Archives for posts with tag: wine

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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My friend Matt Chatfield, Cornish food champion and founder of the The Cornwall Project opens his dining room at the historic Newman Arms on Rathbone Street next week. Wednesday night was the first night of the soft-launch so I was grateful to be able to taste the brand new menu along with Zeren Wilson (Bitten & Written) and colleague at The Vintner/Prince of Padstow, Charlie Stein who certainly knows a thing or two about Cornish food & drink.

The starters came and went in a blur of Champagne and White Burgundy, all delicious with Bourgogne 2013, Henri Prudhon, a wine I’ve written about on this blog before, being a highlight. It is a rich and weighty Chardonnay that seriously over delivers for a Bourgogne and is a great-value gem.

On to the main event as Matt’s team served a beautifully cooked lamb rump with new potatoes and anchovy dressing. After consulting the brilliantly constructed wine-list, put together by Bitten & Written, we decided there was only really one option and called for a bottle of Ridge Lytton Springs 2012. With a smaller cash margin on finer wines, it is brilliant to see the Newman Arms encouraging diners to indulge in better bottles without it breaking the bank.

Ridge is an iconic California winery that represents everything that is great about Napa Valley wine making. Famed for its Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the Montebello Vineyard, it also produces top-class Zinfandel and Chardonnay based wines.

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The Lytton Springs is made up largely of Zinfandel with some Petite Syrah, Carignan and Mourvedre thrown in for good measure. The nose if full of dark, dense cherry fruit and with a beautiful perfume of violets alongside. American wines can so often be over-oaked but there is no such problem here. The use of oak oozes class as gentle, toasted vanilla aromas accompany the bold fruit. On the palate, the wine is again abundant with cherry fruit whilst some complexity comes to the fore with savoury notes and flavours of spice & tobacco. Right now, it is bright, youthful and delicious but this wine has serious potential to age. I’d love to try another bottle in 5 years time. A triumph of an evening as we wish the Newman Arms the best of luck!

We rounded off September in the Vintner Tasting Room with a fantastic visit from James Leary & David Coulston the grower & winemaker of our Ward Valley Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013. James bought land in Ward, Marlborough back in 2007 and soon after started working with David Coulston to produce terroir-driven, interesting wines that are a testament to Marlborough as a world-class wine making region.

Marlborough sits at the top of New Zealand’s South Island and is divided into three districts – the Wairau, Awatere & Southern Valleys. With a long, consistent growing season and cooling pacific sea breezes, Sauvignon Blanc is famous for being the region’s principal grape variety but expressions of Riesling and Pinot Gris are also emerging and have great promise.

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For the Ward Valley Estate Sauvignon Blanc, James explained how he harvests fruit from three different ‘blocks’, one in each valley, to create this ‘Triple Block’ Sauvignon. Each of the blocks contributes different characteristics to the blend and what results is a deliciously complex wine that typifies the Marlborough Sauvignon style. Interestingly, most of the fruit is grown on clay-type soils that are usually best used for Pinot Noir, though in this case it helps to achieve wonderful ripeness and body in Sauvignon Blanc.

David makes the wine in a fantastic, shared winery alongside other Marlborough wine-makers. They divide resources such as tanks and presses meaning that young, modern winemakers can get into the game without crippling upfront equipment costs – a brilliant concept. As well as his impressive technical knowledge, David passion for creating the ultimate example of Marlborough Sauvignon is clear and this is exactly why we love working with him at The Vintner and continue to enjoy the Ward Valley Estate Sauvignon Blanc as a stalwart of our 100 Wines.

Summer in London can be difficult at the best of times – the sardine-tin tubes, the hoards of tourists, the sweat-drench suits…so last month, the Vintner team hopped over the channel for a wine weekend away. But this was no ordinary booze cruise. Far from a shopping spree in Calais’ Carre Four, we journeyed to Beaune – the capital of Burgundy – to  visit some of our existing producers as well as taste wines from as yet undiscovered domaines. Indeed, this was an educational trip, a chance for everyone to enhance their understanding and appreciation of this enigmatic region.

