Producer Profile

BYO Podcast – Episode Three: South Africa

24 November 2017 by Alex

BYO Ep3 Img1

Episode three of our monthly podcast focuses on the ‘New Wave’ wines of South Africa. For the uninitiated, ‘Bring Your Own’ is a podcast and video web series (in conjunction with Bottled Films) about wine and the people who make it, made by the people who drink it. Each episode has a theme centred around a wine region or style, and takes the form of a free-flowing, informal, and educational conversation.

This episode we were really lucky to be hosted at Terroirs Wine Bar in Central London for the filming of this episode. Around the corner from Trafalgar Square, Terroirs is a must visit in London for any winelover. You can find them online at www.terroirswinebar.com.

Joining our own inimitable Derek Morrison this episode are Hannes Storm of Storm Wines (@stormwinessa https://www.stormwines.co.za/), writer/wine judge Treve Ring (@treve_ring http://treve.ca/), and Craig Wessels of Restless River Wines (@restlessriverRR www.restlessriver.com).

The wines tasted in this episode are:

Restless River “Ava Marie” Chardonnay 2015
Storm Wines “Moya’s” Pinot Noir 2014
Alheit “Radio Lazarus” Chenin Blanc 2012
Craven Wines Pinot Gris 2015
Keermont Vineyards Syrah 2014
Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2013
(Click the links to find similar wines in stock with us)

Please click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and make sure you catch all future episodes, and consider rating and reviewing it if you like it!

Enjoy, follow and subscribe on social media @BYOPodcast. You can now support the project through our new Patreon page, https://www.patreon.com/bringyourown

A Visit to Cantina Terlan in Trentino-Alto Adige

25 October 2017 by Hara Mavrommati

Winery Sign

Two weeks ago I had the chance to visit the region of Trentino-Alto Adige as a guest of the only winery in the Terlano village, Cantina Terlano. As soon as we landed in Verona, an assigned driver was expecting a group of Londoners to bring them up to the Dolomites. One hour and a half drive and the old Sud-Tirolese started narrating the history of this region, the reasons that led to the unification with Italy and not Austria. Quite fascinated by his knowledge, I could tell that his fluent Italian was strongly influenced by the German language, or the local ‘Ladino’. He was the perfect tourist guide, as quite often he would stop to explain the history of the castles we were leaving behind and how the Adige River finds its way to the Adriatic Sea.

Cellar PicUpon arrival Martina from Cantina Terlano was waiting for us for a big lunch with the Terlano wines flowing, and soon after we found ourselves walking towards the winery which is situated literally in the middle of the village. We were surrounded by apple orchards and vineyards, all perfectly pruned and looked after. The harvest was almost reaching its end, but the cellar was still very busy. Once we entered the Terlano offices, the smell of the ferments was immediately noticeable and it was then that Klaus Gasser, the Sales & Marketing Director came to greet us, leaving Philipp his assistant to show us around and promising he would be our guide tomorrow in the vineyards.

Old and rare bottles

Old and rare bottles

The winery is simple in style, well structured, and in-keeping with the village’s architecture. Even during this hectic harvest period, it was meticulously tidy. Soon I found myself surrounded by hoses, tanks and barrels and finally on my way down to the room where 100.000 bottles are kept as a library that date back to the 1955 vintage (some bottles are even older). A tasting was set up for the whole group at the winery’s big tasting room, from the huge window of which one can only see Terlano’s famed Neuhaus castle (Nova Domus), which is also depicted on the winery’s logo.

The tasting started with the core range of Cantina Andrian and Terlano (including the fantastic Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio), side by side, moved to the Selection wines, such as Terlaner Classico, Vorberg, Quarz, and Porphyr and finished with the exceptionally rare Rarita’ 1991 (100% Pinot Bianco aged on lees for 25 years) and the Terlaner I Grand Cuvee, a blend of Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc, which expresses the pure soul and longevity of Terlano’s wines. The grapes of the latter are sourced from the historical vineyards of Vorberg, Kreuth and Winkl.

