As climate change takes its toll on many traditional winemaking areas, so the fresh, natural acidity to be found in the wines of cool climate regions such as Tasmania will become greater prized. Speaking direct from Australia’s island state, Rebecca Duffy from Holm Oak, Jeremy Dineen from Josef Chromy and Peter Caldwell from Dalrymple attempt to define what makes Tasmanian Pinot Noir so unique and demonstrate it through six wines from the 2017 and 2018 harvests.
Bodegas Barbadillo is one of the founders of the modern sherry business, with important historical claims throughout history. It was the first producer to name a Manzanilla, the first to bottle it, and the first to pioneer ‘en rama’ as a modern sherry category. Jessica Broadbent heard from Barbadillo’s Tim Holt about the real importance of the bodega design, the stories behind five of its sherries plus a remarkable discovery that has led to a new sherry-based vermouth being released that is like a ready-made negroni.
Greece, Spain, New Zealand and England are just some of the countries that are producing sparkling wines that match, if not beat, the wines from Champagne on quality and undercut them on price every time. That’s the view of wine consultant Robert Mason who highlights seven wines that he believes will work well in the on-trade (when it gets back up to speed). He also investigates the use of bentonite, the artificially reduced yields during 2020, vintage wine release patterns and price and wonders whether status is over-playing its part in the Valée de la Marne.
The Champagnes of Billecart-Salmon have always been a connoisseur’s favourite, but the reputation of one of its top two wines Cuvée Nicolas François was sealed in 1999 when the 1959 vintage was declared to be ‘Champagne of the Millennium’. As if that wasn’t enough the same wine in the 1961 vintage was declared the runner-up! Anne Krebiehl MW talks to CEO Mathieu Roland-Billecart and cellar master Florent Nys about this extraordinary cuvée, why 2007 is such an energetic vintage and, of course, tastes Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Nicolas François 2007 with full tasting notes.
Despite all the problems that Covid-19 has created for the usual smooth running of the wine supply chain, there are huge efforts being made by generic and trade bodies to give producers and buyers as much of a chance as possible to still show, taste and select wines. This was typified last week with Business France’s Val de Loire Unlocked session that gave buyers and the press the chance to taste in person a selection of 70 AOC wines from producers looking for distribution in the UK. Geoffrey Dean was there for The Buyer to pick out his highlights.
Petaluma showcased its new Yellow Label releases and a couple of older wines on a recent Zoom tasting and our Australian wine lover and editor at large Roger Jones takes time out of his culinary escapades to rule over these wines. Accolade eschewed the customary miniature sample bottles and instead sent Roger, and other wine experts, full bottles plus one magnum of an aged museum release. Petaluma chief winemaker Mike Mudge led proceedings with his usual banter and the wines themselves were on very fine form.
Wines from Central & Eastern European countries are starting to get the international recognition they deserve, which is surprising given that some of these regions are the cradle of viticulture. Although countries like Romania, Greece and Moldova produce many excellent wines from international grape varieties it is with indigenous grapes that winemakers in those countries really come into their own – an exciting mix of tradition and innovation. At a recent IWSC tasting these are the 13 Central & Eastern European white wines that really stood out.
No elbows were needed at this year’s annual Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGC) tasting in London, and the Leoville Barton didn’t run out – the new tasting environment for the assessment of the Bordeaux 2018 vintage was seated, took five hours with 130 wines tasted. Our man at the tasting, Geoffrey Dean, selects the best wines, appellation by appellation as well as gets the views from 13 of the top châteaux owners on where lies the strengths and weaknesses of Bordeaux 2018.
Six Chardonnays from Western Australia’s Margaret River were presented to the UK press last week in a webinar entitled Margaret River World Class Chardonnay. For Roger Jones, retired Michelin star chef and editor at large for The Buyer, there was only one truly world class Chardonnay on show and that was the 2018 Vasse Felix Heytesbury Margaret River Chardonnay which Jones recently awarded a gold star Decanter award to. Jones reviews all six wines as well as details the mystery of the Gingin Chardonnay clone that was solved recently this year.
At the launch of the new Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blancs 2012, Alice Paillard likened 2012 to the classic 2002 vintage, stressing that in 2012 the base wines (strangely) had both higher acidity and maturity. This Champagne is a ‘survivor’ of the weather that spring – the resulting wine ‘compact’ and with long-ageing potential. Anne Krebiehl MW talks to Paillard and is smitten with the wine.
