The number one Champagne brand in France, number three in the world, it has been all change at Nicolas Feuillatte in recent times, as it evolves its style and focuses its UK effort on targeting buyers. Already a huge presence in off sales, the giant growers co-operative now wants a slice of the on trade pie. Champagne lover David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, was at Somerset House for the UK launch for The Buyer.
Despite getting some bad press for the wines being ‘samey’ Peter Dean attended a Ribera del Duero tasting and discovered a refreshingly varied set of wines. Most of the wines on show were 100% Tempranillo, had robust acidity, concentrated fruit and freshness – but the variety in different styles is huge as a result of altitude, soil (of which there are 30 types) and winemaking style.
When you’ve been in business for almost two hundred years, it’s safe so say you have had to move with the times. Richmond-based Ellis Wines chose London’s Vintners’ Hall for its 2019 annual portfolio tasting, with a focus on the ‘experiential’, including ‘wine trails’ and a fusion of old world classics and newer innovations. There were more than 300 wines to try, as David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, reports for The Buyer.
With a gin garden, a beer gallery and a fine wine zone, Enotria&Coe certainly knows how to get noticed. Its 2019 portfolio tasting involved a take-over of London’s Saatchi Gallery. The Buyer’s own culture vulture Chris Wilson was there, to select his own ‘works of art’ from the wine selection, including a potential by-the-glass classic as well as assessing the overall range of one of the UK’s most important national distributors at what has become one of the benchmark trade tastings of the year.
Since it was purchased in 2014 by Domaine Faiveley, Chablis estate Billaud-Simon has not had a full crop to play with; a variety of hail and frost at the worst times imaginable had severely limited production. Thankfully 2017 was a different story and, although yields were down, it was the first decent harvest the new owners had had, the quality also exceptionally good. Erwan Faiveley was in London with winemaker Olivier Bailly to show off the wines and talk about where else he has his sights set on for extending the Faiveley empire.
Where does Chile stand on the premium end of the market? Is there much call for these wines on top restaurant lists? Roger Jones attends the Sommelier Chile Challenge, organised by Wines of Chile, which sought to answer these questions – serving 51 wines from Chile blind alongside five ringers from other countries just to give the wines from Chile a benchmark in quality.
Large generic tastings like Wine Australia’s annual trade tasting for 2019, have the challenge every year of taking new angles and showing something new. At this year’s event Chris Wilson found a fascinating masterclass focused on the recent studies in the variability of key grape and wine flavour compounds, and how these can impact on Australian wine styles and rationality. Could one actually sniff one’s way round a tasting? He certainly gave it his best shot…
A few years ago, the esteemed Leclerc Briant looked destined to disappear. An organic trailblazer in the Champagne region, its best days were behind it. That was until passionate new owners hired one of the region’s biodynamic veterans, Hervé Jestin. Now, the house is bang on trend with its range of low to zero dosage Champagnes, which are being launched into the UK market by Berry Brothers and Rudd and its on-trade division Fields, Morris and Verdin, as David Kermode reports for The Buyer.
Furmint, the grape most widely known for producing the prized sweet wine Tokaji Aszu, has got a healthy and prosperous future ahead of it as a dry wine if the wines that were on show at Wines of Hungary’s Furmint February tasting were anything to go by. In the same space as Chablis, Albarino, Grüner and some dry Rieslings, Furmint has an ability to transmit terroir well, leading to racy acidity and minerality in some of the wines. Furmint has been increasing in popularity in London over the past two decades, is currently on trend, but is currently inconsistent in style. A bad thing? Not a word, argues Justin Keay who raves about one of his favourite tastings in a long while.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s co-owner and co-director Aubert de Villaine has said of the 2016 vintage that it was a case of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. But, although it was a difficult vintage to work, the estate is hailing it as ‘perfect’. Chris Wilson held his golden ticket to this most exclusive of wine tastings to go and try the Romanée-Conti wines for the very first time.
Whether Adrianna Vineyard, and other neighbouring sites under ownership of Catena Zapata, are labelled ‘grand cru’ or ‘gran parcela’ the end result is pretty much the same – they produce world class wines that can rub shoulders with the very best that Burgundy and Bordeaux can offer. Geoffrey Dean has an audience with the Argentine estate, tastes all the new releases, and thinks that Laura Catena could be right – these are very much grand cru wines.
For Christina Rasmussen the Flint Wines tasting of Burgundy 2017 was an event of many highlights. Most of all the tasting revealed 2017 to be a bright, pleasant and early-drinking vintage, with the wines, especially the whites, really singing at this moment in time – structured and bold, with tons of energy and balance. In fact, balance is a key theme in this piece which also looks at how Burgundy en primeur tastings compare with Bordeaux.
Chef and roving contributing editor for The Buyer, Roger Jones, is currently in South Africa hosting a series of events that highlight the quality of the wines and winemaking that you can find in the New World. In his latest event, the most recent instalment of his ever-popular knockout competition the Tri Nations, South Africa takes on Chile – a battle across 6 different wine categories with Jones providing a wine-matching menu.
Last week, London has been awash with Burgundy, as the trade had its first comprehensive sampling of the new 2017 vintage. Berry Brothers and Rudd, and its on trade division Fields Morris and Verdin, chose One Great George Street for its tasting, attracting an impressive number of its vignerons to talk about their latest releases. David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, was there to find out how the wines were showing.
2017 is not the vintage to be buying top-rung reds argues Peter Dean, who points out the lower-tier wines where the real value for money is to be found. This is the year to be checking out lesser known appellations, going for the entry level wines and picking up some Volnay and Pommard which have both been in short supply of late and never tasted so good so young. Oh, and the whites are spectacular.
The Chardonnay produced in South Africa’s Hemel en Aarde has long been considered world class – but just good is it really? Wanting to put this to the test our roving contributing editor and world class chef, Roger Jones, decided to blind-taste the best Hemel en Aarde can offer, alongside the rest of the New World – wines from California, New Zealand, Australia and Chile, amongst others.
In picking his Top 10 wines of 2018, Geoffrey Dean concluded that the New World was where his favourite wines came from – mainly South Africa and Australia, two countries he visited during the year; Geoffrey has also slipped in a crafty Bordeaux sticky as well as a cracking old vine Malbec from Chile.
Pet Nat Retsina, a must-try Armenian wine made from Areni Noir and Yaras grapes, a 50-year-old aged white port and a Romanian blend that depends upon Muscat Ottonel for its distinctive taste are just some of the ‘wild and wonderful’ highlights of 2018 for Justin Keay as he picks his top 10 wines of the year. A big fan of Grape Unknown-style wines, unique cuvées and emerging regions, Keay is expert at picking out lesser known grape varieties and interesting producers that demand greater recognition.
Anne Krebiehl MW’s belief that wine connects and transcends was strengthened this year by a number of experiences including drinking ‘her vintage’ at Felton Road under the Southern stars while Nigel Greening cooked her goat; getting slowly sloshed on the Danube drinking 2001 Domäne Wachau and many more key events in this classic vintage of a year.
As a PR executive, writer, WSET student and contributor to The Buyer, Christina Rasmussen is exposed to a staggering array of wines in a diverse range of wine regions – from interesting cuvées made in barrels deep within the most cutting edge wineries to those more readily available from more established names. Her Top 10 Wines of the Year piece is always no such thing – an enthusiastic journey through a year in wine where she and we stop counting, but rather buckle in and enjoy the ride, full as it is with invaluable tips on which winemakers and wines to keep your buying eyes out for.