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    Insight

    Donna Elvira Campania: Buyers assess its red and white wines

    Part One of our special Campania report covered the thoughts of leading importers, merchants and sommeliers on the wines of southern Italy in general, and then specifically the white and red wines of Campania and why they are so different. Here we focus specifically in on the range of wines from our debate partners and independent local producer, Donna Elvira Wines, to highlight what our buyers think of the potential of Greco, Fiano, Falanghina, and Aglianico .

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    Insight

    The Buyer & Donna Elvira Debate: UK potential for Campania wines

    Campania may not have the profile and prestige as other wine regions in Italy but it can match, if not better, many of them when it comes to packing a punch in terms of wine, food and tourist appeal. For this stretch of south west Italy is famous for its stunning Amalfi coastline, bursting with pride for its amazing cuisine, and the beating heart of Naples that encapsulates the excitement of the region. But how well known are its wines amongst leading UK wine buyers? To find out The Buyer teamed up with local and fiercely independent wine producer, Donna Elvira Wines, to invite a panel of leading wine buyers, importers, wine merchants and sommeliers to talk through the region’s potential and taste wines that hopefully capture what Campania is all about.

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    Insight

    Buyer Debate Pt 2: Sommeliers put Lisboa wines to the test

    With nine DOCs, each with their own unique climate and soil conditions, it is important to taste across a wide range of wines from Lisboa in order to fully understand its potential in the UK. Which is why in Part 2 of The Buyer report, in partnership with CVR Lisboa, we share the insights from our sommelier and importer panel as they taste and discuss wines that demonstrate the diversity of what Lisboa can offer and how it is using both international and indigenous grape varieties in an increasing number of blends.

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    Insight

    Buyer Debate: Sommeliers on opportunities for Lisboa wines

    There has never been greater interest and demand amongst world travellers to visit Portugal with the country named as the Best World Destination and Best Tourist Destination in Europe between 2017-2020 (World Travel Awards). High on the list of places is the capital city of Lisbon with its historic tram-filled streets packed with tourists. Yet the city’s wine region – Lisboa – is not as well-known as other Portuguese areas even though it covers nine quality DOCs. To help better understand the different styles of wine being made in Lisboa and their opportunities in the UK, The Buyer teamed up with CVR Lisboa, the region’s wine Regulatory Council, to host a panel debate with a leading panel of sommeliers and specialist UK wine importers who were able to share their insights on Lisboa, together with two of the region’s key producers, as well as taste a selection of wines that represent what the region can do.

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    Insight

    Bordeaux Debate Part 2: Buyers on sustainability & single varietals

    With a legacy of quality wine production in the region dating back centuries, it’s unsurprising the Bordelais like to take their time when it comes to making big strategic changes in the way their wines are made and brought to market. In the second part of The Buyer’s online debate between Bordeaux producers and key UK importers, buyers and independent wine merchants, in partnership with the CIVB, we continue our exploration of Bordeaux’s modern reds, where these fit into the region’s long-term strategy and why the panel are particularly excited to see the emergence of so many quality, commercially focused single varietal wines and where they might work best in the premium UK on and off-trade.

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    Insight

    Buyer Debate: What ‘Modern Bordeaux’ means for UK buyers

    On the face of it Bordeaux has everything going for it. It is one of the most famous, respected and influential wine regions in the world. Yet when it comes to debates around modern winemaking, new viticultural techniques and what’s new in the world of wine, due to its classic reputation, it is often overlooked as a place you look for innovation. But that is not the real picture of what is actually happening in the region. Far from it. To help analyse the emerging trends in Bordeaux, The Buyer teamed up with the CIVB (Bordeaux Wine Council) to bring together key trade players, including UK buyers, importers and sommeliers, and Bordeaux producers to examine just what “Modern Bordeaux” is, how well understood it is and what aspects are best communicated to the wider trade and wine consumers at large.

