• Browsing Category

    Tasting

    Buying decisions from trend setting trade and The Buyer tastings

    Tasting: Wine
    Wines of Chile

    Chile’s new-found innovation is in evidence at revived tasting

    Wines of Chile was back with a bang last week with its first in-person tasting in two years. In that time the innovation that was already underway before COVID hit has truly flourished, argues David Kermode. Innovative on-trend styles, lots of Pais and Cinsault, wines from the South, including cool climate Sauvignon, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, are sitting confidently alongside more traditional styles of Cabernet, Carménère and some traditional blends.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    60 Below

    60 Below: Exton Park is 1st British estate to age its wines in the sea

    There are a number of wine producers who age their wines under the sea – the pressure, lack of light and gentle swell of the tide, all result in a different style of wine. But, to date, no British sparkling wine producers have done this, and not at this sort of depth. For its 2014 vintage Blanc de Blancs, however, Exton Park is producing two versions – 60 Above and 60 Below – the latter wine aged at 60 metres depth off the coast of Brittany. Victor Smart went along to see what all the fuss was about.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    Jamie Goode: the new Canadian wines you need to know

    In the past 20 years the Canadian wine industry has truly blossomed with the number of wineries almost quadrupling. The quality has been on the rise too as has the number of different grape varieties. An expert in the field who has been closely following this explosion is Dr Jamie Goode who, after explaining about the regions and the geology, picks a list of 15 of the best Canadian wines available in the UK.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    GLUP

    Chile’s GLUP shows the benefits of keeping winemaking simple

    GLUP is a new range of Chilean minimal intervention wines coming from Longaví, the set-up formed by Julio Bouchon and David Nieuwoudt who is known for making expressive, ‘simple’ wines in South Africa’s high, rugged Cederberg mountains. It’s a terrific meeting of minds and talents as Peter Dean describes, the wines being gluggable, expressive, fun and amazing value.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    Hamilton Russell Vineyards

    Roger Jones on 40 Years of Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir

    To celebrate 40 years of Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir, Anthony and Olive Hamilton Russell brought some very special bottles with them from their Hemel-en-Aarde Valley estate. The occasion was the Mentzendorff annual portfolio tasting, which was the last time they were here in the UK since March 2020 just before Covid struck. Anthony conducted a special masterclass examining the style of Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir which involved him opening two of the only five bottles he has left of the estate’s first ever vintage, the 1981 “Grand Vin Noir” made by Anthony’s father. Roger Jones had a ringside seat.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    Domaine Bousquet

    Sarah McCleery: The enduring appeal of Domaine Bousquet

    Having helped Domaine Bousquet into the UK market for the first time, when she was working with UK importer Vintage Roots, wine writer Sarah McCleery is re-united with Anne Bousquet and husband Labid Al Ameri over dinner at London’s Soho House. The domaine’s 1600 metre high location at the foothills of the Andes is the perfect place to practise organic viticulture which shows in the freshness of the fruit-forward wine range, the new additions to which McCleery reviews including the flagship Gran Malbec 2018 and Ameri Malbec 2019.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    Mentzendorff tasting

    Chris Wilson’s highlights from Mentzendorff portfolio tasting

    Wine writer and winemaker, Chris Wilson, has not visited a Mentzendorff portfolio tasting for some time. What most impressed him at the most recent event was the quiet confidence of the selection with everything in its right place and nothing superfluous. You expect to find a wide range of fortified wines and top-end Champagnes with Mentzendorff but what may take you by surprise – and it did with Wilson – is the collection of classic and out-there wines that collectively feel like a treasure trove. He recommends his top 13 wines and uses his customary wit to really nail each and every one.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    Bancroft

    Crowd pleasers and wild cards at Bancroft’s snapshot tasting

    Earlier this month, Bancroft Wines held its Spring Snapshot Tasting where clients and press came to try selected lines from the full portfolio. Who better to send than someone who is both a client and part of the wine press? Our very own Mike Turner tasted his way through nearly 100 wines and picked out his top picks for your lists this Spring and Summer including a Verdejo from Telmo Rodriguez, an unfiltered frizzante bianco from Veneto, and a ‘wild card’ acacia-aged red from Thessaly in Greece.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    Blanc des Millénaires 2007

