Yesterday I spent the day at the London Wine Fair and was, basically, like a kid in a sweet shop. And a really greedy (thirsty?) one at that. It was at Olympia and the room was packed with winemakers and their wines. For years I went to the fair as a supermarket wine buyer and spent most of the time in meetings in sweaty box-rooms looking at spreadsheets. Now I’m able to walk around searching out wine gems, talking to winemakers as I go. And it’s wonderful. In fact, it’s usually talking to the winemaker that really brings a wine to life. This week I’ve picked two wines with amazing people behind them and hope I go some way to telling you their story for them.
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Current rosé in the fridge: Fox & Flamingo Rose 2017
Price: £20 - Buy From Red Squirrel
This wine’s modelled on old-school Bordeaux clairet. In other words a lightish red that used to be made and shipped to the UK where it was known as claret. That name’s now used as an umbrella term for red wines of the region but the original style is more like this one, a really dark rosé. Made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape – spiritual homeland: Bordeaux – it’s produced by a South African vintner called Black Elephant wines based in the Franschhoek region. Founder and winemaker Kevin Swart pressed the grapes and left the juice on its skins for a whole day. And in a world of pale rosé it really stands out, packed with colour, flavour and charm. A brilliant summer/food-friendly wine.
Current red in the rack: Domaine Jones Hairy Leaf Grenache
Price: £13.50 - Buy From Wine Society
Katie Jones is quite a woman. After years of working on the marketing side of the wine industry, ten years ago she moved to France and bought a small vineyard that no-one else wanted. Her patience (and hours of back-breaking work) has paid off and she now produces a range of brilliant wines that really seem to capture something of the lavender-scented Languedoc in the bottle. This particular one is a great choice for those who likes their reds on the not-too-heavy side. It’s made from the little-known Lledoner Pelut grape, a relative of the Grenache grape but with distinctively hairy leaves. It’s got that same juicy, earthy raspberry character but somehow lighter, despite the fairly serious alcohol weighing in at 14.5%. Go easy or you’ll be drunk-bidding for a disused vineyard in the Languedoc in no time.