The Wine Blogger 2013 Roundup – Wines of the Year
Published by Ben Greene on 19/12/2013
It’s the time of year for round-ups, top tens and best ofs, so we thought we’d ask some of the wine bloggers who’ve written about us over the past twelve months for their favourite wines (Roberson or otherwise) of 2013. In no particular order, here’s what they said…
We drank a bottle of this white Marsanne/Roussanne blend whilst on holiday in the Rhône this summer. Drove directly to the domaine for a case the following day. It smells of freshly cut pears and flowers. It’s full-bodied, but with loads of vitality; long, pure and clean. No excess fat – an example of just how fine and fresh St Péray can be when in the right hands.
I was given a bottle to taste recently and decided to take it along to one of our ‘7 Word Wine Review’ evenings in London so everyone could try it. It proved to be one of the highlights of our evening and seemed to be universally loved by the group of tasters. The wine has small, elegant bubbles and a flavour of delicate peaches with strawberries and raspberries, with a whiff of fresh brioche. It had just the right amount of sweetness to confuse and delight at the same time – should you have it as an aperitif, or with dessert? Maybe both… and then later on, have some more!
I was entranced by this wine, it literally had an emotional persona to it. A funky skunky nose (in a nice way). On the palate wild sour dark fruits wrestled around with zip zing acids and fresh tannins, but with a very mature fruit finish.
The surprise when tasting this wine blind at a dinner at the Chateau was to discover the vintage. I loved the pure fruit, elegant tannins and great length from a vintage often offhandedly labelled as ‘Classique’. Big mistake to be put off by this description, the wine is a beauty. Situated in between classified growths of Saint Estephe, Chateau Phelan Segur produces very accessible wines (price as well as style) with an elegance that belies the appellation’s reputation for robustness. There’s nothing wrong with classic.
My standout wine in 2013 was an Austrian red which I came across on the shelves of Waitrose. Austria is perhaps better known for its white wines made from the Gruner Veltliner grape but this 2009 red, made from the St Laurent grape by Weingut Heinrich Hartl, was beautifully soft, supply, fruity and perfectly balanced. It showed that despite having a reputation for making great whites the Austrians can make wonderful red wines also.
One of the most outstanding Carignan dominated wines that I discovered on a trip to the Priorat and Monsant regions in Spain. Perfectly demonstrates the freshness and elegance that these wines can have – no mean feat with 14.5% alcohol. The 2010 has inviting aromas of mint, eucalyptus and dried herbs, vibrant cassis fruit and refined, grippy tannins. Already very drinkable, but should have a great future too.
Produced from Pinot Noir and Bacchus grapes grown locally to me, near Henley-on-Thames in the Chiltern Hills and bottled by Stanlake Park, Berkshire, I discovered wine quite by accident during an English tasting that I ran for my monthly wine tasting group. Surprisingly dry and crisp, with strawberries and cream, yet another English wine triumph that gives provencal rose a run for its money.
Gold. Sherbet lemons, lemon meringue pie, dry, bright with a fine depth. Little hints of yeast, great with concaillotte, a local young cheese…
Local Jura grape variety made in the oxidative Jura style, but with bags of fruit. Also good with hard cheese (Comté) and light curries. Jura is a very special area in the east of France, about 50 miles east of Burgundy, renowned for Vin Jaune which must be aged in barrel for a minimum of 6 years 3 months without being topped up – thus made in an oxidative style. This wine is made with the same variety as used in Vin Jaune, Savagnin, and is also not topped up. A good introduction to the Jurassien style!
Less of a specific wine, more a grape variety. For some reason, perhaps the trips I’ve been on to Rome and the wine country in Italy, I’ve really grown fond of decent Italian white wines. Pecorino, the grape variety, rather than the cheese is one such. There was a great bottle in a wine bar in Rome that really opened my eyes, and back in the UK several restaurant meals and a decent under a tenner bottle from my local supermarket. It’s the combination of weight, a spicy edge (ginger) and a nutty complexity to the flavour that I adore. I should also mention that I do also like pecorino the cheese.
I discovered this wine, and the amazing potential of this variety, in a beautiful converted building, down the narrow streets of Melgaço. The Solar do Alvarinho is a tasting room, bar and shop dedicated just to Alvarinho and the many small producers growing it locally. The town itself is beautiful, but the wine was an amazing combination of crisp freshness you’d expect from Vinho Verde, but more luscious tropical fruit and floral aromas to give it roundness. A wonderful reason to head back to the Minho region of northern Portugal as soon as possible.
With only 106 bottles made, this century-old wine dates to an almost-Victorian era when Germany and Russia were still empires ruled by royal houses. Translucent black with coffee and liquorice, there is sweet vanilla, toffee and a fragrant-floral black chocolate savouriness. Complex and harmonious with an aged mellowness, it has a vibrancy that belies its centegenarian status. Rather like Mick Jagger or Sean Connery, its youthful, rogueish charm is still present - it has an energy - but it is matched by the assurance that comes with longevity.
I had seen a lot of recent hype about this winemaker on Instagram and Twitter, so I jumped at the chance to try this wine when I was out at a friend’s birthday lunch at The Ledbury. This is labelled as a ‘Bourgogne’, which is a generic classification, but it punches well above its weight; it’s clean, classic and classy. Roberson stocks some wines from Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, though I’m sure the 2010s would have sold out very quickly. It’s great to see the ‘cheaper’ appellations of Burgundy providing excellent quality juice.
If there’s a common thread running through the wines I’m craving at the moment, it’s that they’re refreshing and red. It’s a combination that many parts of the world struggle to get right – Beaujolais can do it, Valpolicella used to be able to do it but seems to have forgotten how. So it was a thrill to come across The Liberator “Francophile” Syrah 2012 from Stellenbosch in South Africa. Forget clumsy Cape reds, this is vibrant young wine with floral notes to its blackberry and blackcurrant flavours, a touch of spice, and the roasted note you often find in northern Rhône reds. Perhaps not a wine to chill, but definitely fresh, perky and – most importantly – very tasty.
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