Wine Review: Grape & Grind
Bristol Bites’ new wine columnist Bryn Stephens (@CellarRatBryn on Twitter) visits Gloucester Road’s independent wine retailer, Grape & Grind…who now also sell their wines online!
Why oh why do people still buy wine in such large quantities from supermarkets? I guess it’s the convenience of doing your shopping for the week in the same journey. But what disappoints me is that supermarkets still regard wine as something a little throwaway. I regard wine as something a little more superior. If we want a good piece of meat, we go to a butcher, we want decent fruit and veg, we go to a greengrocer. If we want a decent bottle of Friday night accompaniment, we should always be going to wine merchants.
Wine sales people don’t go into this career for the money (trust me on this), we go into it because we want to share our passion and knowledge with other similarly minded people trying to find wonderful flavours and something a little more than the often ordinary wines found on supermarket shelves. This is not to say you can’t unearth a beauty those shelves, its just that there is no one there to offer a hand or a recommendation and this is a trick the supermarkets could really start doing!
So here I am, walking the streets trying to find a nice bottle to go with my pretty ordinary cooking, when I find myself in Grape and Grind on the Gloucester Road. A wonderful shop located not too far up from the arches. Darren Willis has had this little beauty since the end of 2010 and has built a good reputation for offering a great range of well priced wines from all over the world. He looks for quality first and foremost, and is keen to get people away from the usually samey Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc and new world blockbuster reds, and to try new things.
With a ‘bang, absolutely!’ an intriguing little Italian number is grabbed off the shelves in response to my nightmare question ‘Can you recommend me something interesting for under a tenner?’
Camillo de Lellis, Biferno Rosso Riserva, DOCG 2007 – £8.25
Now this is a first for me. Never have I had a DOCG Biferno before, and if this little cracker is anything to go by, I shall be having a lot more. Biferno DOCG is in the region of Molise in Southern central Italy, named after its largest river. Made from Montepulciano, and dashes of Trebbiano Toscano and Aglianico, it is a beautifully poised flirty hug of a wine. Sour cherry and wild blackberry sensuously tantalise the nose, backed up with very subtle floral notes (no doubt from the white Trabbiano grape). Just small hints of tobacco and spice light up the nose from the oak ageing. The palate is where the hug starts. Just a dash of tannin on top of the lashings of fruit and hint of savoury age make this perfect for food, and the nice, flirty, acidic lift on the finish make this truly an enjoyable drink. Medium bodied with no alcoholic kick, there is no austerity or snootiness, just a warm Italian stunner. And for just £8.25 it’s a bargain! It partners pasta with tomato sauces well, my own meatballs and tomato pasta was the perfect accompaniment, but I think this could even stand up to some gently cooked red meats.
Darren is a man who knows his stuff and with this recommendation he has made sure I will go in again to ask some more awkward requests! I urge you all to go in and have a nose around the selections and ask some advice for whatever you munch at home this weekend!
Some other recommendations from the shelves!
Boekenhoutskloof ‘The Chocolate Block’ 2010 – South Africa – £20.50
Explosive syrah based blend, full of fruit, spice and structure. One of my favourite wines to come out of South Africa!
Pewsey Vale Riesling 2010 – Eden Valley, Australia – £11.55
Intense lemon and lime but with a great whack of balancing acidity. Mouthwateringly brilliant!