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Australian Wine Blogs

23 October 2019

Australian Wine Blogs
  • Unico Zelo Fresh A.F. is exactly what the name suggests
    23 October 2019
    The wine
    • Name: Unico Zelo Fresh A.F. 2019
    • Type: Nero d”avola and a hint of Zibbibo
    • Location: Riverland, South Australia
    • Price: $
    • Find it: Online, boutique bottle stores
    The low down
    • The occasion: Wine night with friends
    • First impression: Zippy and refreshing
    • 3 words description: spicy, vibrant, juicy
    • You’ll enjoy it if: You like to drink red in Summer

    The Unico Zelo Fresh A.F. is the perfect red wine for Summer. It’s vibrant, lively and zippy, with a great hit of acidity that makes it oh so refreshing. The fruity aroma and spicy flavours make for a wine that is gone all too quickly. You’ll be knocking this one back all throughout Summer! 

    Over the weekend I had a few friends over for a wine night. I gathered some of my girlfriends and we each brought a bottle of wine to try, along with a snack of course! I’ve held one of these nights before and it was great fun! It’s interesting seeing everyone’s different tastes in wine, and working out what everyone likes and doesn’t like. Not many of my friends were drinking, so it also meant I ended up with a few leftover bottles!

    The wine I decided to bring to the party was one that I have wanted to try for a while: the Unico Zelo Fresh A.F.. I have had a few of the Unico Zelo wines over the years (I even tried last year’s Nero and don’t get me started on the Fiano). They do so many interesting and delicious wines, and so when I saw this new one I knew I had to give it a go. I mean with a name like that, it is dying to be bought at the bottle shop! Better yet, it was on sale at my local, so it was truly meant to be. I figured where better to enjoy this great bottle than with friends?

    The Unico Zelo Fresh A.F. lives up to its name

    The Unico Zelo Fresh A.F. is a Nero d’Avola with a hint of Zibbibo. What do you mean you haven’t heard of Zibbibo? Me neither, don’t worry! Zibbibo is an ancient grape variety that is used in muscat and is also called the Muscat of Alexandria. It has been added to the Nero d’Avola to lift the aromas and truly up the ante when it comes to freshness.

    As with most of the Unico Zelo wines, Fresh A.F. comes from Riverland in South Australia. This region is becoming quite well known for its craft wine, having once been the home of many bulk, budget wineries. With sandy soils and limestone, this desert-like region is perfect for warm-climate grapes. Nero d’Avola comes from Sicily so thrives in this environment. The wine has had minimal intervention due to its water-efficiency, and there have been no additions in the vineyard or winery apart from a little SO2 at bottling.

    Why I love it

    The Unico Zelo Fresh A.F. is the perfect wine for Summer. It can be hard to find a red wine that you want to drink when it is 30 degrees, but being a red wine lover myself I am constantly on the hunt. The flavours and body in this wine come together to make it perfect for drinking in warmer weather.

    First, let’s talk about the nose. The Zibbibo gives the wine a great aroma of red berries and a slight spice. But I didn’t find this wine fruity to drink. It had a delicious hit of spice to balance out any sweetness, and a good kick of acidity right at the end. The flavours almost dance in your mouth! It left you wanting another sip straight away because the flavour was so unusual and delicious, but it didn’t linger for a long time.

    What does this mean overall? This wine will quench your thirst with its refreshing and lively flavours, but you might want to have more than one bottle on hand. It is all too easy to smash out a bottle between friends, and with a wine this delicious and refreshing you’ll want to be grabbing another when you run out!

    What to enjoy it with

    I tried the Unico Zelo Fresh A.F. with a couple of different things and I can tell you now it is incredibly adaptable. You could easily enjoy this wine without food, or you could pair it with some antipasto. This was how we enjoyed it and I think a few dips, cheese, crackers and cured meats go down so well with this wine. Add some friends and you’ve got the start to a perfect evening!

    If you want to pair it with food, definitely don’t drink it with anything too heavy. Think lighter summer foods such as grilled meat and salads, or a light pasta dish and pizza. I had this wine with some lamb and a salad and it was delicious!

    The final word on the Unico Zelo Fresh A.F.

    In short, the Unico Zelo Fresh A.F. is the perfect wine to enjoy coming into Summer. With a name as bold as this, the wine needed to stand out, and it certainly did! Refreshing, zippy and juicy all in one, this wine will quench your thirst but is so delicious you’ll want another glass. It’s the sort of wine I can see myself coming back to over and over again as the nights get warmer!

    The post Unico Zelo Fresh A.F. is exactly what the name suggests appeared first on The Cheeky Vino.

  • 11-44 of October 2019’s best Shiraz
    22 October 2019

    Why stop at just 10 great Shiraz for the month? Here is the follow on list of the best 11-34 Shiraz to pass the desk in October 2019.

    Terre à Terre Shiraz 2016

    Another flattering and ambitious red from Xavier Bizot and Lucy Croser. From the Crayères vineyard in Wrattonbully, there’s 12% Cab Franc in the mix, the blend spending 10 months in 48% new small oak, then a further 18 months in large, older foudre.


    The post 11-44 of October 2019’s best Shiraz appeared first on Australian Wine Review.

  • TarraWarra Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2017
    22 October 2019

    Oh, what a treasure. A blend of two blocks which were planted in 1983 and 1989, this silky smooth Pinot saw 20% new French oak for ten months.

    I looked at this over a couple of days and it opened up tremendously well. It seemingly continued to evolve with luscious depth and enticing aromas.

    Dangerously smooth, it's a Pinot that shows dark cherries, cola, licorice and hints of sarsaparilla. Expected undergrowth and composty aromas saunter through - you get the sense the veneers of interest don't ever stop. Fine spices tingle on a long and seemingly never-ending finish. Another example of how incredible these Yarra Valley 2017s can be.

    Drink to eight years+


    Region: Yarra Valley
    RRP: $60
    Source: Sample

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  • d'Arenberg The Money Spider Roussanne 2019
    22 October 2019

    McLaren Vale Roussanne. A good drink to accompany a creamy based pasta dishes or even a roast chicken. There's plenty of depth to appease.

    Fleshy and mouth filling, fine ginger spices form a cordon around the edge of the palate. Scents of yellow flowers with lashings of honey and yellow peach all make a valuable contribution. A lemony citrusy tang lingers nicely calling you back for more. Thumbs up from me.

    Drink now to five years.


    Region: McLaren Vale
    RRP: $20
    Source: Sample

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  • Sake Award
    22 October 2019
     You can now find my WSET Sake Award in the right column of my blog. Level 1 is not hard, but this knowledge will allow me to drink sake better.
  • The wines of Vagabond! The story of an urban winery…
    21 October 2019

    Vagabond Wines is one of England's newest wineries, in addition to being one of London's urban wineries at Battersea Power Station.

    The post The wines of Vagabond! The story of an urban winery… appeared first on winemusing.

  • Getting to know: Gavin Monery from Vagabond Wines
    21 October 2019

    Gavin Monery, an Australian winemaker making English wines for Vagabond Wines in the shadow of London's Battersea Power Station.

    The post Getting to know: Gavin Monery from Vagabond Wines appeared first on winemusing.

  • Top 10 Shiraz of October 2019 – Thomas Wines, Balgownie, Shaw + Smith et al.
    21 October 2019

    As it says on the tin, here are ten of the best Shiraz to pass the tasting bench this October. A special note to the breadth of Hunter Shiraz from Andrew Thomas and the classic Balgownie. They’re good Shiraz, Brent.


    The post Top 10 Shiraz of October 2019 – Thomas Wines, Balgownie, Shaw + Smith et al. appeared first on Australian Wine Review.

  • Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Mini Vertical
    21 October 2019
    This mini vertical of Sassicaia was one of my most unusual and perplexing vertical tasting experiences. We tasted three wines: 2014, 2011 and 2004 Sassicaia. 

