Bilbao-Rioja's 2018 'Best Of Wine Tourism' award winners Promotional feature
Promotional featureThe steering committee of the Bilbao-Rioja partnership recently announced the winners of the regional ‘Best Of Wine Tourism’ awards at a ceremony held in the VIP pavilion of San Mamés stadium in Bilbao.
Promotional featureBilbao- Rioja’s Best of Wine Tourism 2018 awards
The 24 candidates were examined by a jury made up of Mikel Zeberio, a winemaker, sommelier and food and wine writer; Carmen Romo, the director of Romotur, an incoming travel agency; and Lourdes Aedo, the editor of GPS, a weekly food, wine and lifestyle supplement published in El Correo, the most widely-read newspaper in northern Spain.The 2018 winners are: Bodegas Conde de los Andes (Ollauri)
Conde de los Andes is a historic group of three underground cellars, excavated between the 15th and 18th centruries. The earlier cellars show a clear Hispano-Arabic influence while the later cellars were the work of stonemasons from Galicia in northwestern Spain.
Following extensive remodeling, more than two kilometers of these cellars, the oldest still in use in Spain, are open to the public.
Conde de los Andes also received an international ‘Best Of’ award at a gala dinner at Viña Veramonte in the Casablanca Valley in Chile.Bodegas Valdemar (Oion)
Valdemar won its award for an original idea creating a tour of the cellars for parents and children from 4 to 12 years old. The theme is the winery’s loss of its magic grapes and the need to find them by means of a tour where the young visitors learn about the origin of wine and the winemaking process.
After the tour, while parents enjoy a wine tasting, their children drink a glass of grape juice and play in a game room created specifically for them. A tour of Bodegas Valdemar is a treat for the entire family.Bodegas Lecea (San Asensio)
Bodegas Lecea is the brainchild of the Lecea family, owners of extensive vineyards and several underground cellars in the Cerro Verballe quarter of San Asensio.
The company lacks the resources of the large wineries to develop winery tourism so the family came up with an original idea: to share with visitors how wine was made in six underground cellars that were excavated in the 16th century using only gravity and manpower.
During the harvest, Bodegas Lecea offers visitors a unique experience, treading grapes by foot in open tanks (lagos), following the path of the free run juice and the pressing of grapes with an old wooden press.
About the Great Wine Capitals Global Network
Founded in 1999, the Great Wine Capitals Global Network is an alliance of nine internationally renowned wine regions – Adelaide|South Australia; Bordeaux, France; Mainz|Rheinhessen, Germany; Mendoza, Argentina; Porto, Portugal; Bilbao|Rioja, Spain; San Francisco|Napa Valley, USA, Valparaiso|Casablanca Valley, Chile and Verona, Italy.
The Best Of Wine Tourism awards serve as an industry benchmark for excellence and recognize leading wineries and wine-tourism related businesses within each Great Wine Capital that have distinguished themselves in areas such as innovation, service and sustainable practices. For more information visit www.greatwinecapitals.com.
Why it makes the Decanter hall of fame...Wine Legend: Fonseca 1963, Douro, Portugal
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Yield Around 20hl/ha
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Price today £230Premium members: See stockists and Richard Mayson’s tasting note for Fonseca 1963 A legend because…
This excellent and abundant vintage produced wines that immediately attracted the interest of Port lovers worldwide, and Fonseca was soon recognised as one of the finest wines of the vintage. Almost all shippers declared the vintage. Michael Broadbent describes the 1963 as ‘consistently beautiful… one of the top ’63s, and one of the best-ever Fonsecas’.Looking back
Fonseca was founded in 1815 and declared its first vintage in 1840. There followed a stream of magnificent vintage Ports such as the 1868 and the 1927, one of the finest ports ever made. In 1949 Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman bought Fonseca.
The stylistic consistency of Fonseca Ports is often attributed to the fact that they have been made by six successive generations of the Guimaraens family, currently represented by winemaker David Guimaraens. His father, Bruce Guimaraens, a much respected, larger-than-life personality, was the winemaker from 1960 onwards.The vintage
A frigid winter preceded a very dry summer, with light rain refreshing the crop in September. All this guaranteed an excellent harvest, and a copious one too. Summer was relatively cool, delivering a late-flowering and slow-ripening season that gave the wines an exceptional elegance, although they are less conspicuously fruity than the 1970s.
Harvest was late, taking place in the second week of October, when hot weather had returned.The terroir
In the 1960s grapes would have been sourced from properties with a long association with Fonseca. The most important was Quinta do Cruzeiro on the east bank of the Pinhão river, which has supplied the firm since the late 19th century; it was subsequently purchased by the house in 1973.