Traditional pergola-trained vines

Traditional pergola-trained vines

Our visit to Terlano didn’t finish there, as a dinner was prepared later in the evening, in one of the region’s 23 Michelin starred restaurants. There the local cuisine (speck, canederli, wild boar, pasta) meets the most contemporary gastronomic techniques. And as our first day in Alto Adige finished with the sip of coffee and grappa, the next day started with the whole group wandering and hiking up in the famous vineyards, until we reached the steepest ones at an altitude of 900m. The view from there was utterly stunning and the morning chill and fresh air of the Dolomites reinvigorating, although not advised for ‘vertigo’ sufferers. Beautiful Guyot shaped vines of Pinot Bianco sat next to the old, traditional pergola-trained vines, which have grown here for thousands of years on a red, subvolcanic, quartz soil and complete the scenery of the Terlano area.

Descending from the highest vineyards, we were taken for a visit to Bolzano (Bozen for the locals), the capital of Alto Adige and later in the evening we were back again on the road to Verona, for our return to London. Cantina Terlano offered us this trip to their home and we came back full of knowledge, respect for the growers’ hard work and appreciation for this unique terroir and product.

Producer Profile: the Champagnes of Marie Courtin

30 June 2017 by Alex

This month as part of our Grower Champagne Month celebrations, we were lucky enough to taste the full range of Marie Courtin Champagnes. This small Champagne producer is owned and run by Dominique Moreau, granddaughter of Marie Courtin who tended the vines herself when the men in the family were fighting in World War I, while many other families abandoned their vines altogether.

Dominique farms a tiny 2.5ha in the village of Polisot in the Cotes des Bar region of Champagne. After many years of being somewhat overlooked, these southerly terroirs (Polisot is closer to Chablis than to Reims, for example) are home to some of the most exciting Champagne growers of all. The Marie Courtin vineyards are planted almost entirely to Pinot Noir, with a miniscule 0.5ha of Chardonnay. The vines are farmed according to fully organic and biodynamic principles, an approach which – although on the rise – is still very rare in the region. The philosophy here has always been ‘one grape variety, one vineyard, one vintage’, in stark contrast to the emphasis placed on blending by the vast majority of producers in the region. The yields are kept very low in order to ensure perfectly ripe fruit and Dominque adds no sugar at bottling – all the Champagnes are Extra Brut.

These wines have a pure and uniquely vibrant character which has to be tasted to be truly understood and bear little relation to the mass-produced, heavily worked Champagnes one often encounters.

Marie Courtin Bottles

Resonance

From a vineyard with younger vines, this Pinot Noir is full of sweet spice character and bruised apples. The tension between generous texture, laser-like acidity, and stoney minerality creates an extremely moreish yet cerebral Champagne.

Eloquence

100% Chardonnay from Dominique’s tiny parcel. This shows more delicate structure than the Pinot-based wines, and some slightly more exotic notes of ginger. Driven by ripe green apples and citrus fruit, there is a refreshing, chalky texture here.

Efflorescence

Efflorescence is in many ways the flagship cuvee here. This is made from Pinot Noir vines that are around 40 years of age. Smoky and intensely flavoured, Efflorescence shows an intense red fruit character that is reinforced by the fuller body of the wine. The breadth of flavours and aromas here is impressive.

Concordance

Concordance is made from a special selection of grapes from the same vineyard as Efflorescence, and uses no additions of Sulphur at any point in the winemaking process. There is a real ethereal quality here, which is somehow more intense aromatically than the Efflorescence but also more elegantly structured on the palate. The same could be said about all the Champagnes from this address, but Concordance really feels like a living, breathing organism, changing slightly with every sip!

Meet the Godfather of Grower Champagne: Selossian Soirée at Chiswick

15 June 2017 by Alex
Oops... wrong Godfather!

Oops… wrong Godfather!

The Godfather of Grower Champagne, Anselme Selosse

The Godfather of Grower Champagne, Anselme Selosse

The wines of Domaine Jacques Selosse are rightfully considered among the most iconic wines in the world, but his great legacy of mentoring other growers and winemakers may be more profound than his own bottles.  What better excuse than  Grower Champagne Month to celebrate all of these great wines in one epic tasting?

