Claire Collins
Claire Collins

14.45 3 May 2019


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Tomas Clancy reviews Castellare de Castallina, DOCG Chianti Classico 2017 and Domaine Florian Roblin, Sauvignon Blanc, Champ Gibault, Coteaux du Giennois, Loire 2016

Castellare de Castallina, DOCG Chianti Classico 2017

Pricing : around €25

Available : Independent Off Licences and Wine Shops nationwide

With the rise of New World and new wine regions in the so called Old World filling our shelves increasingly we find that established regions are being over looked and this is leading to great value, but even more so to more ambitious wines from these regions.
In places like Chablis, Rioja and Chianti local producers are having to try much harder to get our attention and this has lead to a gradual rise in quality too. In Chianti this is a little less visible as there is an almost inexplicable devotion to branded, medium bodied acidic Chianti which mops up the low end and Chianti remains the number one red wine import into the USA.

Happily, it is in the middle of the market that exciting things have happened after the complete revolution in winemaking that occurred here in the 1970s. For decades, maybe even centuries, wicker basket encased bottles of slightly sour, astringent and even lightly fizzy red wine was the staple image of Tuscany.

People bought the wines, drank them with over sauced pasta dishes and used the empty bottles as ubiquitous candle holders. Then in the early 1970s ambitious producers began to abandon the cheap and cheerful half cooked but commercial Chianti to seek out old varietals, solid winemaking and barrel use.

Here, for family firms and a set of journalists with the aid of Baron Edouard de Rothschild set up this winery halfway between Florence and Sienna, the heart of the Classico region. The spared no expense or energy and the result was a new pure form of Chianti as a fine, well priced ambitious wine, bristling with savoury cherry tones, fine grained tannins good acidity and a lick of silky polished dark fruit aged in new oak. This spectacular new wave Chianti is now a leading template for Tuscany, authentic wine future

 

Domaine Florian Roblin, Sauvignon Blanc, Champ Gibault, Coteaux du Giennois, Loire 2016

Pricing : €17.95 down from €20.95

Available : Independent Off Licences and Wine Shops nationwide

The Holy Grail of any wine lover is to find the well priced, gorgeous wine next door to the famous, hugely priced star wine. The problem is in areas like Burgundy, Bordeaux or Napa Valley, even the next door neighbours are expensive.

One wine region in the world however remains a source of this next door neighbour bargain hunting as a real possibility and that is the Loire Valley home to the great white wines like Sancerre and Pouilly Fume.

Both of those wines are made from Sauvignon Blanc and over the last ten year the New World has become completely startling at making wines from Sauvignon Blanc that have transformed the wine world. Sauvignon Blanc is the go to wine of half the planet it seems.

The style of Sauvignon Blanc that has succeeded is very tropical fruit and green bell pepper in nature, the best and earliest examples are still to be found in new Zealand’s Marlborough. The zesty, green gun tingling delights of the very best New Zealand wines imitate, very consciously the wines of Sancerre, but instead of being €60 a bottle these New World wines are €25 and €30 a bottle and of course a little more for superstars like Cloudy Bay.

Unfortunately a whole second wave of Sauvignon Blanc producers arrived and squeezed the grape into caricature with tropical fruit like a freshly opened tin and such acidity and green that you almost felt you needed to book a dental appointment after a few glasses. The prices were however even cheaper, getting down into the teens.

Today there has been a push back against these teeth gangling forays and cooler, more restrained and balanced Sauvignon Blanc, very Sancerre in quality are being made across the world but prices have increased.

Now at last the time has arisen for Sancerre’s neighbours to emerge as a fascination. These are producers around the city of Tours, with Touraine wines and here, producers like this family run estate in the tenderloin of the Coteaux du Giennois.

The vineyards of Florian Roblin are on the same silex, or limestone and flint soil outcrop as nearby Sancerre with parcels around him being farmed by some of the best Sancerre producers.

This single vineyard, Champ Gibault is south facing and on near perfect Sancerre like soil. Roblin eschews chemicals, uses natural yeasts and the whole tiny operation is hand crafted.

The resulting wine is a super fresh, zesty and mineral delight with a clear grapefruit toch and the elusive flicker of flintlock smokiness. At the current sale price it is one of the bargains of the year so far and well worth seeking out.


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