It’s easy to forget how recent a wine Amarone is; there are currently 350 producers of Amarone in Italy, but just 60 years ago there were seven, in fact the category didn’t officially start until 1989. Although climate change is now making it increasingly hard for these estates to keep the alcohol levels down, Justin Keay found many examples of both commercial Amarone and Valpolicella at the Le Famiglie Storiche di Amarone e Valpolicella tasting that show how producers are following a course that will make for better wines both now and in the future. Keay also picks out the top wines that should be on your buying radar.
It’s a case of ‘one step forward two steps back’ for Bulgaria and its wine producers, believes Justin Keay. After the huge success of the previous two years, this year’s new vintage tasting in London was lacking some of the best producers, many of the indigenous varieties and a lot of the imaginative winemaking so evident in 2018. Talking to key buyers, Keay discovers that price is an issue, consumers’ lack of knowledge and also an inward-looking focus that smacks of a lack of understanding of the global wine market.
Tasting the new releases from Vega-Sicilia is up there with ‘DRC day’ in January. But when that tasting is behind the hallowed doors of the wine estate itself then tasting Unico 2010, Valbuena 5° 2015, Alion 2016 and Unico, Reserva Especial 2020 takes on an added frisson of excitement. Spain’s ‘first growth’ and arguably its most prestigious winery is notoriously difficult to gain access to, but Peter Dean did and posts this account of what it’s like to sample Unico 2010 in the hushed drawing room of the Nineteenth Century villa that serves as its headquarters.
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.
Bulk wine is a sector that you cannot afford to ignore, representing an ever-increasing proportion of all the wine traded and shipped around the globe and is now a category worth an annual £3.5bn a year. Which is why next week’s World Bulk Wine Exhibition is for some the two most important days of the year. A time when the majority of bulk wine is traded, contacts are made and contracts are placed. It will once again bring a part of the wine industry together that for some operates in parallel universe to the world of premium wine. But one that is increasingly having an influence on how wine buyers source their wine. It is, as Helen Arnold, explains also the chance for insiders to get a 360-degree vision of what the bulk wine industry has to offer.
The London Wine Competition looks to assess and reward wines based on how consumers judge them. What they look like, how much they cost and what they taste like. Now into its third year of competition the event has proven to be a new platform for producers all over the world to show their wines not just to the trade, but to use any medals and awards won to then promote their wines direct to their customers and consumers. If you want to take part in this year’s competition you can now take advantage of new pre-Christmas entry prices providing you enter by December 18.
As a restaurateur Roger Jones has found that his customers are more at ease when ordering wines and grape varieties that they can pronounce. So how were they going to fare with Vachnadziani, Rkatsitelli and Karmrahyut – three varietals from Georgia and Armenia, that are part of Hallgarten’s 80 new-wine refresh of its portfolio, embracing Ancient Wines? Jones tasted through the range, recommends his stand-out wines, which are best value, and which ones stood up to the Old and New World wines which, for Jones stole the show.
With wine being made in virtually every region of Italy there is certainly plenty of choice for professional buyers to choose from. But what are the grape varieties, styles and regions that are selling the most on wine lists across the country? That was the theme up for debate as top importers and wine merchants came together at the recent Bellavita Expo in London to not just assess the merits of Italian wine, but what opportunities there are to source wine from both the established and emerging countries right across the Mediterranean. Richard Siddle looks back on the key issues and conclusions made by the buyers.
The ‘black wines’ of Cahors in France’s South-West are still suffering in the UK from a reputation of being too challenging – both cerebrally and on account of their sometimes ferocious tannins – sad given the fact that in the 14th Century half of all wine imported into Britain was from Cahors. At the UK launch of its new cuvée Lucter, Château de Haute-Serre owner Bertrand-Gabriel Vigouroux shows Simon Field MW how he has made it his mission to manage the tannins in Cahors without sacrificing the essence of the wine and its key points of difference.
Ever since he vacated the chef de cave seat at Piper-Heidsieck, Regis Camus has devoted his attention between making premium sake and top Champagne cuvée Rare. In London to show off the new vintage, Rare 2006, to Anne Krebiehl MW, he explains why this cuvée is a ‘sunny’ one rather than ‘iconic’ or ‘radiant’; why most of the Chardonnay in the blend comes from the Montagne de Reims rather than the Côte des Blancs; why it is only the ninth white Rare since 1976; and why making Champagne of this calibre requires the maker to have a ‘photograph’ in their mind of each vintage.