On seeing the eclectic expanse of wine on our shelves, first time visitors to Worth Brothers Wines often make an immediate beeline to the counter to confide, excitedly, that they really don’t know where to begin, such is the choice. Obviously, when this happens I’m delighted but also a little rueful because appreciative talk of the choice we offer always, for some unaccountable reason, makes me think of the ones that got away. Luckily, with room on our shelves for hundreds of wines, there aren’t too many wines we’ve been unable to accommodate but, nonetheless, I still keep their names on a wish list in the hope that one day I’ll be able to fit them all in.
One of the more esoteric wines on my wish list came back to me recently when I was at the theatre watching the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Based on the novel of the same name by Mark Haddon, the play is sad, funny and charming and has as its central character, Christopher Boone, a fifteen year old boy with Aspberger’s Syndrome.
In the play, Christopher, as you’d expect of someone with Aspberger’s, has numerous behavioural problems but he excels at mathematics and finds solace and comfort in difficult times by reciting prime numbers out loud to himself. All of which, led to me recalling, pretty quickly, a delicious wine named Principia Mathematica, Alemany i Corrió 2011, that I tasted back in February at a trade tasting in London.
Fittingly, given the importance of X in maths, Prinicipia Mathematica is comprised solely of a little known grape variety called Xarel-lo. Historically, Xarel-lo has been blended with 2 other grape varieties, Parellada and Macabeo, to produce Cava but in recent years many forward thinking wine producers have begun to produce highly impressive single varietal Xarel-lo wines.
The producers of Principia Mathematica are Irene Alemany, a Catalan, and Laurent Corrio, a Breton, who met while travelling the world on various winemaking explorations, first in Burgundy and then in California. On returning from California to Catalonia, the couple were fortunate to be gifted some vineyards by Irene’s father because he was uninterested in cultivating them himself. Pragmatically, Laurent, perhaps wary of the potential dangers of living and working together or because he still retains a wanderlust, also advises at other wineries.
Principia Mathematica is aged for 9 months in French oak barrels and possesses, according to my hastily scribbled notes at the trade tasting, crisp white fruit, apricot and nut flavours and a butteriness that’s reminiscent of the classic, and far more expensive, Burgundian wine – Meursault. It would pair really well with seafood and has enough body and depth to be successfully partnered with grilled pork sausages or barbecued lamb chops.
Why, you may ask, if I was so impressed with the Principia Mathematica didn’t I buy it in for the shop back in February? Well, at the trade tasting I mentioned earlier, I also discovered another excellent Xarel-lo wine that, crucially, costs a couple of pounds less than the Principia Mathematica and I couldn’t, given the current limited demand for the grape, really justify buying in two Xarel-lo wines for the shop. At least, not without incurring the wrath of my wife, brother and sister in law, who are also my business partners!
The wine I did buy is called Ca N’Estruc Xarel-lo 2014 and it’s produced on the holy mountain of Montserrat in Esparreguera by an estate that dates back to 1548. It’s an elegantly structured, unoaked Xarel-lo with notes of citrus, stone, fruit, smoke, fennel and an underlying minerality.