2016 was a great year for wine, if not the best for politics.
You can read my short round-up and top six picks (really tough task) of the year here on The Buyer.
Highlights of the year included exceptional tastings (in particular AoA, Barullo, the Beaujolais celebrations on Nouveau day at Noble Rot – with winemakers Andrew Nielsen of Le Grappin, Jean-Louis Dutraive and Julien and Antoine Sunier), and meeting brilliant winemakers such as Bryan MacRobert and Albert Ahrens with Red Squirrel, and the ’76 Paris rematch and meeting Elena Pantaleoni at Sager + Wilde).
(Sager and Wilde w/ La Stoppa — Noble Rot Bojo celebrations)
(Meeting Bryan MacRobert and tasting the Laventura wines)
Abroad, highlights included a trip to Beaujolais, where I was fortunate enough to taste some fascinating old vintages from various producers (including a stunning ’76 from Château du Moulin-à-Vent). This cemented Gamay’s real capacity for ageing in my mind. I also visited small artisan producers such as Lapalu, the Suniers, JP Brun, F. Vergers, A. Kuhnel, the Thillardons and more, all producing epic Gamay. It’s been the YEAR FOR GAMAY, for me.
With Plaimont Producteurs, tasting microvinifications of reintroduced (from a pre-phylloxera plot) ancient and forgotten varietals in Saint Mont was another highlight. A trip to Masi, in Valpolicella, saw me learn about drying lofts (appassimento) and pergola vines.
New year, new wines to taste. I have my eye on…
1 – More Gamay: Of course from Beaujolais, but from further afield as well. I want to get to grips with Gamay’s expression in the Loire. I’ll be looking forward to tasting more Canadian examples too.
2 – Italy. All over: The country has a wealth of indigenous varietals of huge interest to me. I think we’ll see more Lambrusco too, as well as other red sparkling examples. Franciacorta and Trento will enjoy some more noise I think. Tannico stock brilliant examples of all of these.
3 – Croatia: Again – fascinating indigenous varietals to explore, and wonderful styles. Lots of amphora and skin contact too. Borgonja is very interesting. Check out Croatian Fine Wines for some of these.
4 – Greece: again – all about the indigenous varietals. I love the saline quality that Assyrtiko can take on. A recent tasting with Southern Wine Roads was fascinating, – I will be writing it up soon for The Buyer.
5 – Aligoté: A varietal I should have tasted more of. With wines like Love and Pif out there, there is a lot to be explored.
6 – Kazakhstan: I saw some impressive wines from Kazakhstan at the London Wine Fair last year. Hoping to see more of these this year.
7 – Garnacha!: In lighter, unoaked styles. Possibly also more minimal intervention Rioja? I’d like to see that.
8 – Vermentino, and Rolle: (the same, French tho). In 2 styles – the more reductive and very fresh style, as well as the richer, round style. The Rolle from Le Grand Cros falls into the latter and is really stunning.
9 – English reds: I absolutely love Chapel Down’s Union Red and think we have a huge potential in this country for light, elegant reds.
10 – ….. More small production Nouveau within the trade? I’d like to see some Nouveau from other regions (and even countries?) because they’re very interesting wines, that give some insight into the vintage.
We shall wait and see.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!