This is a really interesting wine from Wind Gap, an exciting Californian winery making elegant, balanced wines.
It’s from Trousseau Gris, a rare colour mutation of the red Trousseau, which is the same as Portugal’s Bastardo. The red version makes pale-coloured, fragrant, sappy reds (in Portugal it is one of the Port varieties, and is rarely seen on its own). In California, Trousseau Gris used to be known as Gray Riesling. There’s still a bit found as part of old field blend vineyards, but apparently the only varietal block left is a 10 acre plot in the Fanucchi Wood Road Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. This is where this Wind Gap wine comes from.
Three concrete tanks of this wine were made, and it’s really compelling. Roberson stock it in the UK.
Wind Gap Trousseau Gris 2013 Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
12.25% alcohol. A really intriguing wine. Spicy, mineral, herby, slightly smoky lemon and mandarin fruit with delicate acidity. Some rich grapey notes, too. Very fine and expressive with a bright personality. Finishes bright and a bit herby. Such a detailed wine with lovely fresh fruitiness. 93/100 (£23.95 Roberson)
On Monday night I was at Gymkhana, one of London’s most happening restaurants, for an Indian food and wine matching dinner with wine buyer and co-owner Sue Sethi (pictured above).
Gymkhana has made quite a splash since it opened last September. It specialises in home cooked-style Indian food, and this year it won restaurant of the year in the National Restaurant Awards, the first ever Indian restaurant to achieve this. It’s part of the Trishna group, a growing empire of restaurants owned by the Sethi family (Sue and her two older brothers, chef Karam and money man Jothi), which includes Trishna, Gymkhana, Bubbledogs and Lyles, as well as Verandah in Copenhagen.
There’s a lot of discussion about whether it’s really possible to match Indian food with wine successfully. ‘Indian food is quite vast, so to generalize and say you can’t match wine with it is absurd,’ says Sue. ‘Here and at Trishna we keep the home style of Indian food but we use spices delicately. When you have over-spiced food, of course it is harder.’ One challenge for food and wine matching is the complexity of flavours in many dishes. ‘Indian food has so many different components,’ says Sue. ‘For example, a starter has three or four elements on the plate, so it can be quite tricky.’
‘My whole list is put together with the food in mind,’ says Sue. ‘What we are trying to do is to show wines that take people out of comfort zones.’ Sommeliers are on hand to make suggestions, but she notes that people are much more responsive to advice at Gymkhana than Trishna. ‘Trishna is more a neighbourhood menu, and people are in their comfort zone and know what they want. They are much more experimental here.’
So what sort of wines don’t work? Sue reckons that you don’t want firm tannins or too much alcohol in reds, and that you need to be careful of oak. For whites you need to be careful with acidity. ‘Balance is important,’ she says. ‘Just as the spices need to be balanced, so the wines need to be balanced.’
Sue Sethi got into wine by mistake. ‘Growing up my dad had a wine hobby,’ she says. When Karam, her brother, opened Trishna in 2008 she was working in Germany for HSBC, on track for a career in finance. ‘Very quickly I realised I didn’t want to do this,’ she recalls. So in 2010 Sue left Germany, returned to London, and began applying for jobs in management consultancy. The GM of Trishna was moving back to Austria and Karam needed some help, so she stepped in. Working closely with the then Hungarian sommelier there, she quickly realized that restaurants would be her future. ‘Within five days I realised I wanted to do this,’ says Sue. She took over the wine list and began travelling and learning more about wine.
Casava, lentil and potato papadum with shrimp chutney, mango chutney and mint and coriander chutney.
This was served with Hidalgo’s Manzanilla la Gitana. The combination worked well, in part because Fino/Manzanilla sherries are so versatile as food wines, with their savoury notes and broad texture.
Ajwani salmon tikka with tulsi chutney.
This was a delicious dish, with subtle but effective carom seed flavours and a really nice basil chutney.
Ivica Matošević Grimalda 2010 Istria, Croatia
A blend of 50% Chardonnay, 25% Istrian Malvasia and 25% Sauvignon Blanc, aged for 12 months in French oak. Rich, creamy and texture with a lovely citrus and herb twist. It’s a broad wine with a real spectrum of flavours from richness through spice to fresh citrus and aniseed. Lovely blend of oak and fresh fruit. 92/100
This combination worked very well, with the breadth of flavours of the white filling in all around the flavours of the main dish. A well chosen match.