    This was an informal tasting with friends, and I took no notes. Therefore, the descriptions are brief. The picture below shows the 2011  in the glass on the left side, and the 2014 on the right side. The 2014 has an almost pink colour like a Pinot Noir. Sassicaia is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. The taste of the 2014 suggests almost the reverse. Cabernet Franc style flavours dominate. It is a fragrant wine, not much depth nor length (88 points). 

    The 2011 has a more typical colour profile. Again the wine is medium-bodied, with blackcurrant flavours. This is an elegant wine with a decent structure, but not much complexity on the palate (92 points).

    The 2004 was clearly the best of these three and what I had expected. The flavour profile of this full-bodied wine is profound: blackcurrant, black cherry, olive, mocca, some spices. The texture is elegant and the structure perfectly balanced. The tannins are smooth and lead to a long and satisfying finish (96 points).

  • Wine 4 Water - raising funds for those impacted in the Granite Belt region
    21 October 2019

    Enduring one of the most crippling droughts on record, the Granite Belt community is on its knees. The knock-on effect from this natural disaster is now hitting parts of the community in an unprecedented manner.

    Farms that should be bursting with greenery readying crops for market are bare and dusty. Dams are parched and resembled moonscapes. Locals relying on town water are limited to using 100L per person per day with many outside this supplying hemorrhaging money to buy water for their own use, as well as water and food for their stock. All the while, staff are being laid off due to a lack of work available, the bustling backpacker trade used for picking fruit and vegetables has ground to a halt, and to add further insult, tourist numbers often teeming this time of year have also plummeted.

    To combat this, several Granite Belt wineries have banded together to launch Wine 4 Water, a not-for-profit alliance to raise much-needed funds for another not-for-profit organisation, Granite Belt Drought Assist. This organisation is responsible for distributing water, food and stock feed for those Granite Belt community members in most need.

    How does it all work? Go to one of the participating Granite Belt wineries listed and purchase a Wine4Water mixed 6 pack for $150 - delivered. All wines that are part of this initiative have a retail value of over $25 each with some retailing for $39 and $45 each.

    This is a win-win scenario - 6 great wines can be purchased to enjoy while the Granite Belt community wins with approximately $45 from each pack going to those in need.

    Give the Wine4Water Facebook Page a Like to keep updated and see what wines each winery is contributing.

    Participating wineries:

    Golden Grove Estate          
    Ridgemill Estate                 
    Hidden Creek                      
    La Petite Mort                     
    Twisted Gum                      
    Ballandean Estate               
    Pyramids Road Wines        
    View Wines                        
    Girraween Estate                
    Jester Hill Wines                 
    Heritage Estate                   
    Robert Channon Wines      

Wine Investment Blogs

23 October 2019

Wine Investment Blogs
  • “Around the World in 80 Wines” Russian Translation
    22 October 2019

    I was pleased to receive a package in the mail with several copies of a book that I know very well, but cannot actually read.

    It’s called “Вокруг света за 80 бутылок вина.” It is the new Russian translation of my book Around the World in 80 Wines!

    Cool cover, don’t you think? And everyone knows you really can judge a book by its cover! My Russian publisher’s website has more about the book, including an opportunity to browse through some of the pages, download an excerpt, and purchase either the physical or electronic edition.

    Even if, like me, you don’t read Russian I think you will enjoy the clever design of the book with its many maps, wine glass circles, and random drops and splotches. What fun!

    I’d like to thank EKSMO Publishing House for doing such a fine job with this book and my colleagues at Rowman & Littlefield for facilitating the project.


    Our cat Mooch has been browsing the new book between naps!


  • New Release – CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva 2012, 6×75, £200, 95 Points
    17 October 2019

    CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva is a towering masterpiece of Rioja, competing among the finest wines in the world. Today we are delighted to release the 2012 vintage, one which experienced dry conditions, resulting in small berries. As a result, the berries were harvested with superb concentration and tannin. The 2012 vintage is considered a very fine one and reflects their fifth consecutive small vintage. CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva has been awarded superb scores, indeed outstripping the magnificent 2010 and equalling the legendary 2001. In fact, early signs suggest it could be one of the finest ever in their history. Luis Gutierrez of The Wine Advocate calls it a ‘textbook Imperial Gran Reserva.’ His score of 95 is the joint highest ever from The Wine Advocate. This is confirmed by Josh Raynolds of Vinous who awards it 94 points, the highest ever.

    The price today on release is £200 per case of six, brilliant value for an utterly stunning wine. The price of £33 a bottle, gives it a Price Over Points ratio of 27, confirming it as one of the best priced, leading wines in the world. Indeed, it is a wine capable of ageing for 50 years, while simultaneously being delicious now, having aged in bottle since 2015. This is a must buy for any lover of Rioja and is truly brilliant value for money for an Estate which stays true to focusing on producing great wine at a great price.

    Last year we took part in a vertical tasting at the Estate running from the newly bottled yet unreleased 2011, back to 1953. The older vintages such as the 1953, 1968, 1988 and 1995 lace a tapestry of a brilliant terroir driven wine. They are dedicated to purity of fruit and balance, ageing gracefully yet powerfully and often fooling you into thinking they are a decade younger; truly age worthy and majestic enveloping your olfactory system, pulling you in like a siren, while the palate brings you back to your senses with incredible elegance, complexity and torque.

    The price is particularly remarkable when one considers the production cost, only around 4,000 cases are made, each is aged for 36 months in cask and then 48 months in bottle before being released to market. The wine heralds from vineyards around Villalba and Haro in Rioja Alta, with a minimum vine age of 20 years, up to 80 years in many cases. Seeing is believing here, the vineyards are bush trained, bathing in the sun, protected by the Cantabrian Mountains, creating micro climates within micro climates – the vistas are breath-taking. Only the healthiest grapes are selected from the fittest bushes; many long-retired bushes remain, yet not replanted due to the intricate and co-dependant root system. The singular thought is quality. Only hand harvesting would work here due to the terroir, then bunches are hand selected, cold macerated, prior to a cold temperature fermentation. Following a long maceration, the wines go through malolactic fermentation and then into barrels of American and French oak; then bottle age.

    The winery itself is a marvel, surrounded by as you might guess, the other greats, Vina Tondonia and La Rioja Alta, the who’s who of Rioja Alta itself. It is inspired by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, famed for his eponymously named tower! This resulted in metal trusses being used from wall to wall, rather than conventional columns, in order to improve open space, helping the ageing and management of barrels. The first Imperial was made in the 1920s, deriving its name from the Imperial Pint measurement. Bodegas C.V.N.E, which stands for Compagna Vinicola del Norte de Espana, was established in 1879 and is still in the hands of the Real de Aua family who created it. It is one of the most renowned, revered and accomplished bodegas in Spain and can proudly take responsibility for much of the truly great growth that Rioja has made in the world of fine wine. CVNE today is comprised of three bodegas, CVNE, Vina Real and Contino. Each Estate boasting its own unique style, distinct terroir and each producing a flagship wine that features in the pantheon of great Spanish wine.

    To buy this wine please click here

  • New Release – Krug 2006, 6×75, £1,100, 97 Points
    16 October 2019

    We are very pleased to release the much awaited Krug Vintage 2006, from the world’s greatest Champagne house. In 2006 Krug have created a masterpiece, a wine that has been awarded 97 points from William Kelley of The Wine Advocate, who proclaims ‘while this is a powerful vintage Krug, it’s also beautifully balanced and will give immense pleasure for decades.’ There is uber global demand for the world’s leading champagnes and Krug is broadly considered the acme in terms of quality. Indeed, Krug is a highly allocated gem in any portfolio. Global demand is perennially increasing, and the limited supply has created a material shortage in the market. It is a wine that sells out instantly and we are delighted to be able to offer it this morning on a first come first served basis.

    The virtue of the 2006 vintage has been conveyed with acclamation. The weather was warm throughout the summer in 2006, creating beautifully concentrated grapes. A cold and somewhat rainy August helped the grapes retain freshness and a backbone of acidity, while a dry and warm September provided near perfect conditions for harvest. It comes as no surprise therefore that Krug is, as always, a brilliant wine. We are delighted to release it today for £1,100. The price is very much in line with the 2002, 2003 and 2004 and at a discount to the 2002, which with 97+ points trades at £1,400 and the 98 point scoring 1996 which trades at £1,950.

