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    Insight

    Bordeaux Debate: Producers & buyers on what the market wants

    In part one of our buyers debate with the Bordeaux Wines we focused on what different operators felt the opportunities and challenges were for Bordeaux Wines overall in the UK. In part two we look at three case studies from producers operating in different appellations – Médoc, Côtes de Bordeaux and Bordeaux & Bordeaux Supérieur – who are looking to embrace the modern Bordeaux and look at their vines through fresh eyes. The buyers had the chance to taste their wines and assess the styles they felt are the most suitable and relevant for the UK market. 

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    Insight

    Codorniu Cava Debate: What styles & price points work best? 

    In part two of The Buyer’s debate, in partnership with Raventós Codorníu and Raimat, the panel of leading buyers had the opportunity to taste through a selection of Cavas to examine the quality and the step changes at differences price points and to examine where they might sit in the UK market. It was also an opportunity to examine the sustainability steps being taken with Cava and how important sustainability now is in the buying decisions being made by the panel of buyers.

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    Opinion

    Codorniu Cava Debate: UK buyers on potential of premium Cava 

    So, how well do you know Cava?  When was the last time you spent 90 minutes delving into every nook and cranny of what different styles of Cava can potentially offer the UK wine trade? That was the task – and opportunity – for our latest panel of leading UK wine buyers who teamed up with the team at Raventós Codorníu, and its Raimat wine brand, to explore what role modern, premium Cava styles have and, the growing importance of viticulture, organic and sustainable winemaking on the region. It was also the chance to taste through a number of different Cava styles to see what potential they have across the specialist on and off-trades. Here is the first of our two part report on the Codorniu Cava Debate.

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    Insight

    Wynns Debate: Sommeliers on Coonawarra in premium on-trade   

    In Part One of our sommelier panel debate with Wynns Coonawarra Estate it was clear there is a lot of love, respect and potential support for Coonawarra as a wine region. The challenge is getting enough wines in to the UK market for sommeliers to be able to list and support them and what efforts are being made to promote Coonawarra’s unique story to wine drinkers and enthusiasts. In Part Two the sommeliers share their views on the Wynns range of premium wines, assess their place in the UK market and also examine the opportunities and challenges for premium Australian wine in their restaurants and venues.

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    Insight

    Wynns Debate: Buyers on Coonawarra’s premium potential

    It has long been the mission for Australian wine producers to sell more of their premium wines in leading restaurants around the world. But are wine buyers and sommeliers listening? To assess the potential for premium Australia in the UK market, The Buyer teamed up with Wynns Coonawarra Estate, part of Treasury Wine Estates, to show a range of its wines, and ask leading sommeliers what they see as the key opportunities and challenges for premium Australian wines in their venues. It was also the chance to shine the spotlight on the region of Coonawarra, home for Wynns and other leading family producers in Australia, and explore  the distinct styles of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz it is producing, and the influence and impact of its unique terra rossa soils.  

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    Insight

    New York Debate Part 2: Buyers & producers on its biggest potential

    In the first part of our New York Pitch project in partnership with the New York Grape & Wine Foundation we helped to bring producers looking to export to the UK together with leading buyers from key importers and the chance to hear about their wines. Here we dig a little deeper into what New York State can offer by picking out the wine styles that the buyers think have the most potential to do well in the UK and why the region has so much to offer in terms of cool climate, fresh, pure fruit forward, acid driven wines with low alcohols.

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    Insight

    Ribera del Duero Debate Part 2: Buyers assess the wines to list 

    The first part of our Ribera del Duero debate with a panel of influential buyers and wine consultants showed how much natural interest there is in the region, but also uncovered how fast its winemaking potential is growing and why it is a European wine region to watch and what opportunities there are for UK buyers to list more wines. In the second part of our report, we look at individual Ribera del Duero wines styles and ask our expert panel to give their assessment and pick out the wines best suited to the UK market.

