Can you name the most exciting new wine (by “new” I mean new to you) that you’ve enjoyed in recent weeks or months–something that really grabbed your attention. What did you particularly like about the wine? If you enjoyed it with a meal, what did you pair it with?
Lamberto Frescobaldi, Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi (Tuscany, Italy). Ten days ago I was invited to taste a white wine produced on a small island in Tuscany. The island is 20 miles from the coast and is a rather particular place. The wine is a blend of two varieties, ansonica and vermentino, and the winemaker, the vineyard manager, the pickers, everyone involved in the project of producing the wine is a prisoner. The island is a jail. It’s impossible to escape and nobody has ever succeeded. The nice thing is that 30 of the prisoners are free on the island and can work: some produce wine, some fresh tomatoes, and others lovely cheese.
I was there for a full day to give some advice to the prisoners who are producing the wine that they are not allowed to drink! The wine is all sold to the prison guards.
The vineyard is very well kept, all cultivated biodynamically. The wine is very tasty, made with no oak and kept on its lees. It has a special taste that’s difficult to describe but very complex. That night I could not sleep thinking about the people I met, the prisoners, who remind me that we need to always respect everyone who, no matter what he did before, wants to become a better person and will succeed through a suffering path.
Thinking about that, the wine was even better. I will go back.
Josh Bergström, Bergström Wines (Oregon). I am a die-hard believer that Oregon’s future in white wine is chardonnay, but tonight I tasted a wine from Jay Sommers of J. Christopher Wines (where Ernst Loosen is a partner), and his Croft Vineyard Uber Sauvigon Blanc is a real triumph for the variety in America! This wine has all of the great mineral, floral and citrus appeal that a great Sancerre can offer and I highly recommend it to anyone who can find it!
Olivier Humbrecht, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht (Alsace, France). Château Khoury Chardonnay/Gewurztraminer/Riesling blend from the Bekaa Vally in Lebanon, enjoyed at Café Boulud London with some charcuteries Lyon style. Very interesting and nice!
Chester Osborn, d’Arenberg (McLaren Vale, Australia). Cavallotto 2004 Barolo Bricco Boschis Riserva. I tasted it in June at the Aspen Food and Wine Classic, along with 2007 and 1999. All great, no oak showing, piercing line of great nebbiolo rose and mint fruit. Also in February had a 1965 Clairevale Shiraz from Claire at our first 100-year party. It tasted strongly peppery as if it were six years old. Rated 19 out of 20.
Anthony Hamilton Russell, Hamilton Russell Vineyards (Hermanus, South Africa). Torrontes, from Salta in particular, really surprised me when I was judging wine in Argentina earlier this year. Bright, pure and linear, with beautiful acidity—and usually excellent value. Some of the best had a mouthfeel similar to young Chablis. The grape also has an intriguing history. To me it’s a wonderful addition to the world of wine.
Laurence Féraud, Domaine du Pegau (Southern Rhone, France). I am on holiday in Crete with my family. I love this beautiful island for its food, its wines and its people. I was in the mountains close to Drakonia in Taverna Dounias. Slow food is real. Everything is cooked with wood. There isn’t any electricity or gas. We drank Cretan wine from Vatalakos, the Nostos 2008 100% Grenache, with goat chops, mixed vegetables and melted cheese.
Nigel Greening, Felton Road Vineyard (Central Otago, New Zealand). Vincent Girardin 2009 Bourgogne Cuvee Saint-Vincent. What can you say? A delicious full-bodied red Burgundy with change back from $25? I find that exciting. How amazing would it be if Burgundy could do this on a broader front, and every year?