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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
  • Social Slider

    • Getting ahead ourselves but tomorrow is  #MalbecWorldDay   #worldmalbecday  and what better way than to mark by it than with these two luscious beauties from one of Argentina’s best and most consistent winemakers Luigi Bosca  @vinosluigibosca . These are from 2018 and are packed with the bright red fruits you expect from a quality Malbec but as they come from 990m above sea level in  #Vistalba  in Lujan de Cuyo they have that all important freshness and conformiting mouth feel that makes it easy to have another glass. Must save a bottle for tomorrow night though. Imported by  @bancroftwines   @culturalcomms   @winesofarg   @philcroz   #argentina   #malbec   #wine   #fridaywines  RS
    • Complex, dry Weiser Burgunder from the Pfälz which has good balance between lusciousness, ample mouthfeel and a core of crushed-rock acidity. The wine is made from fruit grown on the highest West and South-facing vineyards in the region; after fermentation it has long contact with the barrels and goes through full malolactic fermentation. The wine is racked before bottling but not filtered “to hold all the aromatics.” To look at the wine is limpid with a green-yellow hue and slight lack of clarity; the nose is complex, ripe and fruity, with notes of pear cake, honeysuckle, a twist of citrus, an intensity and tannic structure coming from a long time on the yeast; medium weight on the palate with an interesting balance between warm and creamy mouthfeel with a fine spine of acidity, minerality and tingly citrus.
    • 100% Syrah from Fattoria Le Pupille, (Toscana IGT) from two contrasting single vineyards in the Maremma, and with two different vinification approaches. The fruit from the larger, East-facing vineyard was fermented in open tonneaux with 5% whole-bunch, then matured for 15 months in the same vessels; the fruit from the smaller plot was vinified in terracotta jars, left on the skins for five months – the blend of the two wines is followed by maturation in a mix of new and aged 300l French barriques for 12 months and then bottled for three years. On the eye the wine is medium purple with light edging; the nose has wonderful freshness and depth, it is clearly Syrah - all black fruit, red plum, blue plum skin and pepper but has Mediterranean influences too – liquorice, cloves, spice, some savoury and earthy elements too, bit of beef stock. The palate is dry-stone
    • Of the four varieties that  @simonnetfebvre1840  is planting in the Auxois – Pinot Gris, Auxerrois, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – this Pinot Blanc lookalike is the one that is tasting the best to date. This wine is showing how this region is making wines of approachability, affordability and with a good deal of class. To look at the wine is pale yellow with an attractive bouquet of fruit and flowers, think a basket of mixed fruit, fruit salad, white flowers; the palate has a slightly waxy, chewy quality with green peach, greengage, a delicious creamy toffee note, ending on a slightly salty tang, that encourages a second glass. Nice balance, good acidity, really well made solid wine and at around the £13 retail mark it’s remarkable good value for money.
    • An exercise in how high altitude brings freshness to a wine. You might think this Italian grape in Argentina would produce a high alcohol beast of a wine, but this 2017 Barbera has great balance and finesse, as well as primary power. The vineyards lie 1900m up on the Western Cafayete Valley in Salta, where some of the world’s highest vineyards are located. Intense colour, almost opaque black, is matched by intense notes of violet, blackberry and blueberry; the palate is concentrated, luscious and primary with dense black fruits but also some blueberry pie and hints of red fruit (raspberries), there is also a green herbal element. The lack of oak ageing allows the quality to shine and produces an approachable wine with rounded, ripe and soft tannins. Not as nuanced as a Barbera from Piedmonte, but this has a wonderful structured core of acidity that makes it work splendidly
    • English take on a Chablis-style, part-barrel-fermented Chardonnay, from a Hampshire producer normally associated with sparkling English wine. The fruit was pressed whole-bunch from low-yielding vines in Essex and Kent. 14% was fermented in old oak barrels, 20% of the wine went through malolactic fermentation to soften the acidity. Water-clear and virtually colourless; the aromatics are floral with ripe orchard fruit – think meadow flowers, conference pear, apples, and a touch of grapefruit – the palate is fresh, crisp and tense, with high acidity, and washes of lemon and lime zest and flesh, with crisp, just-ripe apple, that refreshes the palate. You get a real tingle of mineral on the tongue. Given how good a summer 2020 was, one might have expected more fleshy, ripeness in the mid-palate – this is lean and high-toned, make no mistake, and is best treated as a gastronomic wine, paired with dishes with rich sauces.
