The impact that British wine has made both domestically and in international markets has been spearheaded by its sparkling wines. But what of English still wine? For too long it has played second fiddle – obtaining the right fruit ripeness from the unpredictable British climate, and also making wine at a competitive price point have not helped. But there are now so many examples of top quality still wine made on these shores that wine scribe Justin Keay decided to take a closer look, visiting a number of estates over the summer and focusing on two in particular – Balfour and Tillingham – that have approached still production from opposite ends of the wine spectrum.
“Street food has become so fashionable – perhaps because it reflects the authentic soul of a given region. I was inspired to cook this recipe after enjoying delicious lamb meatballs on the streets of Athens.” This is how Raul Diaz introduces his latest food and wine recipe matching meatballs to the classic Greek wine variety Agiorgitiko in the latest of his monthly food and wine pairing series.
It is arguably in its white and red wines that the Luberon really starts to show its Rhône credentials with both wine styles made from a wide selection of varieties where the emphasis is very much on bringing out the freshness, acidity and balance in the wines. In part two of The Buyer debate, in partnership with Wines of Luberon, we ask wine buyers, sommeliers and importers to taste and assess a selection of white and red wines and give their overall impression of where they see the opportunities for Luberon in the UK.
Until two weeks ago, life for winemaker Simon Waghorn in New Zealand’s Astrolabe was more normal compared to his counterparts in any other country. Jacinda Ardern’s hardline stance and the Kiwis’ natural geographical isolation meant that Covid had had little direct impact on the country. If anything the pros probably outweighed the cons. But recent outbreaks have given the country a harsh reality check. Writing for The Buyer, Waghorn explains what effect the pandemic has had on a Marlborough-based wine estate and how he is adjusting to the ‘new normal’.
Riesling is one of the top grapes favoured by those in the wine trade – and for good reason. It is totally unique in its ability to withstand extreme cold, produce TDN and make such a vast array of wines with little or no need to be blended with any other varietal. David Rosenthal from Chateau Ste Michelle in Washington State, Erni Loosen from Dr Loosen Estate in the Mosel, Sam Barry from Jim Barry Wines in the Clare Valley, and Jean-Frédéric Hugel from Famille Hugel in Alsace, each discuss three of their new wines and what makes them special while Geoffrey Dean tastes.
Ask the average UK wine buyer to give their views on the Rhône and they could probably spend a couple of minutes talking about the region and why its various styles of wines taste the way they do. But could they do the same for the wines of Luberon, made in the south eastern extreme of the region? To help widen buyers’ knowledge of Luberon wines and what they could offer the UK, The Buyer teamed up with Wines of Luberon to bring together a panel of sommeliers, wine importers and merchants to taste and assess the opportunities for the region in the premium UK wine market. In part one of our two part report the buyer’s shared their first impressions of the region and then focused in on Luberon’s rosé wines and the opportunities for them in the UK. Part two will examine the region’s red and white wines.
Tenuta Sette Ponti is a Tuscan estate that may not be on everyone’s radar, but it soon will be, argues David Kermode. Guided by the vision of its owner Dr. Antonio Moretti, it is fast expanding with its two sister wineries Poggio al Lupo in Maremma, and Bolgheri’s Orma almost fully organic now and receiving rave reviews – the latter being favourably compared to its illustrious neighbours Sassicaia and Ornellaia. Kermode spoke to the estate and tasted the latest vintages of the wines.
There’s so much more to being a chief winemaker than tending vines and fermenting grapes – ask Patricio Celedón, chief winemaker at Chile’s Viu Manent. As he reflects on the pandemic, that hit Chile later than a lot of countries, Celedón tells us how his biggest challenges are logistical, with bottles, cardboard and wooden boxes all in short supply; as is agricultural labour – a side effect of the government’s aid bonds scheme. But it’s not all doom and gloom, Viu Manent has made some fundamental changes to the way it produces wine as well as advanced a new wine project that was on the back burner – but pulled it forwards thanks to the unexpected downtime.
If you have watched any of the episodes from the SAS Who Dares Wins show on Channel 4 what makes it so gripping is not just seeing how average men and women tackle the SAS training course, but the techniques the former SAS officers use to get the candidates to open up about why they are really taking part in the programme. Mirroring is very much one of them, where you literally repeat back what someone has said. Here Harry Crowther explains why using simple mirroring techniques can have a dramatic direct impact on wine sales and the bonds you can instantly create with customers.
It seems only yesterday that wine scribe Chris Wilson decided to put his money where his mouth is and make his own wine, setting up what has become Cambridge’s first ever winery, Gutter&Stars. After the rave success of his inaugural wine ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ Bacchus 2020, Wilson launches his second wine, ‘Hope is a Good Swimmer’ Pinot Noir 2020 which also harps back to his days as a music journalist. With orders to fulfil, fruit to check and sun to pray for, what else is on his To Do list? A TV interview and, weirdly, this is the thing that concerns him most.
