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