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    Buying decisions from trend setting trade and The Buyer tastings

    Tasting: Wine
    Vinora

    Vinora: which are the most exciting volcanic wines of the world?

    The volcanic heartland of Central France was the setting for Vinora, a 3-day wine fair and conference focused on celebrating the volcanic wines of the world – with particular emphasis on the wines of the Côtes d’Auvergne AOC and Puy-de-Dôme IGP. David Kermode travelled to Vulcania, a theme park near Clermont-Ferrand that hosted the event; hears from geologist Patrick Marcel and author John Szabo MS, attempting to shed some light on the link between volcanic terroir and what we experience in the wines; Kermode also picks 10 volcanic wines that ‘blew him away’.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Bancroft

    Bancroft Wines portfolio tasting – 30 years and still going strong

    Solid bankers for every wine list, some personal favourites and a couple of oddball wines for the wine geeks amongst us – Mike Turner picks his Top 10 wines from the Bancroft Wines 30th anniversary tasting. What was most surprising, though, was the amount of organic, biodynamic and vegan wines that Turner discovered on the list – 40% of all the wines were certified organic – and a long list of other sustainability initiatives.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona

    “Honey, we’ve just been gifted a 220 hectare estate in Tuscany!”

    The Tuscan estate of Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona is producing some of the most renowned Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino wines, along with a number of other wines using international varieties. Its top Brunello from the 2015 vintage has just been awarded 100 points by James Suckling and well it might – it’s a beauty. At its UK launch winemaker Paolo Bianchini showed off all of his new wines to a select group of wine buyers, alongside those of another classic Brunello vintage, 2010, as well as divulge the incredible-but-true story of how his family came to own this historic estate.

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    Tasting Tasting: Wine
    Furmint February

    Mike Turner: on-trade’s love affair with dry Furmint February

    As recently as the year 2000, a seminal wine was produced that marked a dramatic shift in one of the most famous wine regions of the world. Istvan Szepsy’s now legendary Úrágya dry furmint is widely regarded as the first time a winemaker from Tokaj took the idea of producing a dry white wine seriously, and came up with a special result. 20 years on, Mike Turner attended the launch of Furmint February, a trade initiative to promote these dry Furmints from across Hungary, to hear all about the rapid shift in thinking and production.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Louis Latour Agencies

    Meeting new faces & tasting new wines at Louis Latour Agencies

    Never one to sit on its laurels, Louis Latour Agencies has been busy adding new wineries to its 15-agency strong portfolio that includes many new vintages, cuvées and, in one case, winemaker. Particularly interesting was how Maison Louis Latour under the direction of Louis-Fabrice Latour is increasing its spread of Pinot Noir outside of core Burgundy territory – in Beaujolais, Coteaux de l’Auxois and Provence – and how these wines are getting better vintage by vintage. There were on-trade exclusives here as well as a brand new ‘natural’ Beaujolais from Henry Fessy.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Sassicaia

    How Sassicaia 2017 reflects Sassicaia not the vintage’s heat

    By any stretch of the imagination Sassicaia 2017 is a remarkable achievement – born out of some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Tuscany and yet being a wine of great freshness, elegance and precision. They say that you should always follow a winemaker not a vintage and in the case of Tenuta San Guido, never was a truer word spoken as Peter Dean assesses the Sassicaia 2017 alongside the estate’s other two wines Guidalberto, 2018 and Le Difese 2018 in the company of Priscilla Incisa della Rochetta, the granddaughter of the estate’s visionary founder.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Bibendum

    All because the sommelier loves… Wine Discovery at Bibendum

    Robert Mondavi is one of the new marquee signings by Bibendum, amongst a whole raft of producers from the Lebanon, Austria, Italy, Patagonia and France. What wines were they showing at Bibendum’s For The Love Of…. tasting? and which are the ones that deliver best value for the on-trade? Peter Dean braved the packs of sommeliers, was wowed by a number of wines on show and found that leaving the venue was a darned sight harder than arriving…

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    Tasting: Wine
    Austrian wine

    Why for flair-conscious Austrian wines ‘the time is now’ in the UK

    Choosing the upper floors of the Science Museum as the venue for the annual generic tasting of Austrian wine in London said it all about the wines on show – bright, smart, modern, slick and inspiring. The Austrian wine body has also appointed a new chief to lead it into a new era, the audacity being that they’ve entrusted the role to a foreigner – a Brit, no less, in Chris Yorke. David Kermode caught up with him to find out how the post has been going and to highlight 10 wines that he thought best showed off where Austrian wine has been, where it is now and the exciting direction it is headed in.

