Boasting 74 wines from 11 producers the Fields, Morris & Verdin South African tasting was an opportunity for those lucky enough to have gone to Cape Wine 2018, to re-taste the wines and see if they matched up to first impressions. Dubbed the ‘Back to the Future’ tasting, this was also an opportunity for those who did not attend Cape Wine to see what all the fuss was about. Chris Wilson put his tasting glass to good effect and comes up with 12 wines you simply have to try.
The Armagh is described by Peter Barry as an “elephant in ballerina shoes” and there’s no denying that this Clare Valley Shiraz is big, but it is the freshness and ‘laid back’ style that brings it balance, argues Justin Keay. Meeting Barry in London for a tasting of the new 2013 Armagh vintage, Keay hears how Jim Barry Wines is still very much a family affair and how a well-timed holiday to Santorini paid enormous dividends.
Given that Hugel was founded in 1639, its Schoelhammer Riesling is a very new addition to the story. It was first launched just three years ago in 2015 when the 2007 vintage came out and has already become a classic Alsatian Grand Cru Riesling. Chris Wilson attended the launch of the new 2009 vintage where Marc Hugel and his nephew Jean-Frédéric brought along the first two vintages for comparison, plus some extraordinary wines from their personal library.
The Buyer hits the road again and this time it’s destination Cyprus as Geoffrey Dean returns to the island three years on to discover how Cypriot wine is becoming premiumised. The bad old days of bulk wine exports to the Soviet Bloc have long since gone and now a new breed of internationally-sussed winemakers are using a mix of international and indigenous grape varieties to make fabulous wines with great sommelier appeal.
When you’ve been making wine for eight centuries you can get away with speaking confidently. For Lamberto Frescobaldi, head of the winemaking dynasty, 2018 is set to be a cracking vintage in Tuscany, and the 2015 vintage of wines from his new estate Tenuta Perano also delivers. Victor Smart was there at the launch of Frescobaldi’s seventh estate, tasted the two new wines and heard how Tenuta Perano is one of their most significant acquisitions to date.
Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley used to be mentioned more in the International news pages than in wine columns but that is all changing thanks to the likes of Domaine des Tourelles and Château Ksara. In continuing to search for the ‘grape unknown’, our intrepid explorer and consultant editor, Roger Jones, catches up with George K Sara, co-owner of Lebanese wine producer Ksara, firstly at a private lunch at The Harrow at Little Bedwyn and then at a press tasting and lunch hosted at the splendid Hovarda restaurant in London to hear his remarkable story and taste through the range of wines.
If you are looking to enter the London Wine Competition 2019 then it makes sense to act now and take advantage of early bird pricing for entries that runs out on December 14. The competition, now into its second year, looks to reward wines that are really connecting with consumers through the quality of the wine, but also how they stand out on shelf. Six leading MWs have also now joined the already impressive line up of professional judges including many leading sommeliers.
You might remember him as the poster boy of Accolade Wines or you might simply have heard about Bruce Jack Wines and wonder whether they are any good or not. Whatever’s the case, there is no denying that when Bruce Jack makes a splash, people sit up and notice. After last week’s launch of Jack’s new wine venture, Roger Jones assesses the strategy behind the three-tier portfolio, tastes through the range and comes up with his recommendations.
If you are making Chablis you will probably have several generations of the family to consult and 1000s of different expressions to try, across different terroirs, altitudes and in different vintages. For Felton Road’s Blair Walter, making Chardonnay in Central Otago has no such history. Unfairly overlooked, because of Otago’s excellence in making Pinot Noir, the region is slowly developing its own distinctive style, argues Anne Krebiehl MW.
Bottling in market is not entirely new – Viña Pomal was once so popular in the UK in the post-war years that bottling used to take place in Charing Cross. It was also, apparently, Winston Churchill’s favourite Spanish wine. Winemaker Alejandro Lopez and the rest of the Viña Pomal team were back in London, this time to launch their new wine Compromiso 2015. A five-variety Rioja blend, it is the Maturana Tinta that gives the wine its point of difference, says Geoffrey Dean, who tasted the new wine along with the rest of the new vintages of the rest of the range.
