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    Insight

    UK Buyers/French Producers on: Champagne, Crémant & sparkling

    Sparkling wine has enjoyed unprecedented success in the UK over the last 10 years, but where does French sparkling sit alongside the two powerhouses of everyday sparkling wine – Prosecco and Cava? To find out, The Buyer teamed up with Business France, to host an online Zoom panel debate with leading UK wine buyers of independent importers and merchants, who had the chance to chat live with three very different representatives of the French wine market covering sparkling, Champagne and Crémant.

        

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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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    • Fascinating to try this dry Pacherenc, from this top South West France producer, with so many years on the clock which, once again, goes to show the often-overlooked potential of this grape in a range of styles/ sweetness levels. To look at, the wine is Manzanilla orangey gold; there is a touch of solera within the intense, complex bouquet in which you also find oranges in syrup, orange blossom, walnut shells, baklava, caramel. The palate is medium bodied and dry-as-you-like, quite tannic and structured with a fascinating melange of tertiary flavours, intense, aged citrus, grapefruit peel, saline, toasted almonds. A real ‘vin de meditation’ in its old age – slowly sipped and enjoyed over a long period of time.
    • Côte de Beaune rouge 2018. Pale ruby, purple edging, transparent; the nose is complex involving red fruit (strawberries), with herbaceous and spicy elements (cardammon/clove/ pepper), and an earthy sub-text, wisp of smoke, red liquorice. On the palate the wine is elegant, medium weight, dry with a crisp line of acidity. Reasonably taut but with plenty of fruit flavours. Affordable way into the producer’s portfolio - and also including a % of fruit declassified from the Clos Des Mouches.
    • If you missed last week’s International Shiraz Day you can still play catch-up. This wine is a good example of Yalumba’s expertise in the Barossa and also great value with an RRP around the £16 mark. Medium ruby to look at, semi-translucent; attractively fruity nose of ripe red plums, cherries and redcurrants, balanced by savoury notes of cedar; the palate is medium bodied with black and red fruit, dark chocolate and spice with a vibrant core of rhubarb acidity. The alcohol is high at 14.5% but the ripe fruit, tannin structure and acidity carries it well. It comes across crisp and well balanced.
    • Sténopé 2011 the latest top vintage from Champagne Devaux collaborating with the Rhône’s Michel Chapoutier. Shiny medium to deep gold; bold, complex and savoury nose with toasted hazelnuts, iodine, dried apricots, milk chocolate, toasted pain de miel, vanilla, an earthy quality. The attack is well balanced – bright, clean and fresh but not aggressive – flavours abound of fresh pear, Braeburn apple, lemon zest, yellow grapefruit, praline; the wine is crisp, clean and finely textured with a fascinating long finish with a touch of aspirin, lemon and orange zest, saline on the close. Although the wine is drinking very well now I would leave it for at least another year, as I would any other top end, oak-fermented Champagne – just to let the wood develop more secondary characters. Although the house does not reveal the exact make-up of the Pinot Noir/ Chardonnay blend, it is virtually all non-malolactic fermented
    • Unusual but fascinating Greek blend that has been aged underwater in the Mediterranean. Foivos is a biodynamic Greek producer on the island of Kefalonia that specialises in the rescue and development of indigenous grape varieties, two of which Tsaousi and Vostilidi make up 30% of this 4-grape blend completed by Muscat and Moscatel. Medium shiny gold; intense, complex and pretty unique nose – at first fruity with the Muscat giving off honeyed pear and tropical fruit, then there is a mineral/ chemical element that’s like ioidine, then an earthy component, like peat, slightly smoky; the palate is medium, rounded, full-flavoured, fresh and dry, with pear, melon and a reductive quality that works well with the sweet aromas of the Muscat and Moscatel. Completely original and really fascinating.
