by Tom Cannavan, 05/12 I was contacted recently by a newly launched online wine company called Atlas Vintners. Though opened for business only since 2011, the people behind Atlas Vintners are Epicure Wines, who have been supplying wines from Europe – particularly wines from Mediterranean countries – to the restaurant trade in London and the South East since 2004. The company imports wines and beers direct, and indeed some of their beers have been reviewed recently on our sister site, beer-pages.com. They also sent me a couple of bottles of wine from their portfolio to try, both a little bit out of the ordinary in the shape of a seldom seen Provence dry white wine and a Syrah from the Benslimane region of Morocco. The company says that it “aims to provide affordable and distinctive wines offering good value for money and an immediate and rewarding tasting experience,” and whilst that’s a fairly generic ambition that I hope all good merchants could sign up to, the two wines here did indeed provide rewarding drinking at fair prices. Atlas Vintners are at www.atlasvintners.com.
Château Beauféran, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Blanc 2010, France
We see relatively few Provence whites on our wine shelves in the UK, perhaps given the preponderance of rosés from this southern French region. This blend of 40% Grenache Blanc with 20% each of Ugni Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Vermentino is very attractive however, with a faint floral perfume, lots of juicy citrus and apple and a nicely herbal edge. On the palate there is a feeling of ripeness, with a touch of honey to the flavour and quite full, sweet apple fruit, but the wine stays balanced and fine in an almost Chablis vein, finishing with good balance and a refreshing acidity. 87/100. £8.95
Domaine des Ouled Thaleb, ‘Tandem’ Benslimane 2009, Morocco
Crozes-Hermitage winemaker Alain Graillot discovered this old Syrah vineyard in 2003 whilst on a cycling holiday in Morocco in the Benslimane area, 50k east of Casablanca and 500 metres above sea level. Half of the wine was matured in oak, but only 10% of it new. It has a charming and inviting nose, with a coffee and tarry touch of darkness over deep red fruit. There’s a tiny floral lift too in a quite elegant, 13% alcohol wine. On the palate it is substantial and creamily mouth-filling, with masses of sweet fruit and barely a sign of the oak, the fruit sweet but also with a savoury, quite smoky and meaty quality, running into a well-balanced finish with tight tannins, a touch spice and fresh acidity. 90/100. £13.50.