I’ve been really enthusiastic about the range of wines being offered by online retailer and wine club, The Daily Drinker, where owners Caspar and Victoria Bowes personally choose the wines, and have a policy of exploring the lesser-known corners of the wine world – as long as the quality on offer meets the mark. It’s a niche idea perhaps, to be selling sparkling Pignoletto from Emilia-Romagna, or Kratosija from Macedonia, but that’s the beauty of it: this is a real alternative to what the High Street can, and does, offer.
Anyone can buy from The Daily Drinker website, but you are encouraged to join their club where you can sign-up to receive as few as two bottles per month, with free delivery, and still benefit from 10% off everything they sell. I’ve been receiving their monthly selections for the past few months, so thought I’d gather these 10 tasting notes together.
(2019) Irsai Olivér last featured on these pages over a decade ago, when it was a summer standby of mine. I guess it must have been trending in at least a minor way, because I cannot remember seeing one since the early 2000s. Thank goodness for The Daily Drinker, always in search of the unusual, for bringing us this very good example. It has the floral, Muscat/Torrontes character that is typical of the variety, but here an interesting, more attacking dill and pea-shoot herbaceous character adds a bit of oomph, and it is sliced through with tangy lemon acidity to leave it brisk, clean, and mouth-watering.
(2019) The first time I've come across the Ezerjo variety, google informing me it is mostly associated with sweet wines, but here turning up as a bone-dry, oak-aged white. It's a fascinating wine that straddles bright, crisp and apple-scented freshness, with the nuttier, perhaps oak-derived buttery Brazil nut richness. Firm in the mouth, it's all zesty lemon and lime into the long finish and has the combination of zip and weight/structure to be a good match with fish and seafood, or tapas style small mixed plates. Daily Drinker club members buy with 10% off.
(2019) We are seeing quite a few dry Furmint wines on the market these days - 10 years ago, very few would have heard of the grape. Though making sweet Tokaji wines, as a variety it was very, very rarely seen on a label. This is a particularly vivacious and boldly-fruited example, the nose mixing lots of zesty citrus with a hint of gooseberry and even lychee. In the mouth it bursts with flavour - loads of salty and lemony acid as it's backbone, but intense, clear fruit that is concentrated and textured - very good mouthfeel here. Long and impressive. For Daily Drinker Club members the price is £12.38.
(2019) While Nebbiolo is the easy answer to 'what is Piedmont's greatest red wine grape', Nascetta has begun to slug it out with Gavi and Arneis as cream of the white wine crop. Aged six months in older oak barrels, this majors on fresh and very subtly floral aromatics, nutty apple and a barrel-derived creaminess. Quite full-bodied and rich on the palate, there's good concentration here, perhaps a little reminiscent of a Rhône white - a Roussanne/Marsanne blend maybe, generous, fat fruit and acidity, but that nutty, creamy texture extends to the finish, dry mineral and apple core acidity balancing very nicely.
(2019) Cousiño Macul was one of the earliest Chilean producers I bought way back in the 80s, due to a terrific red wine called Antiguas Reservas. This was my first tasting of their Sauvignon Gris, an uncommon grape variety, examples of which from other producers I have always enjoyed. With more density and meat than Sauvignon Blanc, this has pea-pod aromas and a bold, firm, dry stone fruit character, with mid-palate sweetness before a grippy and slightly phenolic finish of fruit skins and melon rind.
(2019) From Rías Baixas, a cool hot-spot for crisp, seafood-friendly wines on Spain's northern Atlantic coast, this has the mix of sea-breeze salinity and pretty floral and peachy fruit that is so appealing. Bone-dry, it has an invigorating, fresh-squeezed lemon juice directness, electric on the tongue, but it is not without those hints of peach juice ripeness and sweetness, a bit of broadening, yeasty character and that saline hint of thicker texture that would make it a wonderful partner for ceviche or sushi, or freshly shucked oysters perhaps. £10.80 for Daily Drinker club members who enjoy a 10% discount.
(2019) An interesting wine this one, from the Austrian speciality grape Roter Veltliner, which is not related to the more famous of the Veltliners, Grüner. There's an intensity to the nose, albeit that the aromas are bright and aerial, with flowers and lemons, icing sugar and salts, a touch of peppery spice too. In the mouth there's a big burst of sweetness at first, and that intensity is there. It brims with fruit and a dry, quite pithy lemon acidity, though its fairly oily richness of texture and that sweetness just teeters on the edge of making this feel a touch flabby for me.
(2019) I have notes on half a dozen Kalecik Karasi wines in my database, unanimously positive, for the Kalecik variety is the speciality of Turkey's Karasi region, the vineyards in this case at 1150 metres in altitude. It pours the pale ruby colour I expect, and as is so often the case, immediately reminds me of Pinot Noir with a rhubarb and beetroot note, but also beautifully ripe summer red fruits, pomegranate and a hint of earthy spice too. On the palate it is a little firmer than others I've tried, a real endive/chicory-like stripe of bittersweetness that puckers the mouth. There's a dry nuttiness too, and that keen-edged, tart raspberry fruit, but the grainy tannins and that assertive bittersweet note give it lip-tingling length.
(2019) Castelão is an important grape variety in southern Portugal, especially here in Palmela, on the Setúbal peninsula just south of Lisbon. Fermented in cement tanks with wild yeasts, it has a very soulful, deep and inviting aroma, plummy and ripe, but the wild ferment just gives that extra element of mystery and dry mineral character too. Loads of plush, ripe, juicy and fleshy black fruit on the palate, rich in texture and flavour, tannins quite sandy but fine, and a liquorice bite to the acidity. Most enjoyable.
(2019) I visited De Martino in 2010, yet the visit is still fresh in my mind as that was to their base in the extraordinary landscape of the northerly Elqui Valley, on the edge of the Atacama desert. This comes from the other Chilean extreme however, from the Itata Valley, a relatively new cool-climate region way down in the south. Intriguingly, Daily Drinker's owner Caspar Bowes suggests bushfires around the vineyards are responsible for the smoky notes in the wine: despite having never seen oak, there is definitely a charry quality. There's also a stemmy, wood bark sense of dryness on the nose, red berry fruit in the mix too. On the palate it is a crisp and fresh style of red, perhaps appealing most to the Beaujolais or Pinot-lover, but beneath that hint of burning embers there is juicy red fruit and plenty - plenty - of interest. Daily Drinker Club members buy with 10% off the stated price. Watch the video for more information.