    The philosophy behind Vintage Krug is to produce a wine only in exceptional vintages for the house. It therefore stays true to the tradition of vintage champagne. While Krug non-vintage is considered by many on par with the leading prestige cuvees in the market, Krug Vintage pushes the envelope of quality for all champagne. Vintage Krug accounts for less than 10% of their overall production meaning supply is immediately under pressure. Vintage Krug is broadly considered one of the greatest Champagnes in the world and prices of mature vintages rise quickly after a decade, with the 1990 already trading at over £3,000 per six bottle case.

    Krug was established in 1843 by Joseph Krug and today Olivier Krug still supervises the houses’ production, tasting and blending; this represents six generations of stewardship. Krug is the only Champagne house that continues to produce their Champagnes in small oak casks, this is the essential component that defines its legendary intense bouquet and complex flavours. Krug’s superlative single vineyard Champagne is from a small walled vineyard, Le Mesnil; it is the world’s leading Blanc de Blanc Champagne and exorbitantly expensive with an average bottle price of £600. Vintage Krug is a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay and in 2006 the assemblage was 48%, 35% and 17% respectively. Anecdotally Krug became a favourite tipple of the Queen Mother and when she was 97 she smuggled a case of Krug into the hospital where she was treated after falling and breaking her hip.

    Krug 2006 is a stunning vintage from one of the icons of the fine wine industry and a wine to own for future consumption, while the prices will increase over the next five years, reflecting Krug’s vintage premium and scarcity.

    To buy this wine please click here

  • Liv-ex regional market share sees new levels as Festive demand for Champagne kicks in
    15 October 2019

    Bordeaux’s share of trade value on Liv-ex hit a new low last week as the regional market mix levelled even further than ever before. A week is of course a tiny window on trade but it still provides an interesting view on the current market dynamics. 31.4 per cent of trade value is a low point we have not yet seen for Bordeaux – but we must remember that this is in the context of a point in time when the market has broadened to its largest number of individual wines being traded with significantly more labels and vintages from regions other than Bordeaux. We have only just got used to seeing Bordeaux’s monthly market share around the average 60 per cent mark.

    Regional share of trade by value for the week 4th – 10th October, 2019

    Region Share of trade (%) Previous week (%) September (%)
    Bordeaux 31.4 59.5 52.1
    Champagne 22.3 6.1 7.9
    Burgundy 19 22.3 23.2
    Italy 17.3 3.2 8.8
    USA 3.8 4.2 1.7
    Others 3.8 2.3 3.9
    Rhone 2.4 2.4 2.4


    Champagne leap-frogged Burgundy and Italy to rank second last week accounting for 22.3 per cent of trade value, the wines of Burgundy represented 19 per cent and the Italians 17.3% – a pretty level playing field compared to 2010 when Bordeaux accounted for around 90 per cent of trade. Further afield, Australia was responsible for the majority of trade classed by Liv-ex in the group ‘Others’ with levels at 2.6% of total value, primarily led by the release of Penfold Grange’s 2015 vintage last week.

    Top 5 wines traded on Liv-ex for the week 4th – 10th October, 2019

    Wine Vintage Last trade price (12 x 75cl)
    Taittinger, Comtes Champagne Rose 2007 £980
    Sassicaia 2015 £2,200
    DRC, Richebourg 2016 £33,000
    Moet & Chandon, Dom Perignon P2 2002 £2,700
    Salon, Le Mesnil 2002 £5,604


    Champagne was responsible for the most active wines in the week and this may in part be the drinks industry stocking up for the looming Festive Season! The 2007 vintage was in particular strong demand, accounting for 40 per cent of the Champagne traded.

    We also see that higher levels of trade in Italian wines is being sustained and we will touch on this more in our Market Report due out very soon.

    For more information contact us now on 0203 384 2262.

    The post Liv-ex regional market share sees new levels as Festive demand for Champagne kicks in appeared first on Vin-X.

  • How do we sell your wines?
    15 October 2019
    Serge Chapuis Château Pichon Baron

    Questions I often get from clients are “How do you sell my wine? How does the sales process work?”

    When you login and put a wine for sale on our website, we offer it to over 250 fine wine merchants around the world.  We market to them at least 3 times a week with a live list that is updated by the minute and of course immediately available for sale on our wine trading platform

    In addition, we also post the wines for sale onto various wine websites and other wine trading platforms around the globe. 

    In addition we started sending out wine investment offers to our global investor base of seasoned wine investors who are always ready to pick up good opportunities in the fine wine market. 

    Because of the meticulous care we take of your wines, by conducting regular audits and reports on your wine to check the condition of the cases and bottles, it allows us to guarantee excellent storage history, and condition (provenance).  This adds value to your wines and is a strong selling point for any potential buyer, wine dealer or merchant.

    We also have an excellent reputation in the market which has kept us in business for the last 19 years.  The wine market, simply trusts our brand and have no problem buying your wines through us.

    There is no shortage in marketing efforts when offering your wine for sale to the rest of the world.  If you ever have a situation where you are selling a wine and the wine is not sold. It is always about the price. 

    We are introducing an additional benefit to our service called managed portfolio, where we will price check the market and instantly make any price adjustments without disturbing you, (much faster than you would be able to do yourself). This will enable you to sell a wine quicker and more effectively. 

    Getting out of an investment is just as important as getting into one. 

    The post How do we sell your wines? appeared first on Invest into Wine.

  • Wine Book Review: Redrawing the World Wine Map
    15 October 2019

    Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, The World Atlas of Wine 8th edition. Mitchell Beazley, 2019.

    The notion that we must redraw the world wine map comes up a lot. Climate change is redrawing the map — you’ve heard this before, haven’t you? And I’ve written about how globalization is redrawing the world wine map. And money — changing consumer patterns across the globe and among generations — is changing things, too.

    The Great Convergence

    The idea that we must redraw the wine map is easy to talk about, but actually doing it turns out to be devilishly difficult. But that’s the task that Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson, and their team of expert collaborators set for themselves in the revisions that produced this 8th edition of The World Atlas of Wine. It’s quite an achievement.

    Robinson discusses the challenge in her introduction to the weighty volume. A couple of decades ago it seemed like wine was on the path to global homogenization, she writes, with wine production everywhere converging on a few marketable varieties and even fewer popular styles. I think the rise of efficient international bulk wine transport put a premium on sameness — more market opportunities if your Chilean wine can seamlessly substitute for California or Australia juice.

    Cool is Hot

    I won’t say that the convergence has stopped, but there’s been a reaction to it that focuses on differences and highlights indigenous grape varieties and traditional wine-making styles. Climate change and scientific research have altered wine’s physical domain, pushing grapevines into unexpected places. Tasmania and England are hot, attracting lots of attention and investment, precisely because they are cool — cool-climate, that is.

    It might once have been possible to think about wine in terms of old world and new world, but today’s map is more of a tapestry, with global elements interwoven with exciting local developments. How can this dynamic be captured in a wine atlas? There are a couple of obvious approaches and I think Johnson and Robinson have chosen the best and most difficult one for this book.

    The Great Revision

    So how do you redraw a world wine atlas? One approach I have seen to updating a big book makes heavy use of text boxes and call-outs. The bulk of the text gets a once-over-lightly revision, while the new material is patched into using the boxes. This makes the new material easy to spot and updating the book the next time is basically updating the boxes. This saves time and money, but the result is necessarily uneven if only because some topics need a lot of updating and others less so, but the editorial format often calls for equal numbers of box opportunities.

    Much harder to do — so hard with a 400+ page book that it is almost crazy — is to rewrite everything taking the dynamic elements fully into account. That, of course, is what we have in this 8th edition. The changes are not always obvious because they have been seamlessly integrated, but they are there on every page.

