Do you want to learn more about single grape varietals planted over three locations across the world in varying climates with different pairs of hands tending to the vines?
Our at-home masterclass will be an educational way to still enjoy tasting from the comfort of your own home. Learn more about how Chenin Blanc and Grenache Noir can have immensely different flavour profiles and styles from a range of our producers from across the globe.
Taking part is simple, purchase the six wines (at a discounted price!) for the masterclass, wait for the wines to arrive direct to your door and start the masterclass below. Happy tasting!
Chenin Blanc: originally from the Loire Valley in France. Due to its high acidity, this grape shows real adaptability and is able to produce many different styles of wine, be it sparkling or still, dry or sweet. Chenin was successfully exported to South Africa as early as 1655. Nowadays, there are some very exciting expressions of this grape coming from outside of France, with South Africa leading the way and Australia and New Zealand following closely behind.
Grenache Noir: Another very versatile grape variety, Grenache Noir can produce wines ranging from rosé to sweet fortifieds and it can shine on its own or as a part of a blend. The most important feature of this grape is that it loves the heat and thrives around the Mediterranean Sea. Originally from Spain where it is known as Garnacha, this varietal has now expanded across the world with notable examples in California, Australia, and South Africa. Spain and France remain the heartland of Grenache Noir with Spain focussed on a unique style of Garnacha Tinto, particularly in the area of Penedes and Sierra de Gredos.
2012 Dowie Doole ‘Tintookie’ Chenin Blanc, McLaren Vale, Australia:
Tintookie Chenin Blanc is truly unique to Australia and the world. The grapes are sourced from one of Australia’s oldest Chenin Blanc vineyards, Tintookie, owned by Drew Dowie and Lulu Lunn. The Tintookie Vineyard was planted in 1933 on the cool sandy slopes of Blewitt Springs in McLaren Vale. The wine is fermented and aged in old French oak, and while the 2012 is mature and ready to drink now, it could be kept aside for a further decade.
This terroir suits the variety perfectly, emphasising Chenin Blanc’s vibrant fruit lift and natural acidity. As we taste, the acidity is what leaps to the fore, making your mouth water and balancing the ripe citrus fruit flavours. Look for fresh lemon peel and juice, and even something more floral like orange blossom. The acidity here is what is key for this variety’s ageing potential: over time it will melt into the wine and provide some backbone for the fruit flavours to develop into a more honeyed style. Even for a 2012, this wine is still relatively young, showing great tension with all the flavours coiled up like a spring. There’s a wonderful minerality here too that is so often found in great Chenin - this might come across like the smell of rain or something more like wet stones. Lastly, you might notice something slightly more creamy, either in the texture or flavours like marzipan, which comes from the oxidation of the wine while it matured in oak.
2016 Astrolabe, ‘The Wrekin Vineyard’ Chenin Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand:
The Astrolabe Wrekin Vineyard Chenin Blanc is made from grapes grown on a loess clay slope in the Southern Valley of Marlborough. The Chenin Blanc is partially barrel fermented with wild yeasts the remainder in stainless steel to preserve the fruit flavours. Chenin Blanc’s flavour profile and signature acidity is all over this wine, with crisp green apples and lemons, but the warmer site has also encouraged riper fruits and stone fruit character such as peach and honeydew melon. The winemaking has also had more of an impact on the style with this Chenin, showing the grape’s versatility. The wine was left on the lees (the residue of fermentation, mostly yeast) and stirred frequently to extract more flavour, giving aromas of yoghurt or even freshly baked bread. There are also more flavours from the oak itself, with vanilla and toast quite prevalent, particularly on the palate.
2014 Domaine Huet, Vouvray Pétillant, Loire Valley, France:
Chenin Blanc can be made anywhere on the spectrum of still-sparkling and dry-sweet, with dry, lightly sparkling version found particularly in France. This ‘pétillant’ style for Chenin Blanc actually has a long history in the area of Vouvray and can be traced back to the second century. Bottled at a low pressure of 2.5 atmospheres (most Champagnes are between five and six), this wine has a lighter fizz than most sparkling wines. The fruit is all estate-grown and is certified biodynamic. The 2014 spent 36 months on lees in the cellars at Domaine Huet and has just 1.2 g/L residual sugar making it very dry. To quote sparkling wine authority Peter Liem on the style, "it's a magical, intensely expressive wine, and ridiculously inexpensive for the quality."
The Loire Valley is the spiritual home of Vouray, where the cool influence of the Atlantic Ocean is carried inland by the river and the chalky soils help maintain the grape’s natural freshness. With less ripe fruit flavours than its new world counterparts, the extended ageing on the lees adds a richness and body to this wine, balancing Chenin’s vibrancy. The minerality Chenin can display is most noticeable in this wine thanks to the calcerous soils, coming across as smokey gunflint or slatey flavours. Huet is a bastion of the region and master of this variety: only the top grower Champagnes could match the excitement, sense of place, and attention to detail offered in this sparkling wine. 2014 was a superb vintage, to boot.
