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    Insight

    One Step Beyond: Download the full landmark conference report

    When The Buyer came together with Sophie Jump to organise and hold the inaugural One Step Beyond Conference in early March the focus was 100% on analysing the most disruptive changes in consumer behaviour and technology. Little did we know that just over two months on so many of those changes have now been put on fast forward because of the Covid-19 outbreak. Here is the full report from what was a breakthrough conference for the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors. A day that brought experts from outside the industry’s comfort zone and gave them the platform to set out what we can all expect from consumers and technology in the future. Predictions that are already being seen in how fast businesses and consumers alike are responding to the challenges of Covid-19.

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    Insight

    The Buyer’s Case: Top buyers put Boisset FGV wines to the test

    The hardest job for any wine producer, no matter how prestigious or respected, is getting their wines in front of the right buyers who can ultimately make the difference in getting their wines on to the lists of the restaurants and bars that really matter. That’s what The Buyer’s Case project does. Link producers looking to build distribution in the premium on-trade and specialist retail sector with key buyers in those channels. Here’s how major French producer, Boisset FGV worked with The Buyer on its own Buyer’s Case initiative.

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    Insight

    California Buyers Trip Part 2: the wines and styles ready to export

    Having the opportunity to go to California and meet over 100 producers in an intense five days of tasting doesn’t come around too often. But it proved to be an invaluable exercise for the group of leading wine buyers from both the UK and Irish on and off-trade markets. In Part One of our report we looked at their general feedback on why they wanted to go on such a trip. Here in Part Two we drill down into what they really thought of the wines and the opportunities of giving them a chance in the markets over here.

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    Insight

    California looks to bring right producers & buyers together

    If you are a wine buyer for a leading importer, restaurant group, or independent merchant then there are times of the year when you are no doubt spoilt for choice with invitations to go and visit different regions and countries. But which are ones are going to be the most useful, effective and important to your buying needs? It’s what made the recent California Wine Institute event for leading UK and Irish buyers so different. And relevant. Rather than take a group of buyers on a bus around a select group of producers, the Institute brought the producers to the buyers for a series of back to back tastings hosted in the same venue. It meant the busy buyers were able to see over 100 wineries across five days of intensive tasting and take a deep dive into the kind of wines being made across the state. What’s more the producers did not currently have distribution in the UK or Ireland, or both, and had to have wines, with volume, that could the hit the main commercial to mid premium price points. The Buyer’s Richard Siddle, who helped to identify and recruit some of the buyers invited, was also there to get an insider’s take on how it all came together.

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    Opinion

    South Africa Restaurant Safari – 9 buyers, 18 wineries, 2 Land Rovers

    Here’s a conundrum for you. How do you get nine of the UK’s leading wine buyers to meet 18 winemakers in four restaurants in different parts of London in under five hours? Well, throw two Land Rovers into the mix and you are half way home. It’s certainly how The Buyer teamed up with Wines of South Africa to take a group of top buyers on a tour of London restaurants, and the chance to meet some of South Africa’s best winemakers at the same time. Eating, tasting, chatting along the way. Buckle up and join us on the ride…

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    Insight

    Buyer French Debate: Rise of Crémant & other sparkling wines

    In part one of The Buyer’s debate, alongside Business France, between leading importers, merchants, restaurants and wine producers from most regions of France, we focused on the rise in and importance of organic wines. The tasting and discussion also looked at how different styles of sparkling wine are now really coming to the fore, and how Crémant, in particular, is presenting a real premium alternative, ideal for promoting and driving in the premium on-trade.

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    Insight

    Buyer Debate: the opportunity for French organic wine

    For the latest The Buyer Debate we teamed up with Business France to bring producers from different regions of France together with key buyers from across the premium on-trade to look at two key growth areas not only for French wine, but the premium wine category as a whole: organics and sparkling wine. It was an opportunity to meet, taste the wines and then explore why French winemakers are increasingly turning to organics and sparkling wine production. Whilst assessing just what it is leading UK wine distributors, merchants and restaurant and bar owners are looking for when taking on a new French wine supplier. There was a lot to cover. So much so that we have broken down the report into two parts. First up we look at the rise in organics and both the opportunities and the challenges there are in making and selling organic wine.