Anselme Selosse currently runs Domaine Jacques Selosse.  He is often referred to as the Godfather of Grower Champagne and has been making his own wines from his own vineyards since 1980. As a reaction to the established order of Champagne grape pricing – a system which is based exclusively on village classification rather than being a reflection of the quality of individual vineyards and vignerons – Anselme has long been a proponent of growers making their own Champagnes.

Over the years he has been instrumental in nurturing, mentoring, and inspiring the current generation of young growers, often even lending them space in his own cellar to make their first vintages.  His starred pupils like Jerome Prevost and Ulysse Collin have been sat at the core of this “Grower Revolution” in Champagne, and their wines now sit at comparable levels of prestige and rarity. Even the most discerning Champagne lover would be satisfied with any one of these bottles in their cellar, but in our typically indulgent fashion we decided to open them all for one epic tasting of rare and iconic Champagnes.

It is such a rare opportunity to taste these wines together that I have no doubt this will be one of London’s most memorable tastings in 2017.

On Thursday the 15th of June from 6:30pm to 9pm, we will be hosting just such an event in the Chiswick store. We are also very lucky to have a special guest on hand to help lead us through this epic selection.  Local Champagne expert Peter Crawford (aka @alavolee) will be presenting the incredible wines on the evening, and one quick glance at his social media pages or website will clearly demonstrate how lucky we are to have him in attendance to justly represent these amazing bottles:

Voutte & Sorbée ‘Blanc d’Argile’
Ulysse Collin  ‘Les Perrieres’
Ulysse Collin ‘Les Maillons’
Chartogne-Taillet ‘Beaux Sens’
Jerome Prévost ‘La Closerie Les Beguines’
Jerome Prévost ‘La Closerie Fac-Simile’ Rosé
Michel Fallon ‘Ozanne’ Grand Cru
Jacques Selosse ‘Les Carelles’ Grand Cru – Lieu Dit

The wines will, as always for these events, be accompanied by a selection of cheese and charcuterie and served in beautiful Zalto glassware. Tickets for this special event are £125 per person with seats limited to 12 people total to ensure there is enough wine to go around. We advise booking early to avoid disappointment as this tasting is already nearly fully booked!

RSVP via phone on 0208 994 8184 or email chiswick@thegoodwineshop.co.uk to get your tickets.

Introducing Rotie Cellars – Fine Rhone-Inspired Wines from Washington State

12 May 2017 by Alex

Rotie Cellars Line-upWinemaker Sean Boyd of Rotie Cellars set out in 2007 to make the best possible wines from Rhone varieties in Washington State. ourcing fruit from his base in Walla Walla as well as the Rocks district, his mission statement is encapsulated in his ‘Old World Wines from New World Vines’ tag line. The aim is to make the wines with moderate alcohol and ripeness levels and to pay homage to his favourite Rhone valley wines. We found these wines to be a breath of fresh air in a world of North American wines dominated by California, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. In fact, we liked them so much that we decided to import them directly and become their sole representative in the UK.

Bottle-SouthernThe Southern Blend is inspired by the likes of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and contains a majority of Grenache alongside varying proportions of Syrah and Mourvedre. This is a bright, raspberry scented wine with hints of peppery spice and leather achieving a great balance between power and elegance.

The Northern Blend is a ‘savoury companion’ to the Southern, based on Syrah co-fermented with around 5% Viognier. The bold blackberry fruit and black pepper from the Syrah are enlivened by the aromatic florality of the Viognier giving way to a generous, silky texture.

To celebrate the arrival of these beauties, we will be pouring the Southern Blend and Northern Blend for free in store on Wednesday the 17th of May 2017 from 5pm to 9pm in Chiswick, and on Thursday 18th of May 2017 in Kew. There may even be a couple of surprises to taste in the form of some limited edition single varietal bottlings!

