The wine expert’s life isn’t all wine and roses, well, it is largely all wine to be fair. But tasting raw, unfinished wine samples can be tough. Chris Wilson takes us through a fascinating tasting with Ramón Bilbao winemaker Rodolfo Bastida, who had deconstructed his Rioja blend to show what effect altitude has on each specific plot of vines and why it is important to the future of his wines.
To celebrate what is being claimed as Britain’s most extensive English wine list for a chippie, Peter Dean headed to Olley’s Fish Experience in South London to sample each of the nine English wines, matched with five different fish suppers. What seemed like an enjoyable stunt at first was in fact an insight into a wonderful commercial and epicurean opportunity – I mean could a meal be any more quintessentially British than English wine served with fish and chips? (NB – we have avoided masses of fishy puns in this article for the sanity of all).
Continuing his trek across Northern Greece to discover some of the country’s greatest vinous treasures, Michelin-starred chef Roger Jones visits Biblia Chora. This is the winery responsible for making the highly regarded white blend Ovilos, that has become such a sommelier’s favourite. Not only did Jones try a vertical of Ovilos but found many more great wines here, using a mix of indigenous and international varieties.
Sparkling wine is undergoing its biggest shakeup in years. The Cava industry has launched a charm offensive with a new ultra-premium category, French Crémant has been displaying its diversity, while almost every New World winemaking region has been steadily upping its game. That, plus the fact that Prosecco continues its dominance in the UK and us Brits are now apparently spending less on Champagne. A good time then to reconsider top Italian sparkling wine Franciacorta? Chris Wilson thinks so, as he went to find out from the Franciacorta London Festival.
Lured by a bloody steak and a large glass of Malbec, Mike ‘I’ll do anything for a free lunch’ Turner became a human guinea pig for Cadus winemaker Santiago Mayorga who wanted to test out his Malbec clonal research on a group of unsuspecting British journalists. Impressed with what he drank, Mike started waxing lyrical (in a Friday lunch sort of way) about Malbec, Bonarda and pretty much anything else that came to mind.
While Southern Rhône vignerons were launching their 2015 wines last year they were talking just as much about the 2016 juice they had in their barrels. Now the Rhône 2016 vintage is upon us, it is indeed a spectacular year with the extended growing season proving key to the freshness of the Grenache and the ripeness of the Mourvedre. Rhône expert Dr Bart Feys took his tasting glass to the first annual tastings at Thorman Hunt and H2Vin and reports back with his top tips on reds to buy.
After Marco Pierre White had a pop at the English wine industry, saying that “only a numpty would buy English wine”, a comparative blind tasting was held in London, hosted by Steven Spurrier, the critic who famously held the Judgement of Paris 41 years ago. Anne Krebiehl MW attended this new event on behalf of The Buyer and, although some producers have subsequently trumpeted the results, Krebiehl believes that this Britannia vs Marianne tasting was an inconclusive beauty contest.
2012 in Ribera del Duero was a vintage that had to deal with ‘off the scale’ heat (40ºC and more) and yet it has produced interesting wines. Geoffrey Dean attended Tim Atkin’s master class at the annual Ribera del Duero tasting in London and saw Atkin contrast the 2012 with the far cooler 2014 vintage with some spectacular results.
Portugal’s Douro’s Valley has an allure and an intoxication all of its own. Few who visit there are not smitten by its beautiful landscapes and, increasingly, its quality still wines as well as Ports. Fresh from working a vintage in the valley, Harry Crowther, attended the recent New Douro wine tasting and was able to see how well the wines performed in the coldness of a London November tasting.
As part of a series of smaller, more focused tastings, Wine Australia in the UK held an Inspired Tasting – 50 Australian wines that were each picked by a key member of the UK wine trade who had been inspired by the wine on a recent visit to Australia. Justin Keay attended for us, glass in hand, actively searching enlightenment and managed to pick six of the wines for special mention.