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Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Three More Wines from Vineyard Productions

Three more wines from Vineyard Productions

For Part #1 see here.

When you start to take more than a casual interest in wine, one of the first questions is often: how do I find good wines?

Masters of Wine have some of the best-trained palates in the world, so are a reliable guide to what is considered good in wine.

You don't have to agree with them, of course - preferences are highly personal. But it's a good idea to learn the rules before you can break the rules.

These three wines from Vineyard Productions all have something of a house style or family resemblance; beyond being merely well-made and adept, they have a food-friendly mid-palate savouriness from extended lees aging.

This is not, I'm told, a Vineyard Productions identikit approach, but rather just one of tools in founder Liam Steevenson's toolkit.

Liam grew up in the wine trade and was the youngest person to qualify as a Master of Wine; with an ambition to make wine but no actual vineyards, he set up a series of partnerships with various winemakers to make small amounts of wine using their grapes.

The plan was to start with very small quantities and deliver a proof of principle; if the wine worked and sold well, he would then seek to make it in larger quantities the following year. He now makes wines all over the world from Languedoc to New Zealand via Portugal, Spain and even India.

Here is Cornwall Wine Merchant Mike Boyne of Two Bin Padstow discussing one of Liam's wines.

He also stocks 

Céu na Terra Alvarinho 2019 (around £17)

Expressive Alvarinho from the inland part of Portugal's Vinho Verde area, this is closer in style to a kiwi Sauvignon blanc; fuller bodied with some skin contact for gentle tannins and lees aging for depth, it is fresh and zippy.

It is made by Quinta de Santiago just inside the Portuguese border from grapes grown on clay (for fruit) with a mixture of Atlantic climate (for freshness) and some continental influence (for ripeness).

Aromatic and complex nose with zesty tropical fruits, lemon curd and brioche; full, supple and refreshing with lemongrass, lime marmalade and savoury, saline minerality.

Very Good.

Drinks nicely on first pouring but can be aged for several years.

Fresh enough for an aperitif, it will match with white meat and herbs: pork terrine, monkfish in broth or Moules marinière


Fincher & Co. The Dividing Line Sauvignon Blanc, 2018 (around £20)

Hand picked, straight to barrel feral ferment and left until November - then a blend selection is taken place and prepped for bottling in February

The wines shows quite dramatic funk and citrus notes with underlying exotic fruits and floral tones.

The extended time on natural lees give the wine an unexpected texture as well as a deliciously nutty character. A full bodied style of Sauvignon Blanc with a dried herbal edge, vibrant acidity and a long, persistent finish

 Herbal and citrussy with signature kiwi pungency and ripe exotic fruits; textured, mineral and crisp yet broad with a nutty complexity and a dried herbal edge. Full and supple, precise and persistent. Very clean and pure.

Very Good.

Match with grilled fish especially squid or swordfish. Dishes with herbs and greens - salmon with dill, for instance, but great with recipes that contain basil, coriander, rocket and especially mint. Salads with goats cheese and feta, asparagus, avocado or grilled red peppers, fresh tomato salads or salads with fennel, mango or papaya


El Garbi Blanco Terra Alta 2019 (around £24)

Grenache blanc from high sites in north eastern Spain near the Mediterranean coast.

Rich and textured with apricot, golden apple and sweet spice; toasted brioche, fennel and aniseed with a long lingering finish; full and supple.

Very Good.

Pairs with a diverse range of food flavours, particularly suited to richly spiced dishes especially those containing cumin. Try with chicken satay, Chinese 5-spice sea bass, tempura shrimp, lobster, Moroccan tagine, roasted pork shoulder or creamy cheeses.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Three Mature Wines (and some food)

A 1983 German Riesling, a 2014 NZ Riesling, a 2012 Rhône and a take-away restaurant meal

A neighbour was moving house and asked if I had any surplus wine packaging going spare; in return for a few cartons retrieved from the recycling, he proffered a bottle from the cellar, with the warning "It's a bit Madeirised, but hopefully OK".

I decided I had got the better end of the bargain and decided to put it up against another aged Riesling and some food from Alex Rushmer's Vanderlyle.

Opening the wine was surprisingly easy, if somewhat unconventional; applying the corkscrew, the cork slipped down the neck of the bottle irretrievably, so I pushed it all the way in then fetched a decanter-plus-tea-strainer and out it poured.

