Wine judge and former Michelin-star chef, Roger Jones, examines the latest round of awards and trophies handed out by the IWSC to 22 Margaret River wines – tasting them and determining if he agrees with their awards status or not. An expert in, and a prolific buyer of, wines from this Western Australian wine region, Jones also discovers how IWSC has increased entries for certain regions by 300% into their annual Wine Awards competition.
For Lisse Garnett her Best wines of 2023 were inextricably linked to the wine regions she visited, the estates and the many inspirational people she met on her travels. From an empowering winery in South Africa, to the second Wine Writers Retreat in Bordeaux, a Quinta in the Douro and a wine odyssey along the Loire, 2023 was a year in which Garnett re-evaluated her career and found that it is always the wine that takes pride of place.
As another dismal day of weather hits the UK so our thoughts turn to sunnier times and climes. Well that is certainly the case with Geoffrey Dean who recalls trips to Western Australia, South Africa and the South of France in his Best Wines of 2023 selection. Here are 10 wines that stood out from the many thousands Dean tasted last year, and still bring that little ray of sunshine…
As a wine judge, writer and chef, Roger Jones is well placed to give an unique perspective on wine and its many uses in the on-trade. In picking his Best wines of 2023, Jones calls upon his experiences during the year as a wine tourist in Portugal, a judge for Decanter, presenter at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships, plus delving into the wines from his award-winning cellar, and the many gifts he received from guests at his private functions.
To highlight the difference between sampling a wine at a technical tasting and drinking one with friends in the ‘real world’, the Best wines of 2023 as chosen by The Buyer’s Drinks Editor, Peter Dean, are split between wines he spat and those he swallowed. With the wines that he drank over the past 12 months, the environment and the people that the bottles were shared with were all part of the experience, and helped make 2023 glorious (vinously), even though so many world events were hard to swallow.
Eight wines made it into David Kermode’s Best wines of 2023 list – half of them Champagnes with three of the list being aged underwater or under the ground. For this wine writer and judge, the gastronomic qualities of the wines were key, especially given the somewhat nobby places he ate at during the year. Always an interesting list and a fascinating read and 2023 is no exception.
It’s that time of year again when critics reflect back on the year that’s been and compile their Best Of lists. The Buyer is no different and here we start a series of personal favourites from our regular wine reviewers, kicking off today with Justin Keay who picks the wines that wowed him the most. Being a massive fan of Mediterranean grapes there’s no surprise to see Greek and Italian wine well represented. But Justin has also been getting very fond of wines from the British Isles, especially as the quality improves dramatically.
The Sud De France team were back in London this October promoting its annual Sud de France Top 100 selection. The selection is designed to showcase the best wines from across the Occitanie region, as voted for by a sage panel of some of the UK’s finest buyers and tasters. We sent the Buyer’s Mike Turner along to find out more about the wines on show and pick his favourites from the exciting line-up.
Les Vignobles Foncalieu is a Southern French cooperative that is rightly proud of its extensive wine range and the agricultural standards that help produce them. To show off the quality of its premium range it invited Peter Dean to an exclusive tasting in the heart of Carcassonne where he selected 10 of the best wines that will work in the UK market.
A Turkish breakfast re-imagined as a dessert with olive caramel and yoghurt cake was just one of the inspirational courses at a special lunch at Trivet to show how well Hungarian Sweet Tokaj pairs with a range of foods – especially savoury combinations. Wine-food pairing expert Linda Galloway met up with Trivet’s ex-Fat Duck dream team of Isa Bal MS and Jonny Lake who used the acidity and sweetness of a range of Sweet Tokaj wines to counter-balance bitterness in foods and bring out the best in rich, salty and spicy cuisine
Earlier this month, Tim Atkin MW published his Ribera Del Duero Annual Report 2023 and Top 100 list. This increasingly influential list was on show the day after at a London tasting to showcase both the quality and range of styles prevalent across this central Spanish DO. We sent The Buyer’s Mike Turner along to taste through the wines himself. Whilst there he caught up with Atkin and the Consejo’s Pablo Baquera Peironcely to explore the impact the annual Top 100 is having on this now celebrated region.
A relative newcomer to the region, Bodegas Roda is proving that you can go against the grain and still make hugely impressive Rioja wines. At a vertical of its super-premium Cirsion wine we discover how Roda has eschewed long ageing, the use of American oak and using fruit from single vineyards and is still managing to make a stunning Rioja. “We didn’t want to make a Gran Reserva or wines that really just taste of wood,” says Roda’s Victor Charcan. Justin Keay listens, tastes and finds the use of Graciano in the wine a real revelation.
Côtes du Rhône winemakers were enthusing about the ‘epic’ 2023 vintage at a recent London tasting of Rhône wines. The event was an opportunity to catch up with latest trends, see how wines at named village level are a great opportunity to pick up a bargain, and to hear how the appeal of the Gigondas appellation will be enhanced by the addition of the new Gigondas Blanc category from the 2023 vintage onwards. Heather Dougherty was there for The Buyer to pick out her favourite wines plus talk to Ann Vermeersch of Le Plan-Vermeersch and Vincent Boyer of Domaine de la Bastide to catch up with the challenges they face as Rhône winemakers.
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.