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    Buying decisions from trend setting trade and The Buyer tastings

    Tasting: Wine
    Chanson 2020

    How 18 of the new Domaine Chanson 2020 Burgundies were tasting

    After sampling the 2019 vintage this time last year with a tasting kit at home, it was good to try the new Chanson 2020 vintage in the flesh with the estate choosing Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge as this year’s venue. As always the tasting was dominated by wines made from the 45 hectares Chanson owns in and around Beaune, and it was a good opportunity to take a deep dive into the quality of the 16 1er cru sites (and two Grand Cru sites) it both owns and makes négoces wines from.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Clare Valley

    How Clare Valley Cab Sauv blind-tasted against Old World’s best

    It could have been called Judgement at Pall Mall, a blind tasting of the best of Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignons against some of the most prestigious Cabernets from the rest of the world, including Inglenook and some of the top Bordeaux estates. But it was the name Wendouree in the small print of the invite that got the pulse racing of our man at the tasting, Roger Jones, who dusted off his senior railcard, and hopped on the early train into town to bag himself front row at this historic event. It’s rare to get a chance to try Wendouree, this legendary Clare Valley Cab Sauv, and it was fascinating to try it against other Clare Valley Cabs as well as the best of the Old World.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Mike Turner Long Read

    Mike Turner’s interesting wines to look out for in 2022

    With fingers in so many pies – wine consultant, importer, online retailer, writer and restaurateur – Mike Turner can always be relied on to come up with some fascinating choices of wine to put on your radar. Looking back at the wines that moved him over the past 12 months, he is recommending you catch up with them over the next 12 months – not so much a Best Of 2021 as a What’s Hot In 2022. Take it away Mike.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Albert Bichot

    How Bichot coped with 2020: the most unique vintage in 20 years

    The 2020 vintage was the hottest year ever in Burgundy – beating even 2003 and previous hottest vintage 2018 – and there were also drought issues. Miraculously, however, there are no signs in the wines of over-ripeness or cooked characters and, writes Geoffrey Dean, there is the right amount of structure and substance to allow these wines to age for a considerable length of time. Dean hears from Albert Bichot’s team of the technical adjustments they made to cope with the challenges and recommends six of the wines from its extensive range that you need to have on your buying radar.

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    Tasting: Wine
    roger jones cswwc

    Roger Jones: 10 wines that completely blew me away in 2021

    Most of us in the wine trade can safely say that we have a reasonable stash of bottles. For Roger Jones, however, when he nips down to his cellar he’s going into an Aladdin’s cave of vinous delights that, when it was part of his now-closed Michelin-starred restaurant, won him the AA’s best wine list in the UK for a number of years. So, in Roger’s best wines of 2021 review, expect some rare treats alongside more recent wine releases that he has tasted wearing his various hats for Decanter, The Buyer, IWSC and the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships.

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    Tasting: Wine
    pic Geoffrey

    Geoffrey Dean’s Top 2021 wines: South Africa dominates

    It comes as little surprise that five of Geoffrey Dean’s Top wines of 2021 are from South African estates. Dean is a massive fan of South African wine and, in a window of opportunity, he managed to get to SA in 2021 for a blissful five weeks of catching up with old friends and discovering new wines. These are the wines that stood out and which he would recommend, plus five more from across the globe.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Top wines of 2021

    A Year in 10 Drinks… David Kermode on the best of 2021

    Making the shortlist for the IWSC’s Wine Communicator of the Year was just one of the many highlights of 2021 for David Kermode. His podcast The Drinking Hour has been drawing in listeners far and wide and, given that travel was still exceedingly restricted throughout most of the year, he did manage to make it to a large number of events many of them detailed here in his review of the top drinks of 2021 seen through the lens of 10 very different glasses.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Top wines of 2021

    What a year that was: Justin Keay picks his top 10 wines of 2021

    With a nose to sniff out some of the most interesting wines on the planet, and with an eye for a bargain, wine expert Justin Keay’s review of the top wines of the year is always a must-read. Of the 10 wines that floated his boat this year Keay includes a red from Crete, a super-premium Carmenere from Chile and a single vineyard Assyrtiko that retails for £6.99. There’s space for a West Coast Chardonnay (remember those?), an English fizz featuring a blend of 28 back vintages and, like our drinks editor Peter Dean yesterday, reserves special mention for the wines of Spain that are really going places.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Top 10 wines of 2021 Long Read

