Improvements in Greek viticulture over the past 20 years and the UK’s thirst for the unusual and the authentic has led to a bona fide renaissance of the Greek wine scene. In the first of a two-part special Justin Keay shows how this Greek revival has started with white wines, selects six that are the most interesting wines available in the UK, and sheds some light onto the ‘new’ old varieties that we should be tuning into; most buyers will be familiar with Assyrtiko by now but how about Moscofilero, Vidiano, or a Robola from Kefalonia?
Wines of Chile took on Wines of Australia at a thrilling contest in the twelfth Tri Nations Wine Challenge. The challenge sees six wines from each country compete with one another, paired with food cooked by our contributing editor and chef at large Roger Jones of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn. Chile has been making giant strides recently in proving that its premium wines can sit comfortably on a fine wine list, but are they good enough to be judged better than Australia’s across six varietal categories – Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz?
Chile is now one of the two most innovative winemaking countries in the world, reckons Alistair Cooper MW, who delivered a perceptive, focussed masterclass at a recent Wines of Chile tasting – backed up by a tasting of 45 wines that Cooper picked to reflect Chile’s movement towards sommelier-driven styles. It is innovation, risk-taking, old vines and the resurgence of traditional varieties (made with a modern twist) that are working so well and Chris Wilson was there for The Buyer to further whittle these down to 10 that every sommelier should have on their radar.
As the great carnival that is the Tour de France continues its trundle around Belgium and France so we turn back the clock to reprise a feature that shows how for the past six years Castelnau has been the official Champagne for the Tour de France, and why it decided to launch a new range of fizz called Hors Catégorie – that celebrates almost impossible mountain climbs that literally makes you reach for the skies. The second of the HC Champagnes is called CCF 2067 after the 2067 metre high Col de la Croix de Fer, so who better to review it and attend the launch than Stephen Vey a member of the Buyer team who has actually cycled the mountain and lived to tell the tale.
If you thought that all Albariño is pretty much the same and that nothing much changes in Rias Baixas then you haven’t met Paula Fandiño, chief winemaker at Mar de Frades. Her innovations include the region’s first sparkling Albariño, a successful three vintages of Godello, not forgetting the estate’s blue bottles with temperature-sensitive labels. While tasting through the new range, David Kermode also hears about a granite tank and a new scheme to pay grape growers according to the level of acidity in the grapes – all to keep things nice and fresh.
Fresh from delivering his ‘100 best Australian Wines’ report, wine critic Matthew Jukes put on another tasting, this time with author Tyson Stelzer called the Great Australian Red. This event, held at London’s 67 Pall Mall, focussed on Aussie Cabernet-Shiraz blends. Harry Crowther was there and picked out his favourite seven wines, some of them the latest releases and others from library stock.
As we prepare for the last week of the ICC Cricket World Cup and England’s first semi-final appearance since 1992, we get you in the mood with this trip down our very own cricketing memory lane when legendary English cricketer, turned Sky TV commentator, David Gower, shared his love for wine with The Buyer. With the launch of ‘My Perfect 6’ through Perfect Cellar in 2016 where he looked to put his name to wines that try to break new boundaries.
The Mamba Riedel Decanter Awards is a decidedly different wine awards ceremony, writes David Kermode, and one that resembles a friend’s summer nuptials more than it does one of the industry’s many black tie events. Now into its 14th year the awards focussed on Australian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with newly re-configured importer Liberty Wines winning both categories as well as Best Importer. For a full list of winners and more besides read on….
When he’s not making wines for Sting, flying winemaker Daniel O’Donnell can be found in Turkey at Kayra, the only wine producer in the Diageo portfolio, reintroducing and refining wines made with indigenous Turkish varietals from Anatolia. For O’Donnell grapes such as Narince, Kalecik Karası, Öküzgözü and Boğazkere are nothing short of a national treasure and ‘colours worth nailing to his mast.’ On a rare visit to London he brought a stack of back vintages of his wines ‘with a touch of grey’ to show us how well they could age.
After a string of lesser vintages, 2015 Bordeaux was a vintage that needed to be a success. Three years on Joss Fowler re-visits 2015 Bordeaux and asks how good is this vintage really? What it has over 2014 is fruit but is it a brilliant vintage? Putting all the hype behind him, Fowler ‘blind-tastes’ 260 wines from the vintage and picks out the wines that you should be buying – across a variety of budgets – highlighting one wine that is a clear bargain of the vintage and you should be looking out for.
