Wine expert Tomas Clancy joins Sean Moncrieff...
Thorne & Daughters, Rocking Horse Cape White Wine, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa 2014
Pricing : €28.40
Available : Kinnegar Wines nationwide at Kinnegar.com ; Clontarf Wines, Dublin and selected independent Off Licences and wines shops nationwide
This is a wine hailing from South Africa’s Western Cape, familiar to us as the Cape of Good Hope, and is a very young winery established in just 2012 by viticulturist John Seccombe, his wife and slightly less aware of it perhaps, their two infant daughters.
All wine used to be made by simply harvesting whatever you had on your land and making a wine out of it. The farmers tried their best to use the vines thye had acquired from their family and friends or what was there, so that in most small areas, there was consistency about the variety. But it was absolutely far from a monoculture. Plants reproduced sexually and son hybrids and corsses and just simply plants drifting from one unclosed field systems to another meant that you rarely had a vineyard full of say Chardonnay.
In truth, our ancestors did not know or care too much. This is the basis for terroir naming in France and across Europe. So all wine grown in Chablis, was, wine of Chablis, it juts happened to be mainly Chardonnay, but a small percentage of Semillon, or Sauvignon Blanc or Auxerrois slipped in too. In Italy as in our second wine today, wine of Chianti, was the wine produced in the Chianti region, some fields had Sangiovese, some had a few local red varietals and even a few white grapes in there. It all contributed to the richness.
Only later in the 20th century did we wine lovers become varietal obsessed and start looking for Sauvignon Blanc, not Sancerre, well this Cape White is a classical evocation of that older tradition and is a blend of Roussanne, Semillon, Chardonnay, Claudette Blanche and Chenin Blanc. It is a rich, delicious honeyed wine, speaking of sun and citrus, with a clean, lively finish of great acidity and fine complexity.
Fattoria Selvapiana, Chianti Rufina DOCG 2014
Pricing : €24.99
Available : 64 Wine; Clontarf Wines; The Corkscrew; The Drinkstore; Egans Food and Wine, Portlaoise; Green Man Wines; Jus De Vine; Mitchells & Son; Power & Co, Lucan; Sweeneys; Terroirs of Donnybrook; Thomas’s of Foxrock and independent Off Licences and wines shops nationwide
This is a Chianti of immense elegance, polish and complexity, it has opulent glossy dark fruit notes initially then supple compact mid palate of real bite, minerality, cherry and lean savoury touches all encased in fine lifting acidity. This is a wine that begs a balsamic led salad, a light pasta bowl to be cut up and complimented by this rather aristocratic Chianti.
Fattoria Selvapiana is from the Rufina region which is to the north and east of Florence, it is a slightly higher altitude Chirnti sub-region with an emphasis on freshness and a palpable savouriness and acidic cut which is evident here too. The climatic difference is more significant than the distance from the core Chianti regioj would suggest, but this cooler region makes markedly more elegant and adult wines in the last 40 years as it strives, slowly and in my mind wrongly, to gain singular wine region status as Rufina on its own without the Chianti part.
I think this complex classical blended Chianti of 95% Sangiovese and a 5% dab of Canaiolo Colorino and Malvasia Nera outshines the world of monoculture varietal wine as it did for our first wine. This Chianti Rufina too echoes and tastes of a wine world before the tyranny of varietal purity now demanded in say a pure Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a hugely ambitious, elegant and age worthy Chianti Rufina that is very clearly signals a return for the Chianti class to the world of Fine Wine, not that the best producers ever really strayed.
Savoury is east and north of Florence and is quite high in altitude, making it cooler and often better irrigated and so much less susceptible to baked or unbalanced vintages. The resulting wine, as here, is generously fruity, with classical cherry and cassis notes on the nose, but on the palate, it is much deeper, slightly spicy and more savoury than regular Chianti.