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Friday 7 December 2018

Domaine of the Bee at Thirsty

A tasting of Justin Howard-Sneyd's Domaine of the Bee wines at Thirsty Cambridge

What do you get if you cross a Master of Wine with a winemaker and buyer for Waitrose and Laithwaites?

This not a joke in search of a punchline, it is the backstory to Justin Howard-Sneyd who has worked in wine shops, been a cellar-hand and assistant winemaker in 4 different countries, was Global Wine Director for Laithwaites and in charge of the wine department at Waitrose before producing his own wine at Domaine of the Bee.

With not a lot of money to invest, Justin bought 4 hectares of vines in the Roussillon region of the South of France, near the village of Maury and began to make wine.
There is very much a family resemblance to all of Justin's wines - and the influences are clear: technically, they are very well made with no rough edges, as you would expect from an MW; they are also very fruit-forward and expressive, just the sort of thig that major retailers know will sell; finally they are made in small quantities and priced ambitiously to avoid competing on volume at the lower-end of the market.

In their own words, the Domaine loves to champion big reds, the style we love and the style we make, and we are unashamed enjoyers of full-throttle, turbo-charged Grenache.
Hart of Gold 2013 (£31.25) Chardonnay, Pinot, Pinot Meunier blend, big, substantial, spicy and leesy with lots of red apple and ripe citrus fruit. Good.

Taronja de Gris, Orange Wine 2017 (£30) orange wine from Grenache Gris with 1 month skin contact including some stems; fresh and elegant with soft red fruits, aromatic orange peel, herbal notes and some tannic grip. Good.

Grenaschista Cotes Catalanes (£16.50) fresh and elegant with red fruits, fine tannins, long and supple with old vine concentration. Good.

B Side 2015 (£18) second wine (hence the pun-tastic name) bramble fruits, oaky spice, warming and expressive. Good.

Domaine of The Bee (£25) a vertical of recent vintages

2015 plump, supple concentrated and inky with dark fruits, garrigue herbs and spice. Good.

2013 lighter, fresher, more aromatic. Good.

2011 mushroomy-truffley nose, dark fruits, minty-porty, concentrated and well-structured. Good.

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