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    Buying decisions from trend setting trade and The Buyer tastings

    Tasting: Wine
    en rama

    How en rama helped sherry get to the front of the wine list again

    The en rama category was created by Tio Pepe just ten years ago with the launch of a raw sherry that was marketed by the company like a yoghurt – with a Best Before date and everything. At a special anniversary dinner, in which the company flew over its big guns and celebrity chef Nacho Manzano, David Kermode managed to taste all but one of the last 10 vintages, see how the Tio Pepe En Rama 2019 stands up to its predecessors, as well as get a revealing insight into the trepidation the company felt before launch and what has happened since.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Rathfinny

    Rathfinny BdN: confirming its dry, restrained signature style

    With a further 90,000 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines planted last week to take the total acreage to 200, Rathfinny Estate in Sussex is on course to have 350 acres under vine by 2021. At today’s London launch of its third Sussex Sparkling, a Blanc de Noirs, Anne Krebiehl MW believes that it is the dry, restrained style of the estate that has already become Rathfinny’s signature style. That, and the very ripe hedgerow fruit and spice, that marks it out as being unmistakably English.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Barolo

    Getting under the skin of Barolo and Brunello: two Italian kings

    For the first time two classic Italian wine regions, Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino, joined forces to present a unified front to UK trade and consumers allowing us to really get under the skin of the two most revered Italian red wines, and understand the varying components of their single grape varieties, Nebbiolo and Sangiovese. Titled Barolo and Brunello: The Two Italian Kings, the event had focussed tastings run by Sarah Abbott MW in which she extolled the benefits of tasting the two wines side-by-side and drew out what makes them so distinct and enthralling.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Quintus

    Quintus pairs with Clove Club for innovative 6-vintage vertical

    To show off its first five vintages of Quintus, Domaine Clarence Dillon (which owns Château Haut-Brion) asked Clove Club chef Isaac McHale and head sommelier Oliver Christie to devise a special French-influenced tasting menu that would complement the Saint-Émilion wines. McHale’s food has a reputation of being ‘food you want to eat’ and the Quintus wines, likewise, are customer-friendly, approachable Bordeaux that are clearly in their ascendancy. Peter Dean tasted the Quintus grand cru wines, the second and third wines, and then sat back in awe at one of the great wine-pairing lunches.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Alto Piemonte

    Why Alto Piemonte’s days as a forgotten gem could well be over

    When Roberto Conterno parted with many millions to buy Nervi in Alto Piemonte a year ago, it confirmed what many in the trade had known for some time – that this ‘lesser’ Italian region was producing outstanding wines and a great region to explore ‘off the radar’ wines and winemakers. Its days as a forgotten gem are indeed over, as more and more people wise up to the region, says Geoffrey Dean, who travels to Alto Piemonte and picks out the best regions and winemakers that should indeed be on your radar, if they are not already.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Storm

    Chanin & Storm: Santa Barbara’s hottest new double act

    Ernst Storm and Gavin Chanin don’t actually make wine together – but you wouldn’t know it – at a recent London masterclass this hot duo from California’s Santa Barbara county seemed joined at the hip rather than come from rival wineries. What these friends share is a passion for old school Californian winemaking with minimal use of oak and sourcing prime fruit from some fantastic blocks in the Santa Maria and Santa Rita Hills. David Kermode tasted through their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah and was knocked ‘sideways’ by the wines as well as learning a thing or two about their shared winemaking philosophy.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Torres

    Tasting with Torres: new vintages of Antología & Iconic wines

    As Familia Torres approaches its 150th anniversary next year it remains one of the world’s most enduring and admired wine dynasties – noted as much for the work it does in furthering responsible viticulture and protecting grape species as it is for the quality of its wine portfolio. Peter Dean met with CEO Miguel Torres Maczassek who was in London to show off the new vintages of its Antología and Iconic wines, to taste through the wines and get the back story on what makes each wine so unique.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Wines from Spain

    How Verdejo was one of the surprise hits at Wines from Spain

    The Wines from Spain annual tasting seems to have found its natural home at Sky Garden, where it returned to offer buyers a broad look at the quality and innovation that is rife in the country, and happening in the most unexpected of places. Rueda, for so long a bulk producer of average wines, had a singular focus where it was clear just how far the region has moved on particularly with producers doing interesting things with key grape Verdejo. Justin Keay picks out the wines to get on your radar as well as picks his Magnificent Seven – wines that stood head and shoulders over the other wines present.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Chile

