Fiona Beckett gives her verdict on The Laughing Heart restaurant...The Laughing Heart, Hackney. The Laughing Heart 277 Hackney Road, London E2 8NA Tel: 020 7686 9535 thelaughingheartlondon.com
- Rating 8/10
- Kitchen open: 6.30pm–1am Monday to Saturday. Closed Sunday.
- Restaurant style: contemporary British cuisine
- Wine to try: Envinate Taganan 2016
- Carte blanche menu £39
There’s so much of a personality cult around chefs at the moment that the front of house doesn’t get much of a look in but despite the open kitchen at the Laughing Heart it’s the 6ft 2in presence of its genial owner Charlie Mellor that dominates the room.
Mellor, who been a sommelier for 13 years, set up the bar and ‘dining room’ to indulge his passion for wine. Downstairs there’s a seductive shop for locals to pick up a bottle on the way home while customers upstairs can browse the regularly changing 300 bin largely organic list.
There’s a short but interesting wine by the glass selection: on a midweek ‘school’ night we were admirably restrained restricting ourselves to an earthy Tenerife white (Envinate Taganan 2016) and a joyously fruity Claus Preisinger red Puzta Libre 2016 from the Burgenland about which Mellor was effortlessly able to reel off every detail.
The room too manages to be both cool and cosy – the cutlery is housed in a drawer that slides out of the table and includes chopsticks. The bar has a 2am licence and quirkily turns into a Chinese late at night.
Food – the inevitable small plates – is delivered quickly so I would remind you of my favoured tactic of ordering 2-3 plates at a time. The star of the show is the Thai-style larb-stuffed olives – so good they’re worth ordering on their own. A snack of toasted focaccia Barkham Blue cheese and caramelised onion is well worth replicating at home – something I wouldn’t claim for Devon crab and chestnut tart with a pastry made from koji-inoculated chestnuts (I kid you not. This is Hackney), delicious though it was.
The kitchen rather fell down with two dishes – Wiltshire truffle tagliolini and 9 year old dairy cow (not a whole one obviously) that were decidedly over-salted – in the case of the cow, which was beautifully tender, the culprit being the accompanying cep mash. But Cornish cuttlefish (with copious amounts of ink) and homemade black pudding was an inspired combination.
The other downside for some might be the location – well down the Hackney Road but it’s not far from Hoxton overground station and within a short bus ride from Liverpool Street. Think Brooklyn or the Belleville area of Paris and you get the vibe.
Having now eaten there twice I reckon TLH is best treated as a wine bar to enjoy a good bottle with bar snacks rather than a full meal – you could combine it with nearby Sager & Wilde for an on-trend wine crawl. It’s also – that rare thing – a restaurant it’s congenial to dine in on one’s own. Make the detour.
- Fiona Beckett is a Decanter contributing editor and chief restaurant reviewer. To get the first look at her bar and restaurant reviews from all over the world, subscribe to Decanter magazine
Burgundy master Clive Coates MW tells you everything that you need to know about Domaine Georges Roumier, along with historical tasting notes on wines from top vintages - as part of a series that looks back at domaine profiles from Clive's most recent books.Jon-WyandScroll down to see Clive Coates MW’s Domaine Georges Roumier wine ratings in this article All from Clive’s recent books and now available online for Decanter Premium members Profile of a Burgundy legend
For Chambolles with a difference, wines which are substantial, even sturdy, as well as velvety and elegant, the best source is the Roumier domaine: to be precise, because there are two others in the village, the Domaine Georges Roumier. This is one of the longest-established estate bottling domaines in the Côte D’Or. And one of the very best of all.
The nucleus of this domaine lies in the dowry of Geneviève Quanquin, who married Georges Roumier in 1924. Georges, who was born in 1898, came from Dun-Les-Places, in the Charollais cattle country near Saulieu. When he arrived in Chambolle he took over the Quanquin family vineyards, enlarged the exploitation by taking on a small part of Musigny en metayage and buying additional land in the commune, and set up on his own, independent of his parents-in-law, who also had a négociant business. (This ceased to exist after the Second World War.)
The domaine was further enlarged in the 1950s. More Bonnes Mares, from the Domaine Belorgey, arrived in 1952. Two parcels of Clos de Vougeot were added in the same year. And in 1953 the 2.5 ha monopoly of the premier cru Clos de la Bussière in Morey-Saint-Denis was acquired from the Bettenfeld family. In the 1930s this parcel had belonged to the Graillet estate, the residue of which was subsequently to form the base of the Domaine Dujac.Top wines to drink and buy
Where to buy Clive Coates MW’s ‘My Favorite Burgundies’ book:
- My Favorite Burgundies, Clive Coates – Available at Amazon UK
- My Favorite Burgundies, Clive Coates – Available at Amazon USA
Georges and Geneviève had seven children, five of them boys, and I get the feeling he must have been a bit of a martinet, not willing to let go of the reins. In 1955, Alain, the eldest son, left to take up the position of régisseur for the neighbouring De Vogüé domaine. Another son, Paul, became a courtier. Jean-Marie, the third, had started playing a part in the domaine in 1954 and eventually took over when his father retired in 1961 (Georges died in 1965). In this year, wishing to keep the domaine intact, the brothers formed a limited company for their inheritance, which together with the sisters’ holdings, was rented to the domaine. When he retirered from De Vogüé Alain retrieved his share, these vineyards now being exploited separately by the widow of his son Hervé and his other son Laurent.
Today the winemaker at the Domaine Georges Roumier is the 54 year old Christophe, son of Jean-Marie. Christophe was born in 1958, studied oenology at Dijon University, did a stage at the excellent Cairanne co-operative in the Côtes du Rhône in 1980, and joined his father the year after. The wines were fine in Georges and Jean-Marie’s time. They have reached even greater heights under the aegis of Christophe.
In more recent times there have been three significant additions to the Roumier portfolio. In 1977, when the Thomas-Bassot domaine was being sold, a substantial slice of Ruchottes-Chambertin came on the market. Two parcels were quickly snapped up by Charles Rousseau and Dr Georges Mugneret. The third was acquired by a businessman and oenophile from Rouen, one Michel Bonnefond. At Rousseau’s suggestion Bonnefond entered into a metayage arrangement with the Roumiers, and Christophe now gets two thirds of the yield of this 0.54 ha parcel. You can find under both labels. It is the same wine.
In the following year, Jean-Marie Roumier finally managed to buy the parcel of Musigny, just under one tenth of a hectare (it only produces a cask and a half) which the family had been share-cropping since the 1920s.
Seven years later, in 1984, a French merchant in Lausanne, Jean-Pierre Mathieu, bought a small section (0.27 ha) of Mazoyères-Chambertin. This again is rented en metayage to Christophe Roumier. The financial arrangements are a little different here, and Roumier only gets half of the crop, which, like most Mazoyères, is labelled as Charmes, a name easier to pronounce and sell.
Somewhat earlier than this, back in 1968, Christophe’s mother, née Odile Ponnelle, bought a parcel of land, en friche, on the Pernand-Vergelesses side of Corton-Charlemagne, half-way down the slope from the Bois de Corton. The land was cleared and replanted, the first vintage being 1974. It is delicious, but there is little of it: three pièces from 0.2 ha.
The heart of the 12 hectare Roumier domaine, as always, lies in Chambolle-Musigny. A number of parcels in the village, totalling almost four hectares, produce a splendid village wine. There are originally six cuvées of this, eventually blended together, and within this wine will be the yield of some old vines of Pinot Beurot, a sort of Pinot Gris, the residue of the old days when a few white vines were planted in with the red in nearly every Burgundian climat to add balance and complexity to the wine.
Christophe Roumier is fortunate to own vines in the three most famous premiers crus in the commune: Les Cras, and, since 2005, when it was first seperated from the village wine, Les Combottes: 1.76 ha and 0 27 ha respectively.
