As Bourgogne Chardonnay becomes ever-more eye-wateringly expensive so the canny wine buyer needs to look for alternatives. In Burgundy that means seeking out lesser-known appellations and sites which, through climate change, have started competing with some of the top slopes. And it could also mean rethinking Aligoté – the region’s other white grape – that, in the hands of top winemakers such as Maison Chanzy, can seriously compete with Chardonnay – not just on the palate but for vignerons in the vineyard too.
“We’re focused on innovating across every step of the winemaking journey; from exploring new denominations of origin, to recovering diverse heritage varieties, introducing new formats and NPD, experimenting with non-traditional vinification methods, blending traditional techniques with the latest technology and experimenting with varietals in a way that show the truest Chilean terrior expression.” In a sentence Ricardo Baettig, chief winemaker at Viña Morandé, sums up the steps it is taking – and many of its peers – to elevate Chilean winemaking to new levels. ,
With so much going on in this fast changing and moving country it is hard to sum up the wine scene in South Africa in one pithy sentence. One thing for sure, though, is the quality of its wines continues to go up as winemakers across the Cape look to share, learn and collectively raise their game. But there is a dilemma. The prices producers can realistically charge for those wines are not going up at anywhere near the same pace. Richard Siddle reports back from an intensive trip, raises his glass to the old guard of South African winemaking who have built the foundations for the new wave to blossom, and urges international buyers not to treat South Africa like every other wine producing country, but pay a premium for wines that are just the start of the story, helping to empower local communities and provide a future for all of South Africa and not just the goldfish world of wine.
The music you play, the ambient temperature, the crockery, cutlery and stemware you choose… they all influence how and what we taste. These were just some of the learnings from Spanish Wine Academy, the thinktank set up by Ramón Bilbao, to improve everyone’s knowledge about Spanish wine and wine tasting in general. Sarah McCleery discovers some truly enlightening facts about the Neuroscience of Wine Service and also realises there is a lot more to Garnacha than at first appears.
Premium, pre-prohibition, artisanal whiskey and bourbon from Leiper’s Fork are the latest grain-to-glass spirits to hit these shores since the Tennessee distillers’ renaissance began. For Pol Roger Portfolio it is the first American whiskey producer to be taken on. Robert Mason met Leiper’s Fork distiller Lee Kennedy, tasted the Bottled In Bond spirits range and discovered the properties of sweet-mashing that make these exciting new spirits unique.
“Brand recognition, especially for California, is key. It’s not just about branding though; they’re all great wines and Orin Swift, in particular, has a great story to it.” Adam Kirkbride, wine buyer at the Secret Bottle Shop in Hereford, explains why he is so focused on Californian wines and has chosen to work so closely with the team at E&J Gallo to list a range of its premium producers and is one of the few operators in the country to list the full Orin Swift range of iconic wines.
The Dirty Dozen tastings have always been a must-attend affair. So it proved again this year, although not being in the basement of a Soho vinyl store meant that the wines had to do all the heavy lifting on their own. Winemaker Chris Wilson reports that the wines were more than up to the task, and picks a dozen eclectic ones that were shown by some of the UK’s most dynamic wine importers.
No longer do sommeliers and on-trade teams have to rely on mark ups on bottles of wine to maximise their wine sales, they can now run extensive and innovative by the glass schemes that allow them to offer so much choice to their customers, and add a great deal to their bottom line too. For the latest The Buyer debate we teamed up with Coravin, that has done so much to revolutionise the way wine is now managed and served right across the on-trade with its various dispensing devices, to talk to a diverse panel of buyers, sommeliers and restaurant and pub group chiefs to see how they are looking to trade up their wines sales in their outlets.
Enotria&Coe’s 50th anniversary tasting at the Royal Albert Hall was always going to be a splendid affair and it didn’t disappoint. There was Mouton, Unico, Opus One and Teso on show, six new agencies to get familiar with plus many, many more superb wines. Justin Keay was on hand to discover the lesser-known beauties that will work well in the on-trade and focuses on the USPs of the six new agencies.
Ever wonder what a winemaker does during harvest time – apart from not sleeping? Particularly when he makes 23 different cuvées from 27 different plots across four regions of the sprawling region that is the Languedoc Roussillon? Peter Dean decided to find out and spent two days with Domaine Gayda’s winemaker Vincent Chansault – one day on the road visiting a dozen different vineyards, the other day a week later at the winery. It was an eye-opening experience that involved eating a lot of grapes, driving down hair-raising slopes, out-manoeuvring wild boar, eating more grapes and then discovering how the fruit had been tackled in the winery.
