As soon as I’m handed a wine list in restaurant, especially a good one, my mind goes blank. The thing I struggle most to remember is vintages. I can just about do Bordeaux but after that I’m lost. Was 07 a good vintage in the Rhone or was it Burgundy? This stuff matters. Wine varies enormously from year to year.
In the old days wine bores carried vintage charts around with them, nowadays it’s smartphones, but be warned unless your friends are also wine bores, it’s really tedious watching you go through the wine list checking scores using an app. And don’t even think about doing this on a date unless of course you’re dating a wine bore, in which case, God help you.
Very infrequently a vintage comes along that makes life simple because it’s good almost everywhere. Jason Yapp from Yapp Brothers wine merchants described 2015 as ‘a rare touchstone vintage. . . . you can’t put a foot.’ It’s particularly strong in regions that I drink most of: Beaujolais, Rioja, the Rhone and the Languedoc.
The best thing about 2015s is not only do they have bags of ripe fruit but they are also very fresh. Germany in particular is incredible. The Rieslings at a recent tasting put on by Justerini & Brooks knocked my socks off.
They’re not available for a few months and the top drawer 2015s from Bordeaux and Burgundy won’t be available for a few years but the great thing about a year such as this is that cheaper wines, the ordinary clarets, the plain Bourgognes and the Cotes-du-Rhones, punch far above their humble labels. So my advice when consulting a wine list is, if it has 2015 on, then buy. I can just about remember that.
Five to try:
Domaine Boulon Beaujolais Vieilles Vignes 2015 £10.55
2015 has done marvelous things in Beaujolais, the usually rather light and unserious Gamay grape is now weighty and rich. This example has ripe dark fruit and a mineral earthy edge. Delicious!
Domaine Clavel Le Mas 2015 £9.50
From the Languedoc, this is pretty much my dream everyday sort of wine. There’s notes of liquorice, ripe raspberry fruit and plenty of bite to keep it interesting.
Jacobus Riesling Trocken, Peter Jakob Kühn 2015 £12.70
Bone-dry Riesling from the Rheingau, I love the mixture of warm spices such as ginger and cinnamon with limes. It’s immensely concentrated so ideally I’d give this six months to a year to fully open up. You might not be able to wait that long though.
Château Roubaud Blanc 2015 £12.30
A white from Costières de Nîmes at the very bottom of the Rhone valley, this would give wines from much further north a run of their money. It’s a blend of Roussanne, used in Hermitage, and Grenache Blanc and combines a full taste of orange blossom and hazelnuts with a racy citric acidity.
Artuke Rioja 2015 £9.95
This is a very atypical Rioja. There’s no vanilla or coconut, no oak at all as far as I can tell, instead there’s bags of bright red fruit, herbs and a sort of floral quality. It’s almost like a young fresh Pinot Noir.