In a Bristol back street

September 22, 2010

To the Bristol home of one of our favourite wine suppliers, Nick Brooks of Vinetrail. A frisson of excitement as his tastings never fail to throw up something we want to shout about.

Apart from the odd New Zealand orphan, his list is sourced in its entirety from within the hexagonal boundaries of France. Mostly small domaines focused on great winemaking, more often than not using organic or biodynamic principles. Wines with real purity, yet jumping with character and texture. Nick talks about the impact of geology on wines in a way no-one else we know does. A fascinating afternoon.

Five of us tasting, converging from Brecon and from the Gurnard’s. Rarely a concerted reaction to a bottle: concord would be a boring thing when it comes to wine. The lists at each of the Griffin and the Gurnard’s vary, as they should, reflecting the individuals, the food, the landscape.

Which wines talked to us this time? For me: a Cote de Brouilly that will sit happily on the Gurnard’s list, Gamay with a stony edge to it. A Roussette de Savoie of which only 70 cases or so are made each year. I hope we can take one of them. Rich but in no way oily. Truly beautiful when we tried it later in the evening. A St. Chinian from the Languedoc, given backbone by more than a slug of Mourvedre, like a dose of national service perhaps. Brilliant for early winter lunches in the Beacons. And a Sauvignon de Touraine that gives its posher Loire cousins a kick up the behind.

Afterwards, supper at Flinty Red, one year old progeny of our friends from the Gurnard’s Head, Matt Williamson and Claire Thomson, and the owners of Bristol wine shop, Corks of Cotham. Our first visit, and as brilliant as we hoped. If you are in Bristol and hungry, it should/must be your first choice.

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