Rude Wines is an independent online retailer established in 2013. They offer a ‘money back if not totally satisfied’ guarantee on all wines, with free delivery to the UK mainland for 12 bottles or more, or a £4.99 charge for a minimum 6 bottles to the UK mainland. I reviewed a selection of their wines last year.
Rude wines exhibited at my Festivals of Wine in 2017 (and I’m delighted to say they will be back at all three festivals in 2018), as well as providing the wines for a masterclass that I delivered. Their wines proved very popular, and when they called me some weeks later with a business proposal, I was intrigued.
The discussions led to me accepting an initial one year contract to become Rude Wines’ ‘independent expert’, casting my palate over a broad range of their wines to give my honest and independent opinions. Over the course of 2018 I will be writing my tasting notes for 150 wines, and filming short video reviews of 50 of them. It was vitaly important to me that my independence was not compromised. So the deal is that I am free to review and score honestly, the wines I select for video review are my own choice, and if the vintage changes for a wine I have reviewed, that must be clearly stated. Of course Rude Wines are free to not use any specific review I submit, but otherwise they have agreed to publish my reviews verbatim.
I have never accepted a role like this before, but I was impressed not only by the selection of wines I had tasted from their portfolio, but by the experience of Rude Wines’ wine buyer and the enthusiasm of the management and staff I have met.
I have just submitted my first 30 wine reviews and initial batch of 12 videos, which are currently being added to the Rude Wines web site, but they have already introduced me to their customers: meet Tom Cannavan.
As well as announcing this news, I thought it would be a nice touch if I picked out a dozen from the wines I have just reviewed in this first batch to introduce you to Rude Wines.
(2018) Jordan is one of my favourite Cape wine estates, family-owned, and Gary and Kathy Jordan always making beautifully-pitched wines. This vibrant wine flits between limey aromatic punch and luscious tropical note, the palate showing excellent fruit ripeness and sweetness that fills the mouth. Lees-ageing adds a richness to this, but the core of shimmering acidity propels the wine forward deliciously and intelligently. Bring on creamy pastas and risottos.
(2018) There's a small but growing fashion for Southern Hemisphere winemakers to blend together aromatic white grape varieties that wouldn't normally sit together in classic European regions. This is a delightful example featuring mostly Sauvignon Blanc, along with Viognier and Semillon, blended to lovely effect as the grassiness of the Sauvignon, peach of the Viognier and buttery lemon of the Semillon combine. Zingy and vibrant, it's a silky charmer with lovely balance. On offer at £8.99 at time of writing.
(2018) From the Fleurieu Peninsula of McLaren Vale, very close to the ocean and city of Adelaide, this is a very good example of the new Australian Chardonnay: no sign here of that heavy vanilla oak or blockbuster ripeness: with 12.5% alcohol this is rich, rounded and crammed with sweet fruit that takes centre stage. There is a touch of that flinty character that makes Chablis so appealing, but then the juicy, sweet orange and peach fruit.
(2018) From Basilicata, a fascinating volcanic region not far from Naples, this blend of two local aromatic varieties, Fiano and Greco, is a fabulous wine. Light gold in colour, it's light gold in flavour too: juicy golden delicious apple, nectarine and delightful floral nuances on the nose move seamlessly into pure peach and mango on the palate, ripe and so pure, before a delicate, gossamer lime acidity extends the finish.
(2018) If you're a fan of the vivacious, aromatically pungent style of Sauvignon Blanc you will love this. From Casablanca, the original cool-climate valley on Chile's coast, it is loaded with pea shoot and grassy, elderflower punch and and intense lychee fruitiness. In the mouth that intensity does not let up, a sweeping core of pithy, almonst saline lemon acidity streaking through the tropical fruit richness of the mid-palate. I've come up against very few Chilean Sauvignons with this much personality and zing. Absolutely worth trying if you like this style.
(2018) Well who'd have thought it? Pinot Noir from Portugal is highly unusual, this from Lisboa (formerly known as Estremadura), aged in a combination of French, American and Portuguese oak barrels. For Pinot lovers the search for affordable versions is always on, and this is a good little wine - indeed very good for its price: briarwood, roasted chestnut and some autumnal, woodland aromas join the red fruits, and the palate has juiciness and good balance. Even better, it's normal price of £8.99 is reduced to just £7.49 at time of review. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2018) Carignan is a variety of the South of French that has mostly played a supporting role, blended with the star grapes, Syrah or Grenache. But there's a growing band of enthusiastic winemakers using some wonderful old vines to make terrific Carignans, and it is developing something of a cult folowing. This, made by a Kiwi flying winemaker, has a wonderfully aromatic, brightly-hued nose, all punchy red fruits like cherry and even raspberry, a touch of root beer, before a silky palate crammed with sweet berries, a touch of bittersweet dark chocolate adding depth and savoury notes.
(2018) The great red grape of Abruzzo, in this rendition both creamy and strawberry ripe on the nose, but also with darker black fruit notes and a hint of tobacco spice. This has delicious creaminess on the palate (It surely must see a little oak?) a touch of mint that is cool and fresh, but again it is that ripe black cherry, slicked with a soft brush of vanilla, that leads on to a very delicious finish. Another great all-rounder at a very good price indeed.
(2018) I once stood in Jordan's vineyard with owner Gary Jordan, when he reached into the foliage of a vine and gently lifted out a chameleon, so I know exactly where this brand name comes from! A classic Bordeaux blend, aged 16 months in barrels, it epitomises the Jordans' refined and classical approach, notes of graphite and dried herbs over plentiful black berry fruit are convincingly 'Old World' in style. So much savoury blackcurrant and plum packed in here, an umami sense of meatiness, and an agile combination of silky tannin and cherry acidity, making for a seriously good value Bordeaux lookalike.
(2018) Plenty of bangs per buck in this Western Cape Shiraz - though of course those bucks are buying Fairtrade's guarantee of good conditions and a fair wage for the farm workers too. Big, deep and smoky from its six months in oak, there's a chocolate depth and hints of sizzling bacon fat on the nose, before a full, powerful palate, brimming with black fruit and clove spice to deliver one helluva mouthful of wine at the price.
(2018) Syrah, Carignan, and Grenache is the recipe for this wine from Roussillon, the French appellation just across the border from Spain, but this is a selection of the best small plots of vines. Fabulous depth on the nose: a shimmering pool of red and black fruit, slicked with a little smoke and vanilla, but a fascinating touch of meat-stock just in the background. This is clearly serious stuff, layered and complex in the mouth, though it explodes with a ripe blackcurrant bittersweetness. Bold, chewy and quite a mouthful of wine.
(2018) In its heavy, embossed bottle this mini-Châteauneuf-du-Pape comes from a fifth generation of winegrowers in the southern Rhône. Just a beautiful nose, where the lift of Parma violet and kirsch melts into plush red berries, a dusting of tobacco spice in the background. In the mouth it is a very elegant rendition, nothing too dominant as the lovely dried herb and cherry freshness balances the deeper, more luxurious fruit character, and the smooth tannin and acid balance. Gorgeous.