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    Insight

    Behind the scenes on The Buyer’s Vouvray Restaurant Tour

    It’s one thing tasting wine professionally it is quite another to go on an eating and tasting tour of top London restaurants to experience food and wine in the same way your customers do. Which is what The Buyer’s most recent restaurant tour was all about as we were able to introduce different styles of Vouvray wine to a tour of buyers covering wine merchants, sommeliers, importers, consultants and journalists. As we publish our full report from the event, Richard Siddle picks out the highlights.

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    Insight

    Buyer debate: Indies put Ribera del Duero through its paces

    Even for a wine region that is as relatively small as Spain’s Ribera del Duero it’s important to taste as many wines as possible if you are going to truly understand, experience and enjoy its enormous diversity, says wine writer and critic, Tim Atkin MW. To help do just that, but also debate and share what leading UK buyers think of Ribera del Duero, The Buyer teamed up with the region’s generic body, a panel of top wine merchants and Atkin himself to see what opportunities there are in the burgeoning independent retail and wholesale sector.

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    Insight

    Douro’s Soul Wines Debate: why the wines are ideal for the UK

    “There is a deliciousness to these red wines. I am hugely impressed by them. The quality has blown me away.” Just the kind of review any wine producer would want for their wines, particularly if it comes from such as senior a figure as John Graves, on-trade channel director at Bibendum Wine. But Graves was not the only UK panelist in our debate with the Douro Valley’s Soul Wine producers to be impressed with what they saw and tasted. In part two of our report on the wide ranging debate we assess the opportunity for Douro’s wines in the premium on-trade and what steps producers need to take to make the most of them.

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    People People: On-Trade

    Sommeliers on Chile: The Buyer & Chono Wines debate

    To try to unravel and understand Chile’s position in the premium on-trade, The Buyer teamed up with Ellis Wines and its Chilean producer partner, Chono Wines, to bring
    together a group of senior wine trade professionals, buyers and sommeliers to debate what are the opportunities and challenges for Chile as a whole. It was the chance for these leading figures to share their experiences with Chilean wines in their restaurants and businesses and look at the kinds of wines from Chile that they are looking to source and select for their wine lists.

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    Insight

    Mionetto and The Buyer Prosecco study tour and report

    Is there a more misunderstood wine category than Prosecco? It might top all the best selling charts, but it is too often dismissed or taken seriously by some professional wine buyers. To help get to know not only the beautiful region of Conegliano Valdobbiadene, but to explore the different quality tiers of Prosecco and the potential they have in the premium on-trade, The Buyer teamed up with leading Prosecco brand, Mionetto, and its UK partner Copestick Murray, to host a study tour with key buyers and influencers of the area and the city where Prosecco truly comes to life – Venice.

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    Insight

    Jackson Family debate on Californian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

    It’s nice talking about and throwing the spotlight on new wine regions and emerging styles of wine and little known grape varieties, but at these times of the year restaurant and bar customers are looking for the classics and the tried and tested. Which is why for our latest major debate we teamed up with Jackson Family Wines to look at what leading wine buyers, sommeliers, distributors and merchants think about Californian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

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    Insight

    Special Report: Sonoma County Vintners London Wine Bar Tour

    Organising a wine tasting where all your guests are sitting in one place can prove to be a challenge at times, so you can imagine the potential for things to wrong if you then invited those guests to go on a tour of restaurants and bars around London, tasting different wines, matched to each outlet’s food along the way. It certainly made for a very different, fun, highly informative and memorable day for wineries from Sonoma County Vintners and our panel of “tour-ists” willing to go on the adventure with us.

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    Insight

    Closures Debate: what do you want to put in a bottle of wine?

    Outside of the natural wine debate is there a more contentious issue than the one that surrounds the type of closure you have in your bottle of wine? To assess what leading on-trade buyers and sommeliers now think about closures we teamed up with Vinventions, one of the biggest suppliers of all types of closure from cork to screwcap, to make the issue of closures the latest topic in our Buyer Debate series.

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    Insight

    The Buyer’s Case with Castelnau Wine Agencies

    Every wine as soon as it is made puts its self up for judgement. Be it the end consumer who wants to drink it with their dinner, or the trade buyers and wine critics looking to score, assess and adjudicate on whether it is suitable for listing in the first place. But nothing ventured, nothing gained and Castelnau Wine Agencies was happy to put its range of wines from producers all over the world up to the test in our latest Buyer’s Case project with leading on-trade buyers and influencers in the trade.