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    Insight

    Buyers on why Luberon’s red & white wines are ideal for the UK

    It is arguably in its white and red wines that the Luberon really starts to show its Rhône credentials with both wine styles made from a wide selection of varieties where the emphasis is very much on bringing out the freshness, acidity and balance in the wines. In part two of The Buyer debate, in partnership with Wines of Luberon, we ask wine buyers, sommeliers and importers to taste and assess a selection of white and red wines and give their overall impression of where they see the opportunities for Luberon in the UK.

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    Insight

    Buyers’ Debate: Opportunities for Luberon wines in the UK

    Ask the average UK wine buyer to give their views on the Rhône and they could probably spend a couple of minutes talking about the region and why its various styles of wines taste the way they do. But could they do the same for the wines of Luberon, made in the south eastern extreme of the region? To help widen buyers’ knowledge of Luberon wines and what they could offer the UK, The Buyer teamed up with Wines of Luberon to bring together a panel of sommeliers, wine importers and merchants to taste and assess the opportunities for the region in the premium UK wine market. In part one of our two part report the buyer’s shared their first impressions of the region and then focused in on Luberon’s rosé wines and the opportunities for them in the UK. Part two will examine the region’s red and white wines.

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    Insight

    UK Buyers/French Producers on: Champagne, Crémant & sparkling

    Sparkling wine has enjoyed unprecedented success in the UK over the last 10 years, but where does French sparkling sit alongside the two powerhouses of everyday sparkling wine – Prosecco and Cava? To find out, The Buyer teamed up with Business France, to host an online Zoom panel debate with leading UK wine buyers of independent importers and merchants, who had the chance to chat live with three very different representatives of the French wine market covering sparkling, Champagne and Crémant.

        

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    Insight

    One Step Beyond: Download the full landmark conference report

    When The Buyer came together with Sophie Jump to organise and hold the inaugural One Step Beyond Conference in early March the focus was 100% on analysing the most disruptive changes in consumer behaviour and technology. Little did we know that just over two months on so many of those changes have now been put on fast forward because of the Covid-19 outbreak. Here is the full report from what was a breakthrough conference for the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors. A day that brought experts from outside the industry’s comfort zone and gave them the platform to set out what we can all expect from consumers and technology in the future. Predictions that are already being seen in how fast businesses and consumers alike are responding to the challenges of Covid-19.

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    Insight

    The Buyer’s Case: Top buyers put Boisset FGV wines to the test

    The hardest job for any wine producer, no matter how prestigious or respected, is getting their wines in front of the right buyers who can ultimately make the difference in getting their wines on to the lists of the restaurants and bars that really matter. That’s what The Buyer’s Case project does. Link producers looking to build distribution in the premium on-trade and specialist retail sector with key buyers in those channels. Here’s how major French producer, Boisset FGV worked with The Buyer on its own Buyer’s Case initiative.

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    Insight

    California Buyers Trip Part 2: the wines and styles ready to export

    Having the opportunity to go to California and meet over 100 producers in an intense five days of tasting doesn’t come around too often. But it proved to be an invaluable exercise for the group of leading wine buyers from both the UK and Irish on and off-trade markets. In Part One of our report we looked at their general feedback on why they wanted to go on such a trip. Here in Part Two we drill down into what they really thought of the wines and the opportunities of giving them a chance in the markets over here.

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    Insight

    California looks to bring right producers & buyers together

    If you are a wine buyer for a leading importer, restaurant group, or independent merchant then there are times of the year when you are no doubt spoilt for choice with invitations to go and visit different regions and countries. But which are ones are going to be the most useful, effective and important to your buying needs? It’s what made the recent California Wine Institute event for leading UK and Irish buyers so different. And relevant. Rather than take a group of buyers on a bus around a select group of producers, the Institute brought the producers to the buyers for a series of back to back tastings hosted in the same venue. It meant the busy buyers were able to see over 100 wineries across five days of intensive tasting and take a deep dive into the kind of wines being made across the state. What’s more the producers did not currently have distribution in the UK or Ireland, or both, and had to have wines, with volume, that could the hit the main commercial to mid premium price points. The Buyer’s Richard Siddle, who helped to identify and recruit some of the buyers invited, was also there to get an insider’s take on how it all came together.

