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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 blend of 70% Grillo with Viognier, grown organically in Sicily, with the wine kept on its fine lees. Light greeny gold; attractive nose of yellow stone fruit, flowering herbs; Crisp, fresh medium-weight palate with yellow grapefruit zest and a mineral edge. Remarkably complex and fine quality given the £10.99 price point. It has had a classy label design change since the 2018 vintage and also gone from screw cap to cork.
    • Wonderfully complex and moreish Palo Cortado from a limited 22-cask solera in Jerez de la Frontera. The wine is part of Lustau’s project of releasing small parcels of unblended sherry from Almacenistas – independent sherry artisans who specialise in small batch sherries. Dark amber in colour, the nose is a cornucopia of delights - old wood, almond shell, dark fruits, dried apricots, leather, tobacco, wood polish, sea spray. The palate is velvety and rounded, I get bitter orange marmalade, coffee, spices, black chocolate, saline. The finish is elegant, never-ending, glyceric with a nut skin bitterness. Seriously good.
    • Criollas de Don Graciano, Paso & Paso & co, 2019 Fascinating glimpse into New Wave Argentina that ticks a lot of boxes – a field blend of four ‘re-discovered’ grapes Creole Big (50%), Muscatel Pink (25%), Torrontes Sanjuanino (12%), Pedro Gimenez (13%), made by two men out of college. The grapes are grown in the dry desert area of San Martin, a very productive and commercial end of Mendoza 700m up; fruit is hand picked co-fermented 50% with skins, native yeasts, open top fermenter, 20 days maceration, partial malolactic. No filtering/ sulphur used but the wine is clean as a whistle. To taste: Light straw gold; aromatic nose, fruity and floral; Smoke, honey, passion fruit. It’s intense a bit like a Torrontes or Gewurtz/ Moscato; medium weight, fresh, complex, orange flesh, yellow ripe grapefruit, green pineapple, cashew nuts aftertaste. Very fruity, punchy and vibrant. Unusual but it really works. A
    • Hard to follow 2010, in what was a much warmer year, but this crianza from impeccable provenance does so with ease. Typical of Lopez de Heredia, this crianza is aged in barrel longer than the specification of a gran reserva – three years, in fact, out of a total of nine years ageing. The combination of vintage and ageing leads to a wine with a good deal of ripeness and toasty notes amongst the fruit. Having said that there is still the trademark acidity of the estate keeping everything in check. The wine has an unusually high percentage of Garnacha (25%) in the blend with 65% of Tempranillo, and Mazuelo/Graciano making up the remainder. To drink, the wine is brick red with orange edging, notes of red and black fruits, with an earthiness, rusticity and spiciness (nutmeg). Little hits of fig and leather. Decant and best served with food. Can
    • 2018 vintage of a good example of ‘new wave’ Chile wines. A 85% Malbec, 8% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc blend. Despite this being vinified in 100% new wood this is a fresh, lovely clean style of Malbec, with a mineral core, red and black fruit, lick of vanilla, great length, fine-grained texture, citrus rasp on the finish. Very well balanced with the wood well integrated. Winemaker Juan A Munõz says that his background in making sparkling wines helps with the freshness in his still wines, although the greatness of the 2018 vintage throughout Chile has resulted in the wines having extra freshness. Very good value for money.
    • From one of England’s few biodynamic producers comes this 100% Chardonnay; limpid, with greenish hue; very vigorous mousse settles down into a lively but fine bead; green apple, savoury edge, biscuity; crisp, steely acidity, clean, pure fruit profile (orchard fruit), nice fine texture. Very confident and well made (by Litmus Wines for Albury)
    • An organic Sicilian producer who has been inspired by orange wines and also is attempting to make a traditional Sicilian wine – an eclectic blend of Sicilian grape varieties, (Catarratto, Grillo and Fiano), fermented on skins for two days and then racked to 30/60 and 90 hecolitre Slovenian oak barrels where it’s left on fine lees for almost a year and then further matured in bottle for six months. On the eye it’s shiny gold; the nose is complex and rich with honey, fresh nuts, coconut and orange skin; the palate is medium weight, with a broadness mid-palate and good balance between the structure of the wine and the tangible acidity and burst of lemon zest and orange flesh. Different and immensely enjoyable as an aperitif or paired with vegetables, seafood or white meat. Would be great as part of a by-the-glass wine pairing menu.