Rotie Cellars Vineyard

Producer Profile – Fabio Motta

1 November 2016 by Alex
Fabio Motta

Young winemaker Fabio Motta

After studying agriculture, Fabio Motta went to work at the Michele Satta winery in the beautiful Tuscan coastal area of Bolgheri. After working here for five years and marrying Michele’s daughter, Fabio acquired 4 hectares of his own vineyards. Planted to Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, these vineyards are now nearly 20 years old. Fabio believes that ‘a good wine grower lives and works close to the earth, humbly’, his role is as a facilitator, allowing the land, the weather, and the grapes to shape the wines. In an area like Bolgheri with its large, aristocratic estates, this approach is as refreshing as it is unusual.

Fabio Motta’s range includes two excellent ‘Super Tuscan’ reds, ‘Le Gonnare’ and ‘Pievi’:

Fabio Motta, ‘Le Gonnare’, Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy, 2013

Gonnare Bottle ShotThe clay rich soils of Fabio’s vineyards are particularly suited to Merlot. All grapes are destemmed before being fermented with wild yeasts. The wine then ages for 18 months in French barriques, one third of which are new. The wine ages for a further one year in bottle before release. This full and gutsy red incorporates 15% Syrah alongside the Merlot and shows enticing spicy, herby complexity with plenty of well-rounded tannin. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has recently awarded 96 points to this vintage of Le Gonnare – second only to Tenuta dell’Ornellaia’s Masseto (which carries a three-figure price tag!): “This is the first Bolgheri Superiore ever produced by young talent Fabio Motta. He used 85% Merlot and 15% Syrah to make his 2013 Bolgheri Superiore Le Gonnare. In terms of an inaugural wine, this red blend hits all the high marks. This is a delicious rendition that showcases the soft and elegant side of Merlot with the sassy spice and savory notes of Syrah at the back. Pretty mineral etchings give the wine definition and focus. The combination is beautiful. Only 3,500 bottles of this biodynamic wine are produced. Congratulations” – Monica Larner, the Wine Advocate, October 2016.

Fabio Motta, ‘Pievi’, Bolgheri Rosso IGT, Tuscany, Italy, 2013

FMotta PieviA blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Sangiovese. Fermentation of each variety is done separately with only natural yeast in 33 hl. oak barrels. The cap is pushed down manually twice a day and delestage is used to let the must breathe. Fermentation takes two weeks for each variety, after which time the wine is blended. Malolactic fermentation takes place in second and third year barriques. The wine is aged in barriques of the same age for 12 months before bottling without fining or filtration. Notes of fresh red fruits, interwoven with balsamic notes and a rich minerality. The tannins are ripe and silky and the balance between alcohol and acidity creates a fresh and fragrant mouth feel.

Make sure you try Fabio’s wines this winter, Le Gonnare in particular is bound to be even more sought after having received such critical acclaim!

The new wave Aussies

30 September 2016 by Richard

Ten years ago all Australian wine was going in the same direction, right? They were big, brash fruit bombs that were particularly appealing to a few well known critics? Well actually, no, not really. They had started to make wines closer in style to the cooler, classic French regions, such as Burgundy. That is to say, in short, with more freshness and less oak.

Even more recently, a new generation has emerged and turned its back on conventional methods of winemaking. It has taken inspiration from the natural wine movement and minimised chemical additions, in particular sulphur dioxide. These new wave wines are typically fermented without added yeast, unlikely to have acid or tannin added, nor is it exposed to new oak. Successfully made they are like inhaling a big mouthful of fresh, mountain air – vibrant, fruit-driven, and textural and reflecting their terroir.

So, is this counter culture wine-maker a hirsute hipster wearing a Nick Cave tee and Hunter gumbies (wellies in Blighty)? A sort of Shoreditch meets Seppeltsfield (a Barossa Valley sub-region), right? No, not always, but the wild approach to looks and the hip wardrobe is reflected in their highly creative, eye-catching labels.

1st Drop Wines

1st Drop Wines

Take Matt & John’s First Drop wines as a starting point. At their ‘Home of the Brave’ winery in the Barossa , they use the absolute minimum amounts of sulphur and age in large old oak, resulting in bright, elegant styles of wines that are very smashable. Added to the mix are those imaginative labels, which reveal that they have been having just a tinnie-winnie bit too much fun!