Lansooni wild tiger prawns with red pepper chutney
The prawns are marinaded in ginger, garlic and green chile, and this dish was superb: lots of flavour, but not overspiced.
Domaine Gerovassiliou Viogner 2013 Epanomi, Greece
What a lovely wine: lively and bright with citrus and ripe pears. Quite exotic but precise at the same time. A really aromatic, precise wine with lots of personality. 92/100
This combination worked really well because of the exotic aromatics of the wine, which matched with the aromatic nature of the tiger prawns.
Kid goat methi, keema, salli, pao
This is quite cool. You can also have it with brains, if you fancy your chances with prion diseases! It’s finely chopped kid goat, delicately spiced, served with buns and onions, so you can make your own mini burgers.
Teusner ‘The Riebke’ Shiraz 2012 Barossa valley, Australia
Sweet, ripe, pure and lush but it still has nice definition to the sweet fruit. Nicely focused black cherry fruit with a hint of pepper. Quite elegant and pure with nice balance. Silky. 92/100
This worked well. There weren’t too many challenging spices, and the sweet, lush but nicely defined fruit worked really well. Wines do need a bit of fruit to match food like this.
Suckling pig vindaloo
This was pretty hot. It gave me hiccups, which is my internal spicing detector. Apparently it’s not normally quite as hot as this, but it was delicious nonetheless.
Pulenta Estate Gran Cabernet Franc 2010 Mendoza, Argentina
Such a lovely wine, and it is an ideal red for Indian food matching generally. Lovely sleek black fruits with a fine green pepper edge, and a smooth, spicy texture. Very sleek and ripe but with great definition and some smooth, grainy tannins. 93/100
This was a challenging match, but it worked because this wine is such a versatile Indian food friendly bottle, with its concentrated, sleek ripe fruit and superb balance.
Mushroom Methi Mattar Pilau with black truffle
This was a sensational dish, with incredible aromatics.
Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti ‘le Orme’ Superiore 2011 Piedmont, Italy
Fresh with raspberry and black cherry fruit as well as a bit of spice and a stern, savoury, slightly rustic side. Warm herb and leather notes on the finish. 90/100
Again, a really well chosen match. The savouriness of the wine worked well with this dish, which is mildly spiced, aromatic, and really wine friendly. I reckon a new world Pinot Noir would also have done a good job.
Conclusions? With high-end Indian food that isn’t over-spiced, and which isn’t swimming in gravy, it’s possible to execute some really smart wine matches. Where Indian spices are used subtly and creatively, there’s no reason why you can’t raid the wine list and have a lot of fun with some smart bottles, without being worried that their qualities will be wasted. And Gymkhana lives up to the hype. It’s the second time I’ve been, and both meals have been memorable.
I have just published a new e-book, titled Wine Science Extra.
When I wrote the revised version of Wine Science (published in the USA as The Science of Wine), I was faced with a dilemma. The manuscript I submitted was 150 000 words, but the book only had room for 100 000. So lots of (what I considered, at least) good material had to be chopped.
Hence this e-book. It is not meant as a stand-alone book, in that its content lacks even coverage. It is merely a collection of chapters covering some interesting topics in wine science that I though some might find of use, as a supplement to the book.
It includes five updated chapters that had to be chopped from the new edition to make way for new material, plus a final chapter that is entirely new. This e-book would be useful to anyone who has purchased the new edition of Wine Science, but doesn’t have the first edition. The contents are:
Global warming: its implications for viticulture 4
Naturalness in wine: how much manipulation is
Corks, screwcaps and alternative closures 27
Wine allergies 76
Extending lifespan by drinking wine 83
The future of wine science 93
The e-book is 26 000 words.
It is available as a downloadable pdf or via Kindle:
Downloadable PDF file (US$9):
Amazon UK (Kindle):
Amazon US (Kindle):
British ex-pat Katie Jones has been living in the Languedoc since 1993. She worked at the Mont Tauch co-operative until 2009, when she started her boutique winery, which now consists of 11 hectares of vines in Maury, Tuchan and Paziols, with her wines labelled as either Fitou or Cotes Catalanes.