    Geoffrey Dean: Top 10 wines that show off the diversity of Chile

    Visiting a country for a large number of winery visits and tastings often leads to a series of exciting discoveries, and so it was when Geoffrey Dean visited Chile last month. Aside from the iconic wines that he expected to find, he wasn’t prepared for the huge diversity of wines that are now being made in the country at the very highest level. Here he picks out his Top 10 wines that totally captivated him as well as wines that show of Chile’s diversity.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Pol Roger

    Roger Jones’ top picks from Pol Roger portfolio tasting

    It has been a few years coming but the Pol Roger Portfolio tasting last week certainly made up for the wait – Drouhin, Josmeyer, Staglin, Gallica, Sinskey, Artadi, and not forgetting the Pol Roger Champagnes of course. Some big name winemakers were there pouring the wines and our Chef Editor, Roger Jones, was there taking copious tasting notes and getting a heads-up on which of the new vintages are really singing – and what to serve them with. If you didn’t manage to get there, fear not, let Mr Jones give you a few pointers.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Oregon

    Inside the Oregon, Washington & New York State tasting

    The premium on-trade will have a field day with the latest wines from Oregon and Washington states be they a pet-nat sparkler, an orange Gewurzt or a ‘cab-mac’ Pinot. Pinot Noir dominated the reds as you might have expected, but there were some interesting Cab Francs and Bordeaux varietal/ blends from Washington as well as some top Pinot Gris and Blancs, made in a fascinating variety of styles. The eleventh hour addition of wines from New York State only added to the eclectic nature of the tasting with the whites particularly strong. Chris Wilson picks the wines that should be on your buying radar.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Bibendum

    How provenance was key to Bibendum’s ‘Made In…’ event

    Echoing the two main on-trade trends highlighted in its Trends Report, Bibendum’s new series of tastings called ‘Made in…’ focused on “diversity” and “indigenous”. It is the people, the place and the craft that went into creating this broad selection of wines that Bibendum really wanted to emphasise and Justin Keay found plenty to get excited about with the 17 new producers on show amongst a total of 194 wines.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Nicolás Catena Zapata

    Grand Cru obsession: a vertical of Nicolás Catena Zapata 2005-2015

    Nicolás Catena Zapata has done more than most for the reputation of Argentinian wine. Inspired by the achievements of the Napa Valley pioneers, he went on to prove that anything they could do, he could do too, with the wines judged favourably alongside their Californian rivals and the finest First Growths. Having experimented successfully with altitude winemaking, he is now handing over the reigns to daughter Laura, who shares his obsession with Grand Cru standards. David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, attended a masterclass to meet the woman stepping into those big shoes (and a beret) with aplomb.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Essential California

    Welcome to the Motel California: Essential California ‘budget’ wine

    Tastings of Californian wine have changed out of sight in the past three years. Egged on by the likes of New Wave South Africa, the venues are imaginative and sometimes edgy, the organisation is top tier, there is food, music, some life and – dare we say it – a bit of fun. None of this would mean a thing, of course, if the wines were still just those ripe old powerhouses. Peter Dean went along to Essential California to test out the new ‘low price’ format and came back literally raving about what he tasted.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Collettivo

    Six exciting Italian producers you should be listing: Il Collettivo 2019

    March has seen some incredible Italian wine tastings in London, both large generic and merchant-led. Suddenly it seems us Brits can’t drink enough of the stuff, with Italian wine knocking French off the top on-trade spot. Il Collettivo, now into its third year, was a bit of both – a focussed event that showcased the best and most interesting Italian wines from five of Britain’s most innovative wine importers – Astrum Wine Cellars, Flint, FortyFive10°, Sommelier’s Choice and Swig. Chris Wilson tasted his way through the wines and turns the spotlight on six of the most exciting producers he feels belongs on your list.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Bordeaux 2018

    Right Bank and whites shine in first taste of Bordeaux 2018

    Before the en primeur tastings have begun in Bordeaux, the first taste of the new vintage takes place in London every year through the 134-member Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux. Geoffrey Dean tastes a wide variety of Bordeaux 2018 and gets a vintage overview from the president of Grand Cercle. 2018 was a challenging year, with powdery mildew and a blistering hot summer being two key factors, but there are some good wines and some very good wines produced, particularly from the Right Bank.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Nebbiolo

    Why Valtellina and Alto Piemonte were star regions of Nebbiolo Day

    Brilliant organisation and wines that were firing on all cylinders made this year’s Nebbiolo Day the best and most educational one yet, argues Justin Keay. Fearing the worst from over 500 young, highly tannic wines, Keay came away enthusing about the potential of Nebbiolo’s lesser known regions of Valtellina, Alto Piemonte and Carema where higher altitudes mean crisper, lower alcoholic reds. Keay picks his favourites as well as shares his tips on what to buy from Barolo and Barbaresco.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Lynch-Bages

