Whisked off to Madrid for an experiental launch of the new Ramón Bilbao Mirto 2014, David Kermode started getting horrid flashbacks of a BBC managers role-playing awayday… from which he was asked to leave for taking the piss. The launch, more like a spirits roll-out than a new wine, was in keeping with Ramón Bilbao’s sense of imagination, and also its focus on its founder Don Ramón and his vision to make wines that have a sense of place, and then take you on a journey. Thankfully, the wine was not obscured by the theatrics and Kermode assesses it alongside a vertical of past Mirto vintages.
It has been said that Hungarians are so canny they can enter a revolving door behind you and somehow emerge in front. True to form, in next to no time the Hungarian wine industry has managed to throw off the shackles of Communism and a decade of uncertainty, and show the world just how good their wines can be. Working with single native varieties like white Furmint, Harslevelu and Juhfark as well as the increasingly popular Kekfrankos, they have also proven adept with blends, most notably putting Egri Bikaver’s image-battered past behind it, and working with international blends. Oz Clarke picked his top 50 wines from Hungary, so we sent Justin Keay along to taste them and further whittle them down into the seven essential wines for your list.
The entry process for the UK Best Sommelier competition is nearing its close as the deadline ticks down to the finals on June 3. Here Andrea Rinaldi, president of the UK Sommelier Association, explains how the competition, now in its fifth year came about, and why just being selected to take part in the final competition is an achievement in itself. He also explains how the competition works and what it is looking for in the winning candidate.
Every two years the professional trade body representing Rhône valley vineyards, Inter Rhône, showcases the diversity of wines from across the Rhône valley during a 4-day Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône tasting and masterclass extravaganza in various towns following the Rhône river spine, from the North in Ampuis to the South in Avignon. At a State of the Nation address Michel Chapoutier, President of Inter Rhône, delivered his vision for the future of Rhône valley vineyards – how it will cope with an increase in premium sales, a shift away from red wine towards more white and rosé, sparkling and tapping into Millennials’ buying habits. The Buyer sent Bart Feys to find out what the second largest French AOC wine region has been up to and how it is future-proofing itself for what lies ahead.
As a South African Gareth Ferreira, head sommelier at Core by Clare Smyth, is understandably proud of how far his country’s wines have come in the last 10 years. Here he explains why he is therefore so pleased to be involved in the finals of the judging of this year’s Wines of South Africa’s Sommelier Cup competition in South Africa in September. He also gives his advice on what sommeliers need to do to stand out from the rest and stand a chance of winning such a prestigious event.
The biggest news to come out of Vinexpo 2019 was not what was happening in Bordeaux last week, but what it intends to do in the future to keep it fresh, relevant and dynamic for ever demanding producers, brands owners and buyers. Based on the reduced size of its latest Bordeaux edition it is going to be a long process. But the announcement it is to merge and hold a joint fair with Wine Paris in February, rather than sticking with doing one on its own, was warmly welcomed as the first step in the right direction. Richard Siddle reports back from Vinexpo on why its new chief executive Rudolphe Lameyse was in bullish mood and confident about its future.
Robert Wessman was once dubbed the Viking Boss for how he transformed the pharmaceutical business in Iceland. Now he has his sights set on the premium end of the wine business, buying Bergerac estate Château Saint-Cernin, and employing global wine consultant Michel Rolland and his team to oversee the cellar and winemaking. He is already making waves with the red Château Saint-Cernin already outscoring Cheval Blanc and Harlan Estate in a critics’ blind tasting. Geoffrey Dean was whisked to Bergerac in a private jet, tasted the wines and quizzed Wessman about his best route to market in the UK.
While Aussie winemaker Larry McKenna waits for the New Zealand government to rubber-stamp the sale of his Escarpment winery to Torbreck owner Pete Kight, he is still passionately showing off the quality of his Pinot Noir to wine buyers and critics worldwide. Larry McPinot, as he is affectionately known, was in London last week to hold a masterclass on the single vineyard Pinots – Kiwa, Kupe and Te Rehua – and to let Anne Krebiehl MW taste both new and back vintages, as well as give her an insight into their unique profiles. As the vines get older so the wines seem to express their specific Martinborough terroir more acutely, a wine region that Krebiehl has some powerful memories of.
It might seem a bit upside down to be introducing a new major Champagne tasting event in the UK that is actually an Australia affair, organised by the Australian double act of leading wine critic, Tyson Stelzer and events organiser, Jody Rolfe. Together they have been hosting a series of successful Champagne events in Australia and Hong Kong for the last six years through their Wine Press business that has helped bring a new, look and feel to Champagne Down Under. They are now looking to do the same in Europe with their first event in London on June 12. Here’s what to expect.
It is an indication of how big the turnaround in Californian wine has been over the last few years that a number of the dynamic, disruptive and award winning wine importers that have come into the market over the last three to four years have identified California as a key area to go and source exciting, cutting edge wines that can help give them a point of difference. Like Wanderlust Wine. Its founder, Richard Ellison, explains why California has become such an important country in his search for esoteric and different wines from around the world.