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    Opinion

    South Africa Restaurant Safari – 9 buyers, 18 wineries, 2 Land Rovers

    Here’s a conundrum for you. How do you get nine of the UK’s leading wine buyers to meet 18 winemakers in four restaurants in different parts of London in under five hours? Well, throw two Land Rovers into the mix and you are half way home. It’s certainly how The Buyer teamed up with Wines of South Africa to take a group of top buyers on a tour of London restaurants, and the chance to meet some of South Africa’s best winemakers at the same time. Eating, tasting, chatting along the way. Buckle up and join us on the ride…

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    Insight

    Buyer French Debate: Rise of Crémant & other sparkling wines

    In part one of The Buyer’s debate, alongside Business France, between leading importers, merchants, restaurants and wine producers from most regions of France, we focused on the rise in and importance of organic wines. The tasting and discussion also looked at how different styles of sparkling wine are now really coming to the fore, and how Crémant, in particular, is presenting a real premium alternative, ideal for promoting and driving in the premium on-trade.

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    Insight

    Buyer Debate: the opportunity for French organic wine

    For the latest The Buyer Debate we teamed up with Business France to bring producers from different regions of France together with key buyers from across the premium on-trade to look at two key growth areas not only for French wine, but the premium wine category as a whole: organics and sparkling wine. It was an opportunity to meet, taste the wines and then explore why French winemakers are increasingly turning to organics and sparkling wine production. Whilst assessing just what it is leading UK wine distributors, merchants and restaurant and bar owners are looking for when taking on a new French wine supplier. There was a lot to cover. So much so that we have broken down the report into two parts. First up we look at the rise in organics and both the opportunities and the challenges there are in making and selling organic wine.

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    Insight

    Behind the scenes on The Buyer’s Vouvray Restaurant Tour

    It’s one thing tasting wine professionally it is quite another to go on an eating and tasting tour of top London restaurants to experience food and wine in the same way your customers do. Which is what The Buyer’s most recent restaurant tour was all about as we were able to introduce different styles of Vouvray wine to a tour of buyers covering wine merchants, sommeliers, importers, consultants and journalists. As we publish our full report from the event, Richard Siddle picks out the highlights.

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    Insight

    Buyer debate: Indies put Ribera del Duero through its paces

    Even for a wine region that is as relatively small as Spain’s Ribera del Duero it’s important to taste as many wines as possible if you are going to truly understand, experience and enjoy its enormous diversity, says wine writer and critic, Tim Atkin MW. To help do just that, but also debate and share what leading UK buyers think of Ribera del Duero, The Buyer teamed up with the region’s generic body, a panel of top wine merchants and Atkin himself to see what opportunities there are in the burgeoning independent retail and wholesale sector.

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    Insight

    Douro’s Soul Wines Debate: why the wines are ideal for the UK

    “There is a deliciousness to these red wines. I am hugely impressed by them. The quality has blown me away.” Just the kind of review any wine producer would want for their wines, particularly if it comes from such as senior a figure as John Graves, on-trade channel director at Bibendum Wine. But Graves was not the only UK panelist in our debate with the Douro Valley’s Soul Wine producers to be impressed with what they saw and tasted. In part two of our report on the wide ranging debate we assess the opportunity for Douro’s wines in the premium on-trade and what steps producers need to take to make the most of them.

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    People People: On-Trade

    Sommeliers on Chile: The Buyer & Chono Wines debate

    To try to unravel and understand Chile’s position in the premium on-trade, The Buyer teamed up with Ellis Wines and its Chilean producer partner, Chono Wines, to bring
    together a group of senior wine trade professionals, buyers and sommeliers to debate what are the opportunities and challenges for Chile as a whole. It was the chance for these leading figures to share their experiences with Chilean wines in their restaurants and businesses and look at the kinds of wines from Chile that they are looking to source and select for their wine lists.

