The third ASDW press and trade tasting (followed by a rather hectic public session during the evening) got off to a good start with two very influential critics taking their time and taking us all seriously. I consciously included some of the less obvious wines this time. The most popular included Xavier Vignon's Champagne and "Blanc" (next time I'll have the Rouge, then no other wine will get a look in!), Domaine des Anges' "L'Archange" wines, Domaine des Côteaux des Travers' Rasteau "Prestige" (a personal favourite: lovely spiciness coupled with good red fruits and a nice veneer of oak), La Bastide Blanche's Bandol "Cuvée Estagnol" (still a tannic brute but the fruit is beginning to shout a bit louder now), Château du Seuil's deliciously international Graves Rouge and the Italian wines I showed: the "Volano" and Chianti Classico Riserva 2001 (the undoubted star of the tasting) from Il Molino di Grace, Einaudi's comparatively subtle 1999 Barolo and the unknown Super-Tuscan heavyweight "Corpo Notte" from Tenuta Monte Rosola. Somewhat inevitably, I only got a taste of each of the wines at the start of the day to check for faults (there were none) and one or two throughout the day to check for development in the opened bottle. For me then, the fun started later when I got home (by the time Henry Speer of Champers had unloaded his bits and pieces it was almost 11pm) and Jill and I spent the next three evenings tasting and re-tasting the leftovers. This is a fabulous opportunity to re-acquaint ourselves with the wines we import.
The moratorium is over. Decanter’s December issue has been published and I can announce our successes in the recent tasting undertaken by their Rhône expert, Matt Walls who has recently returned from a year and a half in the region. If you look on Decanter.com today (November 2020), you will see a link to ‘Top Côtes du Rhône wines under £20’. What the article doesn’t tell you is that the brief of its writer was to taste and rate wines from across the valley in that price range and that the top scoring white wine was actually a Ventoux. No prizes for guessing that it was Château Juvenal’s 2019 ‘Ribes de Vallat’ Blanc , awarded 91 points, which, at £12.60 is also the best value of any of the white wines on the list: 'From 30- to 40-year-old vines grown on granite south-facing slopes; half of the wine is matured for six months in demi-muid leaving no overt oakiness to the aromatics. Full-bodied, rich and opulent style, very ripe and fulsome. Some mango and pineapple juice. Unmist