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    Insight

    Ribera del Duero Debate: Buyers analyse its premium potential

    On the face of it, Ribera del Duero is a largely straightforward wine region known for making high quality, full bodied red wines. But dig below the surface and you will discover a highly diverse landscape made up of multiple soil types, contrasting altitudes and a myriad of different wine styles, that make it a complex wine region to get to grips with. To help unpick some of its mysteries The Buyer teamed up with the Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen Ribera del Duero to give a panel of leading buyers, wine merchants, importers and commentators the chance to discuss the region’s potential in the UK. It was also an opportunity to hear from Tim Atkin MW, who has fast become the UK’s leading independent critic on the region, and taste some of the wines from his recently unveiled Ribera Del Duero Top 100 2021/2022 Selection.

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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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    Instataste

    Tasting with pictures View All
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    • Under-the-radar, natural and biodynamic Bordeaux blanc made in Barsac from a blend of 90% Semillon and 10% Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes vinified in cement. The nose is complex and offers honeysuckle, wild meadow flowers, sweet Comice pear; the palate is at first quite lively, mineral-charged then has a waxy ripe citrus mouthfeel with hints of papaya. Delicious, fresh, gastronomic and worth seeking out.
    • Hundred Hills, Blanc de Noirs 2019, With this extraordinarily good 100% Pinot Noir from a boutique winery in Oxfordshire there’s no denying that English sparkling really has come of age – the quality of the fruit and winemaking is right up there. The wine is sourced from a single South-facing plot, the grapes having 100 days hang time in what was a long dry vintage. Everything is in its right place. Vigorous bead, tiny bubbles, the aromatics are heaven-sent, complex with red berries and ripe orchard fruit, meadow flowers, raspberry Mivi, shortbread; the attaque is sharp and incisive, broadening with a youthful and ample creamy mousse on the palate – delicious layers of flavour that reflects the nose but also has a distinctive red apple note and ripe nectarine. The acidity is firm, structured, cleansing with a lovely balance between crisp, clean and dry on the tongue and deliciously ripe
    • A truly great wine that’s in the sweet spot of its drinking window. Complex, fresh aromatics has candied lemon, peppermint and a hint of white truffle; the palate is taut, fresh and brilliantly balanced with tart au citron, yellow grapefruit, saline, white flowers and an incredible length. A great Sancerre.
    • Good start to the year and one to bookmark for Chinese New Year. Wonderfully bright, fresh, Chardonnay from  @xige_estate  high up in the Helan mountain terroir of the exciting  #ningxia  Chinese wine region. Close your eyes and this could be straight out of Burgundy. So clean on the palate. Crisp acidity. Fresh as a mountain stream. Exciting premium Chinese wine. As China opens its doors again this could be the year for China to catch up some lost ground for exports too. You can explore the full range with  @propeller .wine that has exclusive UK distribution. Ideal for indy wine merchants and premium restaurants. Very impressed. RS  @westburycomms   @christellechene   #chinesewine   #sommeliers   #wine   #winetasting   #winemerchants 
    • Stellar vintage of Comtes from the sunny 2012 growing season. On the eye the wine is light yellow with green highlights, tight fine bead; gorgeous aromatics – surprisingly complex and evolved for a new release – with a touch of reduction, a light brioche, toasty note and white field mushroom combining well with a chalky freshness and lemon zest. In the mouth the Comtes has a crisp attack, ample mousse, bright acidity that soon fleshes out to lemon curd, orange oil, creamy orchard fruit and butteriness. The finish is beautifully balanced, refreshing and rounded. Will develop into a gem but drinking superbly well right now.
