Nomad Wines and Grape Circus: Wonderful Tasting

I love to see collaboration between distributors who may not be individually big enough to shell out the big bucks for a portfolio tasting but together can put on a great show!

Nomad Wine Importers is a completely excellent importer of some of the finest wines available from France. They teamed up with Grape Circus recently (Italy specialist plus) and presented 30 wines each at the Merrion Hotel. Loads of the wine on show are worthy of mention but the following caught my eye on the day.

To begin: there is nothing, and I really mean this is in the very best possible sense, nothing at all traditional or conservative about Grape Circus! The name itself is quirky enough and then Enrico Fantasia, who runs the company with Aileen Burke, is the most ‘larger than life’ person I know in the wine trade … well, maybe Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg …! and that is all good.

Enrico set up Grape Circus in 2005 in partnership with Sheridan’s Cheesemongers and his website tells us that he is ‘an expert on the classic wine regions of Italy, with particular love for Friuli and Piemonte. He has also become a champion for wines from lesser-known areas and indigenous grape varieties, and has expanded the range with wines from France, Spain, Portugal, Austria and Slovenia, and that his wines can be found, in places throughout Ireland that are interested in the quirky, the handmade and the highest quality.

Lambrusco ‘Ponente 270’ Cipolla di Denny Bini: This is a bottle fermented red Lambrusco sparkling wine from the Emilia region of the north east of Italy. Fabulous rich dark red-ink colour, a dry bitter heart holds up a tremendous dark-cherry palate. Top class example of a very traditional style made with the (wait for it ……) Lambrusco Grasparossa, Lambrusco Salamino, Lambrusco di Sorbara and Malbo Gentile grapes.


Muscadet ‘Classic’ 2018 Domaine de ‘Ecu: Muscadet has had a few lean years. It went out of ‘fashion’! Why? Sauvignon Blanc. Pinot Grigio. Chile. Lots of reasons. Or maybe it just wasn’t being made as well as this wine is. Domaine de l’Ecu is a biodynamic producer whose winemaker, Fred Niger, loves to use large amphorae and getting his hands dirty! This wine is majestic and has a full-on flavour profile that sits brilliantly with the lean and austere backbone that is the hallmark of ‘proper’ Muscadet.

Vermentino Sardinia 2016 ‘Pusole’: This is sensational but will divide the camp! It’s a white wine. Look at the colour. It’s semi oxidised on the bouquet. It finishes herbal and salty. It’s genuinely sensational. The vineyards at Pusole are dry farmed and cover crops between the vines are kept in check by free roaming sheep. This is fabulously natural.

Charles Derain set up Nomad Wine Importers in 2007 after a successful career as a top class sommelier in many of the very best restaurants. The philosophy that guides Nomad is a simple one, ‘A relationship built on knowledge and trust‘. Every wine in the Nomad portfolio has been chosen with great care so that we can trust Nomad all the way back to the vines themselves! How to choose just a few wines from the tasting? Difficult. So many are so good.

Marsannay 2015 – Domain Audoin: Marsannay is the only Burgundy commune allowed to lend its name to all three Rose, White and Red styles of wine. It is also the first of the Cote de Nuits appellations that we meet as we drive down from Dijon earning it the title, ‘The Golden Gate to the Cotes de Nuits’. I like young red Burgundy and Marsannay always deliver well with youth and vibrancy. This is rich Pinot Noir with good colour, intensely interesting fruit and a gorgeous finish. Within context this is also excellent value

Champagne Leclerc-Briant Brut Reserve: We have only recently been introduced to Champagnes labels that don’t come from the big houses. It’s a strange hold the big names have on us. Try this wine. It’s biodynamic and the palate has a depth to it that seems bottomless. Its make up is more black grapes than white and this gives it layers of interesting fruit and production flavours. Fine dry finish. Really worth looking out for.

Buzet ‘Jarnicoton’ 2016 Domaine du Pech: A Natural, Biodynamic wine from Buzet in the Lanquedoc in Southren France. Intriguingly made with a selection of Bordeaux varietals. No added SO2! No funky off flavours; just smooth and very chewy fruit; great mouth feel brings the land into your glass! The lack of added SO2 is brave. It works well here. Fascinating stuff.