    Peter Dean’s Top 10 wines of 2021: another embarrassment of riches

    Every year our drinks editor and the tasting team choose the wines that stood out above the many others. 2021 was no exception although it was another ‘year of tasting differently’ with Covid-19 affecting opportunities to taste wines physically alongside winemakers and importers. There were, however, more real life tastings to enjoy in the UK than in 2020 and the online experience was improving all the time, witness Wine Australia’s superb Connect website. For Peter Dean it was also the first year for covering premium Champagne and sparkling wine on The Buyer with two making it to his final list and an impressive five still wines coming from Spain and Portugal. All the wines listed are new releases and not taken from library stock, including the one wine that was made in the Nineteenth Century.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Cheval Blanc

    Geoffrey Dean: my night out with Cheval Blanc 2005 and 2009

    100,000 meals delivered to children in need was the serious purpose of a once-in-a-lifetime charity dinner at The Birley Wine Club last week. The frivolous side was drinking Krug, Cheval Blanc 2005 and 2009 as well as rounding the evening off with Yquem 2011. For Geoffrey Dean it was a rare opportunity to see how the vintages are evolving, with the ‘vintage of the millennium’, the 2005, possessing the structure and freshness to take it easily into the 2030s and beyond.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Bairrada

    How to discover Bairrada’s ‘thrillingly different’ wines

    Bairrada is one of those Portuguese wine regions that could well be unfamiliar to you but, once sampled, will not easily be forgotten. It’s what keeps ‘discovering wine’ such a fascinating subject – just when you think you’ve got a complete handle on a country’s wine output along comes a selection of wines from a ‘new’ region that offers an entirely new perspective. Peter Dean tastes seven wines from a region, previously unfamiliar to him.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Languedoc Wine Camp Long Read

    Jamie Goode discovers top wines at Languedoc Wine Camp

    Over three days in September British wine writer Dr Jamie Goode was one of 10 journalists invited to be part of the inaugural session of the Languedoc Wine Camp. The idea was to give leading opinion formers an immersion into where this important wine region stands today. What is the spirit of the Languedoc? How does it make us feel? How do the wines reflect this? Goode reflects on what he learned at Camp, discusses the novel format, and picks out 14 of the many wines he tasted along the way.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Codorníu

    Roger Jones on sheer quality & value of Codorníu’s top cava

    Cava has started to make some encouraging noises of late, ever since Prosecco stole its crown of ‘alternative fizz to Champagne’. But Codorníu has never dipped out of the spotlight. This winery is Spain’s oldest family-owned business and has been producing a range of cuvées such as the Ana Blanc de Blancs and the Codorníu Ars Collecta Blanc de Noirs which can stand toe-to-toe with the world’s best sparklers. Ex-Michelin star chef and fizz expert Roger Jones went to Hispanic to taste through the Codorníu range and came back positively beaming.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Ch du Payre Long Read

    Discovering heart & soul of the classic Côtes de Bordeaux

    The Côtes de Bordeaux may be the youngest AOC in Bordeaux but, with over 950 producers, it is one of the largest and most diverse in the region – offering great value on a wide range of enjoyable, unfussy wines. The Buyer’s drinks editor, Peter Dean, tastes a selection of wines from this union of appellations, that includes Blaye, Cadillac, Castillon, Francs and Sainte-Foy and rates their potential in the UK on-trade.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Château de Marsannay

    The quality revolution happening at Château de Marsannay

    When Loire winemaker Sylvain Pabion decided to join Château de Marsannay in 2015 as chief winemaker he could already see the potential of this 34 hectare estate. The appellation of Marsannay has for long been a constant source of great quality, reasonably priced Burgundy, and here was an estate with a large chunk of that appellation which was largely being run as a tourist attraction. Since then Pabion has been leading a quality revolution at the estate, breaking up the single Marsannay cuvée into single climat wines and converting the operation into organic viticulture. Peter Dean reports and tastes five of the wines from the classic 2017 vintage, to see the progress to date.

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    Tasting: Spirit
    Boatyard Distillery

    How Boatyard Distillery chose to set out its global ambitions

    Already making a name for itself on the Irish and UK bar scene, Joe McGirr’s Boatyard Distillery has got expansion plans, new product lines and a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2023 which includes its own chocolate bars made with spent botanicals. Douglas Blyde met up with McGirr and the Boatyard team to hear the plans at a boozy brunch held at Homeboy Bar’s newest venue at London’s Embassy Gardens. 

