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    Tasting: Wine
    Tasting: Wine
    Lalomba Long Read

    Why the ‘secret weapon’ of Ramon Bilbao’s Lalomba wines is concrete

    When Ramón Bilbao devised its premium Lalomba wines it concluded that the best material for vinification and ageing in was concrete. The material is like steel in that it does not impart any aromas into the wine and it is like oak in that it has a high porosity – the end result is wines with finer tannins, better balance and an approachability at a younger age. But concrete also has a terroir story, just as much as where the grapes are sourced from, as Sarah McCleery explains.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Crus Bourgeois 2019

    How Crus Bourgeois 2019 is a real line in the sand for Bordeaux

    It’s been two years since the Alliance of Crus Bourgeois du Médoc has staged a tasting event, last week’s London tasting being the first anywhere since Covid. In that time it has implemented a new 3-tier quality classification, got Latour’s ex assistant winemaker as its new president, and is set to host Good Wines Only, a tasting-music festival with 6,000 Parisians invited – to help prove that Bordeaux can be fun as well as simply traditional.

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    Tasting Tasting: Wine
    Ca' del Bosco

    Roger Jones: ageing and pairing of Franciocorta Ca’ del Bosco

    When a former Michelin Star chef weeps with joy over a sparkling wine lunch he is served, and when he is also a Champagne and sparkling wine judge, then you know you have to sit up and take notice. Such was the case with Roger Jones and Ca’ del Bosco Cuvée Prestige Edizione 44, which was launched over a 3 Michelin Star lunch from Helene Darroze at The Connaught. Not only was this new release of the legendary Franciacorta on song, but so were two older vintages, a late disgorged version plus the unexpected delights of a premium, still 2016 Ca’ del Bosco Chardonnay and a Bordeaux blend red called Maurizio Zanella 2018, after the estate’s charismatic owner, who hosted this extraordinary event.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Cairanne

    How Cairanne and Lirac want to attract new audiences

    Cairanne and Lirac, like Ventoux, are two appellations in the Rhône that are getting recognised for the increasing quality of their wines and the value for money they afford, compared to their more illustrious neighbours. In order to sample some of the best Cairanne and Lirac wines available in the UK, and to prove how they work with food and younger drinkers, Helena Nicklin of the Three Drinkers was enlisted to give them a spotlight at London’s trendy Gods Own Junkyard. Victor Smart reports.

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    Tasting: Wine
    La Fleur de Boüard

    Could La Fleur de Boüard bridge the Bordeaux generation gap?

    Top Bordeaux oenologist Hubert de Boüard was in London with daughter Coralie to demonstrate how far the wines of their Lalande de Pomerol project, Château La Fleur de Boüard, have come over the past couple of decades. The region has always been one of Bordeaux’s best-kept secrets, offering wines that can compete on the world stage at substantially less money that its illustrious neighbours Saint-Émilion and Pomerol. Peter Dean tasted two flights of flagship wine La Fleur de Boüard and Le Plus, and wondered if these could be the wines that could finally explain Bordeaux to a generation of younger drinkers?

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    Tasting: Wine
    Champagne Drappier

    How Pinot Noir ‘runs in the veins’ of Champagne Drappier

    Although the French market took up the slack, exports of Champagne Drappier’s 13 cuvées fell by 20% during the pandemic, writes Geoffrey Dean. Tasting five of the new wines with Charline Drappier, Dean discovers why a famous French leader fancied a tipple of it, how organics are playing an increasingly important role, sulphites less so, and why it is Pinot Noir that “runs through their veins” – taking the largest percentage of all bar one of its cuvées.

