In the news this week for all the wrong reasons, one Michelin-Star The Kitchin in Leith was the restaurant chosen by our drinks editor Peter Dean to test out the skills of the sommelier and see what he came up with in matching a complex mystery tasting menu. One of the delights of spending a week at the Edinburgh Fringe each year is not only the unrivalled fun and madness of the Fringe but an excuse to sample Scotland’s finest cuisine, writes Dean. With his pocket money dutifully saved, he was knocked out by the bravura of what was happening in the kitchen but also some very unusual choices by the head somm.
Wines from Washington State – the US’s second largest wine producer – can be hard to come by which is a shame, argues David Kermode aka Mr Vinosaurus. The climate, unique mix of soils and 70 different grape varieties, not forgetting the skill of the 1,000-odd winemakers, makes for an Aladdin’s cave for the wine aficionado. Fresh from a trip to the Evergreen State, Kermode selects the 10 best Washington wines that should be on your buying radar and, most importantly, where you can find them.
South Africa’s Swartland used to be the region responsible for producing unremarkable ‘Cape blends’ and always in the shadow of Stellenbosch. That is until a bunch of visionary winemakers decided to make this ‘hot as hell’ region into one of the ‘coolest’ viticultural places on the planet. It was fitting that, on the hottest day ever recorded in Britain, Harry Crowther met up with David and Nadia Sadie to taste through their 2018 single vineyard range of Chenins and a seven year vertical of red blend Elzpidios. Crowther picks out three of each colour that he thinks deserves a place on your list.
We are so used to drinking a different wine with each course in a restaurant – and rarely buy one bottle that will work with a starter just as well as the dessert. So it was a fascinating decision for Champagne Palmer to launch its new cuvée Grands Terroirs 2003 at London’s La Dame de Pic – pairing just the one wine with a succession of elaborate and contrasting dishes, all in different shaped glasses – to bring out the different facets of this extraordinary wine. Anne Krebiehl MW reports.
With the first Ashes test defeat still such a fresh wound, our contributing editor and chef extraordinaire Roger Jones kept conversation away from the Welsh and English team’s performance when sat next to Australian cricket legend Mark Taylor. Very much on the menu, however, was the full range of the wines of Jim Barry that were paired with premium Japanese food, including the best crab dish that Jones reckons he has ever tried.
Most Champagne houses release a Non-Vintage Champagne alongside their various cuvées but not Krug. Then again Krug is not like ‘most’ Champagne houses. Krug releases numbered editions and this year sees the release of the Krug Grande Cuvée 167th Edition – a blend of 191 wines from 13 vintages dating from 1995 to 2011. Anne Krebiehl MW tastes the new wine with Krug’s Jérome Jacoillot, alongside the 166th Edition and the Krug Rosé 23rd Edition.
Fresh from a visit to Saint-Joseph in the Northern Rhône and having attended the trade show Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône in April, Rhône expert Bart Feys reviews the Saint-Joseph wines you need to be thinking of buying from the most recent, excellent vintages of 2016 and 2017. Since its extension in 1969 the Saint-Joseph appellation now covers 1200 hectares from Cornas in the South to Condrieu in the North. As a result, styles can vary but overall Saint-Joseph provides top quality reds and whites that can be drunk earlier than Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie but can also benefit from cellaring.
Every year the Pays D’Oc IGP wine body releases a Collection of wines that displays the very best wines from the region as judged by an international panel of sommeliers, journalists and consultants. Peter Dean travels to Pays d’Oc country and tastes through the 19-strong 2018 range, whittling them down to 10 wines that best show off the quality, creativity and diversity in a region that allows a mind-boggling 58 grape varieties.
With the Tour de France concluded today and millions of cycling fans going into withdrawal, we re-post this tale of cycling to a very special wine tasting. Our drinks editor and cycling bore Peter Dean recounts an eventful day when the only way to get to a top notch tasting was by getting on his bike for four hours…. luckily a breakfast of champions greeted him at a South African wine tasting event held at The Harrow at Little Bedwyn. What follows is a tasting report that contains no tasting notes, and a South African event that has more to do with the Welsh than it does the South Africans.
Improvements in Greek viticulture over the past 20 years and the UK’s thirst for the unusual and the authentic has led to a bona fide renaissance of the Greek wine scene. In the first of a two-part special Justin Keay shows how this Greek revival has started with white wines, selects six that are the most interesting wines available in the UK, and sheds some light onto the ‘new’ old varieties that we should be tuning into; most buyers will be familiar with Assyrtiko by now but how about Moscofilero, Vidiano, or a Robola from Kefalonia?