Our weekend began with a visit to Maison David Moret, in the centre of Beaune. We currently list three of David’s wines: Rully 2012, Puligny-Montrachet 2012 and Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Les Folatieres’ 2011. After we refreshed our memories with a couple of glasses, we were reminded why that is the case. David might not own any vines but he’s got his finger firmly on the pulse, and is able to produce exclusively white wines using the finest fruit sourced across the Cote de Beaune. We tasted the 2013 vintage from barrel across his whole range as well as trying a couple of older vintages (it would have been rude not to…). The wines were superb – rich in style but with the balance and elegance that typifies the best white Burgundies. Moret, along with many other producers is constantly considering the ‘tension’ in his wines – the fine balance created as richness and generosity battle with minerality and acidity. It is this tension that makes white Burgundy so alluring and delicious.

Tasting at David Moret

Tasting at David Moret

Next on the itinerary was a visit to Pascual Arnoux at Domaine Arnoux Pere et Fils in Chorey Les Beaune. Pascual produces the Chorey Les Beaune 2011, Savigny Les Beaune 2011 and Beaune 1er Cru ‘En Genet’ 2011 that many of you will recognise from our 100 Wines list. Again, a swift tasting reminded us why these wines are so popular with our clients. The 2012 vintage tasted fantastic, each wine displaying all of the power and structure to indicate great ageing potential. We tried the 1999 Savigny Les Beaune which gave us a glimpse of what Pascual’s wines can become. It was still fresh and soft with beautiful red fruits whilst boasting the secondary characteristics of menthol and leather that lovers of aged red Burgundy long for.

A tour of the Vosne Romanée vineyards followed, including the Romanée-Conti vineyard of Domaine Romanée Conti – birthplace of the most expensive wine on the planet and erm, not on our Wine List…

Vosne Romanée vineyards

Vosne Romanée vineyards

Saturday centered around a visit to Hervé Kerlann’s Chateau de Laborde in Meursanges. The technical Director of the Kerlann operation, Clement Piquet, showed us around the beautiful estate before sitting us down to a tasting of wines across the Hervé Kerlann portfolio. The Bourgogne Pinot Noir and Gevrey-Chambertin were both tasting very promising for the upcoming vintage and we look forward to listing them again.

Before our flight home on Sunday, we had time to squeeze in just one more visit. This time, we dropped in at Julien Collovray’s winery in Macon, for the chance to learn about wine-making on a much larger scale.

Collovray’s operation and portfolio are far bigger than the other producers we’d visited during the weekend and the scale of the wine-making was mightily impressive. We list Julien’s brilliant Pouilly Fuisée 2012 & St. Veran 2012, and these wines are really reaching their peak now. Alongside these, we also tried newer vintages of each to get a glimpse of what we have to come. Rest assured, the Pouilly Fuisée 2013 & St. Veran 2013 are absolute belters and we’re certain you’ll love them.

 

@thevintner @wjtrotman The Vintner

Unfortunately, thanks to the likes of Blue Nun, German wines still suffer from a dodgy reputation in the UK. Wine drinkers who ‘know what they like’ haven’t forgotten about the horrors of the 70/80s and therefore avoid German wines like the plague. These people are really missing out!! If you haven’t tried anything German recently then I implore you to do so – expect wines full of vibrancy & character, there are some real gems out there.

Lovers of Mosel Riesling will already know about the excellent wines of Dr. Loosen. The group owns Villa Wolf, whose excellent Silvaner I tried this week. The Silvaner grape variety is readily overlooked by many who will pick a Riesling instead but it can offer great value due to it being ‘off the beaten track’ in terms of favourite German varietals.

