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    Tasting: Wine
    Tasting: Wine
    2019 Austrian

    Erste Lagen launch shows off the real strength of the 2019 Austrian vintage

    To its credit the Austrian winemakers association, the Österreichische Traditionsweingüter (OTW), managed to keep Covid at bay at this month’s annual showing of the Erste Lagen (premier cru) wines. Not only was the event safely marshalled but conversation steered away from the pandemic and rightly concentrated on the 2019 Austrian vintage which is quite spectacular. David Kermode reports back on how the event was managed as well as picks out his 10 best wines you need to have on your buying radar.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Blanc des Millénaires 2006

    Understanding the DNA of Blanc des Millénaries 2006

    The new Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 2006 is only the sixth vintage of this wine to be released since 1983 and yet it has an identity all of its own. Made up equally of fruit from five crus in the Côte des Blancs, Charles Heidsieck cellar master Cyril Brun tells Anne Krebiehl MW how each of the villages plays a part, and how bitterness in the finished wine is increasingly becoming a key component as a result of climate change.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Penfolds Grange 2016

    First taste of Penfolds Grange 2016 & co. with Peter Gago

    It is one of the highlights of the year, of course, when Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago launches the new Penfolds Collection, and takes the floor in front of hundreds of journalists, showing that, if he hadn’t become one of the world’s top winemakers he could easily have cut it on the standup comedy circuit. Yesterday’s launch of Penfolds Grange 2016 was a little different – six wine writers in London’s 67 Pall Mall club with Gago beamed in live on Zoom. The wines were all present and correct and were showing well. Our man at the tasting was Australian wine expert and chef Roger Jones who assesses each wine in full.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Tinwood

    7 magnificent English wineries that need to be on your radar

    With his wine explorer wings clipped by Covid, Justin Keay set about trying to discover in England the four best wines from four wineries he picked from four counties. In this piece he visits Greyfriars in Surrey and Tinwood Estate in West Sussex, a winery that is probably the largest English producer you’ve never heard of. After picking his four wines, Keay then went on to explore five more wineries including Litmus Wines, Cottonworth, Danebury and Kingscote Estate and recommends which wines are the ones you should be buying.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Hugh Johnson ©Esa Korjula (1)

    Hugh Johnson: What 10 wines we should be drinking in 2021

    Hugh Johnson OBE is the world’s best-selling wine writer with the publication of new editions of his Pocket Wine Book more consistent than a Port declaration. As the 2021 edition is released we caught up with him for a virtual coffee and chat to find out how he has been during the pandemic, what unexpected benefits there have been and which new winemaking countries have been impressing him… including Belgium. He also goes into some detail about which are the top 10 wines we should be trying in 2021

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    Tasting: Wine
    Arras

    Assessing the new sparkling from Tasmania’s House of Arras

    So impressed was Roger Jones with the sparkling wines of Tasmania’s House of Arras that, when he ran a Michelin-starred restaurant, he had the Arras Grand Vintage as his house pour. Ed Carr, winemaker at Arras, was awarded a lifetime achievement award at last year’s CSWWC awards, for which Jones is a judge, and for the new releases it was only natural that Carr took Jones through the new wines including a 13 year-old Rosé and the Arras Late Disgorged.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Langham

    Discover ‘New England’ sparkling: 4 counties, 4 wineries, 4 wines

    Unable this year to visit the far-flung wine-producing countries that tickle his palate, Justin Keay decided to set himself a challenge. Pick four different English wineries, that each have to be in different counties, and then pick one wine from each. And, rather than the larger estates and household names, he decided to visit the smaller wineries that may well be flying under your radar. Four Counties, Four Wineries, Four Wines Part 1 – Langham Wine Estate and Black Chalk Wine.

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    Tasting: Wine
    BC 1

    New ‘pop-up’ cuvée series: Rendez-Vous de Billecart-Salmon

    Limited edition cuvées are all the rage these days in Champagne, the latest in the fold being Billecart-Salmon which has just launched a new series of ‘pop-up’ cuvées called Les Rendez-Vous de Billecart-Salmon; wines where ‘when they’re gone they’re gone’. First in this series is No.1 Meunier Extra Brut which is a 3-crus 100% Meunier that is largely from the 2014 vintage and has spent 52 months on its lees – a wine that has come straight out of the House’s penchant for experimentation.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Czech

    Justin Keay: Which are the best Czech wineries to look out for?

    Following last month’s successful insight into the Czech wine revolution, Justin Keay here looks at how the Czech wine industry is at a fascinating crossroads – between catering largely for the home market and following Hungary and Austria’s example of successfully exporting to international markets. There is also a huge range of different styles of wine made from a very large number of grape varieties – both international and indigenous – that collectively reflect one of Czech wine’s main strengths, namely, producing highly drinkable wines with a high degree of freshness. Keay is a fan and picks out the wineries that you should be keeping an eye on.

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    Tasting: Wine
    La Dolce Vite

    How Enotria&Coe celebrated La Dolce Vite without Vinitaly

    Vinitaly is the key date in the diary for all those in the trade responsible for buying and selling Italian wine. But with the Verona-based fair cancelled this year, Enotria&Coe decided to celebrate La Dolce Vite in the only way it could – sending a case of their best Italian wines to key personnel with a mini film of each producer introducing their wines.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Zweigelt

    Why Austrian Zweigelt is changing to a more serious wine

    Zweigelt is Austria’s most widely planted red grape: famously fruity, seductively spicy, with a name that many find unsavoury because of who created it. Until now, the variety has been celebrated as a relatively simple, crowd-pleasing bistro wine, but if the producers from the Lower Austrian region of Carnuntum get their way, that perception is about to change, as we get to know the variety’s serious side.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Grant Burge

    Grant Burge and Barossa Valley ‘ring in’ the wine style changes

    As Grant Burge releases its new 2018 vintage wines, chief winemaker Craig Stansborough explains how the style of winemaking is evolving through the years, what recent vintages have been like, which are the ones to put on your buying radar and how Barossa Valley, in general, is moving with the times – in the use of oak, whole bunch, yeasts and vineyard management. Full tasting notes including a ‘ripper’ 2016 Meshach and a museum 2012 release.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Weingut Rudolf Fürst Long Read

    Why the Rudolf Fürst 2018 Pinot Noirs may be Germany’s finest

    Anne Krebiehl MW knows a thing or two about Spätburgunder. The Wines of Germany author simply adores Pinot Noir and when she met Sebastian Fürst and his father Paul from Weingut Rudolf Fürst for a tasting of their new 2018 vintage, she simply declared that she may have tried Germany’s finest. Well known in Germany, but under the radar in the UK, these wines are the purest elegance in a glass.

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    Tasting: Wine
    judge

    Roger Jones on being sober as a judge – for three competitions

    Since ‘retiring’ from running his Michelin Star restaurant, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, Roger and Sue Jones have been running a gastronomic ‘takeaway’ from their premises where customers can buy some of Jones’s signature dishes along with paired premium wines. Jones has also been a judge on three global wine competitions – judging wines from Alsace and three New World regions for the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC), Australian wines for the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) and next month working with the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships (CSWWC). So what approach does a wine expert/ chef take to the judging process and how has the dreaded C-word affected things?

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    Tasting: Wine
    Akitu Pinot Blanc

    Akitu turns ‘a whiter shade of Pinot’ with new Pinot Noir Blanc

    Akitu has always had a very pure proposition – only producing two Pinot Noirs, Akitu A1 and Akitu A2, that show two sides of the same coin, namely the special terroir of the Wanaka end of Central Otago. So, when Andrew Donaldson and winemaker PJ Charteris decided to make a white wine it naturally enough had be a ‘Blanc de Noirs’, a wine that is as unusual as it is seductive, writes Anne Krebiehl MW. Here she reveals the full story behind Akitu Pinot Noir Blanc 2019 plus the new A1 and A2 from 2018, a vintage that created some serious challenges all of its own.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Czech wine

    How to start exploring the exciting new world of Czech wine

    Post-Communism the Czech wine industry focussed on getting the basics right but since 2007 winemakers have started taking concepts like terroir, low intervention and organic more seriously. The landscape is varied, there’s an exciting diversity of styles and grape varieties, lower alcohol wine is a thing and there is a strong, concerted move to be producing Czech wines with a strong sense of place.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Willamette Pinot Noir Long Read

    ‘Goldilocks’ 2018 vintage shines at Willamette Pinot Noir auction

    The 5th annual Willamette Pinot Noir auction 2020 goes live from today (August 11-13) focussing on the ‘Goldilocks’ 2018 vintage. Like most world events it is being held online, although the other major change this year has come about because of the social unrest in Oregon following the death of George Floyd. For this reason the Willamette Valley Wineries Association is working with the James Beard Foundation to benefit Black and Indigenous Peoples of North America. L.M. Archer reports on the changes this year, a virtual seminar moderated by David Adelsheim on August 6 and previews some of the exciting lots that are up for grabs in the trade auction.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Merry Edwards

    How are Heidi von der Mehden’s 1st vintages at Merry Edwards?

    Although Heidi von der Mehden has been at California estate Merry Edwards for the past five years, 2018 was her first vintage fully in charge. Anne Krebiehl MW tastes the new 2018 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc and AVA Pinots and hears first hand from Heidi where she is intending to take the wines. We learn too why the SB came out of Meredith Edwards’ distaste of the varietal, plus how pivotal the key UCD 37 clone of Pinot is, and how it came into being.

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    Tasting: Wine
    2010

    Joss Fowler on Mission Control: the cream of 2010 Bordeaux

    Always one to have an opinion about a Bordeaux vintage, Joss Fowler thinks that Bordeaux 2010 is the Lewis Hamilton vintage – all the bling, all the gear but a tad aggressive and overworked. But the best wines of 2010, fifteen or twenty or so of them, are breathtaking – wines that will knock the socks off anyone lucky enough to taste them, especially when they are mature. It is these wines that the reputation of 2010 will live off for years, he believes. Here he blind-tastes the very best of them, at speed and with the clock ticking.

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    People: Producer Tasting: Wine
    Lalomba Long Read

    Why new Lalomba wines are ‘one giant leap forward’ for Rioja 

    Three years since Rioja introduced its Single Vineyard category, Ramon Bilbao unveils its long-anticipated Lalomba project – a series of Vinedos Singulares wines that set out to capture the individual character of each very special vineyard. The entirely new Finca Valhonta andLadero reds are the producer’s most expensive ever wines and the Finca Lalinde 2019 Rosado is a re-launched premium rosado, which all share an unprecedented degree of background research and development. Quite apart from the individual merits of each wine, collectively Lalomba shows how producers in Rioja are starting to believe that terroir character can be a better predictor of quality than the length of time that a wine spends maturing in a barrel.

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