Archives for posts with tag: thevintner

Many of you will be familiar with the fact that here at The Vintner we list just 100 wines, all ready for immediate drinking and tasting superb right now. This list changes seasonally as we publish both a Spring/Summer offering as well as an Autumn/Winter one. Typically we’ll change around 20% of our wines with each new list. Not only does this keep things fresh and interesting, it means our wines are constantly under scrutiny to make sure they’re absolutely the best out there and to ensure you’ll absolutely adore them.


Last week saw oceans of sample wine descend upon Vintner HQ in the final selection stage of the process. These had made it onto the shortlist from 1000s tasted throughout the year by the team at winery visits and trade tastings across the globe. From Chenin Blanc to Vermentino and Cabernet Sauvignon to Zinfandel, this was a tasting of wines across all styles and price brackets with the purpose of finding some true gems to be delivering to you from October. There is not a single wine on our list that we wouldn’t stake our reputation on and to arrive at this point has involved some less than perfect examples of their kind but that’s what we’re here for – we taste the dross so you never have to!


So, last week saw us tasting some 150 shortlisted wines to work our way down to 20 exciting newcomers. The dentists of South West London should be rubbing their hands together with glee as we sacrifice our pearly whites in the name of The Vintner 100 list but, in all seriousness (palate fatigue and black teeth aside), there are worse jobs in the world and there really is no better education in wine than simply tasting enormous amounts of it.


Wines that really stood out for me and bottles I’m particularly excited about are Ocean Eight Pinot Noir 2012, Mornington Peninsula  which is in fact already available on our website – a seductive, smooth and full-flavoured Pinot Noir which is more generous and fruit forward than its Burgundian counterparts as well as the Soave Classico ‘Campo Vulcano’, I Campi – a fine and serious Soave with bags of ripe lemon & melon fruit with moreish minerality and a sense of class that seriously over delivers for the money, prepare the space in your fridges!

The Vintner 100 wine list will be printed by mid-October but keep your eyes on our website as new wines will be added (and available to buy) as and when they arrive in our warehouse.


Bordeaux En Primeur 2014

The week before Easter saw the planes of British Airways & Easyjet packed with British wine merchants bound for Bordeaux to taste and evaluate the new vintage of both the red and white wines of the region. This is crucial work ahead of the release of the ‘En Primeur’ prices from each Château.

I, along with Clare & Gavin from The Vintner, tasted hundreds of wines from the region at numerous appellation tastings. Below are my thoughts on what to look out for and my favourite, most promising wines of the vintage.

As has been widely reported, the Right Bank appellations are less preferred in 2014 to the Left Bank so we started our tasting in St-Émilion in the hope of finding some Merlot-based diamonds in the rough. Ch. Clos Fourtet, Ch. Pavie Macquin & Ch. Troplong-Mondot stood out for me and whilst Pomerol seems to have had a comparative struggle in relation to other areas, there were some lovely wines to be had, namely, Ch. Beauregard & Ch. Gazin.

Next, we ventured to the very south-west corners of the region. Pessac Leognan had me excited by the quality of both the dry white and red wines – Ch. Pape Clément and Ch. Smith Haut Lafite continue to make truly magical wines. The whites in particular show great power with broad fruit whilst retaining a element of poise and elegance that makes them effortlessly alluring. Ch.Smith Haut Lafite, was a favourite of our Bordeaux virgin, Clare. and a tremendous lunch in the cellars of Smith Haut Lafite ensued – the 2012 Blanc is opening up rather nicely!

smith haut lafite

Opinion in our ranks was divided with regards to the sweet wines of Sauternes in this vintage. Whilst I was excited by the energy and life in lots of these wines, others were left wanting for richness and breadth. The jury is out but I’d be interested in sampling GuiraudDoisy-Védrines & Doisy-Daene over years to come.

A cold lager at the end of a day’s wine tasting is hard to beat but dinner that evening certainly gave it a run for its money. Ch. Mouton Rothschild 1997 was followed by Ch. Léoville Poyferre 2005 & Ch. Climens 1994. A welcome break from 2014.

dinner wines

Up with the lark the next day for a tour of the Left Bank. The architecture and luxurious splendour of the Médoc are unrivalled and a top-notch day was had by all. First, to Margaux, where the wines gave us our first glimpse of the superb quality of Cabernet Sauvignon fruit harvested in 2014. There is great depth and complexity to much of the wines here with a real drive throughout which is encouraging for long-term cellaring. Many of the wines here were very good so singling out a few bottles is perhaps unfair. I’ll do so anyway though! Ch. Brane-Cantenac, Ch. Durfort-Vivens & Ch. Rauzan-Segla win my praise.

Next, a dream experience for all of us on the trip as we tasted the wines of Ch. Margaux  with Paul Pontallier at the property. This is a mecca for all Bordeaux lovers and it was indeed a great privilege.  All three wines; Pavillon Rouge, Pavillon Blanc and Château Margaux were simply outstanding. Of particular interest was another remarkable step up in quality with the Pavillon Blanc. Made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc, we got the impression that Pontallier was particularly proud of this wine and his writing since cements our thoughts as the Château are considering labelling it under the Grand Vin label.


A brief tasting of a few wines of the Haut-Médoc followed before lunch, which was very much my focus after a couple of hours of Margaux tasting. My favourite? Ch. Poujeaux – a wine that will serve you well. Three courses of classic French fayre set us up for a demanding afternoon and there were boom-shankas all round for the various caffeine addicts on our table.

On next to Pauillac & St-Estèphe. Although these wines are perhaps the most tannic and difficult to approach when young, the level of quality was clear to see. Old favourites such as Ch. Batailley and Ch. Grand-Puy-Lacoste were tasting well whilst Ch. Clerc Milon showed excellent balance and body of fruit.

I feel we left the best until last with our tasting and I find myself agreeing with many in the wine-trade with their opinion that St-Julien is the appellation of the vintage. The wines are consistently excellent here with incredible depth and power yet a very real sense of poise and balance. I found Ch. Beychevelle, Ch. Gruaud Larose and Ch. Léoville Barton to be outstanding wines and certainly worth exploring.

We rounded off a terrific trip with a real blast of a party at Château Gruaud Larose. Vintages served up included 1983, 1988, 1993, 2003 and the icing on the cake? Jeroboams of the 1955. A magical wine and one that, amongst others,  I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

gruaud larose