The world of wine is expanding. How often have I said that? And it’s moving so fast that it’s almost impossible for any 1 person to keep up with all the changes. That’s where small, independent companies come to the fore. They can focus on particular areas ignored by others and gain in-depth knowledge of where the best wines are made and, perhaps, more importantly, who are the best producers.
One such independent is Novel Wines based in Bath. India, Brazil, Croatia and Turkey are among the unlikely names on their list and a tasting they hosted recently for the Bristol Tasting Circle proved a fascinating opportunity to sample the offerings from some of the wine world’s less well-known countries.
The delightful Olaszrizling from the St Donat estate in Hungary (£17.95) was, for me, the pick of the whites. The grape variety – no relation to Riesling despite the similarity of part of its name – isn’t generally regarded as particularly interesting but here gave lovely, tangy, herby flavours with well-integrated spicy oak and a good long dry finish.
Guliev Tremelov’s Cabernet Reserve from Odessa in the Ukraine (£17.50) was one of 2 stand-out reds. Showing plenty of the blackcurrant fruit typical of the grape, backed up by some attractive toasty oak, this had good length and some complexity but, above all, was really drinkable, although, like so many reds, would be even better with food.
My other red choice was from Serbia. DiBonis’ DiFranc (£27.95) used the ‘other’ Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, to give a wine with a perfumed, bitter cherry nose and lovely, sweet fruit on the palate. One colleague said the wine reminded her of Black Forest Gateau, another said marzipan. To me, it had shades of a good Valpolicella, but with, perhaps, rather more intensity. Hardly a typical Cabernet Franc but a lovely wine, nonetheless, and, again, just crying out to accompany food – pan roasted duck breast in particular.
A fascinating tasting proving just how many different flavours are out there if you are adventurous and seek out the small companies, like Novel, who can point you in the right direction.