2018 was a great vintage in Chile with winemakers reporting plenty of bright, ripe fruit and a lack of any weather issues. As a result, anything with a 2018 vintage attached to it was singing in the Wines of Chile tasting, held this year at London’s OXO Tower. There were plenty of older vintages too to get excited about from the 350 wines presented by 37 wineries. Chris Wilson worked his way through them and recommends 5 classics and 5 that are more ‘out there’.
It wasn’t until the 2000 vintage of his Nec Plus Ultra cuvée that Bruno Paillard started to realise a dream he had from the 1980s, namely making a zero dosage cuvée. His first experiments had ended up producing ‘aggressive’ Champagnes and he dropped the idea until he decided not to release this cuvée from the 2000 vintage and instead use it as reserve wine for the Dosage Zero project. Anne Krebiehl MW met Paillard to get the full story and to taste this extraordinary cuvée.
The Dirty Dozen tasting – a collective tasting featuring 12 fine indie portfolios – is usually an uber-cool affair in a basement in London’s Soho… tats and Shoreditch beards obligatory. So, it was some surprise when the 12 announced they were heading to Glaziers Hall for this year’s tasting, a venue normally associated with en primeur campaigns and the pin-stripe brigade. Chris Wilson was relieved to find the usual fine selection of interesting and sometimes challenging wines – even if that was just that they were challenging to pronounce!
Last month in London the Australian Wine body has been going into overdrive with a whole host of imaginative tastings. Two weeks ago the light was being shone on nine winemakers from the lesser-known cool climate region of Mornington Peninsula that is producing some quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – but which were the standout wines and are they worth the price tag? Justin Keay investigates.
30 years old this year, Nyetimber uses the anniversary to finally unveil its two 1086 Prestige Cuvées, a project that has been kept a closely-guarded secret until last night’s launch. Anne Krebiehl MW was there for The Buyer to hear CEO and owner Eric Heerema talk about how Nyetimber continues to be a ‘disruptor’ in the marketplace and to taste the wines themselves. For Anne, Nyetimber 1086 sets a new standard in English sparkling wine and proves, once again, the eminent suitability for Pinot Noir in this climate.
Innovative winemaking was much in evidence at last week’s Off the Vine tasting, which showcased many of the new and upcoming wineries that are making a sea-change in Australian winemaking. One of these producers is Ministry of Clouds that influential critic James Halliday rated as one of the most exciting new wineries when they started garnering critical acclaim in 2015. Chris Wilson met up with co-owners Bernice Ong and Julian Forwood to hear their remarkable story and to find out why it is acidity that is so key to their winemaking style.
David Kermode samples the latest 2017 vintage from the producers that form Austria’s newly-expanded Österreichische Traditionsweingüter, as the association gets to grips with the business of classification. Kermode finds out just how complex that process is proving to be, and samples the latest wines in a series of tastings around the outskirts of Vienna.
Last Thursday saw the first Collectible California wine tasting at the new US Embassy that combined a trade and press tasting event followed by a black tie gala dinner to which 150 of London’s biggest California wine collectors were invited. For organisers the California Wine Institute the event marks a move away from the major generic tastings and more towards smaller, focussed events that will combine consumers and also business/ motivational content.
In 21 years Blair Walter and Nigel Greening have taken Felton Road, the Bannockburn-based winery in New Zealand, on an impressive journey from working with five year-old vines to being recognised as one of the best if not the best producer of Pinot Noir in New Zealand. To celebrate and to launch the new 2017 vintage, they held a remarkable tasting at London’s 67 Pall Mall club in which they showcased a pick of the vintages from yesteryear. Roger Jones, who has over 80 Felton Road wines on his award-winning list, was there to taste and meet up with old friends.
