There are wines out there that have an almost mythical status among wine lovers and, because of that, they carry a hefty premium. But are they worth it? Well, as is often the case, some are, and they carry the high price for valid reasons, like scarcity, a short season of availability or the incredible level of skill taken in their creation. Others are as much the result of hype as they are of quality.
Take champagne, when you buy a bottle with a name like Dom Perignon or Veuve Clicquot on the label, you are buying into brands that have a reputation built up by generations dedicated to excellence. Yet there is a new generation of wine producers who no longer grow wine for other big brands but instead produce their own champagne.
It's always a pleasure to discover a new champagne producer and this one is definitely worthy of some attention. Raoul Huré and his brothers began the business in the 1970s, but it's now run by his son François, who has been pioneering sustainable agriculture and biodynamic wine making. His L'Invitation is our favourite, with tiny but steady bubbles and a moreish quality. This Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blend has flavours of crunchy peach, green apple and citrus. Incredibly lively and refreshing.
Australian wine brands are among the most powerful in the world, yet small young producers are looking for a new expression of Australian wines. Tom Shobrook moved back from Italy to Australia in 2007, and set about finding ways to bring all the experiences that he has had around the world to his homeland. His Didi label is a fun little label of a very fun and experimental range of wines. Try Didi Novello, pale red made from a blend of red and white grapes. This wine has floral aromas of violets, wild roses and red cherries and a silky palate of soft red fruits such as strawberries and ripe cherries.
Sicilian wine has quite the opposite problem - its reputation. For generations, Sicily was more concerned with quantity over quality. Once synonymous with Marsala, the fortified wine most people associate as an ingredient in a saucy chicken dish, Sicily now produces wines ranging from fresh and mineral whites to elegant and refreshingly un-manipulated reds. A handful of producers started working with smaller yields and more artisanal winemaking methods. The soil composition, which includes the volcanic earth surrounding Mount Etna, combined with more sunshine days than any region in Europe make for excellent growing conditions.
COS are an exciting natural winery growing indigenous varieties to make a really elegant, fresh, expressive red. Their Frappatto is beautifully perfumed with fresh cherry fruit and herbs. The palate is elegant with bright fruit and lovely acidity. So fresh and pure.