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Our Current Box:

Welcome to your wine club box for May 2019

WHITES
Adega de Monção, Vinho Verde ‘Escolha’ 2018, Portugal
Right. First things first. Vinho Verde (pronounced vaird) does not refer to the colour of the wine. The ‘green’ refers to the lush, verdant region where it is made. And unless you’re sipping a vinho verde close to the wineries, chances are that any spritz comes from added C02 – to make you think you are drinking a wine fresh from the tank. Winemakers here make great wines to age, too. This Vinho Verde though is for instant pleasure. Made by one of Portugal’s best co-operatives, it is fruity, light and uncomplicated. The perfect summer lunch wine, especially wtih leafy salads and grilled white  fish.
Monte del Frà, Custoza 2017, Italy
Why drink Pinot Grigio when there’s Bianco di Custoza? Italy is such a treasure trove of grapes and regions, it’s a shame that many classics get overlooked in favour of the ubiquitous PG. Hailing from Lake Garda in the Veneto, this wine is a blend of grapes – in this case Garganega (the main grape in Soave) supported by Trebbiano Toscano and Friulano. It is clean and zesty with some melon and stonefruit notes. Super-easy to drink, it makes a great aperitif for summer gatherings. Good with shelfish and sushi.  
Westwell, Ortega Classic Ferment 2017, England
Adrian Pike used to be in music – co-founding Moshi Moshi records (Forence and The Machine; Hot Chip). Then fell in love with wine… and now makes it at Westwell on the North Downs in Kent. Adrian is one of the new wave of English winemakers experimenting with skin contact and amphora-aged wines, but also producing some more classic sparkling and still wines. This Ortega (the name of the grape) is as good as its label suggests. Fermented with indigeneous yeasts, it is crisp with a satisfying honey note. There’s plenty to read on the side of the label, so we’ll stop here.
ROSÉ + REDS
Rogers &  Rufus, Rosé 2018, Australia
The Barossa Valley may be  more famous for its heavyweight  reds, but this rosé shows just how influential the Provence-style has become throughout the world. This means picking the red grapes (in this case, Grenache) earlier so that only a little of the skin colour impacts the wine and it’s only 11% – almost a breakfast rosé! Like all good dry rosés, it has subtle fruit. This wine also has a smooth creaminess from a bit of ageing on the lees (the spent yeast cells). Rosé is very food friendly, but right now we’re thinking tabbouleh and hummus. and maybe some grilled prawns.
Domaine Lyrarakis, Red 2016, Greece
We had this recently at The Crown in Chiswick, owned by Acton chef Henry Harris and knew we had to add it to our collection of delicious Greek wines. On first tasting, it felt a bit rustic. But paired with roast lamb and creamy flageolet beans, it became soft and plush. Here, the more  familiar Syrah is blended with local Cretan grape Kotsifali, a light-skinned grape which adds roundness and softness. Lamb (as we mentioned) is its friend, but we reckon it would be tasty with a good Greek cheese pie.
Domaine Lafond, Lirac 2016, France
Paola once asked the winemaker what food he’d recommend with this rich, spicy Grenache-led blend from an appellation near Chateauneuf-du-Pape called Lirac. Among the suggestions he gave was salad. A frisee salad with bacon and potatoes maybe. The point is that while we tend to think of big reds for winter and lighter reds for summer, there’s no rule. Especially if summer is a bit tardy… Wines like this are also great with BBQ. If you are doing butterfly lamb or steak, then this is your wine. Or just enjoy it after the meal as the night draws in and the temperature drops. It’s still May, right?

 

Previous Boxes:

