As Prowein 2022 gets set to return after two years absence, Caroline Gilby profiles Château Purcari, the Moldovan estate that is exhibiting with the aim of bringing more of its wine to the UK. Purcari is at the forefront of reviving Moldova’s indigenous grape varieties, such as Rara Neagra which is a key part of the iconic Negru de Purcari cuvée, as well as producing Freedom Blend, the wine aimed at raising money for refugees that have flooded across the border since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
There’s a great deal of excitement about the wines that are coming out of the Agulhas Wine Triangle – South Africa’s southernmost vineyards. This is a region with ancient soils, extreme winds and a raw landscape that are producing cool climate whites and reds of remarkable quality and elegance. On a recent trip to South Africa, Geoffrey Dean visited the region, tasted the wines from the 10 wineries and talked with some of the key players – Bruce Jack, Dirk Human and Pierre Rabie about what makes this new frontier of winemaking so special.
Stephen Cronk and the Mirabeau team were in London last month to showcase wines from their 2021 harvest to the UK trade. It was also an opportunity for Cronk to sit and down and reflect on what has been another hectic year with both big successes in terms of sales, distribution and brand building, but also dealing with the impact of the devastating fire that ruined what would have been the second vintage of its estate wine. Cronk also shares why he is so committed to driving regenerative farming practices.
St-Rémy brandy is a true celebration of France, its famous wine regions and its vineyards, as it takes grapes from vines sourced across all the main regions, including Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Languedoc‐Roussillon and the Loire Valley. All of which combine to create the St-Rémy brandy that has a loyal following all over the world. Cécile Roudaut is the master blender tasked with bringing all those styles of grape together in the final St-Rémy blend. Here she explains how it is that diversity of the fruit she uses that helps make its fruity and harmonious style.
Iona sits on the southern most tip of South Africa and has developed to become one of the region of Elgin’s most prominent producers making elegant cool climate wines strongly influenced by the maritime winds. Peter McCombie MW talks to Iona’s founder Andrew Gunn and looks back at his wines from the 2021 vintage and also hears how sustainability, both in the farm and how he looks after his workers, is such a key part of Iona’s DNA.
Wine expert Chris Wilson turned winemaker last year with Cambridge’s first ever urban winery, Gutter&Stars. His first vintages were so good they found their way onto many critics’ Best of 2021 lists and also made a case for British still wine really being a thing. In another ‘missive from the front’ Wilson takes us through the thinking behind his next two wines – a field blend of Ortega and Bacchus, and a second vintage of his 100% Bacchus from Missing Gate Vineyard in the Crouch Valley. Nerdy music references abound and there’s some exciting news about more new wines in the pipeline.
The contrast could not be more striking. One minute you are in charge of arguably the biggest football club in the world. The next you are standing in the peaceful calm of the Douro Valley plotting what to do next with a 300 year-old, 35-hectare wine property. But whilst Ed Woodward would not have wished to leave Manchester United as quickly as he did, he talks to Richard Siddle about the excitement of a new challenge. Being part of the team looking to make Quinta da Pedra Alta one of the Douro’s new rising stars.
“We are in a very positive mood. We are getting back to more normality and we really appreciate the opportunity to have real contact with people again.” Santiago Mora might be speaking in his role as director general of the CRDO Rueda, the governing body of this increasingly popular and important Spanish wine region, but he also speaks for the trade in general as producers and buyers get back to doing business face-to-face again. Here he talks to Richard Siddle about how Rueda is coming out of Covid-19 stronger than ever and shares its plans for the UK and its other key export markets around the world.
As a region, Champagne has set itself some ambitious Sustainability targets, and not before time. To check on its progress towards being fully environmentally certified in eight years time, Tyson Stelzer hosted a masterclass at Taste Champagne 2022 that brought together five key movers and shakers. One clear overriding message was that flexibility was the key issue – respecting the health of the soil but, at the same time, achieving a workable-sized crop.
Last October, just before Omicron reared its ugly head and we hit another travel ban, Mike Turner managed to make it out to Piemonte to visit Domenico Clerico, the renowned Barolo producer in the commune of Monforte D’Alba. Four years on from the sad passing of founder Domenico, it proved an excellent opportunity to see how the team was continuing his legacy as one of the visionaries of Monforte D’Alba and modernisers of Barolo.
What do you do when you have a surplus of viticultural data and don’t know what to do with it?… Develop a technological tool that supports everyday decision-making, with regular guidance on treatments and optimum harvest dates, and also assists long-term strategic change… that’s what. This is what lies behind PICA, a fascinating web-based tool and app developed by Cavit, one of Italy’s largest co-operatives based in Trentino. It represents 4,500 individual grower members, 10 wineries and a team of 14 agronomists overseeing 5,400 hectares of vineyards, the majority of which are relatively small plots in the hills around Trento. David Kermode was there before Lockdown to see how it is revolutionising viticulture in the region. As a prequel to today’s tasting in London we re-run this fascinating insight into winemaking that is pushing the envelope.
