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Wine Discoveries, take 4

by Tom Cannavan, 10/06

It's now over two years since Wine Discoveries, a new young wine company based in East Sussex, first came to my attention when I reviewed a selection of their wines. Run by wine enthusiasts Jonny and Caroline Gibson, Wine Discoveries has since gone on from strength to strength, tracking down their "great wines from small producers," and earning praise for the wines they have sourced not just from satisfied customers but from critics like Jancis Robinson amongst others.
 

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white

Domaine Reine Juliette (France) Picpoul De Pinet 2005
Picpoul de Pinet is a grape that is one of the unsung heroes of French country white wines, and I have almost always really enjoyed drinking these fresh, aromatic whites. This is a fine case in point, with a breezy, herb-tinged nose suggesting straw, firm, underripe pears and lemon zest. On the palate this wine is crisp as Spring morning yet it has a bit of body and creamy texture, very nice, ripe, juicy orchard fruit flavours and a wonderfully clean, mouth-watering acidity that just gets the gastric juices flowing. Lovely stuff.

Domaine Haut Marin (France) Colombard Ugni-blanc 2005
This Vin de Pays de Cotes de Gascogne is made from two of the regions mainstay grapes, Colombard and Ugni-Blanc. It pours a pale, almost transparent green with an appealingly bright, tropical-fruited nose that also suggests a touch of Sauvignon Blanc-like herbal lift and gooseberry punch. On the palate this is vivacious and quite strikingly fruity, with mouth-watering, crunchy apple, but more of that verdant Sauvignon character too. It has lovely crisp acidity and is a sippable, yet bone-dry wine of very nice quality indeed, with a lingering finish.

Domaine Fussiacus (France) Mâcon Fuissé 2004
Regular readers of wine-pages.com will know what a big fan I am of the Chardonnays of the Mâcon region in southern Burgundy, which tend to be moderately oaked, beautifully fruity wines. This comes from cellars of Jean-Paul Pacquet and is a wine that is subtly beguiling with notes of orchard fruits, melon and a slight creamy, oatmeal quality. On the palate there is classic lemon and orange fruit, with a steely backbone of mineral acidity. It is nicely weighted, with quite a chewy mid-palate where the fruit broadens to Cox's Pippin apple and a tangerine quality, before a long, taut, harmonious finish. Beautiful stuff and very fresh and crisp.

red

Bersan et Fils (France) Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre 2002
The cuvee Louis Bersan is the top cuvee from Bersan et Fils, a Pinot Noir that is made in a soft and approachable style, especially in this vintage. The colour is light and has brick tones, and the nose is very soft and earthy, with hints of truffle and tobacco. On the palate this delivers very earthy, spicy, soft strawberry fruit with quite a velvety mouth-feel and a rounded, sweet earth and briarwood finish. This is a wine for drinking soon, and would be a wonderful match for Christmas roast turkey or game birds.

Château Du Vieux Parc (France) La Sélection 2003
Southern French wines from the hot 2003 vintage continue to offer some great drinking, which is certainly the case for this barrel-aged blend of Carignan, Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, the wines aged 50 years or more. The nose is dramatically dark and savoury, with grilled meat aromas, plum and tobacco. On the palate this is an intense and concentrated wine, where an initial rush of sweet-edged blackberry fruit is soon swept along by ripe, chocolaty tannins and masses of spice that power through the mid-palate. There's a depth of soft, spicy oak tannins and a nice edge of acidity, as this chewy, powerful wine finishes with liquoricy grip. This will probably be even better with a few years more in bottle.

Château De Pennautier (France) Cabardès 2004
I attended the launch of the Cabardès AOC in France around 5 years ago, this Languedoc 'cru' having been created quite recently. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot has quite a savoury, plummy nose, with hints of cedar wood and some soft, glove leather tones. On the palate it is quite a firm, serious wine, like a mini Bordeaux, with a stripe of grippy tannin overlaid with cherry and blackcurrant fruit, a savoury dollop of spice and ground pepper, and a nice crisp balance of acidity in the finish. Very stylish for the price.