Thursday 7 June 2018

Wine recommendations

Have we got wine recommendations for you? Well, actually, no, we haven’t – but everybody else certainly has. Each in their own inimitable style, wine writers, critics, merchants and retailers are out there offering their wine recommendations. And surely, if someone in such a prominent position recommends something…

There may be some of you who have not encountered the wines of Belfalas, not so much an obscure corner of the globe as a little-explored inside pocket. I was lucky enough to visit the vineyards of Belfalas, on a trip generously organised by Belfalas Wines. Belfalas produces a sauvignon blanc called Xtapjle, which has all the traits of the sauvignon blanc you know, love and could more easily buy, but with the added piquancy of scarcity and an unpronounceable name. The local appelations are hard to understand, but I can recommend what the locals call their Best, which is better than their Good. What’s surprising is that it’s crisp, grassy, with a hint of stone fruit, just like other sauvignon blancs, and yet has a price that’s also similar to other sauvignon blancs. All this, from a very long way away. Available only from Belfalas Wines.

Here’s a real bargain, with no complications! Buy Dildi’s Stonking Red between midnight February 29th and 30th, and you get 25% off six bottles or more. And delivery is free (on twelve bottles or more, mainland only, nominated delivery day extra, use the code Pennsylvania6-5000). Just sign up for our monthly Dipso club; providing you remember to cancel it every four weeks, we won’t send you a case of wine every month similar to the one you’ve only just managed to finish. Don’t forget to use the code O0o_∆Ÿ.0.  New customers only, excluding your spouse under her maiden name. This offer is available online only; Alta Vista carries the terms and conditions. The wine? We told you – it’s Stonking!

When it comes to claret, you get what you pay for, and this is what you get. Chateau Trèscher is the kind of old-school Bordeaux I love, and over ten years give or take it will come to maturity with, as Jay McInerney said to me (more than once), all the aromas of the tack room and the library. There’s no question that you’re getting a taste of a gentleman’s lifestyle; I found suggestions myself of cigar boxes, grouse moor heather, spent shotgun cartridges and fox brush. It’s been released at £732, a mere fiscal bagatelle. Just make sure you live for another ten years, which will also give you time to save up for the VAT, duty, storage and delivery. 

The natural wine movement continues apace, and Josh Beardie’s Wiyana is where it’s at. A fan of low intervention, Josh Beardie is only 5ft 4. His vineyard is, of course, organic; no artificial products are allowed on the soil, so the pickers are not permitted to wear trainers. A horse is used to catch a cow which catches a dog who catches a cat which catches a bird who catches a spider which wriggles and wiggles and tickles inside the vineyard, but catches the flies. Wiyana (from the Hittite for ‘wine’) is fermented in goatskin, and matured in buried amphorae. The wine itself has an astonishing natural authenticity, and offers a resonance of authentic pre-scientific winemaking for which it’s worth being prepared.

The Bonvin family is part of a great winemaking heritage. When Chateau Lafite was sold to the Rothschilds in 1868, Louis Bonvin’s grandmother’s aunt’s stepdaughter was married to the cousin whose sister sold her share. You can imagine how that family connection has influenced his extraordinary wine.
    The vineyard itself is right next door to that of a celebrated wine (which we’re not allowed to name!), but it faces discreetly in the opposite direction; water from the Gironde River irrigates both their soils, and the same rain often falls upon them. Yet inexplicably, we can sell this wine for much less than its celebrated neighbour! The bottles themselves are almost identical, apart from the labels. But don't just take our word for it; one leading Bordeaux critic (who we're not allowed to name!) has used the same term to describe both wines – "red".


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