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    Tasting: Wine
    Cerasuolo di Vittoria

    Cerasuolo di Vittoria: Justin Keay opens the door on Sicily’s DOCG

    The wines of Cerasuolo di Vittoria are a delightful blend of Nero d’Avola and the lighter, more floral, Frappato and come from a DOCG that was only created 20 years ago. Just 25 producers make these wines in a contemporary style, writes Justin Keay, easy on the tannins, with moderate acidity, little or no oak and not too hefty in alcohol. The quality is high as is the quality to price ratio, making them excellent choices for today’s on-trade.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Lisboa Long Read

    Lisboa wines: discover a dozen wines to have on your radar

    The Lisboa wine region has been compared to that of Chile and California in that it is a long, thin coastal zone with fresh wines made close to the cool Atlantic while more heavily-textured, deeper wines are made in the drier more protected inland areas. Picking a dozen of the top, most representative Lisboa wines our drinks editor Peter Dean tastes and rates them according to quality and value and assesses their potential for the on-trade.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Ricasoli

    Are 2018 Ricasoli wines the best Chianti Classicos you can buy?

    Think of Ricasoli and you think of Chianti Classico. This Tuscan estate is almost synonymous with the region and the wine – being by far the largest estate in Chianti Classico and having an historical association that dates back through over 800 years of winemaking. Under the helm of the 32nd Barone Francesco Ricasoli, however, the estate has been progressing forwards in leaps and bounds with a major soil study, replanting programme and introduction of three Gran Selezione crus producing wines that are arguably the best Chiantis money can buy. Peter Dean tastes and rates the new 2018 vintage of these three wines – Roncicone, Colledilà and CeniPrimo – as well as the estate’s flagship wine, the 2018 Castello di Brolio which, for the first time ever, is being made with 100% pure Sangiovese.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Ribera del Duero

    Tim Atkin’s Top 100 Ribera del Dueros show region’s dynamism

    “If you think Ribera is all about power and extraction, then think again, because it absolutely is not.” So said Tim Atkin MW at the launch of his Top 100 Ribera Del Duero wines which went some way to prove why this is a region on the move and one that wine buyers would be wise to keep an eye on. Village and vineyard specific wines are becoming more common, and there is a new breed of winemaker keen on making contemporary wines that express the high altitude terroir of the region. David Kermode was our man at the Top 100 tasting and the lunch to launch the event – picking 10 of Atkin’s wines to reflect the quality and variety on show.

