Rossendale Free Press - - Leisure - ANDY CRON­SHAW

LAST week­end’s tenth Hang­ing Ditch wine fair left owner Ben Stephen­son ask­ing how he could pos­si­bly im­prove it.

Held over two days the fair pre­sented 42 ta­bles of wine, beer and spir­its. The wine gang team of Jane Parkin­son, Joanna Si­mon, David Williams and An­thony Rose were on at­ten­dance giv­ing wine walks and mas­ter-classes.

A mas­ter­class given by Joanna Si­mon and An­thony Rose was par­tic­u­larly poignant in fea­tur­ing Napa Val­ley vine­yards, many of which gave been af­fected by the re­cent for­est fires, and one dev­as­tated.

Al­though I’ve com­piled a list of favourites here, I didn’t taste many wines I didn’t like. Need­less to say, the wine gang mem­bers had first dibs on se­lect­ing their own cases and those wines for the fes­tive pe­riod can be checked out at the Hang­ing Ditch web­site.

All wines are avail­able through Hang­ing Ditch but call the store to check for stock be­fore head­ing over.

Col­lard Pi­card Cu­vée pres­tige (£45)

This bou­tique small grower Cham­pagne was one of my ab­so­lute high­lights of the fair. Okay it’s not cheap but for a fes­tive treat it will pro­vide an ad­vance on most Cham­pagne from the grand mar­ques. The nose boasts com­plex au­tol­y­sis notes which might be more read­ily as­so­ci­ated with top qual­ity vin­tage while the palate is brim­ming with rounded ap­ple acid­ity.

Château Soucherie An­jou Blanc Ivoire 2016 (£20)

The Loire of­fers ex­cep­tional value for money, es­pe­cially away from well-known names such as Sancere. This Chenin Blanc, from An­jou, much as­so­ci­ated with medium sweet rosé, is an ex­u­ber­ant ex­pres­sion of lemon zest, pear and spice on the nose while there’s tangy, rounded quince on the palate – ab­so­lutely de­li­cious.

M&D Pi­non Vou­vray Sec 2016 (£20)

Another Loire Chenin, this time from old vines fea­tured on dis­trib­u­tor Knot­ted Vines’ ta­ble. Aro­mas of baked ap­ple and a strik­ing min­er­al­ity make this ut­terly de­li­cious.

Zo­rah Karasi Areni Noir 2014 (£20)

This bril­liant wine from Ar­me­nia has all the fra­grance and el­e­gance I’d ex­pect from a much pricier Pinot Noir.

Of course it’s a dif­fer­ent grape that comes on a lit­tle weight­ier on the palate but all the same it still pro­vides a sim­i­larly sen­su­ous ex­pe­ri­ence.

Gun­dog Es­tate Wild Semil­lon 2015 ( £28.50)

There were sev­eral can­di­dates for in­clu­sion on the Di­a­monds Down Un­der ta­ble. This wild yeast Semil­lon was a fas­ci­nat­ing take on the tra­di­tional Hunter Val­ley style.

Picked ex­tra early for the sake of acid­ity some

"This bril­liant wine from Ar­me­nia has all the fra­grance and el­e­gance I'd ex­pect from a much pricier Pinot Noir"

of the grapes are fer­mented on their skins for an or­ange wine ef­fect.

There’s not quite the same lin­seed as other pro­duc­ers’ Semil­lon from this re­gion but it sparkles with pear and lemon drops and a lovely tex­tured ef­fect from the skins.

And at 9.5 per cent you could squeeze this in some­where at Christ­mas with­out it putting ev­ery­one to sleep.

Al­mancenista Palo Cor­tado Cayetano (£23.50)

I can’t re­mem­ber tast­ing a Palo Cor­tado I didn’t like. But this is a Palo Cor­tado I re­ally re­ally liked. There’s noth­ing re­ally like the un­bri­daled power it un­leashes – fab­u­lous.

Duck­horn Vine­yards Napa Val­ley Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon 2013 (£55)

A lux­ury at this price but a clas­sic ex­am­ple of Napa Val­ley Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon.

A lit­tle Caber­net Franc gives this big wine a silky edge.

●● Zo­rah Karasi Areni Noir 2014

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