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Neil Sowerby's Wine Column 23/09/2011

Taste with Hangingditch, Casillero del Diablo and Oz Clarke

Published on September 22nd 2011.

Neil Sowerby's Wine Column 23/09/2011


THEY may have scooped a prestigious award at the Decanter World Wine Awards (click here), but Ben Stephenson and the team at hangingditch are not resting on their laurels.
Their regular tastings at their bijou shop next to Manchester Cathedral are only an aperitif for the big one – their annual tasting, this year being held down at the Merchant’s Warehouse in Castlefield on Friday 28 October. 
The newly-crowned Innovative Wine Merchant of the Year will showcase the range of wines that led judges to praise its aim “to encourage customers to experiment with wines of different regions, varieties and prices”.
Meanwhile, to whet the appetite there’s the no little matter of a Vintage Champagne Masterclass at their shop in the shadow of Manchester Cathedral this Wednesday (September 28) at 7pm.
Champagne aficionado (and tax advisor) Ray Abercromby conducts a vertical tasting of Le Mesnil Grand Cru Champagne. This producer actually supplies grapes which provide the core of Dom Perignon and is located in the same Grand Cru as the famously expensive Krug Clos de Mesnil. Vintages on show : NV, 2004, 2002, 1990, 1988, 1985, 1981. There will apparently be a few bottles of these venerable bubblies available to buy on the night.
Of course, a wine business can’t just survive on the quality of service. hangingditch’s wines are often pretty spectacular. Here’s a selection to savour, all as it happens from the Boutinot stable:
Champagne Gremillet Cuvee des Dames Chardonnay Brut (£28.50): 
From a multi-award winning family-run house with an annual production of only 300,000 bottles, many of which are served at French embassies, this is textbook blanc de blancs  – toasty nose, creamy fruit, lingering mousse.
Champagne Gremillet Grande Reserve (£27.50): 
Similarly beady delicacy with yeasty complexity yet refreshing acidity. The Gremillet holdings are in the warmer south of Champagne and the consequent shows in such upfront appeal.
Cher et Tendre Vouvray Sec 2010 (£9):
Cher et tendre is a affectionate French term meaning “treasure”. Quite appropriate for this drier style of Vouvray. Beguiling appley nose leads to a surprisingly round, rich chenin treat. Barley sugar with acidity.
Rijk's Chenin Blanc, Private Cellar 2008 (£17.50):
Chenin South African style, very attractive now with this varietal’s capacity to gain complexity over a decade. Straw-coloured, very fresh and creamy with well-integrated oak and finishing long. Fascinating.
Koopmanskloof Sauvignon-Semillon 2011 (£9):
Another South African but quite different. It’s ethically from a Fairtrade estate, which benefits from a preponderance of old bush vines. Their concentrated fruit is obvious. The junior partner Semillon is not jostled out by the Sauvignon in the upfront citric stakes.
The Rude Mechanicals Ephemera Viognier Pinot Gris 2010 (£12.50) :
This 60-40 blend is sensory overload in a glass – a spicy tropical nose leads to a hefty whack of pineapple, guava, stem ginger, quince fruit flavours. I’m not sure to eat with it, but I like it enough to contemplate laying it down to see what happens.
Some Young Punks Monsters Monsters Attack Riesling 2011 (£17.50):
No such problems with this Kabinett style, off-dry Riesling, all honey, tangy lime and drinkability. And this super sipper, with the typical Punks in your face label, is just 11 per cent alcohol.
La Bascula Turret Fields Monastrell/Shiraz 2009 (£12.50):
La Bascula is a wine venture sourcing wines from across Spain (the name means balanacing scales). Jumilla’s where it all started and two reds offer characterful oomph. Turret Fields comes from the castle dominating the vineyard. Monastrell maestro Juan Gil was involved this wine, which indeed balances the virtues of two assertive varietals.
La Bascula The Gauntlet Monastrell 2008 (£16.50):
Unrestrained monastrell here from low-yielding old bush vines,the wine resting for  eleven months in American oak barrels. So the immense blackberry fruit has that vanilla undertow. One for the future. The Bascula website calls it an 'iron fist in velvet glove'. Spot on.
Hangingditch Warehouse Winefair, October 28, starting at 5.30pm, Merchant’s Warehouse, Castlefield. With special guests. Advance tickets £25 a head, Ticket price fully redeemable against any purchase of 12 bottles or more made on the night. 

Vintage Champagne Masterclass, at hangingditch, Wednesday September 28, 7pm. Advance tickets £35 per person. Limited spaces available. To book for either event ring hangingditch on 0161 832 8222. 10 per cent discount available on groups of 10 or more.
RECENTLY in this column I described Casillero del Diablo wines as among the few reliable cheap offer stalwarts on the supermarket shelves, while pointing out the delights awaiting you beyond the entry level bottles. 
The Chilean brand was awarded a string of gongs at the same Decanter awards, including gold for their Chardonnay Casablanca Valley 2009 (Asda, £7.99) with its lovely toasty hints and tropical fruit. Silver went to their fresh and grassy Reserva Privada Sauvignon Blanc Limari Valley 2010 and bronzes to another Limari Valley white, the floral Pinot Grigio 2010 (Waitrose, £7.99) and their Shiraz Rapel 2010 (Asda, £7.33), all brambles and black chocolate.
For your chance to see what all the fuss is about (and match the wines to some of the city best food) don’t miss the Casillero del Diablo Winemaker’s Dinner at Harvey Nichols next Tuesday, when winemaker Marcelo Papa will be presenting his wines.
Second Floor Restaurant, Tuesday, September 27, 7pm. £30 a head. To book contact Bryony McIntosh or Cathy Warren on 020 8401 5506 or emailfoodandwine@cubecom.co.uk.
IT’S a busy October for wine tastings in Manchester.  First up at the Museum of Science and Industry on Saturday, October 1 and Sunday, October 2 a star-studded trio going under the name of the Three Wine Men are in town with their roadshow. 
Oz Clarke ( Oz and James's Big Wine  Adventure), Tim Atkin MW and Olly Smith (The Mail on Sunday, Saturday Morning Kitchen, and others) will lead you through their favourite tipples from 11am onwards. They promise: “Hundreds of wines and some fabulous beers to taste; pop up tastings, the Codorniu Fizzness School, eminent winemakers, ‘weird wines’, plus lots of fun, enthusiasm and passion wrapped in a totally unstuffy blanket!” 
For more information and to book tickets (£20 a head) visit: www.threewinemen.co.uk.
The following weekend the Manchester Food and Drink Festival reprise their Big Indie Wine - click here

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