Villa Wolf

Villa Wolf

The wine has bags of sharp green apples on the nose, if you closed your eyes you might think it was cider. The palate balances this out with lovely stone fruits and good acidity. With an ever so slight spritz, this would make a great aperitif and would be perfect on a warm summer afternoon if we’re lucky enough to have one of those this year!

Origin: Pfalz, Germany

Dominant Grape: Silvaner

Alcohol: 11.5%

Drinking window: Now

Drink with: Aperitif, Light salads.

Price: Around £9/btl

It is my belief that one can tell a lot about a wine producer, not from their expensive 1er crus but rather from their entry level wines. Henri Prudhon is a winemaker who makes a wide variety of wines – from bottles you can grab for a tenner to a Puligny-Montrachet at around £30. It’s a belter by the way!!

St. Aubin

St. Aubin

The domaine’s entry level white is the ‘Bourgogne’. This name on the label generally denotes a winemaker’s basic wine with the grapes being gathered from various parts of Burgundy, hence the wine’s name. Prudhon’s effort is a classy yet simplistic expression of Burgundian Chardonnay. A supple & fruity wine with no new oak, there are beautiful  citrus notes and minerals on the nose with a palate that provides great acidity and delicate fruit. – a perfect White Burgundy starter wine. The next step might be to try Henri Prudhon’s St. Aubin 1er Cru – great value for premier cru White Burgundy at around £20.

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Origin: Burgundy, France

Dominant Grape: Chardonnay

Alcohol: 12.5%

Drinking window: Now

Drink with: Pre-dinner, Fish & Seafood, Salads.

Price: Around £10/btl

Getting older is hard for the best of us, but my birthday was made all the sweeter this year by having a bottle of Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2008 to hand.

Royal Tokaji

Just as with sweet wines from Sauternes, the grapes used to produce Tokaji are infected with the grey fungus, Botrytis Cinerea. Whilst this might sound rather revolting, the result is akin to nectar; these rot-infused grapes produce a deliciously sweet, opulent, high quality wine.

Tokaji, much like Burgundy, relies on a unique terroir impact on the characteristics of the wines. The area boasts rich volcanic soils which when combined with traditional Hungarian weather – hot, dry summers followed by damp, muggy autumns – create the perfect conditions for the furmint grape to flourish. Indeed, Tokaji is one of the world’s greatest wine producing regions.

Amber-gold and full bodied, this 2008 wine tasted of honeyed apricots, while its nose suggested an abundance of figs, honey and orange peel. Importantly, this sweetness was balanced with vibrant acidity making the wine fresh and approachable. An outstanding example of the style.

Origin: Hungary

Dominant Grape: Furmint

Alcohol: 11.5 %

Drinking window: 2014- 2020

Drink with: Nuts, Paté, Salty Blue Cheese, Fruit desserts

Price: Around £22 per 500ml bottle

Lacoste BorieWhile some people reserve Sunday for worshipping Christ or Morpheus, others of us are hard at work trying to please Bacchus. This Sunday saw a flight of Bordeaux arrive in the shop for a client tasting.  The wine that really stood out was the Lacoste-Borie 2009 – the second wine from the highly-reputable 5th growth Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste. And whilst some wines might buckle under the pressure of coming from such impressive pedigree, this bottle certainly did not disappoint!

The Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste estate is located in Pauillac – the jewel  in the crown of the Médoc (just north of Bordeaux), and home to many famous Chateaux including Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton-Rothschild and Latour. Coming from a chateau on the left-bank of the Gironde, the Lacoste-Borie is a Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blend and boasts a pronounced, perfumed nose with notes of cedar and blackcurrant. With firm yet refined tannins and delicate balance the wine is drinking well now but will easily last for 6-8 years.

Origin: Pauillac – Bordeaux

Dominant Grape: Cabernet Merlot

Alcohol: 13.5%

Drinking window: 2014- 2020

Drink with: Steak, Venison

Price: Around £24