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    Tasting Tasting: Panel Tasting

    The Buyer’s Case with Cave de Vignerons de Saint-Chinian wines

    The Buyer has been set up to help drinks producers and leading on-trade buyers better understand their needs and where possible work closer together. This is best demonstrated by The Buyer’s Case initiative where we link up with a wine producer or importer and ask leading buyers to taste, assess and offer professional feedback on their wines. Here we turn to the Languedoc-Roussillon and present wines from leading producer, Cave de Vignerons de Saint-Chinian to leading on-trade decision makers.

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    Opinion

    The French debate: putting France under the spotlight with Foncalieu

    France might be the best selling country in the UK on-trade, but that does not mean it could not sell. To help better understand the opportunities and challenges facing French wine in the premium on-trade, The Buyer linked up with Les Vignobles Foncalieu and leading buyers from the different types of operator, including high end restaurants, independent wine merchants and national wholesalers all working the French category in the north west of the country.

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    Insight Tasting Tasting: Panel Tasting

    New Zealand Debate: the opportunities and challenges

    New Zealand’s enormous success in the UK off-trade, where its Sauvignon Blanc has created a category of its own, has not always been reflected in how many of its wines are on premium on-trade wine lists. The Buyer teamed up with Villa Maria, and its UK partners, Hatch Mansfield, to ask a panel of leading UK buyers to set out the challenges and opportunities for New Zealand in the premium on-trade

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    Insight Tasting Tasting: Panel Tasting

    The Buyer’s Case with Les Vignerons Foncalieu

    The Buyer’s Case is a new initiative that gives producers the chance to show specific drinks to key buyers in target channels of the on-trade. For our first Buyer’s Case we teamed up with Les Vignerons Foncalieu and selected key buyers in its main distribution areas in the UK on-trade to show their wines. Here are the results.

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    Insight Tasting Tasting: Panel Tasting

    Virginia Wine Project: bringing producers and buyers together

    The Buyer teamed up with Virginia Wine and some of its key producers to help them better understand the needs of the UK premium on-trade and how buyers might relate to their wines with both a business roundtable debate with key players and a study tour of leading London restaurants, wine bars and merchants to see the kind of offers they have and where their wines might fit in.

