Top Australian wines made from Italian grape varieties

Decanter News - wo, 31/01/2018 - 15:20

From Riverland Fiano to McLaren Vale Aglianico, growing numbers of Australian winemakers are experimenting with Italian grape varieties and our expert team has picked out 15 favourites from the recent Australia Day tastings in London.

Italian Grape Varieties in Australia

Those in-the-know will be aware of Australian winemakers’ experiments with Italian grape varieties over the last several years.

More recently, growing numbers of wines are becoming available – some only at the ‘cellar door’, but others are finding their way overseas – as shown by the tasting lists at the Australia Day tasting organised by Wine Australia in London in January.

Some of the trials started with climate change in mind, but several winemakers have also long-held the view that certain Australian climates – Riverland, for example – were already a good natural fit for the sun-loving varieties of southern Italy, in particular. Others have ancestral links.

The Mediterranean climate of McLaren Vale has also been explored as a based for varieties from the south of Italy’s ‘boot’, such as Fiano, Aglianico and Nero d’Avola.

The cooler climates of the Adelaide Hills and Clare and King valleys have emerged as front-runners for varieties found further north, such as Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Nebbiolo.

Below, Decanter’s tasting team pick out 15 Italian-inspired highlights that are worth tracking down in 2018. Due to the small quantities, availability may be patchy, so if you come across any of these, snap them up.

Copy and editing by Chris Mercer and Jim Button. Tasting notes below by Tina Gellie, Amy Wislocki and Jim Button. 

Top Australian wines from Italian varieties


Unico Zelo, Riverland, Jade & Jasper Fiano, 2017 Pizzini, King Valley, Nebbiolo, Victoria, Australia, 2013 Unico Zelo, Riverland, The River Nero D'Avola, 2017 Koerner, Clare Valley, Pigato Vermentino, 2017 Chalmers, Heathcote, McLaren Vale, Aglianico, Victoria, 2011 Koerner, Clare Valley, Nielluccio Sangiovese, 2016 Aphelion, McLaren Vale, Sagrantino, South Australia, 2015 Alpha Box & Dice, McLaren Vale, Zaptung Glera First Drop, Adelaide Hills, Minchio Montepulciano, 2012 Dal Zotto, King Valley, Pucino Col Fondo, Victoria, 2014 Alpha Box & Dice, Adelaide Hills, Dead Winemaker's Society Dal Zotto, King Valley, Garganega, Victoria, Australia, 2015 Payten & Jones, Yarra Valley, Leuconoe, Victoria, Australia Oliver's Taranga, McLaren Vale, Fiano, South Australia, 2016 Journey Wines, Heathcote, McLaren Vale, Fiano, 2017 Related content:

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Categorieën: Wijnnieuws

China boosts Penfolds owner Treasury Wine Estates – figures

Decanter News - wo, 31/01/2018 - 10:42

Selling more wines in China, and across Asia more generally, has helped to buoy Treasury Wine Estates in the first half of its financial year as it has cut down on less profitable parts of the markets in the UK and US - with global group profits also up strongly for the six months.

Penfolds, Treasury Wine EstatesPenfolds Grange has been in the top tier of Australia's Langton's Classification since the ranking was born in 1990.

Treasury said today (31 January) that sales of wine rose by 44% in volume in Asia versus the same six months of the previous year, led by its Australian brands – which include Penfolds.

Volumes hit 2.4 million nine-litre cases for the six months to the end of December 2017.  Net sales for the region rose by nearly 37% to 218.1 million.

Sluggish volume sales at the lower end of the wine market in both the US and UK continued to prove a drag on Treasury’s overall results, with global volumes slightly down on the previous year and net sales broadly flat, at A$1.295bn.

Treasury said that it purposefully cut the flow of wine to lower price categories in the UK and US, which influenced the volume sales result – and, in the case of the US in particular, this strategy ‘masked’ growth for premium and luxury wines.

Still, higher profit margins helped Treasury’s global net profits after tax to rise by 37% to A$187 million.

The firm warned that operating profits momentum was expected to slow in the second half of its fiscal year – but that it still anticipated full-year results being in-line with consensus estimates from analysts.

Treasury’s results in Asia echo figures released by the Wine Australia trade body last week.

‘Exports to Northeast Asia were the growth driver with exports increasing by 47 per cent to over A$1 billion for the first time,’ Wine Australia said.

‘Fundamentals of [the] Asian wine market continue to be attractive, [with the] growing imported wine category taking share from [a] declining local wine category,’ said Treasury in its half-year statement.

Treasury began a distribution agreement in China with Baron Philippe de Rothschild in January 2018.

And the Australian group plans to fully open a new warehouse in Shanghai in October.

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Categorieën: Wijnnieuws

New twists on Australian wine classics

Decanter News - di, 30/01/2018 - 18:25

Decanter editorial and tasting team members recommend some of the latest takes on classic Australian varietal wines, plus a couple of examples of more unusual projects in well-known producer regions.

Australian wine styles

Australia still makes plenty of bold, oak-driven Chardonnay and super-ripe, jammy Shiraz, but it’s no secret that the country is becoming known for a greater breadth of regions and styles.

Cooler climate areas, such as Mornington Peninsula, Tasmania and Adelaide Hills, are becoming regular names on wine lists, for instance.

That doesn’t mean, though, that everything is entirely new.

Below, you’ll find some new twists on familiar varietals wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Semillon and Chardonnay.

Plus, there are a couple of more unusual wines from well-known producer regions, such as Roussanne from McLaren Vale and a white ‘field blend’ from Riverland, an area historically known for large-scale production or value wine but now also home to a growing number of small-batch labels.

All the reviews below are hot off the press from recent tastings, including last week’s ‘Australia Day’ annual tasting hosted by Wine Australia.

Some are so new that they aren’t even available yet, but keep your eyes peeled as you won’t want to miss out.


Ashton Hills Vineyard, Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills, The Story, Grampians, R Lane Vintners Westgate Shiraz, 2015 d'Arenberg, McLaren Vale, Money Spider Roussanne, 2017 Payten & Jones, Yarra Valley, Major Kong Syrah, 2015 David Franz, Barossa Valley, Long Gully Road Ancient Vine Ministry Of Clouds, Chardonnay, Tasmania, Australia, 2016 Antiquarian, Riverland, Rare Field White, 2015 Teusner, Eden Valley, The Gentleman Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015

Related content:


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Baja California wine trip: Where to stay

Decanter News - di, 30/01/2018 - 15:00

Wine lovers, start planning your road trip adventure to sunny Baja California. See our experts' top picks of where to stay when you arrive...

hotel encuentro, baja californiaWhere to stay in style in Baja California. Baja California wine trip: Where to stay

Just a quick flight or short drive from Southern California, Baja California has become a hot weekend getaway. See our recommendations on where to stay, from wine and travel writers Amanda Barnes and Sorrel Moseley-Williams…

Updated 30 January 2018 with extra recommendations.

Hotel Coral & Marina Baja California

An Ensenada hotel by the sea… Credit: expedia.co.uk

A mid-sized resort in an ocean-side location with its own marina. Easy access to wine country plus a burst of city life. The Mexican buffet breakfast is the ideal lining for a day’s tasting. Book now

Recommended by Sorrel Moseley-Williams

Hacienda Guadalupe Baja California

Stay in a colonial-style hacienda in the hills… Credit: haciendaguadalupe.com

In the hills, 16 spacious colonial-style rooms are set among vineyards and bougainvillea overlooking the valley. Sample the Melchum Tempranillo or house brew Liebre IPA with roast lamb at the hacienda’s restaurant. The Vid y el Vino wine museum is opposite. Book now

Recommended by Sorrel Moseley-Williams

Adobe Guadalupe Adobe Guadalupe winery

Adobe Guadalupe winery, run by Dutch expat Tru Miller.