The previous vintage was tragically lost in an act of vandalism. But this 2013 Grenache Gris is really lovely. It’s made from old vines (almost 80 years) planted on black schist in the Maury valley, overlooked by the 11th Century Queribus castle. 30% of the blend is fermented and matured in French oak for six months.
Domaine Jones Grenache Gris 2013 Cotes Catalanes, France
13.5% alcohol. Very fresh and fine with a bit of spicy, pithy grip. Attractive spicy notes and texture on the palate with nice weight. A characterful white that’s really pure and linear. 90/100 (£14.95 The Wine Society, 14.90 Nethergate Wines, £16.99 Inverarity One to One, or direct from www.domainejones.com)
I love this wine. It’s from a relatively cool vintage, and it has a brilliant tension to it. Starting off with a small negociant business in the 1980s, Pascal Jolivet began buying vineyards in the early 1990s. Now he has 65 hectares (42 ha in Sancerre, 8 ha in Pouilly Fume and 15 ha in Touraine). This wine blends terroirs: 50% limeston, 30% chalky clay and 20% flint. It’s made with indigenous yeasts.
Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2013 Loire, France
12.5% alcohol. Complex aromatic nose with herbs, melon, citrus and a touch of green pepper, as well as some warm waxy notes. The palate is textured and has a savoury edge, with notes of herbs, wax, lemons and some citrus pith. It’s quite tight with lovely focus and purity. A multidimensional, youthful Sauvignon that should age. 92/100
UK agent: MMD
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OK, this isn’t wine. It’s whisky. A subject I know considerably less about than wine. But I am a flavour guy, so when I encounter some really interesting flavours, I want to share them here (unless they are beers – for that, I have beeranorak).
The whisky in question is the new release of Ardbeg’s Supernova, titled Committee Release SN2014. It’s 55% alcohol, and quite remarkable. I tasted 5cl tasting mini-bottle.
Ardbeg Supernova SN2014 Islay Single Malt
Powerfully aromatic, with spice, honey, peat (bonfire), sweet crystalline fruits, citrus peel and toast. Powerful palate with amazing intensity, balancing the significant peaty bonfire and spice notes with rich, sweet toast, nut, honey and baked lemon characters. So much personality. 9/10
Craig Hawkins (pictured above with significant other Carla Kretzel in the background) is one of South Africa’s most talented and brave winemakers. He’s the winemaker at Lammershoek, and also makes his own wines under the Testalonga label. He’s very experimental, and has worked a lot with skin contact and lees. He prefers picking earlier, making lower alcohol wines, and works pretty naturally. These are some of the more recent releases of his wines. The Lammershoek ‘Cellar Foot’ series is Lammershoek’s small batch, adventurous label.
Testalonga El Bandito Cortez 2012 Swartland, South Africa
10.5% alcohol, pH 2.99. No skin contact. Lively, fresh, lemony and bright. Very fresh with lovely purity. A direct, linear, lighter style. 93/100 (04/14)
Testalonga El Bandito Skin Contact 2011 Swartland, South Africa
This had 6 weeks on the skins, and was 40% whole bunch. Lovely grip here: really fresh and detailed with notes of grapes, citrus and pear, as well as some spiciness. 94/100 (04/14)
Testalonga King of Grapes Grenache 2013 Swartland, South Africa
100% whole bunch, 11.5% alcohol. So fresh, lively and peppery with nice grip and brightness. Lovely pure red cherries and herbs. Drinkable and fresh, in a lighter style. 93/100
Lammershoek Cellar Foot The Hárslevelű 2013 Swartland, South Africa
Soft, textured with nice apple and pear fruit. Nuts, herbs and a nice texture. 91/100
Lammershoek Cellar Foot Underwater Wine 2013 Swartland, South Africa
A blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignan, aged in barrels submerged in water. Lovely purity. Sweet, fresh cherry and plum fruit with a bit of grip. Linear with lovely balance. 93/100
Lammershoek Cellar Foot Mourvedre 2012 Swartland, South Africa
Lively, fresh, sweet and spicy with attractive fruit and a bit of grip. Some ginger spice notes, as well as herbal characters. Lovely freshness. 92/100
UK agent: Les Caves de Pyrene (Testalonga); Fields Morris & Verdin (Lammershoek)
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Impressed by these. A Chilean Sauvignon and Pinot from Casa Silva’s Paradones estate in Coastal Colchagua, a new-ish cool climate region of Chile. It’s just six kilometres from the chilly Pacific Ocean.
