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The McManis Family Lodi Petite Sirah is a revelation

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Well, it’s been quite a week for me. Not only have I had the pleasure of tasting the Wine Society’s Exhibition Hermitage Blanc (£38) a wine so diverting I’d gladly sit through a lecture on the history of car parks to get another glassful, but I’ve fallen in love.

My ardour has been ignited by an encounter with four wines which, at face value, wouldn’t have turned my head, but which proved to be love at first sip. This glorious quarter reminded me of how no matter how well you think you know wine, there is always more to discover…

My breath was first taken away by the Loimer Gumpold 2019. Loimer is one of the great names of Austrian wine and this Chardonnay/Zierfandler blend is magnificent. Heady notes of roasted apples, honey, pears, and peaches come together with notes of spices, zest and blossom to give a wine that is both rich and ripe yet elegant and exotic.

Next up a Californian, the Paris Valley Road Chardonnay (The Wine Society). When I was at Harrods, I drank a lot of Californian wine.

The wines were excellent and generally priced well below the French classic from which they drew inspiration.

Since then, as their fame as grown – especially domestically – great wines have become harder to find and afford.

This then was a deeply joyous discovery. Old school big, bold Chardonnay. Masses of creamy oak, an explosion of tropical fruit and yet with the acidity and balance to stop it becoming a simplistic fruit bomb.

This is a winery I will be following with interest from here.

And so, to the reds. When I see the words ‘Petite Sirah (Syrah)’ on a label two thoughts usually occur. The first is, ‘That’s got as much to do with Syrah as I have with the extinction of the dodo’ closely followed by, ‘Next!’ Petite Sirah is also known as Durif, a typically foursquare, heavy, slightly lumbering grape that has rarely done much for me. The McManis Family Lodi Petite Sirah 2019 (The Wine Society £11.95) came as something of revelation.

While it packed a weighty punch, the prune, baked fig, and earth tones were lifted by a lovely succulent berry acidity that lifted this and imparted life and fun into this often-staid variety.

And finally, another Loimer, the Anning 2019 Pinot Noir. I adore Pinot Noir but finding good examples that don’t require a second mortgage can be hard.

This was amazing. Wonderfully delineated raspberry, strawberry and cherry fruit combined with fresh acidity and minerals to create a wine that was a refined and elegant as it was powerful and complex. My only regret is that I don’t (yet!) have more of it.

Give this another couple of years in bottle and it will be even better.

Here’s to the love of great wine. More soon!

Giles Luckett is a Downham-based wine connoisseur and digital editor of Soup to Nuts magazine

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