Fifteen minutes’ drive away from Michelin-starred US chef Drew Deckman’s restaurant, Deckman’s en el Mogor, you’ll find this a stunning colonial-style lodge. Dutch expat Tru Miller’s initial six- room project expanded to include a winery, food truck, equine breeding centre, restaurant and underground tasting room while retaining a home-away-from-home ambience. Its luxurious quarters overlook the courtyard; be sure to take in a post- breakfast tasting at Adobe’s winery. Book now

Recommended by Sorrel Moseley-Williams

El Encuentro Baja California, El Encuentro

Complete sunshine and serenity at Encuentro’s infinity pool…

Designed to immerse you in the landscape, these luxury eco-lofts offer panoramic valley vistas. Lounge beside the infinity pool by day or sip a glass of red next to your outdoor fire pit under the stars by night. Terroir-ists will get a kick out of the celebrated centrepiece in the Master Villa – a massive rock by the bedside. Book now

Recommended by Amanda Barnes

Cuatro Cuatros Baja California

Slow down your pace of life in a luxury cabana… Credit: cabanascuatrocuatros.com.mx

If glamping is your style, try these luxury canvas tents with redwood floors, indoor fireplaces and indoor-outdoor bathrooms. Nestled within a 144-acre estate, this could be a scene from Out of Africa until you spot wooden boats stranded amongst the vineyards. A drive to the hilltop bar reveals a stunning, cliff top view over the Pacific Ocean. Book now

Recommended by Amanda Barnes

Rancho el Parral Baja California, El Parral

Start your day of wine tasting with a traditional Mexican breakfast… Credit: Amanda Barnes

This colonial-style home offers a wallet-friendly option in the heart of Guadalupe with bright, airy rooms. Unwind in the sauna or organise a massage between the vines before visiting their boutique winery. The Mexican breakfast is a delight. Book now

Recommended by Amanda Barnes



 Nearest Airport Tijuana

Although driving from San Diego (2 hours) or LA (4 hours) is easy and often more direct. Another option is to take the Greyhound bus from San Diego or LA to Tijuana where you can rent a local car and save on border-crossing rental fees.

Amanda Barnes is a wine and travel writer, based in South America since 2009. Sorrel Moseley-Williams is a food, wine and travel journalist and sommelier based in Buenos Aires.

More wine travel ideas:


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Categorieën: Wijnnieuws

Top-tier Prosecco: Wines pushing the boundaries

Decanter News - di, 30/01/2018 - 11:48

Producers have the option to label their top Prosecco with a village of origin, but are these ‘rive’ wines always a guarantee of quality? Richard Baudains finds out.

Richard Baudains’ top ‘rive’ Prosecco

Since 2009, producers of Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore – the top-drawer DOCG Prosecco from the hills – have had the option of declaring the village of origin of their wines with the phrase ‘Rive di’. every village which conforms to the basic wine-growing standards of the DOCG zone (there are 43) can claim its sub-denomination.

In the highly democratic division of the area devised by the producers’ consorzio, all rive appear equal, but some might be more equal than others. Are the rive always a guarantee of top quality? And do they really reflect a special sense of place?

The answer to the first question is ‘yes and no’. Producers who use the rive denomination tend to reserve it for their top label, which means that you should be getting a Prosecco made with special care and attention from their best grapes. Some of these rive wines can be spectacularly, eye-openingly good.

The overall quality, however, is not particularly homogeneous: alongside wines with very distinctive personality there are others which are perfectly well made, but little more. As for terroir character, the diversity of growing conditions within the DOCG zone is evident, but it is difficult to pin down corresponding differences between wines at village level.

Article continues below wine reviews. See the top Prosecco tasting notes and ratings


Andreola, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore, La Vigna di Sarah, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Angelo Rebuli, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Astoria, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore, Roccat, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore, Rive La Farra, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore, Bortolomiol, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore, Spagnol, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore, Col La Tordera, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore, Le Colture, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore, Val d'Oca, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore, Adami, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore, Col Sommariva, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore, Bortolin Angelo, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene La Masottina, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Tanorè, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore, Rive Cantine Maschio, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Merotto, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore, Cuv In search of style

A tentative shot at characterising the most widely exploited and most interesting rive could pick out San Pietro di Barbozza for freshness and refined elegance; Ogliano for its ripe, yellow fruit; Guia for a certain tangy, mineral quality; and Santo Stefano for its firm, fresh zip.

The problem is that there is not a lot of evidence to go on. In a tasting of 58 rive wines I did in October 2017 there were 28 different sub-denominations, most of which were represented by only one or two examples. In some respects the rive are at the cutting edge. The newly recognised extra brut (less than 6g/l of sugar) and brut nature (less than 3g/l) categories are being enthusiastically taken up by producers, and rive wines in particular showcase the trend. In my recent tasting, two-thirds of the wines were in varying shades of brut, while only a small minority were in the traditional extra-dry style.

The drinking window of quality Prosecco is widening and rive wines, which are obliged to declare their vintage, again highlight the trend. I tasted excellent rive from 2015 and even 2014. Rive selections represent a drop in the ocean of the 83 million bottles of Prosecco Superiore produced in 2016 – but it is a still a significant one, with 1.9m bottles. In terms of quality, they are not the only guide to the crème de la crème.

Many top producers, from small independent growers such as Silvano Follador or Cà dei Zago, to leading houses such as Bisol and Ruggeri, do not use village names for their prestige selections. But the good news is that quality producers who do are currently making some of Prosecco’s most interesting wines.

Richard Baudains is the DWWA Regional Chair for Veneto and has written about Italian wine for Decanter since 1989.


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Categorieën: Wijnnieuws

Top Baja California bars and restaurants

Decanter News - di, 30/01/2018 - 11:10

Drive from Southern California to Baja for a Mexican adventure, with recommendations on where to drink or dine from Amanda Barnes and Sorrell Moseley-Williams…

MalvaYou'll find colourful cooking and a vibrant wine culture in Baja...  Top Baja California bars and restaurants

Baja California’s gastronomy is sublime. A plethora of fresh seafood and produce from the peninsula have inspired a dynamic farm-to-table culture and unique Mexican-Mediterranean fusion,’Food is so inextricably interwoven into Mexican culture that you’ll be hard pushed to find a bar that doesn’t serve tacos on the side,’ said wine and travel writer Amanda Barnes.

‘Baja’s abundant larder is also drawing in innovative chefs who’ve turned the region into Mexico’s most exciting foodie hub,’ said Sorrell Moseley-Williams.

‘Rich Pacific pickings include bluefin tuna and oysters from Bahía Falsa, and farm-to-table concepts are normal practice.’

Updated 30 January 2018 with extra recommendations.

Bar Andaluz Baja California restaurants

Make a cocktail pilgrimage to the birthplace of margaritas… Credit: Bar Andaluz Facebook

Head to Ensenada, the margarita’s birthplace, and sample this classic cocktail at Bar Andaluz — the legendary Mexican watering-hole where tequila, triple sec, salt and lemons first met.

Recommended by Sorrel Moseley-Williams

Malva Malva

Escolar fish from Malva…

Dine al fresco at Malva; experimental Mina Penélope, whose vineyards cocoon the restaurant, is the wine list’s star act. It was created by creation of chef Roberto Alcocer, who also owns the farm nearby where he rears chickens, goats and sheep exclusively for his restaurant.

Recommended by Sorrel Moseley-Williams

La Cocedora de Langosta Baja California restaurants

Oyster and lobster feasts on offer at La Cocedora de Langosta…

This classic harbourside joint offers the freshest catches. Start with zesty shrimp ceviche, then enjoy the fried lobster paired with a glass of Monte Xanic’s Sauvignon Blanc.

Recommended by Sorrel Moseley-Williams

Manzanilla Baja California restaurants

Manzanilla was started by husband-and-wife chef team, Solange Muris and Benito Molina.