    • The perfect wine for a hot summer’s night. A trip to Provence to discover the first Domaine wine from  @maisonmirabeau  La Reserve the culmination of the dream of Stephen and Jeany Cronk to make their own wine from their own estate in Provence. You can read how it all came about on www.The-Buyer.net. Part two on how  #Mirabeau  became a lifestyle brand out later this week. A wonderfully refreshing, multi layered, textured serious rose that is the first of what will no doubt be the Cronks signature wines for years to come.  #provence   #rose   #wine   #winebrands 
    • What a treat to try the 2003 which is the first ever Altair produced which was made from very young vines – just 15 months ageing in 100% new 225-litre French barrels. The cepage is totally different to how it is today being 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Carmenère, 6% Merlot, 4% Syrah and 2% Cabernet Franc. The wine shows the ageing potential of Altair - and what wonderful evolution it is. The colour is a sumptuous ox blood with medium tawny edging, almost transparent; the nose is full of gorgeously evolved Cabernet Sauvignon fruit with cigar box and leather chair etc; the palate is still remarkably fresh and structured, it shows its wood, mainly in the texture but also in a slight resinous grip on the tail end. But this is a treat and, although the framework is still there to carry it on for at least another decade, this
    • Excellent find from a new garagista working on the Greek island of Ios. Alex and Angelos Delis worked with Haridimos Hatzidakis on neighbouring Santorini and are working in a hands-off approach to the winemaking here on mainly schist-based soils. It’s a limited production of Monemvasia (1320 bottles) but well worth looking out. To look at, the wine is platinum with a reddish hue; the aromatics are floral, ripe and ‘sweet’ (orange blossom with Mediterranean herbs). The palate is medium, intensely mineral, nicely balanced with ripe, juicy fruit (tangerine, grapefruit pith) and an acidic core, the finish is slightly sour, with a refreshing saline tinge, there’s a good bit of tannin too. Real nice 13% abv
    • This is the outstanding second white wine of the renowned Super Tuscan estate Ornellaia. A blend of 78% Sauvignon Blanc, 16% Vermentino and 6% Viognier which has been blended and aged in a mixture of barrel, steel and concrete eggs. It is fragrant, finessed, with a delicious balance between crisp and refreshing and, in this vintage which was rather on the late side, powerful and structured. It’s a ‘stick or twist’ wine – perfect for drinking now or laying down. Medium straw-yellow colour with green highlights; intensely perfumed bouquet of Sicilian lemon peel, white flowers, mowed lawn, hints of white peach, gooseberries and exotic fruits, sea air; medium-to full bodied, oleaginous mouthfeel, intense citrus, on the greener end of the spectrum – lime, grapefruit pith – acidity lends real structure and an impressive presence in the mouth, but the weight and the concentration of the fruit gives it delightful balance.
    • This magnificent wine is the personal project of renowned Loire-born winemaker Bertrand Sourdais (Domaine de Pallus) who put Dominio de Atauta on the map with the legendary 2002 Llanos del Almendro. This is 92% Tinto Fino with 8% of the white grape Albillo added into the mix. The wine comes from old, ungrafted, pre-phylloxera vines sited on 25 plots in the Eastern part of the Ribera del Duero, in the village of Atauta. 30% of the fruit is foot-trodden whole bunch, fermented in open top large format wood 1500l – 3000l and then matured for 9 months in 600l Burgundy barrels (55% new). Medium purple; alluring and complex nose – strawberry, plum, earthier, leather undercurrent, cloves, pepper, eucalyptus; medium-heavy weight on the palate, this is concentrated and intense yet with fresh acidity, framed by ripe, micro-fine, firm tannins; there is a chalky texture, long length and persistence, a very mineral
    • This is not yet available in the UK which is a shame as it’s a nice shift from straightforward Picpoul de Pinet – having been left on fine lees after an initial racking, so that once fermentation has finished there is no more racking required and everything goes in the bottle, clean as a whistle. The result is a Picpoul with more roundness, depth, weight on the palate and richer aromatics. You find honeysuckle and a dusting of white pepper on nose; the palate is faintly luxurious, sweet lemon, a hint of yellow stone fruit, saline and a nice grapefruit-pith bitterness to the finish.
    • First cuvée of this Provencal rosé from the influential and highly popular Cronk family – the distinction being that this is the first of their wines to be made with fruit from their own estate’s vineyards. Blush pink with an orange hue; the aromas conjure up a market in Provence with ripe white peaches, baskets of white, wild flowers, mi cuit apricots and a waft of salty air from the Med. The palate has fine-grained textured, thanks to partial ageing in oak, with layered flavours of citrus – orange flesh, lime zest, pink grapefruit pith, mandarin juice. This wine is fresh, juicy, but nicely balanced between ripe fruit and an attractive sour note on the finish. A rosé for all seasons, and multiple uses - from afternoons by the pool through to gastronomic potential. The packaging is very cool from the old style bottle through to the embossed parchment paper
    • More of the estate fruit was used in the 2018 vintage with 11% of Cabernet Franc added to bring finesse and freshness to the final blend. The barrel-toast in the traditional 225-l barrels has been reduced and also a shorter elevage in barrel from 27 to 22 months. Tasting: With a just a little bit more heft on the nose and palate than the Stellenbosch wine, but still displaying that smart touch on the approach to the tannin, balance and overall freshness. Blackcurrant and sweet blackberry fruit predominate. More instantly approachable than the Stellenbosch wine, with a richer, deeper, more black fruit profile.