    How the wines of Lynch-Bages truly stand the test of time

    The wines of Pauillac’s fifth growth estate, Lynch-Bages, have long been a favourite with British claret drinkers, so it didn’t need Geoffrey Dean to think twice when he was invited to the deepest Tyrol where a remarkable tasting was to take place. In a cellar stuffed full of blue chip wines Geoffrey was treated to a vertical tasting of Lynch-Bages 1945-90, not every vintage of course but near as dammit. With stained teeth and a beatific smile here he picks out the wines that really did stand the test of time.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Yalumba

    Roger Jones highlights Yalumba as a star of the Fells tasting

    Last Spring Fells took over the distribution of Yalumba and a few key wineries from the Negociants portfolio. What are the key changes and how are the new vintages tasting? On one of those beautiful summery days in February we sent Roger Jones along to the Fells annual tasting at the Riverside Rooms, Savoy Place to find out and, not only did he catch up with Yalumba’s Robert Hill-Smith but also many other top winemakers, keen no doubt to see how the Fells portfolio was changing with the new additions.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Dom Pérignon Rosé 2006

    How Dom Pérignon Rosé 2006 moves in a dark direction

    With a new Dom Pérignon vintage technical perfection is a given, what matters most to chef de cave Vincent Chaperon is projecting the lifestyle values of Dom Pérignon – achieving harmony in the wine that plays on the emotions of the consumer. In order to achieve that his job is to “organise diversity” namely, dealing with every element of variation that will end in the vision he has of the finished Champagne. Anne Krebiehl MW attended yesterday’s launch in London and explains how Dom Pérignon Rosé 2006 drives you into a “dark and profound direction.”

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    Instataste

    Tasting with pictures View All
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    • Great drop of Champagne but still so primary I was
      Great drop of Champagne but still so primary. I was expecting evolution - secondary characteristics - but there was very little. The bubbles are pretty full, the palate is lemon drizzle cake, bitter almonds, creamy mousse; the nose has classic white Burgundy notes of the highest order, but no rush - squirrel this away in the cellar and keep your mitts off - reward will be repaid in spades.
    • If Beaujolais had a Grand Cru site this would be
      If Beaujolais had a Grand Cru site this would be it - steep slopes on a disused quarry, the underling quartz and granite giving the wine real vibrancy and fine-grained, mineral texture. This relatively new biodynamic producer still manages to capture the delightful, fresh juicy fruit of Beaujolais, but using a more Burgundian style - de-stemming, and a long fermentation (in concrete). Taut, racy, bright and fruity. Quite outstanding.
    • From one of Californias fastgrowing New Wave stars Scott Schultz
      From one of California’s fast-growing New Wave stars, Scott Schultz at Jolie-Laide (slang for beauty with ugly features) comes this delightful and unpretentious Gamay. Notes of freshly-picked red berries, a bit of cranberry crunch, nice acidity. Not over-thought or over-wrought- easy drinking that will not hang around on the table.
    • Great example of a bottle you buy on a winery
      Great example of a bottle you buy on a winery visit and then open and realise you should have bought way more! This is simply awesome, an old clos, limited production and the balance of flavours is just stunning. All bruised apple, salted caramel, on the nose, the palate then seduces you with a voluptuous mouthfeel that feels Demi-sec and promises tarte tatin with a lick of Golden Syrup but then hits you with cooking apple, minerals, lime zest. God I love Chenin Blanc!
    • If Blaufrnkish makes wines of great depth and power with
      If Blaufränkish makes wines of great depth and power with spicy notes, the other widely planted Austrian red grape Zweigelt (a cross between Blaufränkish and St Laurent) makes lighter, less intense wines. This example has great complexity on the nose - black cherry, mocha, a herbal element, earthy notes; On the palate there’s black and morello cherry, black pepper, a dry stone texture, slightly chalky, a little green with a tense blueberry crunch on the finish. It reminds me a bit of a Loire Cabernet Franc, and would be best served at cellar temperature with food (white fish would be nice).
    • An intriguing Pinot Blanc from Oregons Willamette Valley  a
      An intriguing Pinot Blanc from Oregon’s Willamette Valley - a shy nose that slowly reveals itself in the glass. There are hints of Riesling character here, touches of just-ripe pear, touch of honey, nashi pear, star fruit. The mouthfeel is thin with a slight river stone texture. Quite mysterious in a way, very drinkable as an aperitif and would work with food where you want a wine that won’t take the limelight.