Quinta Santo Antônio, also in the Pinhão valley, often provided more aromatic and vibrant wines to balance the richly fruity character of the Cruzeiro grapes.The wine
Fonseca vintage Ports are made in much the same way as all other vintage Ports, the significant difference being the source of the grapes.
Fruit is foot-trodden in lagares in the traditional way, fortified, and then aged in large old vats in the lodges in Gaia, across from Oporto, before a relatively early bottling and release the second year after the harvest.The reaction
In 1998 Michael Broadbent found the wine ‘medium-deep, richly coloured, cinnamon and cress fragrance; still sweet, fairly assertive, shapely, lissom.’
Stephen Brook in 2012 noted, ‘Prunes and wood on the nose, which is also orangey and floral. Very sweet and intense, with a silky texture, fine acidity… and an evolved character.’Wine Legend: Penfolds, Grange 1955 Wine Legend: Vega Sicilia, Unico 1964 Wine Legend: Te Mata, Coleraine 1998
Allowing Riojas to be bottled under a new, vineyard-led classification seems an obvious step in defining quality. But, says Sarah Jane Evans MW, the Viñedos Singulares initiative has led to heated debate in the region.Finca la Emperatriz in Rioja Alta plans to release its first Viñedos Singulares wines in 2020
‘It’s a disgrace – una vergüenza,’ exclaimed a Riojan winery owner a couple of months ago. He was expressing in the strongest terms his frustration with the new regulations recently introduced by Rioja’s governing body, the CRDOCa. Appellation rules are frequently unpopular, but rarely have I encountered such criticism, ranging from the extreme above, to a more generalised lack of enthusiasm.
Put simply, in June 2017, the CRDOCa proposed a new category, Viñedos Singulares, defining vineyards and permitting the mention of their names on labels. Soon after, in August, came an update on the regulations, for zone and village wines. This was a sudden step forward for a region which had hitherto only ranked wines in terms of their time in oak: crianza, reserva and gran reserva. (See box, right, for an explanation of the new rules.)
Regulatory bodies never move quickly, so this has been a strikingly speedy event. A range of factors drove this precipitate development. It may seem to be a straightforward matter of regulation and labelling. Yet Rioja produces wines that retail at £5 and at £100 or more, and there are conflicting interests. Growers, producers and cooperatives are in different camps, and have very different visions of quality wine. In the end, points out Agustín Santolaya, director general of Bodegas Roda, ‘it’s litres that speak in the regulatory bodies’ – the decisions are made by the big producers.
‘Simmering in the background is debate right across Spain about expressing terroir’Regional voices
Simmering in the background is debate right across Spain about expressing terroir. In Jerez, Sherry was a wine that was all about blending, from the vineyard to the solera. Today a new generation of producers is focusing on single vineyards, recuperating the traditional names and their characteristics: Balbaina, Carrascal, Macharnudo, Miraflores, Pastrana… Their names never went away, but in the boom years of the 20th century only the brand name counted.
Stephen Brook looks back at Royal Tokaji's first decade of wines, and the resurgence of a once-great region following the fall of communism in 1990.
This ‘first decade’ tasting that I attended was a welcome reminder of the revolution, oenological as well as political, that took place in Europe in 1990.
The communist years, when private ownership and winemaking were suppressed, nearly destroyed the Tokaji style, which had to be painstakingly resurrected after its fall.
I was a frequent visitor to the region in the 1980s, and simply assumed that the oxidative and rather heavy style then prevalent was the norm.Scroll down for Stephen’s tasting notes
Royal Tokaji was one of the very first new companies in Tokaji after the collapse of communism, and the style that it and other new wineries pioneered was not just fresher and more vibrant, but lower in alcohol and higher in residual sugar.
Hungary’s wine authorities fought against this change, but the passage of time has proved the newcomers right – Tokaji aszú since 1990 is far more intense and energetic, and in good vintages is able to age and develop for decades.Spearheaded by Hugh Johnson, Peter Vinding-Diers, and winemaker István Szepsy, Royal Tokaji sought from the outset to focus on high quality single-vineyard wines, as identified in the 17th-century classification.
The company bought grapes from local growers until 1993. Today, Royal Tokaji farms 112 hectares of its own vineyards.Background to this tasting
In spring 2017 the company decided to review all of its old vintages from the 1990s, opening all bottles and rejecting those (about one quarter) that were faulty or oxidised.
The remaining 1,746 were rebottled and recorked in 37.5cl bottles, rather than the traditional 50cl format.
All the wines I tasted were from the first growths of Szent Tamás, Nyulászó, and Betsek.
