Some nice wines from small importer Tiger Vines

wine reviews

Some nice wines from small importer Tiger Vines

Tiger Vines is a small import business run by James Thomas. He worked with Domaine Laroche, then spent two years at Majestic Wine, three years at Bibendum and eight years with Billecart-Salmon UK. His philosophy with Tiger Vines is to find the most tenanted producers working with great terroirs, and he began with Champagne and the US West Coast. There’s no specific philosophy he embraces, other than terroir-driven, authentic wines of real interest, and usually these tend to be made with minimal intervention. I tasted through a range of the wines Tiger import, and was impressed. Here are my notes.

Champagne Mouzon Leroux
Based in Verzy. Converted to biodynamics, but not certified. Worked with Pierre Frick in Alsace. Uses a mix of oak and stainless steel for fermenting base wines.

Champagne Mouzon Leroux L’Atavique Tradition NV France
65 Pinot, 35 Chardonnay, all Grand Cru Verzy, 80% 2013, 3 g/l dosage. Tight and concentrated with hints of apple and keen lemon notes. There’s some structure here with lots of complexity. Dry and mineral with lovely intensity. Lovely intensity to this robustly flavoured wine. 92/100

Champagne Mouzon Leroux L’Incandescent Rosé de Saignée NV France
15 h maceration, Pinot Noir, 1 g/l dosage. Grand Cru Verzy. This is powerful and concentrated with lovely raspberry and cherry fruit. This has some structure, too. Quite powerful and linear, with lovely fruit expression. Such a different style, and really lovely. 93/100

Champagne Philippe Gonet

Champagne Philippe Gonet Brut Reserve NV France
Based in Le Mesnil sur Oger. 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 10% Meunier. Bouzy and Ambonnay for Pinot Noir, the Chardonnay is from Mongeux (?). 7 g/l dosage. 150 000 production, moving towards organics. Pierre and Chantelle Gonet are seventh generation. Growers. Tight with subtle toasty notes and a lovely lemony core. This has nice density and focus with purity, and a hint of pithiness. Real refinement here, with a touch of richness on the finish. 92/100

Champagne Pierre Cellier NV France
Second label of Philippe Gonet. This is lively and bright with keen citrus fruit and a touch of toastiness. Has some obvious sweetness from the dosage, but there’s lovely fruit here. Has nice precision. 89/100

Champagne Philippe Gonet Rosé NV France
90% Chardonnay with 10% Pinot Noir from Vertus. 7 g/l dosage. Floral and a bit sappy with some green hints to the cherry and redcurrant fruit, with a brisk citrus character. Nicely savoury with keen acidity. 91/100

Storm Wines
Ernst Storm is the brother of Hannes Storm from Hemel-en-Aarde in South Africa, and like his brother, is making some very smart wines – in this case from Santa Barbara County in California.

Notary Public 2014 Santa Ynez Valley, France
Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc. Complex, sweetly fruited nose with some grassy edges to the peach and citrus fruit. The palate is complex and quite intense but really focused: it hasn’t gone blowsy and rich, but is tight and linear with a mineral edge. Such a lovely wine with good weight and freshness. Has some herb and mineral characters. 92/100

Storm Pinot Noir Presqu’ile Vineyard 2014 Santa Maria Valley, California
20% whole cluster, 20% new oak, picked early. Concentrated but fresh with nice vivid, herb-tinged raspberry and cherry fruit. This has lovely fleshiness with silkiness, some liqueur like richness, but also freshness. 93/100

Storm Pinot Noir John Sebastiano Pinot Noir 2014 Santa Rita Hills, California
Has some richness, but also freshness. Lovely raspberry and cherry fruit, with a sweet character but also good structure. Nice precision to the fruit, with good structure. Lovely focus to it. 94/100

Domaine Vaquer, Roussillon

Domaine Vaquer Cuvée Esquisse 2017 Côtes du Roussillon, France
Mostly Roussanne, the rest Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Maccabeu. No malolactic. Fresh, lively and pithy with nice pear and citrus notes, and some hints of wax. Nice density with freshness too. Good weight. 90/100

Domaine Vaquer L’Ephémère 2016 Côtes du Rousillon, France
Bright pink in colour. Fresh red cherry fruit with nice density. Good citrus freshness with a tiny bit of grip. Lovely freshness and focus. 89/100

Domaine Vaquer 1986 Vin de Pays Catalan, France
80% Carignan, 20% Grenache. This is savoury and mellow with complex red cherry, plum and spice notes. Really complex with a Nebbiolo-like complexity and structure. Has lovely developed complexity here. Earth, herbs, some tar. Mellow. 93/100

Domaine Vaquer L’Expression Carignan 2016 Côtes Catalan, France
Vivid and intense with concentrated, sweet. Lush blackcurrant and blackberry fruit with good acidity and focus. Has harmony and detail, and lots of structure. But there’s lovely flesh here. A nice contrast. 93/100

Domaine Vaquer Heritage Rivesaltes Hors d’Age 1986 Roussillon, France
Very rich and exotic with table grape, raisin and spice with a bit of grip. Concentrated and smooth with lovely intensity of fruit. Apricot, marmalade and almond notes. 93/100

Domaine Guion, Bourgeuil

Domaine Guion Bourgeuil Cuvée Prestige 2015 Loire, France
Organic. Stephane Guion, 80 year old vines. Beautiful perfume here. Floral, gravelly, chalky cherry fruit. Has richness, freshness and structure with nice crunchy tannins balancing out the seductive sweet fruit. Lovely chalky, gravelly detail. 93/100

Domaine Guion Cuvée des Deux Monts Bourgeuil 2014 Loire, France
Three old parcels. Perfumed blackcurrant and black cherry fruit nose. Supple, fresh, leaf-tinged elegant palate with lovely cherry fruit. Very fine-grained and delicious. Supple and expressive and so pure. 93/100

Anne Sophie Dubois, Beaujolais

Anne Sophie Dubois Fleurie L’Alchemiste 2016 Beaujolais, France
20% whole cluster. This is supple and pure with very fine, clean cherry and raspberry fruit, together with fine grained tannins and hints of pepper and herbs. So refined with good structure and purity. Elegant and refined. 93/100

Anne Sophie Dubois Ici et La 2016
80% Gamaret. This is a bit meaty and spicy with a funky edge to the raspberry and cherry fruit. Has some crunch and density. Lively acidity. Some olive complexity, too. 91/100


David Bienfait, Mâconnais

David Bienfait Les Crays Pouilly-Fuissé 2015 Burgundy, France
Based in the Maconnais, he makes just three wines. This site was planted in 1940. Works organically, but not certified. This is in old demi-muids. Concentrated and linear with a creamy, bready edge to the pear and citrus fruit. Has a seamless quality to it. Lots of wine here: broad, with some generosity. Fresh slightly mealy citrussy finish. 92/100

Contact: Tiger Vines
James Thomas: 07540199908


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