We searched the world, for wine
New wines have been arriving at quite a pace at Burrows Lightbourn.
This week we will stop in Australia, Chile and France and introduce you to grape varieties that are a little off the beaten path.
Edward Tyrrell left England in 1858 and settled in Australia’s Hunter Valley, where he bought land and planted shiraz and semillon. This family has a reputation for making very fine white wines from semillon grapes and 2019 Tyrrell’s Hunter Valley Semillon is one of them. I am intrigued by the fact that its alcohol content is a quite low — 10.6 per cent — but this does not lessen its honey apple aroma, citrus and a touch of tarragon with nutty nuances. I am not sure what one critic, Dwight Furrow, means exactly when he writes: “Spirited and eccentric but acerbic, ingratiating but then scornful, it persistently goads with little insults, like listening to Bob Dylan’s I Want You.” He obviously feels that it is a fine wine as he rates it a 92/100. $36 (Stock #9207). I would serve with chicken, fish and even salads.
The 2015 Tyrrell’s HVD Hunter Valley Semillon intrigues me in another way as my first instinct would be to question its age, which of course is equivalent to the 2014 vintage in the Northern Hemisphere. Quite old for a white. I am reassured when I read, “These old vines, planted in 1908 on the site of the old Hunter Valley distillery, produce luxurious semillon with a richness and softness that is unique to the site. It is a wine that ages superbly out to 15 or 20 years from vintage but is equally easy to enjoy as a younger wine.” Writer James Halliday rates it 94/100 and suggests that it be enjoyed up to 2025. $55 (Stock #9209).
Sounding a bit like our Bermuda history, Ghost Corner Winery takes its name from the fact that this southernmost tip of South Africa is a place where well over 100 ships have sunk in the nearby treacherous waters. Its 2019 Ghost Corners Vineyards Semillon is aromatic as it displays green fig, white fruit and nettles that are characteristic of this cool climate. It shows a distinct minerality, and a hint of smokiness from the French oak that is used. The winery suggests having it with yellowtail, scallops or lightly smoked meats and rich pork dishes. $35.50 (Stock #7125).
Wine & Spirits is one of the most prestigious wine magazines. Each year it chooses the most outstanding wineries in the world, determined by the performance of their wines in the blind tastings it carries out during the year. In 2021 it chose Viña Bouchon in Chile to be among the Top 100 best wineries in the world.
In the select group of the most outstanding wineries worldwide, there were only four wineries from South America and three of them were from Chile. In 2020 Bouchon obtained the sustainability certification given by Vinos de Chile and they are progressing towards being totally organic. Among the very special wines that we have from them is 2020 Bouchon Skin Semillon. I will quote their winemaker: “Skin is a wine with character, a lot of character. The wine was fermented and then aged for 12 months, with its skins, in a 700-litre clay amphora which provided micro-oxygenation and complexity. I use native yeasts, without additives, without clarification and without filtering”. $35 (Stock #6216).
Off to the Rhône Valley in France and to the wines of Michel Chapoutier, who I believe is the largest biodynamic producer in this country. His 2020 Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Marsanne epitomises the authentic character of the marsanne grape when grown in Crozes-Hermitage. The nose is full of quince, peony and roasted almonds. Enjoy with fish, shellfish and salads. Perfect with mild creamy cheese and mature strong cheeses. Also pairs nicely with Oriental and spicy dishes and ideal with a seafood platter.
The Wine Spectator rates it 91 points and comments: “Ripe, displaying a juicy mix of clearly defined lemon gelée, white nectarine and honeysuckle notes that have good energy right from the start, with bold quince and meringue accents on the finish. Drink now through 2025.” Also with a 91 score, James Suckling observes: “Very creamy, with plenty of candied-lemon and orange character and touches of hay, this is a rather full-bodied and textural white Rhone. Interesting toasty nuances at the supple finish. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold.” $38 (Stock #9418).
Viognier (vee-ohn-yea) is always on my favourite grapes list and at $24.55 I find very good value in 2020 Chapoutier Domaine des Granges de Mirabel Viognier. The colour is quite deep greenish-yellow and there are fine aromas of apricot, pear and marmalade. Grapes were harvested in the early morning to preserve these aromas. Fermentation was done with indigenous yeasts and, in keeping with strict biodynamic practices, bottling was carried out on a “fruit day” to preserve all its aromatic potential. (Stock #9454).
I will wrap this up with a “biggie” in the form of 2018 Chapoutier Hermitage Blanc Chante-Alouette. This is brilliant and golden green. The nose is complex and subtle with aromas of quince, walnut, honey, ginger and acacia with a hint of lime blossom. A powerful wine with a distinct finish of almond. Very elegant with good length. Pairs well with lobster, fish, foie gras, blue cheeses and spicy dishes with curry. Parker’s Wine Advocate feels this way: “The 2018 Hermitage Chante-Alouette is ripe and custardy in feel, with plenty of richness that's balanced by ample freshness. Hints of citrus, melon and white peach mingle easily on the nose and palate, offering a lovely introduction to white hermitage. 95/100.”
At 94 points Jeb Dunnuck tells us: “The 2018 Hermitage Chante-Alouette Blanc just about always delivers incredible quality, and it sells for a fraction of the single vineyard releases. Classic hermitage notes of buttered citrus, honeysuckle, acacia flowers and spice all flow from this richer, beautifully textured, balanced hermitage that has enough density and depth to keep for 10 to 15 years or more. It's well worth seeking out and I'd be happy with a case in the cellar.” $74 (Stock #9441).
• This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm