2016 Westwell Wines, Ortega Amphora, Kent, England £14.95, WestwellWines.com
The “Naughty Hare” Ortega is the UK’s first amphora wine. “Who cares?” I hear you cry. “Isn’t this fad already past its prime?” To be frank, I don’t care what a wine is fermented in if it tastes this good, but if the flavour is in some way derived from the historic terracotta vessel then it is clearly a matter of interest.
Aside from being the finest Ortega I have ever tasted, this wine is blessed with epic purity and floral tones that summon up the perfume of the prettiest bridal bouquets at your favourite weddings. It is exquisitely balanced, with hints of tropical fruit, yearning to be set free, but kept quietly under control by the pin-sharp acidity. It is a dramatic and extremely rewarding wine.
At only 12.5% alcohol, it manages to summon up these heavenly and yet demure flavours without trying too hard. The terracotta amphoras are sourced from an artisan potter near Florence who works with the likes of Château Lafite and also Champagne Jacques Selosse.
Westwell’s own description for what these curious 500-litre jugs do to the wine is that the yeast lees “stay in constant turmoil during fermentation, adding richness, texture and breadth”. The amphoras allow the smallest proportion of air to enter –somewhere between stainless steel tanks and barrels. So they are responsible for the genius of this wine after all. I guarantee you will love it!
• Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (MatthewJukes.com).