    1st taste of Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 2007

    Blanc des Millénaires 2007 was just one of a string of major new Champagne releases to be unveiled last week as the Champenois hit London for the Taste Champagne event. The 2007 is only the seventh vintage of Charles Heidsieck’s top cuvée to be released since the inaugural 1983 and Cyril Brun, chef de cave, steadfastly refuses to change the make-up of its five-cru blend in order to truly reflect the vintage. It is, after all, like a hairstyle he says – it changes over the decades but do you notice? and does it get any better?

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    Léoube

    Romain Ott: the alchemy behind his new Léoube at Langhan’s

    Ever since Romain Ott has been the winemaker at Château Léoube, a property that is adjacent to his family’s estate, he has been pushing the envelope of the premium rosé category. At an exclusive lunch in the just-reopened Langan’s Brasserie Ott talks to Victor Smart about the new wines and pairs them with a variety of interesting dishes, including veal chop with the super-premium, late-bottled Léoube Rosé Singulier that is £199 a magnum, is far darker, and should be served fresh but not cold.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    Nebbiolo Day

    Justin Keay makes some great discoveries on Nebbiolo Day 2022

    Nebbiolo Day 2022 helped to cement Nebbiolo’s reputation and success in the UK market with some truly great wines from all the producing regions. This third edition was well represented by most of the top names making wine with Nebbiolo – represented and unrepresented estates – and featured a masterful masterclass on Valtellina and Alto Piemonte by co-organiser Walter Speller.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting
    ProChile

    Explore Chile’s diversity quality & USPs at key UK tasting

    For nearly three years Chile has had to rely on the quality of its wines, and the knowledge and passion of its importers to tell its story in the UK as Covid has prevented it from hosting its usually packed out portfolio tasting. Now it’s back with its first major tasting event since September 2019, featuring over 40 producers, in London on March 31. Anita Jackson, head of Wines of Chile in the UK who has been doing her bit to champion Chile’s cause, sets out what buyers can expect from a tasting that looks specifically to showcase the diversity and quality of wines to be found the length and breadth of this unique wine country.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    La Grande Année 2014

    How Bollinger fought adversity to create a La Grande Année 2014

    2014 was not a great growing season in Champagne in fact, according to Bollinger’s managing director, it was one of the most difficult years on record. But the mixed fortunes handed out by climate change – especially the cold late summer – has helped the House deliver two exceptional premium Champagnes with remarkable freshness. In order to underline the gastronomic qualities of La Grande Année 2014 and La Grande Année Rosé 2014, Champagne Bollinger chose to launch the wines over lunch at The Woodspeen in Newbury with a Peter Eaton-directed pairing menu. Peter Dean ‘took one for the team’ and headed down to Berkshire.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    Armit Italian tasting

    David Kermode’s top wines from this year’s Armit Italian tasting

    One of Armit’s key strengths has been the Italian wines in its portfolio, and its annual Italian tasting gives buyers a perfect snapshot of everything that is good in Italian winemaking right now. Back in the flesh in 2022, the tasting was also an opportunity for buyers to sample a range of library stock including Sassicaia 2010. David Kermode talked to managing director Brett Fleming about how things have been going at Armit and picks his top 10 wines, three of which are from two new agencies acquired only recently.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    Bibendum

    How new agencies shone at the ’40 Years of Bibendum’ tasting

    The on-trade was out in force at Bibendum’s portfolio tasting last week which was celebrating 40 years in the business. Many familiar producers were in attendance along with many new faces – boutique producers like Casa de Mouraz, GLUP, Lenzmark, and Kumusha along with two high profile acquisitions Juve Y Camps and Gérard Bertrand. Peter Dean talked to the new kids on the block and chooses six of the best.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting
    muriel chatel