What else to pair with an aged Riesling but another aged Riesling?

Peter Ranscombe had recently tipped a 2014 Marlborough Riesling from Aldi and I'd been intrigued enough to buy a few bottles.

Freeman’s Bay Marlborough Riesling 2014 (£7.99, Aldi) sealed under screwcap, it has not evolved as much as a similarly priced and similarly aged Mosel Riesling from The Co-op.

Honeysuckle, citrus and a hint of petrol, zippy and fresh with lime marmalade and a slatey mineral thrill; falls away quickly but mineral-persistent on the finish. Thoroughly pleasant and off-the-beaten-track.

Deidesheimer Herrgottsacker Riesling Spatlese 1983 golden topaz in colour, or Earl Grey tea, with aromas of bruised apple, a touch of old leather and some cellar mustiness but nothing approaching diesel or kerosene.

On the palate, stone fruit and citrus with toasted brazil nut and cashew, sultanas, beurre noisette and savoury, caramelised butterscotch; sweet-sour, saline-mineral and long. A well-knitted, complex and harmonious mass of wonderful contradictions; starts sweet and finishes dry, mellow yet energetic, fruited but savoury, oxidised yet fresh.

Very Good.

Drink as an aperitif or match with lighter game or mushrooms.

Domaine de Fontbonau Cotes-du-Rhone 2012 (£12.99, Cambridge Wine Merchants) Alex had suggested a gutsy Malbec to go with his main course, a multi-stage, two-day chili, so I picked out this warming, mature red.

A bin-end, fire-sale wine that had been destined for the restaurant trade; I bought several cases of this, and also sent a bottle to Peak District-based PR Francesca Gaffey as part of Dan Kirby's twitter wineswap.

Mature Rhônes are somewhat unusual as they tend to be consumed young, but this is ripe yet savoury, intense and supple with very fine tannins.


The Food - Vanderlyle

Vanderlyle and MJP@TheShepherds are the Blur and Oasis of the Cambridge Dining Scene; Alex was a Masterchef finalist and Mark has held a Michelin Star.

Starter

Rapeseed oil focaccia with blackened salsa; tomatoes and roasted chili, with cardamom and fennel seeds. Warm the bread, dip into the salsa; more amuse bouche than starter but very well-made.

Main

Carlin Pea & Morita Pepper Chili
Aged Cheddar Mac 'n' Cheese
Braised Spring Greens

Spicy-savoury and rich; it took a few mouthfuls before we realised it was vegetarian (or at least meat-free); appropriately hearty and warming for a late-spring chill.

Dessert

Orange Poppyseed & Olive Oil Pudding Custard

More a light cake than a pudding, the most adept and elegant part of the meal.

With coffee

Vanderlyle "Black & White Biscuit"

A homemade Oreo - but so much better.

Footnotes: Deidesheim is a small, highly prestigious wine-growing village in Germany's Pfalz wine region. It is best known for its Riesling, which is by far the dominant variety here. Like other Pfalz wines, Riesling made here is fuller-bodied and richer than most other German Riesling, thanks to the region's relatively warm, dry climate.

Most Deidesheimer Rieslings are trocken (dry). Situated just a few miles north of Neustadt town, Deidesheim lies right at the heart of Pfalz's top vineyard area. The village and its vineyards sit at the foot of the Haardt mountain range, giving them a much-prized easterly aspect and sheltered position. This, combined with the rain shadow cast by the peaks above, makes for a warmer, brighter and drier macroclimate than those a few miles away.

Jancis Robinson says of the 2009 vintage of this wine:

Georg Mosbacher, Deidesheimer Hergottsacker Riesling Spätlese trocken 2009 Pfalz 17 Drink 2011-2014

100% Riesling from Weingut Georg Mosbacher, a family-owned estate with nearly 45 acres of vineyards in the picturesque wine village of Forst, in Germany's Pfalz region. Vines are planted on clay sand with a high percentage of stones. The grapes were hand-picked and fermented with temperature control at 18°C with selected yeast in stainless-steel tanks. Bottled in May 2010.

Winemaker Juergen Dueringer. TA 7.1 g/l, RS 3.1 g/l.

Great to see a supermarket bothering with top-quality Germans! Honeyed nose. Very broad peppery palate. Lovely well-balanced stuff that is already drinking well and is chock full of fruit but not sugar. Really good! 13% £16.99 Waitrose (8 stores)

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Six Wines from Daniel Lambert - Part #2/3

 
Two more wines from Daniel Lambert - whites from France

See here for part #1 of this review.

