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”.
Bollinger La Grande Année 2007, Bollinger R.D 2004 the one-off cuvée ‘2003 by Bollinger’ and more are taste-tested with HIDE’s cuisine by Buyer contributing editor Roger Jones, as chef de caves Gilles Descôtes waxes lyrical about what the 2018 vintage has in store. But not all the food pairings got two thumbs up by Jones.
Corney & Barrow recently held a tasting in central London aimed at restaurants who are looking to refresh their wine list for the autumn and in the run-up to Christmas. Chris Wilson was there and takes a trip round the world’s wine regions in 14 wines – ones which he thinks warrant special attention. He also found the tasting itself quite refreshing. First one in the door, Chris had the whole of 67 Pall Mall to himself which meant a focussed tasting and no splash back on the spittoons!
Launched on Halloween at Marcus at The Berkeley, ‘Le Cercle Brut NV, Marcus Wareing Special Edition’ is a bespoke cuvée from Gosset that is all ‘treat’ and no ‘trick’– a generous wine that is a perfect match for the entrée it was designed to accompany, and an interesting direction for Wareing, Gosset and Louis Latour Agencies who put the two parties together. Peter Dean dined with Wareing at his own Chef’s Table, the first time he had tried the Champagne with food.
As Britons re-appraise German wine, the Get It On tasting was laid on to spark interest in more than 150 wines looking for representation in the UK market. The success of Get It On is such that, since it started, it has succeeded in getting distribution deals for 30 wines in the UK. The Buyer sent along David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, to check out the wines and select his personal Top 10.
The latest focussed wine tasting from Wines of Argentina in its popular Barullo Sessions format was sub-titled The Extremes. In it wine ambassador Phil Crozier introduced a small selection of wines that he feels breaks new ground by being born of the challenges that the extremes of Argentinian climate and terroir pose to the winemaker. Geoffrey Dean dusted down his poncho, packed his tasting glass and went along for the ride.
New categories, some familiar, and a format that is tried and tested at giving key wine buyers a pretty comprehensive snapshot of what’s happening in Rioja today – that was 2018 Rioja 10X10. As the ‘name says on the tin’ the tasting is 10 wines in 10 categories chosen by a panel of judges chaired by Sarah Jane Evans MW and Tim Atkin MW. This year the non-traditional wines were showing particularly well along with the Crianzas.
In July, The Buyer’s Victor Smart travelled to Champagne Henriot to get the thinking behind the house’s eagerly-anticipated new Cuvée Hemera 2005. This month saw the UK launch in London and our resident Queen of the Bubbles, Anne Krebiehl MW, met up with chef de cave Laurent Fresnet and his team to taste the new Cuvée and give us her verdict.
The lack of wind was a problem with the 2018 harvest, especially when the rains came. It was a case of all hands on deck with six helicopters, at one stage, being used to dry the vines. The end result is a good one, though, with the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc from Cloudy Bay as vivacious and succulent as you’d expect. Operations winemaker Daniel Sorrell was at the LVMH headquarters in London for the UK launch to give Sarah McCleery the full SP on the story behind the vintage.