Bordeaux Day 2021 offers two days of trade tastings divided between London and Manchester – on September 8 and September 9 respectively – to give as many buyers as possible the chance to take part in what is being billed as an “unique insight into modern Bordeaux, showcasing the quality, diversity and fantastic value that the region and its wines have to offer”. To help get you in the mood here we talk to Jonathan Ducourt, of Vignobles Ducourt, one of the region’s oldest producers about how it is more than moving with the times with its switch to organic production and working with with newly approved grape varieties in the region.
As winemaking in Hungary improves with an increased focus on terroir so the country’s ‘other’ grape, Hárslevelű, is coming into its own. Hárslevelű has always played second fiddle to Furmint, but that is changing as Justin Keay discovered during one of the year’s more ambitious wine tastings. Having tasted the grape in a variety of styles he then spent more time with his favourite six wines to really get to understand this grape and why it has an exciting future ahead of it on the international wine stage.
September 7 will be an important date for the British wine industry as it will be the first opportunity the sector has had to come together and celebrate not only the latest wines, styles and innovation across the domestic wine scene, but also, for many, it will be their first formal tasting since March 2020. Here WineGB’s head of marketing, Julia Trustram Eve, looks back at an eventful year behind the scenes across the British wine industry and just why everyone in the sector is so excited about being able to show what they are doing at RHS Lindley Hall on September 7.
For too long considered merely an adjunct to the Languedoc, Roussillon has over the past 20 years uncoupled itself and started celebrating its true identity. With a very different climate, topography and culture to the Languedoc, the wines of Roussillon have started truly celebrating this uniqueness – benefitting from the shift to increased production of dry table wines, and an influx of winemakers from outside the region. President of the Circle of Wine Writers, and a world expert on the region, Rosemary George MW, opens up on what fascinates her about these wines and what gems wine buyers can discover both from the long-standing talent and the new generation of vignerons.
Throughout this new series of interviews with some of the world’s top winemakers we have heard differing stories of how vignerons have coped during the pandemic – the lessons learned and what changes they are implementing as they face the future. But what of winemakers in China? What has been the experience in the country where the virus started? For Emma Gao, winemaker at Silver Heights, she has helped the winery’s expansion both at home and abroad, experimented with new cuvées including her first Pet Nat and taken home some fundamental truths about wine’s place in the grand scheme of things.
The summer of 2021 will be remembered by the international wine community for the devastating fires that have wreaked havoc across so many of the world’s most famous wine regions. Over the last few days thousands of hectares of forest, and potentially hundreds of hectares of vines have been caught up in wild fires across Provence and large parts of south east France, wreaking havoc as they teared across the land. Here, in an impassioned opinion piece, Stephen Cronk, owner of Mirabeau describes what it has been like to feel the brute force of nature and how close he, his family and team came to losing their new Domaine property and why we all need to wake up to the dangers of climate change and take real, effective action.
The London Drinks Competitions pride themselves on being as close to judging beers, wines and spirits as the people who choose to buy them do. Whether it is a busy drinks buyer for a major supermarket, a sommelier for a top Michelin restaurant or a bartender looking for the latest hip spirit for their back bar. For each product is judged on their quality, their value for money at that price point and what the packaging and design looks like. The separate 2022 awards are now open for London Wine, London Spirits and London Beer and if you enter by August 31 you can take advantage of super early bird pricing.
Champagne expert Robert Walters believes that Champagne producers talk a lot about terroir while at the same time blend it away in the name of house style. But is Champagne house style simply part of the shiny facade of luxury brand marketing, or does it go deeper than that? Tom Hewson speaks to Alice Paillard and Charles Philipponnat about what makes good house style in Champagne and how they try and achieve complexity and personality in a multi-vintage, multi-vineyard blend.
Ahead of next month’s specialist tasting in London of over 100 wines from some of the finest and most sought-after crus of Barolo and Barbaresco we talk to Matteo Ascheri, president of the Consortium for the Protection of Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe and Dogliani, about this iconic, world famous wine region, and the challenges and opportunities there are in ensuring its wines are as relevant and coveted as they have always been, whilst also keeping ahead of changes in viticulture and winemaking styles to ensure it is making wines the market and consumers want to drink.
“Seeing a brand grow and develop, emerge from some rough sketches and bringing clients ideas to life though visual storytelling will always excite me.” It’s also why Jodie Newman has decided to jump into the deep end and leave the security of a strong, safe job – as head of creative at Frexienet Copestick working on leading brands as Freixenet itself and I Heart Wines – to set up her own design agency for the drinks industry. Here, as part of our Onwards and Upwards series shining the spotlight on individuals looking to make big changes in their career, she sets out what her agency will be able to offer and what for her is a winning wine or spirits design.