Before you read any further, there is something you need to know. Jez is my wine hero. Jez is also my pusher. He started me on the light stuff, got me hooked, and is now reaping the rewards. I don’t mean any if that of course, because Jez is what all of us wine lovers need. An independent wine merchant who cares. Someone who listens, who’s advice you cherish and appreciate.
I first walked into Wine and the Vine, situated in Battler’s Green, near Radlett, about 4 years ago. It’s a really inviting and friendly show room, although sometimes a bit cold… Temperature-wise! The first words after “hello” were “can I offer you a taste?” And that’s how it started, with a taster of the fantastic Don David Torrontes from Argentina. I walked out of Jez’s shop that day with a dozen wines, half of which I would never even have dreamt of lifting off a supermarket shelf. I also walked away without paying – at the time there was no credit card machine (there is now) – instead he gave me a piece of paper with his bank details printed on one side. I was hooked.
Tasting wine is brilliant. You try things you may not have ever considered, or ever heard of. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday Jez offers 6 wines to anyone who comes into the shop. It’s an eclectic mix and I always end up taking home a couple of bottles which weren’t on my mental list. You can’t do this at the supermarket! Don’t get me wrong; they have their place, but they are soulless. Your independent guy has soul. Your independent guy has personality. Your independent guy is there for you.
I’ve had some of the best wines I’ve tried from Jez. Because he listens. He understands what I like and can make informed recommendations. Jez introduced me to Burgundy via a stupendous bottle of Nicolas Rossignol Volnay 1er Cru En Chevret 2006. Not only that, when I told him I was going to Beaune last February, he helped arrange a visit with Nicolas via one of his suppliers. This is why your independent wine guy is so important – you will learn so much and get so much in return.
Please use your local merchants. Talk to them, listen to them, and most importantly of all, cherish them. They are the heroes of our wine world.
Wine & The Vine
Battlers Green Farm
I’ve only recently started keeping tasting notes, so here is a selection from some recent visits to Wine and the Vine. The selection suits all pockets and all styles. There are a couple of expensive bottles below but there is plenty of choice under £10! If you live nearby please pop in and say hello… And enjoy your tasting!
Andeluna Torrontes 1300, 2011, Mendoza, Argentina (£10.75)
I tried this in a shop and it was beautifully aromatic – just goes to show how much bottle variation there can be. Grapefruit and a hint of citrus, some floral notes. Pithy grapefruit, lacking freshness. no length. Disappointing. 80 points
Dopff Au Moulin Gewertztraminer Reserve 2010 (£15.99)
I opened this straight after the Torrontes and wasn’t disappointed. Honey, nectarines and spice. Very aromatic. Spicy, full bodied, nectarines and eastern mystery. Lovely, with a hint of sweetness. 20 minutes later the Turkish delight tastes great! 89 points
Domaine Botti Saint Veran 2009 (£12.85)
St Veran is one of my go to communes for value white Burgundy and this wine is no exception. Honeydew melon and pink apples on nose and palate. A dash short on acidity but very tasty and lovely almond and cobnut finish. 88 points
Pierre Naigion Hautes cotes des Nuits 2007 (£18.65)
We drunk this when we were doing our Burgundy vs. Oregon tasting (see post). Very good structure and flavour for the price. A hint of brick on the rim and a nose which offers sweet morello cherries and a whiff of smokeyness. Light bodied and the fruit from the nose is there in the mouth, along with that lovely damp forrest floor vibe. Not a wine of great length but certainly one of charm. 89 points
Andeluna Malbec 1300, 2011, Uco Valley, Argentina (£10.75)
Lovely example of Malbec – drink with or without food. Spicy, peppery and velvet smooth. Tannins are forefront but not obtrusive, good acidity and deep black concentrated fruit. Excellent. 90 points
Chateau Langoa Barton 1999, St Julien (£61.85)
My introduction to top quality Bordeaux. Black currant and cassis, I now understand pencil shavings. A bit of greenness, peppers and eucalyptus – lovely nose. Lovely freshness and cassis, with graphite and a slightly herby touch. Fresh, lively, lovely integrated tannins. Lacking a bit of concentration – not quite delivering on the promise but good length and delicious. 93 points
Nicolas Rossignol Aloxe Corton 2010 (£27.25)
We actually visited Nicolas the day after this wine had been bottled and he had already sold out so get your hands on a couple of these quickly! This is a beast! Deep and brooding, concentrated nose. Leather and damp leaves, almost pruney and olive-like; smells very evolved for 2010. In the mouth it’s almost northern Rhone in intensity. Plums, very dark fruit and massive concentration. Unexpected, big, big wine. This is going to be amazing in a couple of years. Was even better the following day (how did it last that long in our house??) 94 points