Ranking in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list for its sustainable perspective. Artfully plated oysters and quail feature on the tasting and daily-changing menus. It was opened in 2000 by husband-and-wife chef team, Benito Molina and Solange Muris. They pledge to source and use ‘the freshest ingredients, the best fish and seafood in Mexico, the best wine in the country, the best olive oil’.

Recommended by Sorrel Moseley-Williams

Conchas de Piedra 


Baja restaurants, Conchas de Piedra

For those in search of seafood and bubbles, head to Conchas de Piedra…

One of Baja California’s best-kept secrets is its fantastic oysters. Enjoy them chilled or grilled and served with Hugo d’Acosta’s excellent sparkling wines at this outdoor vineyard bar. Other bright and fresh dishes on offer include clam ceviche and scallop tiradito (pictured). Chef Drew Deckman also owns a sophisticated grill in Mogor winery, Deckmans.

Recommended by Amanda Barnes

Corazon de Tierra


Baja restaurants, Corazon de Tierra

Enjoy the natural surroundings and eclectic interior of Corazon de Tierra, or ‘heart of the earth’.

Local chef Diego Hernández has trained with some of Mexico’s greats and this is his own highly-acclaimed culinary creation. The eccentric interior reflects the colourful cuisine with dishes that change daily depending on what’s in season and ripe from the garden. The tasting menu offers an array of imaginative dishes such as cactus sorbet and parsnip tamales.

Recommended by Amanda Barnes

Finca Altozano Baja restaurants, Finca Altozano

Take a seat by the bonfire and tuck into the the farm-to-fork dishes at Finca Altozano.

This outdoor grill and open-air kitchen embodies the laid-back charm of Guadalupe. Take a seat at the bar, restaurant or bonfire and indulge in some of the smokey BBQ classics like charred octopus and roast lamb. Chef Javier Plascencia has his own farm on-site and is one of the drivers behind Baja’s impressive farm-to-fork dining scene.

Recommended by Amanda Barnes

Doña Esthela la Cocina Doña Esthela

Esthela started out feeding local hungry workers, now she draws visitors too…

There’s nothing glamorous about Doña Esthela’s, but that doesn’t stop locals from queuing around the block to get in. Dishes are generous in size and flavour, serving traditional Mexican plates including her Machaca con Huevo (tender, slow-roasted beef with eggs), voted Best Breakfast in the World in 2015. This is home cooking at its finest.

Recommended by Amanda Barnes

La Guerrerense Baja restaurants

Sabina Bandera has been the heart and soul of La Guerrerense since it was founded 50 years ago…

Food trucks are spreading like wildfire in So Cal, and it’s catching on in Baja Cal too. Tasty trucks in Guadalupe include Adobe, Troika and Lupe but most locals’ favourite is this tostada cart in Ensenada. Crispy tortillas topped with crab, scallops and sea urchin – each more mouthwatering than the last. Don’t skimp on the homemade hot sauces.

Recommended by Amanda Barnes

Amanda Barnes is a wine and travel writer, based in South America since 2009. Sorrel Moseley-Williams is a food, wine and travel journalist and sommelier based in Buenos Aires.

More wine travel ideas:


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Categorieën: Wijnnieuws

US wineries to sell $3 billion of wine direct in 2018 – study

Decanter News - ma, 29/01/2018 - 17:03

Wineries in the US have continued to see growth in direct sales to wine lovers in the past year, and the total market will top $3 billion in 2018, says a new industry report.

california wine harvest photosPickers working in Ridge Vineyards' Lytton Springs Zinfandel vines, Sonoma County.

Wines shipped directly from the winery to consumer made up 10% of retail sales for domestically produced wines in the US in 2017 – that’s excluding bars, restaurants and hotels – show figures released by Sovos ShipCompliant and trade publication Wines & Vines.

Their latest annual report into the direct-to-consumer wine market underlines strong momentum for the sector.

Total DTC shipments in 2017 rose by 15.3% in volume and 15.5% in value versus 2016, to the equivalent of 5.78 million 12-bottle cases and $2.69 billion.

And the report’s analysts believe the $3 billion mark is very much in reach in 2018.

California makes up around 30% of the so-called DTC market, but figures show that demand across the rest of the US is broad.

Texas was the second most important destination for DTC sales in 2017, accounting for 8% of the market, with New York next on 6% and Florida fourth on 5%.

Pennsylvania, which opened up to DTC wine shipments in 2016, jumped into the top 10 states by destination, in volume terms, in 2017 – suggesting significant pent-up demand among wine lovers.

Oklahoma is set to become one of the few remaining US states to open its doors this year, expected to do so in October – potentially just in time for Thanksgiving.

In terms of the wineries shipping the wine, the report authors highlighted 25% volume growth for Sonoma County wines in 2017, plus a 58% jump in rosé wine shipments.

Wineries of all sizes appeared to be finding a corner of the DTC market to operate in, but smaller wineries – often commanding higher prices per bottle – remained the mainstay of the sector.

‘As in past years, the small winery (5,000 to 49,999 cases) and very small winery (1,000 to 4,999 cases) categories drove the DTC shipping channel, accounting for 70% of the value of winery shipping,’ said the report authors.

Read last year’s report on DTC sales

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Categorieën: Wijnnieuws

Under the radar: 12 unsung heroes of Italy

Decanter News - ma, 29/01/2018 - 13:49

Some of Italy’s best wines remain firmly under the radar for wine lovers. Richard Baudains explores why, and shines a light on names that deserve more recognition...

italian winesFind a new Italian wine to try.

What exactly makes a wine ‘iconic’ is tricky to pin down, because the epithet does not denote any intrinsic quality but rather a status that may be acquired for a variety of reasons. Greatness clearly has something to do with it, but it is not exactly the same thing.

For example, there are many great Barolos but few truly iconic ones, which suggests that being unique, special and different in some way plays a part in being iconic.

At the same time, in the literal meaning of the word, iconic wines are a representation; the quintessential expression of something, which may be a terroir, or a grape variety, a person, a tradition or even a winemaking philosophy.

Sassicaia is an icon of style and elegance, the charismatic Angelo Gaja an iconic producer, Quintarelli’s Amarone an icon of a unique tradition.

Scroll down for Richard’s 12 unsung heroes of Italian wine


Richard Baudains is a DWWA Regional co-Chair for Italy, and has written on the country’s wines for Decanter since 1989 Related content: Vietti vineyards The cru-isation of Barolo

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Categorieën: Wijnnieuws

Jefford on Monday: Tracking terroir

Decanter News - ma, 29/01/2018 - 10:39

Could microbes be the key?  Andrew Jefford talks to McLaren Vale winemaker Drew Noon MW.

terroir soil, noon, mclaren valeDrew Noon shows how gravel soil in the vineyard is marked by metal sculptures to let picking crews know the boundaries of a block.

Not every vineyard is a little corner of paradise (chemicals render some infernal; topography makes others purgatorial) – yet I know one that is.  It’s Drew and Rae Noon’s 5.6 ha of vines tucked away on Rifle Range Road in South Australia’s McLaren Vale.  The vineyard is a large garden, with the vines tended “like grandmother’s plum tree” – and there’s a beautiful kitchen garden, too, with a chicken run, and tables under trees, and dappled sunlight.  The cellar is quiet, open, peaceful, clean, simple and unhurried; the house full of books and maps.  This is winemaking, you feel, as Horatian retirement: cultured, creative, secluded, thoughtful.  (Drew Noon was one of Australia’s earliest MWs, and ‘retired’ back to Rifle Range Road after running vineyards in the Hunter, and consulting in Victoria.)

The Reserve Cabernet and Reserve Shiraz are both crafted from fruit which Drew Noon buys from the Borrett family in Langhorne Creek, but the family’s celebrated Grenache-based Eclipse as well as the fortified VP and the High Noon Rosé all come (since 2011) from the McLaren Vale vines alone.  Drew and I have corresponded since 2010, on and off, about terroir; he and Rae follow the academic and general literature; and they allow that there are sound reasons for reserve about some of the wilder claims and looser language of unthinking terroiriste winemakers, geologically intoxicated wine writers and dithyrambic sommeliers.

