The enterprising Scots who are making great wine
The Scots are well known for their enterprising adventurous spirit and the wine world is no exception. Here are four great Scots- born winemakers working in Spain, Switzerland, Australia and California.
El Escoces Volante, www. escocesvolante. es
Forfar- born Norrel Robertson MW has just been elected into the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino, in recognition for his outstanding contribution to Spanish wine.
Robertson’s route to Calatayud, a 3,200 hectare region in Aragon in north- east Spain where he has lived for 17 years, took him across the world. After Aberdeen University and a stint in Oddbins, he worked in Italy, Portugal, Australia and Chile.
By 2003 with a winemaking degree from New Zealand’s Lincoln, he began managing projects in France and in Spain where he fell in love with the garnacha grape. He now owns more than 20 hectares, including 100- year- old bushvines grown over 750m altitude.
When asked what he loves about Spain that you cannot get in Scotland, he says: “Food – particularly tomatoes and wild mushrooms – and a siesta afterwards is great.”
Mange Del Brujo 2017
Old vine garnacha with syrah, tempranillo and mazuelo; smoky, peppery, quite burly, meaty savoury notes, underlying freshness, vibrant acid and notes of ‘ monte bajo’, Calatayud’s wild mountain herbs.
£ 14.99, Oxford Wine, Borders Wines
Les Deux Cimes, www. mccullochwines. com
Jamie Mcculloch from Tillicoultry discovered wine on a visit to Western Australia. Heading to Switzerland in 2000, he enrolled at the famous Changins oenology school and worked his way across the six Swiss wine regions.
Ten years ago he set up Mcculloch Wines producing 20,000 bottles from a vault under the village post office in Chamoson, home to the ubiquitous Swiss white grape, chasselas.
“I love Switzerland and the Alps; my region Valais has an exceptional climate with low rainfall and hot summers, with beautiful snowy winters,” he says.
Les Deux Cimes Fendant 2018
Fresh savoury aperitif style white made from chasselas; fleshy yellow plums, honeysuckle undertones, rich intense zesty flavours and hints of herbal savouriness.
£ 20, L’art du Vin
Thistledown Wines, www. thistledownwines. com
Ten years ago Edinburgh- based winemerchants, Scot Giles Cooke MW and Irishman Fergal Tynan MW created Thistledown Wines to make their own subtle textural style of Australian wine, maximising fruit purity and finesse.
Based at Nepenthe’s old winery in Adelaide Hills, they buy from 20 growers across South Australia’s Mclaren Vale, Langhorne Creek and Barossa. Grenache is their passion, a grape enjoying a revival. Cooke also makes Our Fathers range, with proceeds to charity.
Cooke says: “I love the Aussies' open experimental nature, big open skies, sun, old vines and ability to innovate without red tape.”
Thorny Devil Grenache 2018
Wild strawberry notes, fleshy rounded palate, vibrant silky soft textured grenache with subtle oaking; delicate, lovely finesse.
£ 15.99, Virgin Wines, Alliance Wine
Dumol, www. dumol. com
Scot Andy Smith describes living in Sonoma in California running an artisan winery ‘ like living in Eden’, although floods, bushfires and Covid have created incredible stress levels recently for Californian vintners.
Today Smith is winemaker, viticulturalist and partner of multimillion dollar Dumol winery, but 40 years ago as an Edinburgh schoolboy he was swimming for Scotland in the Commonwealth Games.
He discovered wine via Oddbins, studied oenology at New Zealand’s Lincoln with a stint in Australia, and by 2000 had settled with his family in Sonoma, north of San Francisco. “This year has been an unbelievable time in the wine community,” says Smith. “Not only with Covid and election tension, but in August the entire coast was hit by Mexican tropical storms, followed by lightning strikes which started fires across the state; we had to act fast to pick grapes before smoke descended on vineyards.”
Dumol Isobel Charles Heitz Vineyard Chardonnay 2013
Rich buttery, voluptuous fruits, mineral notes, lovely balancing acidity, honey and citric fruits with enough backbone to last another five years plus.
£ 58, Raeburn Wines
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