Britian’s wine importers and distributors don’t take the spotlight too often, working behind the scenes to source and supply wines to retail and hospitality businesses across the country, and therefore, playing a powerful and vital role in the wine choices we have available to us.
Established in 1992, Daniel Lambert Wines sources all of its products directly from the producers, almost exclusively family-run businesses. Daniel recently sent me a selection of current lines to taste for myself. There are retail listings for all of these wines, as the company supplies a network of both independent wine merchants and national retailers, as well as wine merchants and wholesalers outside the UK. They can supply direct to the consumer, though the minimum order is 48 bottles.
White and Sparkling
(2020) The label gives no clue, but this Blanc de Blancs, all-Chardonnay Crémant must be at the highest limit of 'Brut', with a definite sweet edge on the palate. Effervescent, fresh and charming, easy-going peachy fruit and a delicate mousse give way to that fairly sweet palate, not a lot of toast or autolysis evident, but there is a bit, and that suits the aperitif or lighter dessert credentials of this wine. The acid balance freshens the finish.
(2020) A touch of gold to the straw colour and lovely, streaming small bubbles. On the nose there is brioche and hazelnut, but a delightfully bready yeastiness, golden delicious and a crisper note of Asian pear and citrus. That focus tighten up even more on the palate, despite a great sweetness and ripeness to the fruit, and a healthy level of dosage, the rounding of waxy lemon and apple skins also gives bite, with beautifully judged acidity into the finish. A terrific wine from one of Champagne's best recent vintages.
(2020) I see from my database that I did taste a Sauvignon/Semillon blend from Hollick way back in 1998, but it was still something of a shock to see this: a Sauvignon Blanc from Coonawara, normally associated with South Australia's premium Bordeaux-style red wines. It's certainly packed to the rafters with character; abundant and pungent herbaceous and elderflower aromas, pea-shoots and tropical fruit, then the palate showing just a little bit of a sweet-sour character for me, the vivid exotic fruit surely a little residual sugar against lemon-jelly acidity.
(2020) I'm very fond of white wines from the Pessac-Léognan in the Graves region of Bordeaux, this lightly barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc coming from one of André Lurton's properties. The nose is citrussy and fresh, the merest nuance of an elderflower touch, and the oak very much in the background, just adding a delicate creaminess. On the palate there's a full texture and it offers a fairly straightforward and pure core of citrus and apple fruit, good tangy acidity and a certain poise and succulence into the finish.
(2020) A really lovely, elegant Chardonnay from the Oak Knoll District of Napa California, part barrel-fermented and aged nine months in barrels, but only 13% new oak. Malolactic fermentation was more or less blocked (4% only went through malo) adding to the crispness of the wine. Lovely aromas of lightly buttery lemon and confit lime, a subtle biscuity warmth but all about zippy fruit and an overall quite steely presence. In the mouth the undoubted ripness of the fruit comes through, juicy pear and ripe Ogen melon, but that fine citrus core of acidity unwavering through the finish to give this poise and freshness. Stylish, reminiscent of a lightly-oaked Chablis style perhaps, and very good.
(2020) From the Côtes du Marmandais in teh southwest of France close to Bordeaux, this is a blend of Bordeaux varieties plus Syrah. It has a very nice, gently rustic nose, game and leather, but fruit to and a certain peppery quality. In the mouth it is savoury and nicely balanced - though quite dry, there is an honest and rustic charm about this, and there is decent black fruit at the core.
(2020) Made fron the local speciality, Négrette (55%) along with Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, this has an interesting nose of blackberry, leather and a slightly balsamic quality, definitely some herbal notes flitting in and out of the picture too. In the mouth it's full of juicy, tart plum-edged black fruit, buoyant and keen, there's lots of berry fruit but the stripe of tannin and that punchy acidity power through. Needs food I think, maybe a cassoulet or wintery casserole.
(2020) There is some Cabernet Franc blended with the Tannat here, in a forward and juicy Madiran from Southwest France. Spices, black plum and some floral highlights aromatically, some oak too giving a little creamy and chocolaty background note. The fruit on the palate is very sweet on first impression: real blackcurrant and blueberry, almost pastille sweetness, quite soft in texture and structure for Madiran, though acidity and a little liquorice or endive bittering quality tightens up the finish.
(2020) Daniel describes this as coming from a "Stunning single vineyard and family run property in the heart of Rioja Alavesa." Made from 100% Tempranillo, it spends 12 months in barrels, 60% French and 40% American oak. There's a sweet, solid black cherry sheen to the aromatics, a smoothing laer of creamy dark polished wood, and a lovely hint of tobacco spice. In the mouth quite delicious: the sweet black fruit surges across the palate, but again the whole picture smoothed by the creaminess of the oak and fine-grained tannins, balanced and long. Really lovely.
(2020) This organically-certified Pinot comes from a producer new to me, located between Beaune and Nuits-Saint-Georges, where Jean-Louis is assisted by his sons Frédéric and Laurent. It has quite a deep but not opaque colour, and a charming nose: firm and cherry scented, with briar and a hint of gamy perfume, but there's a ripeness and succulence to the fruit quality too. In the mouth there is good sweetness to the fruit, but it is sappy and lithe, a little spicy, smooth tannins and very nicely balanced juicy acidity, for a lovely glass of Burgundy that will cellar for several years.
(2020) A big and bountiful Californian red blend of 80% Zinfandel, with 10% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petite Sirah, blended and matured for 16 months in American oak. Creamy, spicy and voluptuous on the nose, there's tons of blueberry and plum fruit, before the palate that is sweet-fruited and Christmas-cake spiced, rich and full, but with a fairly firm tannin background and cherry-pit acidity giving more spice and savouriness on the finish. A juicy steak or anything from the chargrill with this one.
(2020) A Californian cab that brought a huge smile to my face: the epitome of what a generous, sweet-fruited wine from the Sunshine State should offer, but with a bit of class too. From vineyards in the homeland of the Sonoma Valley, but also further afeild as far south as Monterey and Paso Robles, it spends time in Frenach and American oak (40% new) and is really rather glorious: aromatically OTT with rich blackberry and chassis, patchouli, sandalwood and menthol, soaring from the glass, then a lush palate of sweet and ripe, succulent black fruit, smooth and creamy tannins and juiciness to spare. Sometimes a wine just has to be delicious, and that's what this offers in abundance.