    Literally Redrawing the Map

    Inevitably, this process means that the maps at the core of any atlas have to change. All 230 of them (!) have been updated as necessary and 20 new maps drawn (plus new 3-D maps and soil maps). Seven regions get their own entries for the first time: Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel, British Columbia, St. Helena (Napa Valley), Brazil, and Uruguay. 

    You might think the challenge of a 416-page atlas is to fill the space, but the reality is just the opposite. There’s an emphasis of economy and selectivity throughout. Each entry is a delicate balance of breadth versus depth and, while those with specialized interests may be frustrated, I think on the whole it works pretty well. That said, I’d love to see even more detail about China (which was allocated an addition page in this revision), since the wine world’s center of gravity is slowly shifting in that direction.

    Bottom Line

    The new 8th edition of the World Atlas of Wine is a great achievement. Highly recommended.

  • New Release – Penfolds St. Henri 2016, 6×75, £324, 98 Points
    10 October 2019

    Following our release this morning, which has been met with feverish demand, we have decided to release the highly anticipated St. Henri 2016 this afternoon. The 2016 is a staggeringly good St. Henri, one of the finest in their history. It has been awarded 98 points from James Suckling, his joint highest ever, stating it is ‘so long and pure. Silky and elegant. A real masterpiece, taking its place among the finest vintages like 2010, 1990 and 1971.’ Indeed, Joe Czerwinski from The Wine Advocate awards it 96 points, also declaring that ‘the 2016 St Henri Shiraz is one of the finest St Henri’s I’ve ever tasted, rivalling the likes of the 1986 or 1976.’ It is priced today on release at £324 per case of six, which offers brilliant value for one of Australia’s finest wines.

    St. Henri vies with Grange for pole position on the points scale, which at 1/7 of the price is remarkable. St Henri has risen to become one of the most highly sought-after wines on release, which is not surprising given its quality. It truly does compete with Grange, but diverges stylistically, Grange embodies the masculine, while St Henri personifies more elegance and subtlety, but it retains strength, in a classical way. It depends on what mood you are in, but the price differentiation between St Henri and Grange, or the leading Northern Rhone wines for that matter such as Guigal’s La Las or Jaboulet’s La Chapelle is startling. Our release price today of £324 per case of six allows access to what we believe to be one of the world’s finest Syrah dominant wines for under £55 a bottle. In fact, we find St Henri synthesises the Old and New World, offering an almost Neolithic minerality, combined with gorgeous purity of fruit and elegance.

    The history of Penfolds Grange and St Henri presents two competing styles, designed to complement each other. In the 1950s the Australian wine industry was largely trying to make dry red wine out of very raw materials, using grapes cultivated for port style wine production. Penfolds embarked on a project to create world class wines, engaging their winemakers to do something different; two winemakers broke the mould, Max Schubert and John Davoren. In 1951 Schubert created an experimental wine by bottling Shiraz after fermenting in American oak, he called it Grange Hermitage. However, at the same time Davoren was tasked with fashioning St Henri, created deliberately to challenge Penfolds Grange (then Hermitage Grange) by juxtaposing it; where Grange was viewed as polemical, St. Henri was designed to use conventional winemaking techniques. Davoren worked painstakingly throughout the 1950s and in 1957 ordained the first vintage.

    Stylistically, since the 1990s, Penfolds St Henri has once again cemented itself as the highly efficacious counterpoint to Grange, a completely alternative expression of Shiraz. Unusually for Aussie Shiraz, St. Henri does not depend on new oak, being matured in old 1,460 litre vats, which encourages the wine to display the fantastic fruit concentration that is derived from the vineyard’s old vines. Shiraz makes up the lion share of St Henri, although some Cabernet Sauvignon is added to improve the structure. The wine has the potential to improve for 30 years in bottle. It is extremely complex, with high notes of eucalyptus, lavender, graphite cocoa and mint. Its layers unfold to express dried fig, mocha, coffee and delightful notes of soya sauce and sweet spice. All this is wrapped up in toast, cedar, leather, smoke and finishes with an incredible praline note.

    St. Henri is incredibly age-worthy and our strong advice is to buy it every year. It will reward you in terms of investment and stunning future drinking, at a fraction of the price of Grange.

    To buy this wine please click here

  • New Release – Penfolds Grange 2015, 6×75, £2,070, 100 Points & Penfolds Bin 389 ‘Baby Grange’ 2017, 6×75, £201, 94 Points
    10 October 2019

    We are delighted to offer two of the newest releases of the utterly brilliant Penfolds range. We begin with their flagship wine Penfolds Grange, which is also considered one of the finest wines in the world. Naturally we have chosen to release, with this, the newest vintage of ‘Baby Grange’ Bin 389 from the superb 2017 vintage. Taken together the wines are two of the best in class anywhere in the world.

    Penfolds Grange needs no introduction; it is the flagship New World wine. This year’s release is the 2015 Grange, exciting due to the outstanding quality of the vintage. This has translated to one of the finest ever critically acclaimed vintages of Grange. It has been awarded 100 points, from James Suckling, his first since the great 2010, who calls it a ‘powerhouse of concentration and complexity.’ It has been awarded 98+ from Joe Czerwinski of The Wine Advocate, a promise of its excellence, even at its nascent stage.  It is priced today at £2,070 per case of six, which is very much in line with similar scoring vintages and the average trading price of younger vintages.

    Penfolds is selected from the very best grapes taken from the best parcels and blocks in Penfold’s vast empire, each is blind tasted removing all vineyard bias, letting the wine itself do the talking. As such it is a multi-vineyard, multi-district wine. It is noteworthy at this point to say that the grapes from the leading plots that do not make it into Grange, are selected for Baby Grange, Bin 389. After this selection, one of the most exacting of any wine, anywhere, Grange gets the full treatment, with Penfolds and Peter Gago throwing all of their skills and vast resources into creating something special. It undergoes nearly two years in 100% new American oak hogshead. It is hardly surprising therefore, that it forms one of the pillars of the pantheon of the world’s finest wines.

    The Barossa Valley is famous for Shiraz; home to Penfolds Grange, the greatest New World Shiraz. The story of how it rose to such acclaim is noteworthy. In 1951 Max Schubert created an experimental wine by bottling Shiraz after fermenting in American oak, he called it Grange Hermitage. In 1956 he unveiled this polemic new wine but was immediately instructed to stop making it, fortunately, he continued in secret. In 1962, after realising its then clandestine quality Penfolds entered their Grange Hermitage into international competitions and since then it has won 50 Gold medals; today it is just known as Grange. Penfolds Grange is hugely popular in Asia which is its biggest market, benefiting from geographical proximity. In fact, Grange boasts 51 unbroken vintages and is officially listed as a Heritage Icon of South Australia. It displays extraordinary complexity, concentration and the potential to age for 40 years. It is considered among the very best wines in the world and it is the First Growth of Australia, where it reigns head and shoulders above its peers.

    Penfold’s Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz is better known or described as ‘Baby Grange’. It was also created by Max Schubert and is matured in the same barrels that held the previous vintage of Grange. It was first created in 1960 and helped to shape the reputation of Penfold’s prestige wines amongst drinkers. It is a magnificent blend that integrates the richness of Shiraz (around 45%), deriving suppleness and intensity, with the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon (approximately 55%). It represents a classic Penfold’s Grange style and identity, beautifully balancing fruit and oak.

    The 2017 ‘Baby Grange’, has been awarded 92 points from The Wine Advocate, one of its highest ever. The outstanding quality is confirmed by James Suckling who awards it 94 points, a wine he calls ‘A stallion in the cellar!’. The wine is magnificent displaying intense high notes of rosemary, dark chocolate, sweet spice, white pepper and cinnamon, powerful notes of cassis, along with black olives and figs. It even displays Pauillac-esque pencil-shavings on the nose, along with delicate cedar. For collectors that want to own Penfolds Grange but not pay £300 per bottle, ‘Baby Grange’ offers a wonderful tonic at £32 a bottle.
    Peter Gago, Penfolds eminent winemaker, is quoted as saying, “through thick and thin, across all vintages, Bin 389 always delivers – benefiting from over half a century of practice!” Its other remarkable quality, considering the price point, is its ability to age, offering two decades of pleasure.

