LM Archer reports from Oregon Wine Month in which seven top producers from Willamette Valley Yamhill-Carlton AVA compare Pinot Noirs from three vintages: 2014, 2015 and 2018 – sharing the lessons learned and how they coped with the weather. Winemakers included Adam Campbell of Elk Cove Vineyards, Lynn Penner-Ash of Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, Ken Wright of Ken Wright Cellars, Brian O’Donnell of Belle Pente Vineyard & Winery, Jay McDonald of EIEIO & Company Wines, Jessica Mozeico of Et FilleWine, and Tony Rynders from Tendril Wine Cellars.
It was Sod’s Law that Tim Atkin MW had to taste the Argentina 2019 vintage in Wimbledon rather than in the country itself. 2019, a “cool, elegant and historic” vintage in Atkin’s words, had been heralded as potentially the greatest ever, and so it proved. Not only was the long, cool harvest conditions perfect for making stand-out wines, but the weather complemented the brighter, fresher styles that many of the best bodegas are producing these days. Atkin lists the top 10 wines from 2019 that he would have on his wine list, as well as explains his thinking behind awarding a wine in South America a 100-point score for the very first time.
Entering any drinks competition is ultimately about trying to win a Gold medal for your brand, but to be then told that your product is not just of gold standard but the best out of all other products entered in your category from around the world really is something else. It means the team at Ramsbury Brewery & Distillery are still reeling from being named Best Spirit of the Year in the 2021 London Spirits Competition for its Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka.
Vaccines are boosting wine drinker’s confidence to go out eating and drinking again, but Harry Crowther questions whether all operators are playing up to that confidence in the wine ranges and choices they are offering. Here in his latest article looking at how best to train your staff with the most relevant on-trade wine skills he calls on restaurants and bars to be braver in the wine lists they are offering and makes the case for why now is the ideal time to introduce more diverse and adventurous wine lists.
Since taking over as winemaker at Viña San Pedro’s Cachapoal valley winery, and placed in charge of the estate’s fine wine Altair, Gabriel Mustakis has been focusing on the estate’s unique terroir, and changing vineyard management and winemaking to suit – all the while taming the natural ripeness of the Cabernet Sauvignon, and bringing greater freshness and complexity to the wine. Altair 2018 has had an image facelift to reflect these changes and the wine’s stylistic change was clearly evident when tasting the new vintage alongside two wines from the winery’s past.
It’s a very nice compliment to be known as the London’s “best kept secret” by some of your customers, but it also suggests you might be missing out on more business from restaurants and bars if more knew what you can do. Here Christopher and Jon Carson open up on just what it is about Carson & Carnevale that some in the trade don’t want you to know about. It could, for example, be the fact it can offer minimum six bottle orders, six days a week in London. Richard Siddle finds out the full behind the scenes story…
Australian Cabernet Sauvignon was centre-stage at a global comparative tasting of 12 different Cabernets, including wines from Bordeaux, Chile, California, South Africa and Tuscany. And, although Wine Australia which was hosting the event, said that there would be no winners, one could clearly see the quality and diversification of regional Australian Cabernets, writes chef and wine expert Roger Jones, with each region showcasing its unique quality and style, and showcasing to the global audience the quality of Australian Cabernet.
“This is the end of our lockdown tour of the world,” is how Krister Bengtsson, founder of Star Wine List, introduced the International Final of an awards programme that has travelled the world during the global covid lockdown rewarding the best restaurants and bars and the teams behind them, including the inaugural UK Awards co-hosted with The Buyer. Here are the results of the main international categories chosen from the winners in each of the European and Asian country events which saw Vienna’s Palais Coburg win the overall Grand Prix award.
Today’s release of Rare Champagne Millésime 2008 is indeed a rare event. In the 40 years since this prestige cuvée has been produced only 11 vintages have been released. Régis Camus, head of winemaking, explains the selection process that goes into making the wine and why its signature characteristic – minerality – is down to choosing two thirds of the Chardonnay from Montagne de Reims rather than the Côte des Blancs. “These Chardonnays are really like wild horses – you need to take them, keep them and blend them with others just to cool them down – otherwise they will have too much vivacity,” he says. Peter Dean took notes as well as gives a full review of the 2008 and the 2006, which it is was shown against.
In his swansong annual en primeur report Michael Schuster, the only UK-based wine critic to jump through all the necessary hoops to go and physically taste at the châteaux this year, examines Bordeaux 2020. Having covered Bordeaux en primeur for every campaign since 1982 (bar one), Schuster is better placed than most to place this exceptional but variable vintage into an historical context. In this extract from his 20,000-word World of Fine Wine report, Schuster looks at 10 headlines from the vintage, explores the changing ideals within Bordeaux and gives some recommendations on what we should be buying.
