Tuesday, 1 August 2006

Umbrella's merchants are far from a shower - by Simon Woods

Published: August 2006 in Wine & Spirit Magazine

Type ASDW into Google , and when you've filtered out the pagesof the All Seasons Door & Window Company, you'll find yourself on the site ofthe Association of Small Direct Wine-Merchants -www.asdw.org.uk.

The ASDW is an umbrella organisation for around 20 companies who sell wine
either through mail order or the internet and in quantities that can loosely be
classed as "small" - so no, the Wine Society and Laithwaites are not members.

The group recently held its first press and trade tasting with a dozen or so companies showing off their wares. Though variable, the qualitywas generally high, and four companies stood out from the crowd.

The first was Nick Dobson Wines, a specialist in wines from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France. Two lovely reds are Bernard Santé's Moulin-à-Vent 2005, a vibrant young red with notes of raspberries, blackcurrants and violets, and Erich Sattler's 2003 Reserve Zweigelt
with its punchy blackcurrant pastille fruit and toasty finish.

Then there's Italian specialist Amordovino. The 2004 Vivallis Traminer Aromatico is a peachy, rose-scented white in a rich but never over-bearing style, while the 2001 Urciuolo Taurasi is a buxom, earthy red packed with brooding southern fruit.

The final two companies specialise in southern French wines: :Leon Stolarski and The Big Red Wine Company.

Stars from Stolarski were the 2004 Les Vignes del'Arque, Vin de Pays Duches d'Uzès, a sappy young red with spicy bramble fruit, and the more profound 2003 Neffiez Cuvée Balthazar, Côteaux du Languedoc, a Syrah-based heavyweight with wonderfully herb-strewn, orange peel, cherry and blackcurrant flavours. Highlights from the latter were Domaine de Cristia's Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc (now 2007 vintage), all honeysuckle, pineapple and peach with a tangy finish, and Domaine des Sept Chemins'Crozes-Hermitage 2003 Rouge with its hints of roasting meats, ginger, plums and berries.