It is not just the first growths and grand crus of Burgundy that celebrate terroir and the ability of a site to confer a special character on a wine. Below are three of our favourite single vineyard wines from outside the box.
Starting in 2011, Muscadet began a process of vineyard classification that has now delimited ten crus, the most recent of which is Champtoceaux. Inland of Nantes, near the town of Ancenis, the metamorphic soils of schist, gneiss and micha testify to the tumultuous volcanic origins of these vineyards millions of years ago. Quintessentially flinty, stony and pure tasting, prolonged lees ageing and bottling without filtration, have given this wine a mellow, gentle texture that complements the naturally bracing acidity. This comes from the estate's best plot of old vines and has been given extra time to develop a personality that is both restrained and harmonious. A worthy counterpart to Chablis and every bit as delicious with seafood.
A recent bottle of grand cru Burgundy reminded us just how amazingly undervalued this wine is. Xavier Guillaume is a hero at Theatre of Wine and we have been enthusiastically promoting his wines for years but it is easy to get complacent and this is a wine that simply sings. Just east of the starry vineyards of Burgundy, Xavier might as well be a world away, but the terroir and the style immediately recall the Cote d'Or. From a single plot of 45-year-old vines, planted on limestone and flinty clay topsoils that reminds the winemaker of Bonnes Mares, the wine has the same care lavished on it as a grand cru and the taste unites rich velvety texture with purity of fruit, and brilliant focus. The best value wine we sell?
Apostolos Thymiopoulos continues to raise the standards in Naoussa, a mountainous area in the north of Greece, west of Thessaloniki. This is a highly anticipated, single vineyard release from a recently acquired plot of old vines that were left ungrafted because when they were planted the vineyard owners simply could not afford grafted stocks. Amazingly they survived and now at a venerable age, they deliver low yields of wonderfully expressive xinomavro. Apostolos' wines are always marked by their perfume and delicacy and this ethereal, gastronomic red takes it to another level. A wine that lovers of Barolo and Burgundy will adore, this is an instant classic that drinks beautifully now and should age gracefully for years to come.