Delicately floral wine is not as Crappe as it sounds
PUBLISHED: 17:00 03 May 2016
It was a wine launch like none other.
A video of fancy-dress partying straight out of a Greek comedy; much talk about stinkiness; the man who grew the grapes and turned them into wine describing the result as “technically a disaster”.
That didn’t dampen the enthusiasm as independent merchant Theatre of Wine (shops in Tufnell Park and Greenwich) introduced Clos de Crappe 2013, latest table wine from wild-haired and equally wild-spirited Dirk Niepoort, renowned for his excellent port.
The story behind it is too long to tell here, but shop staff will happily share it.
While you can swirl away a lot of the rubbery, smoky, reductive scents – though Niepoort says you shouldn’t – the flavours grow and grow. For a Douro Valley red Clos de Crappe has a rare lightness and delicacy, more floral and herbal than fruit-cake heavy, crisp and a tad spicy on the finish rather than heavily sunburned. Is pinot noir in the multi-blend?
It is made not to fit accepted rules but to show character, Niepoort argues, a wine for consumers, not winemakers.
It is sold here only by Theatre of Wine (£27.50), alongside more conventional Niepoort delights – Dao Tinto Rotulo 2013, a denser, darker red, yet fresh and elegantly tannined (£15.45), for example, or the superb 2011 LBV port (£12.40, half-bottle) – Dirk Niepoort drinks that with peppered steak.
Overall, Theatre of Wine has a very smart selection, often rare and special, and its 2016 trade and press tasting was a particular pleasure.
So too was that from Somerset-based but very online-friendly Yapp Brothers – what Jason Yapp rightly described as a “small but perfectly formed selection” from their list.
There wasn’t an emphasis on any particular style of wine, or grape, or region (though France was by far the dominant country). Instead, they were splendidly individual wines, chosen on their own merits – which is what such independent merchants do so well.
The Yapps have, for example, long championed Domaine de Millet, in Gascony – straightforward wines, but made with care and commitment, and modestly priced.
I must admit an interest here, as I’ve often stayed at the gîte on the estate and been particularly encouraged by the Dèche family’s effort to draw the coming generation into France’s wine heritage.
I’ll long remember pupils from the local infants’ school harvesting grapes under Francis Dèche’s benign guidance. But there are so many more Yapp stars..
More characterful treats from Theatre of Wine:
One of Theatre of Wine’s strengths is in eastern and far southern Europe, including the Oikonomou Cretan wines which helped inspire Clos de Crappe.
Try these: Oikonomou Assytriko 2012, fascinating, fresh, immensely long, £30.75, or Liatiko Red 2006, wonderful leathery age, £30; two inviting rieslings, Hungarian Miklos Csabi Spaceman 2014, £15, and Croatian Bolfan 2014, £14.50); ripe, rich and smoky Feteasca Regala-Pinot Gris 2013 from Avincis, Romania, £15.65.
From Yapp Brothers (yappbrothers.co.uk): Domaine de Millet rosé 2015, perfect summer aperitif, £9.75; Marc Angeli La Lune 2014 from Anjou, rich, appley, crisp chenin blanc, £20; Bellet Domaine de la Source Blanc 2013, layered, elegant, exceptionally complex expression of the rolle grape, £23.50; immensely drinkable red Mas Bruguière l’Arbouse 2014, Pic Saint-Loup, £14; golden nectar La Tomaze Cuvée Lys Coteaux du Layon Rablay 1990, £35.