Bancroft Wines' Spring Portfolio Tasting, held in the Dutch Church
I've long believed that you judge the quality of a wine merchant by their weakest wines, not their best. Pick a couple of bottles at random and if there's nothing bad about them, you're likley to be on to a winner.
Fortunately, all the wines I tried at this Bancroft Spring Portfolio tasting were throroughly enjoyable, many of them very impressive indeed.
Westwell Wines, Kent, England
Recently acquired by new owners, the wines on show came with the purchase, so few details available; the range is wide - white, fizz, pink, dessert and even amphora - and they were all enjoyable and reasonably priced given their origin.
WS Special Cuvee 2014 (£22.45) elegant, pricise and mineral traditional metho fizz; low dosage; leesy with a firm, assertive backbone. Very Good.
Weingut Weszeli, Kamptal, Austria
Another newly-acquired winery, with an excellent range of GV and Riesling.
Gruener Veltliner Kaeferberg OeWT 2013 (£26.10) precise, complex and full gruener; restrained with stone fruit and some creaminess. Substantial, structured and long. Very Good.
Elena Walch, Alto Adige, Italy
Lagrein Riserva Vigna "Catel Ringberg" 2013 (£30.20) fresh and spicy with fine tannins; substantial with dark fruit and earthy truffles. Balanced, harmonious and poised. Still very youthful. Very Good.
Good range of classic reds, whites and an off-dry fizz.
Rosso di Monferrato, Di Fatto 2013 (£15.50) a blend of four varieties, spicy and darkly fruited with black and sour cherries, freshness and a firm core; long. Good.
Domaine Savary, Chablis
Chablis Grand Cru Vaudesir 2015 (£36.70) rich, complex and floral-honeyed; fresh, with orchard fruit. Still very youthful. Very Good.
Domaine Ratte, Jura
Excellent biodynamic wines from Jura with a distinctive flavour.
"Nature" Savignan 2016 (£25.30) complex nose with struck-match and musky, cidery sharpness; fresh and piercing, yet rich and rounded; long, substantial and complex with good underpinnings. Very Good.
Valdaya Mirum 2015 (£31.80) very fresh and harmonious with dark fruit, spice and very fine tannins. Elegant, substantial and precise. Very Good Indeed.
Hermanos Perez Pascuas, Vina Pedros, Ribera Del Duero, Spain
From the entry-level mid-teens to the top cuvee with a trophy price-tag, these were all excellent wines. Choosing here is really just a case of selecting a budget and taking your pick; it would be easy to single out the £200+ wine as the best, as indeed it was. However, in the real world, there is better value around £20.
Vina Pedrosa Crianza 2014 (£21.50) bramble fruit, spice, earthy truffleyness; harmonious, supple and complex with freshness and substance. Very Good.
Es Fangar, Pla I Levant, Mallorca
Mallorcan wines are not that often seen over here, but are worth seeking out.
N'Amarat, 2011 (£35.75) fresh, spicy and complex with dark-berry fruits and gamey truffleyness; elegant and supple. Very Good.
Bodega Luigi Bosca, Mendoza, Argentina
South America is all too often in thrall to the bigger-is-better style of wines that do well further north. The more interesting winemakers, however, are following a more European-style approach.
Icono Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (£63.20) fresh, vibrant and substantial with a muscular core; dense, energetic and concentrated. Still very youthful. Very Good Indeed.