I have visited these producers, which I either discovered by chance, and can recommend, or were recommended to me, as worth a visit.
- Alsace – Josmeyer (in 2016), run by two sisters, Isabelle (wine maker) and Céline Meyer (manager) with 40 employees farming 25ha organically and biodynamically in 90 parcels. A range of parcel exposures is particularly important for the balance of ripeness, alcohol and acidity with pinot gris.
We tasted and liked all of the 7 wines shown by Isabelle, all of top quality. Outstanding were GC Hengst riesling 2009 (€45) and 2012 (€33) and GC Brand riesling 2012 (€33); very good were a Les Pierrets riesling 2012 at €22 (see the 2002 tasted in 2016) and Cuvee des Folastries gewurztraminer 2013 (€17) which was quite understated and delicate.
- Cote de Beaune – Patriarche, Beaune (in 2015). A negociant-eleveur, with contract growers, making, blending and maturing wines in 5km of cellars beneath the streets of Beaune. They do an unsupervised self-pour tasting of 13 wines for €16, with expertise on hand if desired.
I liked: Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Les Cailles 2009, at €45; and Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Aux Bousselots 2008, at €42. Detailed tasting notes to follow as posts.
- Cotes du Rhone – Vignobles de Balma Venitia Cooperative, Beaumes de Venise, Beaume comes from the French for cave or grotto, (in 2012)
I liked: Terres du Trias 2010, Cru des Cotes du Rhone, GSM blend, 15% abv, €8.70 (2012). A full-bodied wine, with aromas of warm black cherry and black berry, spice and liquorice; smooth medium (+) tannins, with flavours of black cherry and sweet black plum. It is well-balanced in spite of the high alcohol, so this is a food wine, perhaps with roast red meats, venison and hare; with a medium length. (2012).
- Cote Challonaise – Domaine Roland Sounit, Rully (in 2012). Albert Sounit is close by, but it was Roland, in preference to Albert, who was recommended by a lady we stayed with, in the Chambres d’Hotes directory, who knows everyone in Burgundy.
I liked: Rully Premier Cru Meix Cadot 2010, Chardonnay, 13% abv, €14.
- Champagne – Ployez-Jacquemart, Ludes (in 2013). Just 10 minutes off the A4 Autoroute, on the north-east side of the Montagne de Reims. Production about 100,000 bottles p.a., but don’t export to UK. They do B & B – I picked this producer in preference to a hotel in central Reims, saved 50%, which I then spent on champagne.
I liked: Extra Brut Vintage 2004, Chardonnay, 12%, €37; but also have a bottle of their 1998 Liesse d’Harbonville, which had second place for champagne at Vinitaly 2012, beating Dom Perignon 2002 (Dom Perignon Oenothèque 1996 took first), but at half the cost.
- Languedoc – Mas de Daumas Gassac (in 2016), I have tasting notes for some vintages of Mas de Daumas Gassac red – a cabernet sauvignon dominated blend with about 5% each of merlot, tannat, cabernet franc, and about 2% of malbec and pinot noir, plus about 10% of rare varietes, the 2013 vintage is €33, but I also have a 2000 at €120, just to see how it ages; the white consists of about 25% each of petit manseng, chardonnay and viognier, along with chenin blanc and rare varieties, the 2013 is €33; the lesser Albaran is great value table wine with character, at €7.50, I have tasting notes for some vintages.
- Languedoc – Domaine l’Hortus (in 2016), soils are limestone of varying hardness. The top red is the grand cuvee (€21 for the 2014, varietal syrah), which spends 6 months in vat and is then blended and sent for 12 months maturation to new, second or third use 225 and 400 litre oak casks, they can develop decent complexity; the lesser Bergerie (€11 for the 2015, an MGS blend) is worth holding, as it develops some complexity over 2-3 years, only the mourvedre is shown oak, second use over 12 months. There is also a Grand Cuvee white based on oaked chardonnay and viognier, and a Bergerie, a blend of a number of varieties including chardonnay, bouboulenc, petit manseng, roussanne, sauvignons blanc and gris, and viognier.
- Mosel – Weingut Stephan Kohl, Neumagen-Dhron (in 2012).
I liked: Kohl’s Regent Rotwein Trocken 2010, Deutscherwein, Regent, 12% abv. A mere €6.50, and a real tasting circle teaser; aged in 30% new oak and 70% second use. Medium intensity ruby; medium intensity on the nose with youthful notes of red cherry, blackberry and vanilla; on the palate it’s dry, medium acidity, with smooth medium (-) tannins, medium (-) body with flavors of oak, red fruit, and violets; with a medium (-) length. This is an uncomplicated yet well made wine, with a velvety mouth feel, a balance between alcohol and acidity, and in sympathy with the flavour intensity. (tasted 2013). The Kohls will DHL ship to UK. Regent is recognised by the EU as an interspecific variety or crossing, of Silvaner X Muller-Thurgau X Chambourcin; whilst Germany regards it as a Vitis vinifera variety. In any event, it is a cool climate grape, much grown in the UK, but without the velvety character and balance of this wine. Their Dhroner Hofberger Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken 2010, about €6 (tasted 2014) is also terrific value.
- Piemonte – Castello di Gabiano, Monferrato (in 2011).
I liked: A Matilde Giustiniani, Gabiano Riserva DOC, 2005, mostly Barbera blended with 5% Freisa, 13% abv. €17. (We liked all the wines that we tasted, which was most of their repertoire. Other varieties grown include Barbera, Chardonnay, Grignolino, Malvasia and Pinot Noir). This is a full-bodied wine, with aromas of red and black cherry, vanilla and a savoury note; well integrated tannins, with a degree of complexity, and evolution into tertiary flavours, with lots black notes – cherry, berry, olive, currants and vanilla, again with a savoury note. It is well-balanced with a medium (+) length.
- Graubunden – Annatina Pelizzatti (in 2016). Farms south facing slopes above the Rhine valley, at 630m elevation, 10-20% gradient, with loose soils of schist and gneiss, and a significant diurnal variation – in late July 2016 it sank to 15C at night, from 30+ during the day. She employs a low intervention philosophy, with oaked pinot noir, also pinot blanc and chardonnay. It was for pinot noir that we visited. The pinot noir barrique 2013 is superb, we also took some 2012 and 2014, also Eichholz 2014.