2017 Momento, Grenache Noir, Western Cape, South Africa:
Winemaker Marelise Neumann found her inspiration with Garnacha in Spain while working in Priorat. She is considered a pioneer in South Africa and dedicates herself and her skill to deliver a unique style of Grenache in this country. This is the signature wine of Momento: a Grenache Noir with a unique Pinot-Noir-esque character.
These grapes are picked early, a trend we are seeing more and more of in the new world. As acidity drops at the end of the growing cycle, this keeps the wine very fresh and bright, and the fruit flavours are more delicate, coming across as red berries with a delicate floral note. To enhance this style, 1/3 of the grapes were not destemmed and fermented as whole bunches, which compliments this style with less extraction of tannin and rounder fruit flavours. Grenache truly lends itself to this style, with these bright red strawberry and redcurrant flavours a telltale sign of the variety, and the grippy tannic structure coming through all the same. This is a harmonious wine, restrained and mineral. Drink right now or over the next 5 years.
2017 Terroir Sense Fronteres ‘Vertebra’, Montsant, Spain:
Founder Dominik Huber’s winemaking philosophy seeks to restore the natural connection to the earth and the vine: the vineyards are farmed organically or biodynamically, grapes are harvested and placed into tanks, vats, or amphora by hand in whole bunches, trodden gently by foot, and fermented with native yeasts. There are no de-stemmers or oak barrels in the Terroir Sense Fronteres winery and sulphur additions are very low. Dominik’s vision for restrained wines has always captured the attention of wine lovers and professionals eager to drink fresher, more gastronomic Grenache Noir wines.
The Montsant appellation offers a unique opportunity to work with the same traditional Mediterranean varieties found in Priorat such as Grenache Noir, at significantly lower alcohol levels. Minimum alcohol levels are common in appellation law across the world, in order to maintain a level of ripeness that is often associated with quality. However, this does limit certain regions to producing heavier styles. Montsant only has a minimum of 12.5% for reds, which is used here to harness a delicate and ethereal style of Grenache, showcasing its natural elegance and finesse. This is a vibrant example of Garnatxa (the Catalan name), with a distinct new-wave leaning, producing more crunchy fruit than the Momento, with a lighter colour and more delicate character. The beauty of Grenache is that it still shows great intensity in this style, with a long finish and instantly recognisable flavour profile.
2017 Dowie Doole ‘G & T’, McLaren Vale, Australia:
Grenache is often used in blends to add body, fresher fruit flavours, and is often used to soften out a wine. To finish our spectrum of Grenache from across the world, we are exploring a classic style of this grape within a blend, paired with another Spanish grape - Tempranillo. Both grapes can grow under warm climate without much water, so are ideal plantings in the warm climate of Southern Australia. Dowie Doole ‘G&T’ is a roughly equal blend of the two varieties that sees a short period of seven months’ oak maturation before being bottled.
The relatively simple and minimal intervention winemaking process adopted for this wine produces a bright and cheerful style. The warmer climate here and longer hangtime on the vine shows how Grenache thrives in this kind of climate and why it is produced the world over. We love the ripe and generous nose, which jumps out of the glass as red cherries, backed with a spicy peppery character that can be drawn out in Grenache. The grape comes into its own on the palate with a luxurious mouthfeel and softness that makes this wine eminently drinkable. There’s still great freshness here that keeps the wine from being too heavy and makes it immensely versatile with food. This blend rose to prominence in the tapas bars of Spain where rich paprika-spiced or tomato-based dishes would sing with the Grenache. This is a very convivial wine, bolstered by Australian enthusiasm, reflecting the pure sharing spirit that makes Grenache so delightful.
Bottle 75cl £23.82 £17.30
This is the signature wine of Momento, and a Grenache noir with a unique Pinot Noir character. 1/3 whole bunch fermentation, the grapes are picked earlier to retain freshness, this is giving a flowery expression, a certain delicateness and distinction. The palate is graceful and fresh, with a grippy tannic structure, this is a harmonious wine, restrain and mineral. Drink...more
Bottle 75cl £31.74 £21.80
Extremely fresh and elegant with hints of butter, cream and granny smith apples, bitter white almost and cinnamon. Texturally almost weightless, so refined it floats across your palate. Finishes with tension and freshness. This can age with the great Vintage Champagnes. Armit Winesmore
Bottle 75cl £29.12 £23.40
The 2017 Figuera is sourced from two old vineyards planted with Garnacha in the village of La Figuera. It is light and super long, with an herbal twist (à la Cabernet Franc), very spicy, with great complexity, floral and aromatic. The early-harvested grapes fermented with full clusters and indigenous yeasts in concrete vats and were kept in concrete for five...more
Bottle 75cl £36.12 £26.50