Wine Club – January 2019

WHITES
Eschenhof Holzer, Wagram Grüner Veltliner 2017, Austria
A fruitier style of Grüner Veltliner typical of the clay – löss – soils of the Wagram region, with big flavours of green apples, peach, grapefruit and a touch of spice. The winery is now in the hands of the fourth generation of Holzers – Arnold and Mathias – who make some quite serious wines as well as this more easy going style. Hugely popular with our customers, we think it appeals to people who like a good petit Chablis. Great to sip on its own but rather good with fish and chips and fresh, crumbly cheeses like Ticklemore and Wensleydale.
De Kleine Wijn Koop,Eekhoring’ Wit 2017, South Africa
Some of the most exciting wines are coming out of South Africa, at the hands of a set of new wave of producers. And they usually come with a healthy price tag (in the UK, at least). But the five young guns behind this wine have used a small co-operative. Most of the grapes come from 38-year-old bush vines in super-cool Swartland. Mainly Chenin Blanc, it’s  fermented in a mixture of stainless steel tanks and old, neutral French oak barrels, then aged on the lees for 3 months. Textured with a fresh lift on the finish, it’s good to have on hand when serving white fish and simple chicken dishes.
Raventós d’Alella, ‘Sepo’ Pansa Blanca 2016, Spain
Pansa Blanca is a clone of  Xarel-lo, a grape that is the backbone of many whites in Penedes. The local soil in Alella is sauló –  which is sandy, low in nutrients and water retention. So the vines have to work really, really hard to produce grapes – which means more flavour. A small amount is macerated on skins to bring out the aromas in what can appear to be quite a shy grape at first, but makes for a remarkaby relaxed glass or two. Fleshy, tangy and a little herbaceous, we suggest you drink this while browsing through websites for a mini-break to Barcelona.
REDS
Adega de Penalva, Dão ‘Indigena’ Blend Red 2015, Portugal
This is probably one of the most popular wines in the shop, not just because it’s under £10 (just) but because it is really perfoms for the price. We like to think of it as a weeknight wonder. The sort of wine you reach for when you fancy a couple of glasses with dinner on a Wednesday but don’t want to splash out.. Made by a co-operative in the Dão wine region, it is a blend of Touriga Nacional (the main red grape of Portugal), Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo, and Jaen (aka Mencia). Soft, juicy, not too light, not too heavy. Damn tasty.
Pago Casa Gran, ‘Falcata Casa Gran’ 2016, Spain
Here’s a wine we import ourselves – and the new vintage of their barrel-aged red is just fab. The winery is based in Valencia, a wine region in Spain known mostly for producing high volume bulk wines. But the Pago Casa Gran estate is keen to show that you can produced well-crafted organic wines, too. A blend of Garnacha, Syrah and Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre), it is rich, smooth and a little spicy. We find it starts to show its personality after 15 minutes of opening. Great with a hearty stew, but v. v. enjoyable on its own.
Clos Cibonne, ‘Tentations’ Rouge 2016, France
Provence is best known for its rosé wines, but it also makes some pretty decent whites and reds. This is 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache and the rest Tibouren, a red grape that used to be more widly grown but can be a bit tricky. A medium-bodied wine and incredibly balanced, it’s bursting with blackcurrant and black cherry flavours tempered by hints of wild thyme and – we swear – baked earth. Or maybe because writing this, we’re imagining a jaunt to the Côte d’Azur. Nice with roast duck, herby pork chops and hard cheeses.

 

Wine Club, November 2018

WHITES
Grangeneuve, Bordeaux Sauvignon 2017, France
White Bordeaux isn’t very fashionable these days. Perhaps because at the entry level, it is often made from straight Sauvignon – the most over-exposed white grape around. Yet there is something very appealing about the flinty, citrussy freshness of this wine, especially at a time of year when we tend to eat heavier, richer food. This is a great wine to keep handy in the fridge for unexpected guests and pairs particularly well with thick, crunchy crisps, light fish-based canapes and dips – and good company.
Oenops Wines,  ‘Apla’ White 2017, Greece
We can’t decide whether we love this wine mostly for its name (Oenops = wine face) or the fact that it is made from one of the young guns in Greek winemaking – Nikos Karatzas – in a disused pie factory near the Macedonian city of Drama.  We certainly know we like it for its taste. Succulent with a luxy hint and a lifted finish, this wine blends the stonefruit character of the Malagouzia grape with the minerality of Assyrtiko and the texture of Roditis. No yeast is added for fermentation and it is matured for a few months in a mixture of clay amphora and steel tanks. Great for leftover turkey pasta or a nut roast fry-up.
Te Whare Ra, ‘Toru’ 2017 New Zealand
In 2009, we dropped into Marlborough’s Te Whare Ra (see the back label for a helpful pronunciation). While Kiwi Jason Flowerday moved the grass between the home vines, his Australian wife Anna took us through the range of fabulous wines they made together. So we’re delighted to finally be stockists.  We’ve chosed this Alsace-style blend as one of Park+Bridge’s Christmas recommentations as it will suit the tastes of a whole range of people, from older relatives used to a wine with a little residual sugar to younger palates who like very aromatic wines. And for those in between? The Riesling really shines through in this blend. A good all-rounder for a Christmas feast. Organic, biodynamic, vegan.
REDS
Schuchmann,  Saperavi 2016, Georgia
Georgian wines made in clay amphorae may be all the rage, but this red has been produced in a the very modern steel tank to produce a clean, pure style of the country’s signature red grape – Saperavi. Behind the wine is George Dakishvili who makes also makes some stunning wines in the old way. This wine reminds us a bit of a gutsy Syrah crossed with an inky French Malbec, with some plum, bramble and spices. There’s also some coffee hints and a ferric touch. This is not a red for casual sipping. It needs a hunk of protein – be it steak, be it a toasted cheese sandwich, be it a warming stew.
Château Larroque, Bordeaux Rouge 2012, France
Pinot may be the best red for a turkey but when it comes to all the stuffing and sauces, we think a Bordeaux red with a bit of age is pretty hard to beat. This blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon comes from a small chateau near Graves on the left bank. We’re not going to wax lyrical about its amazing complexity, suffice to say it has a lovely core of rich fruit, supple tannins and some lovely prune and tobacco notes developing. We decided to include it after seeing how tasty it was with rare roast beef.
Hacienda Grimon, Rioja Crianza 2015, Spain
From an organic winery in the Rioja Alta region, this spends 14 months in French and American oak (a little longer than usual for a crianza). It is a full-bodied, rich, modern-style of Rioja with vanilla and toasty tones, made from Tempranillo, that definitely benefits from 30 mins of decanting. This is the one to serve with beef wellington – or with your feet up and some lovely mature cheddar when you feel peckish again after a big meal…