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    Tasting: Spirit
    DSCF2199

    Going a bit Gonzo at Foursquare – the home of Barbados Rum

    The ghost of gonzo journalist Dr. Hunter S Thompson is never far away from the life of a spirits journalist. And this was certainly the case when Neil Hennessy-Vass traveled to Barbados to visit Foursquare Distillery with a copy of of the good doctor’s The Rum Diary under his arm. Producers of the Doorly’s range of aged rums, Foursquare is often referred to as the best rum producer in the world – well that’s what our hack thought when he was handed a glass and told to drink whatever he wanted to… What could possibly go wrong?

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    Tasting: Wine
    Pays d'Oc

    Elizabeth Gabay takes a voyage of diversity with Austrian Rosé

    The rise in biodynamics and the ‘slow wine’ movement in Austria is making it one of the world’s most exciting wine regions. As Wines of Austria holds its much-anticipated annual tasting in London on February 3, critics and sommeliers are expected in their droves to discover for themselves this new-found creativity and diverse range of styles. ‘But don’t overlook Austrian rosé’ is the message from world expert Elizabeth Gabay MW who gives The Buyer an exclusive insight into the varying styles of Austrian rosé as well as the best of 80 wines she tried and tasted.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Burgundy

    Peter Dean’s Top 10 bargains to buy from Bourgogne Week 2020

    Rather than get stuck into Premier Cru and Grand Cru wines, this year The Buyer’s drinks editor, Peter Dean, focussed on entry level wines and shares his top 10 value-for-money red and whites from Bourgogne Week 2020. After a dozen or more tastings it was clear that 2018 is a vintage where you do not have to buy from the upper tiers. The quality, quantity and new quality control for wines from ‘lesser known’ appellations means there are great bargains to be had from the lowest tier wines.

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    Tasting: Wine
    French Discoveries

    Wadsack helps somms snuffle out French Wine Discoveries

    Armed with a map of Occitanie, a tasting booklet and glass, David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus ventured into the unknown with last week’s French Wine Discoveries tasting. Luckily TV’s Joe Wadsack was on hand to guide Kermode and any other unsuspecting wine buyer through the mass of interesting wines from the South of France. As if to emphasise how Wadsack is one to snuffle out a gem of a wine and indeed a bargain, he was operating a novel ‘lucky dip’ the prizes being foie gras and fresh truffle (well it is Wadsack we’re talking about).

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    Tasting: Wine
    Chardonnay

    Australia 2020: Roger Jones picks out his best Chardonnay

    Ever since his first bottle of Grange in 1985, Roger Jones has been a huge advocate of Australian wine. A third of the wines on Joness 1000-strong bin wine list at The Harrow at Little Bedwyn are Australian wines, some dating back to the 1990s and beyond. But it is with Chardonnay that Jones believes that Australia competes on the world stage best – so with tasting glass in hand he dived into the whites at the Australia Trade Tasting with his customary gusto and has come up with a selection that he thought shone the brightest on the day.

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    Tasting: Wine
    IMG_8975

    Roger Jones selects his faves from New Zealand in a Glass

    Even with a multitude of Burgundy en primeur tastings across the capital, last week’s annual New Zealand trade tasting was a pretty busy rave – set overlooking the Thames at the OXO 2 in South London. Roger Jones, our soon-to-be-retired former Michelin star chef but even-more-roving reporter for The Buyer, has a look at the New Zealand in a Glass tasting and picks out the wines he thinks will do best in the premium on-trade. 

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    Tasting: Wine
    Sayburn

    The 8 Australian wines that most inspired Ronan Sayburn MS

    Ask Ronan Sayburn MS where the most interesting country for making wine is right now and his answer will be Australia. Sayburn is one of the most influential wine buyers in the world and, after a military-style two week tour of Australia’s wine-making regions, he came back with a long list of wines which will challenge most people’s preconceptions about what the country is capable of making. At a special tasting event he talked through the eight wines that inspired him the most. Spoiler alert: the list may include some very unexpected bottles…

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    Tasting: Wine
    Testalonga Long Read

    Tasting the new 2019 Testalonga wines with Craig Hawkins

    Emerging Wine Writer of the year Malu Lambert hooks up with fellow South African Craig Hawkins, who has been dubbed the Natural Wine King of South Africa, although you won’t catch him saying that. Hawkins was showing the new 2019 vintage of his Testalonga range – wines that have become famed for their uber-cool labels and sense of fun as much as their quality, and ability to transfer Swartland’s unique terroir into bottle. Although there are a lot of wines on the El Bandito and Baby Bandito labels, there is one clear philosophy – single grape, single soil. Oh! and all the varietals just happen to be Mediterranean.

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    Tasting: Wine
    New Zealand

    New Zealand proving its bubble isn’t going to burst anytime soon

    Even with a venue greatly reduced in size, the annual generic New Zealand tasting which took place in London last week had bags of new ideas, new wines and new angles served up with its customary chutzpah. David Kermode heard how exports to the UK, New Zealand’s top overseas market, were in rude health thanks largely to its premium offerings; saw how well its wines can age; and also how great strides are being made to broaden the grape varieties from largely Sauvignon Blanc into other exciting territory.

