Peter Ranscombe gets a sneak peak at the new wine club from Fife-based merchant L’Art du Vin.
A LITTLE dickie bird tells me that Scottish Field readers are fans of wine clubs – and so I have an insider tip for you.
L’Art du Vin, a wine merchant based in Fife, has just launched its very own wine club.
Regular readers will know I’m a fan of the company’s range, which focuses on organic and biodynamic wines.
The firm acts as a wholesaler for lots of Scottish restaurants and bars, and also sells directly to the public through its website.
I got a sneak peak at the wines in its September case and I was very impressed.
My pick of the bunch was the 2019 A Peu Pres Sauvignon Blanc.
I know, I know, it’s unusual for me to favour a sauvignon, but this is the perfect example of what independent wine merchants like L’Art du Vin do best.
They pick a wine from just outside a famous area – in this case Tracy-Sur-Loire, next door to Pouilly-Fume – which delivers all the flavours and features you want, but at a fraction of the price.
A Peu Pres – or “close enough” in French – crackles with the classic Loire acidity, but there’s tonnes of expressive lemon sherbet and green bean for balance.
Guess the grape
It’s a similar idea when it comes to grape varieties too – indies are experts at finding those lesser known gems.
Further towards the mouth of the Loire, the 2018 Luneau-Papin Folle Blanche du Pays Nantais is a case in point.
Folle blanche will never knock sauvignon from its perch, but it has lovely lemon and pear notes on the nose and then fresh acidity on the palate.
All that freshness would be hard work on its own, but this is a wine built to go with oysters and shellfish.
In fact, it also features in one of L’Art du Vin’s pre-mixed cases – “#2: Wines with energy” – which are designed to pair with food.
Brought to heel
Similarly, “negroamaro” may not trip off the tongue like “sangiovese” or “nebbiolo”, but it’s fast becoming another of Italy’s exciting red grapes.
Grown in Puglia – the heel of the Italian boot – it rivals primitivo as the region’s most famous variety.
The 2019 Masseria Tagaro Pinataro Negroamaro comes in that textbook rich and lush style; a real winter warmer.
Sweet red cherry, spun sugar and a whiff of wood smoke on the nose lead into lush and velvety vanilla on the palate.
There’s enough tannin there to take on meat, but not so much that it would distract from a glass on its own.
Unusual countries and regions
Another skill exhibited by the indies is finding familiar grape varieties in lesser-known countries and regions.
The Soli Merlot 2018 hails from Bulgaria and boasts all the complex black plum, vanilla and damp earth aromas that the grape’s fans know and love.
On the palate, there’s a great mix of sweet vanilla, savoury green bean and meaty yet well-integrated tannins.
Soli’s pinot noir was one of the stars of the show during the lockdown when it appeared in one of the early wine webinars hosted by Soma Jennings from Princess & The Pinot and Amelia Singer from Amelia’s Wine.
October’s wine club case from L’Art du Vin features wines from Spain and I’m particularly excited to see the 2018 Academia de los Nocturnos Bobal on the list.
This was one of my highlights during the wine merchant’s trade tasting back in March… in those heady before lockdown when it was easier to hold tastings.
It’s got lovely black cherry and blackcurrant flavours, plus a healthy kick of fresh acidity and meat-friendly tannins.
Full details about L’Art du Vin’s wine club are available on its website – and, with bottles like these, I think it’s on to a winner.
Read more of Peter’s wine, beer and spirits reviews on his drinks blog, The Grape & The Grain.