Claire Collins
Claire Collins

14.45 1 Mar 2019


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Tomas Clancy reviews Chinese wine Pretty Pony Cabernet 2013 and a lip smacking Villa Bucci, Verdicchio, Italy 2017

 

Villa Bucci, Verdicchio, Classico Superiore, Marche, Italy 2017

Pricing : around €18.99

Available : Independent Off Licences and Wine Shops nationwide

Our first wine today is from the Adriatic coast of Italy in the region known as the Marche just to the south of San Marino. Fish, olive oil and endless castles are the main features of the Marche. The wines from this region tend to get overlooked as they are often seen as everyday drinking wines of secondary importance to the olive oils and great corn and wheat production that is centred here. This is a family owned estate draped over low rolling hills and centred on a ridiculously beautiful formal villa. The Bucci family have occupied their estate for over 500 years and the current generational leader Ampelio Bucci is most responsible for the estate beginning its interest in wine.

The wine production at Villa Bucci really only begins in the early 1980s and this is a good thing, as by then the focus of the reviving Italian wine industry was on quality over quantity and this is where Villa Bucci is firmly orientated. The vineyards cover just 26 hectares of their large 400 hectare estate. They only produce a four wines and this is the family estates’ core offering a lean, high quality white wine of immense charm.

It is grown on limestone soils with a clay base and offers ripe apple and hints of apricot on the nose, then a clean crisp rush on the palate with a fine clensing citric finish. It is a wine that Sauvignon Blanc lovers who are looking for just a little more generosity and a touch less acid should really enjoy.

 

Kanaan Winery, Pretty Pony, Cabernet Sauvignon, Ningxia, China 2013

Pricing :  around €49.99

Available : Independent Off Licences and Wine Shops nationwide

Even holding this bottle in your hand makes you feel like a visitor from wine’s future.

This is an astonishing, brilliant and hugely ambitious wine from China.

The wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, a classic Bordeaux style blend and is grown in the Ningxia Provence at the foot of the Helan Mountain range. It has a climate not to dissimilar to southern Europe and plants, harvests and works in the winery over a very similar period. However it is located at 38 degrees longitude, which is much more like Napa Valley in California, than Bordeaux and the Napa Cabernet is what the superbly ripe Cabernet and Merlot of Ningxia could easily aim towards.

However, the family owned Kannan Winery is much more European in outlook as the chief winemaker and heir to the estate, Wang Fang, better known and named on the Kannan website as, Crazy Fang. Wang Fang spent over a decade in Europe working in wine mainly in Germany and clearly absorbed a much greater interest in more savoury wine.

She loves horses and the entire Ningxia province is horse obsessed, the Helan Mountain range in whose foothills they sit means horse mountain. Most of the wines have a horse name from Wild Pony, the entry level wine to Black Beauty to this Pretty Pony the winery’s icon red wine. It is undoubtedly one of China’s first great wines and will likely rocket in price. It is not cheap, it is an event, birthday or big Easter or Sunday lunch wine, but tasting its opulent fruit, its flicker of cedar, fine blackcurrant and even earthy savouriness is tasting the future. It seems not just in phones, tech, politics, trains and planes, but in wine too, the 21st century may be China’s for the taking.


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