For Tim Ford there is nothing like meeting and working with new potential customers that can catch on to what he and his team are looking to do at Domaine Gayda in the Languedoc Roussillon. Which is why he is particularly looking forward to holding a portfolio tasting in London in April and a chance to show the winery’s full range of wines. Here he explains how he hopes to build even stronger contacts with independent wine merchants across the UK and break more into the London restaurant scene.
The numbers say it all. Burgundy’s leading producer, Domaine de La Pousse d’Or, can now claim to have a wine range that includes seven Grand Crus, three Monopoles and 11 Premier Crus following the recent acquisition of vineyards in the highly sought after Les Echezeaux and Charmes Chambertin appellations. The move can only add more prestige to an estate that is already seen by many as a producing benchmark Pinot Noir from the Côtes de Beaune, most famously in the communes of Volnay and Corton.
As the Vacherons raze 10 houses in the centre of Sancerre to make a € multi-million winery measuring one hectare in size, their ambition is clear for all to see. Cousins Jean-Laurent and Jean-Dominique Vacheron have, during their tenure as fourth generation winemakers, already cemented this central Loire estate’s reputation as arguably the best producers of red and white Sancerre. They have bought land in the best parcels, converted to full organic and biodynamic farming, and employed painstaking methods on their single-vineyard wines that recall the fastidiousness of Burgundian monks in the Côte d’Or. For one terroir-based cuvée they even age the wine in barrels sourced from Domaine Romanée Conti. Now they see this as the perfect time to re-set their sights set on the UK market with a deal struck with Pol Roger Portfolio. Peter Dean visited Sancerre to see some bold moves taking place.
“Our aim is to represent the wines of Bourgogne as broadly as possible, lesser-known Village AOCs can often provide more accessible price points than their more famous near neighbours.” So says Simon Jones of family-run and owned Tanners Wine Merchants as he and Estelle Prunier of Auxey-Duresses-based Domaine Michel Prunier et Fille discuss this appellation that sits between Meursault and Volnay and how it has fared in the new 2020 and 2021 vintages. This is the latest Bourgogne Week interview that The Buyer and Bourgogne Wines are posting to highlight how different UK specialist Bourgogne wine importers work with their partners in Bourgogne, particularly for emerging and lesser-known appellations.
To celebrate its 70th anniversary, Penfolds held a special dinner for the Grange with vintages dating back to 1979. Our man at the tasting, David Kermode, reports back on the event and talks to head winemaker Peter Gago about what makes the wine so special. Kermode also hears a rare recording of Grange creator Max Schubert talking about Grange and about how this most iconic of Australian wines could have been a stillborn project from the outset.
A vintage that ended on December 30… welcome to winemaking in England and one of the most challenging vintages in history. For Chris Wilson, wine scribe turned winemaker and owner of Cambridge’s first urban winery Gutter&Stars, 2021 was a vintage which threw everything possible at winemakers; he did, however, get some decent juice out of the year along with plaudits for his inaugural wines, including from Roger Jones who made Gutter&Stars’ first Chardonnay his Christmas pour.
The Hardy name is as synonymous with Australian wine as the Bradman family is with its cricket. So for Bec Hardy a career in wine was mapped out for her from birth. But when in 2020 she took over the Pertaringa wine brand business from her parents, Geoff and Fiona Hardy, she notched up a first even in her esteemed wine family by becoming the first female vineyard owner and wine producer in six generations. Here she is joined by her husband, and business partner, Richard Dolan, as they explain how they plan to bring new generation thinking to their Bec Hardy Wines and Pertaringa range of premium wines.
If you are an ambitious, adventurous wine buyer you would do well to concentrate your efforts on what some of the lesser known regions of Portugal are up to – a constant hive of new wines often made from native, indigenous grapes with unique styles. Which is very much what Bairrada, in the Beiras region of northern Portugal, nestled in just below Porto has to offer. As part of our link up with the region The Buyer today shines the light on seven producers that are already in the UK and makes the case for why they might be worth putting on your shopping list for the new year.
“I don’t see myself as a normal citizen in Lebanon,” says Faouzi Issa, winemaker and owner of the award-winning Domaine des Tourelles. “I see myself as more of a pioneer.” It’s certainly a philosophy and objective that helps Issa look outside of Lebanon for his inspiration and has helped him build a successful export business, first for his wines and now, he hopes, for a new focus on artisan spirits, starting with one of the country’s first premium gins – GinBey. He talks to Richard Siddle about the new lease of life distilling gin has given him.