Published 10 December 2020
by Zeren Wilson
Don’t we all deserve to drink good wine this festive season? Wine consultant Zeren Wilson, whose current projects include 6 Portland Road and Paradise and who has previously worked with Coombeshead Farm, Kiln and Sambal Shiok, chooses bottles worth searching out
Queen Victoria’s favourite wine, no less! She was such a fan that on a visit to Germany in 1845, she asked to visit this small vineyard in Hochheim – it was later named after her to commemorate the visit, translating as ‘Queen Victoria’s Hill’. Scintillating dry riesling that exuberantly shows off the majesty of the grape: regal and poised.
A grape indigenous to the Veneto region of northeastern Italy, often used to make passito style dessert wines. The Gottardi family have lived in the volcanic hills of Breganze since 1904 and make this electrifying dry style which bristles with energy and citrus-charged bonhomie – a thrilling partner for seabass carpaccio and vitello tonnato.
The Graillot family are one of the most respected in the Northern Rhône, and Maxime has been steadily carving out a reputation for himself worthy of his father Alain. This joyful syrah has the savoury, brooding complexity of the best wines in the region, with a silky ‘come hither’ quality from the first sip that makes for effortless drinkability.
In the tiny village of Merfy, just north-west of Reims, Alexandre Chartogne works his vines like a true perfectionist, with horses ploughing the soils and chickens roaming between the vines: a true grower champagne where every process from vine to bottle is directed by one family. Focused and precise, a perfect aperitif style with a sheen of utter class.
Most supermarket Chablis is often a disappointment, but this was a genuine surprise when I grabbed it on a 33% offer. It has the piercing steely minerality that good examples should possess, yet it has oodles of bright, crunchy green apple fruit, and just enough weight around the hips for some welcome heft and texture.
A project run by young couple Julia Nather and Josef Schenter in the most northern part of Kamptal. Farmed organically from two parcels of vines, this has a laser-sharp attack and a twang of hallmark white pepper on the nose, yet thanks to a portion of the grapes being fermented on their skins and no filtering before bottling, this tastes like Grüner that went to university and got a PhD.
Isola e Elena is in the western part of Chianti Classico, run by the flamboyant and charismatic Paolo De Marchi, formed in the 1950s when the family bought the two adjoining estates of ‘Isola’ and ‘Elena’. This has all the bright red cherry fruit and delicacy of sangiovese, with a splash of canaiolo – it remains among my favourite chiantis.
Can a wine go viral? It feels like this one did over the last year (before and even during lockdown meltdown), a wine I have piled into loads at restaurants including Brat and Smoking Goat. Made by Antonio Monteiro for a collaboration with the Noble Rot team, it has a snazzy label, a spritzy, saline, mouthwatering quality, offering an unspoken command: DRINK ME. Chin-Chin!