The point is this, though: they have studied their own vines, individually, and their own soils for over 20 years now.  They’ve tested terroir.  They’ve observed differences in plant behaviour on different soils, then smelled and tasted differences in the resulting wines.  Indeed even back in his Hunter Valley days, “I became convinced terroir was real because I could taste it.  With Semillon at Tyrrell’s in the Hunter Valley, the wines from the sandy soils were quite different to those from the clay soils.”

Drew Noon currently accepts “that all aspects of climate play a big, probably a predominant, role in determining the character of a wine.  By this I mean the weight, acid balance and mouth feel of a wine.  But the nuances of flavour (what you could call the personality of the wine) that give rise to the differences between sites, I suspect, are the results of the complex interactions between the vine and the microbes in the soil and on the above-ground parts of the vine.  The smaller the vineyard area under consideration, the more important is the role of the soil.”  This is a key distinction; I’m sure he’s right.

noon vineyards

Comparison of Noon West Block, sections A & B at veraison stage in 2018. Image credit: Noon.

Soil microbes and their interactions with vine roots are rightly the focus of much study at present; Noon is convinced that vines, as it were, ‘school’ their own microbial populations over the years, and that this is one reason why old, less vigorous vines counter-intuitively produce higher quality wine than young, more vigorous vines are able to.  (Elaine Ingham of Australia’s Soil Foodweb Institute, Rae Noon told me, has shown how plants not only release food to nourish their own microbial populations, but can actually change the food mix in order to favour certain microbial populations.)

Drew Noon’s emphasis on above-ground microbes is less widely shared, but is not illogical.  We know how much yeast populations on grape skins can differ from place to place.  The aerial medium of a vine, he points out, is no less dependent on site factors than the soil medium, and every surface of a plant hosts microbes.  Concern for this medium is one reason why he uses biodynamic preparations on his vines (though Noon is not a biodynamically certified vineyard).

In particular, the Noons have been able to study their Winery Block Grenache vineyard (planted in 1934) very closely.  “The soil changes a little way down the rows from a gravel fan to the heavy clay which most of the vines are growing in. The soil change is quite sudden so vines only a few metres apart are growing in two different soils.”  The fruit growing on the gravel never makes it into Eclipse, but is used for the rosé and the second label (Twelve Bells); whereas the fruit grown on the clays accounts for 30 to 50 per cent of the Eclipse.  The two sectors naturally carry different weed populations in summer – and Drew and Rae have marked the point of difference with a line of metal sculptures.

“The vines on the gravel,” Drew explains, “look different; they appear older and more frail than the vines on the clay, many are falling slowly apart. The fruit looks different, with more tightly packed bunches and larger berries. This is the result of the soil physical properties which allows the roots on the gravel to explore a larger volume of soil (the roots are deeper and spread wider) because of the lighter texture, accessing more water. But the wine tastes different in flavour, apart from being softer and less dense. I think this is largely due to the different microbe population.  Microbes,” he concludes, “are not the primary driver of wine flavour in the larger context, but I do think they could be vital to understanding the important, subtle and exciting differences that exist between sites.”

A Taste of Noon McLaren Vale wines


Noon, McLaren Vale, Eclipse, South Australia, 2016 Noon, McLaren Vale, Eclipse, South Australia, 2015 Noon, McLaren Vale, High Noon, South Australia, 2017


Read more Andrew Jefford columns on Decanter.com


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Categorieën: Wijnnieuws

No Château Climens 2017 due to frost damage

Decanter News - vr, 26/01/2018 - 18:24

Sauternes producer Château Climens does not plan to make any 'first wine' from the 2017 vintage after seeing vineyards damaged by devastating frost that struck Bordeaux early in the growing season.

visit Château ClimensChâteau Climens in Barsac.

Climens, the 1er Cru Classé estate based in Barsac, said today (Friday 26 January) that it has conceded defeat to the weather in the 2017 vintage.

It was already feared that the severe frosts in Bordeaux in April 2017, particularly in the southern and Right Bank vineyard regions, could cause serious problems for some producers at harvest time.

Climens was badly affected by frost and said that a second budding in its vineyards did little to alleviate the situation.

In the end, the estate conducted a ‘grape hunt’ during harvest, but still only managed to garner 2.5 hectolitres per hectare – roughly one barrel per hectare and a record low.

‘This doesn’t give us enough ‘materia prima’ to make a honourable Climens, [and] we have thus naturally decided not to make any first wine in 2017,’ said Bérénice Lurton, proprietor of Château Climens, which is farmed biodynamically.

‘This will be the first time since 1993 [that we have not made a first wine],’ the estate said.

‘We can say that we have had the joy to be able to make very good to tremendous Climens for 23 years in a row.’

Château de Fieuzal in Pessac-Léognan announced in December 2017 that it would not be making any wine from the 2017 vintage, also due to frost.

See also: Bordeaux sees worst frost since 1991 – What now? 


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Categorieën: Wijnnieuws

Great value Italian wines made by cooperatives

Decanter News - vr, 26/01/2018 - 17:42

Italy’s cooperative wineries may lack the glamour of its single estates, but they offer a wealth of riches for savvy wine lovers. Simon Reilly highlights the names you need to know...

Cantina di Soave barrel roomThe barrel room at Cantina di Soave

For those frequenting the trendy wine bars of east London and Paris searching for their next Instagram post of the latest small-batch, sulphur-free, wax-sealed natural wine made by a bearded winemaker in a shed in the Jura, Italian cooperatives may hold little interest.

For the rest of us, there is real value and quality to be enjoyed.

Scroll down to see Simon’s top cooperative wines

Italy’s cooperative movement, or cantina sociale, is as strong as in any wine-growing country in Europe. Producing more than 60% of Italy’s wines, co-ops represent a vital part of the national wine industry and, happily for the wine lover, offer myriad wines of fantastic value and quality. Yet, with so much made, as ever, it pays to pick the right producer.

Physical geography has created five clear hotspots in Italy’s cooperative landscape where there is a greater emphasis on quality. In northern Italy, the Alps, the Dolomites and the occasional lake make wine production a challenge. Historically this has encouraged wine-growers in these areas to work together.

As a result, the cooperatives of Piedmont, Veneto and Alto Adige are worth seeking out. Further south, beacons of quality are harder to find, until you get on a boat and sail to the islands. On both Sicily and Sardinia the co-ops are dominant in terms of volume, but there is real quality to be found too.

Continue reading the full article below the list of wines Great value wines from Italian cooperatives:


Centopassi, Rocca di Pietra Longa Grillo, Sicily, 2015 Cantina Produttori Nebbiolo di Carema, Carema Riserva, 2013 Cantina Terlano, Terlaner Classico, Alto Adige, Italy, 2016 Mezzacorona, Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva, Castel Firmian, Produttori del Barbaresco, Langhe, Nebbiolo, Piedmont, 2015 Bozen, Pinot Bianco, Alto Adige, Italy, 2016 Produttori del Gavi, Gavi di Gavi, Etichetta Nera, 2016 Cantina Valpantena, Valpolicella, Superiore Ripasso, Torre Cantina Di Soave, Soave Classico Superiore, Rocca Sveva Cantina Oliena, Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva, Corrasi, 2008 Cantina di Mogoro, San Bernardino Monica, Sardinia, 2012 The Wine Society, The Society's Sicilian Reserve Red, 2013 Piedmont

Piedmont is home to the king of all Italian cooperatives, the Produttori del Barbaresco. With 54 farmers providing fruit, it controls 105ha of the 700ha in the Barbaresco DOCG.

From the entry-level Langhe Nebbiolo, through the blended Barbaresco, to the nine single-cru wines made only in the best vintages, the quality and value of the Nebbiolo this cooperative produces is hard to beat.