On the other side of the village, just under the northern end of Le Musigny, there is 0.4 ha of Amoureuses, Chambolle’s finest premier cru. This plot was planted in three stages, in 1954, 1966 and 1971. The vines in the parcel of Musigny itself, lying nearby, date from 1934.
Roumier’s most important wine, though, is not this Musigny, or not always, but the Bonnes-Mares. (A pièce and a half is difficult to vinify). And though Christophe considers Musigny in principle the grandest grand cru in the Côte D’Or he finds the results of his Musigny less regular). There are four parcels of Bonnes-Mares, all in the Chambolle part of this grand cru, totalling 1.45 ha.
There are two distinct soil types in Bonnes-Mares. At the Morey end the soil is terres rouges. But, coming down the slope in a diagonal line from above the Clos de Tart and continuing south towards Chambolle the soil changes to terres blanches (if you look carefully you will see a large quantity of small fossilised oysters) and this makes up most of the climat. Three of Christophe Roumier’s parcels are terres blanches, one terres rouges. He normally vinifies them separately and blends them together afterwards. What is the difference? The terres rouges gives the power, the backbone, the concentration, says Christophe. Wine from the terres blanches is more spiritual. From here we get the finesse, the intensity, the definition. But a blend is yet greater the sum of the parts.
Below the northern, Morey, end of the vineyard and the Clos de Tart the land sinks into a hollow as it comes down the slope (this is the premier cru of Ruchots) and then rises up a little. Here we find the enclosed vineyard of Bussière. In a house in the middle lives Christophe’s mother, Jean-Marie Roumier having died in 2002.
Finally there is the Clos de Vougeot, which sadly Christophe no longer exploits. Originally there were two parcels, vinified together and sold both under the Georges Roumier label. After 1984, the upper part was taken back by Alain and Hervé, and after the 1996 harvest the second parcel passed to Laurent Roumier. It is certainly a good wine. But in Christophe Roumier’s view: “It is not really of top grand cru quality.” I don’t think that is sour grapes. I happen to agree with him.
”I make wines from terroir which expresses itself through Pinot Noir.,” says Christophe Roumier, who today runs the domaine with the assisitance of his sister Delphine. (There are two other sisters). There is a lot more to fine wine than merely the variety it is made from, he will point out. Roumier sees his role as an intermediary, as a facilitator. The vigneron’s duty is to allow the vines to produce fruit which, when vinified, will be unmistakably typical of its origins. The winemaker’s job is to effect this translation from fruit into wine. But it is a question of control rather than creativity. The creation is being done by the vine, by its location, by mother nature: not by man.
Along with most of the progressives in the region Christophe Roumier has turned his back on weedkilling sprays, preferring to plough the vines. This is sometimes difficult where a vineyard has not been cultivated for some time, as important roots may be cut in the process. But an ancillary benefit where it is done is that the roots are encouraged to penetrate deeper.
The average age of the vines in the Roumier domaine is high, but they don’t make a fetish of it. Once a parcel has reached, say, 50 years old, individual vines are not replaced as they die off. So eventually, as fiftenn yers ago in one part of their Bonnes Mares, the whole parcel can be cleared, the land disinfected against viral contamination, and eventually replanted. At first the young vines are Cordon trained, when their youthful vigour has died down this is replaced by the traditional Guyot method.
Pruning is severe, and the harvest is further contained by an elimination of excess buds and shoots during the spring. This is much more effective, says Christophe, than a green harvest later in the season. By then it is too late, he maintains, though he does it to thin out late develping bunches or if there are two adjoining, which might give rise to rot. He has no time for those who systematically green harvest every year. It shows they didn’t restrict the crop properly in the first place. This discipline is reflected in the Roumier harvest: 41 he/ha in village wine, 34 in premier cru, 30 in grand cru in the last big vintage: 2009. This is the key, says Christophe, to the production of great wine.
The next part of the jigsaw is the quality of the fruit. Trials have convinced Christophe that the ratio of leaves to fruit, and their exposure, is critical. So he prefers a large canopy, trained a little higher than some, at least during the early part of the season. It is also important, he believes, to eliminate the second generation of fruit, the verjus.
There is a careful triage, both in the vineyard and later when the fruit arrives in the cuverie up at the top of the village, but a flexible attitude to the quantity of the stems which are kept. The Bourgogne Rouge and the village Chambolle are usually destemmed. For the rest it depends very much on the vintage, Christophe not deciding until the harvest begins. From 20 to 50 percent of the stems are normally retained. The bigger the wine and the more concentrated the harvest the higher the amount tends to be. The wine is vinified in open top wooden, concrete or closed stainless steel vats. The first two materials are preferable, says Christophe, for the heat generated by the fermentation is slower to dissipate.
Fermentations at the Roumier domaine begin slowly, so there is always a brief period of pre-fermentation maceration. Thereafter, Christophe likes to prolong the extraction, maintaining the temperature just under 30°, as long as possible. The temperature level is one of the winemaker’s most important points of intervention, Christophe believes. It should not go too high, for you begin to lose the subtleties of the aromas above 33°.
As you would expect from the Roumier approach to terroir, this is a domaine which does not approve of a lot of new oak. Thirty percent is about maximum. “I want to taste the wine, not the cask,” says Christophe, pointing out that new wood is the best mask for wine faults. The wine is kept on its lees until racking the following September. Until 1993 the wines were fined with one egg white only per pièce, But no longer,and it is not filtered either. The 2006 village wine was bottled after 15/16 months, but normally bottling takes place later, between February and May of the following year.
Christophe Roumier is refreshingly open about the quality of his wines. I have referred already to his view on his Clos de Vougeot and to the irregularity of the Musigny as a direct consequence of the size of the cuve. “It should be the best, but it isn’t always”. In principle, he will tell you, Mazis, in the line of Chambertin and Clos de Bèze, should be better than Ruchottes, which lies upslope. It gets more sun later in the evening in September. The reason Ruchottes has the higher reputation, I suggest to him, is that the three most important producers, Rousseau, the Mesdames Mugneret and himself, are all highly competent wine-makers, while in Mazis there are a dozen or so, some good, some less so. The real Charmes, Christophe will also insist, is a better terroir than that of the Mazoyères.
The Roumier range begins with the Corton-Charlemagne. The vines are now of a respectable age, and since 1985, at the very least, have been producing wine of really top quality, though Christophe is not a fan of his 2002.
The reds, as I have said, are more muscular than most: full, virile, austere, made to last; not necessarily wines which sing in their youth. Time is required, a decade for the best wines in the best vintages. The series begins with a Bourgogne Rouge (2 ha). This is a sturdy example, but none the worse for that, even in 2007 it had good structure and good acidity. The village Chambolle follows next. It is a bigger wine than those of Ghislaine Barthod or De Vogûé, and it takes longer to open out. But there is no lack of finesse, no lack of Chambolle fragrance. The Morey, Clos de la Bussière, is firmer and chunkier. It used to have a touch of the rustic about it, but I have noticed this less in the last decade. Again it lasts well.
You will usually be offered, winemakers normally giving you the wines to taste in their order of preference, the Chambolle-Musigny, Combettes and the Cras before the Amoureuses. The former is plump, ripe and full of charm, and the latter magnificent in its austerity: really classy. The Chambolle-Musigny, Les Amoureuses, though, is delicious. Here we really do find distinction and class, as well as the supreme fragrance of the commune. It is a fitting example of the village’s greatest premier cru. In Roumier’s hands clearly a wine of grand cru quality.
The next two wines in the range are from the climats in Gevrey that Christophe farms en metayage, the Charmes and the Ruchottes. The latter is clearly finer than the former. Christophe suggests that the wine benifits, like in its own way that of the Mesdames Mugneters, from the fact that it is made and matured in a ‘foreign’ i.e. In his case Chambolle, cellar, and can take up some of these Chambolle nuances. Here we have intensity as well as weight and richness, the lush flamboyance of Gevrey-Chambertin, and all the finesse you would expect in top quality Burgundy.
The Bonnes-Mares, by contrast, is always much more closed-in; somewhat solid at the outset, much less expressive. It seems to go through more of an adolescent phase, and it is only on the finish – but of course, when a wine is young, the finish is what you should concentrate on – that you can see the breed, the complexity and the depth. Is this Burgundy’s best Bonnes-Mares? It needs at least a decade to come round.
When the Musigny is good, and it usually is, it is brilliant. It has less backbone than the Bonnes-Mares, less density. But it can be equally backward, needing just as much time to come round. Sometimes the Bonnes-Mares has more concentration and a better balance. Sometimes, the reverse is the case. It is a pity there is so little of it. I have sampled it ten times in cask for every occcasion I have met it in bottle.
What does Christophe Roumier have to say about Chambolle and his wines? ”Yes. Chambolle is the most elegant wine of the Côte. There is nothing original about that statement. But for me the wines are also the most mineral. There is a purity, a fruit, an elegance and a disitinction which come in large part from the extra amount of limestone in our soil, and perhaps the marginally higher altitude. I try to make my wines express this.”
In sum, this is one of Burgundy’s greatest domaines and Christophe Roumier is one of its most intelligent and knowledgable wine-makers. The combination of the two produces magic.
Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Bardolino; light red wines come in a range of styles and complexities and are too often overlooked when reaching for a bottle. How much do you know about this delicate group of reds? Test you knowledge with this week's light bodied red wine quiz.A cask containing Beaujolais 2015 wine at Dominique Piron.Start the light bodied red wine quiz below More Decanter.com wine quizzes:
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Australia tops the list but Chile is one of the only major producer nations expected to increase shipments in the next few years, as the UK overall cuts its wine consumption in favour of less but better, says new forecast.Which countries import the most wine to the UK?UK wine imports: Top countries
Data published jointly by Vinexpo and IWSR shows that Australia exports the most still wine to the UK, by volume. In 2016, the UK imported 24.5 million nine litre cases of Australian wines, equivalent to nearly 33 million bottles of wine.
This was followed by the US, which accounted for 15.7 million nine litre cases of wine imported, closely followed by France at 15 million cases.
Italy exports 14.7 million nine litre cases of still wine to the UK., which is the world’s second largest importer of wine behind Germany.
The next biggest sources of still wines in the UK are Spain, Chile and South Africa.
The well-documented Prosecco boom means that Italy also sends around around 8.2 million cases of sparkling wine annually to the UK – and Italian sparkling wines lead this category in volume terms, ahead of Champagne and Cava.Decline in UK wine consumption predicted
Chile is the only country expected to increase its overall exports to the UK in the next few years, as the chart above shows.
The report predicts that still wine consumption in the UK will go down.
Total still wine consumption is expected to fall from 118.5 million nine litre cases in 2016 to 108 million cases by 2021.
But, this is partly because consumers are drinking less but better, according to the report authors.
‘The increased volume of sparkling wine and a trend to premium still wines will offset the overall decrease in wine value,’ said Guillaume Deglise, CEO of Vinexpo, which will hold events in New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong this year.
‘While still wine consumption falls its sales value will rise driven by a combination of increased prices, weaker sterling and consumers choosing to ‘drink less but better’ as they trade up to premium wine segments,’ Deglise added.
A violent earthquake in Campania 38 years ago led to the birth of one of the area’s leading wine estates. Susan Hulme MW tastes Feudi's Taurasi from 1997 to 2008, and Carla Capalbo explores the history of this estate...Susan Hulme MW tastes 12 vintages of Feudi di San Gregorio Taurasi:
Aglianico produces some of Italy’s best and most long-lived wines, with the capacity to age, in the best cases, for more than 50 years. It also has the capacity to reflect climatic variations and terroir. Some of the best examples are produced in the Avellino hills in Italy, labelled as Taurasi DOCG.
This tasting, at Feudi di San Gregorio’s headquarters in Campania in June 2017, illustrated not only vintage variations, but the work of two hugely influential winemaking consultants: Luigi Moio worked here between 1997 and 2001, and Renato Cotarella, his successor, until 2008.
Moio had a more traditional approach, aiming for elegance by concentrating on freshness and managing the alcohol. Cotarella’s wines, meanwhile, express more concentration, smoothness and beautifully-managed tannins.
Stylistically different, yes, but relatively fine points in this line up of 12 impressive wines covering the span of bot of their tenures at Feudi di San Gregorio.
It’s clear that both have made stunningly beautiful wines, but it is still the personality of Aglianico in its Taurasi heartland which asserts itself overall.Scroll down to read Carla Capalbo’s account of the estate and its history, originally published by Decanter.com in 2015 Feudi di San Gregorio Taurasi 1997-2008:
Feudi at a glance
Location Sorbo Serpico, Avellino, Campania
Area under vine 300 hectares
Total production 3 million bottles
Altitude of vineyards 400m-700m
Main varieties Aglianico 35%, Greco 25%, Fiano 25%, Falanghina 15%
Single vineyards Vigneto dal Re – 4ha (Aglianico for Serpico), Piano di Montevergine – 4ha (Aglianico for Taurasi Riserva), Cutizzi – 8ha (Greco di Tufo), Pietracalda – 8ha (Fiano di Avellino), Serrocielo – 8ha (Falanghina)Carla Capalbo reports:
In November 1980, the mountainous interior of the Campania region, east of Naples, was struck by one of Italy’s worst earthquakes of modern times, leaving almost 3,000 dead and 300,000 people homeless.
Villages and farms were destroyed around its epicentre in the province of Avellino known as Irpinia. For many Irpinians, this was the signal to abandon the poor, rural countryside and head for cities in the north. For others, it became a call to arms to rebuild and maintain the culture of this little-known but unique area.
Enzo Ercolino, a native of Avellino who had moved to Rome some years earlier, was one of them. ‘I spent my teenage years impatient to flee this backwater, but seeing it in ruins made me want to help rescue it,’ he said.
He moved back and in 1986 he and his brothers, Mario and Luciano, Enzo’s Irpinian wife, Mirella Capaldo, and one of her brothers, Mario, opened a wine estate – Feudi di San Gregorio – in the hills just above Atripalda. Their first slogan was Spirituale Vinum.
These were the post-earthquake reconstruction years and money was flooding into Irpinia from Rome and the European Union. A fund created for those aged under 40 with strong business plans helped raise some of the €4 million the group needed to get going. It soon had 30 hectares of vineyards and was launching its first wines, native whites as well as reds.
‘Looking back, it’s amazing how adventurous my aunt and uncles were for their time,’ says Antonio Capaldo, who now runs the estate today. ‘When Feudi started, it was one of only about 10 estates to bottle wines in Irpinia, a land that has a 2,000 year old tradition of producing red wines from our native Aglianico grape. So even its decision to produce modern-style whites was radical.’
The group was ahead of the curve. In 2003, Avellino became one of the first Italian provinces to attain three DOCG appellations, for the whites of Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo, and the red Taurasi whose DOCG dates to 1993.Rural backdrop
Irpinia is an undiscovered, untouristy part of the southern Italian Apennines, with a rural economy that still depends on chestnut harvests, timber, small farms, family businesses and scarce industry.
Like much of the south, it’s been hard hit by the recent economic crisis. Most families grow their own vegetables and make wine for home consumption from small plots. Wine is often still considered a food here.
The most important Irpinian winery before Feudi began its expansion was Mastroberardino, whose reputation was made in the post-war period. It set the standard for Avellino’s classic-style Taurasis.
