First, an explanation of the name: there’s nothing rude about the wines per se (or indeed, the people selling them), but the company name playfully sums up a philosophy: “We got fed up of being offered mediocre wines and keeping a stiff upper lip when drinking them. Stay polite and you’ll be drinking rubbish for the rest of your life,” explains co-founder Deborah Guest. Founded in 2013 by Deborah and businessman Tony Killeen, Rude Wines is an online wine merchant that seems to be doing things a little differently, including a six-bottle minimum on purchases, with free delivery on 12 bottles or more, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Wine Buying Director for Rude wines is the highly experienced Gerald Duff, with almost 50-years in the wine business. He is now one of 20 staff in a company that seems to be thriving thanks to the straightforward nature of its offering, and on this evidence, the quality of its wines.
Rude Wines will be pouring their wines at both my Edinburgh and London Festivals of Wine. In Edinburgh, I will be presenting a masterclass session on cheese and wine matching in association with Rude Wines and for that I chose the following eight wines, which Rude Wines dispatched to me so that I could taste the wines and do a little experimenting with the cheese matches. A report on that will follow after the session in Edinburgh, but meanwhile, my notes on the eight wines follow.
(2017) This for me was a lovely Champagne at its modest price. Made for Rude Wines by the house of Leon Launois (itself owned by Charles Mignon), its mostly Pinot Noir with a smaller percentage of Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, and has an open, creamy, attractive character, the fine mousse and pear and lemon fruitiness joined by just a little hint of biscuit and pastry, staying sweetly focused on fruit before a good balancing acidity pushes through the finish.
(2017) A blend of Colombard and Chardonnay, with drops of Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Manseng and Ugni Blanc, this plays the pungent, elderflower and passion fruit character to the hilt aromatically, but perhaps it's the Chardonnay that adds a little more peachy richness and weight to the mid-palate, plenty of zingy tropicality too, a real fireworks mouthful of wine to sip on its own, or pair up with a goat's cheese salad or soufflé.
(2017) A really fresh and original take on Viognier from the high-altitude vineyards of Orange, not far from Sydney. This is a variety that can tend towards being overblown, with too much fat, ripeness and alcohol, but harvested here at just 11.5% it's like a turbo-charged Vinho Verde. A slight spritz added to that impression, but that may just be the extreme youth of this 2017 wine, as often a touch of C°2 shows through in newly bottled aromatic whites. Beyond that, lemon sherbet and a touch of juicy yellow apricot skins onto the palate that bursts with vivacious flavour, a touch of sweetness off-setting a big lemony core of acid. Rather delicious and the low alcohol making it so easy to drink - or pair with aromatic Oriental food perhaps?
(2017) This is a single vineyard Gavi, from one of the region's real white wine experts. Beautifully clean and clear on the nose, there's a sherbetty touch to crisp and cool apple, just a suggestion of something mineral and salty. In the mouth there is great concentration here, but zero gravity: it flows freely across the palate, taut apple and lemons, medium-bodied, but super clean and fresh in the finish again, ozone fresh, finishing long as it tapers to a point. A seriously good, subtle, but decisive Gavi.
(2017) I have a tendency to bang on about the 'new' Chardonnay from Australia and California, on a mission to persuade members of the ABC Club to reconsider their membership given the volte-face that has transformed the big, blowsy, over-oaked examples of the 1990s into altogether more subtle wines that show the variety's true class. Gary and Kathy Jordan's wines have always been more intelligently pitched however, and this sleek Chardonnay with its confident but balanced nuttiness and hint of toast from its barrel fermentation is more than matched by pristine fruit, juicy and fleshy enough, before a lick of salinity and shimmering lemon acidity grabs the long, elegant finish. A terrific price for such a classy wine. Watch the video
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(2017) The oak influence on this wine is subtle, having spent one year in a combination of smaller and very large barrels. The colour is saturated, deep with a hint of blood red to ruby, and the nose vinous, crammed with cherries and hints of game and truffle, cedar and tobacco. In the mouth the plush sweetness of the fruit is the immediate attraction, but then the savoury, spicy and meaty character comes through too, smoky tobacco notes and typical plum and cherry skin tartness to freshen. A big mouthful of Barbera this, bold, intense and really well done.
(2017) I'm a fan of the wines of Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, the appellation of Southwest France that covers exactly the same footprint as Madiran, but whilst Madiran is for red wines, Pacherenc is for whites, many of which are dessert wines like this one. From the super-co-op that dominates the neighbouring area of Saint-Mont, the Producteurs Plaimont, it is made from late-harvested Gros Manseng grapes. It has honey and a touch of leaf tea and tobacco on the nose, a suggestion of apricot or yellow plum too. Sweet on the palate for sure, but not heavy, those stone fruit flavours persist, touches of honey and barely sugar, but a lovely tangy marmalade orange acidity to balance makes it a banker for blue cheeses, fruity desserts or foie gras. Price is for 50cl.
(2017) At 18.0% abv and made in the style of a Port, this is a glorious Muscat made from an average of 12-year-old wines, with delicious lift and lightness aromatically, quite different from their neighbours, Campbells, with its leafier notes, but fabulous full richness (over 270g/l of residual sugar). Viscous and filled with sweet, dark and chocolaty flavours with that raisin lusciousness and good supporting acidity, this will take chocolate desserts or Christmas pud in its stride. Price for 37.5cl.