Ben Howkins, involved here since 2003, admitted: ‘To be honest, we really didn’t know what we were doing in the first few years. The tradition of authentic Tokaji had almost been lost.’
It was therefore gratifying to see how well those early wines have held up.Continue reading below Stephen’s top Royal Tokaji recommendations: All about Tokaji
Tokaji’s sweet wines are very individual. They are produced solely from botrytised grapes, or ‘aszú’.
Aszú wines have very high acidity, which, together with their sugar levels, allows them to age and develop for decades.
These are pressed after harvest and macerated with dry wine or must that is already fermenting. The must activates the yeasts on the aszú grapes, which ferment to moderate alcohol levels but leave a large amount of residual sugar.
The region, in eastern Hungary, has a dry continental climate, so the wines are very different from those of, say, France, where the climate is more humid.
Tokaji aszú is greatly affected by vintage, and in some years no sweet wines can be produced at all. Fortunately, producers are now able and willing to produce dry wines of high quality too.
Related content: Decanter travel guide: Tokaj, Hungary
This beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its famous sweet wines, great food and stunning architecture, is a perfect getaway,…Tawny Port 10 and 20 Years Old: Panel tasting results
Some of the best expressions of tawny Port....Producer profile: Château d’Yquem
Fine-tuning in vineyard and cellar and a move towards freshness and finesse in both the esteemed Sauternes and dry white…
Many successful evenings of wine and food have been rounded off with a drop of grape-based spirit - not least at this time of year - but how much do you really know about them? Let's find out with the Decanter grape spirits quiz.Do you know your VS from your XO?Start the grape spirits quiz More Decanter.com wine quizzes:
Wines from the the Southern Rhône 2016 should have the ability to live long in the cellar, so here are the top wines rated by Matt Walls.Rayas shone particularly brightly in 2016, says Matt Walls.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016 red wines have a ‘remarkable density of ripe tannins’ and are, unsurprisingly, among the standard bearers for one of the best Southern Rhône vintages in recent memory.
Of course, the 2015 wines were no slouches either, but that was a vintage which performed slightly better overall in the northern reaches of the Rhône. In 2016, the situation appears largely reversed, with the south enjoying that extra lift.
Performances were more mixed for Châteauneuf white wines in general in 2016, but several still made the top scorer list.
All of the wines below scored above 95 points in Matt Walls’ Southern Rhône vintage report, published on Decanter.com for Premium members earlier this month.
Having dodged severe frosts that hit many parts of France in spring 2016, there was generally gradual progress in the Rhône with relatively cool and dry conditions. A hot sunny August and a heatwave then arrived, before things cooled down again after mid-September.Top scoring Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016 wines
See more Rhône 2016 vintage reports and ratings, exclusively for Decanter Premium members:
Best Rhône 2016 wines: The top scorers
See the top rated wines...Northern Rhône 2016: Full report and wines to look for
Find out where to look in the Northern Rhône 2016 vintage..Southern Rhône 2016: ‘Unmissable’ wines and full report
A vintage 'not to miss' says Matt Walls...Rhône 2017 harvest: Small but perfectly formed?
Great quality but some appellations struggling for grapes...
Multi-millionaire Bernard Magrez has confirmed that he has bought Château Le Sartre in Bordeaux's Pessac-Léognan.Le Sartre.
Magrez is already the owner of four classified properties: Château Pape Clément, Clos Haut-Peyraguey, Château Fombrauge and Château La Tour Carnet, and 40 other properties around the globe.
Although Château Le Sartre is not a classified estate, Magrez said in a statement that it offered ‘a unique opportunity’ to expand his portfolio.
La Sartre is located near Château de Fieuzal and east of Domaine de Chevalier, on both sandy and stony soil. It extends to 33 hectares, split between 23 hectares dedicated to red wines and 10 hectares for white wines, planted mostly with Sauvignon Blanc.
Le Sartre was owned by Marie-José Leriche, sister of Antony Perrin from Château Carbonnieux, who transferred the domaine to her in 2005 before his death in 2008. It was run by René Leriche, her husband, and Marie-José.
Groupe Bernard Magrez did not disclose the purchase price.More articles like this:
In association with Cava DO.
In association with Cava DO.Find yourself a great value Cava to enjoy...
In association with Cava DO.Top value Cava: Under £25
Rebecca Gibb MW tasted these top Cava wines, at a tasting organised by the Cava DO. These are the wines that don’t break the bank.
‘There were some genuinely good sparkling wines, with several at the sub-£20 level displaying skilful viticulture and vinification, as well as an evolution from lengthy ageing.,’ said Gibb.
‘While no wine achieved more than 93 points, those achieving 90 or more displayed harmony, complexity and textural interest, clearly the result of tender loving care in both the vineyard and winery, offering intensity and fruit concentration.’