    It is priced today at £201 per case of six, offering stunning value, which translates to a Price Over Points score (POP) of 34, a superb value offering. The price offers a 21% discount to the average trading price of others recent vintages and a 16% discount to the most recent. This therefore promises an immediate jump of 20% once released, driven by immediate global demand as can be seen from the table below.

    Bin 389 WA JS Price(6×75) POP
    2017 92 94 £201 34
    2016 91 n/a £240 44
    2015 93 96 £240 37
    2014 89 96 £250 56
    2013 91 93 £270 49
    2012 91 n/a £230 42
    2011 90+ 93 £250 50
    2010 92+ n/a £270 45
    2009 n/a n/a £300 55
    2008 91 90 £250 45
    2007 89 n/a £270 60

    The natural trading price for Bin 389 after a few years in bottle is £300 per case of six, so today’s price offers superb value on release. This is one of the world’s most compelling wines and collectors should buy this in droves, stocking up every year, it comes with our highest recommendation and is one of the finest wines in the world at this price point. Bin 389 offers brilliant value and an immediate uplift in price.

    We sell out of Penfolds Grange and Bin 389 immediately on release and are delighted to offer both today.

    To buy these wines please click here

  • Market Report October 2019
    10 October 2019

    At the start of the year we posited in our 2019 outlook report (which can be found here) that the regions we thought would garner the most appreciation in 2019 were Burgundy, Champagne, Napa and the Super Tuscans. As we embark into Q4, we thought this was a good opportunity to re-evaluate the climate and examine our predictions.

    The Liv-Ex indices are not solely comprised of investment grade wine, they are therefor not completely representative of the investment climate. It also mean that with careful selection, it is possible to outperform the indices. Below is a rebased graph demonstrating index performance since January 2018, we will now look at investment grade wines from each region and evaluate whether the trend has been beaten.

    2018 performance in Burgundy was a tough act to follow. The Burgundy 150 posted gains of 36.43% in 2018, whereas 2019 has seen a loss of 4.33%. However, it is our view that the Burgundy 150 is not representative of the Burgundy investment market as a whole. Investable Burgundy is dominated by a few producers, namely Rousseau, Roumier and Leroy. However, without doubt, the jewel in the crown is Domaine Romanee Conti. It is therefore logical to analyse their growth to gain an unobscured view of Burgundy’s performance. Since January 2018 their flagship wine DRC Romanee Conti has gained 36.10%, with the average bottle price moving from £12,411 to £16,891. This was achieved with 12.22% growth in 2019 alone. This performance obviously dwarfs that seen in the Burgundy 150. However, of the three main wines from Domaine Romanee Conti it showed the smallest growth. DRC La Tache posted 35.41% since the start of 2018 and 9.45% this year to date whereas DRC Richebourg gained 47.58% and 13.18% over the same terms. To put this in perspective, an investor who bought a three-bottle case of DRC Richebourg 20 months ago, would have been able to do so at an average price of £5,334. Today this would likely have been worth £7,143 at the start of 2019 and £7,872 today. These excellent gains are underpinned when looking at a rebased plot of DRC Romanee Conti, La Tache and Richebourg against the Burgundy 150 index over the last 20 months.

    The above is testament to the health of the investment Burgundy market. We posit that this growth is building trajectory and will continue into 2020. Burgundy therefore remains a region we advise taking positions on where possible.

    The growth observed in the Liv-Ex Italy 100 in 2018 has continued into 2019, making it the best performing index this year. Since January 2018, the index has posted gains of 10.45 % with 4.49% of this achieved in 2019 to date, rising from 284.55 to 297.32. in 2019, Sassicaia has been the best performer with average bottle prices moving from £178 in January to £208 in August. This equates to a 16.85% move in 2019 to date with a 29.19% move recorded since January 2018. Tignanello and Solaia have also enjoyed excellent growth over the 20-month term gaining 29.49% (10.99% in 2019) and 23.60% (11.11% in 2019) respectively. Ornellaia and Massesto, the other Super Tuscans, also had sterling years.

    They followed similar patterns with a small downturn towards the end of 2018. However, 2019 saw a growth spurt from both wines gaining 9.43% and 8.81% respectively. Both also had a sterling 20-month period from the start of 2018 posting gains of 19.18% and 17.32%. The magnitude in which the Super Tuscans beat the trend of the Italy 100 can be seen in the chart below. However, it is noteworthy that Tuscany has seen two exceptional back to back vintages, the 2015 and 2016 which has certainly boosted the market over the past 24 months.

    At the start of the year we projected Champagne to be among the best performing regions in 2019. This has proven correct with Champagne being the second best performing region. The Champagne 150 has risen 1.78% from 385.51 to 392.36. However, carefully selected releases from 2019 have convincingly beaten the trend. Dom Perignon 2008 released in January at £1,200 per 12 bottles and is now trading in the UK market at £1,320. An increase of 10% in under nine months. Bollinger Grand Annee 2008 has also demonstrated superb appreciation. Those who bought on release in March were able to do so at £800 per 12 bottles. The same case is now trading 20% higher at £960 less than 6 months later. Moreover examining the average prices of three of the most prestigious and investable Champagne Houses tells a similar tale. Rebasing average prices of Dom Perignon, Cristal and Krug to January 2018 demonstrate their growth. Although they do remain closer to the trend laid out by the Champagne 50 index, they have all convincingly outperformed in 2019 to date. The average bottle price of Dom Perignon, Cristal and Krug started the year at £150, £200 and £193 respectively and are currently trading at £160, £216 and £210. This equates to growth of 6.67%, 8.00% and 8.81% in 2019. These gains are impressive but the performance has been helped by the release of the 2008 vintage which is widely thought to be a modern legendary vintage. The assumption that emphasis should be placed on prestige Champagne in any investment portfolio is further strengthened when looking at the 20-month growth in the chart below.

    The Bordeaux 500 index has experienced a period of flattening, as can be seen in the chart below. However, impressive gains over the same term have been observed in the five First Growths. Since January 2018, Chateau Margaux has been the best performer with gains of 18.56% on average bottle price (5.13% in 2019), superb growth can also be seen across the other First Growths across 2018-2019 and 2019 to date with gains posted of 13.36% and 6.49%, 7.39% and 5.05%, 12.71% and 5.46% and 11.81% and 4.07% from Haut Brion, Lafite, Mouton Rothschild and Latour respectively. It is noteworthy the downturn observed at the end of 2018 running through the early parts of 2019. This started the flat period seen in the Bordeaux 500 running through to today, whereas the more robust First Growths were able to kick the downturn and post growth in the months following. It is for this reason that we posit investment grade Bordeaux has now become a stock pickers market.

    The top wines of the Napa Valley are relative newcomers to the investment forum, the most prominent of them being Screaming Eagle who only produced their first vintage in 1992. However, after receiving 100-point scores across the board on their debut, Napa’s status as an investment region was truly cemented. Since then it has gone from strength to strength and 2019 has been no different.

     After a small lull in growth observed towards the end of 2018, the main investable wines from Napa, namely Screaming Eagle, Scarecrow, Opus One and Harlan, have enjoyed average bottle price growth of 2.66%, 5,49%, 9.45% and 7.92% respectively. They continue to be a wise inclusion in any investment portfolio.

    Broad Overview
    Paying less attention to the indices and taking a more holistic view of the fine wine market shows the trend running back to the start of 2002 painting a promising picture. The plot above allows us to see the gains observed in the Liv-Ex 100 compared to traditional markets. The Liv-Ex 100 has consistently outperformed the capital appreciation seen in the FTSE 100, Nikkei 225 and Dow Jones Industrial Average.

    These markets have long been considered wise investments to park funds and accrue appreciation. However, had capital been placed in the components of the Liv-Ex 100 over the same period, larger gains could have been achieved. From the plot, the only two that generated higher appreciation than fine wine was Brent Crude Oil and Gold. This is not surprising, but the erratic nature of these commodities makes them a riskier investment, as can be seen in the chart. It can therefore be concluded that of the more stable investments, fine wine has garnered the highest appreciation.

