Like a number of other Central and Eastern European countries that have been finding their feet since the Communist era ended in 1989, the Bulgarian wine industry is fast making up for lost ground. A recent London tasting revealed a number of stunning wineries that are mixing tradition with innovation, local grape varieties with international. Peter Dean tasted through the wines, talked to the producers and lists the Top 10 Bulgarian wines you simply have to try.
Steve Daniel at Hallgarten & Novum is a wine buyer who always has his finger on the pulse, none more so than at the New Wave Spain tasting he held in London’s boho Shoreditch district. It was here that wine expert Harry Crowther discovered a range of exciting wines using revived old grape varieties, limited production and innovative winemaking. It’s a far cry from traditional Spanish winemaking and all the more exciting because of it.
It was billed as ‘Battle of the Winemakers’ – an evening to determine which wines paired best with a selection of dishes from Mayfair’s 28-50 Mayfair kitchen. Rafael de Haan and Núria Altés, the husband and wife team behind Herència Altés each suggested wines for each course, Núria using wines from their estate, while hubby used wines that he has launched through his négociant business, Bodegas Abanico. Forget the World Cup for a minute if you can as we play oenological ‘Mr and Mrs’.
Now in its eighth year, Taste Canada 2018 welcomed 37 producers to London’s Canada House in May to show more than 150 wines across a myriad of styles and price points. But how come all the trade is talking about Canadian wine and are these wines actually any good? Chris Wilson explains why all the fuss and picks out the Top 10 wines from the event just in case you didn’t make it along.
There was a more professional sheen to the Wines of Great Britain generic tasting this year, argues Chris Wilson, which put it on an equal footing with similar tastings from other wine regions. But how did the wines shape up? Glass in hand, self-confessed fan of English and Welsh wine, Chris picked out 10 wines both still and sparkling that he thinks you should definitely have won your buying radar, and gives his reasons why.
It was realising how fragile nature is, following the Chernobyl disaster, that convinced winemaker Hartmut Heintz to make his Zwölberich winery in the Nahe fully organic. He then converted fully to biodynamics, the first winery in this German region to do so. A firm advocate of the principles of Jean-Pierre Frick, this wasn’t the only thing that he shared with Christina Rasmussen, who sat down with him at London’s La Trompette restaurant for an unforgettable evening of conversation and wine.
We associate Corney & Barrow with many of the grand wine estates, most of all Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Petrus of course but at its Spring tasting a very different side to its portfolio was in evidence. The buying team have been beavering away picking up new ranges from Greece, Romania, Hungary, Italy and Chile amongst others and very good they were too. We tasted through the new range and pick out 10 that particularly caught our palate for the on-trade.
The new Gran Selezione category, which was meant to denote the highest level of quality within Chianti Classico, has arguably been introduced too quickly, argues Justin Keay, with regionality not taken into account and the door being left open for malpractice. Keay talks to producers in Italy and importers in the UK about ways in which Chianti Classico can move forwards. While the debate rages on, thankfully the weather has been kind in Tuscany with a succession of great vintages on their way.
Our Michelin star chef, and contributing editor, Roger Jones, gets all the short straws – imagine how long his face got when we packed him off to the London leg of Billecart-Salmon’s global gastronomic celebrations of their 200-year anniversary, presided over by two of the world’s top chefs, Alain Passard and Anne-Sophie Pic.
Quality wine from 2017 is going to be harder to come by with Europe suffering its most devastatingly bad harvests in living memory. Not so Central and Eastern Europe where Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Moldova and Austria had bumper crops. A good time to see what premium wines are available? No brainer. Central European wine expert Darrel Joseph picks his top 10 Romanian wines that show off the indigenous grape varieties at their best.