Our Picks: New to our portfolio for 2020
2019 was a busy year for our buying team. We added 112 new wines to our list, of which about 30% came from existing producers, while the remainder came from the 22 new producers we added to our portfolio. All but one (Pedro Parra of Chile) of these 22 are from Europe, with eight in France (ranging from Champagne Piper-Heidsieck to Domaine Gauby in the Roussillon), five in Italy (from Cantina di Nizza and Brolo dei Giusti in the north to Mandrarossa in the south), four in Spain (including Gallina de Piel), two in Portugal, plus Ahearne Vino in Croatia and Sattlerhof in Austria.
But we have no intention of resting on our laurels. Our first new producer of 2020 was Henschke from Eden Valley. Established in 1858, the Henschke family displays all the attributes we look for in a producer: a classic style, wines with an enduring sense of place and variety, and a distinctive character that runs through each wine, thanks in no small part to the brilliance of their vineyards.
France continues to gain in importance for us, thanks to the quality and excitement of the wines on offer. We're delighted to be the first UK importer for Pierre Girardin, the son of Vincent and a star in the making. Also new from Burgundy is the Mâcon-Solutré (our first) from Domaine du Roc des Boutires, while the southern Rhône is represented by a new and delicious Lirac from Domaine d'Arbousset. In Italy, we have greatly strengthened our offering from Sardinia with Antonella Corda, an exciting new estate from just north of Cagliari, and Antichi Poderi Jerzu, a fine co-operative from the east coast. From Austria, we've brought in the pristine wines from Heidi Schröck, which are well worth a try.
We've highlighted seven wines from these seven latest additions to our portfolio below. Each new arrival contributes to the great diversity of style, provenance, grape variety and producer that has characterised our portfolio since we first started trading in March 1997. The sense of place brought to life by an individual producer - the genuine stories of people and places - is what makes wine so special.
Henschke 'Louis' Eden Valley Semillon 2016
Henschke is one of Australia’s most renowned, family-owned wine producers. Fifth generation winemaker Stephen Henschke took over running the winery in 1979, while his viticulturist wife Prue is at the forefront of re-introducing native plants into their vineyards to improve biodiversity. Named in tribute to vigneron Louis Henschke (who tended the Hill of Grace vineyard for 40 years), the ‘Louis’ Semillon is a reserve selection from 50-year-old vines planted in Henschke’s Eden Valley vineyard, which lies in the cooler part of the Mount Lofty Ranges at an altitude of 500 metres.
Pierre Girardin Pommard 2017
Thirteenth generation winemaker Pierre Girardin impressed us with both his expertise garnered from his father, Vincent Girardin, since childhood and the host of new ideas and practices he has introduced at his own winery in Meursault. Pierre completed his first vintage in 2017, aged 21, and actively seeks out interesting, often overlooked parcels and growers who share his commitment to sustainability. To capture the purity of individual sites in his wines, Pierre vinifies on a ‘micro-cuvée’ scale using low intervention techniques, including indigenous yeasts, very gentle bâtonnage for whites, custom-made barrels, and minimal pigéage for his reds. His Pommard 2017 is sourced from two parcels, 'Les Cras' and 'La Chanière', of around 60-year-old vines.
Domaine du Roc des Boutires Mâcon-Solutré 2018
The Parinet family (of Château du Moulin-à-Vent) has injected energy and dynamism into Domaine du Roc des Boutires since its purchase in 2016. With the current generation, Edouard Parinet, at the helm, the domaine is producing outstanding wines, including the first to join our list from the small appellation of Mâcon-Solutré. Each parcel from their 0.6 hectares of 45-year-old vines in the commune of Solutré-Pouilly (overlooked by the famed ‘Roche de Solutré’ limestone escarpment) is vinified separately then blended to give an expressive, richly textured wine with an emphasis on balance and freshness.
Domaine d'Arbousset Lirac 2016
Southern Rhône, France
Domaine d’Arbousset is owned and run by Gérald and Julie Lafont. Although they both work as consultants for numerous wineries across the Rhône Valley, their main interest lies in developing the domaine they inherited from Gérald’s father in 2001. Gérald and Julie produce a single Lirac from their 2.5 hectares of vines, which highlights the serious potential of this often-overlooked appellation. They have practised organic and biodynamic viticulture since taking over the domaine and are currently midway through the certification process.
Heidi Schröck ‘Riede Kulm’ Blaufränkisch 2017
Heidi Schröck took over her family’s 10-hectare estate in the famous village of Rust, just five miles from the Hungarian border, in 1983. The south-facing vines along the western banks of Lake Neusiedl form a semi-natural amphitheatre, which provides substantially more sunlight hours than the rest of Austria. Heidi sustainably cultivates the classic Austrian varieties of Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch and St Laurent. The ‘Riede Kulm’ is a 100% Blaufränkisch single-vineyard wine from the estate’s oldest vines, which were planted in 1955, and is a benchmark example of Burgenland’s signature variety.
Antonella Corda Vermentino di Sardegna 2019
Antonella Corda inherited two of her grandfather’s (the famed viticulturalist Antonio Argiolas) prized vineyards, located around the village of Serdiana, a few kilometres north of Cagliari. Her Vermentino comes from Antonio’s favourite vineyard, the six-hectare ‘Mitza Manna’, where the calcareous soils enhance this variety’s natural freshness and floral bouquet. Antonella founded her winery in 2010 after finishing her masters in viticulture and winemaking at the prestigious Edmund Mach Foundation. She follows a sustainable approach and the vineyards are farmed organically.
Antichi Poderi Jerzu 'Bantu' Cannonau di Sardegna 2017
Founded in 1950, the co-operative Antichi Poderi Jerzu is based in the small village of Jerzu, in the historical Ogliastra region on the east coast. Today, Jerzu unites 430 growers with 650 hectares of vineyards in prime hillside areas, producing grapes renowned for their intensity of flavour and providing multiple blending options along with opportunities to express the unique character of certain plots. The ‘Bantu’ Cannonau is a young, fresh expression of this classic Sardinian variety and represents excellent value.