Venerable London merchant Berry Bros & Rudd may boast 300 years of wine trading history (their 1698 premises in St James, right) but they remain one of the most innovative wine retailers in the world – indeed they have just picked up the ‘Innovation’ trophy at the 2010 Decanter Wine Awards. Their recently launched wine trading platform ‘BBX’ is truly blue-sky thinking for a wine merchant for example, allowing customers with wines stored in Berrys’ UK bond to sell direct to other customers.
Of more direct relevance to those reading my notes on the wines in this tasting perhaps, is that the company has recently scrapped all delivery charges. Previously, orders under £200 incurred a £10 delivery charge, but now all orders will be delivered free, anywhere in the UK (though note Berry Bros has a minimum online order value of £100).
J & H Selbach, Berrys’ Own Selection Mosel Riesling Kabinett 2009, Germany
Fermented in traditional large oak barrels and with only 10% alcohol, this has a refined, apple scented nose with perfume and a touch of salty minerality. The palate has a fine sweetness: beautifully crisp, tangerine fruit and delicate acid unbalance making for a lovely, gossamer light mouthful of wine. 88/100. £8.25.
Cillar de Silos, Rueda Blanco ‘El Quintanal’ 2009, Spain
100% Verdejo and with only 12.5% alcohol, this is grassy, but not overly so, with passionfruit ripeness and steeliness, the fruit ripe and rich, but quickly licked into shape by a cool, pithy, mountain stream clarity of its acidity. 88/100. £8.95.
Domaine Borie de Maurel, Minervois ‘La Belle Aude’ 2009, France
A blend of 90% Marsanne and 10% Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. Smoky notes, but a lovely apricot fruit too. A certain floral edge from the Muscat. Brisk on the palate, lots of crunch and bone dry acidity, the palate staying focused with a certain lean, taut appeal. Needs food, but lip-smacking and delicious. 90/100. £11.95.
Bodegas Monteabellon, Ribera del Duero ‘Avaniel’ 2009, Spain
An unoaked, Joven wine that is 100% Tempranillo, this has a lovely nose, with a bloody ripeness and richness, and a classy black fruit quality. Very taut and poised, with a solid, sweet core of fruit, but quite fine and refined, with a nutty quality to the dry, savoury finish. 88/100. £8.75.
Ferdinando Principiano, Langhe Nebbiolo ‘Coste’ 2008, Italy
A blend from 30-year-old vines together with some younger Nebbiolo fruit. Lovely pale colour and delicate, dry, redcurrant and gently earthy noise, suggesting a great silky softness. That is realised on the palate with a lovely softness of texture and tannins but crisp, well defined fruit and a great sense of harmony. Long and beautifully refined. 90/100. £16.50.
Château Grange Cochard, Morgon Vieilles Vignes 2009, France
Yet another winning Beaujolais from 2009, this made by James and Sarah Wilding who abandoned St Albans for the charms and challenges of producing Beaujolais. Made from old vine Gamay, it is a wine in a very solid, confident style the nose showing silky, quite Burgundian fruit with a sense of density. Fabulous length on the palate, with more dense, textural fruit and terrific balance. Certainly a big, more burly take on Beaujolais, but delicious and not lacking finesse. 91/100. £13.95.
Weingut Moric, Blaufränkisch 2008, Austria
This Burgenland wine comes from selected fruit growing in high density, old vineyards, with ageing in large oak casks. It has a big, meaty, quite wild and floral nose with medicinal edges that are typical. Meaty, vivid and dense on the palate too, with lots of juicy fruit and a dry, savoury finish. 89/100. £19.95.
Oldenburg, Cabernet Franc 2008, South Africa
Aged in French barriques, there is a lovely schisty, lean and keen edge to the nose with some fragrant, lifted kirsch and pencil shaving notes and cool, savoury black fruit. The palate has a great inner core of sweetness. Lovely supple structure here, making it creamy and opulent, but tightly drawn and focused into a long finish. 92/100. £21.95 See Berry Bros & Rudd