Sunday, 9 May 2010

Duncan Murray Wines

With a government left hanging and seemingly no nearer to any concrete conclusions about who should run the country, I left London on Friday afternoon on the 5.30 train to Nottingham, swigging a Red Bull and chomping on a Caramel to keep me awake.

Jumping off an hour later at Market Harborough in Leicestershire, I headed, father in tow, to Duncan Murray Wines on Adam and Eve street for a tasting of their newest wines.

Duncan Murray is something of a celebrity in Market Harborough – he appeared in Come Dine With Me and hosts regular Saturday tastings at his shop. Having worked in the Languedoc in the late '90s, Murray specializes in the region and bares a striking resemblance to fellow Languedoc lover, wine writer-turned-winemaker Monty Waldin.

Passionate about the region, Murray believes the Languedoc still has huge potential, and strives to source wines from hard to find small producers like Domaine du Poujol. Arriving at the shop, I noticed the word 'olé' had been spray-painted onto the window. I liked it already.

There were 21 wines on show from a variety of regions including Campania, Verona, Rioja and Alentejo. The Domaine de Poujol Rosé 2009 was an attractive onion skin colour and had a crisp, melony nose and smooth, creamy palate - a perfect picnic wine. The Conde de Jauregui Crianza 2006 had a lovely savoury, meaty nose, with red fruit, coffee bean, spice and tobacco all mixing on the palate.

My wine of the night was next in line - the Aglianico Terredora 2008 from Campania. At £12.99 it was the most expensive wine on show, but the quality shone through. Imported by Michael Palij MW though his Oxford-based Winetraders company, the nose showed sweet, unctuous red fruit - cherries, raspberries and plums, with a velvety licquorice-filled palate and a grippy, chocolatey body. It was too lovely to spit out.

Other notable highlights included a dusky, damsony Corvina from Verona, a silky, supple Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot blend from Corbieres, a juicy, cantaloupe fuelled Domaine du Poujol Pico made from a blend of Vermentino, Carignan Blanc and Roussanne, and golfer Ernie Els' coconut and toffee filled Guardian Peak Merlot.

I whizzed round the wines, going back to my favorites for a second sip. It was impressive to see quality and complexity at amazing value, with most of the wines costing between £5.99-£8.99. It proves quality needn't come with an eye-watering price tag. Talking to Duncan and his team gave me a renewed enthusiasm for wine, and the quest to seek out hidden gems from lesser-known regions, providing consumers with an inspiring range of wines beyond the confines of the supermarket.

Small independent merchants are a consumer's link to the great wine regions of the world, and we as wine writers should be doing everything we can to flag up these unsung heroes. Without them, wine buying would be a far duller experience.

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