What with all the travelling and sampling at this time of year, when it comes to sitting down to open an actual bottle of wine to enjoy, the selection tends to be a bit more eclectic and the hunt is always on for something a little different.
First up was something very different! Sinead is just back from Slovenia where she has been pruning the vines. An unseasonally warm start to the year meant she was late (as far as the vines were concerned!), but all seemed good by the time she left. There was also the small matter of checking our wines that had been sitting quietly in Miro's cellar all Winter. As you can see from the picture, brining samples back on the plane isn't exactly a glamorous activity - washed and sterilised baby food jars are the best option! We had the three different Modra Frankinja (Blaufrankisch) cuvees to try: "SS (Stainless Steel)" was the cold-soaked version, "Plastic" was the one fermented in open crates and "Press" was the combined press juice from the two. Of them all, the one tasting best was the "Plastic" - normal fermentation using natural yeasts in open containers - lovely complexity. The "SS" tasted much more primary, and more "juice"-like (rather than wine). The "Press" one was tainted by baby food! They still need to undergo malolactic fermentation, so some more changes to come....
All were washed down with some of our own duck breasts - a very tasty treat!
A few nights later I was rummaging around trying to find something different an I unearthed a bottle of Baudry's Franc de Pied 2002. I'm a huge fan of all the Baudry wines, and had completely forgotten we had this. It's a relatively rare/unknown cuvee made from a parcel of un-grafted (i.e. pre-phylloxera) vines in the Clos Guillot vineyard. In short, it was stunning. This would give any Bordeaux over €100 a run for the money - yet I think it cost about €10. It could pass blind as a top elegant Graves. Must try and find a few more bottles.
Finally, something purchased out of curiosity at auction: partly because I couldn't find anything particularly positive about the 1982 vintage in Burgundy and partly due to the combination of producer and vineyard. We have imported the wines of Louis Michael Liger-Belair and they are now amongst the most sought-after red Burgundies around. Yet many of the vineyards only returned to Louis Michel's direct control over the past decade - some of the most prestigious (including La Romanee) had been leased out to Bouchard. This particular Vosne 1er Cru "Aux Reignots" is now no longer bottled by Bouchard as the vineyard has reverted to Louis Michel - and so technically exists no more under this label. Amazingly it was in pristine condition, now fully mature, and an absolute joy to drink.
Three great reminders of the amazing diversity that wine can offer.