- Cava grape varieties: Three headline grapes
- Cava de Paraje Calificado: Cava’s top tier
- Cava and food pairing
In association with Cava DO.
In association with Cava DO.
In association with Cava DO.Premium Cava: Over £25
‘The real excitement in Cava starts at around £25,’ said Rebecca Gibb MW, who has picked these Cavas at a higher price point, at a tasting organised with Cava DO.
‘Within the gran reserva category there were some clear stand-outs, showing that the varieties that make up most Cava blends – Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel.lo– can produce wines with finesse and ageing potential.’
‘On release, they are ready to drink and there’s little to gain from further cellaring.’
Choose one of these wines for your next special occasion…
- Cava grape varieties: Three headline grapes
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Jane Anson's looks at the rush of estate sales in St-Emilion in 2017 and examines what has been happening...
Merlot vines in St-Emilion, basking in the sun.
You could be forgiven for thinking that St-Emilion in 2017 has collectively broken into its own wine cellars and got seriously high on the contents.
It’s been hard to keep track of the number of classified estates changing hands, with six or seven Grand Cru Classés or Premier Grand Cru Classés going under the hammer in the last six months, and at least double that in terms of overall transactions.
It’s not just the sales that have been eyebrow-raising, but the prices. The average price per hectare in 2016 in St-Emilion, according to land agency SAFER in its report last year, was in a range from €180,000 to €2.3 million.
In 2017 we have seen Chateau Troplong Mondot exchange hands for between (unconfirmed but near certain) €5.5 and €6 million per hectare.
This was followed more recently by Clos Labarde for a reported €3.2 million per hectare to the same Scor insurance group that bought Troplong (after, so I was told by Gerard Perse of Pavie, a serious bidding war between the two parties) so cementing the idea that a new ceiling has been breached.
Clos Labarde is a 4.5ha AOC St-Emilion Grand Cru estate whose main attraction is its location close to Pavie Maquin (and, a stone’s throw further, Pavie itself, hence Perse’s interest).
Other high profile chateaux to have been sold include Chateau Bellefont Belcier to Peter Kwok (from Chinese owners Juxin Wine & Spirits who bought back in 2012, although I believe there may have been an interim sale somewhere between the two reportedly to a John Remos), Chateau Fonroque to the Guillard family, owners of another French insurance company in the shape of CHG Participations.
And then there’s Chateau Berliquet going to the Wertheimer brothers, owners of Chanel and neighbouring Chateau Canon, and Clos de la Madeleine going to the Moueix family (again neighbors, this time of Chateau Belair-Monange). Perse himself after losing out of Clos Labarde managed to secure Domaine de la Vielle Eglise for a little less painful €1.2 million per hectare.
Two other classified sales came with Chateau Petit Faurie de Souchard to Mondiale insurance of Chateau Soutard while Chateau de Candale was bought by Thibault Decoster of Chateau la Commanderie.
A sale has closed on Chateau Franc Mayne also, but the new buyers have not so far been announced, although I believe also French, and I know of two others that are imminent, also big name classifieds.
So is there a pattern here?
These are mainly French buyers, and a large percentage of them are existing St-Emilion owners increasing their holdings. We have seen this increasingly over the past few years, with the Dillons enlarging Chateau Quintus with the purchase of Chateaux l’Arrosée and l’Amont, and the Dassault family buying Chateau Trimoulet to increase the holdings of Chateau Dassault, among others.
The St-Emilion classification system – which classifies land not chateaux brands, unlike the Left Bank – means that they may not now, or indeed ever, be able to join the new additions to their existing classified land, but they always have the possibility to apply to do so, and if not can leverage their existing brands with the addition or expansion of second wines, or simply use the power of one name to improve price potential of another.
One question for me seems to be why now? Most of these sales have come in the last half of this year. We know 2017 was difficult with frost, but after 2015 and 2016 vintages surely cashflow was not a problem at this level of property?
It is because it is becoming harder for small families to keep hold of their estates, and this is a continuation of a phenomenon we have seen in Pauillac, Saint Julien and Margaux for years, where the big names relentlessly swallow the small?
Alex Hall of Vineyard Intelligence, says, ‘It’s certainly interesting that the sales are concentrated in the hands of locals. Even Peter Kwok qualifies in that category, as he has been an owner of an estate in St-Emilion since 1997. These are people who understand the region, the wines and how to sell them, and are willing to compete, often with each other, to secure prime assets, even if that means pushing the price up in the process.
‘When you look at the purchases individually, it’s hard to give one clear reason for the rate of turnover, but the prices themselves will now be spurring extra interest from sellers. I don’t think we’re done yet.’