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    Insight

    Mionetto and The Buyer Prosecco study tour and report

    Is there a more misunderstood wine category than Prosecco? It might top all the best selling charts, but it is too often dismissed or taken seriously by some professional wine buyers. To help get to know not only the beautiful region of Conegliano Valdobbiadene, but to explore the different quality tiers of Prosecco and the potential they have in the premium on-trade, The Buyer teamed up with leading Prosecco brand, Mionetto, and its UK partner Copestick Murray, to host a study tour with key buyers and influencers of the area and the city where Prosecco truly comes to life – Venice.

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    Insight

    Jackson Family debate on Californian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

    It’s nice talking about and throwing the spotlight on new wine regions and emerging styles of wine and little known grape varieties, but at these times of the year restaurant and bar customers are looking for the classics and the tried and tested. Which is why for our latest major debate we teamed up with Jackson Family Wines to look at what leading wine buyers, sommeliers, distributors and merchants think about Californian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

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    Insight

    Special Report: Sonoma County Vintners London Wine Bar Tour

    Organising a wine tasting where all your guests are sitting in one place can prove to be a challenge at times, so you can imagine the potential for things to wrong if you then invited those guests to go on a tour of restaurants and bars around London, tasting different wines, matched to each outlet’s food along the way. It certainly made for a very different, fun, highly informative and memorable day for wineries from Sonoma County Vintners and our panel of “tour-ists” willing to go on the adventure with us.

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    Insight

    Closures Debate: what do you want to put in a bottle of wine?

    Outside of the natural wine debate is there a more contentious issue than the one that surrounds the type of closure you have in your bottle of wine? To assess what leading on-trade buyers and sommeliers now think about closures we teamed up with Vinventions, one of the biggest suppliers of all types of closure from cork to screwcap, to make the issue of closures the latest topic in our Buyer Debate series.

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    Insight

    The Buyer’s Case with Castelnau Wine Agencies

    Every wine as soon as it is made puts its self up for judgement. Be it the end consumer who wants to drink it with their dinner, or the trade buyers and wine critics looking to score, assess and adjudicate on whether it is suitable for listing in the first place. But nothing ventured, nothing gained and Castelnau Wine Agencies was happy to put its range of wines from producers all over the world up to the test in our latest Buyer’s Case project with leading on-trade buyers and influencers in the trade.

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    Tasting Tasting: Panel Tasting

    The Buyer’s Case with Cave de Vignerons de Saint-Chinian wines

    The Buyer has been set up to help drinks producers and leading on-trade buyers better understand their needs and where possible work closer together. This is best demonstrated by The Buyer’s Case initiative where we link up with a wine producer or importer and ask leading buyers to taste, assess and offer professional feedback on their wines. Here we turn to the Languedoc-Roussillon and present wines from leading producer, Cave de Vignerons de Saint-Chinian to leading on-trade decision makers.

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    Opinion

    The French debate: putting France under the spotlight with Foncalieu

    France might be the best selling country in the UK on-trade, but that does not mean it could not sell. To help better understand the opportunities and challenges facing French wine in the premium on-trade, The Buyer linked up with Les Vignobles Foncalieu and leading buyers from the different types of operator, including high end restaurants, independent wine merchants and national wholesalers all working the French category in the north west of the country.

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    Insight Tasting Tasting: Panel Tasting

    New Zealand Debate: the opportunities and challenges

    New Zealand’s enormous success in the UK off-trade, where its Sauvignon Blanc has created a category of its own, has not always been reflected in how many of its wines are on premium on-trade wine lists. The Buyer teamed up with Villa Maria, and its UK partners, Hatch Mansfield, to ask a panel of leading UK buyers to set out the challenges and opportunities for New Zealand in the premium on-trade

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    Insight Tasting Tasting: Panel Tasting

    The Buyer’s Case with Les Vignerons Foncalieu

    The Buyer’s Case is a new initiative that gives producers the chance to show specific drinks to key buyers in target channels of the on-trade. For our first Buyer’s Case we teamed up with Les Vignerons Foncalieu and selected key buyers in its main distribution areas in the UK on-trade to show their wines. Here are the results.

