- A mythical animal typically represented as a horse with a single straight horn projecting from its forehead.
- A start-up company valued at more than a billion dollars, typically in the software or technology sector.
- A rare, almost impossible to find, ‘once in a lifetime’ bottle of wine, likened to the mythical beast due a similar unlikelihood of ever encountering it.
We are excited to announce our next great tasting line up on Thursday, April 26th in Chiswick. Next month’s tasting theme is – in a sense – straightforward: an opportunity to taste a collection of incredibly rare and hard to find wines, often dubbed ‘Unicorns’.
You could take your favourite red-trousered wine merchant for lunch once a week for the rest of your life and still not be given permission to buy some of these bottles. So, in true irreverent The Good Wine Shop fashion we decided to sacrifice eight of these mythical beasts at once on the altar of vinous edification for just 12 honoured guests. The wines hail from a range of terroirs, from blockbuster, household name appellations to ‘I didn’t know they even made that there’ bottlings – all with one thing in common, they are made in homeopathic quantities and are incredibly tightly allocated.
The wines will be accompanied by a selection of cheese and charcuterie and served in beautiful Zalto glassware. Tickets cost £120 per person and seats are limited to 12 people total to ensure there is enough wine to go around. We advise booking early to avoid disappointment as our last tastings have sold out in less than 48 hours!
As some of these wines may be unfamiliar, we have included some information about each Unicorn below to get you salivating…
Michael Wenzel, ‘Garten Eden’ Furmint, Austria, 2016
Furmint is a grape more closely associated with Hungary, and it was nearly wiped out completely in neighbouring Austria before Michael Wenzel’s father – Robert – began bringing vines over the border in the 1980s. Michael now tends 3 of the 10 hectares of Furmint in the country. This very special vineyard is planted using cuttings from vines over 100 years old on a unique red quartz soil, both of which conspire to give this dry Furmint an other-worldly minerality and exoticism.
Chateau Rayas, Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, 2009
Sitting comfortably at the pinnacle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape estates, Chateau Rayas’s wines are almost as well known for the tiny amount of wine they make as for the profundity of their wines. The only thing rarer than Chateau Rayas’s top red wine is their top white. Made from equal parts Clairette and Grenache Blanc, this extraordinary wine walks an astounding tightrope between rich, nutty, broad-textured character on the one side and tense, mineral, freshness on the other.
Valentini, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Italy, 2002
Not all Trebbiano is created equal, the Valentini family single-handedly resurrected the authentic, local version of this variety ‘Trebbiano Abruzzese’ – a process that took 40 years! – in order to stop it being pushed out by the less characterful Tuscan clone. Edoardo Valentini (now deceased) developed this unique white wine in total secrecy, and always rejected modern vinification techniques. Unique among Trebbianos, this wine can age and improve for decades. Almost never seen on the UK market, this mature example (made while Edoardo was still alive) is even rarer still.
Benoit Dehu, Coteaux Champenois Rouge, ‘la Rue des Noyers’, 2011
True terroir Champagne grower Benoit Dehu uses fully organic methods – including horse-drawn plough – and even goes so far as having barrels made from trees surrounding his small 1.7ha vineyard. This Pinot Meunier vineyard gives rise to all his Champagne as well as two still wines, one white and one red. Benoit produces approximately 400 bottles of each of these still wines, making this red wine a micro-cuvee from a micro-producer! Equal in quality to a top red Burgundy, this is something truly surprising.
Giuseppe Rinaldi, Barolo ‘Tre Tine’, Italy, 2012
Giuseppe ‘Beppe’ Rinaldi is known for two things: his caustic and forthright opinions, and his incredibly soulful Barolos. Unlike some producers, the Rinaldis are not interested in acquiring more vineyards, tending their three Barolo ‘crus’ that make up just 3.8 hectares to perfection and producing just 16,000 bottles of Barolo per year. The wines are hauntingly beautiful and the very definition of finesse, this is the quintessential ‘Burgundian’ Barolo.
Cayuse, ‘Cailloux Vineyard’ Syrah, Washington State, USA, 2004
French-born winemaker Christophe Baron found an area of land in Walla Walla that was so closely reminiscent of the terroir in Chateauneuf-du-Pape that he felt inspired there and then to buy it. Since that day he has rapidly risen to become the leading producer in the state. This Cote-Rotie inspired Syrah shows an other-worldy intensity of flavour combined with a profound complexity and perfectly judged texture that so rarely go hand in hand. Now changing hands for several hundred pounds a bottle on release, mature vintages of this wine are normally only found in the cellars of long-standing collectors.
Dunn Vineyards, Howell Mountain Cabernet , Napa, USA, 2004
Uncompromising and outspoken winemaker Randy Dunn has been making wine under his own label since 1979. The unique Howell Mountain appellation sits at a higher altitude than most parts of Napa, making it both cooler and above the fog line – factors that produce a unique combination of slow, complete ripening and firm tannic structure. Dunn’s are probably the most elegant and complex wines in the whole of Napa, the over-extraction and over-oaking so common in the region are nowhere to be seen here.
Chateau d’Arlay, Vin Jaune, Jura, France, 1990
Chateau d’Arlay is the oldest wine-growing Chateau in France with records showing it was making wine in 1070! Vin Jaune is a specialty of the Jura region, and must age in barrel for 6 years and 3 months to develop its controlled oxidative character. To fully appreciate this unique style, however, the wine must age in bottle for a prolonged period. It is very rare to find Vin Jaune with bottle age on the UK market, and this impeccably aged bottle direct from the Chateau is now nearly 30 years old.