The three-strong winemaking team at Larrivet Haut-Brion are not from Bordeaux which makes it easier for them to make wines for today’s market – not stymied by tradition and preconceptions. A key change is the dialling up of Cabernet Franc in the blend of the grand vin, with this style reaching its apotheosis in the new 2021 vintage where Merlot has been ditched altogether. Peter Dean met managing director Bruno Lemoine and the rest of the winemaking team for lunch and a tasting of back vintages which showed how they are revolutionising the style of this historic Left Bank property.
Washington Wines prides itself on how it is breaking new ground. There are now 70 grape varieties planted, oak is on the retreat, new vinification vessels are de rigeur and there are three new AVAs to add to the 16 already mapped out across this second largest wine-producing region in the United States. Although his top 10 wines from the tasting reflects this diversity and innovation, Justin Keay had to seek these wines out from a tasting room that was Old World-centric, exhibiting perhaps too many examples of Bordeaux and Rhône wine styles.
One of Robert Sinskey’s wines, an orange wine called Orgia, has a label design based on LSD blotters given out at Grateful Dead concerts. The wine was intended as a middle finger to the department of the US Treasury Department that looks after wine labels. This hip Californian’s white field blend, Abraxas, is named after the second album by Santana. So, it was only fitting that when Sinskey invited Victor Smart to try his wines the venue chosen was the London Electric Daisy Flower Farm – so that they could taste wines… at the same time as make bouquets of flowers together.
Although many Barolo and Barbaresco wines are true icons, they are largely still flying under the radar, argues Peter Mitchell MW, Jeroboams’ wine director, who believes they offer an opportunity to the on-trade to start replacing Burgundy on wine lists. Sarah McCleery talk to Mitchell at Festa Piemontese, the company’s Barolo and Barbaresco tasting, and discovers key wines from Castello di Verduno, Ciabot Berton, Amalia and Ceretto.
Although it makes ports – both red and white – the winemaking team at Quinta da Pedra Alta in the Douro Valley is saving its greatest enthusiasm for the new table wines it’s producing. Its philosophy is to make fresh, approachable, contemporary wines using indigenous varieties like Viosinho, Rabigato, Sousão and Gouveio. Winemaker João Pires takes Victor Smart through the wines who is suitably impressed.
Casanova di Neri is a Montalcino producer famed for helping pioneer single vineyard expressions in the region – including the mighty Cerretalto whose 2016 vintage is tasted alongside Tenuta Nuova 2017, ‘Etichetta Bianca’ 2017 and two Rosso di Montalcinos, as part of a lunch to celebrate the estate’s entry into Pol Roger Portfolio. Sarah McCleery reports.
Most Champagne Houses released their 2008 vintages way too early. That’s the view taken by Mathieu Rolland-Billecart, the CEO of Billecart-Salmon which launched its dazzling new Louis Salmon Brut Blanc de Blancs 2008 yesterday alongside older vintages and the new NV Blanc de Blancs. And good things do indeed come to those who wait as Peter Dean discovered.
Returning after two years away was the Australia Trade Tasting that was its customary mix of old school classics and young guns ‘going for it’. Wine scribe turned winemaker Chris Wilson was suitably impressed and picks out 15 new Australian wines that sommeliers should check out including a remarkable 11-year-old, unfortified 16% abv Marsanne that’s spent four years on ullage.
Portuguese wine is one of the categories that just seems to get stronger year by year. Across its 14 wine regions there are an increasing number of winemakers at the top of their game, – producers that are doing great things with some of the country’s 250 grape varieties but also innovating, with concrete eggs, amphora and Pet Nat all increasingly part of their palette. The crowds at Wines of Portugal’s annual portfolio tasting were proof that wine buyers are aware of this sea change and also testament to the importance of the UK. Justin Keay reports and picks 10 producers that need to be on your radar.
Krug Grande Cuvée 170th edition and Krug Rosé 26th edition – are both based on the erratic 2014 harvest which makes up 55% and 67% respectively of the two new wines. Krug chef de cave Julie Cavil explains to the IWSC’s emerging wine communicator of the year, Sophia Longhi, how the House overcame 2014’s many problems and fashioned another two monumental wines.
