Italy is so blessed with different styles of fine wine it can be hard to stand out even if you make as prestigious and world famous wines as Amarone. It’s part of the reason why the Famiglie Storiche group of premium producers was set up. To both promote, but also to protect the reputation and prestige of these unique wines from Valpolicella in the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy. This week, to mark the groups’s 10th anniversary, it is hosting a special walk around tasting in London featuring wines from all its crus and styles. Here Alberto Zenato, president of the group, explains what Famiglie Storiche is all about and what we can expect at the tasting.
The first barrel sample that Peter Sisseck ever tasted was a 1982 Mouton Rothschild. It became a benchmark of quality for the impressionable young Danish winemaker who left Bordeaux for Ribera del Duero and Pingus where he makes some of Spain’s greatest wines. Sisseck returned to Saint-Émilion a decade ago with the intention of making old school terroir-driven claret that relies on its limestone soils rather than over-extraction or over-barrelling for its power and individuality. In the intervening years, however, he believes Bordeaux has suffered from a standardisation that is making many of the wines taste the same. So how has he set out his stall differently? And, most importantly, are the wines of Château Rocheyron displaying those changes?
With so many different parts and aspects of the wine and spirits industry it’s only right we should grasp the opportunity to reward and shine the light on those individuals who are going the extra mile in whatever sector they are in. Which is what the Julian Brind MW trophy at the International Wine & Spirit Competition looks to do. Here we profile two more of the finalists for this year’s prize: PR manager, Sula Richardson of Phipps Relations and wine educator from Tasmania, Curly Haslam-Coates.
“It’s not a world we know – it’s unchartered territory”. But that does not mean the team at Origin Wine is not determined to make a success of their new venture into the premium on-trade with Origin Vineyards. An opportunity for Origin’s founder, Bernard Fontannaz, to take his considerable commercial experience working with the world’s biggest supermarkets and bring a more market, consumer-focused approach to his range of initially South African and Argentine wines for premium quality restaurants.
The English wine industry continues to surprise and surpass all expectations as production, quality and respect all around the world increases with every vintage. One of the leading players responsible for those changes is Ridgeview in East Sussex. It therefore feels very timely that a key member of its team, Tom Surgey, who heads up its sales and business development, should be shortlisted for this year’s IWSC Julian Brand Memorial Trophy to recognise one of the rising new talents of the wine industry.
Simon Robinson has an unique perspective on the British wine industry. He has fingers in a lot of pies – as chairman of both Hampshire-based winery Hattingley Valley and industry association WineGB. And he is bullish about the future of both. He has grown his estate from empty chalk hills to being one of the UK’s biggest wine exporters, his award-winning winemaker Emma Rice is set to make their first still Chardonnay and he believes that Brexit and a weaker pound will help the maturing industry secure distribution abroad. Justin Keay talks to the Hattingley team as well as tastes through their new releases.
Simpsons Wine Estate was set up in Barham, Kent six years ago with the intention of making English sparkling wine. The news that its Chalklands Classic Cuvee has just won a major gong at the CSWW awards with its first ever release is an indication that their young operation is producing sparkling wine at the right level of quality. But a third of its output is English still wine, a category that they believe holds the secret to their long term success. Peter Dean met them on the eve of their 2019 harvest to find out how they intend to take English still wine into quality levels it has so far failed to reach.
We hear a lot about the importance of long term relationships when it comes to restaurants, hotels, bars and their drinks suppliers. Which is why it is particularly refreshing to see one such partnership blossoming as well as the one between Corney & Barrow and premium Lake District hotel, The Forest Side, thanks, in part, to the close personal relations its general manager Alasdair Elwick has forged with C&B over his career. Here Richard Siddle talks to Elwick to find out what aspects of that relationship are so important.
The UK wine trade is used to having the opportunity to take part in special wine tasting events. The world of wine is always keen to show what it can do to some of the planet’s most influential buyers. On November 1 the opportunity falls on Napa Valley to demonstrate how the style and diversity of Cabernet Sauvignon has evolved over the last 30 years with a special Perspective tasting that will allow producers to show how one wine has changed and adapted over three vintages. Here’s what you can look forward to.
Thankfully Liam Hirt and Danny Walker are not only close friends, but have become successful business partners in not one but two craft spirits businesses based in Bristol. First the Psychopomp Distillery, which is the result of what happens when you take a hobby that started out in a basement and open it up to the public. Its limited edition craft gins now sell out on demand. It is now looking to do the same with its grain and whisky concept, the Circumstance Distillery which is as much about combining flavours and ferments as it is about craft distilling. Richard Siddle caught up with this fascinating duo who have also created their own craft spirit cryptocurrency…as you do.
