Highlights from the last month’s worth of recycling
I love Syrah. Two consecutive nights yielded two extraordinarily different wines. The first was my inaugural taste of Piedrasassi, a Santa Barbara producer focusing on cool-climate Syrah. It’s a collaboration between the talented (and I assume incredibly busy from all the pies he has fingers in) Sashi Moorman and Melissa Sorongon. I’m keen to try more after tasting their entry-level PS Syrah – a touch of brett (which wasn’t to everyone’s taste) added interest to the juicy fruit. The next night I rustled through my wine rack and dug out a bottle of 2010 Tildé, St Joseph from Pierre Jean Villa – offering intensely ripe fruit but enough acidity and spicy, meaty notes to be deliciously quaffable.
I don’t drink much Burgundy (I don’t have the money), but this month someone shared some superb bottles with me. The highlight – the bottle that made me wish I could afford the stuff – was a 2005 Pommard, Rugiens, 1er Cru from JM Boillot. Enchanting, complex, structured and silky – it was extraordinarily good. My budget, meanwhile, was limited to a totally different face of Pinot: intensely smokey, much simpler yet superb Toreye Spätburgunder from Eymann. A bottle of rather aged yet fascinating Premier Cru Chablis – 2003 Les Lys from Daniel-Etienne Defaix – also fell into my hands this month (ok, I ordered it at the ever-excellent 10 Greek Street). It’s at the end of its life but going down in a delicious dance of honeyed, rich, almost exotic fruit, minerality and smoke.
There should always be Champagne
I moved house and the main priority – on a sweltering day – was to ensure that we had cold Champagne to enjoy once we had sweated all our boxes up two flights of stairs. The Champagne in question wasn’t really Champagne – it was serious, serious wine: Larmandier-Bernier’s 2008 Vieille Vigne du Levant, intense, saline and mineral – an almost Manzanilla-like power. Just the ticket with takeout pizza.
Yeah, California does great Pinot, Chardonnay and Cabernet – but it’s also full of people working with funky grapes, putting them on the map. Napa-based Matthiasson’s 2014 Ribollia Gialla is one of those rare really good orange wines. Two weeks on skins, 20 months in barrel produces a rich, concentrated, oxidative yet tropical, mineral yet fruity maverick of a wine. Just enough tannin to make it an incredible food wine. I should have decanted it, as it was even better and more expressive the second night. Its maker, Steve Matthiasson, is a viticultural king in California – a consultant for more vineyards than I can name, and a real pioneer. He is just one of the many people revolutionising farming in California (and, as it happens, you can read more on that theme here).