Matthew Jukes says if you are lucky, you will have timed your inventory management correctly.
Around Easter time each year, my doorbell rings with renewed vigour and frequency as wine deliveries arrive thick and fast. Most are new 2021 vintage releases, and many of these are new English wines. It is late Spring; the flowers are in bloom, and it is an exciting time in the wine world as out go the old vintages, and in come the new.
I love this time of year, but it comes with a few stresses and strains. Fast-moving wines hope to be swapping over to their new vintage right now. If not, then sales teams will be trying to force ‘old’ 2020 wines down their customers’ throats so they can take deliveries of the squeaky new wines. If you are lucky, you will have timed your inventory management correctly, and this changing over of vintages will be seamless.
You may be in the fortunate position of having sold out. While this is everyone’s dream, you don’t want to spend too many months without stock for fear of losing your spot on wine lists or brochures. There is also the nagging thought that you might have been able to make a little more stock and increase your turnover instead of having to spend a few months without any extra takings.
If you have a broad portfolio, then this is usually not a problem, but when I looked on the Folc website to check the price of the wine opposite, I was part cheered and partly concerned when I saw the magical words ‘sold out’. This month I have a scoop on 2021 Folc Rosé, which is being bottled in the first week of April. This wine will arrive in indie wine merchants on or around the date that this issue is published, so fans do not have long to wait to taste this sublime wine.
Camel Valley’s Bacchus is another wine you want to drink on the day it is released and then for the coming four or five months while the sun is shining. The arrival of this wine in one’s fridge ought to coincide with dusting down the garden furniture and setting up your parasol!
There is another style of wine launch that the Champenois have made into an artform – the ‘new vintage release’. I remember my pal Victoria Moore (Telegraph wine scribe) telling me that she was fed up with having to trek into central London to taste a single bottle from a haughty Champagne House. I have to agree, and this is essentially why we Brits are not arrogant enough to think that the world stops turning when we open a new bottle of wine. But this month does coincide with the new release of Nyetimber’s Tillington – one of the most talked-about wines in our industry. Only a couple of bottles have crossed the £100 mark, and this one is genuinely worthy of this price tag. So, this month, it’s that time of year again. Out goes the old, and in comes the new, and these new wines are finer than any that have come before them.
Each of the wines on this spread are brand spanking new, so some merchants are still listing the previous year’s release. But, I am told, that they have all taken deliveries of the new vintages, so please persist in your hunt to find these wines.
2021 Camel Valley, Bacchus Dry
I have followed this magnificent winery since it opened its doors back in 1989, and I have only ever tasted Camel Valley wines that make me smile. Camel Valley made the first genuinely great Bacchus I tasted, and four years ago, when this magazine launched its first issue, I featured 2016 Camel Valley Bacchus on this very page.
The new 2021 release is sensational. A pinpoint accurate nettle and elderflower theme features a line of citrus electricity down its spine that sparks your taste buds into action and never lets go. This wine sums up the flavour of a beautiful, verdant, sunny English summer in just one glass.
2014 Nyetimber, Tillington Single Vineyard
Made predominantly from Pinot Noir, with a small percentage of Chardonnay from the same single vineyard, this is the fourth vintage of Tillington, and I have to say that I have loved each and every release.
Like the finest Champagnes, it is impossible to tell from the colour, nose and palate that this wine is already eight years old. It is pale and shimmering, and I wrote ‘very’ three times in my notes before the word ‘good’.
The luminosity and tension here are exquisite, and while the flavour is lean, all-pervasive and mesmerising, it is seemingly weightless. The control throughout is fabulous, and the finish is superbly long and prickly – it is set for a very long life ahead of it. I gave this beauty a 19/20 score in my notes, and this means it is one of the finest English Sparklers I have ever tasted.
2021 Folc Dry English Rosé
Approx. £20.00 www.connaughtwinecellars.com
Elisha Rai and Tom Cannon are justifiably proud of their brand Folc. I featured their debut 2020 vintage on my website last April, and by all accounts, it has impressed all-comers and can now call itself the highest-ranking English Rosé of last year. Not bad at all for a first tiptoe in the winemaking world.
This new release, which I tasted from a tank sample, is every bit as enticing and more. The blend is mind-bendingly complex, using Pinots Noir and Meunier to make up 83% of the mix and Chardonnay a further 7%. But the remaining 10%, a seemingly small corner of the glass but a huge one in the manner in which it completes the picture, includes Pinot Gris, Bacchus, Rondo and Kerner.
I have no doubt that this 10% makes this wine what it is – simply sublime. The art of blending is a mystical one and all too often wines are diminished by overcomplicating the recipe. 2021 Folc is a masterclass in layering discreet flavour and intrigue to an end point which achieves completeness and remarkable balance.