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    Buying decisions from trend setting trade and The Buyer tastings

    Tasting: Wine
    Brunello di Montalcino 2018

    Top 12 wines from UK’s 1st Brunello di Montalcino 2018 en primeurs

    For the first time in the UK a new vintage of Brunello di Montalcino was released en primeur. Benvenuto Brunello was the name given to Hunt & Speller’s exclusive London preview of the Brunello di Montalcino 2018 vintage and the 2017 Riservas, some two months before the Consorzio’s official January 1 2023 release date. Justin Keay was there for The Buyer, giving his views on the vintages as well as picking a dozen standout wines from the 115 on show.

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    Tasting
    french vineyard

    Chance to explore & discover gems from across France at new VIN tasting

    If you are looking forward to getting a new tasting diary in your Christmas stocking here’s a new date and event to look forward to, which also won’t take up too much space as it is only three letters long: VIN. A new tasting event being organised by Business France on February 2 that promises to be a one stop shop opportunity to explore and discover gems from all regions of France from producers already in the UK and many who are looking to sell their wines here for the first time. Here’s what to expect.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Balfour Brut Rosé

    Anne Krebiehl MW: Balfour Brut Rosé shines at 20-year vertical

    To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Balfour Winery, and the launch of its new Archive Collection, owner and founder Richard Balfour-Lynn held a remarkable vertical tasting of its English sparkling wine, Balfour Brut Rosé, in London this month. Launching the new range is a late-disgorged Brut Rosé from 2008, which is the first wine of its type in the UK, and which gets two thumbs up from our expert at the tasting, Master of Wine and fizz aficionado Anne Krebiehl MW.

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    Tasting: Wine
    New Zealand

    David Kermode analyses both new & aged New Zealand wines

    The New Zealand new releases tasting in London last week may not have had the scale of recent years, being held in the 67 Pall Mall club, but it was just as insightful. Apart from a slew of first rate wines from the 2019, 2020 and 2021 vintages, New Zealand Winegrowers decided to show how these wines can age. A masterclass, hosted by Peter McCombie MW, showed Sauvignon Blancs from as far back as 2003 and Pinot from 2008 onwards. It was a real eye-opening, transcendent affair, as David Kermode reports.

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    Tasting: Wine
    South African wines

    Chris Wilson picks 12 new South African wines from Swig tasting

    Five years ago, almost to the day, the New Wave South African tasting in London blew so many of us away. Wave? The amount of new exciting talent coming out of the country was more like a tsunami. Many of those producers, Duncan Savage, BLANKbottle, AA Badenhorst and Restless River are working with Swig in the UK, while some emerging talent like The Vineyard Party are also breaking onto the scene. Winemaker Chris Wilson was The Buyer’s man at the tasting and picks out a dozen wines that you need to be aware of including AA Badenhorst’s Palomino, a wine everyone’s talking about.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Mumm RSRV

    Anne Krebiehl MW analyses Champagne Mumm’s RSRV range

    Successfully released in France two years ago, four Mumm RSRV Champagnes are hitting the UK shores this week. RSRV is the shorthand Mumm used to use for Grands Crus-only cuvées that were set aside for family and friends and the four cuvées that launch the brand all meet the approval of Anne Krebiehl MW who tastes and rates them as well as talking to Mumm’s cellar master Laurent Fresnet about their history and provenance.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Ventoux AOC

    How wines from Ventoux AOC have gone ‘from zero to hero’

    Rhône wines expert Matt Walls says that the wines of Ventoux AOC have gone from ‘zero to hero’. Once considered to be the ‘Clark Kent’ of the Rhône Valley, premiumisation is fast leading to superhero status for Ventoux wines. At a fascinating London tasting, Walls and Ventoux AOC president, Frédéric Chaudiere, demonstrated how Ventoux’s unique topography and climate, coupled with ‘freedom’ for winemakers is pushing the quality envelope. Robert Mason was there and picks four premium wines that punch well above their weight.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Corney & Barrow Long Read

    New ways in which Corney & Barrow has refreshed its portfolio

    Corney & Barrow’s new wines in its Autumn-Winter portfolio are an Aladdin’s cave of delights. Corney & Barrow showed 78 wines at the first portfolio tasting held since the pandemic, and 72 of those wines were new. Half came from France as you might expect but then there was a range of new wines from Lebanon, Oregon, Chile, Romania, New Zealand and Australia – evidence that the company’s buying team has been busier than ever unearthing exciting new wines that will work just as well at home or in the on-trade.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Jacquart Alpha Blanc 2012

    Anne Krebiehl MW on Jacquart Alpha Blanc Vintage 2012

    Champagne Jacquart is a large-scale co-operative sourcing fruit from over 60 villages across 300 hectares of Champagne. Cellar master Joëlle Weiss tells Anne Krebiehl MW how this translates into the House’s various cuvées including Jacquart Alpha Blanc Vintage 2012, the fourth edition of this prestige cuvée and the first to be bottled in magnum – put down to the fact that “it has reached a point of balance.” Krebiehl tastes the new wine alongside the Mosaïque Signature NV and Blanc de Blancs Vintage 2014, explaining the unique style of each cuvée.