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    Tasting: Wine
    MOVI

    How MOVI’s boutique wineries make Chile’s most unique wines

    Boutique wineries were always the missing part of the Chilean wine scene – that is until the advent of MOVI. A small band of artisanal winemakers, MOVI is an association that has now grown to 34 estates and its influence is spreading as members show the world a different side of Chilean winemaking. This is not about wealthy families with hundreds of acres of international varieties but about individual, hand-crafted wines. Peter Dean tried a selection and recommends eight that are worth putting on your radar – some of them are a whole lot of fun too, as he explains.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Schloss Gobelsburg

    How Schloss Gobelsburg staged a remarkable 850 year tasting

    To celebrate 850 years of winemaking, Austria’s Schloss Gobelsburg hosted an historical tasting in London with a focus on its single vineyard Ried Heiligenstein, tasting vintages as far back as 1971. Journalist and winemaker Chris Wilson attended for The Buyer and writes tasting notes on every vintage, as well as hears from winemaker Michael Moosbrugger what makes this site one of Austria’s most revered terraces. Taking over viticultural duties in 1996 from the Cistercian Monastery of Zwettl, which still owns the estate, Wilson says there is a noticeable uplift in quality from that date. Just don’t let the monks hear you saying that…

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    Tasting: Wine
    Castello di Vicarello

    Tasting 6 of the best vintages of Maremma’s Castello di Vicarello

    Somewhat under the radar given its quality, Castello di Vicarello is the premium red wine from the Maremma Toscana estate of the same name, a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. First made in 2004, Peter Dean got a rare chance to taste a vertical of the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015 vintages with the percentages of the varieties never changing and the vineyard planted to the exact same proportions as the blend in the ancient Tuscan albarello training system.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas 2020

    Jean-Luc Colombo unveils his outstanding Cornas 2020s

    Jean-Luc Colombo has always courted controversy, ever since he ditched his career as a pharmacist and started buying vineyards in the Rhône valley. A renowned visionary, his wines have earned him a considerable international reputation, even though at first his preference for new oak and spotlessly clean cellars seemed to run contrary to the soul of Cornas. In London to release the excellent new Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas 2020s he spoke with Peter Dean about irrigation, Robert Parker, gastronomy and the disastrous 2021 vintage – which he is comparing to 2002.

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    Tasting: Wine
    El P

    How Viñedos El Pacto returns us to the authentic Rioja of the past

    Vintae is one of the smartest wine groups in Spain right now and its latest project Viñedos El Pacto has hit the jackpot – once again by making wines that tick every contemporary requirement, through restoring the agriculture and viticulture of the past. Viñedos El Pacto is a collection of four wines that attempts to restore old-style Rioja by making multi-variety, multi-clone, terroir-driven expressions, from very old, low-yielding vines – the style of Rioja that existed before the Industrial Revolution and can still be found in isolated villages. Peter Dean took part in the launch, tasted the wines and was once again knocked out by this group’s latest project.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Simply Great Italian Wines

    Custoza, Abruzzo & Asti shine at Simply Great Italian Wines

    The international roadshow that is Simply Great Italian Wines hit London last month showcasing a huge selection of wines from wineries that are currently unrepresented in the UK. With eight masterclasses throughout the day from the likes of Italian wine experts Walter Speller and Emily O’Hare, the format allowed attendees to brush up on old favourites as well as unearth plenty that was new. For Sarah McCleery the regions she focused on were Custoza, Abruzzo and Moscato d’Asti – areas she thought she knew well but found that there was plenty more to discover.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Siepi

    How Tuscany’s Mazzei has made Siepi stand the test of time

    Siepi 2019 is the latest vintage of the influential Toscana IGT wine from Mazzei, released on the back of five phenomenally successful vintages. A blend of Sangiovese and Merlot it has been credited as being one of the top 50 wines to change the style of Italian winemaking, and is a wine that in recent years has started regularly getting almost perfect scores from the top wine critics. Peter Dean tastes and rates the Siepi 2019 alongside the 2016, 2017 and 2018 vintages with Giovanni Mazzei at a Petersham Nurseries pop-up in London’s Frieze art fair.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Pfaffenheim

    Why Alsace’s Pfaffenheim wines are Alsace but not as we know it

    Pfaffenheim may be the oldest operating cooperative in Alsace but that doesn’t mean it is staid or stuck in a rut. Far from it, argues Justin Keay who tastes six of their wines which are pushing the envelope of what is possible in the region – so much so that a lot of their wines don’t even mention Alsace on the label. There’s a zero dosage cremant, an un-Alsatian Pinot Gris, a 1957 Riesling and, most surprising of all, a 100% Pinot rosé with a lip-smacking retail price of €40 a bottle. Keay gets the lowdown from Pfaff’s marketing head Clara Richert and chief winemaker Jerome Attard about their unique approach to making Alsace wine.