Both these whites from Daniel Lambert are somewhat unusual in their own way and carry a certain amount of bragging rights if you like off-the-beaten track bottles.

That said, you could also just enjoy them for being inherently good wines as well.


Fabien Murail Le Clos des Chaumes, Fiefs Vendeens Blanc, 2020

Fiefs Vendeens is the region - a small zone in Vendee close to the west coast of France south of Nantes. Mareuil is the sub-region, some 20 miles inland from the coast.

In practice, this means a maritime climate with a bit more warmth than, say, Muscadet country but the freshness of the Atlantic. It also allows for a wider range of grape varieties;  Chenin Blanc (minimum of 50 percent), Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, plus Melon de Bourgogne (the Muscadet grape) and Grolleau Gris 

The region was officially created only in 1984, but winemaking here dates back to Roman times and covers red, white and rosé wines.

Winemaker Fabien Murail uses a blend of 60% chenin blanc and 40% chardonnay for this Le Clos des Chaumes.

Floral with honeysuckle and white flowers; yellow stone fruits, ripe orchard fruits and fresh, citrussy pineapple; full and supple with a saline minerality. 

Good.

A versatile food wine, match with richer dishes such as roast pork or monkfish in beurre blanc.

This would also be a great wine wine to serve blind and see if anyone can guess the blend or region.


Calmel & Joseph Le Domaine Le Penchant 2019

I have been a fan of Calmel & Joseph's Languedoc wines for some time now and it was their Malbec that first led me to importer Daniel Lambert.

Calmel & Joseph is a "maison de négoce" specializing in Languedoc-Roussillon wines from across the region. Over the years, they have built close personal relationships with a large number of growers from all appellations. Convinced of the extraordinary potential of this region, oenologist, Laurent Calmel along with Jerome Joseph work together on the vinification, blending and ageing of wines with the common purpose of demonstrating the little known yet unique quality of these Mediterranean terroirs 

The wine's name does not tell you, but it is a varietal Roussanne. This is important because varietal Roussanne is somewhat uncommon with a distinctive flavour profile.

The chances are that if you have ever had Roussanne, it was probably in a white northern-Rhône blend, possibly a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Despite being a warm-climate grape, its flavours of white fruits and fresh herbs suggest something more northerly. The richness comes via almond flavours, which develop towards greater nuttiness as the wine ages, and finally there is some minty-liquorice which is more commonly found in red wines.

So, what foods match with this unusual combination of flavours?

The view of various somms is to match the dominant herbal-aniseed notes with tarragon or fennel, so think roast chickenchicken and tarragon salad with parmesan, pork with fennel or for vegetarians, curry-spiced cauliflower steak.

Delicate white flowers and white stone fruit; orchard fruits, honeysuckle and fresh herbs with creamy-almondy-savoury richness and minty liquorice. Fresh, concentrated and saline. Delicate yet intense.

Improves with aeration and will repay cellaring.

Good.

Jancis Robinson writer Tamlyn Currin says of this wine:

Deeply fragrant, inviting, yellow blossom and nectarines with a trace of honeysuckle that pulls through to the palate like a golden thread. Ripe white-peach fruit flaring fan-like across the mouth, beautifully juicy and fresh, with the added delicacy of chamomile flowers. Fennel-seed crunch and edge towards the finish. Really gorgeous, with potential to become interesting with a bit of age.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Around The World in Viognier

Been around the world and I, I, I
I can't find my baby

- Lisa Stansfield, 1989


Not that long ago, you would be hard pushed to find a Viognier; it had become almost extinct by the 1960s and was mostly limited to some rarefied - and pricey - whites in the northern Rhône.

Condrieu is its spiritual home, but this low-yielding, sensitive but warmth-loving grape has been around the world making a comeback and now even has its own day, International Viognier Day, on 30th April 2021.

If you have yet to get to know her, expect ginger, stone fruit, white peaches, apricots, white pepper and exotic star anise character from Viognier. She is is a low acid wine, full-bodied like Chardonnay but with a more aromatic character.

Helena Nicklin describes Viognier as a tropical Sun Goddess.

Here are five Viogniers from around the world with tasting notes and food matching suggestions from their producers.

