Matt Monk of the Whalley Wine Shop explains how to find wines which sum up a sense of place

If you take a walk through some of the wine shops and wine sections of various places, you might get the impression that wine is produced from the four corners of the world.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 12:30 pm

In reality, that major wine producing area is actually a narrow band of land, 30o N to 50oN and 30oS to 50oS latitude. Countries within this strip, wrapped around the world, generally have the prime requisites for growing grapes for wine making.

But it doesn’t end there, what grapes to grow, in what type of soil, how many sunshine days are there, how much rain falls, when does it rain heaviest, what’s the angle of the slope, is it too steep to get tractors up to help at harvest time. The list of questions is endless, and then you get to profitability, is it worth it??

When all these questions are answered, we get to experience the end result. A wine that shows all the variations of the region and the winemaker.

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‘Sometimes it’s the angle of the slope in a specific spot, or the grapes are along the outside edge of the vineyard and are kept cooler by the breezes, but they all show some common regional similarities and a little of the winemaker magic’Picture: JORG PETER/PIXABAY
‘Sometimes it’s the angle of the slope in a specific spot, or the grapes are along the outside edge of the vineyard and are kept cooler by the breezes, but they all show some common regional similarities and a little of the winemaker magic’Picture: JORG PETER/PIXABAY

Often you will find several winemakers growing the same grapes within the same vineyard space, but the end result can be very different. In Puligny-Montrachet the winemakers all get together with their example of wine from the same vineyard that they share, and each one is different.

Sometimes it’s the angle of the slope in a specific spot, or the grapes are along the outside edge of the vineyard and are kept cooler by the breezes, maybe it’s a different oak barrel (or less time spent in the barrel), but they all show some common regional similarities and a little of the winemaker magic.

Some vine growing regions around the winemaking world can only grow certain grapes that flourish in the respective climate, other regions are restricted by the rules which are set by the rules of the areas wine institutes, who try to protect the reputation of the area.

But they all try to make a wine with ‘A Sense Of Place’ that represents the best of that ‘Place’. A wine that represents their efforts throughout the year, that shows the best of the weather they had that year, that shows why they grow that particular grape in that particular style. Showing why it looks like wine comes from the four corners of the world!

Meanwhile, here are some wines with that Sense Of Place:

Jean Bircher Gewurztraminer, Alsace 2019 £12.99

This Alsatian product is a great example of a wine showing its region’s best qualities of a certain grape. A very aromatice nose, comprising of lychees and rose. Maybe a hint of Turkish delight.

On the palate, there are lots of ripe fruits, but that is balanced with a hint of citrus to give a lift of freshness. This wine is perfect as an aperitif or with some spicy foods from southeast Asia but also pairs with strong hard cheeses like Munster or Comte, which come from the same area.

Chateau Minuty ‘M de Minuty, Cotes de Provence 2019 £16.99

Here is a wine that shows its ‘Sense of Place’ not just in the wine itself but also the design of its bottles, with its soft sloping shoulders and pinched in at the ‘waist’ it got its nickname of ‘Corset’ style of bottle and can only be used by wines produced in the Cotes de Provence region.

The wine has a delicate nose, with hints of strawberry and white peach. It is a dry style, with a fresh palate, including grapefruit and more strawberries. All in all, this is a great wine to share with friends and family.

Ernst Gouws & Co Pinotage, South Africa, 2018 £12.99

If ever there was a grape with the ‘Sense of Place’ its Pinotage, really only grown in South Africa. Its origins are from South Africa, where Abraham Perold crossed Cinsault and Pinot Noir, producing a grape that had the wine qualities of Pinot Noir but with a bit more hardiness from Cinsault. And so South Africa’s iconic grape Pinotage was born.

Bold aromatics of ripe dark berry fruits and chocolate are also present on the palate along with some spices, including clove and a hint of coffee. Goes very well with the South African dish Bobotie, or maybe a meaty biryani.