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11/10/2013

New Kid on the Block

by Aaron Turner (Private Sales)

Over the last decade BI has established itself as one of the world’s leading wine merchants, and with good reason; if you want the best wines money can buy you simply don’t have to look any further. Historically (and as our name suggests) we have specialised in Bordeaux, but like great wine, with a few years maturation we have developed into something much more with an increased focus on Burgundy, Champagne, the Rhone, Italy… everything great from the ‘Old World’, and all in one place. More than enough to keep most people happy, but not us, though; it’s part of the BI mentality to constantly want the best, and we found ourselves wondering why we were limiting ourselves to just a few countries. Simply put; if it’s great, we want it - we want to drink it ourselves, we want to meet the people that make it, and we want to be able to share it with you…so it’s past time that we should introduce our selection of the finest wines to come from the New World, to the BI world.

For the last year or so we have painstakingly worked our way through a veritable tidal wave of wines from the New World and invited as many of the winemakers, producers and owners from the best estates to our Hatton Garden HQ to hear their stories and taste their wines (Jeff Grosset, Dave Powell, Doug Shafer, Kevin Judd, Michael and Robyn Tiller…the list goes on!). One thing quickly became clear over the course of the tastings: ‘New World’ wines don’t just mean ‘drinking’ wines. Although the likes of New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and California may not have quite the rich and extensive history of regions like Burgundy and Bordeaux, when you look a little deeper you see the real picture. The winemakers have often spent years in vineyards around the world; the vines are clones of those grown in estates like DRC; the terroir can be totally unique; or – like with Rockford’s wines – the winemaking practices and equipment are more traditional than those used in the Old World vineyards. Under closer investigation you can start to see that New World is no longer just the new kid on the block churning out vast quantities of the latest trendy drink, but instead is producing some unique, sophisticated and thoroughly exciting wines.

The culmination of all of our ‘hard work’ came in the form of BI’s New World tasting on Wednesday night - a hand-picked selection of what has to be some of the finest wine in the world, with a list that extended from the titans that are Penfolds ‘double-century’ Grange 2008, Henschke’s Hill of Grace, and Torbreck’s 100pt 2008 ‘The Laird’ to the lesser known but equally mind-blowing Kusuda Estate wines from Martinborough, the weird yet wonderful blends of Eben Sadie, and the unique and consistently brilliant Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon. As anyone in our London office would be able to tell you, I struggled to contain my excitement about what would be shown on the evening, but the bigger challenge came in the form of selecting what would feature in our offer! Fear not though, with the help of my colleagues (and a little to-ing and fro-ing) we have identified our top 5 ‘must-have’ white and red highlights of the evening:
[view our full offer here

Whites:

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2013
“With the sea of Kiwi Sauvignon available these days it is easy to grab a fruit forward crowd pleaser, but finding something a cut above the rest is more of a challenge. Even in our tasting of the best-of-the-best this little gem shone through with its complexity and superb balance. Winemaker Kevin Judd has used his 25 years experience as winemaker at Cloudy Bay to create a superior level of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc.” 
-92 pts BI

Grosset ‘Polish Hill’ Riesling 2013
“Stunning!  Zesty lime, lemongrass and complex mineral notes lead the way, but the concentration and density are what really impresses with the Polish Hill. Still tightly wound, the 2013 is more expressive than previous vintages of Polish Hill making this one a bit more difficult to consider laying down, but if you can fight the urge this will develop for the next 10-15 years.”
-94+ pts BI

Ramey ‘Hyde Vineyard’ Chardonnay 2009
“This is proper Chardonnay: the new world ripeness and fruit character, which blends white peach, green apple and toasted hazelnut, is perfectly balanced by generous, seamless acidity, wet stone minerality and just a touch of high quality butter… more Meursault than massive, it’s an utter delight and the kind of wine that can only come from this place – the mark of true status in the wine world.”
-95 pts BI

Tyrrell’s ‘Vat 1’ Semillon 1999
“Quite simply, you will not find another wine like this anywhere in the world. Mind-boggling ageability for a bone dry white wine, and an utterly unique flavour profile, texture and balance. I simply cannot understand how this wine costs as little as it does – there is no reason any true wine lover would not have a case or two of this!”
-96 pts BI

Eben Sadie ‘Palladius’ 2009
“A blend of 8 white grape varieties with a proportion fermented in oak, this is a truly unique wine. Notes of honey, wax, oak and nuts add complexity to the  zesty citrus undertones. This wine continues to develop after every sip and had me going back for more all evening. Just superb.”
-93-94 pts BI

Reds:

Kusuda Syrah 2010
“The nose is unbelievably striking – that seared bacon fat and intense blackberry you expect from young Hermitage is absolutely here. Violets, cooked meat and a touch of something earthy – beetroot? – all combine to make something very engaging. The palate is rich, ripe and round but never flabby. These wines are characterised by their wonderful acidity and ultra-fine tannin. The flavour profile is ripe blackberry and blackcurrant with a touch of rare, grilled meat – properly gorgeous. Mine!”
-95+pts BI

Paringa Single Vineyard ‘The Paringa’ Pinot Noir 2008
“Packed full of plums, cherries, spice and a floral touch, this is a sensational single vineyard release from the Paringa estate with a striking spicy and incredibly long finish. Only 250 cases of this beautifully balanced pinot were produced, and even fewer make it to the UK, so you will have to be quick!”
-94 pts BI

Au Bon Climat ‘Isabelle’ Pinot Noir 2009
“A blend of the 40 best barrels of Pinot Noir produced across the multiple appellations owned by Au Bon Climat, and it shows. This is not the most delicate Pinot you will come across, but it’s density, depth and intensity are what really draw you in. Ripe black fruit, spice and a rich, velvety structre…Bon indeed!”
-93 pts BI

Jim Barry ‘The Armagh’ 2008
“Of the big Aussie Shiraz open on the evening this looked like the best value by far, at a snip of the price of it’s peers it may be well appear the underdog, but that is not anything to do witht the quality of the wine. This is a behemoth of a wine, but its is utterly outstanding. An amalgamation of rich dark fruit, spice, herbs and dried meat all beautifully held together with ample but supple tannin and with a length that will keep you grinning between sips…Jim Barry’s ‘Armagh’ sits comfortably amongst the very best wines to leave Australia.”
-96 pts BI

Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ 2007
“One of the most iconic wines to come out of Australia, the flagship wine to come out of the famed Henschke estate is nothing short of sensational. This safely falls into the ‘take no prisoners’ bracket with its full force style of power and intensity, but it is impossible to not be lured in by this sensational wines complexity. Rich dark fruit, tar, spice, pepper…its got it all!”
-96 pts BI

This is a very condensed list of the highlights of the evening - click here to download the full list.