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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Three Wine Men in Cambridge

Three Wine Men event in Cambridge

The Three Wine Men are - in vintage order - Oz Clarke, Tim Atkin MW and Olly Smith. Their line-up for this event inclued a mixture of producers, retailers and local-to-Cambridge merchants.

I got around as many as I could and noted down my top wines.

Wines of California
"Big and bold" is the hallmark of California - my top wine was the Edna Valley Pinot Noir 2015 (£14.99, Majestic); well-made, typical Pinot with cherries and earthiness, relatively low alcohol (for California).

There were bigger, better and more complex wines on show - if high-alcohol and high prices are your thing, try Carlisle Wines Zinfandel "Papera Ranch 2013" (£39.50, Noel Young).

Bordeaux
By contrast, the Bordeaux wines showed much more Old World structure; I liked all the wines here from the complex dry white Graves (M. de Malle 2013) to the precise, mineral  rosé (M de Mangot 2016).

If you want to experience the improving effects of age on a wine for the price of a current vintage, then try the 2002 Peyrabon from Cambridge Wine Merchants.

Top wine, however, was the complex and deft Sauternes Pineau Du Rey 2012 (£11.99, Laithwaite's).

Villa Maria
New Zealand's Villa Maria have made a name as a reliable producer of well-made wines with New World fruit and kiwi freshness. In their Cellar Selection range, a varietal Sauvignon Gris 2016 (£14.05) and Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (£15.55) both impressed.

But my top wine was the layered, complex, substantial and extremely sophisticated Keltern Chardonnay 2016 (£19.50).

New Zealand
Best wine here was the amazing and somewhat legendary Greywacke Pinot Noir 2014 (£32.99, The Wine Society), a lovely, elegant Burgundian Pinot with cherries and spice.

At the other end of the price scale, Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (£8.99, Co-op, Sainsbury's) is a well-made kiwi SB that really overdelivers for the price.

Alpine Wines
I've long wanted to check out Alpine Wines' range; there were two stand-out wines here:

Cicero Pinot Noir Alte Reben 2012, Graubuenden, Switzerland (£26.40) pale, almost rosé-coloured; red-fruits and farmyard, delicate yet with a structured and muscular core.

Heidi Schroeck Suesse Loewen Spaetlese 2012, Burgenland, Austria (£16.80) complex roasted stone fruits, light and incredibly fresh, almost dry on the finish.

Sud de France Top 100
Languedoc is a great source of well-made characterful wines; some sub-regions, such as St Chinian, are now beginning to establish their own local identity.

Cave de Roquebrun, Le Grange des Combes 2015, AOC St Chinian (£10 - £12.49, Majestic) floral, almost like perfumed soap, with crushed red fruits and smoke. Long and supple.

Local heroes
Cambridge Wine Merchants had an excellent white-label vintage port from 1983, whilst north-of-the-river Thirsty had two deliciously zippy-citrussy Mosel Rieslings on tap, Meierer and Mikeller.

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