What Hall may mean is that at Troplong, for example, Xavier Parrente had raised the profile and prestige through En Primeur prices and critics’ scores, and that he may have felt he was at the end of a cycle and at exactly the right time to cash out. While at Clos de la Madeleine, the owner Jean Charles Morisseau was taking retirement from his main job with Société Generale’s wine division.
He didn’t have an obvious successor among his 80 or so shareholders, so took the decision to sell. Moueix was already distributing the wine, and it no doubt made sense to pay a high price per hectare (exact amount unconfirmed but the rumor is around €3 million) because its location effectively takes it into Chateau Belair-Monange’s garden.
Whether these estates will keep their original names or be subsumed into the stronger brands is not yet known (even if widely expected). Chateau Canon has form on this, after all, having bought Chateau Matras in 2011 to transform into the second wine Clos Canon, as does Belair-Monange after having swallowed up Chateau Magdeleine in 2012. Canon’s director Nicolas Audebert confirms that was their initial plan, but that now they are hesitating.
‘Berliquet has 10ha in one square plot on the plateau and slopes, and Canon vines surround it on three sides, so of course it made sense for us, but I can’t give a straight answer yet as to what we will do. Two years ago when first thinking about it we wanted to incorporate it into Canon; but the more we look at the special quality of its terroir the less sure we are. No decisions will be taken until we have got to better understand the soils.’
It’s hard to argue, of course, that Chanel’s money is going to be a negative for Berliquet – an estate with huge potential but to date sometimes uneven results. But there’s no doubt that the landscape of St-Emilion is changing, and the people ultimately paying for all these acquisitions is almost certainly going to be us, through the price of the bottles.Read more Jane Anson columns on Decanter.com.
Stephen Brook attended the Louis Jadot masterclass at the recent Decanter Fine Wine Encounter in London and tasted vintages of its Clos Vougeot Grand Cru stretching back several decades. See his ratings on the wines.Louis Jadot
Like many of the major négociant houses in Burgundy, Louis Jadot has extensive holdings of fine vineyards and thus acts as a domaine as well as a merchant, with eight Grands Crus among the 37 hectares it owns along the Côte d’Or.
Frédéric Barnier presented a splendid vertical tasting from the Clos Vougeot Grand Cru at the Decanter Fine Wine Encounter in London.
Barnier took over as technical director in 2012, succeeding the legendary and hugely admired Jacques Lardière on his retirement.
Lardière was keen on biodynamic farming, although Jadot has never made a great song and dance about it.
Article continues below the wines: Find out more about Jadot’s Clos Vougeot vines and winemaking principles.Jadot Clos Vougeot ratings from this tasting
UK and US stockists given if available. Stockist search aided by Wine-SearcherAbout Clos Vougeot
Clos Vougeot is the largest Grand Cru after the Cortons, with almost 51 hectares planted in a single block, but divided among over seventy proprietors.
The Clos differs from other Grands Crus in that its vineyards don’t just occupy the prized mid-slope of the Côte de Nuits, but descend as far as the road between Beaune and Dijon.
That means there are considerable variations in soil type.Where Jadot’s vines lie
Barnier readily admitted that the Jadot holdings, which amount to a sizeable 2.6 hectares, are partly mid-slope but mostly at the foot of the slope. That lower section has more clay, and the soil is twice as deep as it is at the top of the Clos.
In Barnier’s view, that doesn’t mean the Jadot wine is lower in quality, but it does mean it is slower to evolve and does not become fully expressive until it is at least seven years old.How Jadot Clos Vougeot is made
Most of the Jadot wines are made in the same way, and Clos Vougeot is no exception.
The grapes are fully destemmed, and fermented with indigenous yeasts. The maceration period is usually prolonged, and fermentation temperatures relatively high, which can also add to the tannic structure when the wine is young.
It is aged for around 18 months in one-third new oak. Very little press wine is blended in, and there is usually no filtration.
Clos Vougeot may not be the most prestigious of Jadot’s Grands Crus, but it is certainly consistent.More about Louis Jadot
Since 1985, Jadot has been owned by the Kobrand wine and spirits distribution company in the United States, but the firm seems content to let Jadot produce its wines without interference.
The hereditary managers of the company are the Gagey family, now entering its third generation. Jadot also has a welcome tendency to keep its winemakers for decades, ensuring a consistency of style.
Decanter’s long-standing consultant editor hand-picks fine wines for drinking now and recommends others to lay down in the cellar.From the cellar Dinner for Sarah Kemp at Brooks’s
A ‘save the date’ note for 26 September last year from Christopher Burr MW, to join him and his wife for a dinner in honour of Decanter’s recently retired managing director Sarah Kemp, was written in stone. Wines were provided by the guests, which included Sarah’s husband Brian St Pierre and son Patrick, 16.