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    Insight Tasting Tasting: Panel Tasting

    Virginia Wine Project: bringing producers and buyers together

    The Buyer teamed up with Virginia Wine and some of its key producers to help them better understand the needs of the UK premium on-trade and how buyers might relate to their wines with both a business roundtable debate with key players and a study tour of leading London restaurants, wine bars and merchants to see the kind of offers they have and where their wines might fit in.

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    Instataste

    Tasting with pictures View All
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    • The second white wine from the ‘super tuscan’ Ornellaia estate is a blend of primarily Sauvignon Blanc with Viognier, Verdicchio and Vermentino. It is a highly individual and savoury wine that speaks of the Mediterranean coast where it comes from with herbs in the hot sun, scrubland and saline notes. The 2020 vintage was very hot in June with the first three grape varieties picked early (compared to the late 2019). There is a terrific balance between freshness and density of flavour, achieved primarily through winemaking choices – a gentle pressing, followed by 50% fermented in steel, the other half in barriques. It’s to the team’s credit that the details and brightness is still there with additional texture and interest. To look at the wine is deep straw/gold; aromas spill out of the glass evoking hot days in the Tuscan sun – you pick up sage, white flowers, pine needles,
    • Finally one of the new non-alcoholic ‘spirits’ that I genuinely like, would recommend and would buy for myself. Pentire is a Cornish company using plants native to the Cornish coastline as botanicals. Adrift was the drink the company launched with which uses rock samphire, sage, citrus and Cornish sea salt amongst others. Seaward is the second drink that was launched as a one-off for customers but has stayed the course – it uses sea rosemary, woodruff, sea buckthorn, wild seaweed and pink grapefruit. Seaward was the easiest to like at first with the pink grapefruit notes a familiar point of reference. I didn’t like Adrift as much at first, it tasted a bit ‘Marmite’, but I have come to like it very much, drink with ice and a slice, and now prefer it. Both drinks are very complex, have a salty, savoury quality with Adrift being genuinely original – the
    • Bollinger’s PN TX17 is the third iteration of this ‘new’ cuvée that focuses on the House’s signature grape Pinot Noir and, once again, gives free rein to one specific cru and one base vintage, in this case 2017. It is a singular, expressive Champagne of amazing elegance and good breeding. To look at the wine is medium gold with a fine, persistent bead. On the nose the wine is chalky fresh, and opens with notes of tangerine, quince, grilled hazelnuts and patisiere-fresh creamy millefeuille. So inviting it just says ‘drink me’. In the mouth the wine’s attack is sharp, precise, detailed with an explosion of crisp superfine bubbles, which then relaxes into a delightful creamy effervescence that covers the mid-palate – there’s a lovely interplay between the underlying tension of the wine and the breadth and complexity of the flavours – brioche-led with suggestions of stewed fruit, orange zest and
    • Really interesting wine from Penedes in Catalonia – the local Sumoll Negre grape grown in an old vineyard planted in 1945. The wine is transparent, light cherry red with a violet hue; the nose is quite shy with dried flower petal perfume and pomegranate; in the mouth the wine is fresh, light bodied, but structured with firm acidity and an attractive warmth and depth to the fruit, poached rhubarb flavours, finely textured, with a squeeze of green orange on the finish. The winemaker is Carlos Esteva and this is from the Can Ràfols Dels Caus estate’s Single Vineyard Collection. Expect to pay about £17 RRP. Sumoll Negre is a variety that is drought resistant and has been crossed in Australia to create four new varieties better to withstand the Australian climate.
    • Hugely impressive debut Brut NV from East Sussex newcomers Everflyht which delivers like a classy Champagne – yet has English sparkling wine hallmarks of apple notes and underlying tension. It is split roughly 50/50 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with 6% Meunier, 14% has been aged in French oak (5th fill Burgundy barrels) and some new oak, and 24% of the final blend consists of reserve wine. Based on the 2019 vintage which had a cooler than average September, this has a ripe phenolic profile that translates to breadth on the palate, and attractively dense fruit flavours. The wood adds texture and biscuity notes that is not unlike Bollinger Special Cuvée in style. The colour is shiny gold, the bead is fine and consistent; aromas of fresh apple, lemon shortbread and red summer berries carry across to the palate that is bright, focused and structured but has a delicious depth of