Feudi’s ambitious vision differed from Mastroberardino’s and its other contemporaries’. Ercolino’s goal was to create a modern buzz around Campania’s wines and to become a standard-bearer for southern Italian wines, and he used the models of Tuscany, France and the New World to achieve it.
‘Feudi was stylish in everything it did, from its minimalist labels, designed by Massimo Vignelli, to its sleek marketing campaigns and barrique-aged wines made by Luigi Moio and then by Riccardo Cotarella,’ says local sommelier Jenny Auriemma.
By the end of the 1990s, iconic wines like the full-bodied Aglianico called Serpico, the pure Merlot Patrimo, and the late-harvest Greco called Privilegio were winning awards and featuring on wine lists in chic restaurants throughout Italy. ‘Feudi got people excited about Campanian wines and inspired many smaller estates,’ Auriemma says.
Feudi’s expansion seemed unstoppable. In 2004 the beautiful modern cellar opened, with its panoramic top-floor restaurant, Marennà, under the tutelage of Michelin-starred chef, Heinz Beck. (It now has a star of its own, with chef Paolo Barrale). There were plans for a concert hall made from barriques, for rare-breed animals and a cultural centre.
The dynamic, larger-than-life Ercolino was the estate’s public face, but behind the scenes tensions were growing within the family. The winery was gobbling money: it now owned more than 250 hectares and investments had increased to €40 million.
By 2001, another of Mirella’s brothers, Pellegrino Capaldo, a professor of economics and financial consultant, had stepped in as a silent, majority partner. In 2003 Mario and Luciano Ercolino left, followed in 2006 by Enzo and Mirella. Capaldo has been the principal owner, with 93% of the company, since 2010.
Feudi’s current chapter began when Pellegrino’s son, Antonio, decided to run the company. ‘I’d done my PhD at the London School of Economics in Bangladeshi micro-finance and was working at McKinsey in Europe while these changes were happening at Feudi,’ the 37-year-old says. ‘I never imagined I’d head a winery, but I loved Irpinia and wine, and had become a sommelier.’ In 2009, a day after making partner at McKinsey, he quit and turned his attention to Feudi.
‘My uncle Enzo had initiated several exciting projects that he wasn’t able to finish and we’re continuing them,’ he says. The ‘we’ includes his CEO, Pierpaolo Sirch. Trained as an agronomist in his native Friuli, Sirch began working at Feudi in 2003 as a consultant under Ercolino. ‘Enzo’s strategy was always to bring in top talent, and he wanted Pierpaolo to oversee the viticulture here,’ says CapaldoEmbracing native grapes
Sirch’s back-to-the-land approach heralded a new direction for the estate’s catalogue of more than 20 wines. ‘Fashions were changing too, but I felt we’d lost the pleasure element in many wines by overusing barriques and over-extracting them,’ he says. ‘Some wines were criticised as too international. I also felt Aglianico could be different from the rustic, tannic and impenetrable wine it’s often described as. To me, it’s an elegant, sensual red.’
The estate’s 300ha of vineyards are made up of over 700 plots, with 200 more belonging to local families who sell their grapes to Feudi. Sirch has mapped each parcel and communicates with the farmers via texts and emails.
He gives the growers free pruning courses (he also runs a pruning consultancy with Marco Simonit) and has brought in several well-known oenologists to share their experiences with his team. These include Hans Terzer from Alto Adige and Georges Pauli of Château Gruaud-Larose in Bordeaux (Riccardo Cotarella left the estate in 2007). More recently, Bordeaux’s Denis Dubourdieu has been working with Sirch on the estate’s wines in Campania and beyond.
‘Our Magna Graecia project is in full swing,’ Capaldo explains. ‘We always intended to go beyond Campania to become the leading estate in southern Italy, and to represent the native grapes of its varied regions. The first estates in Basilicata and Puglia were bought by Enzo, and we’ve recently added a Sicilian winery to our portfolio.’
The estates make and bottle their own wines under Sirch’s guidance, and are distributed by Feudi’s network. They include Cefalicchio, a biodynamic estate in Puglia, Valenti on Mount Etna in Sicily, and Basilisco in Basilicata.
The other innovative project initiated by Ercolino was to make sparkling wines from native Irpinian grapes using the traditional method. Champagne producer Anselme Selosse was the first consultant for what has become the Dubl line, although he left in 2010.
‘We’re now producing 100,000 bottles of three types: Falanghina, an Aglianico rosato and the top-of-the-line Dubl+ of Greco that spends 24 months on the lees,’ Capaldo explains.
Dubl has its own distribution line and brand. ‘We’ve opened our first Dubl Bar inside Naples airport where international travellers can have a glass of bubbly and local speciality foods or gourmet panini designed by our chef. Our future is outside of Italy, and this is a fun way to get people excited about Campania’s great native grapes.’
Carla Capalbo is a food, wine and travel writer, and photographer, based in ItalyFeudi di San Gregorio: a timeline
1986 Feudi di San Gregorio is founded by the three Ercolino brothers and Mirella Capaldo; Luigi Moio was the first winemaker
1991 The estate’s first wine, Nobellum, is released
1997 First Tre Bicchieri award given to the Taurasi 1994
1998 First release of Serpico (1996 vintage)
1999 First vintage of Patrimo (released 2001)
2000 50ha of vineyards bought in at Manduria in Puglia, and 15ha in Vulture in Basilicata
2001 Pellegrino Capaldo acquires a majority share of the estate. Architect Massimo Vignelli designs iconic labels
2003 Riccardo Cotarella becomes consultant winemaker; Pierpaolo Sirch is consultant agronomist; Mario and Luciano Ercolino leave
2004 The new cellar and headquarters are finished; Marennà restaurant opens
2006 Enzo Ercolino and Mirella Capaldo leave the company; the sparkling wine, Dubl, is launched
2007 Cotarella leaves
2009 Antonio Capaldo takes over; Sirch becomes CEO
2010 Pellegrino Capaldo becomes sole proprietor; Basilisco estate in Basilicata bought
2013 Cellar built in Puglia for Ognissole estate; Cefalicchio estate acquired in Puglia
2014 Valenti estate on Sicily’s Etna signed up as part of Magna Graecia project. Denis Dubourdieu becomes consultant winemaker. Dubl Bar opensRelated content:
The post Aglianico at its best: Feudi di San Gregorio Taurasi vertical appeared first on Decanter.
Celebrate the new Chinese year of the dog with a fine wine that was born under the same zodiac sign - and there's quite a choice, from the fabled Bordeaux 1982 wines to vintage Port and Vega Sicilia.
Bordeaux 1982 is an obvious contender for the greatest overall vintage that was harvested during the Chinese year of the dog in the last few decades.
Chinese New Year officially begins on 16 February and this year’s animal sign, the dog, takes over from the rooster.
Below, Decanter Premium members can find examples of Bordeaux 1982 wines tasted by Jane Anson, plus several other top wines from around the world, all tasted by Decanter experts and which were born in Chinese ‘dog’ years.
These also include Vega Sicilia Unico 1970, Fonseca Port 1994, and Masseto 2006.
Perhaps we should have included a Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill in the list below, given that Britain’s famous wartime prime minister was also born under the sign of the dog.
Some well-known wine names to have been born in the year of the dog include Burgundy’s Christophe Roumier, winemaker at Domaine Georges Roumier, plus also DecanterChina columnist professor Li Demei, who is also a top expert in Chinese wines.
Wolfgang Blass was also born under the sign of the dog, in 1934 in Germany. He went on to become one of the pioneers of the modern Australian wine industry, of course.
What wine should you serve with your Chinese dumplings? Jennifer Docherty MW gives her tips ahead of Chinese New Year...What wines should you have with Chinese dumplings?Dumplings and wine pairing – ask Decanter
This article first appeared on our sister site DecanterChina.com.
