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Neil Sowerby’s September Wines

Event crazy September and October brings a world of wine to Manchester

Published on September 20th 2012.

Neil Sowerby’s September Wines

NOSIOLA, isn’t he the Juventus midfielder? Wrong. A little known grape from Italy’s Trentino region that traditionally has gone into the sweet wine Vino Santo. But it also makes a delicately spicy off-dry white, as I discovered in a trip to the region this spring.

The Co-operative Chablis (£9.99, down to £8.49) is a more restrained beast from the house of Jean Brocard, lemon on the nose, flinty, minerally on the palate with fine fruit peeping through.

That was a one-off, I thought, until It turned up again at at a wine tasting held by importers Boutinot in a version from the Cavit coop that was surprisingly ripe, almost nutty after a bold nose of citrus and fennel. A silver medal winner at the International Wine Challenge and a modest 12 per cent in alcohol, Mastri Vernacoli Nosiola 2011 costs a great value £6.95 from the Halifax Wine Company.


Vineyards in TrentinoVineyards in Trentino


Gatley-based Boutinot import an unsung but toothsome red variety worth trying from the same area, also from Cavit’s Mastro Vernacoli range. The 2011 vintage is available here from 2011. Meanwhile, up a rung, the same winery’s Bottega Vinai Rotaliano 2009 offers a beguiling ruby hue with a violet rim with ripe cherry fruit and a hint of oaky spice. This IWC gold and trophy winner for £10.55 is stocked by Manchester’s Smithfield Wine.

Boutinot are busy boys. Earlier in the summer they organised a road trip for four of the NW’s best (and most convivial chefs) Andrew Nutter, Simon Rimmer, Aiden Byrne and Paul Askew. This included a visit to Azurmendi, a groundbreaking Michelin-starred restaurant near  Bilbao Airport. Our own dear Gordo has been since and is still having orgasms about it (click here).

The chefs’ trip took in four more of the Basque region’s (and the world’s) top restaurants. In return for the hospitality, a limited edition magnum of Boutinot 'Les Deux Barriques' Cairanne 2005 was presented to each Spanish chef. Lucky chefs on the evidence of my sip of a sample – immensely savoury black cherry and liquorice in ripe abundance. 

The wine was discovered during the meticulous process of pre-tasting and racking each barrel destined for Boutinot’s 2005 ‘La Côte Sauvage’ Cairanne release. Two particular barrels stood apart and these were put to one side, assembled and matured together till late spring 2010. Production was limited to 150 bottles and the same number of magnums, each numbered and sealed with a stamp of commemorating  Boutinot’s 25th anniversary. It’s not on general release but I believe D. Byrne of Clitheroe stock a small amount of boxed magnums at £38 apiece.

This multi-award winning 130 year-old merchant trading out of a maze of atmospheric cellars, has just been named Rhone Specialist of the Year at the International Wine Challenge. 

La Cote Sauvage, CairanneLa Cote Sauvage, CairanneWines made by by Eric Monnin in Boutinot’s own vineyard in the Cotes du Rhone village of Cairanne have helped the cause. The aforementioned Cairanne La Cote Sauvage 2007 and 2009 are both outstanding, the latter vintage the more accessible with oodles of Grenache fruit upfront. Reserve of Didsbury stock the in-between 2008 vintage of Cote Sauvage for £12.50 a bottle. Lamb with rosemary and garlic calls.

Also don’t miss, widely available at under a tenner – Boutinot Les Coteaux Cotes du Rhone Villages 2009 – an outstanding vintage, while Byrne’s 'Red Wine Of The Year' (as usual, taking value for money into account) is from Cairanne, too. La Chapelle de Marin Cotes du Rhone Cuvee Patrice Armand 2009 (£5.99) is a supple unoaked brambly/spicy brew – a benchmark Southern Rhone red. 

The Co-operative have some attractive offers running until September 25. There’s £2.50 off the attractively soft Spanish red Corte Mayor Rioja Crianza 2008 (down to £6.49), while I also enjoyed two contrasting whites. Kiwi Ned Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (£8.99, now £6.99) is mega Marlborough in style with vivid acidity and citrus hit but there’s a smokiness and nettliness I really liked. The Co-operative Chablis (£9.99, down to £8.49) is a more restrained beast from the house of Jean Brocard, lemon on the nose, flinty, minerally on the palate with fine fruit peeping through.

Finally, tastings aplenty to recommend (but do check with the venues for availablility):

Taste of Argentina at Gaucho – Friday, October 5

Sample eight Argentine wines ranging from sumptuous Torrontes from Salta to big powerful Malbecs from Mendoza and to finish sweet sparkling Deseado from Patagonia.

All wines have been selected to complement Gaucho classics, including mackerel ceviche, succulent beef cuts and a white chocolate mousse. Hosted by Wines of Argentina Sommelier Stephen Rosser, who ran the excellent WSET courses at Harvey Nichols, and Gaucho managing partner Peter Ebbutt. 2pm-6pm. Gaucho, 2a St Mary’s Street, Manchester M3 2LB. Tickets cost £50. To book mail peter.ebbutt@gauchorestaurants.com

Shades of Musar at Hangingditch – Wednesday, September 26

Nine wines from the The cult Lebanese winery, Chateau Musar, introduced by family member Ralph Hocha. Whites dating back to 2000 and 2003, reds to 1979. 7pm. £25 per person. Limited tickets can be booked at the HangingDitch shop M3 1ST, near Manchester Cathedral, or by ringing 0161 832 8222.

Sam's Chophouse Portuguese Food@ Wine Tasting Evening – Tuesday, September 25

Award-winning wine scribe Simon Woods (www.simonwoods.com) gives a potted history of Poruguese vitculture and introduces six wines, which accompany canapes and a three-course menu of scallops, suckling pig and chocolate marquise. 7pm. £45 a head. To reserve a place contact sams@vicchopco.com or call 0161 834 3210. Chapel Walks, off Cross Street M2 1HN.

And, of course, there are Manchester Food and Drink Festival linked tastings. First up there’s...

Hanging DitchHanging Ditch

Bakerie Wine Fair – Saturday, September 22

Nominated for newcomer of the year in the MFDF Awards, the Bakerie’s Tasting Store has a massive wine collection. Your chance to sample a selection. Highly recommended. 11.30am-2pm and 3pm-5.30pm sessions, £5; 6.30pm-9pm £10. To book call 0161 236 9014 or mail info@bakerie.co.uk. Bakerie, 43-45 Lever Street, M60 7HP (Tasting Room in the Hive building just behind). Then...

Big Indie Wine And Cheese Fest – Friday and Saturday, September 28 and 29

The Big Indie Wine Fest in association with Metrolink has now become a highlight event of the annual Manchester Food and Drink Festival. Looks like this year there’s a big cheese involvement. Freemasons Hall, 36 Bridge Street M3 3BT. Visit foodanddrinkfestival.com for more info and how to book. Main picture by Simon Buckley

Don’t forget the MFDF Awards have a new category for 2012 – Wine Retailer of the Year. The award will be handed out at the Gala Dinner at The Lowry Hotel on Monday October 8. It’s not too late to cast your vote at here. It’s a strong field (all six contenders are no strangers to this column): Reserve, Winos, Hanging Ditch, Evuna, Gaucho and Turton Wines.

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