The Spurrier selection
French Crémant such as Crémant de Loire and Crémant de Bourgogne can offer good value versus Champagne and a different style to Prosecco. Decanter's Tasting team make some recommendations...Crémant de Bourgogne from Cave de Lugny.
Crémants are made using the ‘traditional method’ – the same method used for Champagne where the second fermentation takes place in the bottle. Grape varieties vary, depending on locality. Chenin Blanc dominates Crémant de Loire, while Pinot Noir and Chardonnay form the backbone of Burgundy Crémant.
Retailers have picked up on Crémant in a bigger way in 2017, partly reflecting the wines’ ability to offer value-for-money but also as a way of extending ranges of sparkling wine beyond Champagne, Prosecco and Cava.
Wines updated 13th December 2017. Recommendations by Decanter’s tasting team.French Crémant sparkling wines to try: Where in France produces Crémant?
Those wishing to use the term ‘Crémant’ in their region have to get clearance from France’s national appellation body; an often joyless, bureaucratic procedure that can take years to reach fruition.
The latest to go through this has been Crémant de Savoie, which was authorised by France’s INAO appellation body in 2014.
Seven other Crémant appellations already existed, and these are:
- Crémant de Bordeaux
- Crémant de Bourgogne
- Crémant d’Alsace
- Crémant de Loire
- Crémant de Die (Rhône)
- Crémant de Jura
- Crémant de Limoux (Languedoc-Roussillon)
As so often in wine, there isn’t a hard and fast rule about this. That said, you would generally expect a good quality Champagne to out-live a good quality Crémant.
‘Crémants generally have a higher pH and phenolic content than Champagne, with low levels of both being crucial for longevity in sparkling wine,’ said Rob MacCulloch MW, in this response to a query on ageing Crémant.See also: More Crémant de Bourgogne recommendations from Andrew Jefford Vintage Champagne panel tasting Wines to have with Christmas turkey What’s the difference between Champagne and Prosecco – ask Decanter
A must-have for the end of the Christmas lunch, these Ports come recommended and offer great value...Great value Port for Christmas
All of the following Ports are £20 and under – whether you enjoy a Tawny or a Vintage, you’ve got plenty of choice from our recommendations below…
Bidders at the upcoming Naples Winter Wine Festival 2018 auction will get a rare opportunity buy a glimpse inside Moët Hennessy's mountainous Shangri-La winery in a remote part of China as one of several luxury packages, organisers have announced.Vineyards that produce Ao Yun in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Moët Hennessy’s mountain winery in Yunnan Province in southern China has been likened to making wine on the roof of the world – such is its altitude – and the group released its inaugural red wine, Ao Yun 2013, last year.
Organisers of the Naples Winter Wine Festival 2018 auction said today (12 December) that one of its top lots will be an all-expenses-paid package for two couples to visit the winery and meet the team behind it.
No price estimates have been given, but the average price for a wine package in the annual Florida-based, charity auction is around $200,000, said a spokesperson for the auction, to be held on 27 January in 2018. It’s the first time a Chinese winery package has been offered at the event, the spokesperson told Decanter.com.
The Naples auction, organised by the Naples Children & Education Foundation, is known for its ostentatious prizes, from flash cars to exclusive holidays and private access, and the 2017 live auction raised around $13.4 million – versus $10.5 million in 2016.
The Ao Yun lot at the Naples auction is set to include a tour of the vineyards, at more than 8,000 feet above sea level, as well as a private tasting with estate director Maxence Dulou and a night plus dinner staying in the Ao Yun lodge.
Vintages from 2014 to 2017 inclusive will be available to taste in-barrel, while the lot also includes two magnums of Ao Yun 2013 plus 12 bottles each of Ao Yun 2013 and 2014.
For good measure, there’s also return business class flights from anywhere in the US to Shangri-La city, and two nights in the Banyan Tree resort.
The vines at Moët’s Chinese winery were planted in 2002 and are mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with around 10% Cabernet Franc. The group, which is part of LVMH, has long stated its ambition to produce a fine red wine in China..
Decanter’s Jane Anson said of the 2013 wine, following a visit to the estate in 2015, ‘The wine is rich and ripe without sacrificing freshness. The quality of the tannins is what impresses me the most, soft but dense.’
