that natural wine is not the only way to make good wine. I do like plenty of wines which are considered natural, but judicious intervention in terms of wine making choices can add interest, without artificial chemicals in the vineyard or winery. The grapes are sourced from different sites around the region, and then around half (from the coolest sites) are allowed to go through malolactic fermentation which softens and rounds the wine. Some oak is used in various formats, but only 15% is new.
With its struck match reductive funky nose and fleshy citrus mouthfeel, this is the sort of wine that would have a €60+ price tag on it if it was from Burgundy!
Weingut Rabl Grüner Veltliner Käferberg 2015 (13.5%, RRP €24.95 at O’Briens)
I like “regular” Grüners, whether from Austria, New Zealand or elsewhere, but special ones like this make a really good ambassador for the grape. It has texture, richness and a depth of flavour that place “Beetle Mountain” ahead of the rest. For Alsace fans this has quite a lot in common with a superior Pinot Gris (perhaps one from Kaefferkopf which is “Beetle Head”). I’d be very interested to see how this develops over the next half decade or so, but to be honest it’s so delicious now I don’t think I’d be able to keep my hands off it!
Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge 2014 (14.5%, RRP €39.95 at Karwig Wines)
Bandol is one of the most famous Provence AOCs and Domaine Tempier have been a leading producer since the nineteenth century. Red, white and rosé are produced, but here we focus on the red, Mourvèdre dominated but augmented by a little Grenache and Cinsault. Bandol is the only place in France with enough sun and heat to properly ripen Mourvèdre, and boy does it show – there are intensely concentrated black and red berries bursting out of the glass, and lifted, spicy aromatics. This is a wine which could last decades but is already really special.