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    Tasting: Wine
    La Grande Dame 2012

    Roger Jones on Veuve Clicquot’s La Grande Dame 2012

    It has been an extraordinary coup for Veuve Clicquot to get endorsement from world-leading artist Yayoi Kusama for the new vintage of La Grande Dame 2012. But the relationship is a natural one, says Roger Jones, in that there are many parallels between the lives of Kusama and Nicole Barbe Ponsardin – both women setting out on individual paths that defied the cultural and sexual mores of their times. In an extraordinary tasting Didier Mariotti, Clicquot’s chef de cave, highlights the importance of Pinot Noir to the house and in particular La Grande Dame, tastes the new cuvée and then lets Jones loose in Mirror Infinity Rooms – the new, sold-out installation at London’s Tate Modern.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Bibendum’s senior buyer Jamie Avenell

    Why there was something in the air at Bibendum’s showcase

    Bibendum’s first tasting in 18 months was called ‘This one’s on us’ and featured an embarrassment of riches, wines and spirits from both well-known estates and new acquisitions. David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus was our man at the tasting, and highlights a fascinating Top 10 which includes controversial new English sparkler Harlot, a rare 100% Merseguera from Valencia producer Bodega Mustiguillo, a non-alcoholic range from Wild Life Botanicals and a terrific £11 Grüner from new-to-the-portfolio Weingut Huber.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Mas Martinet

    Tapping into the quiet revolution of Priorat’s Mas Martinet

    Sara Pérez is a winemaker that is at the vanguard of the quiet revolution that has been taking place in the Spanish region of Priorat over the past 20 years. Long lauded as ‘a talent to watch’, the wines she makes at Mas Martinet put a new perspective on Priorat – terroir-driven, elegant and wildly original. Every grape is foot-trodden and such is her low intervention approach that she has done away with the sorting table altogether – “I make the perfect harvest in the vineyard and then I put it in the tank” she tells Peter Dean, who confesses to being totally bowled over by the quality and style of the wines which include the first orange wine to be listed by Justerini & Brooks and a Ranci Dolc that has to be tasted to be believed.

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    Tasting Tasting: Wine
    bollinger_glass_craig

    The name is Dorff… Mentzen Dorff: at the autumn showcase

    The relationship between James Bond and Champagne Bollinger is a long-standing one that goes back to the original books by Ian Fleming. Although 007 drinks mainly spirits in new movie No Time To Die, Bollinger has appeared in 15 of the Bond films, a fact that Justin Keay could clearly not get out of his head when he attended the Mentzendorff autumn portfolio tasting. Apart from an overview of the sparkling and the fortified at the event, Keay recommends seven still wines that he thinks will cut the mustard in the on-trade this autumn. Spoiler alert: this feature includes MANY Bond references.

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    Tasting Tasting: Wine
    Dirty Dozen tasting

    Dirty Dozen the sequel: one of the must-attend tastings returns

    The Dirty Dozen are twelve small, specialist importers who see themselves as complementary to one another and not competition in what they offer the trade. It has been two years since we last saw Astrum, Carte Blanche, Clark Foyster, FortyFive10, H2Vin, Howard Ripley, Maltby & Greek, Swig, Wine Treasury, Ucopia and Yapp all together under one roof but here they were, back for another tasting of epic proportions. David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, was our man with the tasting glass.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Spanish Garnacha Long Read

    Spanish Wine Academy taps into buzz around Spanish Garnacha

    For a variety of reasons Grenache has had a reputation of being a grape that’s only good as a blending partner – on its own it has traditionally been seen as a grape that makes high alcohol, structureless, fruit-forward wines, prone to oxidation. But how times have changed. Single-varietal Grenache could not be more on-trend as winemakers across the world use modern, more sympathetic winemaking styles that best suit the grape. A masterclass from the Spanish Wine Academy earlier this year, that focused on Spanish Garnacha, predicted even greater popularity for this category and to prove the point sampled seven very different styles of how winemakers in Spain are approaching the grape. Peter Dean reports.

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