Own Selection Spotlights: our Buyers’ favourites
Author: Issariya Morgan
Each bottle in our Own Selection range has been carefully sourced by our Buyers, in collaboration with our most trusted producers. This month, we’re turning the focus onto four of our Buyers’ favourite bottles, telling the story behind the wine or spirit.
Elegance and finesse
David and Carla Ramey have been making wine in the heart of Sonoma County since 1996. They pride themselves on an approach rooted in French tradition yet driven by a sense of New World innovation. This marriage of philosophies has resulted in a brilliant range of wines, including this hugely popular Own Selection Chardonnay.
“Ramey is widely regarded as one of the finest producers of Chardonnay in California, and a star across the globe,” says Buyer Catriona Felstead MW. “They have exceptional vineyard sites, making wines that are true to their roots yet have an elegance and finesse that sets them apart from the vast majority of Californian whites.”
This Chardonnay comes from site on the border between the Sonoma County and Russian River Valley AVAs, undergoing the same winemaking and élévage as Ramey’s own Russian River Valley Chardonnay. The nose entices with stone-fruit, orange blossom, ginger and citrus, with layers of toast and spice on the palate. The wine’s depth reveals notes of ripe lemons and golden apples running through its core.
It’s the perfect match for chicken dishes, fish pie or creamy seafood, but can equally be savoured by itself. “The last time I had a glass, I found myself wanting to have some toasted almonds,” says Catriona.
If you’re looking for a rich, complex Chardonnay from an exceptional producer, this is just the ticket.
A versatile Claret
Château Léoville Las Cases is celebrated as one of the best sites in the Médoc. Located in the heart of the Léoville plateau, this Second Growth has been owned by the Delon family since 1900.
Our Own Selection St Julien comes the same site that produces the grapes for the château’s grand vin, not far from the Garonne River. It’s sourced from the estate’s young vines, making it approachable at an earlier stage.
The wine is made according to the same traditional processes which are applied to the grand vin. Rich and complex, it’s brimming with notes of intense black fruit, against a backdrop of velvety tannins and sweet cedar spices.
It’s a delicious partner for classic red meat dishes such as beef or leg of lamb. Yet, as our Bordeaux Buyer Georgina Haacke says, “it also has a wonderful freshness, with distinctly floral aromas, meaning it would work well with a lighter roast chicken, as well as some vegetarian dishes. It’s incredibly versatile.”
While it’s drinking beautifully now, Georgina says, “there’s enough substance here for the wine to age for a few years in the cellar, developing those signature Claret cigar-box notes.”
A timeless comfort
Nestled in a landscape of gently rolling farmland lies Château de Maniban. Here, Nismes-Delclou have been making Armagnac since 1832. Today, the house is led by the inimitable Florence Castarède.
We’re delighted that Nismes-Delclou make our XO Armagnac for us.
“Eschewing the more refined production methods of their Cognac-conjuring Charentais cousins, the tried-and-true practices employed by Nismes-Delclou bring forth spirit of immense character, with richness and depth aplenty,” says our Spirits Buyer Rob Whitehead.
“When last I visited, it was a distinct and unhurried pleasure to work with the Maître de Chai to create this bottling, for which the shortest ageing period was 20 years, with the great majority of the liquid having spent closer to a quarter-century in restful slumber.”
This extended maturation allows the wood spice to interweave with fruit notes from across the spectrum – dried citrus, brown dates, red berries and purple plums – resulting in a deliciously complex spirit.
These rich layers of flavour make it a wonderful match for many desserts, such as a pastis gascon (an apple pie popular in the region). But it will also go beautifully with a variety of dishes based on fruits or nuts.
Rob puts it elegantly: “As the evening grows on and conversation flows, what could possibly be more reassuring than the unchanging comfort of a well-aged Armagnac?”
Sophisticated yet powerful
In the heart of Piedmont lie the villages of Barolo, Castiglione Falletto and Serralunga d’Alba. Sitting between two tectonic plates, this is a landscape sculpted by rivers.Here, in this “island” of villages, this unique terroir gives the wines great minerality, tannin and an incredible floral perfume.
The 2016 vintage of our Own Selection Barolo comes from these three villages. “Barolo is historically a blended wine, with the juice coming from communities throughout the region,” says our Italy Buyer Davy Żyw, “and our Own Selection wine is made in this traditional way.”
The majority of the fruit comes from Castiglione Falletto – including top vineyard sites such as Rocche – giving the wine some minerality, sweetness of tannins and an incredible floral perfume. More than a third of the fruit comes from Serralunga d’Alba, including from winemaker Davide Rosso’s own vineyards. Here, the region’s ancient white soils lend the wine a steely mineral backbone, as well as precision, elegance and longevity. And 25% of the grapes come from two different vineyard sites in Barolo, which imbues the wine with power, depth of fruit, fullness and tannin.
With these ingredients, Davide – whom Davy describes as a “beacon for the whole of Barolo” – has crafted an exceptional multi-blend Barolo for us. “He’s a man of sophistication and class,” says Davy. “He’s fiercely proud of being from Serralunga d’Alba, and you can feel it in his Barolo. His wines are unashamedly elegant yet raw and powerful – just like his character.”
Davy describes 2016 as a “magnificent vintage”, yielding vivid yet classical wines with rare levels of structure, fruit depth and acidity. In Davide’s hands, this has resulted in a wine of great elegance and complexity.