    To cement the premise that fine wine can generate above average returns with a considerably lower risk profile, a Risk vs Reward plot can be found below. This is created by plotting the Annualised Compound Return against Risk (Annualised Standard Deviation). Several conclusions can be drawn from this. Namely, the lower risk profile found in fine wines is clear, the tight grouping of all the fine wine indices at the lower end of the X-axis demonstrates that fine wine consistently shows a risk factor of between 5% and 10%. Considerably lower than that found in the other markets which range from 13% (FTSE 100) to 29.9% (Brent Crude Oil). When coupled with the observed Annualised Compound Returns where the fine wine indices, aside from the Rhone 100, beat all the traditional markets aside from Gold and Brent Crude Oil in some instances, the conclusion is clear. For considerable above average returns and the lowest risk profile, fine wine investment is the best documented vehicle for steady, capital appreciation.

    A final point of note is the current affairs issue coming into view. Namely the proposed introduction of a 25% tariff on various good produced in the EU by the US. The list of included goods is vast, but most relevant is the inclusion of French wine. The tariffs have been proposed for retaliation to the ongoing tensions between the EU and US over the aircraft manufacturer Airbus. Whether the tariffs come to fruition remains to be seen but there is talk of an implementation date as soon as 18th October. The ramifications on the wine industry are twofold; it will create a lessening of demand for French wines in the US whilst simultaneously propping up the US wine market as consumers look inwards for an alternative good to replace their now more expensive French bottles and perhaps invigorating demand for the wines of other EU countries, such as Italy, whose wines were curiously not included in the tariffs.

    Looking solely at the Liv-Ex indices gives a warped perception of the fine wine market. When looking at the finest wines of the world, deemed worthy of investment, positive growth has been seen throughout in 2019. Our predictions from the start of the year have held with the four regions all outperforming Bordeaux. Below is a chart of the average figures of the

    baskets discussed rebased to January 2018. It confirms that Burgundy, Napa, Tuscany and Champagne have all had sterling years. Whereas Bordeaux saw contraction in Q1 followed by growth in Q2 and Q3. Our outlook has been vindicated and remains unchanged, we advise greater emphasis on these four regions in any investment portfolio and although excellent growth can be found in the wines of Bordeaux, it tends to be at the apex of the region’s wines. It therefore remains a stock pickers marker for investment which we anticipate will continue for the next 12-14 months.

  • Chateau Pavie delivers probably the best harvest lunch ever!
    08 October 2019

    Chateau Pavie’s 100-point 2010 vintage was the top price performer with Sassicaia 2015 on Liv-ex in September; both seeing over 5 per cent growth in the month. A fine time to be visiting the St Emilion Grand Cru Classe A estate with our clients.

    Wine Vintage August 2019


    September 2019


    Change +
    Sassicaia 2015 £1,795 £1888 5.2%
    Pavie 2010 £2,950 £3,100 5.1%
    Leoville Las Cases 2005 £2,000 £2,080 4.0%
    Ornellaia 2013 £1,200 £1,243 3.5%
    La Mission Haut Brion 2009 £4,350 £4,500 3.4%

    Source: 02.10.2019

    Delighted to be back at Chateau Pavie, we joined our host, CEO of Vignobles Perse, Philippe Develay and his team with the intention of witnessing the 2019 harvest in full flow. As it turned out, it was a rainy day in St Emilion and all the vineyards were on hold for their Merlot and Cabernet pickers. Not to worry – our ‘bucolic picque-nique’ amidst the vines was transferred to the extremely exclusive Pavie Residences – a suite of beautiful rooms whose renovation has been personally managed by Madame Perse. There, we enjoyed a magnificent lunch with views out over the Pavie vineyard and  the Chateau towards the plain of St Emilion.

    And what a lunch! Created and served by the Michelin-starred Hostellerie de Plaisance team, the accompanying wines were the Perse-owned, sublimely sophisticated white Chateau Monbousquet 2012 and the magnificent  Chateau Pavie 2007, 2012 and 2012 vintages. It goes without saying that this was an extraordinary experience for us all and probably the best harvest lunch ever!

    Chateau Pavie 2002, 2007, 2012

    Philippe provided a superb explanation of the history of Chateau Pavie and as we savoured the 2012 Monbousquet, he provided an almost impossible to get experience. He produced two bottles of the embryonic Monbousquet 2019, from the newly filled vats. It was fascinating to be given this incredibly rare insight to the wine production of one of these truly special vineyards.

    Chateau Monbousquet was the first vineyard acquired by Gerard Perse in 1993, prior to his purchase of Chateau Pavie in 1998. As you may know, the St Emilion AOC rules forbid the production of white wine, so any such are not classed as St Emilion wines.

    The Pavie 2007 was excellent, now twelve years old and drinking beautifully, the 2002 demonstrated the character of a mature Pavie superbly, but the 2012 was magnificent. A great wine still building its story in the bottle and one that will still benefit from at least several more years ageing. It was a privilege to enjoy these great wines with perfectly paired cuisine, with excellent company, sat in the grounds of the vineyard itself.

    Following lunch, we explored the Pavie terroir by tuk-tuk,  in which we ambled though the terraces and vines to witness the unique geology and elevations of the Pavie estate to the highest point in St Emilion, from which we overlooked the magnificent old town. We were guided through the winery and barrel cellars by Elodie who provided a highly engaging and informative explanation of the wine-making art at Chateau Pavie and probably the highlight of the day, was to meet Mr and Madame Perse themselves. 

    The 2017 and ’18 vintages were lined up in barrels across the cellar and the vats will now be brimming with the Pavie 2019 Merlot and Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc grapes – we will be providing a commentary on this soon.

    There is no doubt about the value of visiting these great producers of the wine our clients own and our guests in St Emilion have all expressed their appreciation of this special day with Chateau Pavie and we thank the team there and at Hostellerie de Plaisance for their wonderful hospitality.

    You can see images from our day with Chateau Pavie and, if you are interested in learning more about opportunities to visit the great Chateaux of Bordeaux and other wine producing regions, please contact Katie or Mary-Anne on 0207 384 2261.

    The post Chateau Pavie delivers probably the best harvest lunch ever! appeared first on Vin-X.

Wine Blogs

23 October 2019

Wine Blogs
  • Theme of Recreation Lives on at Château de Nervers
    23 October 2019
    The theme of recreation still does live on at Château de Nervers, all while they are making world-class wines. I was touring with a media group, this past July, in Odenas, Brouilly, France, at guests of owners Jean-Benoit Chabannes and his charmingly delightful wife Tiphaine de Chabannes, at their château. (SEE MAP BELOW: Odenas is […]
  • Behind the Scenes: A Wine Writer’s Life
    23 October 2019

    Introduction When I attend a social event that’s outside the wine industry and I’m asked about my job, I often joke that I drink for a living. After I clarify that I write about wine, I usually get questions about what exactly that involves and some misconceptions about drinking Champagne all day in between planning luxe trips to Tuscany and Napa Valley. However, it’s not all beer and Skittles, rainbows and unicorns. On today’s episode of Unreserved Wine Talk, I thought that since there’s always been quite a bit of curiousity about what I do, I’ll take you behind the […]

    The post Behind the Scenes: A Wine Writer’s Life appeared first on Natalie MacLean.

  • 2018 Masottina Rive di Ogliano Prosecco Superiore Conegliano Valdobbiadene Extra Dry
    23 October 2019
  • 2017 Biancavigna Rive di Soligo Prosecco Superiore Conegliano Valdobbiadene Zero Dosaggio
    23 October 2019
  • The Romance of Friuli’s Zorzettig
    23 October 2019

    There is no better place to grow white wines in Italy than Friuli.