From amphora-fermented Chardonnay to sparkling wines made in a bat cave, it feels that there are no rules in Bulgarian winemaking these days. Which is a good thing. Bulgarian wine is in a state of flux right now with a new wave of winemakers mixing the modern and the traditional and making some very exciting wines in the process. Justin Keay tasted through the portfolios of 23 producers and picks out eight you need to have on your buying radar.
The wines of Chile have suffered in recent years through the giant strides being made in winemaking in other areas of the globe. But for winemakers like De Martino it is about getting the balance right between scale and individual cuvées that illustrate how remarkable Chilean terroir can be. This is one of the reasons that Berry Bros. & Rudd has picked up the De Martino wines for distribution, as Geoffrey Dean explains.
Roving contributing editor Roger Jones has an audience with Keith and Clare Mugford from Moss Wood, focussing not only on their aged fine wines from Margaret River in Western Australia but also discussing the Semillon Gris mutation of Semillon and whether it affects the wines. With Moss Wood celebrating its 50th anniversary next year and Keith also marking 40 years as head winemaker, this was a perfect occasion to consider the enduring appeal of the wines and how they age.
Rare grapes, imaginative winemaking and a special free pour room with wines chosen especially by top sommeliers made Out the Box 2018 an unmissable event, says Chris Wilson. Always with a tasting strategy up his sleeve, Chris decided to tackle the 300+ wines by picking one red and one white from each of the 9 importers. And what a selection they make….
For the first time ever, Champagne Louis Roederer’s Cristal Vinothèque was shown in the UK. Jean Baptiste Lécaillon, Cristal’s chef de cave, talked to Anne Krebiehl MW about the DNA of Cristal as he poured the Cristal Vinothèque 1996, Cristal 2008, Cristal 2002, Cristal Vinothèque 1995, Cristal Vinothèque 1996, Cristal Vinothèque Rosé 1995 and Cristal Vinothèque Rosé 1996. It is what is known in the trade as a ‘hot ticket’.
From the sound studio producing R.E.M. and Mary J. Blige to an Oregon vineyard and the wines of Nicolas-Jay: while music executive Jay Boberg has changed his focus fundamentally, the creative process is still the same. For him, the worlds of music and wine overlap. Mind you, not just any wine: Pinot Noir, of course, and a teensy bit of Chardonnay.
Ruinart’s cellar master Frédéric Panaïotis came to London last week to launch his latest vintage release, Dom Ruinart Blanc De Blancs 2007, which arrives in the UK early next year. David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, was there to taste it, alongside a non-vintage Blanc de Blancs and the established 2006 vintage.
The wonders of aged Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon is a wine trade secret, of course; stunning quality that is still so modestly priced. To celebrate 160 years of the winery, Chris Tyrrell was in London with a flight of Vat 1 Semillon (2017-1998), a flight of the Johnno’s plus some amazing Shiraz. Our roaming contributing editor Roger Jones was on hand to pick out his favourite vintages.
On a recent tasting visit of the Saint-Péray AOC in the Rhône, Bart Feys is excited by the quality of the current crop of white wines and their potential to develop into complex ageworthy wines. Recent years have also seen the resurgence of sparkling Saint-Péray, a unique wine with a long history. With a string of recent successful vintages, now seems the ideal time to explore this little forgotten corner of the Northern Rhône.
One of Sicily’s organic pioneers, Stefano Girelli has won critical acclaim for his Feudo Di Santa Tresa wines. Now he’s expanding his reach, having taken on another ancient vineyard that had fallen on hard times. As he prepares to launch his ‘Cortese’ wines into the UK market next month, he tells organic nut David Kermode, aka MrVinosaurus, why he was keen to take on another punishing project, how he believes the future of wine is all about getting back to basics, and why the island is “grape heaven”.