Last night we held the launch party for Authentic Wine at Artisan & Vine. The audience was a mix of journalists, retailers and consumers, and we enjoyed a three course meal with wines chosen to illustrate the concept of ‘authenticity’.
The guest list included notables such as (in no particular order) Joe Wadsack, Junior Vianna, Anthony Rose, Sarah Jane Evans, Victoria Moore, Justin Howard-Sneyd, Dan Jago, Andrew Neather, Guy Woodward, Patrick Schmitt, Jim Budd, Nick Stock and Robert McIntosh.
Sam and I talked a bit about the book and the inspiration behind it, but the main focus of the evening was a tasting of eight rather different wines. For this purpose, Sam and I invited two importers who we greatly respect, but who have slightly different philosophies, to present wines from their portfolios and talk about their understanding of authenticity as it relates to wine.
Both David Gleave (Liberty Wines) and Doug Wregg (Les Caves de Pyrene) agreed to take part, and Sam and I are really grateful to them. We tasted the wines in two flights of four each, whites and then reds. The wines were tasted double blind – that is, none of us knew which wines were being poured apart from Doug, David and Kathryn.
Then we discussed the wines. Doug chose wines that would fit into the unofficial category of natural wines. David’s wines were more conventionally made. Interestingly, in both flights, which wines were from Doug and which were from David was instantly clear to all. The origin was harder to spot. Personally, I really liked all the wines a great deal. Others preferred some to others.
Cullen Mangan Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2010 Margaret River, Australia
Lovely fruit here: very pure and lemony with subtle nutty notes.
Pieropan Soave Classico ‘Calvarino’ 2009 Italy
Clean, precise and attractive with some mineral notes and nice nuttiness. Benchmark Soave of the highest order.
Les Vignes Herbel La Pointe Vignes Vieilles de 1920 Chenin Blanc 2008 VDT (Anjou, Loire)
Amazing stuff: initially quite volatile and oxidative on the nose, but the palate is so alive with incredible acidity, and apple and pear fruit.
Jean-François Ganevat Chardonnay ‘Grusse en Billat’ 2008 Jura, France
Nutty and broad with some oxidative notes but thrilling minerality and structure. A powerful white wine that’s really distinctive, made with no sulfur dioxide additions from 115 year old vines.
Greenstone Vineyard Heathcote Shiraz 2009 Victoria, Australia
From a vineyard planted in 2003, this is a really dense, savoury, backward expression of Shiraz, and I really like it.
Fontodi Flaccianello 2007 Tuscany
With its noticeable oak, I wondered whether this might be David’s Greenstone Sangiovese. It’s a really full on, dense fruity expression of the grape with lots of structure and some hints of Port to it.
Dard et Ribo St Joseph ‘Pitrou’ 2009 Northern Rhone
I normally love Dard et Ribo’s wines, and I certainly liked this, but not as much as I was expecting. It has lovely bright cherry and berry fruit and good acidity, but there’s a metallic tingle on the finish that takes away from the purity a little. Normally Dard & Ribo wines show the purest fruit expression of all in the region.
Julien Guillot Manganite Macon Cruzille Clos des Vignes de Maynes 2009 Burgundy
Great story to this wine, from a vineyard dating back to the 10th century. It’s a Gamay, and it’s as elegant as a Grand Cru Burgundy, with cherry, spice and mineral notes, as well as just a hint of gamey wildness.
Added later: See this excellent review of the evening by Anne Krebiehl.