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    Tasting: Wine
    St. JOHN

    Taking a pilgrimage to St. JOHN to taste the new 2020 wine range

    The Vignerons’ Lunch at St. JOHN Restaurant is an annual tasting of the group’s wine range – available to trade and consumer – including its own label wines blended by the wine team, its own Languedoc winery Boulevard Napoléon, and a group of vignerons that St. JOHN works with, either on its own label wines or with specific and bespoke cuvées. It is also an excuse to praise at the high altar of British cooking, with St. JOHN co-founders Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver. In a somewhat messy fashion.

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    Tasting: Wine
    2019

    Around the world in wine 2019: Geoffrey Dean’s 10 favourites

    No surprise to find that eight of Geoffrey Dean’s Top 10 Wines from his travels last year come from the New World. As both a cricket correspondent for The Times and a wine expert Geoffrey spends a lot of his time in South Africa and Australia, enjoying the two main passions of his life. 2019 has been a year with many exciting discoveries including a Cabernet Franc from Uruguay and a Rosé from Paarl in South Africa plus he did make room for a deliciously old Lynch-Bages and a top Burgundy.

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    Opinion Tasting
    Sparkling

    Best wines of 2019: Roger Jones on his Sparkling New Year

    Just as the last drops of bubbles were drained from a zillion bottles of Champagne on New Years Eve, our roving reporter and sparkling wine expert Roger Jones unsheathed his laptop and sent in this report on the global rise and changing face of the sparkling wine industry and which are the names we should all be keeping an eye on as we head into 2020 proper. As ambassador to the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships (CSWWC), and founder of Sparkling Sundays (held in Cape Town and Little Bedwyn) he gets his fair share of bubbles.

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    Instataste

    Tasting with pictures View All
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    • 2nd wine from Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto Toscana IGT 2015
      2nd wine from Tenuta San Guido. Guidalberto, Toscana IGT, 2015 (Cabernet Sauvignon 60%, Merlot 40%). This wine is so true of exactly what it is – coming across as a Left Bank Bordeaux made in the Mediterranean. Aromatically it is intoxicating – bramble fruit with a savoury note, balsamic, pretty blossom; the palate has orange and blood orange, black fruit, tobacco. It is beautifully fresh with a dry stone finish. A little disjointed, which is perhaps explained by the fact we were later told that this bottle was manually assembled at the winery and is 90% reflective of the finished article. ABV 13.5%
    • The Beqaa Valley in Lebanon is the home of Domaine
      The Beqaa Valley in Lebanon is the home of Domaine Wardy, whose owner Khalil Wardy explains that in 1997 when they set up shop there were nine winemakers in the valley and now there are 90. His red Beqaa Valley Red 2017 (£14.03) is superb value and reminded me, with its use of Cinsault, of Château Musar and Domaine des Tourelles. In addition he adds 15% of both Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon to the blend, giving a light, structured, spicy red that would work with spicy and vegetarian dishes, as well as being a no-nonsense quaffer.
    • One of 2 cuves made by this husband and wife
      One of 2 cuvées made by this husband and wife team from old vines (80-117 yo) in elevated plots of limestone soil in Navarra. The wine apparently has a Chateauneuf-du-Pape generosity in hot vintages (not tried) but from this cold and wet harvest there is an elegance and freshness that matches well to the ripe, voluptuous fruit and structure. Notes of ripe black fruit - plums, blackberry, cherries - wisp of smoke, balsamic. Good intensity but fresh acidity keeps it all in check. Seriously good.
    • Only made in the very best vintages this is a
      Only made in the very best vintages, this is a very special single vineyard Brunello di Montalcino from Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona. Deep ruby-russet in colour; intoxicating aromas of ripe strawberries, dried cherries, liquorice, hint of black cardamom; medium to full bodied, fresh bramble fruit, wild herb, rounded mouthfeel with just enough hit of sandpaper tannins in the finish. Delicious, and given 100 points by James Suckling.
    • 2017 vintage of this single plot of 4050 year old
      2017 vintage of this single plot of 40-50 year old vines, one of five single vineyard Sancerres produced by Stéphane Riffault. Shiny platinum; orchard fruit, honeysuckle; light to medium palate; dry but quite soft edges, almost perfect ripeness of the fruit; appetising finish. There is a delicious purity to the fruit. The label, weirdly, reminds me of an optician’s board... “how small can you read?” Stéphane studied in Beaune where his brother runs Dom. Etienne Sauzet.
    • Impressive 100 Cab Sauv from Washington States Walla Walla Valley
      Impressive 100% Cab Sauv from Washington State’s Walla Walla Valley. Still young with purple edges, but very drinkable. Enticing nose of irises, wild blackberry, iodine; medium palate, firm structure which frames the balsamic, black fruit and liquorice flavours with nicely balanced acidity which will only get better one assumes after a few years in the bottle.