Then there is Deliquente Wines, whose strap line is “drink like a delinquent”. Don’t stop reading here as Greg of DLQ makes small batches from unusual grapes in the most unlikely of regions, Australia’s Riverland, the engine room of the bulk wine industry there. He befriends the less popular, immigrant kids in this vast playground and transforms them into something super-cool. His Screaming Betty Vermentino, a grape of Sardinian origin, has just 11.8% alcohol, zesty pink grapefruit freshness and is far more sassy than a savvy (Sauvignon Blanc).Screaming Betty

Australia is reinventing itself and on the crest of a beautiful new wave – only they are riding it more naturally and stylishly than before and wearing beards this time.

Champagne Producer Focus

5 September 2016 by Alex

New Champagnes Cropped

 

 

 

 

 

You may have noticed that we are a little bit enthusiastic about grower Champagne here at The Good Wine Shop. Our Grower Champagne Month saw us celebrate our 25+ new grower Champagne listings with two tasting events that were attended by more than 100 people. As the summer draws to a close, we thought the time was right to provide a bit more in depth information on three of our favourite growers. Imported directly from the producers to The Good Wine Shop, these are some of the best value wines in an already great value category.

Hubert Paulet

olivier-paulet

Olivier Paulet

Based in the premier cru village of Rilly-la-Montagne in the Montagne de Reims, Champagne Hubert Paulet is run by Olivier Paulet. The fourth generation of the family, Olivier took over the estate in 1998 at the age of 25. While not fully organic (the harsh, damp climate of Champagne makes organic viticulture a challenge), Paulet uses a ‘reasoned fight’ approach to viticulture alongside some organic preparations for his 8 hectares of vines. He only uses Copper and Sulphur spraying when disease pressure is high and uses no insecticides or herbicides, preferring to use shallow ploughing and allowing grass to grow in between the vines in order to maintain soil health and keep yields low. Different grape varieties are planted on the soil that most suits them: Pinot Noir on soils with higher clay content, Chardonnay on chalky soils, and Pinot Meunier on sandier soils. The grapes are hand harvested and fermented in neutral tanks and lees ageing ranges from 28 to 72 months depending on the wine. ‘Dosage’ (the final addition of sugar before bottling) varies too, but is kept low, at a maximum of 9 grams per litre. Olivier produces only 2000 cases per year, and Champagne Hubert Paulet is exclusive to The Good Wine Shop in the UK.

The Wines:

Extra Brut Tradition
Brut Millésime
Brut Millésime Rosé
Cuvee Riselus

Varnier-Fanniere

DenisVF1

Denis Varnier

Denis Varnier has been at the helm of Champagne Varnier-Fanniere since 1989 and is the third generation at the estate, although the Fanniere family were growing grapes in Champagne as far back as 1860 before deciding to produce their own wines in 1947. Varnier-Fanniere’s 4 hectares are all classed as Grand Cru and are situated in the Cote de Blancs villages of Avize, Oger, and Cramant. One of the unique characteristics of this domaine is the high average vine age – 45 years – with some parcels (for example the holdings in the Clos de Grand Pere which are the source of the Cuvée St Denis) being over 70 years old. Chardonnay excels on the chalky soils here and the wines are made almost exclusively from this grape (with the exception of the rosé that requires a contribution from Pinot Noir). The base wines undergo full malolactic fermentation – a process that softens the texture and acidity of the Champagnes – and the final product is bottled at a slightly lower pressure than most fizz, supporting this generous character.

The wines:

Brut Rosé
Cuvée St Denis
Cuvée Jean Fanniere Origine

Michel Arnould

MArnould1JPG

The Arnould Family

Michel Arnould’s grandfather-in-law Henri Lefevre began making his own Champagne in 1929, and this domaine was founded in when Michel married into the family in the early 1960s. Currently carrying on the family tradition in the Grand Cru of Verzenay are Michel’s son Patrick and his son-in-law Thierry. The 12 hectares of vines farmed here are planted 80% to Pinot Noir and 20% to Chardonnay, with an average vine age of 32 years and some vines dating back to 1950. Ploughing and grassing are also used here in order to encourage low yields and promote vine health. The winery contains more than 30 steel fermentation vats of different sizes to allow each parcel of wine to be vinified separately before blending. Around 8,500 cases were made in 2014.