 

Wine Club, September 2018

WHITES
Plaimont Producteurs, ‘Le Lesc’ Blanc 2017, France
We’ve stocked this delicious little glugger from Gascony since we opened, but we think this new vintage is perhaps the best yet, which is why we’ve included it in the box. It is made by a small co-operative based in Saint-Mont, near the foothills of the Pyrenees. It tastes like a light, crisp Sauvignon Blanc, even though it is made from two less illustrious grapes, Ugni Blanc and Colombard. At under 10.5%, it’s a weeknight fridge-door essential.
Bodega Goianea, Bat Gara ‘Uno’ Txakolina 2015, Spain
If you’ve tried Taxcolina (pronounced chock-oh-LEE-nah) before, it might have been in San Sebastian, where it is usually young, spritizy and poured into a glass from a height. But the grape behind the wine – Hondarrabi Zuri – can also age. The wine is a collaboration between a restaurateur, a priest and a stockman. Aged on its lees (the stuff leftover after fermentation) to give it some body and texture, it’s pure and zesty. If you like Albarino, this will be right up your street. Try with fish and chips.
Chateau de Villeneuve, Saumur Blanc 2017, France
Made from Chenin Blanc, it makes us think of baked apples, fresh honey mango and zippy lemon curd – with some wet stones from a stream thrown in for good measure. It is definitely more luxy than other Saumur blancs out there – think of it as an alternative to a richer-style Chablis. It is lovely to drink on its own, but dry with a pea and lemon risotto and pretend it’s still summer as the nights draw in. It’s one of Paola’s favourite wines in the shop. Organic.
REDS
Villa Locatelli, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso 2016, Italy
Refosco is the grape, thought to be indigenous to Friuli, in the north west – though unsurprisingly it is also found in neighbouring Slovenia and on the Croatian Istrian coast (Refosk). Peduncolo rosso refers to the grape stem, and this particular type of Refosco. With us so far? Good. Lighter than many Italian reds, but with their characteristic liveliness, this wine bursts onto the palate with wild blackberry and fresh red cherry.  Six months in oak creates a texture and a smoky note. If you like an old world Pinot Noir, this should appeal. If you want red with your chicken, try this!
Domaine Yves Cuilleron, Syrah ‘Les Vignes d’à Côté’ 2016, France
Wines from the Northern Rhone come with some seriously hefty price tags (Hermitage, Cote Rotie, Cornas, St Joseph…) So, while we are not going to say this wine from the wider region of Colines Rhodaniennes will give you exactly the same experience, it does give you an idea about why some people (see also Paola) go bonkers over this region. Crushed blackcurrant, black pepper, with leather and tapenade notes, it’s lush without being jammy.  Just add steak or roast beef.
Bodegas Pascua, ‘Buro’ Ribera del Duero 2015, Spain
While the sun has lingered in the day, the central heating is back on at night (with us, anyhow) so it’s officially time to break out the BIG REDS. The Ribera region lies south of where Rioja is made, and the reds are made mainly from Tempranillo (or Tinta Fina as it’s called locally). Styles can vary – but most people look for ones like this – rich, smooth and silky with a little bite. The grapes come from vines around 50 years old, planted 900 metres above sea level, which adds freshness and acidity – essential in such a voluptuous wine. Just add Lincolnshire Poacher, a mature cheddar or Manchego. And good company – it’s a wine best shared….

