In order to prove the food-matching potential of its wines, Languedoc estate Château Haut Gléon took the brave decision to set up a wine-pairing dinner of its range with 3-Michelin starred food. The cuisine of Gilles Goujon at Auberge du Vieux Puits is notoriously complex with one dish involving an oversize oyster that’s sealed in a smoke-filled bubble that you can only reach with a hammer. How was the meal and how did the wines match up? The Buyer’s Victor Smart needed no encouragement to jump on a plane to Languedoc to find out
Bien Boire en Beaujolais is a wine fair like few others – a cool meeting of minds and vignerons, where the Gamay has an undertow and the brass band plays the hits of Radiohead. Most of what happens in Bien Boire en Beaujolais stays there – because participants have little or no recollection of ever having been. The Buyer’s Lisse Garnett bought a ticket and reports back (remarkably well) on 15 of the standout wines, and points out that, contrary to the wine fair, what happened in Beaujolais does not stay in Beaujolais – in fact a good deal of the whole swerve of contemporary winemaking, it could be argued, from natural wine to crunchy quaffers, was born and migrated from this very special part of Burgundy.
A basic rum punch recipe involves: one part sour, two parts sweet, three parts strong and four parts weak, but how else can we pimp this Caribbean cocktail and make it stand out from the next bar? To find out, Marina Ray travelled to St Kitts & Nevis to take a two-day Kittian RumMaster course, then sampled a wide range of differing rum punches from bars by the road, on the beach, in the bush and in the swankiest of hotels. Rum punch is served everywhere here, 24/7, which does mean… rum punch for breakfast.
Swig has been a key importer at the forefront of the New South Africa movement but there is so much more to its portfolio, argues Roger Jones who highlights wines from R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia, Flint, Domaine Castera, Chateau de Messey, Henri et Gilles Buisson and Stephane Ogier as examples of fine wine at sensible prices as well, of course as his old chums from Hemel-En-Aarde in SA, Restless River.
The wines of Domaine des Tourelles can be seen as ‘off piste’ because of their limited use of oak and use of unusual varieties, but that’s one of their greatest strengths, argues Justin Keay who tastes through the range of this exciting Lebanese producer, alongside owner/ winemaker Faouzi Issa. New wines include an orange wine made with fruit from 150 year-old Merwah vines, fermented in terracotta; plus a tense, racy white made from Merwah and Obeidi – wines which Issa believes recalls Lebanon’s winemaking heyday of the 1940s and 50s.
Legend has it that the first sweet wines of Tokaj were created in the Thirteenth Century when a war delayed the harvest which ended up full of botrytised berries. True or not, Lisse Garnett was in Hungary to separate fact from fiction but also to make a fascinating personal discovery of dry Szamorodni which is a wine style here which uses botrytised fruit with the wine then fermented under flor and aged oxidatively. The results are spectacular and like an intellectual exploration in a glass, as Garnett reports
Alain Ducasse’s three Michelin star restaurant at the Dorchester was the setting for the launch of Ca’ del Bosco Edizione 45 and a full range tasting of Maurizio Zanella’s other Franciacortas from this prestigious North Italian estate. Dodging the blue lobster risotto, ceviche, caviar and top cuvées from the Vintage Collection was our own Victor ‘take-one-for-the-team’ Smart who came away suitably impressed.
Producing wine in a world-famous region such as Barolo can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the prestige means that your bottles will always have a market, but all too often the personalities and individuality behind each label can take a back seat to the fame of the name. On a recent fact-finding trip to Piemonte, The Buyer’s Mike Turner found a Barolo producer whose wines, and the stories behind them, highlighted the quality, charm, and sense of fun that can be found all over North-West Italy’s most famous set of vineyards.
When Wiston Estate won WineGB’s best UK contract winery award last year it was the fourth time this West Sussex-based winery had received this prestigious accolade. Richard and Kirsty Goring, who run the estate, have been busy planting new vines and opening a swanky new cellar door shop, which joins the equally-swanky on-site restaurant, Chalk. Winemaking-wise Wiston has also seen changes with head winemaker Dermot Sugrue departing after 16 years, still wines now a definite thing and a change of distributor from Swig to Fells. Justin Keay popped over to Pulborough, met up with the team and tasted through the new wines.