    How Sustainable Wine Solutions is doing what it says on the tin

    “I was not only impressed, but inspired. I left the tasting with an optimistic skip in my step.” This is Robert Mason’s reaction to seeing what Sustainable Wine Solutions, that has emerged from Borough Wines and led by the pioneering Muriel Chatel, is doing to shake up the traditional way that wine is made, bought, distributed and sold. He reports back from its recent tasting were it was able to show the steps it is taking to introduce re-usable kegs, wines on tap and bottle refill schemes to the trade.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    IMG_5331

    Chris Wilson picks his winners from Alliance’s annual tasting

    ‘Tight and tidy’, ‘all bases covered’, ‘classic and leftfield’, these are the things that a wine buyer looks for in a portfolio. When the wines also all speak of where they come from then that is massive plus, as winemaker and writer Chris Wilson discovered at Alliance Wine’s annual portfolio tasting. Among the ten wines that Chris highlights are two English sparkling wines, a Mâconnais style Chardonnay from the Languedoc, a Spanish Muscat a Petit Grains and the only Spanish 100% Malbec, South African Pinot Noir and a Grenache from Alliance Wine’s own label.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    Churchill's

    How Churchill’s Estates is ushering in a new chapter

    As Churchill’s undergoes a brand refresh and launches Grafite, a new range of still table wines from the Douro, so founder Johnny Graham tells Victor Smart about the need for change in the business he set up 41 years ago. Appealing to a new generation of drinkers, competing with the raft of other winemakers in the Douro and slowly handing over control to his daughter Zoe are all part of Graham’s masterplan.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    WoodWinters

    WoodWinters evolving its list with diversity and value in mind

    It’s one thing to list a fine wine in the UK, quite another for it to deliver quality, value and diversity. As the tasting season gets into full swing  – even overdrive – Roger Jones tastes his way through the new WoodWinters portfolio, which has expanded from its specialised Italian base into carrying wines from Greece, France and South Africa amongst others.

    CONTINUE READING
    Tasting: Wine
    Furmint

    Bringing single vineyard and sparkling Furmint into focus

    More than any other grape variety, Furmint is on a journey, argues Justin Keay. With an amazing ability to reflect terroir, Furmint is breaking out of its Tokaj home in Hungary and spreading to other regions with single vineyard wines and dry varieties, in particular, reflecting these regional differences. And, despite its phenolics not making it an obvious choice for sparkling cuvées, Furmint fizz is very much a new thing, with winemakers learning as they go. Keay attends the fourth Furmint February tasting in London, talks to the 38 producers in attendance, and lists his Top 10 wines from the event – five sparkling and five still single vineyard wines.