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    Instataste

    Tasting with pictures View All
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    • A new single vineyard wine from Neudorf, the organic producer in Nelson, New Zealand. The fruit comes from a block of 10-21 year old vines growing on clay gravel soil, just a bit higher than Home Block that is also one of Neudorf’s single vineyard Chardonnays. The fruit is 100% whole bunch-pressed, wild yeast, 100% barrel fermentation (8% French oak medium toast), then a year on full solids followed by 4 months in steel on fine lees. Pale yellow gold; classy, savoury nose of a high class Chardonnay – dried apple, green tea, shucked fresh pistachio, crushed rock, subtly toasted noble wood; the mouthfeel is textural, tightly wound acidity which builds on the lengthy finish with a mouth-watering splash of sea spray, terrific balance and harmony. The oak is perfectly judged; a wine with real life to it, commendable given the hot and arid 2019 season here.
    • Sassicaia 2018 is firing on all cylinders make no mistake. It is a landmark vintage, not just noteworthy because it is the wine’s 50th anniversary, nor because it is one of their ‘lucky’ 8 vintages, but this is up there with some of the finest wines this estate has ever produced. It seems that the wine sits best with a cooler, classical vintage like 2018 where the extended, hassle-free hang-time of the fruit has led to a phenolic ripeness that brings with it added complexity, depth of flavour and bright acidity. To look at, the wine is medium ruby-red; the aromatics are beautiful and elegantly perfumed, a bit shy at so young an age but, with time in the glass, it slowly reveals red plum and blossom and a green tea leaf character with a subtle menthol lift; the palate is really something and true to the finest Sassicaia –
    • A hint of reduction, but just enough to bring complexity to this impressive full-flavoured, rich textured Chardonnay from Piccadilly Valley. Bright, shiny gold; yellow peach, nectarine with toasty oak and a touch of gunflint (nicely tempered and integrated). The medium weight palate has a nice line of acidity and a leanness, with notes of key lime pie and a white pepper quality on the textured finish. Whole bunch, in barrel (35% new oak) for eight months, malolactic stopped when they feel they are at a ‘sweet spot’. Great balance.
    • Spectacular Brunello from a 5-star vintage that is being touted as the best in the past 20-30 years (even more so than the landmark 2010 vintage). Only produced in the best vintages, the grapes from this 11.7 single vineyard also produce the estate’s Riserva which is released one year later than the Pianrosso. The wine is 100% Sangiovese Grosso, it ages for 36 months in 20-62hl Slavonian oak followed by eight months in bottle. To look at the wine is pale garnet; the nose is stunning and complex, – fruity and floral with black cherry, pot pourri – but then revealing dark, savoury notes, rosemary, smoke, coffee, red licorice, wild mushrooms – the wine just offers up more and more layers. In the mouth the wine is medium-weight, has the silkiest of tannins, firm structure with a wash of fresh juice with plum, cherry (black and morello) and a taut
    • If these producers are not on your radar they should be. This is a first rate Limoux Blanc (Chardonnay, Chenin, Mauzac) from a small producer South of Limoux in the Languedoc. The winemakers, Marie-Claire and Pierre Fort, trained under Dagueneau, who encouraged them to make wine in this particularly good terroir, in fact Didier also designed the label (newer vintages have undergone a refresh) and also supplied some of the barrels. The hamlet of Roquetaillade is high, rests against a limestone cliff, and has the cooling effect of both the Atlantic and also nearby Pyrenees. It has been trying to obtain its own AOC, such is the particular freshness they get in their Chard and Pinots. But treat them like a wine of class and give them the bottle time they deserve – this 2012 was firing on all cylinders and could easily last another decade. It’s a bone-dry white
    • Biodynamic Chardonnay from the Languedoc Roussillon that uses no sulfur at all and is an excellent example of an entry level ‘natural’ wine that is true to its grape variety and can also be a crowd-pleaser. Winemaking: No sulfur or ‘oenological inputs at any stage of the winemaking or bottling process’. Cold-settled, temperature controlled fermentation started quickly, wine is then racked to keep some fine lees which will be the anti-oxidant base of the wines during their maturation before the bottling. Tasting-wise the wine is light-to-mid gold; really interesting and complex nose – ripe grapes (!), pears poached with ginger, fresh herbs, blossom; palate is fresh, light, surprisingly elegant, nice crushed rock texture. You can pick this up for £11.79 which is remarkable value for a wine that has so much complexity and thought and obvious care gone into the winemaking process.
    • The Chenin Blancs of Savennières always need a bit of time in bottle to temper their austerity (recent examples are becoming earlier-drinking). This fine example is in a sweet spot – bone-dry but ample bodied, a touch of honeyed creaminess but still with an assertiveness of acidity that balances the wine perfectly. On the eye it is light gold; aromatically complex it has sweet fennel biscuit, nashi pear, dried tart apple, quince; the palate is ripe and rounded on entry becoming more structured mid-palate, less complex flavour-wise with notes of poached pear and mandarin flesh. Delicious.
