Sweet Tokaj wines are the best known in Hungary but they are not where they need to be in the international market where an overall decline in consumption of sweet wines has offset massive, sporadic growth in some areas of the US. The Buyer’s Geoffrey Dean visited Michelin-starred Trivet restaurant in London, speaks to the key movers and shakers in the Hungarian wine scene and picks 10 wines that every wine buyer should have on their radar.
London’s Brunello 2019 tasting was an opportunity to assess just how good the latest Brunello di Montalcino vintage is and whether it compares to the classic 2016s. Justin Keay sums up the vintage as one which is approachable now but also has great potential to age, and picks 12 wines from the 46 producers that were showing wines this year. He also looks at some of the issues facing this Southern part of Tuscany and talks to event organiser Walter Speller about how the region needs to change to stay ahead of the game.
Argentinian wine icon, Daniel Pi, recently visited London to help launch the new vintages of the luxury Bemberg Estate Wines project. For many years the wine-making guru behind the popular wines coming out of the hugely successful Grupo Peñaflor, Pi has returned to the cellar, this time to take charge of a range of premium Argentine wines under the Bemberg Estate label. We sent The Buyer’s Mike Turner along to meet the man himself for a guided tasting through the new releases.
Rupert Millar confesses to coming away invigorated and inspired from the inaugural DO Penedès wine event in London last month. For too long in the shadow of mass market Cava producers this Catalan wine region has also not enjoyed the attention that its neighbour Priorat has in the past 20 years. But still wines featuring Xarel-lo and Sumoll, amongst other indigenous grape varieties, will hopefully correct that, argues Millar who hears from Álvaro Ribalta MW and Sarah Jane Evans MW about why these wines suit the on-trade so well. He also tastes and recommends six of the 60 wines on show that require immediate attention.
When Pays d’Oc Chardonnay shot to prominence in the 1990s, it owed much of its recognition to the New World producers, particularly in California, who had spearheaded the concept of varietal wines, taking the native French grape and infusing it with a new level of extroversion. Key to this was the role played by oak, which became closely associated with Chardonnay in the public imagination – and followed the grape back to Pays d’Oc as it rode the waves of international market trends.
Viña Valdivieso’s flagship brand, Caballo Loco (meaning “Crazy Horse” in Spanish) has recently launched two new wines. Head winemaker Brett Jackson and Caballo Loco co-founder Christian Sotomayor were recently in London to unveil the brand new white wine Caballo Loco Blanco N°1 and Caballo Loco N°20, the celebrated multi-vintage red blends, now in its 20th edition. Leona De Pasquale met with Jackson to uncover the secrets behind the brand’s three-decade success and to delve into the creation of its inaugural white wine.
Just as news was announced that 2023 is the second spectacular vintage in a row in Burgundy so Louis Jadot unveiled its Burgundy 2022 En Primeur offering in London through UK importer Hatch Mansfield. In stark contrast to the disastrous 2021 vintage, when hardly anyone had any wine to sell, 2022 came as a relief, delivering outstanding quality and quantity. However, the soaring demand has kept prices firmly anchored on the elevated end of the spectrum. Leona De Pasquale spoke with Louis Jadot’s managing director, Thibault Gagey, for an overview of this much-anticipated vintage.
It has taken a decade for Ricasoli’s new baby San Barnaba – a white wine made from 100% Trebbiano – to reach commercial standards. And sommeliers should be welcoming it with open arms, writes Peter Dean, who heralds it as yet another great new Italian white wine – and one that proves the Trebbiano naysayers as wrong. In a tasting at Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner with Ricasoli chief Francesco, Dean also tastes the full range of premium reds from this estate that is the fourth oldest in the world
The Languedoc Tour was the latest event held by trade body CIVL to shout about the uniqueness of the Languedoc, its history, its terroirs and the personalities making the wines. Rupert Millar took part, talked to producers and tasted through their ranges – six of which he turns the spotlight on and explains what makes them so special. With so many sub-regions vying for attention – which could be the next Picpoul de Pinet?
As climate change continues to alter the way in which wine is produced across the world, wine regions that had previously been on the edge of the climatic range for viable grape growing are now enjoying greater recognition for high quality and consistency. To that end, the winemakers of New Zealand and the state of Oregon on the USA’s North-West coast believe themselves kindred spirits. Both sets of wines were on show together earlier this month at the Wines From The Edge tasting in London. We sent The Buyer’s Mike Turner along to find out why these two distant regions consider themselves close neighbours and pick some of his favourites from the fine line-up on show. The Buyer’s Roger Jones, who was also at the tasting, picks the wines that floated his boat.
That was the week that was – Sherry Week, of course – and to help celebrate and discover how one restaurant approaches this international event we sent Victor Smart along to live through the Ibérica Sherry Experience – where every style of sherry is matched with different tapas. But would the staff get the level of education right? After all nobody wants to go back to class on a Saturday night… and how were the sherries tasting and what were the key standout moments?
