So, the first vintage of London Cru’s wines are bottled and will soon be on the market. [Read my report on them from last year.] I visited this – London’s first urban winery – to try the new wines with winemaker Gavin Monery. It’s also time for vintage two to start coming in, and so Gavin is quite nervous. ‘You have one chance a year,’ he says. ‘Screw it up and that’s it. So our focus at the moment is getting the grapes off at the right time.’
This year, London Cru are using the same growers as last time. So in 2014 there will be a Cabernet from Jeff Coutelou (Languedoc), a Barbera from Giovanni Cordero (Piedmont), and Chardonnay and Syrah from Château de Corneilla (Roussillon). Plus a new wine: a Garnacha from Norrel Robertson in Cayatalud, which comes from 90 year old bush vines at 950 m.
‘I’d rather make less wine than mediocre wine,’ states Gavin. ‘The whole project is about making good wine, not gimmicky wine.’ All of the 2013s will be the same price (£15), with 1400 cases overall.
When I visited (the week before last) the Cabernet was just about to be harvested and sent back to arrive a few days later. The key part of the grape movement process is that the fruit is chilled within 2 or 3 hours of the harvest. ‘This is the most important thing from the quality viewpoint,’ says Gavin.
The only problem that London Cru have so far found insurmountable is to do with names. The UK rules mean that the wines must be labelled as ‘EC wine’, with no vintage or grape variety indicated. ‘This really annoys me,’ Gavin reveals. ‘The paper trail back to the vineyard is water-tight. The veracity of varieties and vineyards is 100%. It is an arbitrary rule at this end.’
The 2013 releases are all impressive.
SW6 Chardonnay 2013
Very fine nose is subtly nutty with some delicate toastiness and lovely citrus characters. The palate is fine and expressive with gentle bread, nut, citrus and white peach notes. Very stylish wine. Super-clean style. 90/100
SW6 Syrah 2013
From a spot 5 km from the ocean in the Roussillon: a cool site in a warm region. 12.5% alcohol. Fine, fresh black cherry fruit with lovely purity, and a bit of raspberry freshness. Direct and pure with subtle green notes. Nicely textured. 91/100
SW6 Barbera 2013
Supple, bright, expressive wine with spicy black fruits over damson and plums. Lovely acidity and a bit of bite (this was 12.5% alcohol and pH 3.35 after malo). Vibrant juicy fruit and lovely grippiness. 91/100
SW6 Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Jeff Coutelou supplies this, and he was previously giving these excellent grapes to the coop because he just wanted to make wine from local varieties. Lovely pure, sweet blackcurrant fruit nose with some blackcurrant leaf. So classic and expressive. The palate is beautifully balanced with nice structure and classic Cabernet characters. A lovely wine with real potential. 91/100