Buying smartly in Burgundy isn’t the easiest task these days but our contributing editor and chef at large, Roger Jones, thinks he’s found a real winner from Méo-Camuzet. And who would have thought that a winery based in Norfolk would be the latest addition to the Field Morris & Verdin portfolio – rubbing shoulders with the likes of Vega Sicilia, Au Bon Climat and R. Lopez de Heredia? – and not only that but really standing up to the task. For Jones’ FMV tips read on…
While the younger generation of sommeliers are understandably getting excited about the Californian New Wave, it is easy to overlook one of the stalwarts of the West Coast wine scene – Zinfandel. This is a grape with a much-debated and controversial past and a bad reputation as either an over-extracted fruit bomb or a sweet blush. But the good red Zinfandel continues to be made by ‘old timers’ such as Ravenswood and Ridge and more recent converts like Broc Cellars whose take on Zin weighs in at a ‘lightweight’ 12.5% ABV. Peter Dean picks out 10 California Zinfandel you should be considering for your list.
Once a staple of the tasting calendar, the Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne annual London tasting has been something of a moveable feast in recent years, as the CIVC has experimented with new locations and formats. After last year’s event at the London Wine Fair fell a bit flat, it was time to think again. Stepping into the gap, a communications guru and a new, more commercial, approach for Taste Champagne London 2019. So did it fizz? Chris Wilson went along for The Buyer to deliver his report card.
June 15 marks the annual #DrinkChenin day where producers, retailers, restaurants and wine drinkers alike unite to celebrate all things Chenin. None more so than in South Africa where the white grape variety has had such success and is now recognised as producing some of the finest Chenin Blancs in the world. Wine merchants, restaurants and bars are being encouraged to back #DrinkChenin day by hosting their own tastings or simply opening up a few bottles of Chenin to share with their customers. To help kick things off this weekend we revisit Roger Jones’ trip to Cape Wine 2018 where he was able to pick out his own Chenin Blanc favourites from South Africa.
Having your own bespoke cuvée of champagne elevates your ‘House’ fizz to something altogether more special. Louis Latour Agencies has been offering this service to the premium on-trade as witnessed when it launched Marcus Wareing’s own cuvée of Gosset last October to much fanfare. Champagne Duval-Leroy has also been producing bespoke labels or ‘sur measure’ and it was Mere Restaurant’s bespoke cuvée that Victor Smart sampled at a tasting lunch along with the house’s other top wines, including a rare outing for its top of the range Femme de Champagne – Brut 1996.
Premium Greek wine is in a good place right now – championed for some time by the likes of critic Julia Harding MW and Steve Daniel at Hallgarten, the trade has taken note and is now responding. Berkmann, for one, has just taken on its first Greek estate, the prestigious T-Oinos, whose chief oenologist is none other than Bordeaux-based flying winemaker Stephane Derenoncourt. He tells Justin Keay that, apart from enjoying working with the estate’s four varieties – Assyrtiko, Malagousia, Mavrotragano and Avgoustiatis – he just loves the beauty of the place, even though the continual wind and granitic soil have their unique challenges. Keay tastes through all the wines, is impressed by the whites, but singles out the reds as his favourites.
It’s official! Beaujolais is cool, in fact it is almost becoming too cool. With the official release of Beaujolais 2018 on Monday at Inter Beaujolais’ annual tasting jamboree, all of the promise that was there in barrel and with what the Nouveau was telling us has been delivered. The vintage is ripe, fruity and yet the wines have terrific balance. “There has never been a better time to get people to drink Beaujolais,” said Joe Wadsack at the bash, alluding to the fact that with 2018 there is quantity as well as quality. Peter Dean agrees and picks out 10 hits from the tasting.
Created in 1987 IGP Pays d’Oc has become regarded as the New World winemaking region of France, with single varietal wines its calling card. But the denomination is not always associated with rosé, especially when its near neighbours are the three appellations of Provence, which is odd given that it produces almost half a million hectolitres every year. In a ‘tasting special’ The Buyer asked leading rosé expert Elizabeth Gabay MW to taste-test 97 Pays d’Oc rosé, to pick out the best according to varietal and style and advise us on which ones we should put our money behind.
The fight for freshness is a key challenge for winemakers in Champagne with different houses using different techniques to cope with increased ripeness and higher alcohol levels. In a fascinating master class, that kicked off the fourth New Wave Champagne event in London, Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, chef de cave of Champagne Louis Roederer, put this challenge into an historical context, talking at length about how freshness can be achieved in the face of what he called a “climate crisis”. To flesh out his points, Lécaillon used five of his wines made from fruit that had been picked at fuller ripeness and yet were all completely fresh as a daisy. Anne Krebiehl MW reports.
There has been a wine revolution taking place in California in recent years making New Wave California as exciting a proposition for wine buyers as New Wave South Africa. A new generation of winemakers has torn up the template for big, powerful, alcoholic, point-chasing Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and instead are making more classically-restrained, balanced wines that look to the Old World for their inspiration. Fruit quality, re-discovered regions, freedom of expression and a new generation of consumers looking for something new has seen an explosion of exciting new wineries and wines that will challenge all preconceptions about what Californian wine is all about. Peter Dean also picks out 10 New Wave California wines you need to have on your radar.