Here are a couple of fab reds from Top Selection, an interesting UK-based boutique wine merchant:
Habla de la Tierra Vino de la Tierra de Extremadura 2014 (13.5%, £14 from Top Selection)
This is a modern Spanish wine made from a blend of Cab Franc and Tempranillo.
Unlike its offspring Cabernet Sauvignon (see here), Cabernet Franc is far less celebrated. In its home of the Loire Valley it can make some fantastic mid-weight reds, but as that region is often overlooked Cab Franc is rarely shouted about. In Bordeaux it’s a useful blending grape on both banks, but very rarely makes up the majority of a cuvee. Perhaps its route to fame will be in Argentina where it has been the Next Big Thing for some time.
Extremadura is a Spanish province which has Andalucia to the south and Portugal to the west, with the Douro dipping into its northern reaches. The only (exclusive*) Denominacion de Origen here is DO Ribera del Guadiana around the banks of the River Guardiana; the Vino de la Tierra Extremadura covers the whole province.
*DO Cava can also be made in Extremadura, but production is very small.
So how does this unusual blend work? Very well, actually! It has the bright, fresh raspberry character of Cab Franc on the attack, with the supple roundness of Tempranillo on the finish – a thoroughly delicious wine!
Harwood Hall Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 (13.5% £19 from Top Selection)
Most people know where New Zealand is but even seasoned NZ wine fans might not know where the different Kiwi wine regions are in the country. Central Otago is the most southerly of NZ’s wine regions – and in fact the most southerly place where wine is produced on a commercial basis in any country. It’s relatively dry, and semi-continental which gives it hot summer days but cool nights and cold winters.
All these factors give Central Otago wines a great intensity of flavour while preserving acidity and freshness. Although relatively new as a wine region – even by NZ standards – it is among the top places to grow Pinot Noir in the country.
Harwood Hall is a joint venture between two New Zealanders who have worked in the industry for 20 years. The simple instructions to accompany this wine should be: open, pour, lock the doors, enjoy the wine! It’s super smooth, pure velvet in the glass. There are red and black cherries and red berries with a touch of spice, a heavenly combination.
Disclosure: both wines kindly provided for review