    CONTINUE READING

    Instataste

    Tasting with pictures View All
  • Social Slider

    • 2015 was a sun-drenched vintage which shines through in this fruit-driven, elegant and hugely versatile Champagne. Medium shiny gold, the wine has an energetic, fine bead and delightfully complex nose. As it opens out in the glass we find apple blossom, ripe orchard fruit, gingerbread, nougat and candied orange peel. The attaque is nicely balanced, rounded and vibrant with mouth-filling mousse to begin with and then the structure and the tension of the acidity shines through. This is a fruity wine, elegant and easy to like – you can pick out ripe pear, yellow stone fruit, poached rhubarb, the finish is dry, mineral-charged and a salty tang that leaves you craving more. Serve solus or with a range of gastronomic uses, including dessert. The blend is 59% Pinot Noir/ 41% Chardonnay, with a dosage of 4 grams per litre.
    • Full-flavoured dry white Bordeaux blend (85% Semillon, 15% Sauvignon Blanc) from classed growth Sauternes estate Château d’Arche, with the wine partially aged in old Sauternes barrels for extra texture and complexity. Pale gold in colour, the wine is ripe with an attractive mix of ripe apples, peach, pineapple and lemon grass. In the mouth the wine is rounded, oleaginous, ripe fruit with bags of citrus and a moreish dry, grapefruit note, balanced by a hint of sweetness coming from the Sauternes’ wood. RRP in the UK under £14.
    • The new Blanc de Blancs 2008 from Champagne Billecart Salmon. To look at the wine is shiny platinum gold, fine bead; the aromatics are pure and fresh with sea spray, crisp white apple and a sense of wet chalk, after 30 minutes more complexity reveals itself – more fruit and fresh nuts; in the mouth the wine is tense with tingly, mineral-driven acidity, ultra-fine texture, fresh, bright, beautiful balance with pure Sicilian lemon, a touch of aspirin; the finish has you wanting more – it finishes dry, mineral and chalky, with lemon zest.
    • Spectacular wines shared last night at a dinner in Clos Vougeot to celebrate the end of the  @biketocarebourgogne  charity event through which €230k was raised for hospitality charities. The wines were shown from the 8 winemakers who took part, most cycled the 200km and were all spectacular.
    • 1993 Harlan. Remarkably fresh but showing a lot of complexity aromatically and on the palate. It could last for another decade or more but not sure how much it would improve, as it’s currently firing on all cylinders. 90% Cab Sauv with a bit more Merlot than is in the current cepage (Cab Franc and Petit Verdot complete the blend). Distinctly sweet Napa nose with black cherry, cassis and blackberry, lick of menthol. The palate is fresh as a daisy, although still rich, powerful, with fine ripe tannins lending structure. Cacao, oak and minerals on the palate. Truly sublime.
    • I love Simon Waghorn’s wines immensely – they have real life to them and this doesn’t disappoint. Pale straw with green reflections; the aromatics are fruity (peach), tropical (papaya, guava), interesting and complex; the palate is finely textured, fresh, with a fascinating mix of flavours: grapefruit, green pineapple, lime, mango sorbet and a salty, mineral-driven finish. This is a quality, blended Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (they also produce sub-regional specific wines) that manages to play to a number of different crowds – those loving Marlborough SB and those who have become bored with the ‘cookie cutter’ wines that are like passion fruit on steroids. Excellent.
    • This is our pick from a varietal “Discovery” range from @Roche.Mazet that looks to tell the history of the Pays d’Oc region through its main grape varieties. A range that proudly claims to be ‘The No 1 Brand in France’ on its website. Each wine is PGI-labelled and comes with a handy, easy to understand style indicator on the label. Hence ‘Elegant and fruity’ for Pinot Noir. Each wine is made to express the key characteristics of that variety. This Pinot Noir is light on the palate, but has a long finish, healthy tannins but enough freshness and acidity to get you pouring another glass. It is good to see a producer of this scale looking to use modern labels and marketing to make its PGI wines as accessible as possible and making the all important link with food. Some varieties work better than others but offer consistently good quality
    • Transparent pale garnet, attractive and elegant bouquet of red cherries, red liquorice, red pepper, lick of tar and dried violets; the palate is approachable for a wine so young, fine, ripe and well-integrated tannins, it is fruity with sour cherry, blue plum skin, a hint of clove. The wine is fine, high-toned, elegant with a subdued intensity, great balance with bright acidity, dry and a long finish. Had quite a vibrancy after an hour’s decant, another hour and it had settled and was smoother on entry. At around £50 it’s good value for a Barolo of this quality.
