Friday, June 02, 2006

Quirky wines

I love quirky wines, wines that are a little bit out of the ordinary. They can be unusual grape varieties like the Picpoul de Pinet or Fiano di Avelino, or it might be that the winemaker has tried to make something a little extraordinary. There are several reasons why I like these kind of wines, the principle reason being that they have a story to tell. A good salesman will tell you that if you have a short story to tell about a product it hooks the customer in. It allows you to create an affinity for a product, and make a small bond, but it also personalises the product. No longer is this wine one of 600 different wines on the wine-list, now you know a little something about it, that makes it stand out from the rest slightly. Everybody knows that you rarely chose an unknown entity over a known one. The other reason that I like these wines, is that usually the guys that make these oddball wines, or who resurrect the forgotten grape varieties are deeply passionate about what they create. This means they enter into the process with a plan, they are dedicated to what they produce and they will often go to sometimes extreme lengths to ensure a great product is the end result.

One such wine is one that I served tonight. When John and Charlie Sykes from Frogg Manor walked in tonight I knew it was a golden opportunity for me to roll out one of my new acquisitions - Frogs Leap cellars Leapfrogmilch. Needless to say they loved it, from its germanic style packaging - a not-so-subtle homage to liebfraumilch, to its more new world style flavours and off dry finish. The Leapfrogmilch is a blend of Riesling (67%) and chardonnay (33%), made by John Williams, the winemaker at Frogs Leap. Now John runs the farm on Biodynamic principles - carrying out certain vineyard functions according to the cycles of the moon, and the farm has held its organic accreditation for quite a few years now. But it goes much deeper than that. The philosophy behind Frogs leap is that the vineyard and farm are a living microcosm, so they are trying to run the estate on sustainable principles.They have even brought solar energy into the process. So behind that quirky, jokey name, lies a serious product with some very conciencious thinking.

So what does it taste like. Well it has quite a floral nose - white flowers and citrus fruits - grapefruit and lime with a gala apple aroma thrown in for added complexity. It has that kind of wet gravel drive minerality too. On the palate it is still quite acidic, but it is a good balance for the fresh fruity flavours that come out. The wine feels to have a slight spritz on the tip of my tongue, but I put that down to the acidity levels. The end finishes with a slight hint of some residual sugar and quite a pleasantly long finish. I think that really this is more of a food wine than a sitting drinking on its own wine, but it would work quite well with a wide range of dishes, even some darker fish like tuna or meatier dishes like a lightly glazed duck. And like a badly planned pun it went really well with the frogs legs in Artichoke veloute.

click on the trade section to get some more information about their organic principles and solar energy use.

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