Although the Three Wise Men came from the East and their vinous counterparts (the Three Wine Men) are from the south, all six are associated with tidings of great cheer. While the Wine Men’s focus may be more earthly, their approach is equally evangelical.
Oz Clarke, Tim Atkin and Olly Smith have been friends for years, long before television made them familiar faces – united in a zeal to make wine accessible and, above all, fun. This instinctive passion has now been formalised into the gloriously laid-back, UK-wide Three Wine Men events.
Next month, they come to Edinburgh’s Signet Library to give Scots the chance to sample some fabulous wines – and beers too. The infectious enthusiasm of the three is the cement that holds these events together, whether their involvement takes the form of chatting to visitors, conducting wine walks or hopping on a soapbox to commend something one of the exhibitors is offering. Those exhibitors are from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from Majestic and Freixenet to boutique producers from less-travelled corners of the world.
For one of the latter, see Domaine Belfort – a relatively new family-owned producer (he is British, she is French) with impressive organic methods, based near Cahors. Enjoy, in particular, 2010 Tour de Belfort Red, a well-structured, soft yet spicy blend that includes malbec and cabernet franc.
For something really unusual, sample one of the Wines of Brasil. Some are produced a mere eight degrees from the equator, where the seasons merge and two harvests a year are not uncommon. Elsewhere in that country are terrific little gems such as 2010 Lidio Carraro Dadivas Pinot Noir, a delightfully soft, juicy and unoaked pinot.
Folk at the Constellation stand can familiarise you with the story of Joel (“no wimpy wines here”) Peterson, founder of Ravenswood. Despite making his first vintage more than 35 years ago, Peterson’s quest has been optimal quality at every harvest. Often this involves seeking out under-estimated vineyards of 75 to 100 years old and engaging with their owners. This approach led to a four-hour discussion under a tree with Frank Teldeschi – an alliance that has now delivered top-rate wine for over 30 years. The family maintains the deal has never been grounded in anything more than “a handshake, a glass of zinfandel and – in the early days – Peterson’s annual arrival in a borrowed, beat-up, flatbed truck”. For a practical update on the story, luxuriate in the dense mint and red plum touches of 2006 Ravenswood Teldeschi Zinfandel. Or try the inexpensive 2009 Ravenswood Lodi Zinfandel, with its nicely balanced plum and vanilla flavours.
Propitiously, Clarke has recently published an updated version of his excellent Bordeaux – The Wines, the Vineyards, the Winemakers (Pavilion, £25) and will no doubt gladly tell visitors all about it. The book is a comprehensive review of the region that produces what many consider to be the king of wines.
• To help Scotland on Sunday readers get the best from the Thre Wine Men event, we have secured some excellent discounts – visit the TWM website (www.threewinemen.co.uk) or phone 0844 858 6759 and quote 3WINEJP to get £5 off each £20 ticket and a free Riedel glass (worth £10). Call 0844 576 8122 and cite CH1662 for a discount of £5 on Clarke’s book. You could even take it along and get him to sign it.
So get along to the Signet Library on 23-24 June and taste some wines with three of life’s good guys converting joie de vivre into an obvious joie de vin. n
2008 Louis Jadot Marsannay Burgundy, France, 13 per cent White burgundy is glorious but often has mega price tags. Stray off the beaten track for this elegant treat with textbook acidity, a soft, smooth texture and crisp mandarin orange flavours. £18.79 (www.yourfavouritewines.com)
• 2011 Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon Chile, 13.5 per cent Brands are not always the best route to well-made wines but Diablo is an exception. Its cabernet is typically smooth, with black cherry fruit topped off with touches of mint but little of the tannin that can characterise European equivalents.
£5 (down from £7.99 until 12 June), Sainsbury’s
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east