With the rise of our homegrown fizz making such a big splash, our very own globe-trotting Chef Editor, who is also the Ambassador for The Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships takes a global look at the Sparkling Wine industry. The use of the term Non Vintage, pricing, the disregard for Cava and MCC, the rise of ‘new’ countries like India and China, and where Champagne sits… all this and much more in an insightful report from a man who used to drink Dom Perignon while his rugby teammates were drinking pints.
“Our family estates couldn’t be anything but organic. These are our family values and they’re not negotiable.” So says the straight talking Claude Vialade, owner and founder of Domaine Auriol in the heart of the Languedoc Roussillon, who is not only driving organic winemaking on her own estate, but offering financial support to local growers willing to move their own production over to organics and will then pay a premium for their grapes. Now that really is walking the walk.
Whitehaven’s first vintage of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc sold a total of 5,000 cases in the United States. It was the first in a 14-year relationship with E&J Gallo that has seen it become America’s top-selling by-the-glass Sauvignon Blanc with sales for the 2018 vintage up to a tidy 350,000 cases. So what is the secret of its success? What flavours are Whitehaven going for? How does it achieve year-on-year consistency and how does a Marlborough-based estate manage growth from not owning any winery or land in 2000 to being one of the biggest players in the US? Peter Dean met up with Whitehaven chief winemaker, Sam Smail to get the lowdown.
If Australia could only pick one wine region to showcase the very best wines it can produce it would be wise to single out Margaret River. For it might only be responsible for 2% to 3% of the country’s overall wine production, the wines being made there are amongst the best in the country. Richard Siddle continues his journey around the main wine regions of Australia with the first of a two part review that looks back on the history of Margaret River and how it is now as famous for its winemakers as it once for its surfers and hippies. Although there’s no reason why you can’t be all three.
The equivalent of 1.4 million punnets of fresh table grapes are discarded in the global supply chain each year – a significant waste that is being addressed by the launch of HYKE a new premium English gin. HYKE is produced by Foxhole Spirits, which three years ago launched a gin made from by-products from the English wine harvest, and is being launched on March 18 – Global Recycling Day. Emma Diggory went to the launch at Spring in Somerset House and reports back on what makes HYKE so unique.
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Before the en primeur tastings have begun in Bordeaux, the first taste of the new vintage takes place in London every year through the 134-member Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux. Geoffrey Dean tastes a wide variety of Bordeaux 2018 and gets a vintage overview from the president of Grand Cercle. 2018 was a challenging year, with powdery mildew and a blistering hot summer being two key factors, but there are some good wines and some very good wines produced, particularly from the Right Bank.
It did not need the tub thumbing, gravitas of former US Vice President Al Gore to drive the sustainability message home at last week’s Climate Change Leadership event in Porto, but it certainly helped. His rip roaring address was, though, only a reflection of the hard yards, and pioneering steps being taken by many companies right across the global wine industry to do what they can to tackle climate change. It was an inspiring two days of talks and debates with the underlying message that we must all collectively do more than we currently are if we are to make any real impact.
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Cristina Villar Miranda