    • New vintage of this outstanding super-premium, modern style of Rioja, that is different for being aged in new French barriques for just eight months. The wine is made from a selection of old bush vine Tempranillo that ripen particularly well, from around 30 vineyards across the region. Since the 2012 vintage, Bodegas Roda has also made 10% of the blend using old vine Graciano to counteract global warming and maintain the freshness of the wine. 2018 was a very wet year with a lot of Atlantic influence, which you detect on the weightlessness of the wine and its salinity. The wine is approachable now, although built for the long run, the Graciano helping with that. To look at, the wine is opaque, medium ruby with purplish red rim; the aromatics are sumptuous and complex – an explosion of black fruit, with nuances of red fruit, violets, iodine, new wood, dark
    • Stunning new vintage of Donovan Rall’s flagship wine, a white blend of 68% Chenin, 28% Verdelho and 4% Viognier, that can box toe to toe with Grand Cru Burgundy for the way it delivers almost perfect balance and finesse. 2017 was the first vintage to drop the Chardonnay in favour of what is now becoming an increasing percentage of Verdelho, that enables Rall to turn the screw up on the acidity, stops the wine going through full malo, and thereby retains a crisp apple acidity without losing texture. To taste: on the eye it is medium yellow-gold; there’s a complex nose including tangerine zest, crisp green apple, dried flower petals, pollen and a touch of white pepper; on the palate the wine is clean, focused with a bright apple acidity, and mineral streak, holding the wealth of flavour in place. There’s great precision, focus, finesse and energy in this wine.
    • This is a fairly recent addition to Banfi’s portfolio, which goes to show how many exciting new white wines are coming out of Italy. It is made from 100% Vermentino coming from vines aged 5-10 years old grown on sandstone soils in the Southern Tuscany region of Maremma. Pale yellow; pretty perfume of lemon and orange blossom, salty sea air, Mediterranean scrub; the palate is fresh, with good body, delicious citrus flavours with a hint of salted, toasted hazelnut. Well made wine with lively acidity, good balance and a lip-smacking finish that highlights just how easy-drinking this is. Rrp about £12-16.
    • Coming across less like a Left Bank Bordeaux made in the Mediterranean, than a wine that has truly established its own identity. Deep ruby; wild blackberry, savoury notes of balsamic, graphite, coffee grounds; the palate is open and fresh on entry with bramble and blackcurrant fruit then a tense, morello cherry/blood orange acidity and texture, cloaking ripe but rigid tannins with a dry stone finish. All the elements are there but needs more time in the bottle to gel perfectly I think. A lot of intensity and finesse as you might expect. This is the 20th Guidalberto to be on the market and is named after the man who planted the 5km long 2500 cypress tree avenue on the property. Aged for 15 months in oak and a further 3 months in bottle. 430,000 bottles produced.
    • This is a big and powerful wine in most respects but one that manages to hold it all together through the acidity of the 100% Petit Manseng and plain classy winemaking. The colour is deep, the aromatics lush and intoxicating; the palate rich and round, the acidity and alcohol on the punchy side – but at no times is it overblown or unwelcoming – this is not a big wine in the over-oaked Aussie Chardonnay sense. The power comes from the grape, the terroir and the sun, with extra hang-time responsible for the wine’s heft and not over-use of oak or malolactic fermentation which is sensibly avoided. Medium to deep yellow on the eye; on the nose the wine is floral with orange blossom, chamomile, dried orange skin; the palate is fresh and open to start, slightly oily, and then it becomes complex with powerful just-ripe citrus notes, orange marmalade,
    • Truly outstanding debut white wine from this exciting Pinot/ Chardonnay venture in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, that marries the talents of Burgundian winemaker, Jean-Nicolas Méo of Domaine MéoCamuzet, and renowned music and media entrepreneur, Jay Boberg. Blessed with the 2018 vintage that had no heat spikes and allowed the winemakers to carefully choose the optimum harvest time, this is a stunning marriage between an opulent and elegant style, that reeks of class without being a show pony and with an almost perfect balance. Pale straw to look at, the nose is delicate and slightly reticent but slowly draws you into the glass with comice pear, lemon pith and honeysuckle; a lot of detail here. The orchard fruit and lemon zest continues on the palate, with just a touch of toasty oak in the distant background. The mouthfeel is medium weight, rounded with ripe tannins, but fresh with a decent structure and
    • From Croft’s flagship estate just upstream from Pinhão this is a field blend that is aged for 18 months in large old vats. The aromatics are characterised by a floral element (pretty violets), and there is red fruit edge (raspberry coulis) along with the fresh and dried black fruit you would expect (cherries, figs, raisins), iodine, fresh herb (eucalyptus?) and a touch of polish. It is so approachable on the palate with integrated, silky sweet tannins, great balance, oodles of concentrated red and black fruit, red liquorice, fruit cake, cloves. The hidden tannins and slight loss of structure on the finish makes the 104 grams of residual sugar appear more evident at this stage. £85 IBD for 6 X 75cl bottles is stunning value. (2,000 cases made)
    • Penfolds needed to do something unique with this Californian wine project and that they have – successfully merging two styles. Yes, it is California but the winemaking (with a nod to Bin 389) is unmistakably Penfolds with wonderful complexity, structure and balance. “Familial and inaugural!” run the tasting notes from Penfolds whose first American release this is – 1 of 4 wines that have an inter-connected provenance between Australia and California. In 1998 Penfolds imported a heritage selection of vine cuttings from South Australia’s Kalimna and Magill Estate vineyards and planted them at Creson ‘600’ Ranch in Napa’s Camatta Hills. Fruit from these plantings but also fruit from Sonoma and Paso Robles helps make up this 78% Cabernet Sauvignon 22% Shiraz blend. The wine has been aged for 16 months in American oak – 40% new, 60% one year old and clocks in at 14.5% abv. To look at the
    • Boutique London Dry Gin distilled in an old Yorkshire cotton mill using locally foraged botanicals that include Spruce pine needles. This has already won a Gold award at the Gin Masters and well it might – it is clearly London Dry with a twist – giving it enough distinction without trying too hard on the flavour profile. The liquid has a pronounced floral nose, herbs and citrus; the palate is clean, fresh, nicely rounded with a crisp citrus note, juniper also on the finish. Recommended serve is with a sprig of rosemary and a zest of lemon, a slice of lime or grapefruit also works well.