    • Nagy-Somlói Furmint, Kolonics, 2018 A good example of an ‘Estate Furmint’ probably the most important category of Furmint in Hungary – meaning it is a blend of different vineyards, represents the estate’s house style and is partly or fully aged in oak. The vines are grown on Somlo which is a hill made from volcanic rock and gives the wine a distinct mineral vivacity and texture. Although it is a dry wine it has a fullness and richness that, if this was a Chenin Blanc, would be at Sec-tendre or Demi-sec level. Medium gold and looking older and sweeter than it actually is; the aromatics are really honeyed with a fresh pollen note, there’s also quince, apple, and the tiniest hint of some tropical fruit (banana?). The wine is light-medium bodied, the palate fresh and ample, dry but with a wash of fresh juice, lovely mineral core with tart orchard
    • Textbook, elegant German ‘Pinot Noir’ with immense purity and finesse from Leiner in the Pfälz. This is a single vineyard wine from Leiner, using a selection of clones and, since 2000, increasingly more Burgundian clones. The decision to use 500-litre barrels and not barriques is a good one because the wine has structure but very little wood influence, the 30% whole bunch gives it a slight crispiness and leads to a fine balance. Light ruby, so light in fact that you could read a book through it; the wine has a softly-spiced, pretty nose with cranberry notes, red berries and a touch of allspice; the palate is light to medium weight, so approachable, fine and pure that you could so easily just put a straw in the bottle. (Leiner wines are available in the UK through Rebellious Goods)
    • Forcada, Varietat Recuperada no.23, Penedès, 2016, Torres Half of the fun of drinking this debut release of Forcada, a near-extinct grape, is the background story. As part of its program to save ancestral grape varieties, Torres put an advert in local newspapers in Spain 30 years ago asking for people to come forward if they had an unusual vine in their gardens. As a result they have identified many ‘forgotten’ varieties, and started cultivating some commercially. Forcada is one such variety. It’s a one with a long growing cycle, is vigorous and productive. The vines were planted 450m up on the Alt Penedès on clay soils. Pale gold; it has a suprisingly aromatic intensity of fresh herbs, white blossom, fresh linen; on the palate it is so fresh and elegant with very fine citrus notes and a lovely mix of fine-textured dryness and fresh juice. Tasted blind it comes across
    • First release since 2015 for this, Fonseca’s second label, a blend from Quinta do Panascal in the Távora Valley and Fonseca’s estates in the Pinhão Valley. 2018 is described as a cross between the fruitiness and freshness of the 2016 vintage and the structure and power of the 2017 – the quality was not there to declare a vintage port but that’s why Guimaraens is often such a good buy (120 IBD for 12 X 37.5 cl). At such an early stage in its life, it’s a little broody on the nose, but then reveals flashes of cassis, fresh juicy blackcurrants, black cherry and plum, lovely elegance. The palate is firm and structured (much more so than the Quinta da Roeda tasted alongside) but opulent at the same time. The balance is fine with a voluptuous mix of flavours: blackberry preserve, Pontefract cake, creme de cassis, black plums, the palate
    • Supposedly near the end of its drinking window but this bottle was in such a sweet spot – dense but so elegant with tannin structure and balance carrying the power of the fruit. It wasn’t plummy or jammy or tasting too extracted. Decanted for 2 hours and paired with slow cooked beef cheek on spiced red cabbage and a truffled cauliflower cheese with Tunworth cheese. It was a great match. The wine is a tribute to the Barossa’s 19th and early 20th century heritage made with very old vines (some 140 yo) and using old style techniques including a crusher that dates from 1880 driven by a 1912 motor. There was a real connection to the great wines of the Southern Rhône. Opaque, almost black; aromatics are complex and voluptuous – black fruit, aniseed, black pudding, earth with also a pretty, floral lift; the medium-full palate has beautiful balance, silky
    • The third drought vintage was kind to the Syrah sourced from the estate’s two Swartland farms Porseleinberg (80%) and Goldmine – the fruit was healthy with less skin-to-pulp ratios resulting in lower alcohol wines with elegant, refined fruit. 40% whole-bunch fruit was used, and matured in 2500-l French oak foudres and 600l demi-muids for 18 months ageing. Tasting: Medium purple, the wine has superb purity on the nose: plums, violets, pepper and a hint of coriander seed. The tannins are ripe and sleek, with a keen acidity. It’s still a pup but will build into an impressive wine make so mistake. Just don’t try saying the name of the winery - especially after a couple.