    • The 2016 vintage of the Trentino-based winery’s grand vin has been held back in bottle for longer which seems to be a smart move as the results are spectacular. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, and Merlot has always been one of a kind but rarely does a new vintage manage to balance structure and elegance in such a refined way. Deep ruby red; the aromatics are immediately seductive and powerful – hugely complex – in fact aromas to die for; the wine opens with wild blackberry, crème de mure, cassis, then you find balsamic, aged wood, earth, a lick of boot polish, but with the purity of the fruit always shining through. Tasted blind you would put this firmly on the Left Bank. To taste, the wine is succulent, ripe and lively, beautifully constructed – a medium weight palate, surprisingly light on its feet, with also just 12.5-13% abv
    • While Amarone in lesser hands can be heavy and flabby, this style of Amarone is lighter and much more fresh. Sourced from 10 different marl (‘marne’) vineyards from a 180-degree range of exposures – South-West to South-East – it is a blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and four other varieties (35/35/20/10%). Tedeschi is keen to point out that Amarone is a ‘terroir’ wine just as much as a ‘technique’ wine – having four months drying before a soft pressing and slow alcoholic fermentation/ maceration of 40-60 days, before ageing in Slavonian oak for 30 months, and then aged in bottle for a further six months. To look at the wine is semi-opaque, deep ruby red; the nose is complex with a range of aromas including fresh and dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, currants), vanilla pod, baking spices; on the palate the wine is luxurious, full, velvety smooth, notes of raisins and
    • Such an interesting winery in the Minervois doing extraordinary things with forgotten grape varieties like this blended white using Araignan Blanc, Riveirenc Gris, Riveirenc Blanc and Grenache Gris. From the first aromas to the end of the glass, it has real Wow factor and is wildly original. To look at, the wine is medium to deep shiny gold; the nose has notes of ripe orchard fruit, ripe pear, russet windfalls, wild honey, truffles. It is fresh and surprisingly light on the palate, with tangerine zest, truffles, a mineral quality too and quite refreshing. With this amount of bottle age and the colour you are expecting a wine with weight and an oily character (think old school Rhône) that doesn’t materialise. This is complex, pure and light and very moreish.
    • Lovely touch of tropical fruits in this 100% Chardonnay from the ripe 2018 vintage. The fruit is grown on South West facing clay-limestone soils and you can really feel the warmth of the sun here, ripe but not overripe fruit with the limestone giving a nice dry bite to the back palate. Deep straw-gold in colour; the nose is picking up ripe pear, honeysuckle, barley sugar; the palate has good volume – medium-weight – the flavours well balanced between ripe orchard fruit and citrus, with little hits of toasted nuts, papaya maybe. Lots of personality – very expressive and a wine I can imagine those lovers of old-style Aussie Chardonnay liking (without the over-use of oak), given its ripeness. Well balanced though. Mâcon-La-Roche-Vineuse incidentally is a regional appellation plus a geographic denomination – ie. a step up in quality and concentration than a straight Mâcon wine.
    • Impressive NV Champagne that’s had 5 years ageing on the lees. Shiny medium gold; fresh, ripe, lightly spiced, chalky on the nose – immediately white flowers, then predominantly white orchard fruit, baked apple, then a little hint of something toasted, almond croissant; delicate mousse with a steady fine bead, the attack is bright, nicely poised between just ripe apple, dried fruit and tart green apple, with a delicious wash of mandarin juice acidity that builds on the long, citrus finish with hits of saline and mineral. Beautifully elegant and precise with a level of complexity you don’t normally associate with a Champagne at this price point .
    • Here’s a  #rose  worth knowing about @DomaineDesMapliers. A really distinctive blend of blend of  #Grenache ,  #CabernetSauvignon  that has a lovely rich mouthfeel, good structure and a bite of tannin making it the kind of rose that can work for the terrace or sitting down for dinner. Made from organic vines 300m above sea level it has freshness and fruit and This is from the serious end of the Cote de Provence rose spectrum and well worth its £20 plus price tags. New to  @armitwines  that says its been on the look out for a quality Provence producer for some time it’s now on a push to drive listings in the UK  @majorlypr   #provence   #rosewine   #wine   #sommeliers   #foodwine 
    • A Rosé for International Rosé Day, from the Varois appellation in Provence, that is higher up and makes wines with a lot more tension. The 35-hectare estate of Château d’Ollières is situated in the village of Ollières itself, some 30km east of Aix and is owned by the Rouy family. Vines are mostly planted on clay-limestone soil at altitudes of 450 metres which gives this wine the key benefits of the Varois region in that the hot days of summer are followed by very cool nights which allow the grapes to ripen slowly but intensely. Organic agriculture is practised here and all the fruit for this dry, spicy rose 50/50 blend of Grenache Cinsault are harvested by hand. There’s a lot going on under the surface of this wine. To look at it’s very pale, luminous pink, limpid; on the nose there’s a slight spicy, peppery note, I got fresh