When speaking of dumplings (or in Chinese ‘Jiaozi’), we are actually talking about a variety of fillings and flavours – from jiucai (garlic chives) and pork dumplings, baicai (Chinese cabbages) and pork dumplings to seafood dumplings.
If you want to pair your dumplings with wine, it’s better to choose light-flavoured fillings.
The classic garlic, chive and pork dumplings, for example, are difficult to pair with wines due to their overpowering flavours.
Pork and cabbage, Sanxian (pork, prawn and eggs) and mushroom dumplings, on the other hand, are more delicate.
Take pork and cabbage dumplings as an example, the cabbage is quite creamy when it’s cooked, and pork is round on the edges.
I would pick a light and delicate white wine to go with it—I don’t think you want a red wine.
Try a wine that’s got a little oak on it with good acidity – I’d go for a nice Bourgogne Chardonnay, maybe a Mâcon.
Personally I love Rieslings, so I’d try a Kabinett—with refreshing acidity with a little bit of residual sugar, to pair with it.See also: Chinese food and wine pairing See also: Where to celebrate Chinese New Year in London What about the sauce?
In my house we make our own dumpling sauce. We use mainly soy sauce, with some brown Jiaozi vinegar, and some sesame oil on top. Some garlic and spice could also be nice.
This is the benefit of making your own sauce—you get to adjust your salts, sourness, and give it a little bit of roundness to achieve a nice balance.
It won’t be too difficult for you to find a pairing wine if you prefer a more savoury sauce.
But if you prefer only vinegar as the sauce, finding a wine match will be more difficult.
Try something with high acidity; Champagne could be a good option here.
Jennifer Docherty MW is the first ethnically Chinese and Mandarin speaking Master of Wine. She is currently buyer at Liberty Wines, and a contributor to DecanterChina.com.Got a question for Decanter’s experts? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media with #askDecanter. More wine questions answered here
Jane Anson reports on a tasting of more than 70 Bordeaux 2008 wines, including first growths, and hosted by this month by the BI merchant in the 10th anniversary of the vintage.
Decanter Premium members can view her tasting notes and ratings alongside the report.
The tower at Château LatourScroll down to see Jane’s Bordeaux 2008 wine ratings and tasting notes beneath this column Available exclusively for Decanter Premium members
Report on this tasting
Most years gently slide into oblivion after a while, and are noted only as anniversaries by those who got married, had babies, lost loved ones.
There are a few marked exceptions, and they are usually not for the best of reasons. 1929 would be an obvious one, 2001 another. The bookends of 1939 and 1945, clearly.
Joining those ranks was 2008, with the stock market crash that arrived on Friday September 29, when the Dow began its 50% drop (not beating the 90% drop in 1929, but still precipitous) and ushered in an economic crisis that continues to make its effects felt.
On September 29 in Bordeaux, in contrast, the harvesters were feeling fairly relaxed. It hadn’t been the easiest of years. Extremely changeable conditions, starting with a difficult Spring that created diseases pressure, with some shattering (coulure) that led to uneven ripening later in the season. Frost in early April hit Merlots particularly hard (as well as Sauternes, which was almost as badly hit as in 1991 and 2017).
Summer was kind of upside down, with a hot July but a cool June and August, before an Indian summer came along to soothe frayed nerves.
The weather improved as of August 26, just in time for children to return to school, ushering in an Indian summer that lasted for two months, with any showers that fell over September tending to be light and manageable.The 2008 harvest
There was some Merlot picking underway by the time the stock market went into freefall, and a realisation that grapes on sandy soils or cooler terroirs hadn’t exactly reached full ripeness.
This was also true of some Cabernets that displayed pyrazine green pepper notes and overall tannins tended towards rusticity in some cases.
But the best terroirs gave their grapes the ability to stay on the vines right up to mid or even late October, allowing for the long slow ripening that ushers in rich concentrated berries, silky tannins and great aromatic potential.
Pomerol’s early-ripening soils proved their worth, giving some excellent results, as did the well-drained gravels and those with generally low water reserves.
Over in the Médoc, you’ll see high levels of Cabernet Sauvignon in many wines – 82% in Calon Ségur, 94% in Petit Mouton, 85% in Cos d’Estournel – and also moderate alcohol levels that are a signature of the vintage, hovering around 13 and 13.5% in most Left Banks.Where the 2008 wines sit now
Now a decade on, the 2008s are starting to be opened fairly regularly in Bordeaux, and I’ve tasted a number of them that have not managed to fully soften their slightly awkward early tannins.
They’ve made me begin to reassess my feeling back during en primeur that there were some highly promising wines in the vintage.
But the annual BI Fine Wines tasting in London gathers together the very top red wine names, 73 of them (no Lafleur this year, but that was pretty much the only one missing I think).
So what do you need to know?
That there are some luscious wines that in the vast majority of cases these are to be enjoyed now and over the next decade.
2008 is not the biggest blockbuster year, and the best wines have sexiness and a ripe structure without going overboard, with acidity keeping the oak in check.
Overall I would call Bordeaux 2008 a silver year, following the Decanter World Wine Awards model, as you can see from the number of 91 to 94s that I have given.
There are not many 95-plus (14 in total, so under 15% of these top names compared to 24 on the Right Bank alone in 2015 for my recent in-bottle tastings), and 11 under 90 points (quite significant, again bearing in mind these are all starry names).
No 100s, but two at 98. So a good showing overall, with a few stand outs.
It pretty much confirms the hierarchy of that gilded half-decade as being 2005, 2010 and 2009 at the top, then 2008 comes in much higher than 2007 and just a tiny bit higher than 2006.Bordeaux 2008 prices
And worth remembering that there are a good few of these wines out there in the cellars of those of us who don’t have our own chef or second home in Malibut (or more appropriately Cap Ferret).
That’s because, although the troops of harvesters might not have followed the news from Wall Street as they brought the grapes in over September and October, by the time the en primeur season had rolled around in 2009, the owner and directors of the chateaux certainly had.
They were nervous enough at the global economic picture to post huge price drops on the 2007 prices (which in themselves had come down heavily from 2006 and especially 2005).
We reported at the time that the ‘market was in charge’ and by mid April (astonishingly early in en primeur timescales) Latour had released an opening tranche at €110 per bottle, with Lafite and Margaux at the same price and Mouton at €100.
Haut-Brion risked annoying its stable mates with €130, which still gave early movers a huge opportunity.
Not everyone displayed the same restraint, but on the whole this was the last of the really affordable En Primeurs.
So while I’m sorry that the results rather annoying confirmed that there are very good wines in 2008 – but you might have to go to the good names to get them – the good news for those that risked the market and bought in the still-bumpy financial picture of 2009, is that there is plenty to enjoy here.
And for those looking to buy today, the prices on the Place de Bordeaux remain less punchy than the more heralded years like 2009 or 2010, but still higher than on release.
I’m looking at Lynch Bages 2008, for example, which is trading on the Place for somewhere upwards of €100 (for merchants buying ex-Bordeaux) compared to its exit price of €32, translating into a case price in the UK of just under £1,300, while Léoville Barton is being traded at over €70 on the Place de Bordeaux today where it came out at €27.
So, no longer the no-brainer that they were at the time, but in some cases the 2008s are worth the investment – and you’re not going to have to wait much longer to benefit from opening them.Bordeaux 2008 wines
Available exclusively to Decanter Premium members. NB: Château Dauzac 2008 was tasted at the estate in Bordeaux. All others were tasted at BI in London.
- Bordeaux 2007 wines, 10 years on – a report by Jane Anson
- Bordeaux 2006 wines to drink, 10 years after the vintage
- Bordeaux 2015 in-bottle: Jane Anson reviews the wines
See what food and wine will be served to those attending the BAFTA 2018 film awards in London, and also our report on how the menu is decided.The Hotel Chocolat dessert.BAFTA 2018: What the stars will be eating and drinking
The EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) are on Sunday 18th February 2018, at Grosvenor House in London.The Menu
The starter is a vegan choice, a first for this year; a celeriac cream and apple jelly, with pickled celeriac and apple, golden raisins, seeded crackers and toasted hazelnuts.
