2019 Blackbook Winery, Controversy Pinot Meunier, Coombe Bottom Vineyard, Sussex
Winemaker Sergio Verrillo makes his wines in Battersea, right next door to where I make my Jukes Cordialities. The other day, we swapped tasting samples. I gave him a tasting box of my drinks for him to sample and he gave me a “cleanskin” bottle upon which he wrote the words 2019 PM Controversy in white marker. The label you can see in the picture accompanying this column is a mock-up as this wine was unlabelled when I first tasted it and ten days ago, before this very issue was printed, it had yet to be labelled. So, this week I have a genuine scoop for you.
Only 80 cases of Controversy were made and so there is a chance that come this evening it may well have sold out. Nothing has excited me more in my job as a wine writer than being the first to find a wine, particularly one as memorable as this. This scintillating, still, pinot meunier (this grape is most often found in sparkling form) is whole bunch pressed and naturally fermented and then aged for seven months in old Burgundy barrels. Its flavour is like no other I have ever tasted. It is a rosé, albeit the palest you have ever encountered and this is not intentional! The nose and palate parade white pepper, ginger root and barely ripe grapes, and the experience is invigorating, prickly and fascinating.
This wine is sensational, challenging, rare and unmissable. It is like finding a missing page in the encyclopaedia of wine. Sergio’s wines are always enlightening, but Controversy is genuinely unique.
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)