Thursday, 14 May 2020

#seriouswinesforaserioustime with Tim and James

The word “unprecedented” really has peaked in 2020. Pretty much all emails I receive seem to contain this word in at some point, but it’s hard to disagree really. We do, indeed, find ourselves in a time when things that we used to take for granted can’t be done and many people have had to get used to a completely way of life. In my last post I encouraged you all to do what you can to support small, local businesses as they really are finding things tough right now. But I appreciate that this isn’t possible for everyone, with many people being furloughed or needing to spend their time or resources caring for loved ones.

Against such a seemingly bleak backdrop what can we do here at Vinspire? 

We think that it is important that we continue to give you some levity and vicarious pleasure as we write about things that make us happy - and opening a bottle of wine is just one of those things that seems to bring joy amongst the wine-loving community. Over on Twitter a number of folk (myself included) have been encouraging people to use the lockdown time as an excuse to open a nice bottle of wine and treat themselves. After all, when times are bleak treating yourself can be a nice reward for a hard day battling with homeschooling or interminable Zoom conference calls. We have settled on a hashtag which I think encapsulates this perfectly: 


In this article today, I am collaborating with a Twitter must-follow for anyone with a passing interest in wine - James Hubbard (@jameshubbard113). James has a seemingly endless supply of incredible wine in his cellar, so much so that some people (looking at you, Lee!) have labelled James' wine cellar as “the wine tardis”!

The below are a selection of the highlights that James and I have been sampling over the last few weeks as we look to brighten the gloom with a decent bottle or two.

The Wines

Tim: For Good Friday, the UK-based wine community came together and celebrated English (and Welsh) sparkling wine with the Good Friday English Wine celebration - basically an opportunity to open a bottle of some of the lovely wine that are now getting the recognition that they deserve for quality from around the world. I decided to stay classic and to open a bottle of 2016 Camel Valley “Annie’s Anniversary” Brut which I purchased when I went to visit the vineyard last September for my wedding anniversary. This is a classic champagne-blend wine and has lovely freshness and zip to it, with loads of tropical fruit notes that helped it to sing. This is a great wine, but look out for their rosé too - that really is top-notch!

Tim: One of the most famous white wines in the world is the 2006 Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva Blanco from López de Heredia in Rioja. I treated myself to a case of 2006s at the end of last year and I am keen to see how they evolve over time, but in order to do that I had to open one recently to give it a good try - poor me. This is a really interesting wine as it has an oxidative element to it, something that contributes to that vivid colour in the glass. The nose, however, is all sweetness and light with a pretty floral element to it, which I found very evocative. On tasting, it has a breadth and richness to it that made it a great match for some pancetta-wrapped pork tenderloin that I had cooked with a creamy sauce. The finish was rather complex and had fantastic length. A bit of a thinker of a wine. Look forward to coming back to the rest of these over the coming years!

James: I’ve always loved Trimbach wines, I simply cannot recall a time when I had a bad bottle. This was the first time I had tried this particular offering (2015 Trimbach ‘Selection de Vieilles Vignes’ Riesling), purchased a while back from The Wine Society. A smorgasbord of citrus fruits alongside mandarins and peach, with a smattering of Grüner-style white pepper thrown in for good measure. This was thirst-slaking and utterly irresistible. A wine to put a smile on the face - just joyously delicious!

Tim: Next on my list was a Burgundy from a producer who hails from nearby me in London, Le Grappin’s 2017 “Boucherottes” Beaune Premier Cru. I only had one bottle of this and I was um-ing and ah-ing about whether to open this bottle yet, surely it would be better to wait a few more years on this? I opted not to and to get stuck in for a number of reasons, firstly there are plenty of times when people have held on to a bottle of wine for ages only to find that when they finally open it that it is corked, secondly the whole spirit of #seriouswinesforaserioustime is to encourage people to live for the moment and enjoy that bottle now as you don’t know what’s round the corner! The wine was a joy to drink, pure unadulterated fun with loads of fruit flavours and tannins that are already well ntegrated into the wine. Will this improve with age? Absolutely. I’d love to have a case of this and come back to some of these in 2027 when it will really be singing; do I regret opening it now? Definitely not!

James: This 2017 Sailor Seeks Horse Pinot Noir is a new discovery for me courtesy of The Vinorium. Stuart McCloskey raved about them when I met him at one of their tastings, so I decided to give it a go. I was not disappointed! Tasmania really is cranking out some world-class Pinot. This one is incredibly delicate and aromatic, Burgundy meets Oregon. A lightness of touch but not a light wine. The relative youth meant it needed a bit of time in glass to show off the gorgeous redcurrant and strawberry notes, and as it slowly unfurled I was surprised by how much else came through on the nose including damsons, marmalade and smoked meat. I have a couple more bottles which i am going to try to resist for a few years to see how this continues to mature.

Tim: I wanted something a few weeks ago to go alongside my Sunday roast beef and I was just looking towards the claret selection on my rack when a bottle of 2000 Chateau Musar (from Lebanon) caught my eye. I opted for this and was delighted to do so. Musar’s flagship wine is a combination of international (French) grapes such as Cinsault and Carignan, combined with local Lebanese varietals. The result is a wine of tremendous character and depth. It benefitted from a bit of time in a decanter before serving but was then full of fruit notes, combined with deeper more savoury tastes (dark chocolate and mushroom) as you would expect from a wine with 20 years behind it. This wine has plenty more time on its side, which is all the more impressive when you can pick this up for £30/bottle, for which you would struggle to get such an enjoyable drinking experience from Bordeaux. Get hold of some while you can!

James: The 2012 Boekenhoutskloof Syrah is from one of my favourite South African wineries - Marc Kent and his team have been smashing it out of the park for quite a while now. The attention to detail and pursuit of excellence is on show here for sure. This 2012 Syrah is just entering its (long) drinking window. Rich, pure black fruits underpinned by five spice and pepper. Hermitage-esque levels of complexity. So refined and balanced. Old World style meets New World freshness.





There you have it - some truly wonderful bottles opened as a tribute to Bacchus and to help us pass the time until all of this madness is over.

Have you been opening anything special recently? Let us know in the comments below!

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