Australia

Samuel’s Collection Eden Valley Viognier 2017, (£17.99 Taurus Wines, winedirect.co.uk, vinvm.co.uk, auswineonline.co.uk, Yorke Vines, Liquorice Wines, Flagship Wines)

Yalumba is one of the most influential producers and world leaders of Viognier. In 1980, when other Barossa wineries were planting Chardonnay, Yalumba planted the first significant plantings of Viognier in Australia, on the elevated slopes of the Eden Valley. This wine honours Yalumba’s founder Samuel Smith. It is spicy, with stone fruit characters, richness and softness.

The 2017 vintage is a blend of grapes from six vineyards, 60% barrel fermented in old hogsheads and the rest in stainless steel. The juice passively interacts with air creating a perfect environment for the natural yeast to do their job before maturing on the lees for 10 months. Over time, the wine will continue to develop in the bottle where it will develop honey flavours and toasty complexity.

The richness and the spice in the Viognier bring out flavours and textures in food, and this one pairs particularly well with spicy and rich dishes. Try with a wild mushroom and thyme risotto.

Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2020, (£9.49 Majestic, Asda, Morrison’s, The Co-op)

When Louisa Rose, joined Yalumba in 1992, she took the variety under her wing. All Yalumba Viogniers are fermented using wild yeasts which come in with the grapes when they are picked. The wild yeasts add extra character and complexity to the wines.

A pure expression of the variety, Yalumba Y Series Viognier is made with as little intervention as possible and a commitment to ‘getting it right’ in the vineyard and first stages of the winemaking process.

A delicious young wine to enjoy with food to show its true credentials; an incredible food wine pairing particularly well with spicy and rich dishes such as a Sri Lankan vegetable or chicken curry.

France

Louis Latour Ardèche Viognier 2018, (around £15 from Dickens House Wine Emporium, Il Vino, Worsley Wines, winedirect.co.uk)

A beautifully crafted Viognier from Louis Latour who produce fine Burgundian wines. In the 80’s they stepped outside their traditional wine making region and after great success with Chardonnay in the Ardèche, in 2007, they began to make wines with Viognier, a grape that has long been grown in the region.

The Viognier grapes are planted on steeper hillsides than the Chardonnay and are hand-picked and vinified at Louis Latour's modern winery on the outskirts of the village of Alba-la-Romaine.

30% aged in French oak barrels from Latour’s cooperage in Beaune, giving the wine a roundness and slightly spicy edge. The remaining 70% is matured entirely in stainless steel.

The resulting wine is elegant offering notes of apricot, honey and hints of fresh almonds and is a joy as an aperitif or alongside Duck terrine with chestnuts or with a simple plate of charcuterie.

Guigal Côtes du Rhône White 2019, (£12-£14.75, Tesco, North & South Wines, Clifton Cellars, Amps Fine Wines, Amazon)

Guigal is one of the most famous Rhône producers, where white wine production accounts for just 6%, yet 25% of all Guigal’s wine production is white wines.

Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc is a blend of 60% Viognier (unusually high for white Côtes du Rhône) with Roussane, Marsanne and others to make this the most captivating Rhône white. Guigal source the best grapes from vineyards in the Southern Rhône and the average vine age is 25 years old.

The dominant presence of Viognier in this wine gives it a wonderful density and  freshness marked with peachy fruit and blossomy honey. Drink as an aperitif, with starters lightly spiced or curried dishes.

Chile

Viu Manent Secret Viognier  2018 (around £14, Great Grog, Chester Wine and Beer, Albury Wine Store, La Zouch, The Wine Chambers, Flagship Wines)

The predominant grape in this wine is Viognier. The ‘secret’ is that up to 15% of the blend in this range are ‘other varieties’ which can vary each year depending on weather conditions. The grapes for the Viu Manent Secret Viognier 2018 come from the family-owned San Carlos vineyard in Colchagua valley, where the average age of the vines is 17 years.

Here the warm days, cool nights and moderating breezes from the Andes and the Pacific Ocean provide perfect conditions. The grapes are hand-picked, whole bunch pressed, fermented with native natural yeasts and vinified in stainless steel with no oak, resulting a wine that is fresh and complex with delicious notes of pineapple, white peach, pear and subtle floral notes.

It’s super-versatile when it comes to pairing with different dishes, enjoy it with all manner of stews, turkey, grilled chicken, sweet and sour chicken, fish, such as salmon or tuna or a seafood risotto.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Six Wines From Daniel Lambert - Part 1

Six wines from UK wine merchant Daniel Lambert

I don't generally do politics here; I leave that for conversations around the watercooler or over the dinner table.

