Wine with a story to tell '“Â Alistair Gibson
The high street isn't what it once was, with the internet and out-of-town shoppingÂ centres changing the way weÂ shop.Â Wine is a victim of this as much as any otherÂ product, with many traditional high street wine merchants going the same way as independentÂ butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.
I've readÂ reports that anything from a third to 90 per cent of of all wine bottles are bought fromÂ UK supermarkets.
However, just as there would appear to be a resurgence of interest inÂ locally-sourced food and artisan producers, there is also a growing band of independentÂ wine merchants who are looking to offer something a little different.
I went to a tasting last week of one such independent wine merchant, and it would be fair to say it was packed withÂ sommeliers and the wine press all looking for wine from smaller producers, wine with aÂ story to tell.
SWIG (swig.co.uk) describes itself as artisan wines from around theÂ world and there was certainly no shortage of funky labels and hipsterÂ winemakers onÂ show. Here are a few that are well worth checking out.
English fizz is certainly makingÂ all the headlines right now and one of the most talked about producers currently isÂ Wiston Estate, on the South Downs, in West Sussex.
I tasted their entireÂ range and would happily recommend all of them but if I had to pick just one it would beÂ Wiston Estate Blanc de Blancs NV (SWIG Â£26.95).Â
It has a fabulous bouquet with greenÂ apple and a touch of brioche, followed by a crisp citrus palate with some minerality in theÂ background before a gorgeous, lively finish.
Just needs a plate of oysters to accompany it.Â Â
Adi Badenhorst is one of the Cape's larger than life personalities.His Swartland Cellar would feature in my top 10 wine estate visits of all time. It involved tastingÂ his range ofÂ wines while Bob Dylan was playing on the winery'sÂ turntable. Unforgettable.Â
AA Badenhorst SecateursÂ Chenin Blanc 2017, Swartland (SWIG Â£13.50) has become aÂ go-to wine in myÂ house. It's a great introduction to this iconic producer, and Cape chenin blanc.
The nose offers baked apple, citrus, pineapple and a touch of vanilla,Â followed by a fruit-laden palate with enough juicy acidity to frame it all. Serve this with aÂ simple roast chicken or mango and smoked chicken salad.
Savage Follow the Line 2017,Â Western Cape (SWIG price tba) is not available just yet but when it arrives shortly grabÂ some, it's becoming something of a cult wine.
Made by Duncan Savage, this is a blend of cinsault and syrah andÂ has one of my favourite labels of all time. It's very aromaticÂ with crushed cranberries, raspberries and more than a hint of Turkish Delight followed byÂ more crunchy red fruit and fresh acidity on the palate.
What I love about all of Duncan'sÂ wine is their freshness and purity of fruit, and this is simply delicious.Â