    • Classic Chateau d’Issan with greater complexity and layers on account of it adding Cabernet Franc (3%), Petit Verdot (2%) and Malbec (1%) into the blend for the first time in its history (all three grapes from plots acquired two years ago from Pontac-Lynch). There is also less Cab Sauv in the blend (55%) than there was in 2019 on account of the reduced yield. (Merlot makes up the rest) Although it has another six years to really get in its stride there’s a lovely balance between intense richness and freshness – the tannins are oh so elegant and smooth, with just that little bit of sinew on the long finish. At this stage the nose is all about black and blue fruits, violets, just a hint of cigar box; the palate is layered and lively, concentrated and fresh, notes of blackcurrant berries, currants and damsons dominate. Really quite wonderful.
    • Stunning Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blancs – sleek and fresh – from a less fruity and ‘obvious’ vintage than the 2012 and sourced from two Grand Cru villages only. Medium yellow gold with green highlights; vigorous fine bead; the nose is far more complex than at first appears and evolves in the glass: at first you find bright ripe apple, citrus and a chalky freshness; then other hints start to appear - candied lemon, apple blossom, butter pastry, nut shells, smoke; the attack is crisp, tense, evolving in the mouth, layered, taut with a citron pressé note. Despite its tautness there is good balance here, with a fine, elegant ripeness to the fruit. Really clean, lean, focused and precise – and a wine that will last decades.
    • 1982 was a classic vintage, of course, but also the start of the renaissance of Bordeaux wines. This fully mature 2nd growth, opened as part of a Léoville Poyferré 100th anniversary tasting was in a sweet spot, holding up so well and still with years ahead of it – so fresh and nicely poised is the acidity/ balance with the fruit hanging in there. Brickish red; the aromas are tertiary with cassis, tobacco, mushroom, soy, wet earth; the mouthfeel is fresh, silky smooth with sweet cassis to the fore and a eucalyptus twist on the finish. There is structure still with good balance, a sturdy core of acidity holding the wine together and maintaining delightful freshness. A stunning example of elegant, well-aged claret. Interesting was how much it changed in the glass. It was opened an hour before tasting (and not decanted) it was so full of life, then died
    • Louis Roederer Collection 243, the second release of Roederer’s re-incarnation of Brut Premier – a numbered, multi-vintage release based on the 218 vintage (60%) complemented by reserve wines from a ‘solera’ established in 2012, 10% aged in oak. It’s a smart idea and, like the inaugural 242 last year, has its own identity - more voluptuous compared to the more high-toned 242. Pale gold, energetic, fine bead; Inviting aromas of lemon tart, orange peel, all-butter pastry, stone fruit, white flowers and cream soda; there is a leesy breadth to the nose which, like the palate, is surprisingly complex; After a crisp attack the mid-palate has a luxurious mouthfeel – pillowy with considerable breadth and roundness with a textured, saline finish. On the way there are bright fruits and acids, a nuttiness, with a cleansing crispness on the upper palate. Excellent.
    • Here’s a lovely, easy drinking but also pretty grown up wine from the @YarraValley’s  @yeringstation  Victoria’s oldest producer with vines dating back to 1838. Not sure how many of those are in this The Elms Pinot Noir but at around £10 in @Waitrose it has got lots of savoury red notes and lovely freshness topped with a bit of spice on the tongue and a long elegant finish that would do very nicely against a Friday night pizza. This is the sort of Burgundian style Pinot Noir that the Yarra does so well and is made by up and upcoming winemaker Brendan Hawker who missed out on a career in medicine to turn to looking after vines instead. He says Yering is investing in “precision viticulture mapping” so it can “hunt out” the right areas to pinpoint parcels of fruit for key wines such as this luscious Pinot Noir. There
    • 2020 was a warm vintage in Bolgheri and there’s a plumpness to the fruit alright but it never overpowers in this classy red primed for earlier drinking. To look at the wine is deep ruby red with purple-red edging; the blend is Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot – generous and ripe – but with a youthful grip to the tannins. On the nose you find ripe red fruit, cherries, redcurrant, a hint of cream and milk chocolate, a lift of violets. In the mouth the wine is approachable, ripe, structured, with a sinewy streak at the core which is crying out for a ragu sauce, at this early stage of its life, for balance. In terms of winemaking the wine is vinified in steel and concrete then aged in wood barriques – 25% new – for 12 months, then blended and finished with another three months barrique-ageing.