But it is impossible to talk about Daniel Lambert Wines without mentioning the eponymous owner's recent campaign to raise awareness of the additional red tape faced by wine importers since Brexit.

Like science, The Virus and Marcus Rashford, Daniel Lambert can be credited with pretty much single-handedly forcing the UK government into one of its regular U-turns. In his case it involved an obscure but costly and pointless bureaucratic document called the Vi-1.

Take away the technical details and you can read this as just another example of the lie that was Brexit coming to light. Or you can see one man's struggle on  behalf of an entire sector for common sense and pragmatism to prevail over simplistic, jingoistic state-sponsored gaslightling.

Opinionated and not afraid to speak truth to power, Daniel is a man after my own heart.

He also sells some superb wines.

I know this because he imports a Calmel and Joseph Languedoc Malbec that I liked a lot.

I discovered that that wine was not merely a fluke when I subsequently tasted my way round his portfolio in London, just prior to lockdown.

As I noted at the time, there was nothing I didn't like; all the wines were at least Good, and many were much better than that (David Kermode's take is here).

After a twitter exchange, Daniel sent me a selection of his wines to try. I started with a Spanish Chardonnay and an Austrian red.

Enate Chardonnay 234, Somontano, Spain

An area in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Jancis Robinson describes Somontano as "another Spanish wine region worthy of international attention". More specifically, she characterises it as a small and growing region, potentially one of Spain's most exciting, even if much of its produce tends to be fashioned in the image of international classics. She singles out producer Enate, saying that they make some fine reds and whites from imported grape varieties.

Tasted blind, you'd be forgiven for having no idea where this wine comes from; it has a warm-climate topicality and breadth with a European complexity and elegance. It hints at the perfumed richness of Alsace with the waxiness of the Rhône.

Floral and aromatic with tropical citrus fruits and toasty leesiness; pineapple, melon and passionfruit with fennel, ginger and warming sweet spices; savoury, leesy and waxy with just enough freshness to hold everything together. Very clean, pure and long.

Good.

Match with rich, Alsace-style dishes such as pork with creamy sauce or mature hard cheeses.

Weingut Pfaffl Plum St Laurent, Lower Austria

Austrian whites were my first love, but I am a more recent convert to the country's reds. Where the whites are austere and structured, the reds are generally delicate and juicy. Think Chablis vs Beaujolais.

St Laurent is a signature Austrian red grape along with the more well-known Blaufraenkisch; while both grapes are Pinot-esque, this St Laurent is more Gamay than Burgundian.

Dark purple with cherry and custard aromas; juicy and spicy with black cherries and dark-plummy fruit, pencil shavings, inkiness and spice with some florality; juicy and fresh with a gentle firmness and good savoury underpinnings.

Good.

Fresh and versatile, an easy quaffer or picnic wine with the freshness for tuna tartare, mixed anti-pasti or roast chicken.  

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Tesco's SMS Sommelier

An on-demand sommelier service from Tesco

Fronted by Helen McGinn, Tesco have launched an SMS-based sommelier service - I asked a bunch of wine people what they thought of the idea and you can see the responses in this twitter thread:

Tom Lewis on Twitter: "Any thoughts on this one: Wine matcher: @winematcher ? Sommelier: @donalde ? Techie: @thirstforwine ? E-commerce: @oldparn ? Marketers: @robertjoseph @mme_hammond ? Journo: @FelicityCarter ?" / Twitter

The press release reads:

Tesco is to give wine lovers access to tailored tips from top sommeliers with on-demand SMS recommendation service

Running from 18 March–16 April, the Tesco Sommelier Messaging Service will deliver bespoke bottle recommendations from leading restaurant sommeliers by text, to help the nation elevate their evenings in with exceptional wines and perfect pairings from Tesco.

From bold and spicy to crisp and aromatic, deliciously dry to sumptuously sweet – you’ll find a wine for every palate, food, mood and occasion at Tesco. With so many choices, it can be hard to decide between the wide range of styles, grapes and regions available, but help is at hand with the launch of the Tesco Sommelier Messaging Service (SMS).

Running from 12pm-7pm daily, from 18 March – 16 April 2021, the on-demand text service will give people access to personal wine recommendations based on their individual tastes, budget and menu.