    • Terrific new Blanc de Noirs 2018 from the five hectare family-owned Busi Jacobsohn estate in East Sussex. It’s a vintage, single estate wine made from 78% Pinot Noir and 22% Pinot Meunier, with 36 months on the lees. This is an elegant and classy English sparkling wine which has red berry aromatics and a fresh chalky note; in the mouth the wine is delicious and balanced perfectly –firm acidity apparent but a breadth and complexity that makes it ripe for early drinking. The confidence and refinement in this wine is all the more remarkable when you consider that the estate’s vines were only planted in 2015 – a promising sign that we will be hearing a lot more about this producer and this wine in the future.
    • One of Northern Italy’s truly iconic wines – a unique, elegant Bordeaux blend, made in a Mediterranean/ semi-alpine region. To look at the wine is medium ruby red with red cherry edging; the aromatics are enticing with red cherries, black fruits of the forest, caramelised wood spice, red licorice a touch of Indian spice tin; in the mouth the wine is soft, warm, rounded and nicely balanced, it feels light on its feet with ripe, plush tannins effortlessly integrated, the finish has a chalky texture with a note of small wild red cherries. Beautifully elegant and drinking perfectly now although it will develop over the next two decades. The blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Carmènere, 10% Merlot, fermented in concrete vats, then matured for two years in French oak – a mix of new, once and twice-filled.
    • Five grape field blend from Portugal’s Casals de Douro near the Pinhão valley- a new venture by Boekenhoutskloof’s Marc Kent and Portuguese winemaker Rita Marques. It’s a full-bodied, full-flavoured red that is easy to like and approach at a young age and delivers a good deal of complexity for its £15 price point. Black fruits, floral aromatics and a dried herb note on the nose; the palate is round and velvety at first then structured and intense with the considerable ripe, dense tannins powering in. The wine is punchy but balanced with enough acidity and freshness to carry the concentrated dark, brambly fruits.
    • Some of the many, many highlights of the extraordinary tasting tonight of the best of the legend that is Hermitage
    • Nude Pink is a new organic-certified vegan rosé from Provence’s Mirabeau that has been made and packaged with the environmentally-conscious customer in mind. It’s an holistic liquid-to-label approach that delivers an excellent and classy gastronomic pink that has lovely touches – local cork, paper collar instead of tin capsule, and 100% recycled glass. The wine delivers too! Pale peach skin pink, the aromatics are pretty with a range of ripe, small red berries, cherry blossom and waft of salty sea air. The palate is ripe and juicy but nicely balanced with texture, bitter lemon skin and a salty freshness. Aperitif or paired with food this is a serious, mindful wine, that deserves to be in an ice bucket near you soon.
    • Pale gold/ straw; pretty and complex nose which features yellow stone fruit, apples and pears, wild sage and fresh unroasted nuts; the palate is rounded, ripe and balanced, a slight oleaginous quality, and finishing on a dry, slightly bitter lemon note, mixed with a mineral saltiness that beckons for another sip. Massive length and great value at circa £20. Serve at cellar temperature.
    • First vintage of this Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé estate since its conversion to organic agriculture. Medium to deep purple; the nose has ripe berries, spices and earth on the nose; in the mouth the wine is lithe and silky, ripe tannins supported by a grip and texture, creamy summer pudding fruit on the mid-palate offset by a tart redcurrant coulis and crushed-rock mineral quality; saline on the finish. You can feel the limestone here from the nose through to the drive on the palate. Very young now obviously, best drinking in 5-10 years.
