Sarah Kemp from The Wine Conversation gave a summary of the Bunch Wine tasting from October 2021, with some of her favourite wines:
“If Britain has a reputation as the centre of fine-wine knowledge, it is in no small part due to the dynamic independent wine merchants who brilliantly serve the ever-adventurous British wine lover. Some of the best-known names belong to an association called ‘The Bunch.’ The group was established in 1993 to champion the independent wine trade and individual, grower-made wines. Today the group consists of seven of Britain’s best independent wine merchants; Adnams, Corney and Barrow, Haynes Hanson and Clark, Lea and Sandeman, Private Cellar, Tanners and Yapp Brothers – an illustrious group I can recommend without hesitation. In their lists, you find real value, as their buyers have noses as finely tuned as truffle hounds, expertly finding treasures of wine. Not having to buy large parcels to fill copious supermarket shelves, they can pick and choose from the brilliant small producers who make wines which reflect a real sense of place.”
“At their annual tasting, which I just attended (the first since lockdown), the theme they chose was “wines which got us through lockdown” – which was quite apt, as I think wine was the one bright spot that enabled most of us to survive. Here are my personal picks from the tasting:
Clos des Lunes, Lune d’Argent, Bordeaux Sec 2018
I have always been a fan of this dry white Bordeaux produced by the great Olivier Bernard of Domaine de Chevalier from vines in the Sauternes region. (Between Château d’Yquem and Château Guiraud). As you would expect from the Domaine de Chevalier stable, the wine exudes class. It’s 70% old-vine Semillon, 30% Sauvignon. The nose is intense and complex, immediately intriguing, the palate shows a concentration of greengage, citric fruit, slight notes of dry honey and herbs, with underlying minerality which drives through to the finish. Delicious to drink now but also good to put away, as this will develop. 13%, £17.50. Tanners.
Adnams Classic Sauvignon, Domaine Beauséjour, 2020
This is a Sauvignon for people who are not keen (like me) on the over-the-top Sauvignon characteristics. While it has all the grassy notes a Sauvignon lover could wish for, it is also beautifully balanced, with a distinct minerality. Full of lime and lemon zest, it brims with life; the purity of the fruit shines through: a Sauvignon to make you love Sauvignon again. 12.5%, at £9.99, a steal. Adnams.
Corney and Barrow label Aligoté 2018 Marquis d’Angerville
Why is Aligoté treated as a second class grape in Burgundy? In the hands of a great winemaker (and we certainly have one here) it can hold its head up as high as its illustrious neighbours. Beautifully poised, elegant, with classic refinement, this Aligoté shows sheer class. It delivers a concentrated core of firm fresh fruit, green apples, hints of lemon zest, with a tension holding everything together, thrilling acidity and superb length. 11.5%, £31.95. Corney and Barrow.
Savennières Clos du Petit Beaupreau Domaine des Deux Vallées 2019
My wine of the tasting. Some wines imply exude charm and steal your heart, and this Savennières did just that, with its beautiful expression of just-picked ripe autumn fruit. Pale gold in colour, an alluring bouquet of roasted apple, the palate is refined, but offers a full concentrated kaleidoscope of cooked apples, honeysuckle, quince, underpinned with delicious minerality. Great acidity and freshness, Chenin at its most beguiling. 14%, £20.85. Haynes Hanson and Clark.
Crémant d’Alsace Brut Léon Beyer
With everyone talking about Champagne and Prosecco, it can be easy to forget how many delicious alternative sparkling wines there are on the market. Personally, I would rather drink a good Crémant d’Alsace than many Champagnes or Prosecco. Most Crémant d’Alsace is consumed in France, and it is easy to see why. Léon Beyer is one of Alsace’s most renowned houses, and its Crémant is a delight. A bottle-fermented blend of Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois that is aged on its lees for two years, and has 6 grams per litre dosage. It exudes personality, with lovely cox apple fruit, citric notes and refreshing acidity. It’s beautifully balanced, delivering the depth of fruit and the attack of acidity you want in a sparkling wine. 12%, and superb value at £18.95. Yapp Brothers.
Fitou Cuvée Tradition Domaine de la Rochelierre 2020
“Attitude” was the first note I wrote. This is a wine with bags of personality, gutsy, powerful, packed with juicy plums, blackberries, spice, dark chocolate, and thyme, and delivering wonderful freshness. Made from Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah, and produced in stainless steel, this is the pure expression of the vineyard and the perfect Autumn wine at a great price-for-value ratio. 14.5%, £14.85. Private Cellar.
Chianti Classico Poggerino 2019
Lea and Sandeman have long been renowned for finding some of the most interesting producers in Italy, and here we have another example. Beautifully expressive and generous, this wine bursts with brilliantly vibrant cherry fruit and finishes with that satisfying Chianti bite. Wild Tuscan herbs intermingle with notes of dark bitter chocolate, fleshy but controlled; the overall impression is one of racy excitement. 14%, £19.95. Lea and Sandeman.”