    • Crisp, bright Sauvignon Blanc (2017) that is expressive and has the right amount of attitude – being fresh and minerally at the core, an attractive sour note on the finish, but balanced too with being nicely ripe and smoky on the nose. Straw-coloured; the nose shows off citrus fruits, gooseberry, is quite grassy; the attack is crisp, tense, fresh – makes its presence felt – with fine-grained texture, bright lemony acidity, and a pronounced mineral quality. Lot of energy to this wine, quite punchy, intense and will work best with food. Reminded me of the Olivier Pithon wines for its slight austerity and classy winemaking.
    • First release of a new top cuvée from this exciting Pinot/ Chardonnay venture in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, that marries the talents of Burgundian winemaker, Jean-Nicolas Méo of Domaine MéoCamuzet, and renowned music and media entrepreneur, Jay Boberg. This is a new ‘best of the best’ barrel selection whose name L’Ensemble hints at a ‘more than a sum of its parts’ and also a nod to Boberg’s music connections. To look at, the wine is medium ruby-purple; the aromatics sit on a tantalising balance between New and Old World – are we in Chambolle-Musigny or the Pacific North West? The nose is complex, ripe and sumptuous with mulberry fruit, ripe red cherry, tree bark and red liquorice; the palate is quite stunning and places you in the finest Côtes des Nuits sites – tight-knit mouthfeel, precise, detailed – a pomegranate tartness keeping the depth of the red and black fruit in
    • Vigna Il Pino, Bianco di Torgiano DOC, Lungarotti, 2017 Serious, single vineyard white blend from Umbria that, given its complexity and structured delivery, is good value for the price. It’s a blend of Vermentino, Grechetto and Trebbiano that has been aged in wood (a style used since the 1970s – well ahead of current trends). It comes from a West-facing, three hectare plot in central Umbria, 270m up with limestone and clay soil. 30% of the wine is fermented in barrique (the rest steel) and then the finished wine is aged in barrel. Yellow gold in appearance, the aromatics are complex and inviting mixing floral notes (thyme, acacia) with pine nuts, fruit salad and lemon curd – there are hints of coconut husk. The palate is medium to full bodied, rounded and fresh, with a firm structure and nice balance. Flavours are similarly complex with mixed citrus, yellow peach, there
    • Second vintage of this very classy dry white wine – the first time that Bordeaux’s Château Climens has ever made a dry white – which is named after the white wildflower that grows around the estate; the flower being the first to regrow after a fire, thus symbolising ‘rebirth’. It is 100% Sémillon, naturally, with an attractive shiny, medium yellow appearance. The nose is full of pretty honeysuckle, wild grasses, ripe lemon rind; On the palate the wine is medium weight, slightly oleaginous and rounded; there is a terrific, marked minerality on the front palate that is almost like a slight spritz on first sip; the wine is fresh and bright, the balance well-judged between ripe fruit (ripe pear, papaya), lean acidity and dry extract on the finish, with a fresh lemony brightness on the finish. With guidance from Sancerre’s Pascal Jolivet, the fruit was picked early, cold fermented, and
    • New orange wine from  @gerardbertrandofficial  made from Chardonnay, White Grenache, Viognier, Marsanne, Mauzac & Muscat grapes. Hand-picked fruit is given a semi-carbonic maceration without destemming or crushing and left on the skins for 10-15 days before being devatted and pressed and finally blended in steel tank. The wine is then aged in oak, although that is only evident texturally on the palate. Medium orangey gold; pretty nose of orange blossom, apricot, quince, almond paste; the palate is fresh, rounded, awash with yellow stone fruit, lime marmalade; fine-grained texture with just a little prickle of heat on the finish. 13% abv, a good pairing with spicy dishes.