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    Instataste

    Tasting with pictures View All
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    • A new Vin Nature from Domaine de Montille, at the @LibertyWines tasting – first time the new French natural wine classification introduced last year has been used at this estate. Purple, fresh, dense, micro-fine tannins, lots of whole bunch with the intensity of the 2020 vintage. Really packed a punch - amazing this is Pinot!
    • Some of the highlights of lesser-known Bourgogne appellation wines shown by  @thormanhunt  last week
    • Wines from Fixin (pronounced ‘Fissin’) don’t get seen much here in the UK, but as for the whites from this lesser-known appellation, they really are as rare as hens’ teeth – with just 5 hectares of vines in the entire appellation devoted to Chardonnay. This wine, from ‘a producer to watch’ was complex, angular with a pleasant bitter edge. Tasted at the  @liberty_wines  tasting.  @vinsdebourgogne   #bourgogneweek 
    • Stylish, balanced Chardonnay which marries well the ripe 2019 vintage with mineral-driven acidity from this lesser-known appellation in North Bourgogne. Part of the Chablis/ Grand Auxerrois region there are just 56 hectares grown here and, because it is not yet ‘on the map’ offers terrific value for money (£15.50 a bottle). Pale gold; bright aromas of summer hay, honeysuckle and white orchard fruit; On the palate you find honeyed spiced pear, ripe citrus balanced by fresh, crisp apple and taut acidity. The wine has a good deal of concentration, is surprisingly complex but has this thrilling core of acidity that holds the ripeness in place. Excellent value.
    • This 2020 Louis Latour Viré-Clessé is pale brilliant gold, the bouquet is pretty with floral notes (honeysuckle, acacia), light stone fruit (white peach), lemon balm and verbena; the palate is generous, ripe but balanced, a slight minty edge to the fruit which is overt in this sunny, dry vintage. There’s nothing not to like – so easy going you could put a straw in the bottle and pull your sun hat over your eyes. Viré-Clessé is a lesser known appellation in Bourgogne that is as straightforward as the wines which are made there – white wine only with no 1er cru sites, it is a reliable introduction to the wines of the Mâconnais region, the most Southern end of the region. Viré-Clessé was formed in 1999 with the merging of two appellations Mâcon-Viré and Mâcon-Clessé. You can feel the sun in these wines, the fruit is ripe and the mouthfeel
    • Think of Mâcon as a whites-only appellation and you would be wrong. True, for every one bottle of Mâcon rouge this, the most Southern end of Bourgogne, makes ten bottles of Mâcon blanc, but the reds can be great fun and amazingly good value. The reds here can be a blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir and good examples like really are the archetypal brasserie wine – likeable young, they are joyous, fleshy wines that have great acidity that are the perfect accompaniment to a board of charcuterie or an onglet steak with braised endive. Louis Jadot’s Mâcon is 80% Gamay and 20% Pinot Noir; on the eye the wine is light ruby with purple edging coming from the Gamay; aromas are of red fruits – strawberries, redcurrants and raspberries – quite intense in this fruity vintage; the palate is fresh, juicy, fruity but with real vivacity and an acidity
    • 2020 is a vintage in Bourgogne where you don’t need to be spending big bucks on 1er Cru and Grand Cru wines. This was a small selection of highlights from today’s Charles Taylor tasting - all wines from lesser known appellations - or wines from appellations with an additional geographical denomination.  @vinsdebourgogne 
    • Pure, light-bodied, unoaked style of Mâcon with terrific finesse and great value for money. Pale gold; elegant nose with pure fruit aromas – honeydew melon, white peach – and a lemon blossom note with just a hint of wild fennel. Refined on the palate, the wine has lean citrus acidity with a buttery, oak finish enlivened by a crunch of tart pineapple. Delightful. Even though this is one of the more expensive Mâcon Uchizy wines at £13.85 a bottle this is amazing value. Mâcon Uchizy is what is referred to as an ‘appellation with an additional geographical denomination’. Part of the most Southern part of Bourgogne, it is just 46 hectares of vineyard, split across five producers making exclusively white wines.  @vinsdebourgogne 
    • Lovely example of a Rully white that ages so well – getting more golden and rounded with age. Pale-medium gold; the bouquet offers ripe lemon, honeysuckle, almond and a buttery-oak touch; On the palate there is concentration and depth of flavour with ripe Sicilian lemon, quince, some exotic fruits, a lovely thin-grained texture and an immensely long finish. Lots of fruit and ageing very gracefully. A great advert for Bourgogne Chardonnay and a great advert for the standard of wine you can get from Rully, a ‘lesser-known’ appellation in the Côte Chalonnaise. A great match with the Sunday roast chicken. Expect more like this during the week as it is Bourgogne Week in the UK, celebrating the new 2020 vintage.  @vinsdebourgogne 
    • Winemaker and terroir evangelist Telmo Rodriguez released the 7,000 bottles of his inaugural Yjar 2017 through La Place in Bordeaux, the first Rioja to be sold down this route. If, like me, you rate his Remelluri Blanco as one of the world’s great white wines then make a beeline for this young, clean and modern 3.8-hectare, single-vineyard cuvée from the limestone foothills of the Sierra de Toloño in Rioja Alavesa and made from a massal selection of Tempranillo, Graciano, Garnacha, Granegro and Rojal. The wine manages to tread that difficult line between rich, dense and concentrated and beautifully fresh and elegant, with a wonderful depth and complexity that works now and will work for many years to come. There are a ton of flavours and aromatics that are precise, impactful and merge brilliantly to create a sense of a place where the wine was made and where you wouldn’t mind
    • A crisp, elegant, value-driven white blend of Trebbiano, Pecorino, Passerina and Malvasia grown on clay soils 300m up in the Falerio region of Central Italy. Limpid; orchard fruit, hint of aniseed on the nose; light to medium body, with a good balance between a rich, mouth-filling fruity roundness cut through with keen acidity and a zesty lime flesh acidity, keeping everything in check. Good to have a wine that’s 12.5% abv