Wines of Chile took on Wines of Australia at a thrilling contest in the twelfth Tri Nations Wine Challenge. The challenge sees six wines from each country compete with one another, paired with food cooked by our contributing editor and chef at large Roger Jones of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn. Chile has been making giant strides recently in proving that its premium wines can sit comfortably on a fine wine list, but are they good enough to be judged better than Australia’s across six varietal categories – Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz?
Chile is now one of the two most innovative winemaking countries in the world, reckons Alistair Cooper MW, who delivered a perceptive, focussed masterclass at a recent Wines of Chile tasting – backed up by a tasting of 45 wines that Cooper picked to reflect Chile’s movement towards sommelier-driven styles. It is innovation, risk-taking, old vines and the resurgence of traditional varieties (made with a modern twist) that are working so well and Chris Wilson was there for The Buyer to further whittle these down to 10 that every sommelier should have on their radar.
As the great carnival that is the Tour de France continues its trundle around Belgium and France so we turn back the clock to reprise a feature that shows how for the past six years Castelnau has been the official Champagne for the Tour de France, and why it decided to launch a new range of fizz called Hors Catégorie – that celebrates almost impossible mountain climbs that literally makes you reach for the skies. The second of the HC Champagnes is called CCF 2067 after the 2067 metre high Col de la Croix de Fer, so who better to review it and attend the launch than Stephen Vey a member of the Buyer team who has actually cycled the mountain and lived to tell the tale.
If you thought that all Albariño is pretty much the same and that nothing much changes in Rias Baixas then you haven’t met Paula Fandiño, chief winemaker at Mar de Frades. Her innovations include the region’s first sparkling Albariño, a successful three vintages of Godello, not forgetting the estate’s blue bottles with temperature-sensitive labels. While tasting through the new range, David Kermode also hears about a granite tank and a new scheme to pay grape growers according to the level of acidity in the grapes – all to keep things nice and fresh.
Fresh from delivering his ‘100 best Australian Wines’ report, wine critic Matthew Jukes put on another tasting, this time with author Tyson Stelzer called the Great Australian Red. This event, held at London’s 67 Pall Mall, focussed on Aussie Cabernet-Shiraz blends. Harry Crowther was there and picked out his favourite seven wines, some of them the latest releases and others from library stock.
As we prepare for the last week of the ICC Cricket World Cup and England’s first semi-final appearance since 1992, we get you in the mood with this trip down our very own cricketing memory lane when legendary English cricketer, turned Sky TV commentator, David Gower, shared his love for wine with The Buyer. With the launch of ‘My Perfect 6’ through Perfect Cellar in 2016 where he looked to put his name to wines that try to break new boundaries.
The Mamba Riedel Decanter Awards is a decidedly different wine awards ceremony, writes David Kermode, and one that resembles a friend’s summer nuptials more than it does one of the industry’s many black tie events. Now into its 14th year the awards focussed on Australian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with newly re-configured importer Liberty Wines winning both categories as well as Best Importer. For a full list of winners and more besides read on….
When he’s not making wines for Sting, flying winemaker Daniel O’Donnell can be found in Turkey at Kayra, the only wine producer in the Diageo portfolio, reintroducing and refining wines made with indigenous Turkish varietals from Anatolia. For O’Donnell grapes such as Narince, Kalecik Karası, Öküzgözü and Boğazkere are nothing short of a national treasure and ‘colours worth nailing to his mast.’ On a rare visit to London he brought a stack of back vintages of his wines ‘with a touch of grey’ to show us how well they could age.
After a string of lesser vintages, 2015 Bordeaux was a vintage that needed to be a success. Three years on Joss Fowler re-visits 2015 Bordeaux and asks how good is this vintage really? What it has over 2014 is fruit but is it a brilliant vintage? Putting all the hype behind him, Fowler ‘blind-tastes’ 260 wines from the vintage and picks out the wines that you should be buying – across a variety of budgets – highlighting one wine that is a clear bargain of the vintage and you should be looking out for.
With a history dating back to 1270, Frapin Cognac might not seem the most obvious candidate for a cutting edge re-invention of the cocktail but, thanks to a pioneering partnership with an importer of fine teas, that’s just what’s taking shape at the world-famous Brown’s Hotel in London’s Mayfair. ‘Aperi-TEAvo’ is a new initiative from Frapin’s importer Louis Latour Agencies with Lalani and Co, supported by an elegant tasting menu. Cognac fan and cocktail lover David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, took a tea for the team.