Although Victoria is Australia’s second smallest state it has more wine regions and individual wineries than any other; and there is such a diversity of climates here that every imaginable grape variety can be grown and almost every style of wine made. Australian wine expert Roger Jones gets under the skin of the many wine regions and highlights some of the many excellent producers and wines that you can discover here.
The oft-maligned grape variety Pinotage, is slowly regaining the recognition it deserves. Much of that change in perspective is down to the work of Kanonkop and its winemaker Abrie Beeslaar who visited London last month to present 13 vintages of its outstanding Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage from the years 2006 through to the current vintage of 2019. Chef and wine expert Roger Jones caught up with Beeslaar, the Krige brothers and tasted through the wines.
The 2022 vintage of Wirra Wirra’s Church Block will be its 50th – quite a remarkable success story for a wine that has become McLaren Vale’s top selling wine. Justin Keay looks at the wine and the winery’s appeal, tastes through the range of new wines, and sees how Wirra Wirra is defined by its past as it has all eyes set on the future.
Geoffrey Dean spent four days travelling throughout the Loire – visiting estates and tasting Loire wines from Vouvray, Saumur-Champigny, Muscadet, Touraine, Anjou and many more regions. Here he picks out the domaines and wines that impressed him the most as well as discover how the Loire is making great strides both in organic viticulture and sustainability. Despite a 31% drop in volume for the 2021 harvest, the quality is excellent, and exports have risen from France’s third largest French AOP wine region.
Luke O’Cuinneagain has been the winemaker at Glenelly Estate since Bordeaux’s May de Lencquesaing first fell in love with South Africa and decided to build this estate in Stellenbosch. Luke was in London to host an eight-vintage vertical of Lady May 2010-2017 which was held to celebrate Mays’ 97th birthday, to launch the 2016 vintage, and to take stock of how the eponymous flagship Bordeaux blend, Lady May, has been changing over the years. Even news that O’Cuinneagain is upping sticks and heading over to Vergelegen, taking over from André van Rensburg in September, was not enough to stop the party.
Champagne Palmer Grands Terroirs 2015 and the Grands Terroirs 2012 in magnum were launched by Champagne Palmer & Co last Wednesday at Skye Gyngell’s Spring restaurant. CEO Rémi Vervier, who is also one of this cooperative’s five oenologists, hosted the dinner in which he laid out the company’s philosophy regarding larger formats and his backing for the on-trade. Victor Smart took one for the team.
“Whilst these wines are no way near the bulk or ‘value’ end of the spectrum in terms of price, they are actually a steal and should be on the radar of any wine buyer looking to improve on their Chilean offering.” So says Harry Crowther about the Viña Dagaz range of wines made by Marco Puyo in Chile’s Itata and Pumanque wine regions. For Crowther, discovering the Dagaz wines was a lightbulb moment – that the often-discussed world class potential of Chile’s wines had actually manifested itself some time ago… and the Dagaz wines are proof positive of its arrival.
Seven years after taking over at the helm of Champagne Henriot, one of Champagne’s last family-operated Houses, Gilles de Larouzière Henriot has overseen the launch of a bold new cuvée, Henriot L’Inattendue 2016. This single vineyard wine will be sourced entirely by whichever of the House’s Chardonnay crus ‘speak the loudest’ during the tasting of the still wines. For its inaugural release it was the fruit from the four plots at Avize which have been the bedrock of the new wine, Peter Dean reports.
Ever since the Antinori empire purchased Bocca di Lupo in 1998 the Puglia estate has helped highlight the exceptional terroir to be found in the region. Now the decision has been made for it to break free from its sister winery of Tormaresca so that the Castel del Monte and Salento areas can be highlighted and appreciated for their character and distinctive identity, and can each bask in their own glory. Geoffrey Dean had lunch with the Antinori team to discuss the changes and taste the new vintages.
Retired Michelin star chef and Champagne lover, Roger Jones was at the launch of Gosset Celebris 2008 hosted at the Zari gallery, which uses the proceeds of the gallery as a platform for teaching medics and health professionals around the world. There Jones tastes and rates the latest Gosset Celebris accompanied by incredible food supplied by Luciana Berry.
