A natural wine

Some may recall, on my post about natural wine, a brief discussion with Fabio of Vinos Ambiz in which he agreed to send me a bottle of his wine as long as I was brutally honest about it. This post is the culmination of that bargain. I agreed to be honest, Fabio, and I most certainly will be, which is a bit of a shame as I had hoped for either a lot more or a lot less… When sampling Fabio’s wine we tried some variations on Scotch eggs, namely Heston Bulmenthal’s suggestions for their preparation.

Those of a warped bent will be pleased to know I have set this article to be published right when I’ll be going under the knife on Thursday morning. If the anaesthetic gets me or the surgeon cuts the wrong bit out you’ll know the last bottle I popped just as I’m popping my clogs. I would have hoped for something significantly more terrific for my terminal tipple, truthfully.

Vinos Ambiz Garnacha 2010

Garnacha 2010, Vinos Ambiz

This has a very ripe, alcoholic and fruity nose. And that’s it. It’s not dirty, faulty, complex or interesting; it’s just a rather ripe, rather young Grenache of supreme simplicity. I’m a bit let down by that, I was expecting either fantastic fireworks or florid flaws. It’s just a well-made, ordinary wine and I think such things are really boring. The palate has a surprising level of acidity for it’s ripeness level and varietal, but that’s all that is surprising about it. It is quite fruity, quite tannic and quite alcoholic. If you want me to tell you the things it has to excess those would be simplicity and lack of dimension. There is nothing at all bad about it, indeed it is a well-made wine of this style. It’s just not a style I give two hoots about. So thank you, Fabio, for showing me that natural wines can be clean, lack faults and well-made, but next time we get into an argument send something that has more complexity that I can get worked up about, eh? I’d prefer a lot more interest-value of even the ‘flawed to buggery’-type rather than simply ‘dull’.

Just to note, this is bottle number 213 of 300 made, so I have poured away most of 0.3% of the entire production. Hmmm… 213 bottles, that is about how many I made in total from fruit when a teenager. I sold most to fellow pupils at school – that seemed just fine to me. I did it just to cover costs and for educational reasons, you understand. I wanted them to tell me how I should improve future batches I made. I never got any coherent responses to that question and I was far too naive to know why…

Vinos Ambiz Garnacha 2010 with Scotch eggs

We drank the small tastes we had with some Scotch eggs; indubitably orbs of the moment. These used Greenfield Pork Products sausage meat. It was perfectly adequate, but not as good as the best we’ve used.

The major changes were those suggested by Heston in The Sun On Sunday last weekend. Not that I read a dreadful English rag of a newspaper you understand. Well, apart from The Economist. He suggests that the best way of boiling eggs is to put them in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil, then take off the heat and leave for 6 minutes before cooling the eggs. As you can see from the picture, this resulted in eggs too well-cooked to have runny yolks.

His second suggestion was to only deep fry the orbs for 2 minutes then finish them off in an oven at 190 Celsius for 100 minutes. This is supposed to make them more golden, which I am not convinced it did. All-in-all, nil points for Heston and his egg bonkersness, it seems.

Fabio, I’m sorry I didn’t either love or hate your wine any more than I did. It was good-ish, but in a manner that holds no interest at all for me. Many thanks for sending me the bottle, though, and I hope you enjoy the bacon that finally made it to you.

  • David,

    Thanks for your review, and I hope you recover quickly from your operation so that you can review many, many more wines!

    I wouldn’t know what to think if your ‘terminal tipple’ turned out to be one of my wines – though it would make a great anecdote to tell my grandchildren if I ever had any!!!

    I’m sorry you found it boring. But that’s partly my own fault! I thought a lot about which wine to send you, and in the end I went for the most normal, standard natural wine I had – indistinguishable from a conventional wine in fact (ie, a Green Light on Fiona Beckett’s scale of natural wines).

    I of course have a different opinion: I rather like its simplicity and delicacy. It’s not easy to make a delicate Garnacha, and in fact I find most Garnachas that I taste far too overpowering. I’ve been told that this wine is an excellent, unadulterated expression of the Garnacha grape variety; that its aromas and tastes are pure and clean, and not masked in any way by other factors, such as too much oak, too many tannins from over-extraction, etc. It is in fact one of the wines I’m most pleased with and proud of, perhaps precisely because of these simple qualities which you find boring but which I and others appreciate a lot.

    Also, I don’t know if those scotch eggs were the best thing to have had with the wine! I’ve always found eggs in general rather tricky to pair well.

    Anyway, when you’re up and about again, we can repeat the excercise, and next time I’ll send you something that you may find more ‘interesting’!

  • Hello,
    I’m alive but a touch tired and sore. I’ve had various tubes inserted and removed between my stomach and other parts of my digestive tract.

    I will reply more fully to your comment when I’m a bit more with it, Fabio. I think I may sleep a bit more now…

  • Richard Katz

    Did they bring the procedure forward or was this a new surprise? Get well soon mate, got some fab wines for us to sip together

  • Hello Richard,

    This was sprung on me. Apparently there was some stuff they needed to do before whipping my gall bladder out. It was only day surgery, but it left me feeling very tired and I’ve been asleep pretty much constantly. I’m glad to be feeling a bit more rested as today I have tickets to the Winchester real ale and cider festival – I only got them because I like the people providing the food! I’m certainly not in the mood for N pints of pongy beer today…

    Keep well!

  • Hello Fabio,

    Sorry for the delay in replying, I haven’t been feeling myself.

    I’d find it hard to describe many 14% Grenache wines as delicate, but I see where you are coming from. I also see that it is a good expression of Grenache, but is really not much more than than that and if I want pure expressions of fruit I’ll get the apple juices from down the road.

    I drink wine for a taste of, a grasp at the beautiful and brilliant. A simple wine just doesn’t provide that and so I’m not very interested. Sure it was well-made, obvious etc. but it takes more than that to be interesting.

    Perhaps I can taste some of your other wines at RAW.

  • Tom Blach

    I entirely agree with you about pure expressions of fruit, David. But one could consider a simple wine as just a more wholesome and nutritious form of fruit juice which also as he merit of economy in that the juice is preserved so that it doesn’t all have to be drunk at once, not forgetting that harmful sugar has been transformed by nature into beneficial and cheering alcohol, so I think you may be a little harsh. Of course our punitive duty rate can spoil the equation with such wines.

  • I suppose that is partly my point about simple wines, Tom. I can get 12 bottles of complex, characterful and quite compelling Meon Valley apple juice for a tenner and, I’m surprised to admit, mere alcohol does not do it enough for me to make simple wines worth the considerable premium. I really don’t drink that much these days, I spit at tastings I attend, so when I drink wine I want it to be extremely good. Otherwise it’s just not worth my time and money…

  • What a great piece, and always nice to see Scotch eggs squeezed into an evening. Let me know when your next Scotch egg pairing is.