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    Tasting: Wine
    image00007

    How Blaufränkisch proved its value at Blue of the Danube 2

    Whether you call it Blaufränkisch, Kekfrankos, Frankovka or Lemberger there is no denying the importance of Central Europe’s ‘Blue Grape’. Three years since its inaugural staging, the Blue of the Danube 2 event had a triumphant return in London where a whole range of wine styles were in evidence made by 50 producers hailing from Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Moldova, Romania and Slovenia. Central European wine specialist Justin Keay picks out the wines that caught his eye, picks one producer that really stood out from each of the three countries, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria, and explains how the style of Blaufränkisch is changing to suit more modern tastes.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Best Australian Wines

    Back with a bang: Matthew Jukes’ 100 Best Australian Wines:

    The 17th edition of Matthew Jukes’ 100 Best Australian Wines was back with a bang last week after a two-year absence. Held at Australia House, the London tasting showcased wine critic Jukes’ top wines that are available in the UK, across a range of categories from sparkling to fortified. Fellow Aussie wine expert, Roger Jones, was there for The Buyer and picks out his selection of wines that categorically have to be on your radar.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Roda blanco

    How is Roda expanding into whites with new Roda 1 Blanco

    Rioja is one of the most changed global wine regions with increased emphasis on terroir, altitude, elegance… and white wines. The latest producer to introduce a major new white wine is top-end producer Bodegas Roda which unveiled its Roda 1 Blanco at an exclusive trade lunch. The reds were showing magnificently, particularly the Roda 1 2007, but for Justin Keay it was the Roda 1 Blanco that stole the show.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Sonoma

    Getting a taste of some premium wines from Sonoma County

    All eyes have been on J Vineyards’ head winemaker Nicole Hitchcock last week when she was crowned Winemaker of the Year by influential magazine Wine Enthusiast. J Vineyards is one of the top wine estates in California’s Sonoma County, renowned for making top sparkling wines. Here we sample some of Hitchcock’s wines, what their USPs are and how they fit into the UK on-trade, plus wines from Louis M Martini and Frei Brothers, which also show the versatility of Sonoma as America’s viticultural cornucopia.

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    Tasting: Wine
    The Armagh 2018

    How The Armagh 2018 shone at 50 Years of Armagh Shiraz tasting

    The history of the Armagh vineyard is a fascinating one and the Shiraz that hails from it is iconic even amongst the pantheon of great Australian reds. To celebrate 50 years of Armagh Shiraz, an extraordinary 12-vintage vertical of the wine was hosted by Sam and Tom, the grandsons of winery founder Jim Barry, allowing experts to taste the new vintage, The Armagh 2018 Shiraz, alongside the 1989. Roger Jones reports 

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    Tasting: Wine
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    Anne Krebiehl MW on Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2012

    BAFTA was the place to be last Tuesday where new cuvée, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2012, was launched in style. Clovis Taittinger, cellar master Alexandre Ponnavoy and Hatch Mansfield chairman Patrick McGrath MW provided the background to the 2012 vintage, with Clovis Taittinger explaining the four key elements that makes this such an iconic Blanc de Blancs. Anne Krebiehl MW took notes and tastes and rates the new Champagne.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Moldovan wine

    How Russian snub is upping the quality of Moldovan wine

    Moldova used to be the main source of wine for Russia with the country housing famously large cellars, some of which you need a car to get around in. But in a dramatic U-turn and a snub to Russia, Moldovan wine is now primarily aimed at the EU wine markets with the quality improving in leaps and bounds. Wine expert Justin Keay explores this complex history, discovers new Moldovan wine from Purcari, Crama Ceptura, Divin Bardar and Angel’s estate in Thrace, and looks at an unique way that the country is siding with Ukraine in the current war.

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    Tasting: Wine
    IMG_2440 Long Read

    Diverse & individual: 20 Pays d’Oc IGP wines to make somms smile

    The Pays d’Oc vineyard of southern France is a treasure trove for sommeliers and wine buyers. With 58 different grape varieties allowed and winemakers’ freedom of expression positively encouraged so in Pays d’Oc one can find wines to suit every taste – made with traditional southern grapes and international varieties to more offbeat wines such as Alicante-Bouschet, Nielluccio and Mareslan, wines that turn to gold in a sommelier’s hands. As the quality in the region has improved over the years so the wines’ notorious value for money is even keener, especially against a backdrop of rising costs.

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    Tasting: Wine
    wt4

    David Kermode: niche wines that show the lesser-known Chile

    Chile is making some of the most exciting wines in the world right now and last week we got an opportunity to learn all about them. Amanda Barnes and ProChile held a fascinating ‘niche wines of Chile’ tasting in London that set out to challenge our perceptions of Chilean wine and to display the diversity of Chile’s wine culture. A masterclass and a free-pour session showed us what is happening right now in Chile’s wine scene – artisanal wines from low-yielding, old vines and also wines using ancient grape varieties that open up new possibilities for sommeliers and curious wine buyers everywhere.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Maison Chanzy

    Quality of Bouzeron Aligotés shines at Maison Chanzy tasting

    As Bourgogne Chardonnay becomes ever-more eye-wateringly expensive so the canny wine buyer needs to look for alternatives. In Burgundy that means seeking out lesser-known appellations and sites which, through climate change, have started competing with some of the top slopes. And it could also mean rethinking Aligoté – the region’s other white grape – that, in the hands of top winemakers such as Maison Chanzy, can seriously compete with Chardonnay – not just on the palate but for vignerons in the vineyard too.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Spanish Wine Academy

    Spanish Wine Academy: how perceptions were challenged

    The music you play, the ambient temperature, the crockery, cutlery and stemware you choose… they all influence how and what we taste. These were just some of the learnings from Spanish Wine Academy, the thinktank set up by Ramón Bilbao, to improve everyone’s knowledge about Spanish wine and wine tasting in general. Sarah McCleery discovers some truly enlightening facts about the Neuroscience of Wine Service and also realises there is a lot more to Garnacha than at first appears.

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