Although sommeliers and consumers alike have become increasingly familiar with the individual qualities of wines from Georgia, Armenian wines are a lesser-known quantity. This is all the more reason for the on-trade to embrace the, argues Justin Keay, as they tick a variety of key boxes – they are gastronomic wines, made with autochtonous varieties, grown at high altitudes on ancient vines. In fact, there’s a good case for saying that these are the oldest wines on earth. Keay reports from the GInVino tasting and recommends a variety of wines to put on your buying radar.
After almost three decades producing rum in Barbados, Foursqure is still considered a newcomer, but with Mount Gay no longer producing 1703 Master Select, this most enterprising distiller senses a gap in the market, says Geoffrey Dean. Reporting from the Caribbean, Dean tours the plant and tastes through Foursquare’s range whose premium rums have a distinctive second maturation in a variety of used casks.
Victor Smart tastes through the new whites, rosés and reds of Provence estate Château Sainte Roseline with owner Aurélie Bertin at Petersham Nurseries’ La Goccia restaurant in London. The challenge, Smart argues, is for this producer (who also owns and manages Château des Demoiselles) to keep moving with the times as well as keep one foot in its traditional past through which it has accomplished so much… especially with the pressures of drought, climate change and bureaucracy.
As tastes change, both of wines and the foods they’re matched with, so winemakers are responding with different styles of wine, levels of alcohol, tannin and acidity. Nowhere is this more true than with Australian Shiraz. Two decades ago these wines delivered a heck of a punch with high concentration and alcohol levels. Retired Michelin star chef and New World wine expert, Roger Jones, looks back fondly as he samples and recommends 24 of the finest new style Australian Shiraz from the latest vintages.
California wines are changing with the future looking bright for alternative varieties, and wines made by new winemakers, producing contemporary styles for a younger demographic. The well known names and heavy hitters are still holding their own, argues Justin Keay, but it is in the middle bracket – the wines that sit between blue-chip estates and supermarket wines – that you can discover amazingly good value.
With so many tastings in the wine trade calendar how do busy buyers, importers and sommeliers decide which ones to go to? What makes one stand out over another? What do sommeliers, in particular, look for when they go to a trade event? To find out we asked Mattia Scarpazza, head sommelier at Petersham Nurseries, to attend the recent portfolio tasting of the fast growing Wanderlust Wine that is quietly supplying many of the hip and happening restaurants in the country.
The UK’s first wine tasting dedicated to the wines of Toro was a real eye-opener, writes Robert Mason. This North-West region of Spain has long been associated with concentrated, high alcohol red wines made from its own Tempranillo clone. But last month’s tasting in London, coinciding with the 35th anniversary of the Toro DO, displayed a wide range of wine styles that were as unexpected as they were refreshing.
At the global launch of Guidalberto 2021, the point was made and emphasised that Guidalberto is not the second wine to Sassicaia, but a standalone wine. A Bordeaux blend, it was first produced by Tenuta San Guido 23 years ago as an experiment with Merlot and as a wine made for early consumption by a broader audience. Despite this, aged Guidalberto wines dating back to 2002 were used to show its durability with the estate’s Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta and importer Armit Wines’ Brett Fleming explaining the wine’s unique identity.
Daniel Lambert is just as bound to share a controversial viewpoint about the wine trade as he is to introduce buyers to new and exciting wines. Eschewing a London venue for his fifth portfolio tasting, and basing it in Bristol instead, Lambert believes that the wine trade is too London-centric and proved the point, he believes, with the outcome of the event. Elizabeth Gabay MW was there for The Buyer, talks to Lambert and picks out the interesting wines from the new producers on show.
Long regarded as one of the world’s leading commentators on Champagne, Tyson Stelzer has had an atypical route to the profession – as an Australian teacher from the Gold Coast. With last Thursday’s London launch of his Champagne Guide Online, however, his expert analysis becomes more readily accessible as Anne Krebiehl MW discovered when she met him for lunch, an event that included just one or two rather special bottles.
The conundrum of Juan Pablo Murgia, head winemaker at Grupo Avinea, is a familiar one for Argentine winemakers… despite branching out into different styles of winemaking, using a wide range of grape varieties, all roads lead to Malbec – what the group and country is known for and what drives the wine business there. Just prior to today’s World Malbec Day, Justin Keay sat down with Murgia to taste the new wines of Bodega Argento and Otronia, talk Malbec, terroir, and the huge issues facing the exporting of wines from Argentina.