The Emerging Regions Wine Tasting, held in London on 1st May 2013, gave a platform to wineries from countries which have yet to establish a strong footing in the UK. There were some really good and interesting wines there, so read on for a whistle-stop tour of lesser-known vineyards from around the world.
Novum Wines, a subdivision of Hallgarten & Novum Wines, specialises in an eclectic mix of unusual, quality wines. Their Grace winery Koshu Kayagatake 2011 from Japan was aromatic, fresh and light, with notes of pear, melon and a subtle woody and yeasty character due to remaining on its lees for 3 months. Perfect with sushi, but a little pricey at £17.99. The great value Sula Vineyards Dindori Viognier 2012 from India, at £9.49, showed good body and richnesss, while retaining a fruit-driven freshness on the nose and palate, with notes of apricot kernel, well-balanced acidity and some minerality too - perfect with aromatic and/or creamy spicy food, especially coconut-based dishes. Novum also had some superb Greek wines on show and I loved the floral orange and honey-blossom like freshness of their Domaine Gerovassiliou Estate White Malagousia/Assyrtiko PGI Epanomi 2012 – a real find for £14.49.
How many Brits have tried wines from Luxembourg? Probably not many, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to sample some from Domaines Vinsmoselle. The two Poll-Fabaire Cuvée sparkling wines they had – Brut Médaille d’Or and Millésimée 2009, at £10 and £13, respectively – were fruity, light and crisp, the latter demonstrating salinity on the finish. These would go down well at parties and with light snacks, including olives and salted almonds.
Much better known is Argentinian Malbec and a fine and complex example was Doña Paula Seleccion de Bodega Malbec 2006 from Santa Rita Estates, with its black fruit, pepper and spice aromas and flavours plus hints of tomato too. At £33, it’s not a cheap option, but what better way to eat a good-quality steak than to wash it down – slowly! – with a wine of this class? Delicious.
An interesting and unusual dessert wine for £19 was Vinedo de los Vinetos Alcyone Tannat showcased by Wines of Uruguay. Notes of crème brulée, figs and cream were evident and this wine would go particularly well with chocolate mousse.
Marsovin from Malta had a large selection of wines, of which two were of particular interest to me. Their Caravaggio Moscato 2012 was pure, perfumed Muscat, but their superb Primus 2011 was even more intensely aromatic. Made in an Amarone style from Shiraz and partially dried Gellewza grapes, a variety indigenous to Malta, this was full of black fruits, cherries and tobacco, softened by vanilla notes from the 14-month French and US oak-ageing. Ex-cellar prices of £3 and £17.18, respectively.
An unusual wine from Turkey was provided by Kirklareli – Wine Estates of the Strandja. Their Arcadia Vineyards Finesse Series ‘Gri’ 2011, made from 80% Sauvignon Gris and 20% Pinot Gris, had a spicy herbal, almost mint-like quality, complemented by hints of citrus fruits on the nose and palate. I think this would make a great match for asparagus. Price £16.
The Canary Islands may be a top tourist destination, but it is not well-known globally for its wines. However, the volcanic soil lends some interesting and typically mineral qualities to many of them. Maar offered a selection of interesting examples, including the fresh and steely Vino Matias i Torres Listán Blanco de Canarias 2011 for £22. Among the reds, I liked Bodegas Tajinaste CAN 2010 from Tenerife, made from 50% Black Listán and 50% Black Vijariego, at a price of £30. This wine showed red and black fruits on the nose and palate with tannins softened by vanilla and cedarwood notes, courtesy of the oak ageing. I also enjoyed the quince, caramel and toffee-like Bodegas Teneguiá Sabro/Gual 2011 dessert wine for £25 from the island of La Palma.
Croatia is starting to be recognised globally as a wine nation of note and Vino Nostro had several interesting examples, including Jako Vino's sweet Stina Prošek 2010 dessert wine with rich aromas and flavours of dried fruits and caramel. Whether you can afford this or not may depend on the Euro/Sterling exchange rate, with the current price in Euros being €26. However, if you have the chance, do give this a try.
Romania is shaking off the shackles of being often regarded in the past as a producer of cheap red wine to becoming known as a producer of quality Pinot Noir and Halewood Romania’s portfolio included Kronos Pinot Noir 2010, with an RRP of £10.99. Aged for 14 months in French oak, this was light, crisp and full of berry fruit with silky overtones of chocolate.
Winehaus continues to source some wonderful examples of South German wine. I already wrote about the superb Freiherr Von Goler Riesling Dry 2011 and Freiherr Von Goler Pinot Blanc Dry 2011 and the outstanding Heitlinger Königsbecher Pinot Noir 2009 in my review of SITT 2013, so this time, it’s the turn of another couple of wines. Firstly, the £17.50 Von Franckenstein Schutzenberg Single Vineyard Riesling Trocken 2011 was fruity with a herbaceous and mineral character. The good value Heuchelberg Acolon 2010, at £9.99, was full of dark forest fruits and spice and would go well with a hearty meat stew.
One final thought to end. In some ways it was rather comforting to note that England was NOT represented by its own stand, as the country has already emerged as a producer of good quality wine, albeit more renowned for its sparkling wine. Indeed, the forthcoming English Wine Producers Trade Tasting and the LIWF will highlight further the huge strides that winemaking has made within the UK. However, there was one English sparkler at the Emerging Regions Wine Tasting - a real delight for £29.49, provided by Novum wines. Sugrue Pierre Brut 2009, created by the former Nyetimber winemaker, Dermot Sugrue, is made from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, but rather than emphasising overt yeast or biscuit notes often associated with the Champagne style, what really came through on this elegant wine was a real lemon freshness with a touch of honey. Other characteristics should develop over time, but it was a pleasure to taste this wine now while it is still so young and vibrant.