The Wine Pinnacle Awards judging panel have been busy tasting, assessing and scoring some of the best wines made in the world and have cast their votes in order to pick out the finalists in the 2022 event. Each jury member is allowed to vote for nine wines in each category, from which a final shortlist of three nominees is selected based on the number of points given. Here we reveal who those three finalists per category are.
“It is a cuvée for connoisseurs, the absolute quintessence of Chardonnay.” That’s how Séverine Frerson, chief winemaker at Champagne Perrier-Jouët, describes the Champagne house’s Belle Époque which celebrated its 120th anniversary this week with a special lunch and launch in Paris of its limited edition Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 2013. Christian Holthausen was on hand for The Buyer to talk to Frerson about her love for the Belle Époque style, her approach to winemaking and why nature and flowers are so important to her in the styles of Champagne she wants to make.
The Wine Pinnacle Awards has been set up to work with some of the most respected, influential and expert figures in the world of wine. A Technical Committee that has been brought together to help determine how the awards are run, the categories used to select the wines to judge and the jury members it then asks to help taste and analyse them. Here we introduce the Technical Committee of leading wine figures behind the 2022 Wine Pinnacle Awards.
The rebranding of Lanson Noble Brut Vintage 2004 is the Champagne house filling the void of a prestige cuvée that sits above the other wines in its range and helps galvanise its reputation. Speaking with Lanson chef des caves, Hervé Dantan on the wine’s launch alongside the 2004 Blanc de Blancs, Simon Field MW also discovers how Lanson will continue to eschew malolactic fermentation for both its deluxe cuvées, always ages the wines for 15+ years and is ‘playing the long game’ by releasing late-disgorged versions of the Noble Brut and making more old Lanson vintages available.
It’s hard to create genuine firsts in the world of wine but great credit must go to Walter Speller and Jane Hunt MW who have come together in collaboration with the Consorzio of Brunello di Montalcino to host a special ‘En Primeur’ launch of the 2018 vintage and 2017 Riservas, well ahead of their official release on January 1 2023. The London event on November 17 is a unique chance to take a deep dive into how the vintage is performing and assess its opportunities and potential in the UK market.
We’re used to hearing about how great Napa is for growing Cabernet Sauvignon but only, until recently, have we heard the same about the much hotter Californian county of Paso Robles. One wine producer DAOU is largely responsible for this, with its flagship wine Soul of a Lion, which has turned many preconceptions on its head. Justin Keay tastes the new 2019 vintage alongside a vertical of vintages dating back to 2013 and confesses to being very impressed indeed, especially as he knew these wines by reputation only. Leading the tasting was wine producer Daniel Daou, beamed in from California.
Winemakers across Argentina are working hard to find ever more innovative ways to work with their soils, terroir and micro climates to make wines that are true to their sense of place, but also meet the needs and demands of their International markets. It is particularly the case at Graffigna where head winemaker, Fernando Mengoni, is working hard to bring freshness and purity of fruit to its range of award winning wines across different price levels. Here he explains the opportunities and potential there now are for ambitious Argentinian winemakers and producers.
Exclusive, hard to find and using little-known indigenous grapes – Swiss wine is fast becoming a sommelier’s treat. Already there are 11 restaurants in London with Swiss wines on their list, with two of them having over 20 wines apiece. Private members club, 67 Pall Mall, has over 100 listings and was the setting for the first Swiss Wine tasting since Covid where Geoffrey Dean met up with the category’s ambassadors, Francois Genoud and Simon Hardy to taste through what’s new and find out how to navigate through the country’s 62 Swiss AOCs and 252 different grape varieties.
Michel Chapoutier was in town last week with his range of 2021 en primeur wines. The consummate showman, Chapoutier loves to hold court, drink a bottle of Tatty Comtes and shoot from the hip with his sometimes outlandish observations. Roger Jones had a prime seat at the comprehensive tasting, masterclass and then lunch with the man himself and a nice selection of library wines.
Austria’s most planted red variety, Zweigelt, has really made its home in one of Europe’s newest wine regions – Neusiedlersee DAC. With just 10 years under its belt the area has become synonymous with elegant, nuanced styles of Zweigelt that are slowly gaining a strong reputation as one of Austria’s most exciting and consistent wine styles. Robert Mason joined a recent UK trade trip to the region to see what all the fuss was about and quickly found himself amongst vineyards that “wouldn’t look out of place in parts of Bordeaux’s historic Left Bank”. This is equally an area where terroir and climate combine to provide the platform to produce high-quality wines.