ALTHOUGH the wine trade does pretty well at supporting charities, it is not so strong with social media – apart from impressively responsive outfits such as Edinburgh’s Vino Wines. It is good, therefore, to see an initiative that brings both those elements together.
Piggy Bank wines was launched by the Somerset-based importer Guy Anderson Wines and it donates 50p to charity for each bottle sold. But, here’s the difference: you get to choose which charity. Via email, Facebook or the QR code on the bottle, purchasers can vote for one of three worthy causes. Once the piggy bank contains £10,000 (which it has achieved three times already since the scheme was launched in June 2012) the money is divided in direct proportion to the votes cast; three new charities are then selected. The current options are RNLI, Water Aid and Meningitis UK.
At present, there are seven wines in the range from three different winemakers – one each in Chile, Spain and southern France. But what about the wines themselves?
For me, the pick of the reds is 2012 Piggy Bank Grenache with warm cherry and plumstone flavours with good acidity and depth, supple yet gentle tannins and a neat herbal, vanilla finish. With this offering, winemaker Thierry Boudinaud has captured precisely what Languedoc does well – full, straightforward but incredibly attractive red wine that illustrates what treasures skilled hands can build from a slightly unfashionable grape variety.
Equally, the Spanish contribution is a decent bottle too. It is made by the engaging Scot Norrel Robertson MW, who started his wine career at Oddbins in Aberdeen and Edinburgh. After spells in several winemaking hotspots, he is now the El Escoces Volante (Flying Scotsman) as one of his Spanish wine ranges is called. 2011 Piggy Bank Tempranillo hails from Extremadura in the west of the country and delivers lively plum and red cherry fruit, appealing undercurrents of cinnamon and liquorice, a suggestion of violets and, above all, a shrewd balance between acidity and tannin.
I was similarly impressed by the rosé which is also produced by Thierry Boudinaud in Languedoc, but draws in another well-known grape variety to create 2012 Piggy Bank Grenache Syrah Rosé. This avoids the common rosé problem of excess sweetness to provide a delicate yet uncomplicated wine with fresh acidity, floral strawberry flavours but some gentle earthiness to provide substance and depth.
For a white, my firm choice would be 2012 Piggy Bank Sauvignon Blanc. This is from Chile’s Elqui Valley, in the north of the country, but where cooling winds from the Pacific allow sauvignon to prosper. Winemaker Giorgio Flessati has fashioned an interesting and softer style of sauvignon with significant orange and green apple substance that is given vibrancy by delightful underpinning lemon and lime acidity.
All these wines retail at £7.99 each at www.piggybankwine.com although the Waitrose and Tesco online operations also stock several of them. Better still, a range will be available at the Tesco Wine Fair when it reaches Edinburgh. It touches down at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre in the city’s Morrison Street on 26-27 October and offers everyone attending the chance to sample some of hundreds of different wines from 14 or so countries. Tickets (£12) from www.tescowinefair.com are selling fast.
2011 Thistledown The Great Escape Chardonnay, Eden Valley, South Australia, 14.5 per cent
This really classy white adds a crisp lime and lemon-based acidic edge to the creamy but textured ripe melon and white peach flavours and rounds it off with smooth vanilla touches and a gentle oakiness.
£10.75, The Bon Vivant’s Companion, Thistle Street, Edinburgh
2006 Winemakers’ Selection Gran Reserva, Carinena, Spain, 13.5 per cent
The 18 months it has spent in oak has no doubt developed the spicy vanilla backdrop to this wine. The fruit is black cherry and plum given a mocha finish and a dryness reminiscent of roast chestnuts along with reasonably firm tannin – possibly from the cabernet sauvignon that the blend contains.