Aldo Vacca runs the winery alongside a board, elected from their 54 farmers, who together with the winemaker shape the winemaking decisions – including whether the single crus should be bottled. According to Vacca: ‘Sometimes it’s a no-brainer, sometimes it requires a little more thinking.’ This is usually done in the spring after the harvest, when the board members taste the wines before they go into barrel.

The wines are approachable when young, but have the ability to age for decades, gaining in complexity. A recent tasting of the 2007, 2008 and 2010 vintages of the straight Barbaresco highlighted the consistency and complexity of the wines.

Rather than blurring into variations on a winemaking style, each wine is a window through which one can gaze into the specific vintage conditions and pick out the subtle characteristics of the Barbaresco terroir. This is down to Vacca’s winemaking philosophy, which he describes as: ‘Minimal manipulation, long maceration and long ageing in used oak barrels’.

See also on Decanter Premium: The cru-isation of Barolo

A lesser-known cooperative gem not be missed is the Cantina del Produttori Nebbiolo di Carema, whose 16ha of pergola-trained vines on the edge of the Italian Alps produce some of the most elegant yet concentrated Nebbiolo in Piedmont.

The black-labelled standard bottling is Carema’s Volnay; elegant, fine, light but full of the flavours of orange peel, raspberry and sour cherries. The white-labelled riserva is more serious; Carema’s Nuits-St-George, with its fuller-bodied dark cherry and leather flavours.

Beyond Nebbiolo, Gavi’s Produttori del Gavi is worth seeking out. With over 150ha of vines and more than 100 members, the winemaking team of winemaker Andrea Pancotti and consultant Mario Redoglia succeed in making consistently good-value wines of interest and complexity from the Cortese grape.

Matt Thomson

Matt Thomson, winemaking consultant. Credit: Jim Tannock


The focus of cooperatives in Veneto is Soave and Valpolicella. In the Soave region in particular, cooperatives have been blamed for a glut of mass-produced, bland wine made with an eye on commercial volumes rather than quality.

Basic economics are the only way to buck this trend, according to seasoned cooperative winemaking consultant Matt Thomson. New Zealander Thomson has worked more than 25 consecutive vintages in Europe, advising cooperatives including Cantina di Monteforte in Soave and Cantina Valpantena in Valpolicella.

‘Unless you award growers for producing better quality fruit, it just becomes a commodity,’ says Thomson. His formula for success is simple: offer a higher rate for better fruit. ‘It all starts with incentivising them to produce the best fruit possible,’ he says.

Another common weakness of the co-op model, according to Thomson, is a tendency to throw all the grapes into the pot to produce a small number of blended wines. Efforts made by quality-driven growers to produce good fruit are consequently washed away by blending it with weaker fruit.

At Cantina di Monteforte, he instead makes two individual DOCG Soave Classico Superiores – Vigneto Montegrande and Terre di Monteforte – from the best fruit. These wines, both priced at under £10 in the UK, offer a level of quality and character rarely seen at this price point.

Another Veneto producer who has been making single-vineyard cuvées for many years is Daniele Accordini of Cantina de Negrar. The excellent single-vineyard Valpolicellas and superior Amarones are widely available, good value and well worth exploring.

READ: Amarone: a buyer’s guide
Cantina di Negrar

Cantina di Negrar produces single-vineyard wines

Alto Adige

Alto Adige is perhaps the most renowned region in Italy for quality-focussed co-ops. One of the finest in the region is the Cantina Terlano. It has invested heavily in infrastructure, which allows it to store its wines – often for many years – before release.

At the top end, this ability to age is shown off in the company’s Rarities range. Only 3,330 bottles of each rarity wine are released after the wine has spent 12 months in oak barrels and then many years maturing in steel tanks. Wines are bottled only when the winemaker feels they have achieved the right level of balance. The most recent of these releases was a 2004 Pinot Bianco.

READ: My dream dozen: Italian whites

The most traditional of Cantina Terlano’s cuvées is the Terlaner; a blend of Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc that it has produced since the winery was founded in 1893. It is a consistently excellent, beautifully textured and complex wine that is very much the benchmark for the winery.

Sicily and Sardinia

Both Sicily and Sardinia are dominated by giant co-ops, such as Sicily’s largest, Cantine Settesoli, which controls about 5% of the island’s vineyard area, some 6,000ha. Most of the wine made by these giants is mass-produced, some of it exported in bulk. For real quality, the smaller, more focussed producers need to be sought out.

On Sicily, Centopassi is the star. Not only does it make excellent, high-altitude wine, but it does so with grapes grown on land once owned by the Sicilian mafia. In 1996 the Rognoni-La Torre Law (named after the outspoken anti-Mafia activist Pio La Torre) was introduced, allowing the confiscated land to be returned to its original use.

Cantina di Mogoro

Cantina di Mogoro. Credit: Stefano Pia

An organisation called Libera Terra (‘freed land’) was created to manage confiscated Mafia land across Sicily. Centopassi is the winemaking entity of Libera Terra, making a range of high-quality organic wines grown with largely indigenous grapes on high (500m-950m), rocky vineyards in the Alto Belice Corleonese region of Sicily, near Palermo.

In Sardinia, the Cantina di Mogoro, since it began in 1956, has actively promoted the indigenous varieties of Sardinia; rarely seen elsewhere, these include Bovale, Cannonau, Monica and Semidano.

Its two Semidano expressions (Anastasía and Puistéris) are both unique, high-quality interpretations, and the co-op also brings to life the often forgotten grape, Monica, in its San Bernardino cuvée, by adding a small amount of Bovale.

So if you look in the right place, Italy’s co-ops can provide wines of real interest. Whether it is minimal intervention, rare indigenous varieties, single-vineyard cuvées or long-aged rarities that rock your boat, it shouldn’t be too long before Italian cooperatives start popping up on your Instagram feed.

Cooperatives hitting the premium trail

Cooperatives have historically been known for making mass-produced wines at the value end of the wine market. Increasingly, however, this is starting to change. Many of Italy’s largest cooperatives have added a premium range to their portfolio.

In most cases – rather than being just a marketing ploy to generate additional revenue from the same wines – some outstanding wines are being made, often at an attractive quality and price point.

In Soave, the Cantina di Soave, which has over 6,000ha of vineyards in Soave, Amarone and Valpolicella, has created the premium Rocca Sveva range. Described by the Cantina as ‘a winery within a winery’, it consists of a range of excellent wines from the best plots within the estate.

Alongside some distinctive examples of Soave, Valpolicella and Amarone, one of the highlights of the Rocca Sveva range is the Mida Recioto di Soave. Mida is a sweet wine made from partially botrytised Garganega, giving it a rich orange peel and caramel flavour, backed by refreshing acidity.

Also in Veneto, Cantina di Negrar has created the Domini Veneti range. This started as a ‘quality project’ in 1989, when the Cantina worked with its growers to identify the locations within their estates that were best suited to producing quality Valpolicella and Amarone wines. Working with the growers, it now produces a range of cru wines using fruit from these plots.

Over in Piedmont, the Produttori del Barbaresco has produced high-end single-vineyard cru wines in the best vintages for many years. Its unnerving focus on producing high-quality, terroir-driven wines only from Nebbiolo has made it a leading light in the Barbaresco denomination.

In neighbouring Barolo, the Terre del Barolo cooperative cannot make such a claim, historically making wines which failed to reach the highs achieved by the more illustrious estates in the Barolo region. This may be about to change with its ArnaldoRivera brand, a premium range launched in 2017 with wines from the much-lauded 2013 vintage.

Named after the founder of the Terre de Barolo cooperative, the wines are sourced from some of the most prestigious vineyards in the Barolo DOCG. Initial indications are very positive, and the ArnaldoRivera wines appear to be a real step up in quality from the Terre del Barolo wines. Definitely a brand to watch.


