Laithwaites round-up

This was a tasting of new wines and latest vintages that were added to the extensive Laithwaites catalogue for summer/autumn 2022. At time of publication all of the wines tasted were still available via the Laithwates online shop.

Overall quality was very good I must say, though rather like the Majestic ‘mix six’ model, there’s a headline price for each wine (which I have quoted) that is reduced – sometimes quite substantially – when you include the wine as part of a mixed dozen. I would imagine most Laithwaites customers put a case together, so will benefit from the lower and, for me, more realistic prices.

White Wines

(2022) Quite fragrant, some herbal and wild scrubland aromas. This organically grown wine is related to Catarrato, and has crisp, dry lemon and firm underripe pear fruit that is cool and precise. Plenty of mouth-watering minerally acidity, firm with a nuance of an Epsom salts edge.
(2022) Bottled in the 'Frugalpack' paper bottle that is recyclable and low weight, so is environmentally advantageous. This wine comes from East Anglia. It has some of the Bacchus elderflower character, very zippy and fresh. In the mouth a big squirt of lime and grapefruit, still some of that Sauvignon-like hedgerow leafiness, but citrussy and zingy. Only 3,000 bottles produced.
(2022) Old vine Sauvignon Gris goes into this wine, a very small proportion fermented in oak. A litght creaminess to greengage and custard apple on the nose, then the palate delivers a surprising sweetness and lusciousness of fruit, still with that apple and citrus edge of freshness and firmness, but succulent and with more tropical, ripe Ogen melon and nectarine in the mix.
(2022) This sees a little lees ageing, the nose quite punchy and gooseberry-like, a little bit of elderflower again. The palate is very juicy, there is a bit of richness to the texture, but the mango and peachy fruit does finish with streaking citrus acidity.
(2022) A blend of Muscat, Obeidi and Viognier from Ixsir's high altitude vineyards in Lebanon, this is fragrant, with the Muscat component driving the floral, jasmine and talcum aromas, but there's a hint of lemon and melon rind grip beneath. In the mouth that Muscat character dominates again, but there's a phenolic, pithy serious bit of acidity and grip here, swinging from juicy nectarine to lemon pith, in a textural, big mouthful of wine.
(2022) From a small family domaine with a progressive new generation on-board, this from a 1930s Chardonnay vineyard. Nutty and appley, a little fragrance touching on floral but staying very dry and clean, and quite wild yesty complex. The palate is juicy and substantial, with a huge thrust of lemony acidity and lots of personality. Matured in ex Condrieu barrels.
(2022) This is almost all barrel-fermented Chardonnay from higher altitude vineyards, with 10% Viura in the blend. Almond and creamy oatmeal on the nose, lemon and an almost gremolata note is appealing. In the mouth it is weighty and textured, the fruit sweet and the oak quite powerful with its vanillin and roasted coffee notes. A substantial wine, good lemon pith acidity cutting through the texture and fruit density.
(2022) All natural yeasts, organic and no added sulphur with 20% in amphora. Yeasty and herbal aromas, lots of skin-contact character, fruit skins and a touch of wheat beer character. Juicy and sweet-fruited on the palate, still has a talcumy, chalky character that is very pleasing. Nicely balanced.

Red Wines

(2022) 'Dawn Felder' is a character invented by Laithwaites to introduce their customers to this unfamiliar variety. Juicy cherry stuff, blueberry and lipstick notes on the nose. The palate has cool fruit, smooth and dry, would suit chilling with its charming cherry fruit and balanced, easy drinking acidity.
(2022) From vineyards close to the ocean and cooled by sea breezes. There is cherry and red plum freshness but a meatiness too, a dry ashy and chalk quality to the tannins and acidity adds to the savoury freshness.
(2022) From a winery that is a monastery on the Santiago Pilgrim Route, this is 100% Tempranillo similar to Crianzas from nearby Rioja. Ripe and quite vibrant, plenty of dark, vine fruits and a touch of smokiness. The palate is firm, structured and juicy, the oak ageing adding a dark and smoky edge to a finish of taut tannins and acids.
(2022) Cabernet Franc from the limestone soils of Saumur-Champigny and a family winery. Really lovely fragrant nose, with lots of ripeness in this 2017 vintage, a touch of earthiness but clean and ripe black fruits. The fruit dry and savoury, but again such layered creamy black fruit, concentrated and ripe from a low-yielding year. Long and delicious.
(2022) Made from ungrafted vines grown on almost pure sand, this spends five months in French oak barrels. Again quite meaty here, ashy and smoky, interesting twists of green herbs in quite an exotic nose. The palate has that combination of an almost orange fruit brightness and the dry tannins of plum and cherry skins running into keen acidity. Another one to chill lightly, but intriguing and delicious.
(2022) Made by Zimbawian refugee Joseph Dhafana in Swartland. It comes from 20-year-old vineys grown on shale and spends 18 months in used barrels. Quite a meaty Syrah, a touch of bacon fat and deep black fruit. Big, juicy and sweet on the palate, so much purity and intensity. Lots of juicy acidity and fine tannins too, a deliciously drinkable Syrah with a great back story.

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