Expect the Unexpected: Brilliant tasting from GrapeCircus and Nomad Wine

Both GrapeCircus and Nomad Wine are small, independent, excellent wine distributors. This week they held a joint portfolio tasting titled: Expect the Unexpected. Why the title? I suppose because very often they supply wines that are so off the beaten track that they surprise and delight in equal measure.

There is a refreshing difference between the two companies. Nomad tends towards the more ‘classical’ while GrapeCircus sort of does what its name suggests!

Did we get the Unexpected? Absolutely.

This needs context.

GrapeCircus has over the past few years brought us a lot of low intervention and biodynamic wines. That, to be fair, is only half the story. The rest is well said on their website by founder Enrico Fantasia who tells us he has been, ‘ .. importing wines to Ireland since 2005. A native of Venice, 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. In a previous life he played the French horn in the Viennese orchestra, and in a future life he will spend a lot more time fly-fishing’.

A few examples of what impressed from GrapeCircus at the Tasting:

Zelan 2018 Vivapa Valley Slovenia; Zelen is the grape! This is one of those wines that may be hard to like at first taste. All orange, grapefruit and lemon. That’s a lot of citrus! Distinctly herbal and lemony with a bracing back palate of salinity. Fabulous. Embrace the difference.

Weisser ‘Mulatschak’ 2018 Burgenland, Austria (Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Welschriesling): Sealed with a crown cap, this is an ‘orange’ biodynamic wine. As it happens it also has an orange tawny cloudy coloration. Yeast and fresh fruit define the bouquet and what a well structured palate!

Mind you, the Meinklang Pinot Noir 2018 – equally cloudy and equally appealing.

Bardolino ‘Rebol’ 2018 Monte dei Roari, Veneto, Italy: A bit more classical this one and is certified biodynamic. Very light cherry coloration, expansive flavours both on nose and a fabulous bitter-sweet cherry palate.

So many, so many to choose from. Have you tried a Fronton recently? They use the Negrette grape not a long way SW of Bordeaux in France. The Chateau Plaisance 2017 (Negrette, Syrah, Cab Franc) is top class. As is the good value ‘Little Odisseia‘ 2017 (Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca) from the Douro in Portugal. I really rate the explosive blackberry/rhubarb/spiced herbs bouquet on the Miro Primitivo 2018 from Guttaolo in Puglia, Italy. Superb and utterly Wild.

A proper magic moment must be devoted to the Slarina ‘Cenerina’ 2018, Cascarina Val Liberata, Piedmont Italy. In this case Slarina is the grape and Deirdre O’Brien from Ireland and Italian Maurizio Caffer are the winemakers. I met Deirdre at the Spit Festival last year. Unfortunately the podcast that I recorded at the time was a very poor quality due to the location of my microphones (sorry Deirdre) and I couldn’t use it. I feel real bad about that because the story behind this wine is fantastic! SO IS THE WINE! Gutsy and Fruity and pure organic. Look up their story at the Cascarina Website Here

Deirdre at Spit last year

Nomad Wine Importers imports pure quality. They specialise in Burgundy and the SE of France but also bring us some very fine Champagne and wines from the Loire. Charles Derain runs Nomad with Jeremy Dellanoy and their bio HERE explains why they have such an impressive and extensive knowledge.

They tell us that’ their company is, ‘A relationship built on knowledge and trust. We have selected our producers carefully and we work closely with them to offer some of the best wines from France in the Irish Market. We give our customers wines of high purity and great honesty – even in their simplicity – we always look for a style of wine who has precision and definition. As expert Sommelier, we are constantly thinking about food and wine pairing. Our selection will always give a nice support to the chef’s dishes, bring pleasure and joy. The full spectrum of our portfolio is built to reach that goal, from our entry level to our high-end.
Nomad Wine Importers represents the trust link between the producers and the consumers’.

If anyone wants to get to grips with the wines of the Savoie and the Jura then Nomad has the wines. It is an endless pleasure visiting their tasting table just to try these wines.

Jurancon ‘La Part Davant’ 2017, Camin Larreyda (Petit Manseng, Gros Manseng)

Arbois Savagnin 2015, Domaine Stephane Tissot, Jura (Savagnin)

Chateau-Chalon 2012, Domaine Stephane Tissot, Jura (Savagnin)

Macvin de Jura, Domaine Stephane Tissot, Jura (Chardonnay, Savagnin)

They also showed the reds from Tissot with their Trusseau and Poulsard grapes! A masterclass from the Jura.

The Santenay 1er Cru ‘Clos Tavannes 2017, Domaine de la Pousse d’Or, Burgundy was exquisite as were both the Cremant de Jura ‘Indigne’ Domaine Tissot and the Champagne Brut Reserve NV, Leclerc Briant.

This was a great and well attended trade tasting from two brilliant trade importers. Yes, Ireland is well served when we Expect the Unexpected!