    • Fascinating to try an artisanal Greco di Tufo of this quality, elegance and complexity. It’s the second only vintage of a personal project from Antonio Capaldo, the head of Feudi di San Gregorio, using their winemaking team and facilities. It is intended to show off the terroir of Irpinia, the central part of Campania and one of its key grapes, Greco di Tufo – a low yielding grape which packs a good deal of concentrated flavours and acidity. Pale to medium yellow; attractive and complex both on the nose and palate; the aromatics are quite elusive but, with time in the glass, reveal herbaceous (wild fennel), floral (white rose), nutty and fruity (grape skins) qualities. Medium bodied, well balanced and with good integration – there are no individual components or flavours that hog the limelight – this is an ensemble piece held together with firm, citrusy acidity, that has a
    • This monopole has become the emblematic cuvée of  @domainechanson  and responsible for some of the best wine of the Premiers Crus appellation. It’s a 3.8 ha mid-slope site whose excellence can be traced back to at least the 14thCentury where it was referred to as ‘Fae’ the Latin word for East – its orientation. The soil is complex, composed as it is of clay and limestone. To look at the wine is pale ruby; the aromas are complex and intriguing – red and black fruit – black cherry, bramble fruit, earth and toasted spice. The palate has weight and intensity but is precise at the same time with terrific balance, layers of dark fruit and minerality. There is more flesh on the bones than Clos des Marconnets, riper fruit profile with more weight and intensity, and a long spicy finish. Really outstanding.
    • A Rioja white that is a Grand Cru Burgundy in all but name. By that I mean that the wine is all about the magnificence of the terroir and the intuitive simplicity of the winemaking - carefully tended organic vineyards planted on terraces 800m high on clay-calcareous soil, a mixture of grape varieties, winemaking skill and the non-excessive use of old French oak. Telmo Rodriguez is one of the leading producers in Rioja and prefers not to talk about the 9 grape varieties used in this field blend (none of which are Viura!) – rather concentrating on the terroir. This 2013 vintage was mid-shiny gold; complex and changing in the glass, aromatics include ripe yellow fruits, herbs (rosemary, wild , fennel), a touch of liquer; the crushed rock texture lends power and depth to this elegant wine, it’s medium bodied with layers of flavour – yellow fruits, minerality, fennel –
    • Flagship wine of Fattoria Le Pupille in Tuscany’s Maremma, this is a Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant Super Tuscan that always punches above its weight. The blend of the 2018 is Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (32%) and Petit Verdot (8%) with the wine having spent 18 months in French oak, 70% new. Where the 2017 was more red cherry, Victoria plum and cola, the 2018 veers more towards black fruit, the colour an almost opaque dark ruby. The aromatics are less sweet than 17 but just as complex with notes of mulberry, black cherry and currants, with time in the glass there is a fresh Mediterranean herb element, woodfire embers, dark chocolate and sweet tobacco. Medium-weight on the palate, the register, structure and balance are all superb, with finely judged ripe tannins, a reserved intensity and wonderful depth of flavour. Gorgeous and impressive, this will only get better with time. 15% ABV
    • Very deep ruby, opaque almost inky black; the bouquet is just bewitching – red and black fruits, cassis, liquorice, tobacco leaf, spicy wood; on the palate there’s a nice contrast between the intensity and power of the wine and its freshness, a terrific register on the palate, micro-fine texture, ripe silky tannins and a deep concentration of red and black fruit, with more liquorice and warm earthy notes, that linger on the very long finish. This just oozes class, is so fresh and balanced, but with a real presence on the palate. Best red I have had from this estate. The blend is 64% Cabernet Sauvignon / 30% Merlot / 5% Cabernet Franc / 1% Petit Verdot
    • The 2019 release was a worthy gold medal winner at this year’s Sommelier Wine Awards – it is hard to think of a wine more somm-friendly! It’s a sophisticated, multi-vintage, multi-varietal blend of oak-aged whites from one of the Dão’s most revered estates. To look at, the wine is mid-shiny gold; the nose and the palate are extraordinary – intense and with a Rubik’s Cube complexity, almost like a riddle that is trying to deny wine lovers the pleasure of knowing exactly what they are drinking. Aromas include dried fruit and nuts, brioche, old oak barrels. On the palate there is great depth, elegance and balance with substantial acidity holding the blend together. It is just delicious and a real meditation wine, even though somms and chefs would have fun with their pairings. For the record the 2019 bottling is a blend of eight different vintages: 2011 6%, 2012 11%,
    • Proof, if needed, that a well made Kabinett can last many years. There is development both in its aroma and depth & complexity of flavours but the acidity is still steady as a rock and the wine still as precise, fresh and pure as on the year of release. To look at, the wine is shiny platinum; the nose is intoxicating – white flowers, honey and apricots, with virtually no oily rag there at all; the palate is light-bodied, slightly oleaginous, ripe lime, peach tart with a squidge of fresh cream. Sensational wine. An ‘anytime of the day’ ABV of 7.5% and still just £10 IB on release.