Raul Diaz continues his monthly series analysing different grape varieties and then breaking them down to analyse what styles of food and recipes you can follow that make the most of their unique characteristics. This time around he turns his attention on Garnacha and makes the case for why this is one of the most versatile grape varieties for any cook to work with, from big meat dishes, to fish soups, and never better expressed than when paired with chickpeas and chorizo.
With first rate masterclasses spread across three months, the new-look Wines From Spain annual tasting has been an unqualified success, writes Justin Keay. Despite the restrictions in it being virtual-only this year, the event did a great job of unlocking just some of what this diverse wine-producing country has to offer. It was the Green Spain masterclass from Sarah Jane Evans MW, however, which really showed a completely unexpected side to Spanish wine. Keay picks his favourites as well as Top 10 wines from the Importers Highlights tasting.
It seems every city has their own gin these days, but the team behind York Gin set themselves a high bar when they looked to create a gin that would live up to the history and traditions of York, one of England’s oldest and most famous cities, and be a gin the city could be proud of. Three years on and the founding team, who first came up with the idea in their local pub, can look back on a brand that has picked up gold medals and expanded into different flavours and styles.
Two new Picpoul de Pinets from Cave de L’Ormarine – one lees-aged the other barrel-aged – are the latest examples of how the market leader in this region of the Languedoc is trying to break into premium on-trade and independent wine shops. English master of wine Iain Munson is behind the drive, trying to bring more depth and complexity to Picpoul de Pinet, a wine noted for its freshness, consistency and affordability. But how does the wine behave under wood? and is there a real demand for another ‘icon’ wine from the Languedoc? Especially when the strong point of the wine itself is that it is so easy-going and quaffable?
“Women are having more and more of a say whether it is in viticulture, winemaking, tasting, sommelier. It may be necessary one day to have a parity policy – otherwise there will only be women.” Corinne Chevrier is proud and excited by the changes she has seen in the role, respect and influence female winemakers and growers now have in the traditional world of Bordeaux producers. Here she shares her experiences working in wine and how she has helped to put her mark on Bordeaux winemaking with the wines she makes at Château Bel-Air La Royère.
We’ve seen a number of drinks retailers and suppliers introduce a variety of schemes that help wine drinkers pre-determine the kinds of wines they will like based on their tasting preferences. Well here’s a similar concept from the world of coffee and how Piqant uses artificial intelligence technology to help coffee lovers identify the styles, flavours and tastes they want in their coffee and then select a range of coffees for them to trial at home. Co-founder Rosanna Nibbs Senise explains how it works and what lessons we can learn from it in the drinks industry.
Tom Gilbey is a man who wears many hats. His family is of Gilbey gin fame and also claims to be the first English people who bought a château in Bordeaux. Most recently Tom has been spreading his wings during lockdown, doing virtual wine and cheese tasting events. Victor Smart took charge of a four bottle box including Buyer favourites Domaine Gayda, as well as some well-matched cheeses. So what was it like doing this socially-distanced tasting in the garden in April Victor?….
There are some ideas for a new business that seem so obvious you can’t believe someone has not thought of it before. Like Still In Cask. A business model based on the idea of having a blockchain powered website on which distilleries from all over the world can put up casks of aged spirits for people to buy individual cask shares worth one bottle each for as little as £20. Be it a whisky, rum, tequila or whatever aged spirit a distiller might want to offer. It hopes to open up spirit investment to the everyday spirits lover and, in particular, attract a new younger generation of spirits drinkers, and give distilleries the chance to get much needed cash into their business. It’s all the idea of the team behind craft distiller, Circumstance Distillery, Liam Hart and Danny Walker who are working in partnership with Illy Jaffar, managing director of Kinetic and formerly of Pernod Ricard, and entrepreneur Zak Hirt, to what they call “democratise” the ownership of cask spirits whilst creating and bringing together a community of spirits lovers online. Richard Siddle hear’s how it is all going to work and how the the idea first came out of The Buyer’s first One Step Beyond innovation conference last March.
One of the benefits of Bandol Rosé for the on-trade is that it becomes more gastronomic with age, so leftover bottles at the end of the summer can be used for a few years yet. In a wide-ranging tasting of the new 2020 vintage, world rosé expert Elizabeth Gabay MW, puts this to the test by comparing the flavour profile of the new wines with ones from three previous vintages. Clearly different from Provence rosé, Bandol 2020 is made from 60% Mourvèdre, and has a distinct juxtaposition of fresh fruit and more intense complex notes.