Following three short initial questions, a Tesco wine recommendation will be delivered in real time to their device from someone on the expert SMS panel, which is headed up by TV presenter and wine expert Helen McGinn, supported by 20 sommeliers and wine waiters from restaurants across the UK.

There is no replacement for the restaurant experience and receiving personal guidance from the in-house sommelier. Until that can be enjoyed again, Tesco SMS will give wine-drinkers access to those experts remotely, to help them make the most of the brilliant bottles in reach – but as of yet, undiscovered – on their weekly shop.

Whether it’s a pasta-friendly red for a favourite quick supper, or something exceptional for a special Easter feast – Tesco SMS will make it easy to choose a winning wine to match.

By using Tesco SMS, people will also be helping to support all those who make our evenings out special, as for every wine recommendation delivered, Tesco will donate £1 to Hospitality Action, the industry’s charity.

USING THE TESCO SMS

To request a wine recommendation, simply text “WINE” to 82228 and follow the steps when prompted. 

A personalised answer will usually be delivered within 30 minutes:

Step 1: Text “WINE” to 82228

Step 2: Answer the questions when prompted, sharing information about your usual wine preferences and what you’re planning to cook/eat

Step 3: Your sommelier will review the information submitted and send back wine recommendations tailored to you.

For more information visit: https://realfood.tesco.com/curatedlist/wine-pairing-for-your-favourite-meals.html

T&Cs

Texts to this service are charged at the Standard Network Message Rate as you have agreed with your network provider, including the single initial text to the non-premium 82228 number

Some network providers charge additional fees to text short codes.

If you would prefer you can also use the service by texting the long form number - simply text WINE to 07984445993

Standard network rate messages apply.

One charge only will be billed per request, this will be at your standard network rate.

Requests to Tesco SMS are answered by real people and as such, responses will be slower at busy times and the service may be subject to limits.

Tesco will donate £1 for every completed SMS delivery (ie. the final text in the sequence), during the operational hours of the service.

You must be aged 18+ to use the service

Monday, 22 March 2021

Finca Traversa Tannat Merlot 2019 - The Co-op

An unusual but well-groomed south American from The Co-op

Have you ever had a Uruguayan wine? Ever had a Tannat?

Chances are the answer to both those questions is "no".

Uruguay is South America's forth largest wine producer, but as far as most wine retailing is concerned, there's pretty much only Chile and Argentina.

As for Tannat, it's at home in south west France, especially in Madiran, but like both Malbec and Carménère, Tannat has moved from obscurity in its native land to a leading role in its adoptive South American home and is now Uruguay's signature red grape.

The grape was first introduced to Uruguay by Basque settlers in the 19th century; as a variety, it has some rustic tendencies that with the right handling and a dash of something in the blend can be softened, rather like a scrub and brush-up for a country squire who has spent a bit too much time with the horses.


Plantings of Tannat are increasing in Uruguay every year; the insider's tip is that some vineyards now distinguish between "old vines" (descendants from the original cuttings) and newer clones. The newer vines produce more powerful wines with higher alcohol levels but have less acidity and fruit complexity, so are often blended.

This wine is produced in the capital Montevideo by three-generation producer Finca Traversa; founded by Carlos Domingo Traversa and his wife Maria Josefa Salort in 1937, proximity to the Atlantic Ocean provides cool breezes and a maritime climate that help to keep alcohol levels lower and develop bright, fruit driven wines with great character and complexity.

Merlot and Tannat may not at first seem like natural bedfellows, but there is a precedent for this sort of blend in Cahors, where a lighter, fresher style of sub-13% alcohol reds includes up to 30% of Merlot (or others) in with Malbec.

The winery uses state of the art technology and pride themselves in the sustainable nature of the winery too - in 2014 they introduced solar panels, bottle weights have been reduced by 25% and they have increased the use of composting to replace inorganic fertilisers.

On the label, the house is a representation of ‘Casa Pueblo’ at Punta Ballena which was built by renowned Uruguayan abstract artist Carlos Páez Vilaró.

Finca Traversa Tannat Merlot - The Co-op (£8) floral, darkly fruited and meaty-gamey; inky and supple with black fruits and peppery spice; harmonious with freshness and very fine, well-integrated tannins.

Good.

Drinks nicely on first pouring, becoming more sleek and well-groomed with aeration.

Match with roast red meats or charcuterie.