    • Fabulous new vintage of Winston Churchill 2013 from Pol Roger. Leaner and more highly-strung than the 2012 which had more buttery Vienoiserie/ honeyed notes but it is still thrillingly good at the moment. Medium gold with a vigorous fine bead. The aromas have confit lemon, mandarin peel, saline, oyster shell, fresh baguette and butter, and a fresh chalkiness, with a hint of red berries and fresh hazelnuts. The wine makes quite an entrance on the palate – the attack is crisp and fresh, filling the front and mid-palate with a mineral-charged, explosion of pixilated detail of lime zest, lemon posset, grapefruit sherbet; the acidity is bright and turbo-charged, laser-like. The wine builds symphonically, each component playing its part in quite perfect harmony until it comes to a perfect crescendo on the roof of your mouth… if that doesn’t sound too naff! The finish is long and penetrating. I would try
    • Such a delightful and elegant wine and in 2020 this is firing on all cyclinders – more ripe sweet apple rather than green apple that can happen in more austere vintages. In the glass the wine is medium gold which will get deeper and more orange as it ages (as it really likes to). The nose is enticing with aromas of all things apple – fresh, dried, tarte au pomme, pretty apple blossom – there is also pollen and a subtle fresh nut aroma that resembles white peach kernel. On the palate the wine is medium weight and dry, although there is a leesy breadth and fine-grained texture from its oak-ageing that gives the wine wonderful balance. Sommeliers take note – 100% Mauzac made with this degree of style is crying out for you to discover it. So versatile, it’s one of those rare wines that just loves to be
    • Fascinating new 100% Grenache Gris from the Languedoc’s  @domainegayda  , which is another fine example of this grape holding its own as a single varietal. It is a fresh, taut, punchy dry white with plenty of sharp, citric, mineral drive – and has the chutzpah to become a real sommelier’s favourite both in its construct and how it delivers, but also with collectors who can cellar for a couple or more years. Deep straw with green highlights it has a complex nose with a good degree of concentration – ripe citrus fruit with fresh herbs, saline and a lovely mix of sweet honeysuckle and a slight wisp of smoke. In the mouth the wine is medium weight, textured – crushed rocks, saline, lime peel, green apple and green plum giving it a bit of attitude – then a delightful salty lift on the finish which has you wanting another sip.
    • It’s not just the standout branding of GLUP! Rosado 2020 that is distinctive and playful. This 6-strong range of wines from Chile are all expressive, distinctive and made in a crunchy, gluggable style. Sourced from Grenache, Mouvedre and Pais vines in the Maule valley that are over 100 years old and grown on granitic soil, this is a field blend, whole bunch-pressed, aged in old French barrels for eight months and then bottled without stabilization, fining or filtration. The nose is pretty, with violets and fresh red and black fruit. In the mouth the wine is fresh with a good degree of tension and texture, the acidity is well balanced, and there is a ‘green’ crunch and herbal quality to the finish. This is one of six wines in this range from Vina Longavi, a joint venture between Chile producer Julio Bouchion and South African oenologist David Nieuwoudt from Cederberg.
    • Terrific to see Suduiraut branching out into dry white wines, although you couldn’t have picked a more tricky vintage than 2021. 52% Semillon/ 48% Sauvignon Blanc and aged 50/50 in vats and barrels (25% new) for 6 months, this is a clean, precise and refreshing wine made to be drunk young. In the glass the wine is pale yellow with green reflections, the aromas are a mix of pretty white blossom, just ripe orchard fruit, lemon grass and a touch of lanolin. In the mouth the wine is fresh, pure and clean, quite refined with the wood adding a fine grain of texture. Flavours are on the brighter side of citrus – fresh lemon, grapefruit giving it a leanness at the core and a decent length. This is a very elegant, classy Bordeaux blanc which will be interesting to watch as it develops as a project over time. This has