ArnaldoRivera premium range

Terre Barolo produces the ArnaldoRivera premium range

In Alto Adige, the largest cooperative in the region, Cavit, has sought to highlight the quality of some of the best terroirs within its estate through its premium Maso range. The Maso wines are all still wines sourced from the best vineyards in the estate, the aim being to produce terroir-driven wines at a cru level of quality.

However, it is Cavit’s premium sparkling wines which attract the most attention. The Altemasi Trento DOC range features five premium sparkling wines from vineyards at altitudes of up to 600m. The standout wine of this range is the Riserva Graal, a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from some of the highest vineyards in Trentino.

Simon Reilly is a London-based wine writer who publishes www.wineloon.com

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Categorieën: Wijnnieuws

The Wine Glossary Quiz – Test your knowledge

Decanter News - vr, 26/01/2018 - 15:08

A wine world of different languages, laws, grapes, marketing terms, production methods, prices and quality can be a maze to navigate. How much can do you understand? Let's find out with the Decanter wine glossary quiz.

Start the wine glossary quiz

See below

More Decanter.com wine quizzes:

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Categorieën: Wijnnieuws

Thieves steal 1,000 Brunello wines from Col D’Orcia

Decanter News - vr, 26/01/2018 - 13:43

Thieves operating in the dead of night have stolen 1,000 bottles of Brunello di Montalcino from high profile estate Col d'Orcia, including 'irreplaceable' library vintages.

col d'orcia, stolen brunelloThe Col d'Orcia estate. south of Montalcino.

Around 100,000 euros-worth of Brunello di Montalcino wines were stolen from the Col d’Orcia wine shop, situated on the winery estate, last weekend, according to the winery.

Thieves broke into the shop overnight and took around 1,000 Brunello wines, including library vintages dating back to 1964 and also highly rated wines such as Poggio al Vento Riserva 1997 and 1999.

‘Some of the bottles are irreplaceable,’ said Francesco Marone Cinzano, owner of Col d’Orcia, who was sleeping in the next-door building at the time of the burglary.

‘They only took the Brunello and everything in the shop was very tidy and clean. They had strict instructions,’ he told Decanter.com.

A van stolen from Col d’Orcia and used as a getaway vehicle was found last night (Thursday 25 January) in Perugia, but no wines were inside.

Police have called in forensics experts to look for clues and a network of merchants, retailers and importers globally have been notified to look for suspect bottles.

‘A lot of merchants have sent messages of sympathy and promised to be on the lookout,’ Cinzano said.

There have been several other burglaries of private apartments in the Montalcino area in recent weeks, according to Cinzano, but it is not known whether they are connected.

There is a plan to set up 110 CCTV cameras this year in the municipality, in order to deter and detect thieves. ‘They will cover entrances and exits to main roads, and they will be able to read car number plates,’ said Cinzano who is one of those who has worked on the initiative with authorities.

There is a sense that fine wine thefts have become a growing problem for high profile wineries and restaurants worldwide in recent years, from California to Bordeaux.

Some have linked this to rapid price inflation for the world’s top wines in the last two decades.

See also:

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OW Loeb merchant insists future is bright

Decanter News - vr, 26/01/2018 - 09:00

The owner of respected wine merchant OW Loeb has insisted the business has a ‘bright future’ despite reports of numerous problems, including late payments and resignations of senior staff.

ow loebOW Loeb has a rich history in the wine trade.

According to reports in the Financial Times and on Jancisrobinson.com, speculation over the financial health of the merchant began when its annual Burgundy tasting was cancelled earlier this month.

The newspaper cited unnamed sources claiming that OW Loeb owed suppliers, including a number of wine producers, considerable sums of money, while some customers were still waiting on the delivery of wine purchases.

Records at UK Companies House show that several senior staff resigned in 2017, although new staff have been recruited.

A spokesperson for OW Loeb’s owner, the Marlon Abela Restaurant Corporation (MARC), told Decanter.com that the wine merchant remained confident of future success. However, the spokesperson acknowledged that the reports had raised a number of broader issues, which she said the company was ‘keen to address’.

OW Loeb, a specialist in wines from Germany, Burgundy and the Rhône, was bought by multi-millionaire Marlon Abela through his MARC business in 2014, with the controlling stake said to have cost him ‘several million pounds’.

Abela, with a fortune estimated at £320m, also owns a number of high-end London restaurants, including Greenhouse, Umu, Morton’s private members club and the recently reopened Square restaurant in Mayfair.

The MARC spokesperson told Decanter.com: ‘OW Loeb has a bright future with a new management team taking the business forward.

‘The multi-million-pound investments we have made in the business underpin our passion for, and commitment to, OW Loeb, one of the great names in the UK wine business, with a proud history and heritage.

‘OW Loeb intends to honour its commitments [to its] clients and is in the process of doing so. OW Loeb remain deeply committed to their customers, suppliers and indeed to the success of the business.’

OW Loeb was founded in Germany’s Mosel Valley in 1874 by Sigmund Loeb, and relocated to London in the 1930s when his son, Otto Loeb, fled Nazi Germany.

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Bordeaux Right Bank 2015 in bottle: Top scorers

Decanter News - do, 25/01/2018 - 17:00

See which St-Emilion and Pomerol wines scored at least 95 points as part of Jane Anson's Bordeaux 2015 in-bottle tasting series.

chateau lafleur, pomerolHarvesting grapes by hand at Château Lafleur in Pomerol. Scroll down to see Jane Anson’s top scoring Bordeaux Right Bank 2015 wines – exclusively for Decanter Premium members

‘It’s an excellent Right Bank vintage,’ said James Lawther MW about Bordeaux 2015, when he tasted the wines en primeur for Decanter.com.

And, broadly speaking, this assessment has appeared to hold true.

While there were high scores for the Left Bank in 2015, particularly in Margaux, Jane Anson’s in-bottle tasting notes below reveal a greater number of Right Bank estates at the top end of the scoring spectrum.

‘On the Right Bank particularly, the in-bottle tasting may be the first chance to see final blends,’ added Anson.

Given the quality of the year, it is unsurprising that the very best wines spanning St-Emilion and Pomerol from the 2015 vintage should be able to age very well, as Anson states in several of her tasting notes below.

‘It’s going to last and last,’ Anson wrote of Château Lafleur 2015, while offering similar appraisal of L’Eglise Clinet, to pick just two of the highlights from Pomerol in the 2015 vintage.

Copy by Decanter.com staff.

Coming soon: See more of Jane Anson’s tasting notes and ratings for St-Emilion and Pomerol 2015 wines in-bottle, plus extra commentary on the Right Bank 2015 vintage. 

Bordeaux Right Bank 2015: The top scorers in St-Emilion and Pomerol


Petrus, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France, 2015 Château Lafleur, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France, 2015 Château Figeac, St-Émilion 1er Grand Cru Classé B, 2015 Château L'Eglise-Clinet, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France, 2015 Château Trotanoy, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France, 2015 Château Angélus, St-Émilion 1er Grand Cru Classé A, 2015 Château La Conseillante, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France, 2015 Château Canon, St-Émilion 1er Grand Cru Classé B, 2015 Château Clinet, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France, 2015 Vieux Château Certan, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France, 2015 Château Bélair Monange, St-Émilion 1er Grand Cru Classé B, Clos Fourtet, St-Émilion 1er Grand Cru Classé B, 2015 Château La Fleur-Pétrus, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France, 2015 Château Pavie, St-Émilion 1er Grand Cru Classé A, 2015 Château Bellevue, St-Émilion Grand Cru Classé, 2015 Château Beauséjour, St-Émilion 1er Grand Cru Classé B, 2015 Château Troplong Mondot, St-Émilion 1er Grand Cru Classé B, Château Feytit-Clinet, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France, 2015 Château Hosanna, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France, 2015 Château Bellevue Mondotte, St-Émilion Grand Cru, 2015 Château Gazin, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France, 2015 Château Dassault, St-Émilion Grand Cru Classé, 2015 Château Larcis Ducasse, St-Émilion 1er Grand Cru Classé B,


Related stories Bordeaux 2015 in bottle re-considered How the Médoc 2015 classified wines taste now

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Anson: All change at Château Dauzac

Decanter News - do, 25/01/2018 - 10:19

Jane Anson explores an 'abundance' of changes at Château Dauzac in Bordeaux's Médoc region in recent years.

