Wines From Chile is currently engaged in a charm offensive on the UK on-trade, turning the spotlight on minority interest grape varieties such as Semillón and Carignan to show that their country (the world’s fourth largest exporter of wine) is more than just a bulk producer of international varietals. After the successful Semillón Sessions seminar, Carignan was given a star turn by Tim Atkin MW and Julio Bouchon of Chile’s Bouchon Family Wines, by looking at VIGNO a project dedicated to re-appraising Carignan and to demonstrate what classy wines it is capable of producing. Yes, classy.
Yesterday’s annual portfolio tasting held by Gonzalez Byass at RIBA was an opportunity to sample their much-anticipated Croft Twist – a new, contemporary take on the ‘Spritz’ category. The past was revived too in a cracking Vermouth that harps back to the Nineteenth Century for its blend, plus there were plenty of old faces and new in a tasting attended by Mr Vinosaurus himself, David Kermode.
Roger Jones our Michelin star chef and ambassador to The Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Awards headed over to look at some wine artists at The Saatchi Gallery where Enotria&Coe held its annual portfolio tasting. For Jones it was a chance to taste some new additions to the range plus catch up with some old faces. In both cases the quality of the wines and spirits was of the very highest class.
Hallgarten tasked French buyer Beverly Tabbron MW last year to come up with a new approach to Burgundy – seeking out restaurant-friendly wines that deliver on value and price. Chris Wilson met her at Hallgarten’s annual portfolio tasting and tasted through the range of lesser-known wines from largely unfashionable sites, being most impressed in the process.
Louis-Fabrice Latour, the 11th generation of the family to head the company, describes 2018 as a year that will face tough obstacles, but one that he is increasingly optimistic about. Tasting our way around the Louis Latour Agencies portfolio he has good reason to be optimistic. The 14 wineries that make up the group not only have some awesome wines and spirits available this year, but they also have a genuine sense of camaraderie and a set of common beliefs – and are all family-owned and family-run estates just like Latour.
Michelin star chef Roger Jones went to last week’s Hallgarten portfolio tasting in order to check out the new wave Spanish wines that buyer Steve Daniel has added to the list. There are some interesting wines from nine producers, recently discovered by Daniel, including a range of organic wines from Peninsula Vinicultores (Ucles) and wines from Aragon, Ribera del Duero, Montsant, Cuenca, and Majorca.
When Daniel Le Brun first visited Marlborough, lured by a Kiwi girlfriend, he just knew that this was the perfect region for growing Champagne grapes. The weather conditions do provide some challenges but it gives him and his winery No.1 Family Estate what Champenois would die for – a vintage every year. Anne Krebiehl MW visits Le Brun and gets the full story about the estate – New Zealand’s only winery dedicated to producing sparkling wine. Anne tastes the full range and has to watch Le Brun do the ‘sabre thang’. Without taking a finger off.
It was a woman’s insistence and the skilful use of botrytised fruit that transformed the fortunes of Pegasus Bay. This celebrated winery in Waipara, New Zealand, had always shied away from planting Riesling preferring to concentrate on Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and other popular grapes until 1994 when Chris Donaldson finally got her wish and persuaded husband Ivan to start making Riesling. The winery has never looked back as Anne Krebiehl MW discovered.
Faced with covering the Australia Day Tasting 2018 for The Buyer – a ‘generic’ tasting of gargantuan proportions – Chris Wilson worked on a strategy to get through tasting over 1000 Australian wines from 255 producers. Last year he re-discovered the classics, this year he decided to take an altogether different approach. But does that lead him to unearth the many gems that are literally scattered across the many crowded tasting tables?
Handed a tasting catalogue that resembled Bleak House in size, Justin Keay decided to work his way through the new Liberty portfolio at their bi-annual tasting using a numbers of strategies – cut out France, neglect the New World and focus on the company’s strong hand, Italy, and a number of regions that are getting stronger each year. But then along came Zorah, a wine producer from Armenia that Keay feels stole the show entirely.