The wines:

Brut Tradition NV
Le Grande Cuvée NV

Elemental Bob – a South African Gem

18 August 2016 by Alex
A picture of winemaker Craig Sheard

Craig aka Elemental Bob

The wines of Elemental Bob are made by a man named – you guessed it – Craig. These carefully made South African wines are making a bit of a name for themselves among sommeliers and in the best wine bars. Winemaker Craig Sheard studied agriculture in school and college and originally worked on farms. This led his brother to give him the nickname ‘Farmer Bob’. Craig later studied winemaking and began working as a winemaker on larger estates before founding his own side project in 2004. Wine is made as much by the elements as by man and this gave rise to the name Elemental Bob.

A picture of the Elemental Bob winery with decorative gargoyle

Craig’s barrels, overlooked by gargoyles

Craig rents space in a small corner (overlooked by decorative gargoyles) of a winery in Somerset West about 30 minutes outside of Cape Town where I was lucky enough to visit him in May of 2016. Here he vinifies the best parcels of fruit he can lay his hands on from wherever he can get hold of it, relying on tip offs from various friends and local winemakers as to what interesting grapes are available. A true one man band, Craig drives the truck to collect the fruit himself and brings it back to the winery. The wines are made with minimal intervention using wild yeasts and only the lightest filtration. A small amount of sulphur is added to prevent spoilage. Until the 2015 vintage all the wines from the Elemental Bob stable were literal ‘one-offs’ with production of between one and three barrels – too small to think of exporting. In 2014 Craig began to pursue the Elemental Bob project full time and now has sufficient access to fruit to make the core range of two wines currently available, although in 2015 only 17 barrels of white and 10 barrels of red were made.

elemental-bob-whiteThe Elemental Bob My Cosmic Hand White Blend changes proportions depending on the conditions of the vintage and the grapes available. It is blended by ‘feel’ rather than laboratory analysis: Craig sees the different parcels of different grape varieties as ‘colours’ and blends them until the wine matches the vision he has in his mind’s eye. In 2015, the blend is 34% Viognier (from Durbanville and Elgin), 29% Chenin Blanc (Durbanville and Swartland), 20% Verdelho (Bot River) and 17% Semillon (Upper Hemel en Aarde Valley). 60% whole bunches are included and some parcels of grapes undergo around 7 days skin contact. This is a wine of great complexity showing citrus, orchard, and stone fruits with subtle, pleasant vegetal character and smokiness. There is a wonderful balance to the elegant and saline palate that has some weight but no heaviness and gives plenty of refreshment.

elemental-bob-pinot-noirThe My Cosmic Hand Pinot Noir is a blend of two parcels grapes (60% is from the Hemel en Aarde Ridge, with the remainder coming from Overberg) and is made with 40% whole bunches, giving a pleasant savoury character that is often missing from many ‘New World’ Pinots while still being full of enticing ripe fruit. As with the white blend, this is aged for 10 months in old French oak barrels and made with minimal intervention. There is real complexity here alongside plain and simple deliciousness and drinkability, a rare combination at this modest price point.

A closer look at the label reveals that these two wines carry the moniker ‘Crystal Edition’ and we noticed that some of Craig’s barrels had various crystals strategically placed around them. One of our group curiously asked him ‘are they decorative or functional?’ to which Craig replied – with an enigmatic smile – ‘definitely functional’. Perhaps this IMG_7207goes some way towards explaining the uniqueness of these brilliant wines.

Much is made in the wine world of ‘small production’ wines, but in there is no hyperbole here: our stock of these wines is sadly extremely limited. Contact the Chiswick or Kew stores to secure your bottles.

Find out more about Elemental Bob, or follow Craig on twitter @Elemental_Bob

Click here to view the rest of range of South African wines.

