One of the privileges of professional journalism is the thrill of insider knowledge: you know what most people don’t – or at least before they do. So it was in my 11 years-plus as the Evening Standard’s Comment Editor, 2004-15: knowing which cabinet minister was about to resign, knowing why this terror trial was locked down so hard, why that business deal had fallen through.
And in my case too, knowing exactly which wines were worth buying and why: I moonlighted as the paper’s wine critic for most of my time there, writing a weekly column for eight years until 2012. Even though your readers expect you to share your hot tips, it’s still satisfying to feel you’re in the know.
I was reminded of this last night when I opened my last bottle of Domaine Treloar Three Peaks 2011, Côtes du Roussillon. I’ve loved Domaine Treloar’s wines – and the story of the property’s rise – since visiting there in autumn 2010.
It’s doubtless partly out of envy that I was so taken with English owner Jonathan Hesford’s tale of how he moved from an IT job to New Zealand with his Kiwi wife, Rachel (pictured above) went to winemaking academy, and returned to buy this property in the foothills of the Pyrenees in 2006.
He arrived speaking only schoolboy French, ignorant of useful subjects such as French property law, and with only a few years winemaking under his belt. Since then, Hesford has carved out a name as one of the most consistently brilliant, quality-conscious producers in Roussillon.
A year after my visit, he made the Three Peaks 2011 that I enjoyed last night. It’s a lip-smackingly rich wine, full of sweet fruit (syrah/mourvedre/grenache) balanced by good acidity and fine tannins too: this will develop for a few years yet.
Indeed Hesford tells me, “If possible I would recommend ageing it even longer. I find the 2008 and 2009 are really fragrant and graceful now.” I’ll have to try somehow to hang on to the 2013 I’ve just bought for longer. But with wine this delicious, that’s always a challenge.
UK distributor: Leon Stolarski Fine Wines