This is followed by the main of lamb cutlets and slow cooked lamb shoulder, roast garlic and thyme jus and potato gratin. Vegetarians will have sweet potato, bok choy, ginger and coriander parcel, with a coconut, mango and chilli salsa.
Dessert is always made with Hotel Chocolat, one of the sponsors. This year it is a 76% supermilk Nicaragua Chuno pebble, sesame and nigella seed brittle and salted caramel chocolate ganache (pictured top).The wines
The guests will be drinking Champagne Taittinger Brut Réserve NV, in BAFTA branded bottles.
With the meal, they will have Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2017 and the Private Bin Pinot Noir 2016.How they choose the menu
BAFTA Chef Anton Managanaro and Grosvenor House Executive Chef Nigel Boschetti discuss what they would like to put forward for menu ideas. There is input from some key partners, too; for example, the dessert is always made with Hotel Chocolat.
‘We start planning the menu around September or October for the BAFTAs,’ said Boschetti told Decanter.com.
‘We have menu tastings – sometimes two – with key planners from BAFTA.’
‘Consideration is given to the previous year’s menu, so as not to clash or repeat, and dishes are selected from three or four starters, mains and desserts.’
‘The menu needs to be built around British food, and be seasonal. Colour is also important on the BAFTA menu too – the food needs to look elegant and with some colour.’
The final menu is passed on to Villa Maria, to then select the wines to go with it.The BAFTAs in numbers
More than 2,300 bottles of Champagne Taittinger will be opened over the BAFTA weekend – equivalent to twice the length of the Eiffel Tower.
An etimated 2,046 bottles of Villa Maria will be served over the course of the weekend.
To make the main course, it will take 1850 lamb cutlets, 144 kilograms of potatoes and 72 kilograms of kale.
For the Hotel Chocolat dessert, it will take 45 kilograms of super milk chocolate, 10 kilograms of salted caramel and 10 kilograms of dark chocolate.
The post BAFTA 2018: What the stars will be eating and drinking appeared first on Decanter.
The first ever Vinexpo New York will take place this March, with over 400 producers showcasing their best wines over two days of tastings, masterclass and conferences.
Vinexpo New York is set to be an annual event bringing together wine and spirits professionals from across the globe. The inaugural two-day show will be held on 5 and 6 March 2018 at the Javits Convention Center, Manhattan.
Decanter will be hosting a masterclass based on a panel tasting that featured in the April 2016 issue of the magazine. The session titled The best Pinot Noirs in the World (outside of Burgundy) will be led by Elin McCoy and feature a total of seven wines.
Of the wines being featured, six appeared in the original panel tasting. The winner of the Best Argentinian Pinot Noir at the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards will also be available to try.
Attendees of the masterclass will get the chance to taste some of these sought-after Pinot Noirs:
- Tolpuddle Vineyard, Coal River Valley, Australia 2016
- Meyer Family Vineyards, McLean Creek Road Vineyard, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada 2013
- Bodega Chacra, Treinta y Dos Pinot Noir, Patagonia, Argentina, 2014
- Garcia + Schwaderer, Sofìa, Casablanca, Chile 2013
- Felton Road, Block 5, Bannockburn, Central Otago, New Zealand 2012
- Gottardi, Mazzon Riserva, Blauburgunder, Alto Adige, Italy 2012
- Bernhard Huber, Wildenstein R Grosses Gewächs, Baden, 2012
Decanter readers can register for just $100. Simply use the code: DECANTER before March 4th and save $25 in advance and $50 off the on-site price.
Learn more and register at www.vinexponewyork.com/attend
Date: March 5-6, 2018
Time: 10:00am – 6:00pm
Location: Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York
Date: Monday March 5th 2018
Time: 3:00pm – 4:15pm
Location: Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, River Pavilion,New York
The post Decanter’s top rated Pinot Noirs at Vinexpo New York appeared first on Decanter.
Tim Atkin MW has taken on the role of Decanter's specialist reviewer for Burgundy.Tim Atkin MW leads a Decanter masterclass in 2015.
Decanter is delighted to announce that the multi-award winning wine writer, author, international competition judge and broadcaster Tim Atkin MW has taken on the role of Decanter’s specialist Burgundy critic.
Tim has written about wine for more than 30 years for a number of prestigious titles including Decanter, The Economist, World of Fine Wine and the Observer to name but a few.Burgundy 2001 versus 2000: The wines to drink Just published for Decanter Premium members
Tim has both a particular passion for Burgundy and a vast knowledge of its wines.
For several years, through his own website TimAtkin.com, he has produced a comprehensive, in-depth annual vintage report of the entire region comprising some 65,000 words of analysis and tasting notes.
Each year, Tim invariably spends at least one month tasting in Burgundy cellars, in the belief that it is important to taste wines on the ground.
Later this year, he will produce the Burgundy 2017 vintage report for Decanter Premium members.
Meanwhile, he will cover a number Burgundy tastings for Decanter, beginning with a report that compares several 2000 and 2001 vintage wines and recommends which ones to drink, or look out for. He will also produce several interviews and features.
Tim will also continue to write for Decanter on other regions, including South Africa, Chile, Argentina and Rioja.
He joins Decanter as a contributing editor.
I couldn’t be more pleased to have Tim as our lead Burgundy critic and to have him writing more regularly for Decanter. His combination of knowledge, tasting expertise, writing ability and sheer enthusiasm is exceptional.
Tim Atkin MW, Decanter's new specialist reviewer for Burgundy, recently attended a fascinating tasting pitting the 2000 vintage against 2001. Below, Premium members can see his 20 recommendations for drinking, along with a comparison of how the two vintages have aged...
Domaines Lamarche, d’Eugénie and Confuron-Cotetidot all produce an Echézeaux – you could walk between the three Vosne-Romanée cellars in a matter of minutes – and yet their wines are so divergent in style that you could be forgiven for wondering if they’re made from the same grape, let alone the same grand cru.
This diversity makes it difficult to summarise vintages. Who cropped more heavily in the vineyard? Who picked when? Who deployed sorting tables to remove rotten grapes? Who used whole bunches? Who favoured 100% new oak? And from which tonnelier? And yet try, tentatively, we must.
Tim Atkin MW is a Decanter contributing editor and specialist reviewer for Burgundy.Related content:
- Tasted: Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2015 wines in the bottle
- Top Clos Vougeot wines from Louis Jadot
- White Burgundy 2008 revisited on their ninth birthday
See our suggestions for wines to drink with pancakes, and including an alternative suggestion from master sommelier Matthieu Longuère, of Le Cordon Bleu London school.What to drink with Pancakes Quick Guide Pancake type Wine style Sugar & Lemon Moscato d’Asti or Prosecco Cheese and ham Gavi di Gavi, Muscadet or Pinot Blanc Chocolate Recioto Valpolicella, Banyuls, or try Barolo Chinato Rhubarb and cream Loire Chenin Blanc, Off-dry Riesling – Or perhaps Normandy cider
Pancakes are all about the filling. What you decide to top, fill or wrap your pancakes with dictates what you should be drinking whilst you wolf them down. Here’s a selection of some of the more popular toppings you might decide on.Best all-rounders:
- The best all-rounder – a serious quality cider
- Also try Loire Chenin Blanc or off-dry Riesling
Matthieu Longuère MS, of Le Cordon Bleu London, had pre-selected a cider.
‘Finding a pairing for this dish is a no brainer, pancakes are known as crêpes in France,’ he said.