Decanter Premium members can also see her ratings and notes on many Dauzac vintages, following a vertical tasting.

Château dauzacChâteau Dauzac has seen a whole host of changes in recent years.

It’s not always easy to find out which grape varieties were planted by classified Bordeaux around the time of that little known wine event in 1855. Vineyard managers kept assiduous records of the weather, but not always of what exactly was going into the wine itself.

We do, however, have a few useful archives, helpfully brought together by the king of Médoc history, René Pijassou. In the early 19th century and almost certainly up to the 1860s and the arrival of the vine diseases that changed so much of the landscape, we know that Château Margaux was planted largely with Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. We also know that in 1809 the manager at Lafite, known as Goudal, recorded buying a plot of Verdots in Cantenac, which we can safely assume was Petit Verdot. At roughly the same time Lamothe, manager at Latour, mentioned planting Cabernet Sauvignon (and said that he was going to treat it with great care, as it was the best grape for their first wine) alongside the Malbec that was in another section of the vineyard. Merlot, on the other hand, gets almost no mentions in the archives until 1857, when we are told that it blends well with the Cabernets and Malbecs of the Médoc grand crus.

What we don’t know, exactly, is how 19th century Cabernet Sauvignon would have tasted, as the vines would have been planted ‘franc pied’ or on their own rootstocks.

Post-Phylloxera, ungrafted vines are non-existent in classified Médocs, because it takes a brave man or woman to experiment with vines destined for such high-value bottlings.

So hats off to Château Dauzac in Margaux, that last year identified after a resistivity study a 1.5 acre plot of its fine gravel soils, at the highest point of the Labarde plateau, to plant massal-selection Cabernet Sauvignon vines on their original rootstocks. We won’t be able to taste the results for another four or five years, but it’s an exciting prospect.

See Jane Anson’s Château Dauzac tasting notes and ratings for every vintage since 2000, plus three from the 20th Century  Exclusively for Decanter Premium members

This is just one of the abundant list of changes that have happened at Château Dauzac since 2013 – the year when the owners, the MAIF insurance company, decided to end their hands-off arrangement with the Lurton family, who had been managing the Margaux estate since 1991.

In place of the management company, they brought in their own team under Laurent Fortin as managing director (although keeping long-term technical director Philippe Roux, in place since 1993).

Innovations include, in no particular order as they say with Oscar nominations and Strictly Come Dancing results, a switch to bottling 100% vegan wines as of the 2016 vintage, with egg white fining replaced by a plant paste. Then there’s the zero-TCA guarantee, as every single cork is undergoes new screening technology by the Portuguese producer. At the same time there has been a shift away from Merlot to Cabernet Sauvignon in the vineyard (now up to 68% planted and routinely 70% in the first wine blend), and an increasing focus on biodynamics.

The grapes have zero sulphur addition at moment of harvest, and minimal (less than the 70ppm allowable in biodynamic farming) throughout the winemaking process, while fermentation is started using only yeasts that have been isolated and propagated from their own vines.

The ungrafted vines are entirely biodynamic, treated with tisanes that they grow themselves, and the entire vineyard is slowly but surely being converted to the process. In a recent study of pesticide residues across 38 grand cru Bordeaux, Château Dauzac was one of best performing estates, with just two molecules found in trace form, and the lowest overall residues excepting the six properties that were found to have none at all.

Most importantly for the taste profile of the wine, as of 2016 they have narrowed the plot selection for the first wine, concentrating solely on the highest quality gravel on the Plateau de Labarde, so 25ha out of the 47ha that are planted in AOC Margaux (making it even more impressive to give up a slice of this for the ungrafted vines).

And hang on, we’re not quite done yet. Dauzac is also one of 20 estates across France to be testing a serious new alternative to copper treatments in the vineyards in the fight against downy mildew. This one is perhaps a little ironic, or poetic, depending on your generosity.

It was in these vines back in the 1880s that the bouillie bordelaise, a fungicide and downy mildew treatment based on copper suphate, was first invented by Alexis Millardet. Today the levels of copper in vineyards across France has become a thorny subject, particularly as it is one of the few fungicides allowed in organic and biodynamic farming.

‘This is one of the reasons that we are not looking for certification,’ Fortin told me this week, ‘as we are testing a form of algae that is not allowable under the current organic rules. The company that we are working with, ImmunRise, is a start-up that is producing a fully biodegradable treatment with algae that comes from the Arcachon Bay and has so far proved extremely effective. If we can help to spread the word of this, given our history, so much the better’.

See Jane Anson’s Château Dauzac tasting notes and ratings Exclusively for Decanter Premium members


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Categorieën: Wijnnieuws

Suspected French wine militants to be tried in court

Decanter News - do, 25/01/2018 - 09:48

Several alleged members of the militant French winemaker group CRAV are set to face trial this March in a sign that authorities are attempting to crack down on a wave of protests.

wine militants trialCRAV spilling Spanish wine onto a French motorway in April 2016.

On 1 March, Xavier Fabre, President of the Garde winemaker union in Languedoc, along with five winegrowers from the neighbouring Hérault department, all currently in custody, are due to be tried by the criminal court of Montpellier on several charges including sabotage and criminal damage costing up to three million euros, according to prosecutors.

The case is the result of an investigation carried out by Montpellier’s SRPJ (Service Régional de Police Judiciaire) into 32 acts of violence between April 2016 and August 2017.

A defence lawyer for the accused did not wish to comment on the case when contacted by Decanter.com.

Responsibility for several attacks on wine facilities in Languedoc has been claimed by members purportedly belonging to the region’s long-standing militant winemaker group, CRAV (Comité Régional d’Action Viticole) – also known as CAV (Comité d’Action Viticole).

Wine unions in the area have condemned the violence in the past couple of years, but there has been widespread protest at the import of Spanish wines at low cost.

Some of the more violent attacks in the past two years have included opening a tanker of Spanish wine onto a motorway in France, and smashing open a merchant’s wine vat in the.

It is understood that, in connection with the case, local authorities have also agreed to open a judicial investigation into fraud, over allegations that some Spanish wine has been imported into France illegally.

A separate judicial investigation was ongoing over an arson attack on the offices of the Vinadeis winery in Languedoc on 19 July 2016.

See also: Jefford: Hitting first  Fraud probe finds Spanish wine passed off as French

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Tasted: Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2015 wines in the bottle

Decanter News - wo, 24/01/2018 - 16:35

Decanter's content director, John Stimpfig, was fortunate enough to be invited to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti's annual in-bottle tasting, hosted by the Burgundy estate's exclusive UK agent, Corney & Barrow.

domaine de la romanée-conti 2015, drcThe DRC 2015 vintage is highly anticipated.

Aubert de Villaine, co-director of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC), is not entirely sure whether the 2015 vintage was his 49th or 50th at the fabled estate, but he’s perfectly clear on his view of the 2015 vintage, which is latest to be bottled.

‘Unfortunately, I can’t recall exactly when I started work at the domaine – whether it was 1965 or 1966. But what I am sure of is that the 2015 vintage is the most remarkable of my career. It was such an incredible year and the vineyards were so beautiful from start to finish.’

Scroll down for John’s 2015 DRC tasting notes and scores – available exclusively to Decanter Premium members

The Burgundy 2015 vintage, awarded 5/5 for Côte d’Or reds by our experts, was marked by a hot, dry summer which gave generous fruit and ripe tannins, cooling off just before harvest to preserve good levels of juicy acidity which underpin many of the wines.

