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Wine: Unknown origin

08 May 2020


AS I write this, I am now well into my second month of self-isolation. I am fortunate in that, living in the country, I can take daily exercise while keeping any imposed distance from other humans.

While I know where I obtained most of my bottles, there are some whose provenance I cannot account for. One of these was a Pisano Viognier from Uruguay. As a wine-producing coun­­­­­­­try, Uruguay has never been on anything but the fringes of our wine awareness here in Britain. Best known for its Tan­nats, it also pro­duces small quan­tities of other interesting wines. Responsible for many of these are the three Pisano brothers, who de­­scribe themselves as being “arti­sans in fine wine”.

Partly, I think, because of my back­­­­ground in the trade, I have always drunk more Burgundy than Claret; as a simple example of the lat­­ter, I recently purchased from Avery’s in Bristol a basic Bordeaux a.c. Ch. Bel Air La Perrière 2017, from the village of Jugazan. With a firm base of Merlot, this is a soft, easy-drinking wine full of red fruit flavours. It was awarded a gold medal at the 2018 Mâcon Wine Fair.

As a grape, I tend to favour the Pinot Noir, and, for a long time, Burgundy remained unchallenged as its source. When serious Pinots came from other countries, their prices were at the same level. Now, I rejoice in the fact that there are a host of them available, at affordable prices, from elsewhere in France, Romania, Australia, New Zealand, and Chile. I think that the best exam­­­­ples from this last country come from the Leyda Valley, where the closeness of the Pacific Ocean has a cooling effect.

I have recently, however, been drink­­­ing the Lunaka Reserve Pinot Noir 2018 (Fine Wines Direct, Cardiff), which comes from the Acon­­cagua Valley to the north of Santiago. This has flavours of rich, ripe black fruit.

Finally, my wife’s birthday per­­mitted me to open a luxury bottle of Burgundy, a Volnay 2011 from the Domaine des Comtes Lafon. While this wine is described as a simple Volnay, it does, in fact, have the right to the superior appellation of Volnay-Santenots Premier Cru. It appears that they have taken the decision to give the better title to those wines produced from the oldest vines they own in the vine­yard. The year 2011 has been de­­­scribed as a “complicated” vintage, where the best growers with the best sites made excellent wines. This is one of those, with sumptuous velvety flavours.

On a lighter note, my wife has just received an email telling the story of an “at risk” housebound couple who were not permitted to include some wine in their grocery order from Sainsbury’s, on the grounds that, because they were “at risk”, the driver would not be able to see them to check that they were old enough to have wine.

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