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A staggering Bacchanalian creation

2018 Castlewood, Devon Minnow, Block HH Clone Gf1 Bacchus, Devon 

£24, 75cl bottle; £50, 150cl magnum; castlewoodvineyard.co.uk

Castlewood specialises in sparkling wines, but it took the decision to plant some Bacchus in 2016 and this wine is the very first release. The inspiration and the name (a Devon Minnow is a 200-year-old spinning lure) for this wine came from fishing companions Robin Hutson, the visionary hotelier, and renowned chef Mark Hix. Coming from a warm, steep, south-facing vineyard called Block HH, this wine was created to feature on Robin’s, Mark’s and other chef friends’ wine lists.

The 2018 was a perfect vintage because the harvest was first class with fully ripe Bacchus fruit. The grapes were hand-selected and then whole bunch pressed into oak barrels for fermentation and a further six months of maturation. 

This wine is such a different take on the Bacchus grape. There are none of the pinched, nettle and elderflower notes associated with this variety. Instead, it shows uncommon texture, palate plushness and perfect balance. The oak component alone is mind-blowing. It is not too rich, while still retaining luxurious patisserie notes that augment the ginger and lime blossom perfume and coat the filigree-inlay palate. It is a staggering creation. Buy it from the Castlewood website or in Robin’s Pig Hotels and Lime Wood, Angela Hartnett’s Murano, The Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis and also Mitch Tonks’ wonderful The Seahorse in Dartmouth. 

Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)

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