The warning signs were everywhere at last night’s London launch of new Isle of Harris Gin. Not only were the G&Ts of industrial strength but drinks consultant Douglas Blyde was at the controls to show us how to make the perfect Martini. That was before the assembled throng were then encouraged to enter a Martini-making competition. Despite how messy it got there was one thing that shone through like a lighthouse beam and it was the spectacular umami of sugar kelp – the gin’s key botanical.
The Official #Champagne Experience Day 2017 had to compete with a number of challenging factors this year: a new venue, a busy tastings calendar, Twitter rage and figures that showed that Champagne sales to the UK, the region’s largest export market by far, were down both in value and volume. Peter Dean casts his verdict and highlights 5 things worth noting.
With a ‘fashion’ launch in Paris that featured Japanese rockabillies dancing to Johnny Cash and now a high profile launch at London’s Galvin at Windows, Christina Rasmussen listens to the thinking behind the launch of HeavenSake, a new Franco-Japanese luxury sake brand. Aimed squarely at the luxury market and club crowd, this sake has been developed by famed Champagne cellar master Régis Camus and Japanese sake producers Dassai and Urakasumi.
Anne Krebiehl heralds Veuve Clicquot’s new multi-vintage Champagne, Extra Brut Extra Old, as a triumph and something unusual for Champagne… something actually quite new. At a tasting with Veuve’s chef de cave Dominique Demarville Anne discovers the secret of this bold new blend – it is made purely from reserve wines spanning vintages from 2010 way back to 1988. As well as tasting the new wine she gives full tasting notes on the base wines that make up the blend.
Wines from Portugal have been enjoying impressive growth worldwide thanks to improvements in both the quality and range of wines over recent years. It is the DOC and regional wines that have been driving this growth much more than the entry level wines, and this has also had the effect of delivering a message about Portugal itself – both its regions and its culture. Justin Keay gets the lowdown from Vini Portugal’s Nuno Vale then picks out the highlights from the tasting itself.
Three bottles of Malbec were shipped from Argentina to the middle of rural France where I tasted the wines simultaneously with Graffigna winemaker Nacho Lopez 11,000km away. A fun stunt for Malbec World Day, perhaps, but a giant leap forwards for us digital wine journalists the world over. I have seen the future of modern wine journalism and it is virtual wine tasting.
Hundreds of bottles opened, thousands of samples poured (many spat out again, many not), the annual importer Spring tastings season is over and we’ve learnt a lot. As well as tasting some fantastic wines – new and old – there’s a lot to discover at these tastings and many of the logistical elements of the day give a clue to the mindset and ambitions of the company involved. With this in mind, Chris Wilson takes a critical glance at some points of note from the season’s importer tastings.
As the wine fair Vinitaly opens in Verona, there is no Italian wine more deserving of the attention it is going to get in its home town and indeed a re-appraisal than Soave. But, ironically, it could be events 500 miles away in Northern Burgundy that get the British public to start drinking it again in volume and reinstate it as one of Italy’s flagship white wines.
Anne Krebiehl MW thinks that Dom Pérignon P2 2000 should be made available on prescription. As such we beg Anne to stand for Minister for Health. At an ‘unusual’ tasting with Dom Pérignon oenologist Vincent Chaperon, the P2 2000 was tasted alongside the vintage 2000 and the Rosé 2000 to see how they had changed over time. The difference between them is the difference between ‘ageing and maturation.’
It surely was no coincidence that the annual London tasting of Crémant was held the day before the Champagne Experience, the similar annual shindig of the top producers in Epernay, Reims et al. With sales and value of Champagne falling in the UK last year, and the Prosecco machine proving that us Brits love nothing better than value-for-money fizz are the makers of Crémant sensing that their time has come?