I popped into Handford Wines yesterday to say hello to Greg Sherwood, and have a look round. If there is a merchant in London who has a better array of really interesting wine, then I’d like to see it (and London is full of good wine merchants). Greg opened a couple of bottles to taste with me.
The first was the latest release from Mick O’Connell, who is based in Dublin, but makes small quantities of Grenache in Sardinia. He called previous vintages Garnacha not Guerra, but got told off for using the word Garnacha on the label (here’s my review of the 2015, with some background, and this is my review of the 2016). This year it is G. n. Guerra! Hanford get half (they still have 2016 on the shelf right now) and Carte Blanche get the other half.
Cancedda O’Connell G. n. Guerra 2017 Vino Rosso
Grenache from Sardinia at 700 m. Organic. This is 2017 but it’s not mentioned on the label. Whole cluster, foot trodden, 14% alcohol. This is grippy and fresh with nice detail and some herb and spice notes. This has a bit of funk with some pepper and meat, Rosemary and sage. It’s dense and structured but also quite fresh with cherries and spice. There’s a lot of structure here and it may evolve in an interesting direction. 93/100
The second was a Chardonnay from Julien and Sophie Schaal, who divide their time between Alsaca and the Western Cape. This wine – exclusive to Handford in the UK – is stunning. It’s chiselled and precise.
Julien Schaal Confluence Chardonnay 2017 Hemel-en-Aarde, South Africa
13% alcohol. Very tight, lemony and mineral with lovely focus and intensity. Stony, youthful, vivid and precise with a zesty edge to the linear citrus, pear and green apple fruit. This is a serious effort that should age beautifully. 95/100 (£24.95 Handford)