The Three Drinkers headed to the first portfolio tasting in years of wine merchant Armit, famed for its stunning Italian wine agencies like Sassicaia and Ornellaia. Expecting the Italians, they found a lot more on offer, some of it equally spectacular. Colin Hampden-White tells all...
Armit Wines has now been supplying wine to the trade and private clients for over thirty years. Founded in 1988 by John Armit, the company started to forge relationships with producers so they could buy direct. Some of the strongest relationships were with Italian wine producers including the greats like Sassicaia and Ornellaia and it was with these relationships and wines that Armit became well known. Italian wine isn’t the only wine Armit specialises in, however. Far from being a one trick pony, Armit has wines from all over the world, and these wines are just as impressive as the Super Tuscan wines they still supply.
There was something different about the Armit tasting this year in comparison to some they’ve had in the past. There wasn’t an Italian wine to be seen. Armit wanted to show off more wines in their stable and shine a light on some other great regions.
Kicking off the tasting were a couple of wines from New Zealand. A fresh and fruity Riesling from Borthwick vineyards and some rich and refined Pinot Noir from Bell Hill, showing how well New Zealand competes with the likes of Burgundy for Pinot Noir. Staying in the southern Hemisphere, there were wines from South Africa, with a Grenache from Momento and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Delaire Graff standing out. From Napa there were stonking wines from Diamond Creek and away from the usual Californian regions, there were wines from Santa Maria Valley by Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills showing very well.
The new world wines didn’t have it all their own way though. Armit also have some great relationships in Spain and France, with two prominent producers being Domaine Leflaive and Lafleur in Burgundy and Bordeaux and in Rioja, Rioja Alta. These are some of the best estates in the world and to find them in one room is testament to the selection Armit have harvested over the years.
Alongside these grand names in wine, there are lesser known, but just as exciting, wines from Torre de Oña, also in Rioja, Dowie Doole in Australia, Domaine Huet in the Loire and closer to home, Digby sparkling English wine. And just to top things off, Chateau Dereszla in Hungary had some very refined Tokaji, both dry and sticky in style.
The quality of wines on show was over all very high and the message from Armit was loud and clear: They are not only an Italian wine merchant. Sure, you can still buy your favourite Italian wines from them, but try reaching further afield when you visit their website, or call for advice, and you will be well rewarded for it.
See more are armitwines.co.uk
By Colin Hampden-White