Having covered the opening of Vinoza last week, with its aim to provide affordable wines to Taiwan, (http://sniff.com.tw/?p=266) I wanted to continue the theme of ‘making wine easy’ by reviewing Direct Wines, another relative newcomer to these shores. Established in the UK more than 40 years ago, the decision by Direct Wines to open here in January, demonstrated that they believe, like Vinoza, that there is money to be made in the mid-market.
Direct Wines have always traded on the idea of trust first espoused by owner Tony Laithwaite ‘trust us to bring you the best wines we can find…trust us that you will enjoy them.’ This is a powerful message and one reinforced by their guarantee of replacing any wines that the customer doesn’t enjoy. On tasting a selection at their offices in Neihu, it was instantly apparent why they have been so successful in selling wine both in the UK, Australia and now Asia. The secret is in the easiness of the wine’s style. Whatever I tasted, at whatever price-point, I couldn’t help but feel satisfied with what was in my glass. Was I moved, shocked or awed by any of the wines? No, but to expect that would be to misunderstand the point of what Direct Wines is offering. Their aim is to provide good quality examples from the wine regions that they represent, affording the wine-consuming majority the opportunity to drink or taste wine daily. This is a more European approach to wine, where wine, traditionally, is treated more like food. For wine culture to become more embedded here in Taiwan the current view has to change. Wine should not be about aspiration or status it should be about the provision of (almost) daily pleasure.
Below are some affordable wines from this recent tasting. To order them (in Taiwan) call Direct Wines at 02 7701 0188
Chateau Toutigeac, Bordeaux A.O.C., 2009,13%
Grape: Cabernet Franc 60%
Wine-making: Neutral, no obvious oak influence
Note: Chateaux in the Entre-deux-Mers region of Bordeaux are better known for producing white wines rather than reds but this Cabernet Franc dominated red has the benefit of a rich, ripe vintage. Simple but with pleasing black cherry fruit and supple tannins that makes it easy to appreciate even if kept chilled in the fridge.
Torrevento ‘Vigna Pedale’ Nero di Troia Riserva, Castel del Monte D.O.C, 2008, 13%
Grape: Nero di Troia
Wine-making: 12 months in oak
Note: I’ve always had a soft spot for this variety which resides in Puglia, southern Italy. This has a little savouriness accompanying the ripe fruit that adds just enough complexity to make this wine genuinely interesting. My favourite red wine here.
Le Prince de Courthezon, Cotes-du-Rhone 2012, 14.5%
Grape: 80% Grenache, 10% each of Syrah and Mourvedre
Wine-making: Old oak and steel, no new oak influence
Note: Another easy to appreciate wine this time made with Grenache. Tasting of strawberry and pomelo pith (I know a bit strange but it works) this has high alcohol but it never gets in the way. Just don’t serve it too warm.
Sendero des Santos, Albarino, Rias Baixas D.O., 2011, 13%
Wine-making: Stainless Steel to preserve purity of fruit
Note: White wines are still second choice to many in Taiwan but this pineapple and apricot scented Galician is perfect for the steamy weather we are experiencing this September.