Every wine in DRC’s line up in 2015, apart from the Corton, underwent 100% whole bunch fermentation. ‘Although we’ve done it before, in 2005 and 2009, it is a bit unusual as you need particular vintage conditions: no millerandage, good ripeness and phenolic maturity,’ said de Villaine.

Terroir vs vintage

It has been suggested that terroir characteristics may be overcome by the power and personality of 2015, but de Villaine disagreed.

‘The higher you go [in the range], the more you see the differences in terroir. With the Corton and the Echézeaux, those differences are already apparent, and it becomes even more pronounced with the Grands-Echézeaux, Romanée-St-Vivant, Richebourg, La Tâche and Romanee-Conti.’

This was certainly an easy vintage to taste – the wines are already showing very well, and it wouldn’t be a crime to open the likes of the Corton and Echézeaux sooner rather than later, not unlike the 1969s which I remember drinking when they were very young because they were so precociously good.

Looking ahead

De Villaine is about to bottle the 2016s, which raises the question of how they will compare to the ’15s. Some vignerons in Burgundy have stated that they prefer their ’16s, but he remains closely-guarded.

‘We are bottling our ’16s in one month and they too are genuinely wonderful, in a more delicate style. I can understand why some people prefer the vintage.’

He compares the power of 2015 to that of 1961, and the underdog status of 2016 to 1962.

However, it is clear that the 2017 vintage, winemaker Bernard Noblet’s last at DRC as recently reported, is not expected to be at the same level as its two predecessors, with even less wine to offer.


Romanée-Conti 2015 in bottle:


Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Corton, Grand Cru, Prince Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Vosne-Romanée, Echézeaux Grand Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Vosne-Romanée, Grands-Echezeaux Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Vosne-Romanée, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Vosne-Romanée, Richebourg Grand Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Vosne-Romanée, La Tâche Grand Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Vosne-Romanée, Romanée-Conti


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Categorieën: Wijnnieuws

Burns Night: Wines and whiskies to match with haggis

Decanter News - wo, 24/01/2018 - 15:58

If you're celebrating Burns Night 2018 then haggis is likely to make an appearance. Here are the wine styles that Decanter team members would choose to match with this famous Scottish dish, plus some ideas for those sticking to the traditional Scotch whisky.

wines with haggis, burns nightAddressing the haggis on Burns Night...Wines with haggis on Burns Night – in brief:
  • Northern Rhône (Syrah)
  • Viognier
  • German Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir)
  • Beaujolais Cru
  • Australian Shiraz-Grenache
  • Chilean Pais
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Various renditions of Robert Burns’ ‘Address to a Haggis’ will be read aloud at Burns Night dinners on Thursday 25 January.

Haggis has provoked poems, fluffy toys, banning orders and – perhaps more than anything – outright curiosity during its rich history as a national dish of Scotland.

It’s the traditional inclusion of sheep’s lung that led US food safety officials to prohibit haggis imports in 1971; a ban that still stands, albeit next-door Canada lifted restrictions last year and some companies have created alternative recipes to side-step US rules.

But don’t let all that put you off. Done well, and from a quality source, haggis can form the focal point of a delicious dish, accompanied by the obligatory ‘neeps and tatties’.

Vegetarian haggis is also available, although it’s best to keep this beyond the nose of traditionalists and offal lovers at the table.

Scotch whisky may be a natural reaction to the sight of haggis entering a Burns Night supper to the sound of bagpipes, but what if you want wine with dinner, too?

After all, Robert Burns wrote about drinking a ‘pint o’ wine’ in his song ‘The Gowden Locks of Anna’.

We’d recommend drinking in smaller measures, but here is what several members of Decanter’s tasting and editorial team advise for haggis. We’ve also added a couple of ideas for whiskies below.

Harry Fawkes, digital

If you are leaving the Scotch whisky until after the haggis, you are going to need a wine that cuts through the cream, can deal with the spice of the ‘chieftain puddin’, yet won’t over power the subtlety of the oats and meats.

Look no further than Northern Rhône or other cool climate Syrah; the black peppery spice and high acidity with blackberry fruits will ‘tak [their] place’ alongside your Burns night delight.

Tina Gellie, editorial

I’m always surprised at how peppery haggis is – not spicy, but peppery. And of course it is also dense, rich and meaty. As most people do on Burns Night, I have always paired my haggis, neeps and tatties with whisk(e)y, but if I were to choose a wine, I’d probably go for a juicy, fruit-driven red, where the tannins wouldn’t compete too much. Maybe a cru Beaujolais, a fashionable Chilean Pais or Carignan or Australian Shiraz-Grenache blend.

Simon Wright, tastings team

I’m resisting red and going for an assertive Viognier; its broad flavour profile will pair well the herby, peppery rusticity and its oily texture should be enough to complement the weight of the dish.

Natalie Earl, tastings team

With vegetarian haggis, I’ll have a German Spätburgunder – both having an earthy, savoury character, and the Spätburgunder being light enough not to make the whole combination too rich.

Scotch whisky ideas Richard Woodard, Decanter contributor and an editor on Scotchwhisky.com:

Glenmorangie Lasanta 12 year old makes a fine match. This Highland single malt spends time in ex-Sherry casks – both oloroso and Pedro Ximénez – which add layers of rich, dark fruits and chocolate to the signature Glenmorangie flavours of citrus and honey. The rich sweetness is the perfect foil for peppery, savoury character of a fine haggis.

Chris Mercer, Decanter editorial

If looking at Scotland’s more peat-driven whiskies, a classic Ardbeg 10 year old most certainly has peat and smoke but also some peppery spice and sweetness that would combine well with haggis. My personal preference would be to keep richer expressions for after the meal, so as not to overpower the dish. That said, try Talisker 30 year old, or perhaps Lagavulin 16 year old, if you want a richer, more intense style with the food and are prepared to spend a little more.

Alternatively, it’s very much the season for something like Balvenie Doublewood 17 year old, with its rich fruit, honey and sweet spice – which should stand up to the rich flavours of your Burns Night supper and be a reliable companion for the rest of the evening.

See more food and wine matching advice on Decanter.com

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Categorieën: Wijnnieuws

Taste rare wines at our Spanish fine wine masterclass

Decanter News - wo, 24/01/2018 - 09:53

Sarah Jane Evans MW talks through some of the fine wines that will be available for guests to taste at the first masterclass of our Spain & Portugal Fine Wine Encounter, including several vintages of Pingus and a Carignan from 1902.

writer's block Preview of our upcoming masterclass with Sarah Jane Evans MW

Where: The Landmark Hotel, NW1

When: Saturday 24 February, 11am

How to book tickets More details

In just one month’s time Spain and Portugal’s top producers will be heading to London for Decanter’s first big tasting of 2018.

More than 70 producers will be pouring their wines in the Grand Tasting rooms, whilst three masterclasses and three Discovery Theatre sessions will be taking place elsewhere in the elegant surroundings of the five-star The Landmark Hotel.

The first masterclass kicks off at 11am with Sarah Jane Evans MW presenting her esteemed view of the best of Spain. In a first for a Decanter Spanish Fine Wine Encounter, this Masterclass brings together some of the most exciting wines from across the whole of the country in one session.

Joining Sarah Jane Evans MW at the tasting will be Peter Sisseck – owner of cult wine Pingus, making his first-ever appearance at a UK Decanter Fine Wine Encounter.

He will be bringing celebrated vintages of both Pingus and PSI, for the first time. Don’t miss the chance to learn their inside story from the man himself.

Also in the tasting are Mas Doix 1902, the outstanding old vine 100 per cent Priorat Carignan made in tiny quantities; López de Heredía’s Viña Tondonia white Reserva 2004 – an original, aged for 13 years; an Amontillado, from a very famous old bodega in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, brought to light by new owners Bodegas Alonso and a unique Albariño, from ungrafted centenarian vines, by the pioneering Eulogio Pomares.

If you want to find out what is really happening in Spain today then join us at this exceptional masterclass.

Tickets are only £50 –  book today

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Categorieën: Wijnnieuws


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