    • They may only make a tiny % of  #PinotGris  in  #Marlborough  but when they do it’s well worth it. This is a great example from  @hanzherzog  winery. Amazing gold, amber colour, which is followed up through its full bodied, rich palate. Great on its own but very much a grown up Pinot Gris for the dinner table. From an estate that specialises in offering single varieties behind the NZ norm. It has an equally stunning  #Viognier  too. Available through  @vindependents   @louisevaux   #newzealand   #wine   #winetasting   #sommeliers 
    • 2019 vintage from the North-East Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, this refreshing, zesty dry white uses indigenous Ribolla Gialla grapes, blended with Malvasia and Riesling. On the nose it could be mistaken for a young, fresh Viognier or Gewürztraminer even, and on the palate it has bright, piercing acidity that is fresh, youthful and mineral-driven. The grapes are lightly-pressed, steel fermented and then part-aged in large format Slovenian oak for six months, although that is for textural purposes only – the purity feels unoaked in style. Very light straw-gold; gorgeous, pretty nose of orange skin and white blossom; the palate is light-mid weight with an interesting balance between laser-like purity of fruit and acidity, with a complex, depth of fruit flavours. Elegant, tasty, exciting and packs quite a punch for a 12.5% abv wine. I would consider decanting it for half an hour before serving, either as an aperitif or
    • Fruity and fun rosé that is a delight to drink as an aperitif, although works well with sushi, sashimi and (surprisingly) pizza and other tomato-based dishes. This family-owned and run House has been making rosé since 1840, a blend of 40% Chardonnay (some of the fruit coming from more Southern vineyards) and 30% each of Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, vinified as a red wine. The skill they have mastered is to get as little tannins as possible in the red wine, with all the initial vinification done in stainless steel to preserve the freshness and flavours of the fruit. This example has the 2016 vintage as its base, 36 months ageing with 8gms per litre dosage. Palest salmon pink with saffron highlights; lively, fine bead, slowing to a lazy crawl; notes of red summer berries, citrus; the attack is rich and rounded, terrific balance with the acidity showing itself
    • Gérard Bertrand’s super premium rosé from AOP Languedoc Cabrières, that will always be evaluated (intentionally?) alongside its hefty £200 rrp price tag. The fact is that it delivers as much of a grand vin experience as similarly priced wines from wine regions where that is accepted as a price for fine wine – a top white Burgundy for example. Great care has gone into the blend of very old biodynamic-farmed Cinsault, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Viognier, vinified separately in new French oak for 6-8 months on fine lees with stirring. The wood is not overt but brings weight and a satin-like texture to the wine. On the eye the wine is the palest of peach pink; the nose is complex with notes of white peach, delicate white flowers, summer berries, a hint of wild fennel; the palate is more than the sum of its parts, rich, beautifully poised and
    • This lovely, fresh, saline and maritime  #Albarino  from  @labascula  comes straight from the heart of  #Galicia  and is part of the  #EatSpainDrinkSpain   #SpainFoodNation  promotion running through November featuring best examples of foods, meats, pates, cheeses and wines celebrating the best of what region can produce from  @spanishwinesuk . Great initiative being run by  @angeline_bayly  and  @charlotte .l.hey  @bespokedrinksmedia  with online tasting workshops and more
    • I love it when a case you bought years ago turns into such a ‘find’. This is my 3rd bottle and it is just drinking so perfectly now with a 10-15 years ‘left in the tank’ I reckon. It’s been described like ‘Darth Vader in slippers’ and the wine treads to perfection that delicate balance between broody, undertow of black fruits, liquorice and fresh, light-footed elegant tannins. It is just SO fresh – that mark of a truly great wine – that can only come from its unique mix of three distinct terroirs, slate, granite and alluvial soil and the expert vinification. Unbelievably youthful given this is 15 years old. To look at the wine is black, opaque with ox blood edging; the nose is intense, black fruits, liquorice, cured meat, garrigue, balsamic, iodine; medium-full bodied, structured and complex, with that freshness just holding it all together. Bewilderingly good.
