A few years ago, the esteemed Leclerc Briant looked destined to disappear. An organic trailblazer in the Champagne region, its best days were behind it. That was until passionate new owners hired one of the region’s biodynamic veterans, Hervé Jestin. Now, the house is bang on trend with its range of low to zero dosage Champagnes, which are being launched into the UK market by Berry Brothers and Rudd and its on-trade division Fields, Morris and Verdin, as David Kermode reports for The Buyer.
Furmint, the grape most widely known for producing the prized sweet wine Tokaji Aszu, has got a healthy and prosperous future ahead of it as a dry wine if the wines that were on show at Wines of Hungary’s Furmint February tasting were anything to go by. In the same space as Chablis, Albarino, Grüner and some dry Rieslings, Furmint has an ability to transmit terroir well, leading to racy acidity and minerality in some of the wines. Furmint has been increasing in popularity in London over the past two decades, is currently on trend, but is currently inconsistent in style. A bad thing? Not a word, argues Justin Keay who raves about one of his favourite tastings in a long while.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s co-owner and co-director Aubert de Villaine has said of the 2016 vintage that it was a case of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. But, although it was a difficult vintage to work, the estate is hailing it as ‘perfect’. Chris Wilson held his golden ticket to this most exclusive of wine tastings to go and try the Romanée-Conti wines for the very first time.
Whether Adrianna Vineyard, and other neighbouring sites under ownership of Catena Zapata, are labelled ‘grand cru’ or ‘gran parcela’ the end result is pretty much the same – they produce world class wines that can rub shoulders with the very best that Burgundy and Bordeaux can offer. Geoffrey Dean has an audience with the Argentine estate, tastes all the new releases, and thinks that Laura Catena could be right – these are very much grand cru wines.
For Christina Rasmussen the Flint Wines tasting of Burgundy 2017 was an event of many highlights. Most of all the tasting revealed 2017 to be a bright, pleasant and early-drinking vintage, with the wines, especially the whites, really singing at this moment in time – structured and bold, with tons of energy and balance. In fact, balance is a key theme in this piece which also looks at how Burgundy en primeur tastings compare with Bordeaux.
Chef and roving contributing editor for The Buyer, Roger Jones, is currently in South Africa hosting a series of events that highlight the quality of the wines and winemaking that you can find in the New World. In his latest event, the most recent instalment of his ever-popular knockout competition the Tri Nations, South Africa takes on Chile – a battle across 6 different wine categories with Jones providing a wine-matching menu.
Last week, London has been awash with Burgundy, as the trade had its first comprehensive sampling of the new 2017 vintage. Berry Brothers and Rudd, and its on trade division Fields Morris and Verdin, chose One Great George Street for its tasting, attracting an impressive number of its vignerons to talk about their latest releases. David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, was there to find out how the wines were showing.
2017 is not the vintage to be buying top-rung reds argues Peter Dean, who points out the lower-tier wines where the real value for money is to be found. This is the year to be checking out lesser known appellations, going for the entry level wines and picking up some Volnay and Pommard which have both been in short supply of late and never tasted so good so young. Oh, and the whites are spectacular.
The Chardonnay produced in South Africa’s Hemel en Aarde has long been considered world class – but just good is it really? Wanting to put this to the test our roving contributing editor and world class chef, Roger Jones, decided to blind-taste the best Hemel en Aarde can offer, alongside the rest of the New World – wines from California, New Zealand, Australia and Chile, amongst others.
In picking his Top 10 wines of 2018, Geoffrey Dean concluded that the New World was where his favourite wines came from – mainly South Africa and Australia, two countries he visited during the year; Geoffrey has also slipped in a crafty Bordeaux sticky as well as a cracking old vine Malbec from Chile.
Pet Nat Retsina, a must-try Armenian wine made from Areni Noir and Yaras grapes, a 50-year-old aged white port and a Romanian blend that depends upon Muscat Ottonel for its distinctive taste are just some of the ‘wild and wonderful’ highlights of 2018 for Justin Keay as he picks his top 10 wines of the year. A big fan of Grape Unknown-style wines, unique cuvées and emerging regions, Keay is expert at picking out lesser known grape varieties and interesting producers that demand greater recognition.
Anne Krebiehl MW’s belief that wine connects and transcends was strengthened this year by a number of experiences including drinking ‘her vintage’ at Felton Road under the Southern stars while Nigel Greening cooked her goat; getting slowly sloshed on the Danube drinking 2001 Domäne Wachau and many more key events in this classic vintage of a year.
As a PR executive, writer, WSET student and contributor to The Buyer, Christina Rasmussen is exposed to a staggering array of wines in a diverse range of wine regions – from interesting cuvées made in barrels deep within the most cutting edge wineries to those more readily available from more established names. Her Top 10 Wines of the Year piece is always no such thing – an enthusiastic journey through a year in wine where she and we stop counting, but rather buckle in and enjoy the ride, full as it is with invaluable tips on which winemakers and wines to keep your buying eyes out for.
The ‘power of the press trip’ is an overriding theme of this list of Top 10 Wines of 2018 from David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus. Almost all of the wines were tasted and enjoyed in situ whether that was in the sunny foothills of Soave or further afield in New Zealand and Canada’s British Columbia. Oh, and David also found it very hard whittling his list down to 10 wines – which seems to be an overriding theme of this year’s Best Ofs…
Having travelled to South Africa twice in the year there was no surprise that Chris Wilson’s Top 10 wines of 2018 would include a fair number from SA; half, in fact. Chris highlights a Pinotage that was served in magnum and double magnum – a decade apart in vintage – a Colheita from his birth year and a ‘low alcohol’ Riesling from New Zealand.
If you suffer from FOMO then you might want to look away from Peter Dean’s Top 10 wines of 2018, one of which hails back to the Nineteenth Century. Whether they were drunk in the hallowed spaces of hard-to-reach wine estates, in tastings back in the UK or, indeed, at home – these wines represent the very pinnacle of wine experiences for Dean. The fact that this list could easily have run to 100 wines is testament to the richness of the wine world we all live in.
Roger Jones is a man of many hats and a man used to spinning a large number of plates at any one time. A world class chef, a restaurateur with the AA’s Best English Wine List for 2018, an ambassador to the CSWWC, a Decanter panel judge, host to the Tri Nations Wine Championships and a contributing editor to The Buyer. No he’s not been knighted yet but in our books he will always be Sir Roger Jones, at least that’s the name he always gives when checking into First Class lounges.
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.