The Ultimate Rioja tasting earlier this month was a snapshot of where Rioja currently is as a winemaking region. The tasting showcased some of the finest wines of Rioja – 48 wines from 39 producers – that had been judged ‘best in class’ by a panel of industry experts guided by panel chair and leading authority on Rioja, Sarah Jane Evans MW. As well as shining a spotlight on the high quality coming out of the region, it also highlighted the diversity of wine styles currently representing Rioja. Sophia Longhi talks to Evans as well as picks her favourite wines from the tasting.
Tyrell’s Vat 1 Semillon is one of those ‘wine trade wines’ that we all love to bang the drum about. But Tyrell’s Vat series is no ‘one hit wonder’ as it also features the Vat 47 Chardonnay, Vat 8 Shiraz Cab and Vat 9 Shiraz – all new vintages of which Roger Jones tastes while in conversation with winemaker Bruce Tyrrell, subjects including old vines, screw caps and er… nappies.
With every vintage, Canadian wine seems to be coming into focus with just a little bit more clarity and precision. The regional differences, the use of the key grape varieties and the increasing quality of the main wine categories – sparkling, Icewine, still red and white wines – means that Canadian wine is becoming clearer and more distinct. In the on-trade with quality and value for money to the fore it is increasingly becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Last month we sent our retired Michelin Star chef and international wine judge Roger Jones to Haro in Rioja, for the Barrio de la Estacion International Wine Encounter 1: Bordeaux, the first in a series of events to explain the deep connection shared by Haro and the world’s other great wine regions. In this first encounter Jones learned about Haro’s special relationship with Bordeaux, both through a deep dive into Haro’s past and also through a series of tastings held by a collection of some of Bordeaux’s most famed estates.
Domaine Gayda already has an international reputation as one of the most interesting and dynamic wine estates in the Languedoc – favouring the IGP system where it can have more creative freedom with its winemaking than the restrictions of AOP. Justin Keay, who had not tried the range before, talks to the winery’s Tim Ford and Vincent Chansault and picks out his Top 10 wines from Gayda’s first solus UK portfolio tasting including the new Altre Cami Grenache Gris and Grenache Noir.
Bordeaux 2021 will always be remembered as ‘the frost vintage’ where one night in April wreaked havoc in vineyards here and throughout much of Europe. Now the wines are in bottle, though, how good are they tasting? Sarah McCleery gives an insight ahead of this month’s en primeur campaign in Bordeaux and talks to Dr Alain Raynaud, Grand Cercle Des Vins de Bordeaux founder and president, about how 2021 stands up against other recent vintages.
The Champagne Bollinger Vins Clairs tasting is one of the most sought-after events of the year. It is at this point that the chef de cave and his team present to growers, buyers and the press the finished wines before they are blended into becoming the multi-vintage Special Cuvée. Steeped in tradition, it is also an occasion in which to remind yourself what some of the key pillars of the House’s winemaking philosophy are and why it is so distinctive. As well as having a spectacular lunch of course.
The top 13 best new wines from Alsace judged by an IWSC panel of Roger Jones, Eric Zwiebel MS, David Kermode, and Rebecca Palmer – and incorporating a range of grapes and styles. The panel had to narrow down more than 90 Rieslings, Gewurztraminers and Cremant d’Alsace into 12 wines that will be showcased at trade events by the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace. Trouble was, the wines were of such a standard this year that 13 made the cut.
There is nothing ‘humble’ about the meteoric rise of London’s Humble Grape wine bar-restaurants operation. Now it wants to replicate that success in the on-trade. At its first-ever full tasting to launch the new wholesaling division, over 400 wines were shown from over 50 producers in 16 different countries. Who better to kick the tyres on this new setup than winemaker Chris Wilson who was suitably impressed and picks out 10 wines he thought sommeliers ought to know about.
The Pinots of Burgundy’s 2020 vintage are hugely variable with some vignerons caught out by the hottest vintage ever. Not so Volnay’s Domaine Marquis d’Angerville whose reds (and whites) are universally superb – defined, precise and beautifully balanced – which will have buyers banging the phones to increase their allocations. Peter Dean tasted the 12 wines with owner Guillaume d’Angerville at Mayfair’s highly exclusive private members club Oswald’s.