    • Amontillado Olvidado, Sanchez Romate 1/5 This stunning sherry is called ‘Forgotten Amontillado’ (Olvidado means forgotten) by Romate because it was only recently discovered in 1000 litre casks in the estate’s 235 year old cellars. It’s a mature dry style of Amontillado that is so deep, complex and serious, it’s like leafing through an old book. On the eye it is mahogany, the aromas are intoxicating – walnut shells, antique furniture, sea air, putty – the palate is intense and tangy with nuts, old oak, tobacco leaf and earthy notes, ending on a long, salty finish. Even though there has been little intervention, the wine is clear, clean, pure, fresh and ever so slightly moreish!
    • Sometimes referred to as the ‘Barolo of the South’ this is a 100% Aglianico from Campania, that is rich, intense but has an elegance quite unlike most Aglianico I have tried. The wine is aged in French barriques for 18 months, then aged in bottle for another 18 months before release, which is where the finesse and roundness on the palate is coming from. Deep, opaque purple; attractive fruity and floral nose, fruits of the forest, cranberry with hints of liquorice and vanilla pod, black pepper, anise; on the palate the wine is intense, complex with lovely mix of wild, red and black fruit, balsamic, liquorice; the mouthfeel is quite tense, precise, fine but slightly austere tannins, medium-weight, dry. Very impressive, long finish. Can be drunk solus but with pasta and risotto, or wild boar salami as a starter would be perfect.
    • Well this makes a refreshing change. Beautifully crafted premium  #cordials  from  @jeffreystonic  that taste as good as they sound. Lovely viscous liquid crammed with ingredients such as: Sicilian Lemon and spices; Indian tonic syrup; Oriental lime; and yarrow, rose hip and elderflower. No artificial sweeteners or flavours were either used or harmed in making them. Highly recommended with ice and big splash of sparkling water...may have to try with something harder later in the week  #lowno   #noalcohol  . #alcoholfree   #drinkingwell 
    • Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Nicolas François 2007 Clarity is the first thing that strikes on the nose: a bell-like purity that seems to carry ripe, creamy but tart apple flesh. More air then reveals barley sugar with caramelised lemon overtones and hints of wet chalk. That sense of exquisite clarity also features on the palate where absolute freshness strikes a high note, a bright peal of soaring lemon that is anchored in gorgeously creamy almond Viennoiserie and profound chalk. It is that absolute freshness, that chalky depth and superfine mousse that define this wine. Unbending structure, uncompromising freshness, absolute depth. Wow. (AK)
    • I really like the policy of releasing this Bordeaux blend when it is ready to start drinking, as this 2015 from the low-cropping 51 year old Evans Vineyard-sourced wine is. Dark cherry on the eye; the nose has wafts of that distinctive blackcurrant pastille, earthy Coonawarra fruit; the palate is medium to full bodied, structured with a light touch, a fresh openness with soft, sandy fine-grained tannins, black fruits dominate with an undercurrent of savoury oak. The wine has spent 20 months in oak (60% new), gone through malolactic fermentation, racked and returned five times and lightly fined on running to bottle. Very tidy.
    • Winemaker Stéphane Robert makes such expressive wines in his railway tunnel-converted winery on the West bank of the Rhône. This is his top white blend, 80% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne which is nicely into its drinking window. White flowers on the nose, honeydew melon, honey, a touch of anise; the mouthfeel is rich and round but fresh with structure and acidity keeping it all in check. The fruit verges on the tropical but it’s not OTT, being finely judged, balanced with a delicately spiced finish. At £28 this is a steal for this quality
    • An exquisite wine in a vintage that is living up to all the predictions – if you want to buy wine from Chile make sure it’s a 2018, the weather conditions were quite simply perfect. This comes across in this majestic Don Melchor that is pressing all the right buttons in youth and has clearly got so much cellaring potential too. One of the first iconic wines to come out from Chile it is a Bordeaux blend (91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot) made with Bordeaux input from fruit grown in the foothills of the Andes. Deep opaque purple in the glass; the wine has an intense, fresh, fruity nose with notes of blackcurrants, raspberries, fresh flowers, coal ash, a touch of leather; the palate is equally complex but what immediately comes across is the freshness, voluptuous mouthfeel and balance of the wine; with