“The books that taught me about wine were as much about places and people as they were about the wines themselves, and those were the stories that stuck in my mind.” They are also the stories that acclaimed wine critic and writer himself, Steven Spurrier, wants to capture and celebrate with his new venture the Académie du Vin Library that will give the opportunity for journalists and writers to have new wine books published, as well as the chance to delve back in time and help re-publish old classics.
Famous for its historic Port production, it’s hard to believe that the Douro didn’t really make still wine until the end of the last century. Five producers changed all that – Quinta Vale D. Maria, Quinta do Vallado, Quinta do Crasto, Quinta do Vale Meão and Niepoort – and together they make up The Douro Boys. David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, flew to Porto to meet each of them as they get together to celebrate their 15th anniversary with a fund-raising auction which, this year, broke all records. He meets the characters, all of them very different, who have done so much to raise the profile of their region and highlights a few of his favourite wines.
If you are keen to learn more about the latest styles of Italian and Mediterranean wine and how they can particularly work with different types of cuisine in the premium on-trade then next month’s Bellavita Expo really is a must. For the two day show has put together a highly impressive range of wine seminars, masterclasses and panel debates featuring a roll call of top experts and Masters of Wine. Here’s our highlights of what is a packed agenda of talks.
If generic bodies like Wines of Argentina are going to get the message across to buyers and sommeliers across the country about how far their wines and styles are changing then it means putting the hard yards in. Which is what the autumn series of Barullo Sessions from Wines of Argentina is all about. The chance to take Argentine producers on the road and introduce them to key players both in and around London, but also in Scotland with a special event next week in Edinburgh. UK ambassador for Wines of Argentina, Phil Crozier, explains what they have in store.
We’ve all heard the talk about demand for wines in a can, but now that Greencroft Bottling, one of the UK’s biggest and most influential packing companies in the country has decided to invest over £2 million in installing the UK’s first canning line for wine, all that talk is turning into action. Greencroft has clearly seen and had enough demand from its customers, which stretch from major branded wine companies to the big supermarkets and on-trade groups, to take the step to have a dedicated canning facility. David Kermode looks at the opportunities that lie ahead for canned wine.
Since acclaimed Austrian winemaker Lenz Moser accepted the role of chief winemaker at Château Changyu Moser XV in 2014, he has developed a range of wines that is sold in 40 markets around the world, including his barrel-fermented white Cabernet Sauvignon that has become the most successful Chinese wine ever, winning three major gold medals in Europe. His latest project is a super-premium Chinese wine to be launched in Marrakech, Morocco next spring, a Cabernet Sauvignon that will cost a hefty €150 a bottle. Louise Hurren caught up with him in Yinchuan and discusses his successes, mistakes and ambitions with bringing Chinese wine to the West.
“It is a celebration, a chance for every sommelier at different stages of their career to show their appreciation and knowledge of wines from the Occitanie region”. This is how Sud de France’s executive director, Isabelle Kanaan, describes the challenge of taking part in what was the 10th edition of the Sud de France Sommelier Competition. Richard Siddle was also there not just to report, but act as one of the judges in this prestigious event. He was also in the ideal place to feel the tension, appreciate the talents of the finalists and join in the congratulations to the overall winner, Andrés Rangel, assistant head sommelier at Gymkhana.
They’re like buses and policemen… you wait an eternity to hear about a wine from Luberon, as we did with Les Quelles de la Coste, and then a week later everyone’s talking about them. Geoffrey Dean travels to this sunny corner of France made famous by Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence and discovers why the wines of AOC Luberon have got everything going for them. Dean visits Château La Canorgue, which inspired the film A Good Year and also the domains of two individuals responsible for raising the profile of the area – Fabrice Monod at Château Fontvert and Paul Dubrule at La Cavale.
This month’s Bellavita exhibition gives UK wine buyers the chance to explore and discover wines and food from across Italy and the Mediterranean at an event dedicated to bringing the full restaurant experience together under one roof. So rather than just have an event purely for wine, and another for food, Bellavita is very much about bringing the two sides together. The Buyer will be hoping to do that too as part of a wine trade debate on November 7 that will ask major importers and merchants to assess where Italian and Mediterranean wines are going in the premium on-trade.
Ahead of this month’s Wines of Georgia trade tastings in London (October 2) and Manchester (October 8), Peter Ranscombe highlights six wineries that stood out for him on a visit last week to the former Soviet state. With a two-year waiting list for winemakers wanting to buy the nation’s iconic qvevri clay vessels for fermentation and ageing, production of higher-quality wines is poised to expand, creating more opportunities for UK merchants and restaurants looking to tap into the growing consumer curiosity surrounding amber wines.