Although the French market took up the slack, exports of Champagne Drappier’s 13 cuvées fell by 20% during the pandemic, writes Geoffrey Dean. Tasting five of the new wines with Charline Drappier, Dean discovers why a famous French leader fancied a tipple of it, how organics are playing an increasingly important role, sulphites less so, and why it is Pinot Noir that “runs through their veins” – taking the largest percentage of all bar one of its cuvées.
Lyme Bay Winery is one of the emerging number of English wine producers that are making their name making still rather than sparkling wines and by sourcing grapes from five different sites across the south of England it is well placed to provide a consistent, quality supply to the premium on-trade and specialist retail sectors. Here we talk to managing director and winemaker, James Lambert, and head of sales and marketing, Paul Sullivan, about their growth plans and how they hope a new distribution deal with Bancroft Wines will help take them to the next level.
Boutique wineries were always the missing part of the Chilean wine scene – that is until the advent of MOVI. A small band of artisanal winemakers, MOVI is an association that has now grown to 34 estates and its influence is spreading as members show the world a different side of Chilean winemaking. This is not about wealthy families with hundreds of acres of international varieties but about individual, hand-crafted wines. Peter Dean tried a selection and recommends eight that are worth putting on your radar – some of them are a whole lot of fun too, as he explains.
For his latest wine project the award-winning winemaker, Lenz Moser has returned to Austria to team up with one of the country’s fastest rising stars, Markus Huber, to create a new wine they believe will help re-invent Grüner Veltliner, one of Austria’s most important grape varieties, and potentially introduce it to new drinkers all over the world. Richard Siddle caught up with Moser to understand just why he is so excited about New Chapter Grüner Veltliner and what makes it so different.
To celebrate 850 years of winemaking, Austria’s Schloss Gobelsburg hosted an historical tasting in London with a focus on its single vineyard Ried Heiligenstein, tasting vintages as far back as 1971. Journalist and winemaker Chris Wilson attended for The Buyer and writes tasting notes on every vintage, as well as hears from winemaker Michael Moosbrugger what makes this site one of Austria’s most revered terraces. Taking over viticultural duties in 1996 from the Cistercian Monastery of Zwettl, which still owns the estate, Wilson says there is a noticeable uplift in quality from that date. Just don’t let the monks hear you saying that…
There has never been greater interest and demand amongst world travellers to visit Portugal with the country named as the Best World Destination and Best Tourist Destination in Europe between 2017-2020 (World Travel Awards). High on the list of places is the capital city of Lisbon with its historic tram-filled streets packed with tourists. Yet the city’s wine region – Lisboa – is not as well-known as other Portuguese areas even though it covers nine quality DOCs. To help better understand the different styles of wine being made in Lisboa and their opportunities in the UK, The Buyer teamed up with CVR Lisboa, the region’s wine Regulatory Council, to host a panel debate with a leading panel of sommeliers and specialist UK wine importers who were able to share their insights on Lisboa, together with two of the region’s key producers, as well as taste a selection of wines that represent what the region can do.
Somewhat under the radar given its quality, Castello di Vicarello is the premium red wine from the Maremma Toscana estate of the same name, a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. First made in 2004, Peter Dean got a rare chance to taste a vertical of the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015 vintages with the percentages of the varieties never changing and the vineyard planted to the exact same proportions as the blend in the ancient Tuscan albarello training system.
It has taken long for wine tastings to be back up and running post lockdown – accompanied by the familiar grumblings of they all look and feel the same and why can’t we come up with new ideas for tastings? Well, here is news of something completely different. A wine tasting with no wine bottles. No glass allowed. Yes, a new concept that only allows wines in alternative packaging to show what they can offer. It is the joint idea of a number of wine suppliers championing different packaging formats who have come together under the banner of ‘Wine Traders for Alternative Formats’. It all takes place in London on November 11 and here’s Oliver Lea, managing director of The BIB Wine Company, and one of the founders of the new group, to explain what you can expect.
To be named Outstanding Wine Producer in the world is an achievement any producer must aspire to, but for the team behind premium South African wine brand, Vilafonté, it is the culmination of 25 years work that has seen some of the finest talent from two countries – the United States and South Africa – come together with one dream: to make a wine that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world. Today’s IWSC accolade shows it has gone one step further. Richard Siddle talks to Vilafonté co-founder, Mike Ratcliffe, about why this is an award that is also testimony to the huge advances there have been in South Africa as a whole that have made it an equal to any other world class wine producing country.
Jean-Luc Colombo has always courted controversy, ever since he ditched his career as a pharmacist and started buying vineyards in the Rhône valley. A renowned visionary, his wines have earned him a considerable international reputation, even though at first his preference for new oak and spotlessly clean cellars seemed to run contrary to the soul of Cornas. In London to release the excellent new Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas 2020s he spoke with Peter Dean about irrigation, Robert Parker, gastronomy and the disastrous 2021 vintage – which he is comparing to 2002.
