The first two months of the year are very much the time when the wine trade sets its stall out for the year.
Most of the major UK agents and distributors host major tastings of their portfolios, with new vintages, new wines and, as seems the norm these days, new prices.
Recently I found myself recently on the banks of the Thames on a beautiful spring day at a tasting hosted by Gonsalez Byass UK.
With more than 100 wines to taste it’s always difficult to narrow down so here are a few stars from the day.
Rathfinny Wine Estate was established in 2010 near Alfriston on the South Downs, with the aim of being one of the most significant single vineyards in England and it has certainly been the subject of a great deal of interest within the UK wine trade ever since. They released their first sparkling wines last year and this was the first opportunity I had had to taste them.
Rathfinny Estate Rosé 2016, Sussex (rathinnyestate.com for more info and oxfordwine.com £35.95) is a Pinot Noir dominated blend which has spent 24 months ageing on its lees and without question is a welcome addition to the growing number of world-class English sparkling rosés.
It’s a very pretty pale pink in the glass, there are delicate red fruits and citrus notes on the nose, followed by soft red fruits and crisp acidity on the plate before a nice long, focussed finish.
This is the second release of this wine and you may find that the 2015 is the wine currently available, but regardless this is very fine sparkling wine indeed.
Hopping over the channel, Champagne Duetz launched two new single vineyard wines which were brilliant, but of course with a price to match.
Deutz Brut Classic NV (Ocado £42.50) is a lovely introduction to this much admired house. A blend of all three classic Champagne grapes, this is aged for three years before release and is really all about elegance and purity. There are notes of white flowers, pears, almonds and a touch of brioche on the nose, followed by a medium bodied palate with a long, very focused finish. This is very fine Champagne.
The story of Domaine Jones from the Languedoc in the south of France is almost worth a novel in itself.The estate was established by Katie Jones, an Englishwoman who left for the good life in the south of France.
She established her own vineyards in 2008 and her wines are now recognised as some of the most interesting in the region.
Domaine Jones Fitou 2012 (Fareham Wine Cellar £15.25) is made from a blend of carignan, grenache and syrah from old vines, most of which are more than 100 years old. It shows plenty of deep, dark fruits, liquorice, spice and a touch of dried herbs, which is followed by a long, concentrated palate with enough grip to keep it honest.
This is such a lovely wine, try this with confit duck or a ribeye steak cooked over charcoal.