    • Is white port Portugal’s ‘best kept secret’? More gastronomic than ruby or tawny and best served like a white wine. Kopke produces 1.5m litres a year across all categories and is arguably the leading brand. They still have this beautiful 1935 in barrel – made when Elvis Presley was born – and is bottled according to demand. Deep brown, drier style (81g r/s) with obvious complexity – dried figs, molasses and spice tin. The acidity is still a bright 5.2 and the alcohol (because of the evaporation over the years) is now 21.5% A true vin de meditation.
    • Rosé 2021, Château Galoupet, Cru Classe de Provence Worldwide rosé expert Elizabeth Gabay MW says that she’s always attracted to a rosé in a non-clear bottle as it has a story to tell and is not playing the ‘pretty in pink’ game. This is certainly the case with this debut release from Möet Hennessy’s latest project in Provence, a premium barrel-aged rosé from a rediscovered house which has a long history, but which has undergone some radical rethinking. First, the glass is amber so that 70% of it can be made from recycled glass, there is also a second wine which comes in a flat recycled plastic bottle. In organic conversion, and under the helm of ex-Krug’s Jessica Julmy, the château is aiming to be a standard bearer of sustainability in the region. As for the wine it is very classy indeed and sits quite comfortably alongside the other premium
    • Le Cupole, Trinoro, Rosso Toscana, 2020 Andrea Franchetti, who sadly passed away last December, was a master blender in this small estate in South East Tuscany and this baby sibling of the grand vin which will be out next year shows why as it is a stupendous blend of Cabernet Franc (58%), Merlot (32%), Cabernet Sauvignon (6%) and Petit Verdot (4%). It’s a bold, structured wine that manages that difficult task of packing a punch with intensity and concentration yet being cellar-fresh at the same time. Vivid purple, the aromatics combine oak and vanilla with oodles of ripe plums and elderberries; the mouthfeel is warm, open, generous with black berries, plums and wild cherries held in check by a touch of blue-plum-skin sharpness on the finish. 14.5% abv but you wouldn’t know it. A masterclass in winemaking.
    • What a great idea. A vodka that is made from sheep’s whey – a waste product from cheese production that would normally be poured down the drain – that comes from a rare crossbreed of sheep farmed in the Cotswolds. Personally I am not normally a vodka drinker but Blacklion’s signature serve – neat from the freezer over ice – is very good indeed. There’s not much in the way of aromatics, but the creamy flavour on the palate is a winner, followed by the heat of the 40% abv. It feels very pure, there is a natural sweetness to the milk base. Really quite delicious
    • Debut into the apéritifs category and UK market for Chandon Argentina. This is a ready-to-serve spritz using Chandon brut sparkling wine as a base with a ‘garden liqueur’ made from an orange liqueur infused with herbs and spices. Influenced by the Argentine love of bitterness it has the sugar balance just about right – sweet enough to give it mass appeal as a light summer serve as well as having a bitter twang – the result of excellent provenance with its sourcing of the citrus fruit. I shared a bottle, poured over ice, with friends not in the wine trade and we all gave it the thumbs up. Very approachable, moreish and easy to drink – it is a wine that will get its staunch advocates and will make an interesting by-the-glass food pairing option for sommeliers – think red mullet salad with an orange vinaigrette.
    • Pecorino, Terre di Chieti, Cantina Tollo, 2021. Nicely made, refreshing, dry Pecorino from Abruzzo. Pale straw in colour, plenty of citrus, yellow stone fruit with herbal and floral notes. Perhaps a touch of tropical fruit too – but not too over-ripe or rich. Medium bodied with some structure and well-balanced acidity. We liked it as an aperitif and paired with fish. 13% abv
    • 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