    • The first English sparkling wine to be made by a Champagne house, this is a Traditional Method fizz made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown in Hampshire. Pale straw, steady bead of fine bubbles; pretty aromatics of white flowers, comice pear and apples; some leesy complexity with fresh bread and hazelnuts; in the mouth the wine is finely judged – a nice balance between crisp fresh orchard fruit, bright citrus acidity and a medium-bodied, textured sparkler. This is an innovative, new wine that really comes across as exactly what it is - a cross between English sparkling wine and a Champagne.
    • Nicely judged medium weight Chardonnay from the NZ producer best known for its Sauvignon Blanc. Light straw gold, the ripe aromatics feature pears, white peach and a warm hay note, a touch of gunflint; the palate is delightful and perfectly measured – first you get a bite of fresh lemon, then it becomes smooth and rounded in the mouth. Great balance with pretty punchy fresh acidity and the ripeness of the fruit and a hit of saline on the bitter chalky-lime finish. This is just a pup and will age for a decade at least (at its best in 5/6 years time?) but is a good match with seafood and vegetable dishes.
    • An elegant 100% Aglianico from the Irpinia region of Campania, these are some of the last grapes to be harvested in Southern Italy, as the variety is late-ripening and the vineyards on ancient volcanic soils are so high and cool. The wine uncoils in the glass revealing a gorgeous bouquet of violets, wild red cherries, red liquorice, spice and earth. In the mouth the wine is velvety and plush with nicely defined crisp black and blue fruit, crushed rocks and minerals, some blue plum skin, a lovely elegant, refined palate with beautifully-integrated oak and aged tannins, dry finish. Very classy
    • From Eminent Wines, the same company that brought us Roger Daltrey’s own brand of fizz and the UB40 red wine, comes this Brut Blanc de Blancs Centurion – so named as it celebrates 100 years of the British armed forces charity The British Legion – 10% of the sales going to the Legion. The wine is light gold to look at, an energetic mousse settling down to a steady, fine bead. There is an attractive nose of ripe apples, blossom with some hints of nuts and pastry, a waft of chalky freshness; the palate is fresh, quite rounded for a Brut BdB, with orchard fruit, tarte au citron and a salty, chalky finish. One of three special commemorative Legion cuvées, this is a fitting fizz to toast the Queen’s own celebrations seeing as she is the patron of the charity. £55 RRP
    • Wonderful new pet nat from one of the front runners in Austria’s dynamic wine scene. 100% St. Laurent. Pretty fruit but balanced in every department. Massive mousse obvs. Leesy but, like the rest of their range, there is a lovely purity singing through the wine. It’s a lot of fun and it’s 11% - what’s not to like?
    • Fresh and new – an Austrian wine that speaks with a French accent. Zweigelt Nouveau 2021 is the first vintage of this new take on one of Austria’s most popular red grapes from Dorli Muhr who’s best known for her outstanding single vineyard Blaufränkisch. From old vines on the Spitzerberg, the Zweigelt fruit is picked early, foot-trodden, some whole bunch, half the wine aged in steel the rest in old oak casks. It’s a real glou glou wine this – fresh fruit, bright acidity, crunchy plum and blueberry, fine-boned tannins, lovely texture. Fun and affordable.
    • Fresh, textural Blaufränkisch from Austria’s Burgenland that manages to bring elegance and finesse to the grape without a mouthful of chewy tannins. Intense purple; complex and wild nose offering mulberry and cranberries, herbal nuances, liquorice. On the palate the wine is fresh, medium-bodied, lots of sour cherry and blueberry, pomegranate, fine, just ripe tannins sitting nicely in the background, with a chalky texture that amplifies on the sloe-dry finish. Picking it just ripe, and through careful and long vinification/ maturation first in open top fermenters and then large format Austrian and German wood where it sits for two years, one on full lees, brings out the best in the variety.
    • Muscular, full bodied Bordeaux blend from Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand that was showing superbly and has possibly another decade in the tank. 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc and 34% Merlot – the nose shows its evolution with pencil shavings, cassis, sous bois and sweet spice. The mouthfeel is concentrated with decent intensity, ripe, rounded tannins and good bedrock of acidity. Long finish with a green, slightly sappy finish, 14.5% abv showing itself a little. Possible slight taint detected also but it didn’t spoil the enjoyment. Wishing I had another bottle to try in a few years.