It was one of the hottest days of the year and it was hotly anticipated – the day WineGB held its first showcase trade and press tasting since you-know-what. Chef and sparkling wine expert Roger Jones went to catch up with some old faces and to see how the British wine industry is continuing to evolve and excel, but it was also an opportunity to discover some new wineries and plenty of new cuvées. Whitehall Vineyard was a new producer, specialising in still wines, sparkling champ Dermot Sugrue had some impressive new cuvées, and Hattingley’s still wines were just some of Roger’s many highlights. And how about Multi-Vintage as a more positive way of describing Non Vintage?
Ex Michelin-starred chef and Australian wine expert Roger Jones tastes and rates Tom Cullity 2017 – the new premium Cabernet Sauvignon from Vasse Felix that critics are saying is the best vintage yet – alongside the four previous vintages, including the inaugural 2013 vintage that was released on the winery’s 50th anniversary. Jones also gets up close and personal with Vasse Felix owner Paul Holmes à Court and chief winemaker Virginia Willcock to discover the history of this wine and why it works so well with black truffles.
The flagship wines from House of Arras, Houghton, Grant Burge, St Hallett and Hardys made up the tantalising selection of prestige wines from Accolade Fine Wines, that were showcased at its second Pre-Release Introduction tasting. Part of Accolade’s Global Vintage Release Programme for 2021, the tasting allows key buyers and selected press to assess and confirm their allocation ahead of the release of the wines later in the year. Roger Jones, our retired Michelin Star Chef and Aussie wine lover tastes through the full portfolio.
The last time Roger Jones had a Mornington Peninsula tasting, he was the host and the local recycling centre had to work overtime. No rave this year but the Pinot Noirs were tasting just as exceptional, making the case once again, Jones believes, that these wines are arguably the best New World Pinots there are. Matthew Jukes was the compere to this insight into ‘Australia’s Pinot Coast’, Jones had an ‘access all areas’ ticket, and here tastes and rates eight of the best.
Cap Classique, South Africa’s traditional method, premium sparkling wine, is neatly positioned between Prosecco and more expensive English Sparkling Wine or Champagne. As the category celebrates 50 years of production this year, South African wine expert Roger Jones looks back at the wine, the value it affords and picks a ‘magnificent 7’ that you should put at the top of your shopping list.
While most wine experts have been content with mini-samples sent to them for the virtual tastings that have become de rigeur in 2020, Roger Jones has simply gone downstairs into his award-winning wine cellar and dusted off a few real, life-sized bottles. The semi-retired chef also has a food-pairing lens to look through – hence this year’s challenge to find out which wines (if any) work with char-grilled octopus, a dish he is rather partial to cooking at all hours of the day and night. And talking of barbecues – he is the only member of The Buyer’s tasting team that has picked a Bordeaux First Growth to go with a South African Brai.
Petaluma showcased its new Yellow Label releases and a couple of older wines on a recent Zoom tasting and our Australian wine lover and editor at large Roger Jones takes time out of his culinary escapades to rule over these wines. Accolade eschewed the customary miniature sample bottles and instead sent Roger, and other wine experts, full bottles plus one magnum of an aged museum release. Petaluma chief winemaker Mike Mudge led proceedings with his usual banter and the wines themselves were on very fine form.
Since ‘retiring’ from running his Michelin Star restaurant, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, Roger and Sue Jones have been running a gastronomic ‘takeaway’ from their premises where customers can buy some of Jones’s signature dishes along with paired premium wines. Jones has also been a judge on three global wine competitions – judging wines from Alsace and three New World regions for the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC), Australian wines for the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) and next month working with the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships (CSWWC). So what approach does a wine expert/ chef take to the judging process and how has the dreaded C-word affected things?
Once Roger Jones, Steven Spurrier, Rebecca Palmer and Kelly Stevenson had finished their judging to find the 12 best wines of Alsace, the quartet visited Josmeyer, Zind-Humbrecht and Dirler-Cadé as well as put the wines into a gastronomic context with Sipp Mack and Cave de Turckheim. In this second part of this special insight into why the wines of Alsace are so special, celebrated chef and Buyer contributing editor, Jones, tries a number of food pairings (some, like foie gras more than once just to be sure ;)), experiences a once-in-a-lifetime ‘speed tasting’ as well as many of the winemakers’ very special aged bottles.
Ever since his first bottle of Grange in 1985, Roger Jones has been a huge advocate of Australian wine. A third of the wines on Joness 1000-strong bin wine list at The Harrow at Little Bedwyn are Australian wines, some dating back to the 1990s and beyond. But it is with Chardonnay that Jones believes that Australia competes on the world stage best – so with tasting glass in hand he dived into the whites at the Australia Trade Tasting with his customary gusto and has come up with a selection that he thought shone the brightest on the day.