‘In crêperies all around the world the accompaniment is invariably cider. Here the pancakes are paired with tangy seasonal rhubarb and soothed by a good dollop of clotted cream. This unique dry cider is bursting with fresh apple flavour and really very refreshing, the balance more related to wine than your average cider.
‘Although it is not a sweet cider, it is so ripe and fruity that is not going to clash with the compote and its crisp acidity will refresh the palate in between bites. Sydre is made from 20 different varieties of hand-picked cider apple, sweet, bitter or sour, grown on schist soil. The apples are grated and left to ferment for up to 6 months. It is a true vintage cider and can be kept for several years after the harvest. A real Grand Cru!’
The vintage dated cider was dry, but the appley sweetness brought to life the Rhubarb, yet the acidity cleansed the palate of pancake, fooling you into thinking you could both consume more cider and pancake.
Sydre Argelette, Eric Bordelet, Chateau de Hauteville, Normandie, France 2014
A very popular topping for your pancakes. Simple, sweet with citrus acid. A light, slightly sweet yet refreshing Moscato d’Asti would wash these down well, a Prosecco would work or if you can find it, Clairette de Die. If wine is not an option, put a bottle of Limoncello in the fridge.Savoury cheese and ham
Again, reaching for the cider would be a wonderful match with this savoury pancake; or if you fancy a glass of wine, Pinot Blanc, Muscadet or Gavi di Gavi are all great options.Chocolate sauce
You cannot beat a sweet red like Recioto Valpolicella or a red Banyuls to bring to life chocolate. But if you can’t dig these out, a really fruity, new world red with low tannin could also work.Salmon
It has so be a Champagne method sparkling wine, to cut through the batter mix and bring the salmon to life.
This article was originally published in 2017, following a pancake masterclass with Tom Brown at Le Cordon Bleu London and the school’s Matthieu Longuère MS.
California winemakers and grape growers crushed just over four million tonnes of grapes in the 2017 harvest, with increases for Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir and declines for Chardonnay and Zinfandel, show new figures.The California grape harvest.California’s most common wine grape varieties based on 2017 crush figures:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir
- Pinot Gris
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Petite Syrah
Based on 2017 grape crush data, published by California’s department of food and agriculture and analysed by Ciatti Company in February 2018.What we know from the latest California 2017 harvest figures
California harvested around four million tonnes of grapes in 2017, with the red wine harvest down by 1.6% versus 2016 and the white wine harvest up by 0.7% against the previous year, according to preliminary figures released by wine broker Ciatti and based on California Department of Food & Agriculture figures.
Reds came in at just over 2.24 million tonnes and white grapes at around 1.76 million.Wildfires impact
Devastating wildfires claimed more than 40 lives across North California in October 2017, despite 10,000 firefighters doing their best to contain blazes.
Wine was understandably not the main concern with lives and homes at risk, but there was nevertheless discussion within the wine sector around how fires might affect the 2017 vintage.
Some wineries sustained damage – Signorello, for example, being one of the worst hit – although a Sonoma State University survey of North California wineries found that 950 our of 1,025 wineries contacted had no structural damage.
While it is too early to properly assess quality impact, the latest 2017 grape crush report underlines the view that fires had a minimal overall impact on harvest quantity – even though some producers in high risk areas were evacuated from their estates for several days.
‘The fire was awful,’ said Glenn Proctor, global wine and grape broker with Ciatti, ‘but from an industry point of view we feel it did not have an effect on production numbers.
‘Luckily most of the crop was harvested by the time the fires occurred in the second week of October. We feel the severe heat we had in early September had the biggest effect on production,’ he told Decanter.com.Cabernet Sauvignon is king
Cabernet Sauvignon had a record harvest in California in 2017, up 6% on 2016, said Ciatti.
Californian growers crushed almost 600,000 tonnes of the world’s most planted grape variety last year with premium coastal regions seeing the biggest increase.
Cabernet harvests ‘will only continue to grow’, said Ciatti.
In contrast, Chardonnay saw 2017 harvest quantity dented by heat spikes, particularly in Lodi, where the total crush fell by 18%.
Zinfandel saw one of its smallest harvests in recent years, down by nearly 13% to just over 364,000 tonnes.Plan to rebuild Signorello after California wildfires
Drinks books did particularly well at the 2017 André Simon Food and Drink book awards, announced last night at the Goring hotel in London.
The ‘best drink book’ award winner was Peter Liem, for his book Champagne: The Essential Guide to Wines, Producers and Terroirs of The Iconic Region.
The judges praised it for being beautifully illustrated, and an authoritative account of a well-known, but often misunderstood, wine region and style.See also: Peter Liem’s top grower Champagne estates to know
‘This is a book that we’ll return to for many years,’ said wine expert Joe Fattorini, who led the judging for drinks books.
‘Not only as an authoritative catalogue or even a book that also explores perhaps the world’s most celebrated wine region, but as a book that asks questions about the nature of terroir and place.’
The prize for best food writing went to chef Stephen Harris, for his book The Sportsman, telling the story of his life and how he came to start the Michelin-starred Kent pub by the same name.
‘The kind of book you want to win a prize like this must capture a moment, say something about where we are, as well as being inspirational, well-written, useful and expert. The Sportsman does that,’ said food writer Rachel Cooke, who led judging for the food books at this year’s awards.
Drinks books dominated the other prizes on the evening.
The John Avery Award went to The Way of Whisky by Dave Broom, an in depth look at Japanese whisky and culture.
Victoria Moore’s The Wine Dine Dictionary was given the Special Commendation, helping readers either pick the wine to drink with what they are cooking, or what to cook for the wine they want to drink.
The André Simon Food and Drink book awards have been running since 1978, named after André Simon, the French-born, UK-dwelling wine merchant and food and wine writer, who died in 1970.See the 2016 André Simon winners here.
The post The winning books at André Simon Food and Drink awards appeared first on Decanter.
This is where the action is in the Bordeaux 2015 vintage, says Jane Anson. Decanter Premium members can now read Jane's verdict and ratings on the classified wines of Pomerol and St-Emilion to see how they have progressed since the initial en primeur week in April 2016.
Merlot vines in St-Emilion.
Heading over to the Right Bank for the Bordeaux 2015 in-bottle wines is to arrive where the action is.
No doubt at all that Pessac-Léognan (to come) and Margaux produced some spectacular wines but for consistency of achievement in this vintage you have to go to St-Emilion and Pomerol…
- You can find Jane’s top Médoc 2015 classified wines here
- For St-Emilion 2015 in-bottle, see:
The post Classified: Bordeaux Right Bank 2015 in-bottle verdict appeared first on Decanter.
See Jane Anson's tasting notes and ratings for Pomerol 2015 wines, nearly two years out from the original en primeur showing.La Conseillante was among the highest scorers in the 2015 vintage.
Highlights include several top estates that scored above 95 points, including some 100-point wines; helping to cement the view that the Right Bank, with its focus on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, did particularly well in the Bordeaux 2015 vintage as a whole.
All of the wines below were tasted in Bordeaux towards the end of 2017.Top Pomerol 2015 wines:
- You can find Jane’s top Médoc 2015 classified wines here
- For St-Emilion 2015 in-bottle, see:
Sebastian Braun is a judge at the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA)Sebastian Braun DWWA JudgeSebastian Braun
Stockholm native Sebastian Braun has held a variety of positions at Systembolaget, the Swedish retail monopoly, since 1998. Starting in roles including salesman, product information and description writer, and customer relations, Braun moved into his current position of wine buyer in 2005 and achieved his WSET Diploma the following year.
He has managed areas such as Chile, Portugal, Switzerland, the UK, Luxembourg, Hungary, Bulgaria and South Africa, Italy, France and New Zealand. In January 2018 Braun moved from SystemBolaget and joined the importer Oenoforos as their Wine Director. He also founded his own import company, ACE Wines, focusing mainly on fine wines. Braun has previously judged at The Veritas Awards in South Africa, Concours Mondial Bruxelles and Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
Braun was first a DWWA judge in 2014.
