WHAT is the secret to making perfect wine?
Well, if meeting a wine-maker who has been credited with making perfect wine was anything to go by; humility and the right soil.
I was lucky enough to be invited to share dinner with vigneron Pierre Seillan who has made some remarkable and high-scoring wines in France, Italy and California.
He now works with the Jackson Family Estate brand which owns fine wine vineyards worldwide. Seven of the wines created in the Californian Sonoma vineyards under the name of Vérité have been scored 100 points out of 100 by America’s most famous critic Robert Parker.
Given their achievements, Pierre and his wife Monique, exuded modesty, humility, as well as wisdom and joie de vivre.
“My wines come from the turf,” he said, “and I am a servant of the soil.”
The meal was held at the Albert Square Chop House with a wine flight curated by legendary Manchester sommelier George Bergier and head sommelier Garry Clark.
To match the exquisite wines the food needed to be of the highest order, and so it was, with dishes provided by head chef Stuart Valentine.
For our excellent canapés came an English wine that managed to put a smile on the face of Frenchman Pierre: Vérité La Muse, 2007 Nyetimber, Blanc de Blancs 2009.
Bursting with floral aromas this wine is very tightly focused with excellent minerality; a genuine UK rival to Champagne.
Our first introduction to Pierre’s wines came via Tuscany with his Tenuta di Arcano, Arcanum 2007 to match a game terrine (game from Johnson & Swarbrick in Goosnargh).
This wine hails from Chianti Classico but in keeping with other ‘Super Tuscans’ it is not made from Sangiovese like Chianti but from Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
It was scored a mere 96 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate which puts it in the very highest echelons.
What’s remarkable about it is that the same aspects that I so admire in a Chianti Classico are still present.
There’s lifted aromas of berry fruits and cherry with a waft of savoury spice. The palate is utterly delicious with a broadside of freshness firing across the entire lengthy profile of the wine.
After an amazing Pouilly Fumé 2012 made by Didier Dageuneau, in the Silex vineyards of the Loire Valley, came the sublime Chateau Lességue Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2005 to match High Peak lamb from John Mettrick’s Glossop butcher shop.
The latter boasted vanilla-scented aromatics matched by supple and generous fruit.
For a pre-dessert French-style cheese course came the three perfect score wines: is knitted together perfectly. The voluptuous nose reminded me of Douro wines with a huge blackcurrant profile and a faint hint of dried herbs. The palate is delightfully supple and inviting with colossal length. It’s still very young and needs more time. Vérité Le Desir, Sonoma 2008 (Parker score 100)
This wine mainly combines Cabernet Franc (61 per cent) and Merlot to produce a wine of depth and minerality. Oak gives the nose toasty aromas but the overall character is the purity and elegance of the fruit. Vérité Le Joie, Sonoma 2005 (Parker score 100)
Utterly stunning wine made with Cabernet Sauvignon in the style of a Bordeaux left-bank Chateau such as Pauillac.
This wine is showing a little more maturity than the other two with nose boasting almost feral levels of savoury ‘barnyard’ spice. The bold, powerful cassis and blackberry fruit is structured by cigar box oak and ripe tannins.