Christine Austin visits the Martinez Wine Extravaganza where small producers get a chance to make it onto the shelves

It was a full house at Ilkley’s King’s Hall and Winter Garden last week for the huge wine tasting known as the Martinez Wine Extravaganza.  Thankfully the tasting was open all afternoon and into the evening, so although there were several hundred people attending, there was not too much of a crush around the tasting tables.

This kind of event is a fine opportunity to taste wines that might be new, or maybe slightly beyond your usual budget and so give you an idea of whether it is worth stepping up to a higher price bracket.

As one of Yorkshire’s long-standing independents with shops in Ilkley and Bingley, both of which morph into wine bars several nights a week, Martinez stock around 600 different wines, most of which you can’t find in supermarkets.  They have been sourced from small, individual producers from around the world providing a range of tastes that reflect the grapes, vineyards and the winemaker in that locality.

Many of the wines on show at the Extravaganza are not actually on the shelves in the Martinez shops.  This is really an exercise in voting by tastebuds.  If a wine meets the approval of customers at the tasting then there is a strong chance it will end up on the shelves.

‘We take note of what our customers tell us about the wines, and if they like them, then we list them in the shops’, said Jonathan Cocker, owner of Martinez.  ‘It means our range of wines is constantly growing.’

Since I was rushing for a train, I omitted to highlight my particular favourites, so here are my votes for the Martinez selection jury.

 

Under £10

There is a myth that independent wine retailers can’t sell great value wine – but they can.

Bodega Gotica Verdejo 2016, Rueda, Spain £8.99

Full of the fresh, lively, lemon and pineapple notes expected from Rueda.  If you like Sauvignon Blanc, then you will probably like this.

Saladini Pilastri Falerio 2016, Marche, Italy, £9.99

Mainly Trebbiano grapes with a splash of Pecorino and Passerina, this has light floral and citrus aromas with the scent of herbs on a summer breeze.  The palate is refined, fresh, elegant and textured.  Perfect with lunchtime salads or grilled white fish.

Sabina Garnacha 2015, Navarra, Spain, £8.49

A lighter style of Garnacha with juicy, spice-dusted raspberry flavours.  Chill it down for drinking when the sun starts to shine.

Ch. Perron La Gourdine 2015, Bordeaux, £8.99

Terrific everyday claret with bags of fruit and enough backbone to stand up to a Sunday lunch.

£10 to £13

Domaine Horgelus Sauvignon Gros Manseng 2016, £10.75

Made from grapes grown in the foothills of the Pyrenees, this wine delivers bags of zippy fresh citrus and nettle flavours, backed up by notes of melon and herbs.  Team it with lunch in the sun.

Muga Rioja Rosado 2016, Spain, £12.49

Deeper in colour than is fashionable these days but the flavours are superb.  Delicate raspberry-edged fruit, fresh and juicy.  Chill it down and serve with tapas.

Domaine de la Creuze Noire Coteaux Bourguignons Rouge, 2016, France £12.99

Coteaux Bourguignons is a fairly new appellation, replacing the rather dreary Bourgogne Ordinaire and allows both Gamay and Pinot Noir in the wines.  This version from Domaine de la Creuze is Gamay-dominated with soft, juicy fruit and a silky style that could fool your tastebuds into imagining a preponderance of Pinot.

 

Glenelly Glass Collection Syrah 2014, South Africa £12.99

Simply gorgeous with damsons, blackcurrant, pepper and liquorice notes and supple, steak friendly tannins. Almost too good for a barbecue.

£13 to £18

 

Feudo di San Gregorio, Greco di Tufo 2017, Italy £16.49

Wines made from the Greco grape are now appearing in supermarkets, but Feudo di San Gregorio is the best producer in the region. This has gentle floral, apricot and peach aromas backed by a rounded palate and a long finish.  Perfect with roast chicken or creamy pasta.

Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2016, New Zealand £17.49

Consistently one of my favourites, with zesty, crisp, lemongrass and juicy minerally flavours, this is a bright, lively style of Sauvignon to enjoy as an aperitif, or with oysters, goat’s cheese and salads.

Mestizaje Tinto 2015, Bodega Mustiguillo, Spain £14.99

Made from the Bobal grape, this is packed with gutsy dark-berry fruit with plum compote, cinnamon and wet forest floor notes. Team it with sausages and spare ribs.

La Bascula No Stone Unturned Garnacha 2015, Spain £16.95

Made by an eminent South African winemaker and a British Master of Wine, this is part of a new range that really deserves more shelf space.  Maybe the names of the wines need more work, but the flavours are terrific.  This is dark, complex and full of blackberry fruit.

 

Push the boat out

Claude Cazals Carte Blanche Champagne NV, £28.99

With so many offers and the ups and downs of supermarket pricing it is difficult to navigate the best deals on champagne.  This is a consistently good, rounded, toasty, elegant champagne and is very well priced.

De Morgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2016, South Africa £28.99

Not cheap, but very, very good. Old Chenin vines, planted high enough in the Stellenbosch hills to catch the breeze, low yields and impeccable winemaking make this a wine to hide until the right people come round for dinner.  Lemon, nectarine and mandarin notes, honeysuckle and a long, rounded texture.

Sancerre Balland Rosé 2016, £18.99

Take a break from Provence rosé wines and try this Sancerre Rosé with light white floral aromas, wild strawberry fruit expression and precise, balanced freshness.  All you need is sunshine.

Carmignano Villa di Capezzana 2013, Italy £26.79

Distinctive, elegant and balanced this is a Tuscan blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, from the impressive Contini Bonacossi estate just north of Florence.  The grapes are grown organically.  The wine has all the cherry top-notes and spiced plum flavours you would expect in a quality Chianti but then the Cabernet underpins the fruit with structure and finesse.  Gorgeous.

About The Author

Christine Austin

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

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