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Wine round-up 08/11/10

Neil Sowerby jumps from Indie to Ditch in search of some fine seasonal bottles

Written by . Published on November 11th 2010.

Wine round-up 08/11/10

The Big Indie Wine Fest provided a fine showcase for independent wine merchants, dispelling grumbles that the Manchester Food and Drink Festival has on occasions neglected wine.

Albarino at this price? Well, it comes from a small batch of 700 cases from a single vineyard. It’s as peachy on the palate as you’d expect with a sherbety nose, but there’s a spine of acid and a dense minerality about it. Serious seafood platter accompaniment.

Next up as an indispensable public event for the city’s wine lovers was the Hanging Ditch Wine Fair at Manchester City Art Gallery, which showcased over 150 wines and spirits.

It was a celebration of an incredible year for the wine shop/tasting bar in the shadow of Manchester Cathedral. After being named International Wine Challenge Northern Merchant Of the Year, it scooped Best Wine List in the 2010 Manchester Food and Drink Awards.

At the Big Indie Wine Fest, held in the People’s History Museum, the Ditch boys’ stall was deservedly popular. My favourite there was their Takutai Pinot Noir 2007 (£12.50) from Nelson in New Zealand. It’s savoury, smoky-nosed stuff, accessible now but with definite cellaring potential.

Across on the Harvey Nichols table another Kiwi red stood out – the Pilot Merlot-Cabernet 2005 (£13) from Alpha Domus winery in the Hawkes Bay Region. The bottle age had given it some very Claret-like characteristics. prune nose, some liquorice, with vanilla on the palate and a certain leatheriness from oak ageing.

Staying with New Zealand and its flagship white, Sauvignon Blanc, Otuwhero Wines were exhibiting alongside their Manchester stockist Smithfield Wine. Their O:TU example (£9) is restrained compared with most of its Marlborough competitors, profiting from the cool coastal climate of it eponymous region, and all the better for that. Green and nettley with a mineral elegance, it might be mistaken for one of the more fruit-driven Sancerres.

Declaring an interest here, since I conducted a Fest masterclass with Evuna owner Jane Dowler, I must recommend the Deansgate Spanish specialists’ top of the range La Mancha red, Finca Loranque Reserva Syrah (£15.50).

This is soft and silky with black fruit tastes that linger and linger. Spicy and toasty after over 16 months in French oak casks, it offers a piercing, “balsamic” edge that make it a great steak wine. Lovely.

Manchester Art Gallery rivals the People’s History Museum for its enhancing renovation.

The downstairs was rammed for the Hanging Ditch Wine Fair 3. Almost too much going on, with some over-strapping New World Reds, but here are four wines that randomly stood out from the pack: Wachau Weissburgunder Terrassen Federspiel 2009 (£13.50): Austrian Pinot Blanc with delicate blossom scents and a soft honeyed palate.

Cobos Bramare Malbec Lujan de Cuyo 2006 (£25): Concentrated Argentine Malbec with a cedary spicy nose, oodles of cherryish fruit and legs to last a decade and increase its already considerable complexity.

Granbazan Albarino Ambar 2009 (£18.50). It comes from a small batch of 700 cases from a single vineyard. It’s as peachy on the palate as you’d expect with a sherbety nose, but there’s a spine of acid and a dense minerality about it. Serious seafood platter accompaniment.

Taittinger Folies de la Marquetterie (£55): At their best Taittingers are among my favourite champagnes despite idiosyncratic offerings called Nocturne and Prelude. I prefer this luscious Decanter gold award-winner. It’s deep golden with a delicate mousse, smells of apricot and toasted brioche and finishes peachy long on the palate.

Elsewhere, the Wine Society have a range of Macons that show there is quality white Burgundy about at an affordable price. Macon Vergisson Maison Joseph Burrier 2007 and Macon Peronne Christophe Cordier 2008 are never going to outclass the best of Meursault or Puligny Montrachet, but both exhibit rich apple and pear fruit, lovely texture and a certain toastiness that make them very appealing. The latter, in particular, could flesh out with a couple more year’s body age. For more details about the wines and the Wine Society, visit www.thewinesociety.com.

An equal treat is proper Soave from a top producer like the Azienda Agricola Inama.

Their Soave Classico 2009 is a ripe, herby treat, while the single vineyard Soave Classico Vignete di Foscarino 2008, made from old vines at the top of Monte Focarino, has a spectacular nutty complexity. Winos of Oldham stock them at £11.95 and £14.95 respectively. (Winos also stock the 2007 vintage of Inama’s smooth, peppery biodynamic red Carmenere Piu at £16.95).

Good causes? Fairtrade wines have sometimes been like buying the Big Issue. It’s a good cause but will you get to the end of the bottle or the right-on small ads? Glad to say the wine quality from both South Africa and South America is now much more consistent. Oodles of gooseberry on the nose and light citrussy flavours from Fairhills South African Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Morrisons, £6.49).

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simonbuckleyNovember 9th 2010.

Can I have a credit for my pictures please?

Jonathan Schofield - editorNovember 9th 2010.

Really sorry about that Simon. Simon Buckley did these pics. Hire him folks for your pics.

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