Traditionally Old World wines were thought of as the elegant, sophisticated, terroir-influenced classics versus their riper-fruited, toastier-oaked, higher alcohol and sweetness carrying, more hedonistic New World cousins. It was a case of complexity versus concentration. Now however the lines are increasingly blurred, consistently warmer summers in Europe giving richer fruit characters, and a new generation of winemakers in the Antipodes, Americas and South Africa intent on producing racier, fresher, more textured wines. Below are some of the best of the latter to look out for.
Ochota Barrels ‘The Fugazi Vineyard’ Grenache 2017,
McLaren Vale, Southern Australia
Taras and Amber Ochota harvest single vineyard parcels across southern Australia and, with minimal intervention, draw out wines that are reﬁned but intense, perfumed and crunchy, with sweet fruit and lots of herbaceous and herbal notes. Named after a favourite American Punk band, The Fugazi is made from a parcel of old vine Grenache, two thirds of which are whole-bunch fermented after a long maceration (80 days). Bright acidity and plenty of cherries dominate the front palate with cloves, star anise and pine smoke pulling through on the juicy but fresh ﬁnish. This is deﬁnitely one for fans of Southern Rhone wines.
Storm ‘Moya’ Pinot Noir 2015,
Hem el-en-Aarde Valley, South Africa
After cutting his teeth making wines at the Western Cape’s most prestigious estates, Hannes Storm purchased a few hectares in the dramatic Hemel-en-Aarde Valley where he makes the country’s most thrilling and Burgundian Pinot Noirs, using not more than 30% new oak, only natural yeasts and no filtration. From a lofty vineyard, rich in decomposed granite, Moya offers a focussed nose of raspberry, redcurrant, rose petals and a distinct cinnamon note, giving way to a sappy red berry palate, spiked with pinches of black pepper and dried violets, carried on a wave of mineral intensity. Even the most diehard of Burgundy fanatics will be impressed.
Gramercy Cellars Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015,
Washington State, USA
Former sommelier Greg Harrington and his wife Pam have carved out a niche in Washington State and are making really interesting Rhone and Bordeaux blends that are distinctly fresher, more savoury and restrained and use less new oak than their southerly Napa counterparts. Their Columbia Valley Cabernet (with 14% Merlot) shows off plenty of blueberry and cassis on the nose with hints of very ripe strawberries in a casing of cedar and lead. The palate is firm but silken, taut and elegant with a touch of cacao and truffle atop the fruit. Try this if you love vintage Bordeaux.
Toldpuddle Vineyard Chardonnay 2016,
Coal Valley, Tasmania
Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith are doing remarkable things in Tasmania’s Coal Valley (20 miles from Hobart), which is one of Australia’s coolest climate wine regions but also enjoys very low rainfall too. From 30-year old vines, their Chardonnay 2017 faunts flavours of hightoned, flint-flecked grapefruit, ginger-dusted nectarine and salted lemon jostling against a softer, peach, fresh pastry and farmyard butter frame. This is an exceptionally complex Chardonnay that will turn the heads of even Chablis drinkers.
Rogue Vine Grand Itata Tinto,
400km south of Santiago are the granitic vineyards of Itata, full of near-forgotten bush vines that friends Leonardo Erazo and
Justin Decker farm organically, fermenting in concrete only with native yeasts. The resultant wines, light in alcohol and with no new oak but crisp acidity, are worlds apart from most people’s expectations of Chile with a typical freshness, texture and energy. Grand Itata Tinto, which is 95% Cinsault, a grape most commonly found in Southern France, is crisp, perfumed and pure-fruited, with bags of red cherry and rhubarb on the nose and palate alongside some darker spice notes. At only 12% it is wonderfully refreshing.