Other lots at the Naples 2018 auction are set to include the ‘ultimate truffle dinner’ at Sea Salt in Naples, with imperials from Grace Family Vineyards, as well as a 60-gallon barrel of 2016 vintage wine from the Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate in St Helena, California – where winning bidders can create their own blend.More articles like this: John Stimpfig’s Ao Yun 2013 tasting note Vineyards on the roof of the world – Jane Anson Record sales total for Hospices de Beaune 2017 auction
The post Naples Winter Wine auction 2018 offers Moët Chinese winery trip appeared first on Decanter.
Sarah Jane Evans MW has tasted the latest releases from Vega Sicilia. Here, she gives some insight into the winery and rates the wines...Stainless Steel Fermenter at Vega Sicilia. Scroll down to see Sarah Jane’s tasting notes
‘Evolution not revolution’ is the mantra at Vega Sicilia. There were promising signs of the implementation of the gradual development across the wines at the first international launch of the Vega Sicilia new releases for 2018.
Reserva Especial, the traditional NV blend across three vintages, was the star. It makes the case for blending being more than just the sum of the parts.
The new winery at Vega Sicilia opened in 2010, so the Reserva Especial does not yet reflect the changes to the technology.
Technical director Gonzalo Iturriaga joined in September 2015, and is working on a number of fronts.
‘For instance, with Valbuena we’re looking at going back to stainless steel for the 2nd year, after that important first year in oak. We are trialling a number of different coopers. We are also playing with the size of the vats. In the future we are working more with the concrete; and with Alion we are starting to bring in a little American oak. Overall our work is moving from wood to velvety tannins.’
The tasting certainly revealed brighter wines, moderated oak, less tough tannin. The subtle changes don’t alter the signature of the wines, but they do provide freshness, and some more fruit. This work has been echoed in Rioja, where the focus has been on suiting the appropriate oak and winemaking to Tempranillo.Vega Sicilia new releases rated:
Awaiting stockist details from Berry Bros & RuddSee all Vega Sicilia tasting notes About Vega Sicilia
Vega Sicilia, founded in 1864, built a global profile for the Ribera del Duero region decades before the creation of the denomination in 1982. That same year current owners, the Alvarez family, purchased the property.
Ribera del Duero is renowned for its reds from Tinto Fino (Tempranillo), but Vega Sicilia’s founder also introduced Bordeaux varieties. Today, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot still play a part in the wines, along with a certain Bordelais approach to winemaking.What Sarah Jane said about last year’s releases, including Único 2005 Big changes
The latest releases of Único 2005 and Reserva Especial (a blend of 2003, 2004 and 2006), are both wines that pre-date some big changes at Vega Sicilia; a new winery, designed by former Technical Director Javier Ausás, now has every possible detail for control of the winemaking process.
Valbuena 5 2012, however, did come from this new winery. Current Technical Director Gonzalo Iturriaga highlights the difference:
‘Javier really improved the quality of the wines with the new winery; we can now vinify everything separately. As a result, Valbuena was once a second wine, but no longer’.
As for Reserva Especial, this reflects an old tradition where the best of a selection of vintages were blended to create an individual – non-vintage – wine. Iturriaga has the task of choosing the wines from the era of Ausás, or even potentially from as far back as his predecessor, Mariano García (who oversaw the wines from 1968-98). He revels in the opportunity, ‘It’s a lovely part of my job’.A mixed bag
The December 2016 tasting of the Vega Sicilia wines in London reflected a mixed bag of vintages. The Benjamin Rothschild & Vega Sicilia Macán project from Rioja is still finding its feet, and suffered from having to show wines from a less than exciting year. I look forward to the 2015 vintage.
Alión 2013 equally was not from a great vintage. However Valbuena 5, Único and Reserva Especial all reinforced the reputation of Vega Sicilia and its team.Also published this month: Top Roda I, Rioja Reserva wines to try
Sarah Jane Evans reports on a vertical tasting...Best Rhône 2016 wines: The top scorers
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The post First taste: Vega Sicilia’s new releases, including Único 2006 appeared first on Decanter.
See the latest Christmas Champagne offers from supermarket Sainsbury's and stock up for the festive season...Sainsbury’s Christmas Champagne offers
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Last updated: 12/12/17. Deals correct at time of publication but may be subject to change.
Decanter's tastings team has recommended some great wines from the UK supermarket's range, including several bottles to pair with food.
Sainsbury’s has previously vowed to cut down on wine multi-buy deals, and said it wants to focus on providing customers with single-bottle value across the range.
Decanter’s tasting team has picked out some food-friendly options from a recent tasting of the Sainsbury’s wine range, and perhaps surprisingly the majority are whites ranging from crisp Pouilly-Fumé through to rich, barrel fermented Chenin Blanc.