 

Wine Club, July 2018

 

WHITES
Eduardo Miroglio, ‘Soli’ White 2017, Bulgaria
Edoardo Miroglio hails from Piedmont in Italy, where he owns a winery (Tenuta Carretta). At the turn of the century, he invested in Bulgaria’s  historic Thrace wine region, which was re-emerging after communism. Miroglio’s ‘Soli’ Pinot Noir is a shop best-seller – giving a Burgundy experience without the price tag. It’s stablemate, the ‘Soli’ white blend makes brilliant summer drinking. It’s a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Riesling which makes it aromatic, rounded with a zippy finish. A good option for a casual BBQ and summer salad suppers.
Fattoria San Lorenzo, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi  ‘Vigna di Gino’ 2017, Italy
Verdicchio means ‘little green one’ and refers to the golden-green colour of the wine.  Castelli di Jesi is the wine region in Le Marche , and the wine is named after current owner Natalino’s father Gino (who’s own father started the winery near Ancona). Still with us? Good. The  vineyard is farmed biodynamically and this wine is soft and generous without feeling big and rich. It reminds us of ripe pears, with a twist of lemon peel and a nutty note. Try with garlic prawns, baked fish, or a medium-flavoured hard cheese.
Jim Barry, Assyrtiko 2017, Australia
The Assyrtiko grape is usually found on the Greek island of Santorini, and makes world class minerally textured whites in the hands of the right producers. It has piqued the interest of winemakers from around the world – in this case, Peter Barry who took some vines back from Estate Argyros to the Clare Valley in South Australia. It reminds us of a Chablis crossed with a bone-dry Riesling and makes a great aperitif (and quite fabulous with Greek chicken pie). This is currently Mike’s favourite wine in the shop
REDS
Cosimo Maria Masini, ‘Matilde’ 2017, Italy
OK – so this is really a rosé. But we’ve put this in our reds section because of its darker colour. Don’t worry – this biodynamic Tuscan charmer is dry.  A blend of Sangiovese and a rare grape called Sanforte, the dark colour is down to a warm year (so more colour developed in the grape skins) and a little skin maceration to create the natural yeast for fermentation. We’re very happy to drink this by itself, but have enjoyed it with roast chicken, Japanese vegetable tempura, a whole array of dishes at our local north African restaurant
Famille Valéry, ‘Pas d’Histoires’ Le Rouge 2016, France
A no worries, no stress kind of wine – and we didn’t just choose it for the – er – foxy label. A juicy vin de soif made from Carignan in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region, it’s an all-year-round kind of wine that you can chill lightly in the summer. Another good option to take to a BBQ or just have to hand for impromptu get togethers. We particularly like Carignan with gutsy lamb dishes, such as a lamb curry or a butterflied leg.
El Potrero, Reserva de Potrero 2016, Argentina
Another Malbec. What are we like? But this is quite different from the Santa Julia in the last box, being richer and more serious. It comes from Gualtallary, the highest area for cultivating grapes in Mendoza (up to 1600 metres). The altitude plus the chalky soils make for elegant styles. Behind the winery is  footballer Nicolas Burdisso (who has just finished with Torino) and his wife Belen. It’s been aged in a mix of new and used oak. Decant for 30 minutes and enjoy with a decent steak or farmhouse cheddar.

 

