2018 Blackbook, Pygmalion chardonnay, England
The Battersea-based Blackbook “urban winery” is run by the mercurially talented husband and wife team Sergio and Lynsey Verrillo. I popped into their brilliant set-up, based in an old British Rail arch not far from Battersea Park, the other day and found no less than four wines which I wanted to alert you to immediately. These wines will recalibrate your palates for what we all hope will be a far happier year next year.
Pygmalion is sourced from the Greyfriars Vineyard in the North Downs of the Surrey hills. The grapes are whole-bunch pressed into Burgundy barrels where they undergo natural fermentation using indigenous yeast. The wine then stays in these barrels for a further 20 months and the results are nothing short of sublime. The 2018 was a relatively warm vintage so there is extraordinary flavour and also finesse here. Sergio is a master at barrel selection and so the balance and class are unmistakable, making this one of the only white wines in the country which can truly stand shoulder to shoulder with elite-class white Burgundies.
In addition, 2019 Painter of Light chardonnay (£19) is a crystalline, tangy, energetic wine with a chablis-shaped attack; 2019 Nightjar pinot noir (£19) is tremulous, hedgerow-soaked and plum and cranberry-smooched; and 2019 The Mix Up Vol II (£17.50) is a zany chardonnay/pinot gris mash-up which leaves you gasping with joy. Grab The Lock-in Case: 2 (£110) and get a bottle of each of my tips and a couple more beauties besides. This is the ultimate gift for your palate this season!
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)