Bryant Family Vineyard is a Cabernet Sauvignon first released in 1992 which quickly established cult status alongside fellow Napa wines from Harlan Estate and Screaming Eagle. From biodynamically-certified Bryant Estate, the wine is made entirely from estate fruit and has picked up more Parker points than many vignerons have had hot dinners – including four 100-pointers… release price is also First Growth territory. But the new team led by Bettina Bryant and winemaker Kathryn Carothers seems less fazed by points and prices than by making balanced wines that speak of the place they come from, as Peter Dean discovered when he had lunch with them and tasted through the range including some impressive library releases.
Sarah McCleery recently returned from a deep-dive exploration of the Roussillon – finding out what makes it tick, tasting a range of terroir-focused wines that are using organic, biodynamic and sustainable agricultural practices, and spending time with the people who are making these wines. In Part 2 of her special report she focuses on a dozen Roussillon wineries that are making exceptional wines, many of them outstanding good value, and which should be considered for your list.
“When it comes to Zweigelt, a light hand on the tiller is required… think Pinot rather than Pinotage, Valpol rather than Calpol,” writes Chris Wilson who discovers at a Zweigelt tasting at London’s Trivet that us Brits may not be landing the best examples of these wines on these shores. Dirceu Vianna Junior MW hosted the event and he is keen to ensure that we do chime with the grape – but that means us getting the best examples from the best regions.
The Villa Maria Icon and Single Vineyard ranges were the focus of a special tasting lunch that was held to mark the 60 years since Sir George Fistonich first started one of the most successful wine brands in the Southern Hemisphere. Chantelle Nicholson’s new restaurant Apricity, a troupe of Maori dancers and a new addition to the Icon range The Attorney 60th Anniversary Pinot Noir were all part of the celebrations. Chef and wine expert Roger Jones had a ringside seat.
Back, after a two year absence, was the annual Wines of Canada tasting in London which was the perfect opportunity for Justin Keay to discover first-hand how the Canadian wine scene has changed since its last generic outing – and it all seems to be going in the right direction. Nova Scotia is becoming more than a one-trick pony, Pinot Noir is getting stronger and 10 wineries, in particular, stood out for him as ones which should be on your radar.
At £30k a bottle In Bond, Liber Pater 2018 is the world’s most expensive (and controversial?) wine – a Bordeaux red made with rare, ungrafted varieties in the style of Nineteenth Century claret. To launch it, Birley Wine Club hosted an extraordinary evening pouring the 2015 alongside other rare wines. Peter Dean joined Neal Martin and winemaker Loic Pasquet at a once-in-a-lifetime event to taste Bordeaux in the same way that Napoleon did.
The vagaries of the climate are what makes a vintage unique and 2021 certainly brought a host of unpredictable weather events that left their mark on last year’s Pays d’Oc rosés. The frosts of April were just one of the challenges that vignerons faced here but they have risen to the challenge to produce an incredible range of creative rosés that are more delicate and pink than usual. Elizabeth Gabay MW reports on Pays d’Oc Rosé 2021.
Clos des Mouches is one of the mythical walled vineyards in Burgundy with the influential Maison Joseph Drouhin owning half of it. Restored back from ill health, the vineyards are now at the peak of their powers as chef and wine expert Roger Jones discovered when he was invited by Frédérick Drouhin to join him for an exclusive lunch to celebrate the centenary of their ownership.
The Wines from Spain tasting is back and is heading to Glasgow and London in June – June 20 and June 28 respectively. In all there will be 48 producers from 60 different Spanish DOs travelling to show their wines and give buyers the chance to see the diversity of quality wines that are now coming out of the country. Ahead of the show we talk to Fernando Muñoz, UK director for Foods and Wines from Spain, about what buyers can expect whilst he also picks out the key highlights of Spanish’s wines performance in export in recent years.
To launch the new Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle Itération No 25, the Champagne house’s Lucie Pereyre de Nonancourt chose London’s Elystan Street restaurant where Michelin-starred chef Philip Howard and David Hesketh MW presented the new multi-vintage cuvée alongside a paired tasting menu and earlier iterations of Grand Siècle. Victor Smart took one for the team to find out how this stunning new cuvée was born and the guiding winemaking principles behind it.