Also included are a Champagne – always a great choice with smoked salmon – and a Pauillac, which will be pretty handy with a main course of roast beef or a venison stew.More on food pairing from Decanter
5/12/2017: Added 9 wines from the latest tastingTop Sainsbury’s wines:
The top 9 tasting notes are our recommendations from the latest tasting. Continue scrolling down to see older Sainsbury’s wine reviews.Related content: The best Asda wines this winter
Top picks at good prices from our tasting team...Best Aldi wines for Christmas
Some more great value deals at Aldi...Best Lidl wines for Christmas
These are our favourite Lidl wines to try...Tesco wines to buy this winter
Tesco’s Finest range of wines has been a key focus for the UK supermarket in 2017, with over 20 new…Wine with Christmas Turkey – Food Matching
Tannin is the enemy, argues Decanter's Harry Fawkes. Here's his guide to wine with Christmas turkey and all the trimmings...
See which wines Sarah Jane Evans recommends for the cellar and the dinner table, and read her report on an estate that encourages vintage variation to shine through; with years oscillating between Mediterranean and Atlantic influence.The giant thistle emblem at the entrance to the Roda cellars...
- Scroll down to see the ratings and tasting notes, available exclusively for Premium members
Roda is the baby of the Barrio de la Estación, in Haro’s Station district in la Rioja Alta, founded in 1987.
When it launched Roda I in 1992, it brought a definite shock of the new. Yet today, Roda has become the essence of fine-tuned classicism. As part of the 30th anniversary celebrations, Roda held a comparative tasting of three paired vintages, all from top years in Rioja.
It illustrated Roda I’s focus on reflecting the vintage, whether cooler Atlantic, or warmer Mediterranean.
Roda’s founders Mario Rotllant and Carmen Daurella, had a background in drinks distribution. Their goal was a top quality wine, and they fastidiously researched Catalunya and Ribera del Duero before choosing Rioja.
Rotllant says, ‘I wanted a wine to enjoy now, but that could live longer and was complex.’ They fixed on the remarkable site in the Barrio, with its subterranean cellar that opens out at the foot of the hill. They named the business Roda after their surnames.
Article continues below the wines.See the tasting notes and ratings More about Roda
Just as the bodega was built on the old foundations, it’s not too far-fetched to say that it was also built on the foundations of the old wisdom of Rioja. The key to its success was the initial research into the best vineyards in Rioja Alta (RodA owns 70 hectares and works with another 50).
Rotllant stresses, ‘we were always looking for perfection. I never wanted the team to take a decision thinking about the cost. We never make a blend to build volume’. To make this work, he explains, the wines were launched at a higher price than was usual at the time, though with moderate increases since.
Rotllant points out that since Roda came into profit in 1998, it has not made a loss. Every year 7% of gross turnover goes into research. Roda became known for its Tempranillo Seed Bank, which has identified over 500 morphotypes in Rioja. Its Familia Roda 107 collection gives growers internationally access to better Tempranillo material.
The young viticulturist Agustín Santolaya worked on that project to find the best vineyards. In 1998 he was appointed as Roda’s General Manager. Under his guidance since, the range has grown slowly.
The original Roda II is now called Roda to avoid the idea that it is a second wine. Into this goes the fruit with a mainly red flavour profile, while Roda I has a black fruit profile.
Roda I is, in principle, all Tempranillo, though 1994 contained Garnacha, ‘because it showed a black fruit profile that year’.
From 2009, Roda I was contained a dash of Graciano; says Santolaya, ‘climate change is forcing us to use a little to bring down the pH naturally and to bring freshness’. The bodega uses French oak, both for fermentation and for ageing.
Roda I’s initial ageing of 24 months in barrel and 12 months in bottle in the 1994/1995 reduced to 14-16 months in barrel and 20 months in bottle by 1997.
The early use of 1/3 new, 1/3 one year, and 1/3 older barrels changed by 1997 to new and one year barrels in more or less equal proportions, medium toast, made by 10 different coopers.
Stylistically the vertical showed how much the team got right at the outset and how the wine-making has developed subtly while reflecting vintage variation.
Editing by Chris Mercer.More articles like this: Best Rhône 2016 wines: The top scorers
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Find our recommendations for top supermarket Champagnes, and stock up this Christmas...Top value supermarket Champagne
Own-label, supermarket Champagne brands have developed a giant-killing reputation over the last few years.
It’s not all good, and the worst are clearly made to a price-point. But, the best can offer good value for money.
Below, find Decanter recommendations of own-label Champagnes that cut the proverbial mustard. These would be great for any Christmas party or New Year’s Eve gathering.
- Great value Champagne and sparkling wine – under £30
- Vintage Champagne: Panel tasting
- UK Champagne offers