    Friuli Venezia Giulia is the full name of the region of Friuli. Friuli, as the region is most commonly called is renowned for its white wines.   Its borders are adjacent to Slovenia at its west side, Austria to the north, the Adriatic Sea to the south and Veneto to the east. It is this significant region in that it produces fragrant, vibrant white wines almost effortlessly.

    Read more at: The Wine Siren by Kelly Mitchell.

  • The Future of Market Access for Brewers and Distillers —and Wineries Too
    23 October 2019

    There is an unusual collaboration and coherence among America’s alcohol beverage producers at this moment when it comes to politics. Just about everyone, from distillers to brewers to wineries—of every size—are lobbying federal lawmakers seeking an extension or permanent status to the current federal alcohol excise tax. It’s about the money, as it usually is. I don’t have a strong opinion on the propriety of making permanent the lower federal alcohol excise tax rate arrived at two years ago. However,...

    The post The Future of Market Access for Brewers and Distillers —and Wineries Too appeared first on Fermentation.

  • Essential ingredients: parsnips
    22 October 2019
    Photograph: Joe Woodhouse
    In our monthly spotlight on seasonal ingredients, our Head Chef Stewart Turner puts parsnips centre stage – and we suggest what to drink alongside his vegetarian feast

    I’m often asked which of the seasons is my favourite in terms of produce, and I’m always stumped for an answer, because they each have their own distinctive ingredients. Although most things are now available all year (as they are in season somewhere in the world!), I think that seasonality is important, not just because the ingredients are at their best, without having travelled halfway round the world, but also because it pushes us to look at different produce periodically and keep innovating.

    As we move into the autumn and early winter, it’s all about the game, squash and roots. Root vegetables come in such an amazing array of colours and textures; I feel that they add such a palette of colours to our dishes when the weather can sometimes be a bit grey.

    Parsnips are one of my favourites. They are such a versatile vegetable and take on flavour so well. As a fully fledged carnivore, I often feel that I have to work especially hard to come up with really interesting and comparable dishes for our vegetarian guests. This dish is from our current menus; we normally make individual ones and incorporate parsnips in different preparations, but to simplify things I’ve just made a large one.

    Spiced parsnip pastilla with pomegranate dressingServes 4 to 6
    • 1kg parsnips – peeled, core removed and roughly chopped
    • 1 tbsp ras el hanout
    • 1 tbsp ground cumin
    • I pinch of saffron
    • 250g young spinach
    • 2 onions – peeled and finely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves – peeled and finely chopped
    • 50g toasted pistachio nuts
    • 2 tbsp coriander – chopped
    • 1 tbsp chives – chopped
    • 6 large sheets of filo pastry
    • 100g butter – melted
    • 1 large pinch of sumac
    • Olive oil
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper
    • Parsnips crisps (optional – see separate recipe below)

    Preheat the oven to 160°C. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, pan-fry the chopped parsnips until lightly golden. Transfer to a baking tray and bake in the oven until tender (about 15 to 20 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

    Heat another splash of oil in the pan. Cook the onion and garlic over a medium heat for about five minutes, until soft and lightly browned. Add the ras el hanout and cumin, and cook the mixture for a further two or three minutes. Mix in the spinach leaves and allow to wilt, then drain well.

    Combine the cooked parsnips with the onion and spinach mixture. Add the chopped herbs, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, then mix in the saffron and pistachio nuts. Set aside.

    To assemble the pastilla, butter a large ovenproof dish. Brush a sheet of filo liberally with melted butter and drape it over the dish, gently pushing into the sides without tearing. Repeat with another sheet of filo, this time placing it at a right angle to the first. Add two more sheets placing them on the diagonal.

    Spoon the filling into the centre of the pastry. Fold the pastry back over the filling, starting with the last piece to be laid and finishing with the first, so that it’s completely covered. Butter the two remaining pieces of filo and cut them to fit the dish. Place over the top of the pastilla, tucking in the sides.

    Bake the in the oven for about 20 minutes until the pastry is a crisp and golden brown. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, before finishing with a good pinch of sumac and – if using – the parsnip crisps.

    Pomegranate dressing

    • 2 pomegranates
    • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
    • 1 clove garlic – crushed
    • 1 pinch of cumin seeds – toasted
    • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
    • 2 tbsp Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar
    • 75ml olive oil
    • 50g toasted pine nuts – lightly broken
    • 1 small bunch of chives – finely chopped

    Deseed the pomegranate over a bowl, catching all the juice. Retain half the pomegranate seeds. Put the remaining seeds in a blender with any juice and pass the resulting mixture through a sieve. Place in a pan with the garlic and cumin, and boil over a high heat until reduced by half.

    Pass into a bowl discarding the garlic and cumin. Whisk in the mustard, molasses and vinegar, then slowly add the oil, whisking as you do. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in the reserved pomegranate seeds and pine nuts. Cover and set aside until required.

    Parsnip crisps

    • 2 parsnips – peeled then cut into thin strips using the peeler
    • 500ml sunflower oil
    • 1 tsp curry powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt

    Preheat the oil in a deep fat fryer to 160°C. Mix together the curry powder and salt. Fry the parsnip slices in the hot oil until golden brown, stirring continuously so you get an even colour. Remove from the fryer and place on kitchen towel to drain. While still warm, season with the curry salt.

    What to drink: The sweetness of parsnips demands a similarly sweet fruit core to the wine on hand, which will also help handle the Middle Eastern spices. For reds, look for a juicy Zinfandel – which will combine the requisite fruit and spice (such as Bedrock’s Whole Shebang), or a vibrant Côtes du Rhône (try this from Domaine Dieu-le-Fit). Equally, fuller styles of white would work here too: off-dry Pinot Gris (Alsace would be the classic choice, but why not try this Kiwi one) could be beautiful, while a richer style of Chenin Blanc from South Africa would have the weight to balance the flavours, and enough zing to keep things fresh (like this one from Vincent Carême).

  • Sparkling Wine Hideaway
    22 October 2019
    Roederer in the Anderson Valley

    When wine country travelers think of California sparkling wine, Domaine Carneros, Mumm Napa, and Schramsberg come to mind. All of these are in the Napa Valley. An excellent alternate choice is the Roederer Estate in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County. It is off the radar for most sparkling wine lovers, but the rewards for the traveler are many. Roederer Estate in Anderson Valley is the California home for the historic Champagne house of Louis Roederer. The 200-year-old French winery of the Roederer Family branched out 35 years ago to establish a sparkling wine house in California. The Anderson Valley environment was the perfect spot for sparkling wine grapes.

    The Roederer Estate Experience

    Unlike the Napa Valley, the tasting room fees and wine by the glass are very reasonably priced. A tasting fee of $10 a person will provide the tasting of six wines. The tasting includes four Roederer sparkling wines and a taste of their estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

    Visitor-friendly Roederer Estate tasting room in the Anderson Valley

    The sparkling wine is served in a Champagne flute, the still wines in lovely wine glasses. There are no skimpy pours at Roederer. Adequate wine is poured to savor and contemplate the character of the wines. The tasting room staff is very cordial and visitor friendly. There is no uppity wine-speak here.

    The tasting room is high on a hill, affording beautiful views of the Anderson Valley. Visitors can sit in the tasting room or outside in the winery’s patio to enjoy the views. It is a very relaxing experience.

    The Anderson Valley has the ideal climate for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Alsatian grapes. Head to other nearby wineries to learn more about Anderson Valley wines. We recommend Navarro Vineyards, Handley and Husch. Another sparkling winery to visit is Scharffenberger.

    Open dailyWine Trails, Restaurants, Dining in the Anderson Valley

    The post Sparkling Wine Hideaway appeared first on Wine Country Getaways.

  • Best LCBO Wine Reviews: Vintages Ratings October 26
    22 October 2019

    You can access the 103 wines that I reviewed as a text wine list with my complete tasting notes, scores, food matches. If you are a Paid Member, you can add my wine picks to your custom shopping list with one click and access that list on your smartphone to find the stock for each wine in your closest LCBO store. You can also see my wine reviews for October 12, 2019 These are just some of the benefits of supporting out wine community as a Paid Member. Inventory stock numbers are usually posted online a day or two before […]

    The post Best LCBO Wine Reviews: Vintages Ratings October 26 appeared first on Natalie MacLean.