Wine Club, May 18

WHITES
Château Clément Termes, ‘Les Petits Clement’ Sauvignon Mauzac 2016, France
This is the fridge-door white Paola used to buy before we opened the wine shop, when it had a tacky label and was called “David” (the surname of the producers). Thankfully, they’ve smartened it up to reflect the good juice inside. Made from 70% Mauzac – a grape gown mainly in the Gaillac area of France – and 30% Sauvignon, it mixes grassy aromatics with scents of green apple. Easy drinking, great with crunchy salads. Try with asparagus.
AA Badenhorst,  ‘Secateurs’ Chenin Blanc 2017, South Africa
A shop best seller and the wine that got us back into good South African Chenin. This wine comes the the hippest wine region in South Africa – Swartland – and is made from vines planted mainly between ’66 and ’76. The wine incoporates about 15% skin contact which adds a little more texture and isn’t manipulated by added yeast, acidity or even fined. Great on its own, but try with scallops or squid.
Andreas Bender, Weissburgunder 2016, Germany
Weissbuegunder is also known as Pinot Blanc, one of the most food-friendliest grapes ever. We’ll often chose one when dining out because it can handle a lot of different flavous and textures. The grapes come from organically farmed 30-year-old vines on steep slate slopes in the Mosel, more famous for its rieslings. Fermented in old oak casks and aged in steel stanks,  it has a creamy mouthfeel lifted by some refreshing acidity. The simple label belies the complex wine within.
REDS
Roger Sabon, ‘Le Sabounet’ NV, France
A table wine from a top Chateauneuf-du-Pape producer. OK – so it’s a little more than a simple goes-with-baguette-and-cheese affair, and it knocks the spots off many a Cotes du Rhone red around the £10 mark.  A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Counoise, it’s full-bodied, supple and lightly spicy. It’s a great wine to have to hand throughout the year and perfect for a BBQ, steak and chips or a hearty aubergine-based dish.
Familia Zuccardi, ‘Santa Julia Organica’ Malbec 2016, Argentina
“I’d like a nice Malbec” says every other person who walks in to the shop. No pressure then! Luckily, we get loads of return customers for this. The Argentinians can overdo things with Malbec – leave the grapes on the vine for too long (makes it smoother but more alcoholic) and use so much American oak, it rubs out overshadows the wine’s personality. This Malbec is has all the ripe plummy notes you want, without the overkill. Another BBQ belter.
Castello di Potentino, ‘Balaxus’ 2012, Italy
The vineyard at the Castello di Potentino is situated on the slopes of the highest peak in Tuscany, Monte Amiata, an extinct volcano. Made from Grenache – or Alicante as they say locally. Mineral, elegant and earthy with only minimal fining and filtration. The winemaker is former journalist Charlotte Horton Only 10,000 bottles made. Sip on its own. Or try with a slow-roasted shoulder of pork, salami and medium-flavour cheeses.

 

Wine Club, March 2018

WHITES
Extreme Vineyards, Bonfire Hill White 2016, South Africa
The grapes come from old, non-commercial vineyards in out-of-the-way places and coaxed into this brilliant little wine by Trizanne Barnard. A blend of 60% Chenin Blanc and 40% Grenache Blanc and Roussanne, it’s mouthfilling yet moderate in alcohol, soft and fresh. Perfect for a schoolnight sip. Good with roast chicken or just a plate of cheese.
Verus Vineyards, Furmint 2016, Slovenia
Furmint is the backbone of one of the world’s most revered sweet wines (Tokaji) but it makes some fabulous dry wines too with lots of zip and racy acidity but with some texture too – it doesn’t just slip down like water. Perhaps it won’t surprise you that Danilo, head wine winemaker, did a short spell in the Loire Valley. Imagine a Sancerre blended with a Chablis. Aromatic, mineral and delicious on its own, frankly. Or with meaty fish.
Can Rafols dels Caus, ‘Terraprima’ 2016, Spain
Or as our customers like to call it “the one with the splodges on the label”. The main grape is Xarel-Lo (chah-reh-lo) which is often found in Cava, but in Penedes (around Barcelona) it is used for dry wines, too. Lifted by a little Riesling, no yeast is added to start the fementation and a portion of the wine is fermented in old chestnut barrels. It’s not showy, just super drinkable and great with creamy fish dishes, veg risottos, tempura veg. Organic.
REDS
Rafael Cambra, ‘Soplo’ Garnacha 2013, Spain
An organically farmed Grenache from Valencia, at first sniff there is a pretty, floral note to it. Swirl it around in your glass and some plummy, meaty, leathery notes emerge. Valencia can be punishingly hot, but the vines for this wine sit at 700m above sea level, which adds a lift and freshness. This is the wine to grab at the end of a meal with friends when you fancy a bit more to drink, or with lamb leftovers on Easter Monday. If there are any, of course…
Katogi-Strofilia, ‘ Mountain Fish’ Red 2014, Greece
Let’s get the jokes about rough reds and holiday hangovers out of the way… this is a very modern Greek wine from the Nemea wine region on the Peloponnese. Agiorgitiko (ah-your-YEE-tiko) is the grape, grown at 800m above sea level. It makes us think of velvety raspberries, earth and wild herbs. At its best with a roast leg of lamb, but pretty darn good with a flavoursome, herby and garlicky roast chicken. Very versatile.
Fitapreta, A Touriga ‘Vai Nua’ 2016, Portugal
A wine critic recently said that this wine was “what Nosferatu would drink before a night of light slaughter and he was a creature of exquisite taste.” What more can we add? It’s divine. Touriga Nacional is grown all over Portgual and ends up in many of its wines, often hefty and oaky. But here, it is at its most pure and beautiful. The name of the wine translates as “Touriga Goes Naked” so you get the idea of what winemaker Antonio Macanita was trying to achieve. We hope you like it as much as we do. Only 10,000 bottles made. Sip on its own. Try with pork chops. Or with medium-flavoured cheese.