It does not seem to fit South Africa’s image as a still young, emerging wine country when you get the opportunity to go and celebrate the 100 year anniversary of one of its oldest and still most influential wine companies – KWV. This is a business that has helped create and develop the South African wine industry for the rest of the world to enjoy. But as Harry Crowther discovered, during a special night to mark its 100 year anniversary, its best years probably still lie ahead.
The wonders of aged Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon is a wine trade secret, of course; stunning quality that is still so modestly priced. To celebrate 160 years of the winery, Chris Tyrrell was in London with a flight of Vat 1 Semillon (2017-1998), a flight of the Johnno’s plus some amazing Shiraz. Our roaming contributing editor Roger Jones was on hand to pick out his favourite vintages.
Inspired by an episode of A Place in the Sun, Jayne and Paul Bayliss decided to jack in their media jobs in the UK and head to the Languedoc where they set up a craft beer brewery in the heart of wine country… not knowing a thing about making beer. Brasserie du Quercorb is almost 10 years old and has reached capacity – supplying the French on-trade with a range of award-winning ales, through their on-site brasserie and also off sales. Peter Dean met up with them just as they opened a new brewery that will triple production and see them able to supply a range of new export markets – including the UK.
South Africa might, in comparison to other wine producing countries, be a relatively newcomer on the international wine market, but it has vines that date back decades. But they are in ever decreasing numbers as they are have been systematically ripped out over the years to be replaced by new vines as producers and the major co-ops look to keep ahead of world demand by planting more global varieties than local ones. But now thanks to the Old Vine Project and the pioneering work of respected viticulturist, Rosa Kruger, more and more older vines are being protected, saved and brought back to life. Vines that potentially give winemakers the opportunity to produce styles of wine that are the true identity of South Africa and have learnt how to live through at least 35 years – the age at which they are deemed to be ‘old’ – and become part of the Old Vine Project. Richard Siddle explores what the project means in reality, and how it is still a slow, but very important process in convincing growers and the major co-operatives to identify where the old vines are and help bring them back to life.
‘Plaimont Producteurs and the Sale of the Golden Barrels’ sounds like a story JK Rowling could have dreamt up, beret pulled down over her eyes after necking a bottle of solid Madiran in the rolling hills of Gascogne. It is, however, an annual auction held on November 5th where the finest barrels of Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh (or Barriques d’Or) are sold to the on-trade – a chance to assess the latest harvest, get first dibs on the best of the best, and also to come together and celebrate as one winemaking community – just before the grapes are picked for the next vintage. Peter Dean travelled there to take part in the festivities and on no account to come home with 228 litres of sticky.
There must be times as a leading sommelier that you are as much in demand as all the latest movie stars sitting on Graham Norton’s sofa. Be it in the restaurant and the time needed to work behind the scenes to have the right wines for customers to buy, and then the time to get out, taste, discover and find new things to list. Which is why The Buyer’s new Sommelier Workshop concept is designed to give sommeliers an insight into a key emerging country in 90 minutes. Which is what we would look to deliver with our journey into the wines of Hungary and what varieties, styles and price points are right for premium UK restaurants.
South Africa is winning plaudits left, right and centre for the quality of its wines, from reds, to whites, to sparkling and anything in between. But for Ross Sleet and the new Rascallion wine brand it is the country’s blended wines that are truly world class. It’s why the Rascallion wine range has been created using only blends, using both traditional combinations and more left field option from across South Africa. Richard Siddle went on a road trip with him to track down the right ‘ingredients’ for his next blends.
On a recent tasting visit of the Saint-Péray AOC in the Rhône, Bart Feys is excited by the quality of the current crop of white wines and their potential to develop into complex ageworthy wines. Recent years have also seen the resurgence of sparkling Saint-Péray, a unique wine with a long history. With a string of recent successful vintages, now seems the ideal time to explore this little forgotten corner of the Northern Rhône.
The Bock winery from Villany in Hungary has many stories to tell, none more so than how, like so many Hungarian hard-working families, it has prospered in the wake of the Communist regime. It all started when the Bock family, with only half a hectare of vines, was able to kickstart and restore viticulture to the Villany region. Today the Bock winery has expanded to 80 hectares and its wines are known across the country. Its next challenge is to build its profile and reputation overseas at trade and consumer tastings and hopefully on restaurant wine lists.
The world of wine is full of conundrums. Just how do you define natural wine? What exactly is minerality, why do Americans love Yellow Tail so much and just who is Peter Stafford-Bow? Yes, this mysterious figure suddenly appeared out of nowhere with a top selling book, Corkscrew, detailing the apparently fictitious, yet also so very accurate, lives of supermarket wine buyers and the producers and distributors that supply them. He is now back with his second book, Brut Force, that picks up the adventures of his hero Felix Hart. The Buyer managed to track him down – admittedly via email and not face to face – to try and reveal just a little more about who the real Peter Stafford-Bow really is.