|Anne Krebiehl dishes the dirt from the Dirty Dozen tasting|
|Friday, 14 September 2012 10:47|
So why exactly is the Dirty Dozen Tasting the most exciting, least predictable and most hotly anticipated event within the crazy wine circus that London is in September? Why is there such a buzz, such animated discussion, such beatific satisfaction on the face of the enthusiastic tasters? Well, it's the event that allows us to select compelling, unusual but very real wines for our wine lists.
In an ideal world, we would all like to cherry-pick the best, pay handsomely and fairly for the fruit of the producers' labours and make out clients swoon with the finest and most expensive wines - in the real world however we often struggle to put thrilling and authentic wines on our list for less money and this is exactly where the Dirty Dozen tasting delivers and excites.
So while there was no shortage of top-dollar wines (in every sense), here is my pick of favourites in the crucial value-bracket of £7-£12 - wines that make your list "step out of the ordinary" (thanks Heather Small).
2010 Casa de Saima's Tinto Bairrada from 50-year-old Baga vines, foot-trodden in lagares and aged in large old barrels belies this humble grape and delivers a huge berry-ish lift on nose and palate with peppery spice and a velvety but weighless texture - it must be the magic of winemaker Graa Miranda's talented hands. An authentic piece of Portugal is all yours for £9.44.
Utterly incredible and unbeatable value is Barbeito's Rainwater Reserva, a true, non-heated, aged Madeira from 80% Tinta Negra and 20% Verdelho, a perfect conflation of green walnuts and sweet citrus, £10.90 (0.5l) - serving this by the glass with cheese will ensure eternal goodwill of your clients.
Aubert & Mascoli
2011 Domaine Johann Michel, Cuve Grain de Noirs (£9.95) 100% Syrah from the northern Rhne shines with floral, violet-tinged edges, a lighter body but nonetheless substance. A class act.
Clark Foyster Wines
Venturing outside my own brief of £7-£12 for a sparkling wine, at £16.85 the Contratto Millesimato 2007 (80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay) from Piedmont is an elegant serious and textured Italian sparkler presenting extremely good value with beautiful bruised apple fruit and dry definition (dosage is just 5g/l).
2010 Gilles Berlioz Chignin, Savoie (£9.10) a fragrant Alpine white, scented with pear and flower meadows, light but textured this is a wonderful and unusual food wine.
The Wine Barn
Astrum Wine Cellars