    • First 100-Parker point wine for this boutique, super-premium Napa estate, and it’s still in good shape – arguably at the peak of its drinking window with some years still left on the clock. Deep, dark purple with blood red edging; the aromatics are powerful, complex and heavenly with burnt black fruit, scorched earth, tapenade, meat; in the mouth the wine is polished, full-bodied, unctuous and mouth-filling, the tannins completely resolved – ripe black fruit, cassis, raisins – with a Port-like sweetness, finished nicely with a citrus tightness. It’s clearly a Parker wine but you don’t feel the near-16% abv in the balance of the wine, which is still in shape, more so in the hedonistic glow that follows a large glass or two. Quintessential old school Napa Cab.
    • This is a quality, award-winning Chardonnay from Canada’s Niagara Peninsula which will appeal to lovers of ripe, buttery Chardonnay – think cool coast California – but which has one foot in Burgundy. The team here has skillfully managed to measure the wine with bags of flavour but also with balance and freshness, creating a wine of finely-textured elegance. Winemaker Thomas Bachelder is an expert at making cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and this is in a sweet spot between New World terroir and Burgundian technique. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeast in 228-litre French oak (20% new, the rest 1-4 years old), undergoes full malolactic, aged for 16 months and then aged for eight months in bottle, allowing the mouthfeel and flavours to develop. Medium golden, ripe, intense pretty nose with honeysuckle, quince, ripe peach, and an attractive smoky toasty note; the palate is medium weight, textured, a
    • A new port category from the oldest port house in the world. Both 50-year-old white and tawny port were officially recognized last July, the liquid previously would have been released under the ‘Very Old’ category. And what a rare treat this white is. Deep mahogany/ amber in colour, it obviously has hugely complex aromatics – solera, burnt sugar, nut shells, Christmas spice, old noble wood. In the mouth it is rich, unctuous, oleaginous and opulent – delicious flavours of raisins, plums in rumtopf – what is so special is how fresh the port still is – fantastically well balanced and quite dry on the incredibly long finish. What a treat!
    • White wines from Italy are on such an upward trajectory – from the moment this amphora-aged Vermentino from IGT Costa Toscana hits the glass you just know it’s going to be fascinating. Deep shiny gold (this is a 2020 remember), the aromas and flavours are complex with saline, mineral and stony notes, white peach, nuts. It’s a dry wine that looks both aged and sweeter, with an attractive grapefruit pith, saline finish. Matched it with pan-fried halibut and mixed salad. It was fermented in concrete and aged in amphora, which allows the sense of the rocky Toscana coast to really express itself from the glass. A sommelier’s dream.
    • Interesting debate on future direction of  #Pinotage  in  #Stellenbosch  and the work being done in the vineyards and cellar to make consistent, approachable, fruit forward styles with different oak and age treatments where the emphasis is on the fruit forward and the freshness in the wine. How younger / next generation of winemakers are taking Pinotage on and “tweaking” and “adapting” to put their “fingerprints” on modern, premium Pinotage. Brightest future for Pinotage is yet to come. Thanks to  @beyerskloof   @beyerstruterfaithfund   @kanonkopwineestate   @kaapzichtwines   @lavenir_wine_estate   @simonsigwines   @stellwineroute   #wine   #stellenbosch   #southafrica   #southafricanwine   @wosa_za 
    • Another great day in  #Stellenbosch  exploring experimental & “development” and different winemaking styles wines with producers looking to trial winemaking styles to help gain knowledge & expertise to help with mainstream wines with  @keermontvineyards   #lanzerac   @dornier_wines   @kleinood_farm  @ @stellwineroute   @waterford_estate   #lanzerac   @visitstellenboschnow   @kleinezalze   @alexstarey  lots of plot site analysis; use of amphora; concrete eggs; old vines; pruning techniques all focused on making a premiun wine & helping to improve overall quality of their respective ranges. Great to see such collaboration too  #southafrica   #wine   #winemakers   @winesofsouthafricauk   @visitstellenboschnow 
    • Fascinating insight into the depth, diversity and superb quality of  #CheninBlanc  in  #Stellenbosch  &  #SouthAfrica . How barrel fermenting & use of amphora, concrete eggs, gentle pump overs are all helping to make elegant, fresh, vibrant Chenins that take the category into so many new areas. But all based on producing premium, quality wine aligned with  @cheninblancsa  strategy & focus headed by Ina Smith. So many styles to discover and new projects and initiatives like  @kleinezalze  Project Z,  @kaapzichtwines  old vines,  @villierawines   @rascallionwines   @stellenrust_wines  trio series from same grapes. Thanks to  @96wineryroad  for hosting  @stellwineroute   #southafrica   #stellenbosch   #wine   #cheninblanc