The wines of ‘new Chile’ demand a fresh look by wine buyers if the 16 best new Chile wines selected by Tim Atkin MW are anything to go by. In a two-part 3-hour tasting review, with 16 winemakers beamed in from around Chile, this superb session showed off the freshness and diversity of the wine styles that have undergone a sea-change here. Gone were the heavy, oaky, rich, sweet wines of yore and in their place were 16 wines with less extraction and reduction, and more of a sense of place. The sessions also showed how far Zoom tastings have come in six months – punctual, technically faultless with the wines showing well. Peter Dean reports.
With a father from Burgundy new Veuve Clicquot chef de cave Didier Mariotti was clearly at ease talking about the new Pinot Noir-led prestige cuvée La Grande Dame 2012 at its launch yesterday. Even though the wine ‘is not his’ and neither was the decision to increase the amount of Pinot Noir in the mix to 90%, he clearly values the decision, going into some detail with Anne Krebiehl MW about where the fruit is sourced from and why, the use of bitterness on the finish and also how important the shape of the glass is. To emphasise this point LVMH sent out two different glasses with the tasting pack so that Anne could taste the difference.
Grenache has never historically been a grape to hog the limelight as a monovarietal wine. There are exceptions, but it has mainly been blended with the likes of Syrah, Carignan, Tempranillo or Mourvedre to add acidity, colour and tannin to it, and has traditionally found its place in the Rhône, Rioja, California and Australia. But the McLaren Vale Grenache is challenging many preconceptions, argues Mike Turner, who tastes 12 of these 100% Grenache wines and gives two thumbs up to all 12. Here he gives the 5 reasons he thinks you should get McLaren Vale Grenache into your life and lists his Top 3 wines from the tasting.
The Caley 2015 is only the fourth vintage of Yalumba’s super premium blended red, but already it is turning heads and getting wine buyers reaching for their allocations. One such buyer, Roger Jones, tasted the wine in the virtual company of Yalumba chief Robert Hill-Smith and compares it against the three other vintages. Not only is it a fitting tribute to Hill-Smith’s ancestor Fred Caley Smith but it could just yet be Australia’s greatest Claret.
To mark its Silver Jubilee, Ridgeview winemaking director Simon Roberts, knew he had to craft something very special indeed. That he has with a one-off Blanc de Blancs called Oak Reserve NV made from three cracking vintages with the wine part-fermented and aged in oak. A fan of subtly-oaked fine wine, Roberts has raised the English sparkling wine bar with this cuvée and found true harmony between English freshness and confident oak integration. Peter Dean talked to him on the day of the wine’s release – Ridgeview’s first new cuvée in a decade.
Grapes picked at night by harvesters wearing night-vision goggles is one of the lasting images behind the making of Untouched by Light, the world’s first wine to be harvested, produced, aged and packaged completely in the dark. It is the brainchild of Slovenian winery Radgonske Gorice with the inspiration coming from a paper written by Professor Ann C. Noble, the creator of the wine flavour wheel. But does this elaborate process make a difference? Anne Krebiehl MW was at the virtual tasting and tasted (in the dark obviously) along with winemaker Klavdija Topolovec Špur.
A new vintage tasting of Torres’ top estate wines is an exploration of terroir, climate and viticulture – along with some world class wines, of course. In addition to showing the wines – including the new Milmanda 2017 and a spectacular Grans Muralles 2016 –Miguel Torres Maczassek revealed Torres’ new projects and pledges.
Fifth generation family member and director of Pol Roger, Hubert de Billy, has been spending time recently on the bottling line sticking labels on bottles. Unglamorous work for the company ambassador but morale-boosting and a reflection of how tight this family-owned house is run. On the eve of the launch of the new Pol Roger Vintage 2013, Anne Krebiehl MW talks to de Billy about how they achieved balance in the wine in such a difficult year and why 2013 could be likened to Paris’s Pompidou Centre.
Piedmont and Tuscany will always command the most attention when it comes to putting an Italian wine on your list – these are ‘must haves’ – but Campania, Sardinia, Veneto and Alto Adige are regions that also feature wines of stunning quality that can be a fraction of the price. Peter Dean picks out seven red wines from Enotria&Coe’s extensive Italian portfolio which features wines from all seven of these regions.
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.