We continue our series looking at the next generation of winemakers that are taking Bordeaux forward with their own visions and innovations with an interview with David Faure of Château Mille Roses in the Medoc by breakthrough wine writer Sophia Longhi. Here he explains how the decision to go organic has helped him bring his own ideas to the vines and wines and break away from the text book winemaking he was taught at university and how he hopes farming sustainably will leave a healthy winery for his children.
Vintae is one of the smartest wine groups in Spain right now and its latest project Viñedos El Pacto has hit the jackpot – once again by making wines that tick every contemporary requirement, through restoring the agriculture and viticulture of the past. Viñedos El Pacto is a collection of four wines that attempts to restore old-style Rioja by making multi-variety, multi-clone, terroir-driven expressions, from very old, low-yielding vines – the style of Rioja that existed before the Industrial Revolution and can still be found in isolated villages. Peter Dean took part in the launch, tasted the wines and was once again knocked out by this group’s latest project.
Leading wine industry figures Roger Jones and sparkling producer Dermot Sugrue joined forces last week to give a proper send-off to a four-man rowing team that will attempt to row the Atlantic in aid of cancer charity Victoria’s Promise. The crew of Anna Victorious, named after the 38 year-old wife of one member who died of cancer, are attempting to raise £100,000 for the cancer support charity and speak of how they have been helped in their quest by Jones and his contacts. David Kermode went along to the launch.
If you want to know how to really tackle your carbon impact then spend some time analysing the efforts that Australia’s Wakefield Wines has taken over the last 15 or so years. It claims to have been the first producer back in 2009 to introduce a carbon neutral wine range and is now on course to be what it says will be the first independent Australian winery to commit to the terms laid down in 2015’s Paris Agreement to reduce its emissions by 50% by 2030, and a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Here Clinton Taylor, general manager, explains why it is so committed to leading the way on climate action and the immediate steps other wineries can take.
The international roadshow that is Simply Great Italian Wines hit London last month showcasing a huge selection of wines from wineries that are currently unrepresented in the UK. With eight masterclasses throughout the day from the likes of Italian wine experts Walter Speller and Emily O’Hare, the format allowed attendees to brush up on old favourites as well as unearth plenty that was new. For Sarah McCleery the regions she focused on were Custoza, Abruzzo and Moscato d’Asti – areas she thought she knew well but found that there was plenty more to discover.
“We believe the next 10 years are critical to address and make an impact.” That is the challenge, but also the opportunity that Jackson Family Wines sees as being essential for producers of its scale and influence to make every effort possible to tackle climate change, explains Katie Jackson, senior vice president for Corporate Social Responsibility at Jackson Family Wines. Here she sets out the steps the family producer is taking and why it so proud to be one of the founding members of the International Wineries for Climate Action.
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Matthew Cooper, wine buyer at Ellis Wines. Here we share a tribute from the team at Ellis Wines, where he worked for nearly 25 years, and a personal message from Richard Siddle.
As the political world’s attention centres on Glasgow for the next fortnight for the pivotal UN Climate Change Conference – COP26 – the global wine industry is being urged to wake up to its own “climate change emergency” and ramp up its efforts to not just be sustainable, but to work together to find ever more effective ways to really address wine’s impact on the environment and how it is going to be sustainable in the future. The International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA) group, founded by Familia Torres in Spain and the Jackson Family in California, is leading from the front by taking the actions necessary to be the only agriculturally focused body to be accepted into the United Nations Race to Zero campaign. Richard Siddle analyses the steps the IWCA is taking and how producers, both big and small, can follow its lead and go way beyond offsetting and planting trees as a way of addressing climate change, but implement proven, carbon reducing strategies that any winery can follow.
Siepi 2019 is the latest vintage of the influential Toscana IGT wine from Mazzei, released on the back of five phenomenally successful vintages. A blend of Sangiovese and Merlot it has been credited as being one of the top 50 wines to change the style of Italian winemaking, and is a wine that in recent years has started regularly getting almost perfect scores from the top wine critics. Peter Dean tastes and rates the Siepi 2019 alongside the 2016, 2017 and 2018 vintages with Giovanni Mazzei at a Petersham Nurseries pop-up in London’s Frieze art fair.
Pfaffenheim may be the oldest operating cooperative in Alsace but that doesn’t mean it is staid or stuck in a rut. Far from it, argues Justin Keay who tastes six of their wines which are pushing the envelope of what is possible in the region – so much so that a lot of their wines don’t even mention Alsace on the label. There’s a zero dosage cremant, an un-Alsatian Pinot Gris, a 1957 Riesling and, most surprising of all, a 100% Pinot rosé with a lip-smacking retail price of €40 a bottle. Keay gets the lowdown from Pfaff’s marketing head Clara Richert and chief winemaker Jerome Attard about their unique approach to making Alsace wine.