Casa Silva Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Cochagua, Chile
13% alcohol. Very mineral, fresh and direct with taut grapefruit and citrus fruit, as well as some smoky notes. Lively and fresh with a hint of green pepper. So pure and linear with amazing precision. 91/100 (£15.95 Averys, Fine Wines Direct)
Casa Silva Cool Coast Pinot Noir 2012 Cochagua, Chile
14% alcohol. Bright cherry and plum fruit with hints of liqourice, mint and cinnamon. Nice weight: sweet berries and ripe cherries, but good balance and a smooth texture. 90/100 (£15.95 Stainton Wines, Barrels and Bottles, Roberts & Speight)
Jean-Luc Colombo, based in Cornas, is a Rhone modernist. His Cornas wines aren’t in my favourite style, I’m afraid. But I do like the wines he makes when he tries less hard: I bought a case of his northern Rhone Vin du Pays a year or so back, made from declassified young vine Cornas fruit because it was so honestly northern Rhone in style. And I like these two inexpensive negociant wines.
Jean-Luc Colombo Les Abeilles de Colombo Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2013 France
80% Clairette, 20% Roussanne, named ‘the bees’. Very pretty, fresh and vibrant floral pear, apricot and citrus fruit. Nicely textured. Crisp but with a bit of richness. The key is the pure, expressive fruit. 89/100 (£9.99 Define Food and Wine, Le Mouton Rouge, Dalling & Co, Trinas Wines, Fountainhall Wines, Tivoli, Taylors Fine Wine, Aiken Wines, Partridges, DP Vintners, The Butlers Cellar)
Jean-Luc Colombo Les Abeilles de Colombo Cotes de Rhone Rouge 2012 France
60% Grenache, 30% Shiraz, 10% Mourvedre. Perfumed and supple with ripe cherry and plum fruit. Pure and quite elegant with some peppery notes and a bit of grip. Medium bodied. A stylish Rhone red with lovely drinkability. 88/100 (£9.99 Tivoli, The Bottleneck, Define Food and Wine, Sunninghill Wine, North & South, The Butlers Cellar, Fountainhall Wines, Bacchus et al)
Covela is back. I was a fan of this estate, which was previously owned by Nuno Araújo (related to Pedro Araújo of Ameal), and which made really interesting wines from a blend of Portuguese and international varieties, from biodynamically farmed vineyards on the border of the Minho and Douro regions.
But things went wrong financially in 2008, the property went into receivership, and for a while, production stopped. Then Covela was bought by a Briton (Tony Smith) and a Brazilian (Marcelo Lima) in 2011. Their business venture is known as Lima Smith, with this property plus Boavista and Tecedeiras also in the portfolio, as well as a stake recently acquired in Maison Champy, Burgundy. Lima Smith re-hired winemaker Rui Cunha, and these wines represent the second release (for the whites) of the new reborn Covela.
Covela Edicao Nacional Arinto 2013 Vinho Verde, Portugal
Lively, fresh, linear and pure with nice citrussy fruit. Quite mineral with lovely citrus fruit and good precision. Some pear, apple and citrus characters. A lovely dry white wine. 89/100
Covela Edicao Nacional Avesso 2013 Vinho Verde, Portugal
Very clean, fresh and linear with a mineral, subtly citrussy nose. The palate is lively and bright with subtle green herb and grapefruit notes as well as some lemons and minerals. Pure, focused and assertive. 89/100
Covela Escolha Branco 2013 Minho, Portugal
Avesso and Chardonnay. Lively, fresh, floral citrus nose with some subtle pear fruit. Crisp, fruity palate with pure pear and melon fruit, as well as bright lemon notes and some slightly spicy, mineral characters. A refined fruit-driven wine. 91/100
Ovela Escolha Tinto 2012 Minho, Portugal
Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, from granitic soila. Vibrant colour. Lovely black cherry and blackberry fruit with a hint of olive and herbs. Ripe yet fresh dark fruits, with a bit of grip. This is very stylish, showing sweet raspberries and blackberries, with good focus. 90/100