    • Quality premium Pinot Grigio made from Cantina Tramin’s best vineyards on 450m hills that will challenge most people’s preconceptions of what a Pinot Grigio should taste like – this is rich, complex with exquisite finesse, and deliciously different. To look at, the wine is pale gold, the bouquet offers aromas of ripe orchard fruit, white peach, with an attractive floral, honeysuckle lift and meadow herbs; the palate is well poised between ripe honeyed fruit and tightly reined in – which is what you expect from Alto Adige/ Sud Tirol with its South facing, mineral rich slopes and cool nights that preserve the acidity in the fruit. Quality wine with a very classy label from a union of families/ ‘cooperative’ in Alto Adige.
    • It’s not for nothing that James Sucking has said of this hedonistic 100-pointer Chianti Classico Gran Selezione that it is “perhaps the greatest Chianti Classico I have ever tasted.” It doesn’t put a foot wrong and is so complete an expression that it is quite mind-blowing. It’s such a credit to Francesco and his team that in this, only the fourth vintage of the wine, it is already arguably the best Chianti Classico money can buy. To look at the wine is light, ruby-red, transparent; there is a slightly retiring bouquet but, as it opens, it offers a number of cherry notes, along with sweet tobacco, wet Tuscan clay, red liqourice, raw beef, all simply in harmony; the palate is extraordinary, a perfect balance to the wine with everything in its right place – fruit profile, tannins, structure, texture, acidity, juiciness. It’s like the highest house of cards with not
    • Classic and very classy Bordeaux blanc that really shone in the 2019 vintage and looks good to drink now or any time over the next 20 years. Both aromatically and on the palate this wine offers so much and seriously good value given the standard of winemaking. To look at, the wine is medium yellow; the pretty bouquet offers honeysuckle, pollen, lemon peel and gooseberry, with a richer honeyed/creamy note with time in the glass; on the palate the wine is light to medium weight, with a slight oiliness but lovely acidity and balance to carry the baked orchard fruit, orange peel, lemon zest and saline. Structured with some power but it all hangs together effortlessly and superbly well.
    • Jansz is synonymous with freshness and this 2015 vintage shows why major players like Penfolds are increasingly sourcing fruit from Tasmania to get the acidity that is becoming harder to find on mainland Australia. This sparkler is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, partially barrel-fermented with over four years on the lees, it has a gorgeous depth through having had extra time in the bottle. Pale to medium gold with a fine bead; the bouquet has citrus zest, brioche, toast, seaweed and lemon curd; the attack is clean, fresh, precise and detailed with complex flavours of red berry pavlova, white peach, pistachio nougat, tarte au citron. The wine is structured with impressive acidity and great balance. Fabulous and great VFM
    • The influence of Petrus’s Jean-Claude Berrouet is already being felt in this Saint-Estèphe property that is reaching truly great heights now and is becoming a real sleeper with every vintage. This is a stunning wine; to look at: opaque, deep ruby with cherry red edging; the nose is slightly shy at first and then reveals complexity and layers of black cherry, camphor, cedar, sweet tobacco, spice and crushed stone. The palate is medium to full weight, an intense core of beautifully judged dark fruit – ripe but constrained by chalky, fine tannins, saline. Dark, powerful and vibrant, classic really.
    • Winemakers Graça Gonçalves and Gregory Viennois are big fans of the Northern Rhône, so this is very much a Portuguese version of a Rhône-style blend of Syrah with 4% Viognier added for fleshiness and floral aromatics – the wine aged in new French oak for 18 months and 15 months in bottle. The aromatics are refined and alluring, with summer pudding (red and black berry fruit), toasty oak, cracked black pepper; in the mouth the wine is medium weight, fresh and elegant with velvety tannins, micro-fine texture and a pleasing redcurrant edge to the raspberry, plum and wild bramble fruit. Great balance, lovely acidity with a mineral drive at its heart and a dry river stone finish on the tongue. From the Lisboa wine region.
    • Idiosyncratic Burgundian-style – 11 months in wood, 6 months in tank – with this excellent new addition to Giraud’s already impressive range. 100% Pinot Noir, it boasts summer pudding on the nose, red plum, apple tart, a hint of wild mint and spice. The palate is rich and creamy, an ample mouthfeel, shot through with a bright acidity that brings poise and makes drinking quite effortless. Dosage is 6 g/L, disgorged July 2020
    • Super impressed with this crémant from Kumeu River, which has moved on a great deal since we first tasted a prototype in Gisbourne three years ago at the international Chardonnay and Sparkling conference. A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (60/40) it is bone dry, the nose has a fresh bread, leesy character, and breadth and weight on the mid-palate. You pick up ripe lemon, a smoky character; the fruit detailed on the palate and well preserved with vibrant acidity from the fruit’s early picking, there’s a chalky texture. This is from the 2015 harvest, bottled in 2016 and disgorged in 2019. Great value. Does everything that Michael Brajkovich touches, turn to gold?
    • New 2019 vintage of this Haut-Médoc Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnel that is as good as all the vintage reports suggests. Merlot 40%, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%, Cabernet Franc 15%, Petit Verdot 15% This was my wine of the annual tasting; great, complex nose – blackberry, mulberry, cassis, vanilla pod, cheese cloth. On the generous palate it had ripe black fruit, a great spine of wood-tinged acidity, fine-grained, ripe tannins; grip on the finish. At the moment it needs food but you can see it has many more years ahead of it and where it wants to go. (£20-25)