New Zealand’s Valli Wine is one of those producers you may be reluctant to recommend – for fear of losing an allocation or sending the prices skywards. In a very short space of time Valli has started making Pinot Noir that rivals some of the very best sites in Burgundy, and wine that has earned winemaker Jen Parr the New Zealand Winemaker of the Year Award. On an early Monday morning tasting in London, with the room full of the sweet smell of Pinot, Peter Dean met up with Parr and masterclass chair Matthew Jukes to discover how Valli’s wines flips the New World/ Old World paradigm on its head.
Silverhand owns the largest vineyard in the UK at a colossal 500 acres; it has already been producing a Prosecco-style sparkling called Bramble Hill for M&S. So what does the future hold? The Buyer’s Victor Smart tasted through the new range of its wines including the still white Solaris, a Blanc de Blancs, another Prosecco-style wine, Silver Reign, and the Traditional Method fizz called KYNG that retails for a cool £249 a bottle or £395 with Norman Foster-designed packaging.
All of those advocates of South Australian Grenache – winemakers and voices in the trade – are being proved right as the sheer quality of the wines coming out from Down Under are proving to be peerless. To make the point Amelia Jukes held an event in London’s 67 Pall Mall called ‘Continents of Grenache – an exploration of South Australian Grenache’ to highlight what South Australia can offer and to pit them against the best from across the globe. Roger Jones was in attendance and picks out his highlights that include wines from Alkina, Cirillo, John Duval and Yangarra.
The Chardonnay grape rose to international fame in the 1980s and has since become the World’s most planted white variety. In Pays d’Oc, more than 600,500 hectolitres of varietal Chardonnay were made in 2022 – which amounts to almost the combined total of ALL the other Pays d’Oc varietal whites! There’s a good reason for this: Chardonnay thrives in the sunny south of France, making a seemingly endless array of different wines, the quality of which never ceases to improve. Dominic Rippon selects 14 of his favourite IGP Pays d’Oc unoaked Chardonnays from a recent tasting of the 2022 vintage.
As the organiser of a Crémant v Cap Classique masterclass, it was sod’s law for Les Grands Chais de France that it would land just days after the South Africans knocked the French out of the Rugby World Cup. Ballsy that they should still go ahead with it but then, as France’s leading producer of traditional method sparkling wines making almost 40 million bottles a year, GCF is not known for being a shrinking violet. They have unrivalled expertise in making top-quality crémant and are the only company to make it in all eight of the PDO regions. Sarah McCleery had a ringside seat for the sparkling wine clash, tasted through the South African estates Neethlingshof and newly acquired, Villiera and reports back on what’s new at GCF in 2023.
As if battling climate change wasn’t hard enough, the Italian wine estates that travelled to London for this year’s Borsa Vini Italiani had to then combat a national rail strike and threatened London Underground strike to get people to come taste their wines. The Buyer’s Heather Dougherty managed to get to the event and found wines made with a fascinating range of grapes – ones that are familiar and many less so – a breadth of varieties that could well be Italy’s answer to coping with the changing weather.
No Champagne brand has courted such controversy as Armand de Brignac. What’s changed, though, is that lux giant LVMH has bought a 50% stake. Picking up the story is The Buyer’s Victor Smart who hooked up with the team and tasted through the new range, including the new Blanc de Noirs Assemblage Number Four which will first be available from Harrods this Christmas in a boxed set of each of the maison’s cuvées at a cool £6,400.
Hatch Mansfield’s Rhône 2022 tasting – featuring the M.CHAPOUTIER Sélections Parcellaires en Primeur – had no Michel Chapoutier in person this year, quaffing Comtes de Taittinger and regaling yarns from the Rhône valley as he likes to do. In his place were 20 wines from a selection of his sites across France, but (naturally enough) with a focus on Rhône 2022. A hot, dry, variable vintage, Rhône 2022 is throwing up a few surprises, not least the amount of freshness there is in the reds. Chapoutier’s Rhône wines were showing very well as were those selected from his other sites in Alsace, the Rhine, and Roussillon, presented in self-pour machines at Vagabond, Monument, that showed off the estate’s skill at sourcing prime fruit from old vines in fascinating soils.
The Sherry Academy hosted its first interactive tasting experience last Tuesday in the capable hands of TV’s Hannah Crosbie and Jimmy Smith – a fun, online tasting that was aimed at both devotees and the uninitiated, bringing them up to speed with the basics then digging deeper into the gastronomic uses of sherry. CRDO Jerez, which operates this free online learning platform, also used the event as a primer for Sherry Week which has its tenth anniversary starting November 6. Sophia Longhi signed up and went along for the ride.