Currently enjoying a revival thanks to cocktail culture, Vermouth di Torino has fought to establish its quality credentials. Michaela Morris reports...Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino was relaunched in 2011 for the company's 120th anniversary
It’s just before noon and Roberto Bava, CEO of Giulio Cocchi and president of the newly formed Vermouth di Torino Institute, fixes me a drink. He pours equal parts vermouth and soda over ice, topping it with a twist of lemon.
‘The bubbles help bring out the aromas,’ says Bava of this concoction, known in Italy as a vermuttino. Nuances of rhubarb, ginger, liquorice and citrus emerge one by one, none dominating, and an inherent bitterness is curbed by integrated sweetness.
I realise I’m suddenly hungry, just as Bava offers some Parmigiano-Reggiano. ‘Vermouth is wine,’ he continues. ‘It goes with chocolate and cheese.’ The umami flavours of Parmigiano are remarkably complementary with the drink’s herbal notes. Nevertheless, vermouth is largely considered a cocktail ingredient rather than a gastronomic partner, and its role in the Negroni has been fundamental in salvaging its heritage.Scroll down for five recommended vermouths to try
An aromatised fortified wine, vermouth has its roots in ancient civilisations who commonly infused botanicals in their wines. Wormwood, a powerfully scented and intensely bitter plant of the Artemisia genus, became particularly popular as a cure for stomach ailments. ‘Wormwood gave its name to vermouth through its German translation, Wermut,’ explains Bava.
As examples improved, vermouth transformed from a medicinal tonic into a beverage of pleasure. Italy’s Piedmont and France’s Savoie regions were the heart of production. The Alpine terrain is rich in wormwood and other botanicals like mint, sage and camomile.
Savvy apothecaries blended these with exotic spices from afar. In 1786 Antonio Benedetto Carpano created a superior elixir, based on Moscato Bianco. It was introduced to the Duke of Savoy and became the drink of the royal court. Vermouth was also adopted by the chic cafés of Turin, cementing its role as Italy’s classic aperitivo.
Until World War II, vermouth was widely consumed, admired and traded. Then fascinating new drinks from faraway places lured young Italians away from vermouth. ‘Being a small artisanal producer we simply couldn’t compete with low-end products,’ explains Bava, who discontinued vermouth production when he joined the family business in the 1980s. others followed suit.Cocktail chic
Instead of this being the final chapter for vermouth, America’s contemporary cocktail culture gave it a new lease of life. Bartenders and cocktail writers such David Wondrich and Ted Haigh spawned a renaissance for classics like the Americano, Manhattan, Martinez and above all the Negroni – the judiciously stirred mix of gin, Campari and sweet red vermouth over ice, finished with a curl of fresh orange peel – rekindling a desire for superior and historical products. Vermouth suddenly became cool again.
Encouraged by this renewed interest, producers have been reviving original recipes. Bava led the way, launching Storico Vermouth for Cocchi’s 120th anniversary in 2011.
Then renowned Barolo producer Pio Cesare resuscitated its family recipe, which hadn’t been made since the 1950s, and Martini released two new speciality vermouths in 2015. The revival even resurrected Chazalettes, which had shut down in the 1970s.The real deal
‘Now it’s popular, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon,’ states Bava. But not all bottles touting vermouth are created equally. Some do not even use wormwood, the plant which defines vermouth. ‘It’s like making limoncello without lemons,’ decries Bava. ‘It is fake.’
Furthermore, other producers with no connection to Piedmont have deceptively labelled their wares Vermouth di Torino. While this has been a geographical denomination since 1991, no regulatory body nor laws defining its production parameters existed to protect Vermouth di Torino.
The Vermouth di Torino Institute was formed for these very reasons. An alliance of 15 brands – Bèrto, Bordiga, Carlo Alberto, Carpano, Chazalettes, Cinzano, Del Professore, Drapò, Gancia, Giulio Cocchi, La Canellese, Martini & Rossi, Sperone, Torino Distillati and Tosti – came together to draft the regulations. ‘Big producers and small, we worked together with the same goal of saving an appellation that belongs to Italy,’ says Bava.
The outcome was Law 1826, established on 22 March 2017. It defines Vermouth di Torino as ‘an aromatised wine obtained in Piedmont using Italian wine only, with the addition of alcohol, flavoured mainly with Artemisia from Piedmont together with other herbs and spices.’
While the alcohol can range from 16% to 22%, a superiore category requires 17% or higher. Furthermore, a minimum of 50% of the base wine and three of the herbs must come from Piedmont for superiore. ‘Generic vermouth will still exist,’ explains Bava, ‘but it will be a quality pyramid with Vermouth di Torino as a premium category.’
Diverse styles are represented by an array of colours and sweetness levels. They all have their place in cocktails, but are equally enjoyable on their own, chilled or over ice. Whereas a rosso is best served at 16°C, its progressively paler-hued siblings rosato, ambrato and bianco are ideal at 14°C-12°C.
In general, Vermouth di Torino is traditionally sweeter than its French counterparts, though varying levels of sugar are indicated by classification as extra secco (less than 30g/l sugar), secco (less than 50g/l) and dolce (sugar equal to or exceeding 130g/l).
Above all, Vermouth di Torino is an aperitif with a long and noble tradition of stimulating the appetite, as well as great conversation. And, according to Bava at least, this is appropriate ‘anytime’.Michaela Morris is a Canadian wine writer, educator and presenter who specialises in Italy Five vermouths to try: Related content:
Pol Roger has excavated some long-lost treasure from the wreckage of a cellar that collapsed in 1900 and buried more than a million bottles of Champagne.20 bottles of Champagne have been unearthed so far, dated between 1887 and 1898... Credit: Champagne Pol RogerPol Roger discovers ‘intact’ Champagne from cellar ruins
Almost 118 years ago, on 23 February 1900, disaster struck Pol Roger’s cellars in Épernay.
Following a period of extreme cold and damp, vast stretches of wall suddenly collapsed during the night, demolishing adjoining buildings and burying 1.5 million bottles of wine, along with 500 casks.
Damage was so extensive that the ground above the cellars caved in, causing the street level to fall by four metres. Great fissures formed in the nearby roads, rue Henri le Large and rue Godart-Roger.
An account from Le Vigneron Champenois tells how Pol Roger’s son Maurice awoke at 2am to ‘a dull rumble similar to the sound of thunder’.
‘When the workers arrived a few hours later, the disaster was complete.’
Pol Roger’s sons, Maurice and Georges, had hoped they could attempt to salvage the buried wines by tunnelling into the rubble.
But after a similar cave-in occurred a month later at the nearby property of Godart-Roger, the plans were abandoned, along with the ruined cellars.
Fast forward almost 118 years exactly and Pol Roger is now rebuilding a new packaging facility on the same plot of land.
On 15 January, a drilling session hit upon an underground chamber, which contained a cache of broken glass and an intact bottle of Champagne.
After further excavation, 19 more bottles were lifted unscathed from the wreckage.
‘The wines are clear, the levels are correct and the corks are depressed,’ said the Champagne house.
‘These bottles are still on their lees and will have to be hand riddled and disgorged before being tasted.’
The exact age of the bottles is hard to determine, but Pol Roger has confirmed they will be of vintages between 1887 and 1898.
The discovery was made by Dominic Petit, Pol Roger’s chef de cave of 19 years, and the man who will succeed him in April, Damien Cambres.
Wet weather has prevented Petit and Cambres from unearthing more of the cellars’ contents so far.Related content:
- Wine Legend: Pol Roger, Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 2000
- No Château Climens 2017 due to frost damage
- Ten great restaurants in Champagne for wine lovers
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