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.
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 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.
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.
The wines of Dönnhoff hold a special place in the hearts and minds of great wine lovers worldwide. This 20-hectare estate in Germany’s Nahe wine region has been making wine since the mid-18th century but it wasn’t until 1971 when Helmut Dönnhoff took over the helm that the winery took on superstar status thanks to Helmut’s commitment to quality and skill as a winemaker. With Helmut now passing much of the day-to-day running of the estate to his son Cornelius, Helmut spent a warm summer’s evening with Christina Rasmussen to explain why he thinks ‘higher’ can be good with global warming, how the rise of dry Riesling is a sommelier-driven thing and why every vineyard has a special ‘natural talent.’ The winemaker’s job is to harness it.
Running a restaurant or a bar is busy enough without going out of your way to make your life more complicated. But then if you don’t put the effort in hosting extra tastings, wine dinners and events you’re not going to attract in more customers and get people eating and drinking with you at times when they are normally doing something else. It’s why the Côtes du Rhône generic body is not just asking restaurants to get behind its latest promotion, but is providing them with £500 of materials and support to help them put the events on. Here we talk to Bastien Ferreri of Frenchie and Roger Jones at The Harrow about what they are doing to back the Côtes du Rhône campaign.
Melanie Brown has recently opened The Australian Cellar which follows the success of her first solo venture, The New Zealand Cellar, which first launched online in 2014, before finding its bricks-and-mortar home at Pop Brixton in 2015. Since starting The New Zealand Cellar she has become widely respected as one of the biggest influencers on New Zealand wine in the UK. There are now hopes she can do the same for Australia if she continues to tirelessly import a diverse selection of premium wines to the market as she has done with New Zealand. Roger Jones met her to find out.
It’s not enough any more just to have the best quality products in the market. That’s not enough to get choosy consumers to pick them up and buy them. No, in this age of the smartphone we need to be wooed, and entertained if we are to part with our cash. Which is why Côtes du Rhône is looking to restaurants and bars to support its latest marketing campaign with special events, tastings and dinners to make it even more memorable and meaningful for potential future customers.
In order to get under the skin of how Riesling is changing in the major wine regions of Germany, Christina Rasmussen spent a week in the summer visiting some of the major players in the Mosel and Pfalz, discovering differing philosophies, planting and winemaking experiments. She also stumbles on a major gap in her wine knowledge about why the age of some vines in the Mosel are over 140 years old… in fact, we wonder if you knew….
Michel Rolland is the world’s most recognised oenologist, if not the only one. The ultimate flying winemaker, Rolland (assisted by a team of seven) now consults for 240 wineries worldwide with the Black Sea countries a key priority. Rolland was in London to celebrate working with Alain Dominique Perrin for 30 years, the owner of Château Legrézette, a Cahors-based winery that has been trying to transform the reputation of ‘black wine’ into widely-accessible Malbec. Peter Dean takes up the story.
If you want to be taken seriously as a premium spirit brand then you have to be listed in all the key style bars in the country, that’s when you know you have a critical mass to take to the next stage. It’s so much harder in wine as there are simply too many alternatives in your category to choose from. But for English sparkling wine, which very much wants to play in those premium circles, being listed in all the right bars and restaurants is now very much a given, but few outlets take English wine quite as seriously as the Coral Room at the Bloomsbury hotel which, as Helen Arnold discovers, claims to have one of the largest – if not the largest – selection in the country, both by the glass and the bottle.
It all started as a brainwave that Miguel Torres had – was it possible to save all the grape varieties that were becoming extinct in Catalonia? The answer was yes, after they managed to identify 54 different varieties that were shortly due to disappear completely. A lengthy, expensive and arduous process then followed where the most suitable varieties have been replanted with climate change in mind. Marina Ray travelled to the stunning setting of Montserrat to visit Purgatori, Torres’ latest winery that has just started releasing the wines from this fascinating project.
Whisper it quietly but German wines are very much back in vogue, or at least they are amongst the cooler, hip and happening ends of the wine market, particularly amongst younger wine drinkers not exposed to some of Germany’s less flattering exports in the 1970s and 1980s. In fact Germany is enjoying such a renaissance that it can put on a tasting featuring 51 producers (and their 150 plus wines) that are not currently represented in the UK. Producers that have been selected by a pre-tasting panel made up of UK buyers, merchants and sommeliers, some of whom have kindly shared what we can expect at next week’s Get It On tasting on October 25.
A man walks into a bar…. and when that man is author and drinks specialist Henry Jeffreys you know that a good time is guaranteed – the booze will be plentiful, of fine pedigree and the repartee, second to none. His just-published second book, The Home Bar, explores the history of bars, how they were shaped by various socio-politico and economic events and how we all started to love drinking at home. A lot. In conversation with Peter Dean, Jeffreys covers a lot of ground from the Gin craze, pre-mixed cocktails, Christmas TV-advertised fruit liqueurs and his favourite ‘Man walks into a bar’ joke.
If you want to see the impact of climate change then you only need to take a short hop to Champagne to see how vintage after vintage the harvest is getting earlier and earlier. Here Christian Holthausen of AR Lenoble explains how the Champagne house has produced the first of its new “mag” premium Champagne series that has looked at new viticulture and production techniques to help keep and drive freshness in its Champagnes.
Describing someone as a ‘maverick’ is not normally something you would do to their face. It might be used to describe someone in a flattering way, but it essentially means someone who sits outside the ordinary and does everything but follow the norm, which can sometimes be misconstrued. But describe a winemaker as a maverick and they’ll probably be pretty pleased as it is more about the wines they make, than how they conduct themselves as a person. Which brings us to Wines of Argentina’s approach to wine events, which appropriately enough recently shone the light on its own country’s generation of maverick winemakers. Harry Crowther went along for the ride.
The process of choosing what wines end up on the list of a top London establishment can often look like a dark art. How do those brands, products and special wines end up there? Alistair Morrell lifts the lid on the Hakkasan Group’s, one of not just the city’s but world’s most high profile restaurant group’s, selection process, and talks to Christine Parkinson, its longstanding director of wine about how she goes about it and the role of her all important tasting panel.
Tuesday 9th October marks a very special occasion for Ray Signorello and his wife Tanya, for it was exactly a year ago to the day that their home and much of the properties on their wine estate were razed to the ground by the wildfires that swept through Napa and Sonoma, claiming many lives and devastating the Californian wine community. It could have been worse, as David Kermode discovers when he meets the team as they prepare to ‘break ground’ on a new winery that starts building on the one year anniversary. The razing of Signorello Estate became the iconic image of the devastating fires and Kermode hears an inspiring story of bravery, determination, resilience and recovery.
It’s a well known saying in business – and in life – that you can only really appreciate success when you have been through disappointments and knock backs along the way. For Roger and Sue Jones, and their award winning team at The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, this week has been one of those that certainly fit into the knock back category. For after 12 years they lost their Michelin star. After the initial disappointment, Roger Jones reflects on what might have been the reasons for Michelin’s decision, and, in this frank, honest and brave account, looks ahead for what could be in store for him, his wife and business partner, Sue, and their team as they looks to expand and grow into new areas, take on different projects and prove there is very much life without a Michelin star.