We celebrate our second year with the following awards and prizes. Please note last year’s winners are ineligible this time round (even for our booby prizes!)
Best Red Wine discovery: ‘Tocai Rosso’, Ca’ Bruzzo, Colli Berici, Veneto, Italy 13%
See appreciation under Vigneron of the Year below.
Best White Wine discovery: Cinco Tierras Torrontes, Salta, Cafayate, Argentina 13.8%
A wonderfully aromatic and affordable version of this grape from the high vineyards of Salta. Torrontes may now be considered the indigenous grape of Argentina. It is not related to the Spanish Torrontes but may be descended from one of the Malvasia family. In any case, it has mutated to such a degree that Argentinian Torrontes may now be considered at least a sub-variety of Malvasia and this example is one of the most characterful to be found.
Best Rose discovery: Ackerman Cabernet Franc Rose, Maine-et-Loire NV Sparkling. 12%
Best UK wine retailer: Joint 1st prize – Artisan and Vine (Clapham, London) and Bertrand and Nicholas (Bourne End, Buckinghamshire).
Both dedicated, resourceful and original. Both give the impression everything they do is for the love of wine.
Best retailer (rest of world); Joint 1st prize – Caves les Pupilles, Paris 14 and Caves Augé, Paris 8.
These Parisian establishments embrace diversity with flair and good taste – not always the case in France or anywhere else for that matter.
Best Consortium outlet: Museo del Vino, Malaga
A model of its kind. O si sic omnes!
Most interesting wine trend; Orange Wine
White grapes vinified as red, i.e. left on their skins for long periods. The result deserves its own category at least as much as Rose wine we think.
Most promising grape: Persan
100% Persan is as memorable as 100% Pineau D’Aunis. We can pay no better compliment to this inexplicably rare variety. Both belong to an assertive and aromatic type of red wine. Anyone looking for something original to plant should consider Persan!
Best airport duty free: Areas ‘Sibarium’ (Lavinia), Malaga Pablo Ruiz Picasso Airport, Terminal 3 and other Spanish airports.
(Worst Airport Duty Free: Aéroport Lyon - Saint Exupéry).
Best restaurant wine list: Locanda Locatelli, London W1
Best Sommelier: Franco, ‘L’Antico’, Kings Road, London SW6. Runner up - Maria, Pizzeria Vittoria, Ravello.
We chose Franco because he epitomises the opposite of the fussing so many sommeillers go in for. Franco, who is also the owner of the establishment eyes up the client, goes to the wall, selects a bottle and plonks it down in front of them, promising they will enjoy it. There is no wine list. All the wines seem to cost more or less the same. If the customer wants to choose the wine herself or himself, they are welcome to do so. Like all good sommeliers, he also knows his wines very well.
Maria gets our vote too because of her high degree of friendliness, her smiley face, her insistence on replacing – without even tasting - a bottle whose cork has broken when being drawn, her knowledge of the varieties and even the wineries of the region and not least the fact she knows to cut the capsule from the lower rim. As well as all this, she serves food as well.
Vigneron of the year: Alan Wallace Bruzzo, Ca’ Bruzzo, Colli Berici, Veneto.
Alan Wallace Bruzzo has pioneered a wonderful style of wine from an obscure and very capricious grape (Tocai Rosso or Tai Rosso) and a little known terroir which was originally in complete contrast to other exponents of this variety in the area. Now his style is being adopted by other producers, so he is not only an original but a leader. Alan tends the vines personally and with his family, carries out all aspects of winemaking personally. He has instituted an organic eco-compatible regime which does not use irrigation. He has learned to use cuttings from the property’s ancient vines rather than buying in from nurseries. He also grows Cabernet franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, Merlot, Sangiovese and Chardonnay and gives dinners and wine tastings.
Best supermarket: Whole Foods
No other supermarket has such an interesting selection or knowledgeable staff. OK. It is a small operation compared to the big chains but they are quite a sizeable international operation with many stores in the USA of course and several here in the UK.
Best supermarket website: www.aldi.co.uk
We like this site not because of the wines which are mostly under £5 and which we have not tried but because they declare the grape varieties for every wine. They even grace their ‘Baron St. Jean’ with its varieties (Grenache, Carignan, Cinsaut and Merlot) even though they charge only £2.99 for this wine.
Booby prize of the year: Internet suppliers who take your money and deliver substitutes then cannot or refuse to supply the wines originally ordered [and paid for] or refund your payment.
Most depressing marketing name: Lübeck’scher (or Hamburgischer or even Austrian Rotspon).
Basically a local bottling. We have nothing against local bottling. In fact we wish there was more of it but the term Rotspon (Red Barrel) is used to conceal the varieties or even the provenance of the wine and somehow confer an advantage over the area from where the wine originates.
Best kept wine secret: Wines of Savoie
Original and interesting Grape varieties: Jacquere, Altesse/Rousette/Chignin, Gringet, Mondeuse Blanche, Molette, Mondeuse, Persan, Peloursin….
Original and interesting producers: Jean-Pierre and Philippe Grisard, Michel Grisard, Louis Magnin and some of the Quenard clan…
Prediction for 2010/11: Wines will be increasingly ‘branded’ and this will marginalise esoteric or idiosyncratic wines all the more.
Best lower alcohol wines:
White: D & P Belluard Vin de Savoie cepage Gringet 2007 ‘Terroir du Mont’ Les Alpes, 12%
Red: Domaine Navarre Vin D’Oeillades, (Cinsault aux grains plus allongés) Roquebrun (Languedoc) France 11.5%
Best in-flight wine: Casa Filgueira Merlot, Viñedos y Bodegas Filgueira, Uruguay served on Pluna Airlines, Uruguay.
Most pleasant surprise: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman, Israel.
Counted a flop 20 years ago, Israel’s signature crossing of Carignan and Souzao has finally developed from ugly duckling to fine swan in this example made with the original technique of fermenting the Argaman on Merlot skins.