Real Wine Month

3 March 2016 by Johannes

Real Wine Month (April 2016) is a movement championing wines made organically, biodynamically and naturally; somewhat like the campaign for real ale (CAMRA), but for wine. We invite you to join the celebrations…

These “low intervention” ways of production can result in some of the most interesting wines on the market. It’s important to say at the outset that none of these approaches guarantee the quality of a wine, but the guiding philosophies focus primarily on sustainable viticulture and the absence of chemicals and pesticides. The belief is that by minimizing human intervention in the cellar and ensuring environmental harmony in the vineyards, the wines will be healthier and best express the true voice of the terroir.

Natural wine makers in a vineyardAs a fairly difficult category to define, many of these wines and wineries subscribe to different environmental certifications, and sometimes none officially at all.  They are all slightly different approaches and are not mutually exclusive (in fact biodynamic wines are a slightly more extreme example of organic viticulture and natural wines even more so). Broadly speaking, organic wines are made with limited man made substances (known as agrochemicals in the trade) used in both viticulture (growing the grapes) and vinification (turning the grapes into wine). Biodynamic wines are the same, but made according to Rudolf Steiner’s biodynamic agriculture rules. Many of the rules are based on astrology and spiritual and mystical ideology, drawing some scepticism from non-subscribers across the industry. Whatever one’s opinion on the philosophy behind it, some of the best wines in the world are made following these practises.

Horse in Cecchin vineyardNatural wine is made with as little intervention as possible. It tends to be grown organically or biodynamically in the vineyard, and then in the winery is where the decisions to make a natural wine define it. Therefore, the yeast to start fermentation must come from the vineyard rather than using commercially available inoculated yeast; there are very few allowed additives and almost no sulphur dioxide is allowed. Those who are sensitive to sulphites ­­tend to choose natural wines for this very reason. As a result, a lot of the wines gain many interesting and unique flavours; on the flip side of this, the incidence of faults is much higher as few preservatives, if any, added to the wine. Sometimes, they can look and taste so unlike conventionally produced wines that the average consumer should carefully consider all potential styles when beginning their foray into the realm of these wines.

At The Good Wine Shop, we have a good range of organic, biodynamic and natural wines. When well made, they account for some of the most diverse, iconic and interesting wines in the world. The premier estates of  Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Domaine Leroy, and Domaine Leflaive of Burgundy, as well as Chateau de Beaucastel from Chateauneuf du Pape, are a few examples of iconic wineries all following biodynamics. We also have some great “low intervention” everyday wines – such as customer favourites Ciu Ciu and Campo Flores.

To celebrate Real wine Month we’ll be bringing in a selection of low intervention wines which we’ve tasted recently and loved. These will be open to try in all out shops on the weekends of Saturday 9 & Sunday 10 April and also Saturday 23 & Sunday 24 April.

A photo of four bottles of Ganevat wine from JuraAlready arrived and on the shelves are the wines of Jura legend Jean Francois Ganevat. He’s been producing very special wines since 1998 at his tiny winery in Jura after making wines in Burgundy. No sulphur is added at all to the reds and tiny amounts in the whites; in spite of this, the wines develop in bottle for years and are much sought after. We are lucky to be able to showcase five of his Cuvées in the shop. My favourite is the slightly mad red blend “J’En Veux Encore” (I want more) which mixes 18 different red and white varietals. This wine is made in extremely small quantities, and lovingly hand de-stemmed and all co-fermented. All of his wines are fascinating in different ways, but every one is a treat!

The centrepiece of Real Wine Month is the Real Wine Fair which takes place in east London on Sunday 17 April (and April 18 for the wine press and trade folks). Over 150 growers and winemakers will be pouring and presenting their wines. In addition to the extensive range of wines, The Fair will also feature an array of artisan food producers, an on-site shop and a series of seminars and masterclasses on themes surrounding natural wine. Entry costs £20. However, we have three pairs of tickets to give away – one pair for each shop. To win these all you need to do is buy any organic, biodynamic or natural wine between Monday 13 March and Wednesday 13 April. Our staff will take your details, all the names will go in a hat…and we’ll let you know on Thursday 14 April if you’ve won. Good luck and good drinking!

Vineyard images courtesy of Real Wine Month