Any Bibendum tasting tends to attract a large crowd of sommeliers and indie wine buyers. So it was with its latest #Tasting Notes bash, held again in the basement of London’s Phonica Records – an interesting space that oozes with cool vibes. There were plenty of fascinating wines, fortifieds and spirits on show plus a massive range of new wines being introduced to the portfolio for the first time. Peter Dean had his tasting glass at the ready.
Can Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon challenge France let alone the rest of the world? That was the question a select group of key wine experts were tasked with as they met in one of Cape Wine 2018’s hottest tickets to taste their way through eight of the world’s top Cabernets – five from Stellenbosch. But is benchmarking against the French not a bit old hat? asks Roger Jones, questioning why there were no Cabernets from Australia or New Zealand on show.
Hot off the plane from Heathrow our roving Michelin Star Editor landed in Cape Town mid-morning but, due to unforeseen circumstances his luxury suite was not ready at his hotel so he Ubered straight to the Chenin Blanc Beach Party, hosted on the Cape Town seaside, with the sun shining and the top Cape Chenin Blanc flowing.
UK wine buyers were back in the capital in full swing last week for the start of the September tasting season when budgets will be allocated and wine lists devised for 2019. First out of the blocks is Armit Wines which is celebrating 30 years of doing business. Despite recent changes to the business, the marquee names are still in place, particularly from Italy, with many household names staying with the company since its inception. Justin Keay was there with his tasting glass in one hand and his notebook in the other.
Today, on his way to Heathrow to catch a flight to Cape Wine, our Michelin Star Editor pops into the wonderful Sussex Cellars at Berry Bros in St James’s to get his tastebuds in training by tasting through 47 of the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction wines that are ready for sale on Saturday, September 29. In this special sneak preview, Roger is putting his money on the whites this year.
Switzerland’s winemakers have their hearts set on boosting exports but, with punchy prices, limited volumes and thirsty consumers at home, what are their chances? David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, heads into the Alps, to find out more at the annual VINEA ‘salon’ show.
With the news that Christina Rasmussen has been invited to sit on a panel for the 3rd International Trophy of Mondeuse*, we decided to re-post her excellent article on Mondeuse, a little known grape that has an intriguing history and (hopefully) an increasingly secure future as a single varietal wine. After a sharp decline in the popularity of the grape it is starting to make a comeback. Rasmussen takes up the story…
St. Moritz is the birthplace of winter sports, of course, but also home to the world’s largest selection of whisky available in one bar. Called The Devil’s Place and, with 2,500+ bottles of whisky and bourbon on sale, whisky and bourbon expert Neil Hennessy-Vass ditches his skis and sets up residence, finding that they even have a whisky specially made for the Playboy Mansion. This is a lot more fun than winter sports, argues Neil, although after this Mecca, most other bars will surely be downhill all the way (boom tish!)
The new Ramón Bilbao winery in Rueda is now full steam ahead, having produced its first proper vintage in 2016 with Verdejo and (surprisingly) Sauvignon Blanc. Head winemaker Rodolfo Bastida delivered a scintillating masterclass last month to a packed audience at London’s Tate Modern, armed as he was with an array of experimental Verdejo – providing clues about where this innovative company is planning to take the grapes.
Nine out every ten bottles of New Zealand wine that we import into the UK is Sauvignon Blanc, and yet there are many sensational wines from different varietals that never get a look in. On a recent trip to NZ, wine writer and broadcaster David Kermode had the opportunity to sample a wide variety of Pinot Gris and Syrah that are appreciated on home turf but have not yet made an impact in the UK.
In this world of corporate buyouts and mass globalisation, the continuity that family ownership brings cannot be under-estimated when we look at the success of a company. Chris Wilson compares the 100+ years of his local Cambridge ironmongers Mackay with the continuing success of Barossa winemakers Henschke, and argues that it is the honesty, hard work and care that you can rely on when a family stamps its name and reputation on a product. A full new range tasting of the Henschke wines follows in the company of winemaker Joahnn Henschke, including the new vintage release of Hill of Grace 2013.