Winter + Snow + Chill + Dark nights = Fireside and a good glass of red
Odfjell Vineyards, Armador Merlot, Maipo, Chile
All Chilean wines are fruity, straightforward and smell of fruit pastilles. So believed an ex-colleague. He grudgingly admitted that Odfjell’s wines had a bit more going on. Owned by the Odfjell family from Norway, also owners of ships, drilling platforms and much else, Odfjell Wines was created in the 1990’s and now has vineyards in a several sites around Chile in order to match better the grape variety with the terroir. Some vineyards have been planted by the family, some were purchased, for example their 100 year old plus vines near Cauquenes. All are farmed biodynamically - organic plus in effect - and most without irrigation. They use horses to work in the vineyards, bee from their own hives plus chickens and sheep to enhance the biodiversity, keep the grass down and for pest control. The winery was designed to use gravity as much rather than pumps - kinder on the wine - and passive cooling strategies - kinder on energy use. This wine is mostly Merlot but with a dollop of Syrah for a bit of mid palate fruit and spice. Plenty of fruit - figs, cherries, touches of violet - it also spent a few months on old oak to develop fine tannin structure.
Alberto Loi, Cannonau di Sardegna “Sa Mola”, Sardinia
Sardinia claims to be the original home of Garnacha (Grenache) where it is known as Cannonau and produces a rather more structured and perhaps serious, savoury style of wine, crying out for some salty, mature cheese or full-on salami. This one’s grown by the fourth generation of the Loi family on their vineyards around Cardedu in the hills of central Sardinia but just a few minutes from the coast. The proximity of the sea makes a real difference to the vineyards, tempering the heat of summer and promoting air flow through the vineyards. Aged in older oak, this wine has great spice from the fruit, developed tannin, intense, complex and floral. Drink now or keep happily for a couple of years.
Cantina di Venosa, Basilicata Rosso Vignali, Italy
Aglianico’s the grape. Volcanic the soil. Hot and sunny the weather. The combination produces a wine with delicate aromas of cherry and ripe dark fruit flavours but intense colour. Versatile with food but particularly enjoyable with the full flavoured dishes typical of southern Italy - rich pasta dishes, roasted mediterranean veg, hard, mature cheeses, serious salami, pizza! Try it a little cool, 14-16 degrees. Basilicata is a region of mountains and forest in Southern Italy, bordering Puglia and Calabria, very beautiful and pretty wild. The Cantina is a cooperative founded in the 1950’s with numerous members each owning relatively tiny plots of land.
Mont Rocher, Carignan, Pays d’Oc, France
For a long time Carignan was largely dismissed as a useful but not very exciting grape variety and indeed when cropped heavily it can produce pretty ordinary wines. When the vines are older and produce smaller crops it can make wine with a great deal more character. This one is labelled Vieilles Vignes (Old Vines) - how old is old depends a bit on whether you are buying or selling - and there is lovely concentration here, red berry fruit flavours and a touch of vanilla. Mont Rocher is a small range of wines made from grapes bought from small producers and made to reflect their Languedocian origins but with a more modern twist.
Mas Foulaquier, l’Orphee, Pic St Loup Rouge, Languedoc Roussillon, France
This is a syrah / grenache blend from one of Southern France most exciting appellations, an area with a Mediterranean climate but with a certain freshness. The wine has dark, ripe blueberry and plum flavours and a certain pleasing earthiness. The history of the Mas (farm) can be traced back to the 15th century through a succession of families and includes a variety of sites, the grapes grown on each changing according to the differing soil types and microclimates. Pierre, an ex-architect who wanted to do something more artisanal and hands on took over the farm in 1998. Blondine, an ex-civil servant in Paris government, arrived soon after. They have farmed organically since the beginning and biodynamically since 2006. They avoid using pumps in the winery and the usual run of oenological chemicals and use long cuvaison (period of skin contact) to extract the optimum flavours from the grapes. Enjoy this wine with food - charcuterie, cheeses, slow cooked daube or some pasta with a rich vegetable sauce would be great. Open a little while before drinking or decant and keep for a couple of years or longer if you wish.
Cantina Vadiaperti, Coda di Volpe, Campania, Italy (White)
Another cracking wine from the wilds of Southern Italy, this time Campania, Coda di Volpe is a white grape variety unique to Campania the name meaning fox’s tail, due it is said to the shape of the bunches. The wine has subtle cinnamon and nutmeg aromas, slightly smokey fruit and lovely acidity from the volcanic soils. Not a showy wine so probably not one to have as an aperitif, it is a wine that really comes into its own with food, especially seafood or risottos with fennel and lemon for example. Serve it chilled but not frozen so you don’t miss the subtleties. Cantina Vadiaperti is a small cooperative focusing on local varietals and quality, organic production.
This case contains one bottle of each of these wines. If any is out of stock or becomes unavailable it will be replaced by one of equal or greater value and deliciousness.