  • The Willamette Valley wine pioneers – legends of the wine industry
    22 October 2019

    I have the good fortune of meeting lots of winemakers. I have met some of the icons in the industry, people who helped establish their regions and set trends. But, when I was in the Willamette Valley as part of the Wine Writers Educational Tour, we attended a seminar with the Willamette Valley wine pioneers. This was not just a discussion of the people or a tasting of their wines but they, the original wine pioneers of the Willamette Valley, were there. It was not lost on me how legendary this panel was. These are the people who built the Willamette Valley and they shared their stories which I wrote about in the Napa Valley Register and you can read here.

    “It takes a village to raise a child. This is my village and I am the kid,” declared Jason Lett as he welcomed a group of wine writers to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Jason’s father, David Lett, first saw the potential of Pinot Noir in Oregon.

    A Utah native, David Lett moved to San Francisco for dental school in 1963 and was introduced to Napa Valley. He decided instead to study viticulture at UC Davis and after graduating, he moved to Oregon. According to Willamette Valley Wine, Pinot Noir was the first post-Prohibition vitis vinifera variety planted in the north Willamette Valley and the reason Lett came to Oregon. After studying the geography and climate of western Oregon, he had an idea of what would do well in the cool climate. Lett planted his vines in the Dundee Hills, establishing the Eyrie Vineyard, and produced his first wine in 1970.

    As Jason spoke about his father, he sat alongside Richard and Nancy Ponzi, David Adelsheim, Harry Peterson-Nedry and Susan Sokol-Blosser.

    Sitting together on one panel were the legends of the Willamette Valley. They are the real pioneers of the wine industry. It was the vision, the passion, the hard work and the dedication of the people sitting in front of me that the Willamette Valley, Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2016 Wine Region of the Year, is here today. This was the village that raised Jason Lett.

    Richard and Nancy Ponzi co-founded Ponzi Vineyards in 1970. They had moved from northern California with the intention of growing Pinot Noir. Richard was a lead engineer making rides for Disneyland and they had three small children. But they had a spirit for adventure and a love for Burgundy and took the risk. “it is fun to talk about now, but it was risky,” Nancy explained. “We just hoped we could make some wine, sell it and send our kids to college. We never thought it would be a billion-dollar industry.”

    Bill Blosser and Susan Sokol both graduated from Sanford University in 1966 with liberal arts degrees and the idea that they could do anything with their degrees. In 1970, with no agriculture training and no viticulture training, they moved to a place that no one knew of (Willamette Valley) and planted a grape, Pinot Noir, that was of little popularity. They cleared the land, planted vines, built a home and winery on the property and in 1977 produced their first wines.

    “On one hand, it was a miracle and on the other hand, with determination, anything can happen,” Susan said.

    David Adelsheim and his first wife, Ginny, also graduated with liberal arts degrees and wanted to move away from Portland. Having never lived outside of a city, they did not want to go too far so David drew a circle around the city on a map. He had heard that wine grapes had been planted outside the city, so he went looking. He drove over the Chehalem mountains and stopped man to ask if he had heard if anyone had planted grapes. It was Dick Erath who had moved with his family from California to Oregon in 1968, planting on Chehalem Ridge. He established Erath Vineyards in the Dundee Hills, and in 1972 produced his first commercial wines. David and Ginny purchased their first 19 acres in 1972 just outside of Newberg, Oregon, and in 1978 established Adelsheim, the first winery in the Chehalem Mountains.

    Harry Peterson-Nedry purchased land to establish Ridgecrest Vineyards in what would later become part of the Ribbon Ridge AVA in 1980. His first bottle of wine was released in 1990 under Chehalem Winery, the winery he founded.

    There were maybe 10 families making wine in the Willamette Valley before 1980. When each of these Willamette Valley pioneers came to the valley, they did not come with a pocketful of money. They came with dreams and optimism.

    “There were only a handful of us,” Richard Ponzi explained. “We had to teach ourselves how to plant, how to make wine and then sell it. We were not farmers. There was only one farmer in our group. A few of us were engineers.”

    David Adelsheim continued, “One of us had grown up in a family that grew apples and another had made wine for Louis Martini for three years. But none of us had run a business or sold wine or planted grapes and all but one had never made wine. Why are we here to today with that type of a beginning?”

    The answer is collaboration and passion. They traveled to Europe and they read books, and they worked together. They would meet in an old firehouse once a month and share notes discussing what they should do and how they should do it.

    “The exchange between people was the sharing of equipment,” Richard said. “There was so much happening at that time.”

    Susan Sokol Blosser added, “We are all competitive; it is a competitive market and we have to work hard to sell our wine. But these were the old days where the wine industry fit in a living room. We wrote the book on how to grow grapes in Oregon. No one had money. We had to work together.”

    It was not one person or one thing that defined the development and success of the Willamette Valley. The success is based on what Harry Peterson-Nedry described as “the whole idea of collaboration, the initial people and general principled approached of always improving. We never let the standard stay where it is, but rather pushed ourselves.”

    Each of the winemakers agreed that it was not always peaceful, and they did argue over the years. But they are family. And they shared the common desire of wanting to make good wine.

    “Oregon has the greatest degree of seriousness of any new region because of the single-mindedness of the venture that each person brought forward in the 1970s,” Jason Lett said. Today there are more than 500 wineries in the Willamette Valley. And the children of these Willamette Valley pioneers have returned to continue what their families had begun. Richard and Nancy Ponzi’s daughters, Anna Maria and Luisa, run the family winery today. Susan Sokol Blosser and Bill Blosser’s three children — Alex, Alison and Nik — are involved in their family’s winery. David Adelsheim’s daughter, Elizabeth, works in the wine industry and Harry Peterson-Nedry’s daughter Wynne Peterson-Nedry is the winemaker for the family’s RR Winery as well as winemaker for 00 Wines. And Jason Lett is the winemaker at The Eyrie Vineyards, which his father started.

    “It is a profound honor to continue [what our parents started],” Jason said.

    Read the original story in the Napa Valley Register.

wine podcast

23 October 2019

wine podcast
  • Discussing Climate Change & Sustainability in Napa Valley with Dan Petroski
    23 October 2019
    Dan Petroski is the winemaker of Larkmead Vineyards and the founder & winemaker of Massican.

    Recently, Dan spoke on a panel regarding climate change and sustainability in relation to the global wine industry. Leaving me with more questions, we sat down to chat about the effects of climate change on Napa Valley specifically, with a focus on the benchmarking and data gathering that Larkmead has been doing to assess things like growing degree days in detail, and how Napa Valley is evolving into Zone 5 climatic conditions. We also discuss the affects of alternative packing and how that crosses over in the marketing & customer perception. Then we dig into how Dan is preparing for the potential major effects of climate change with a 21 year plan for testing other grape varietals that might possibly be more viable in the long-term.

    For those who do not know Dan, I encourage you to go back and list to my original interview with him where we discussed being the winemaker of Larkmead Vineyards in Calistoga, California and the founder & winemaker of Massican, Dan’s all white wine label making beautiful expressions of Italian based white wines like a Pinot Grigio & Greco blend called Gemina.

    In this episode we mention… Larkmead Vineyards Sustainability Winkler Index for wine growing climatic Zones The Definition of Zone 5 on the Winkler Index Torres & Jackson Family Climate Change Action Group Napa Valley Grape Growers (Dan is on the Board) Napa Valley Vintners Association Brief history of Larkmead grape growing FOLLOW DAN ON... INSTAGRAM


    Our podcast today is sponsored by the Executive MBA in Wine Business programs at Sonoma State University.

    For wine industry leaders and entrepreneurs alike the Sonoma Executive MBA programs in wine business is a game-changer. The first of their kind in the United States and developed in response to the needs of the wine industry, Sonoma State University's AACSB accredited Executive MBA programs combine globally-recognized excellence in business education with wine industry expertise.

    Their alumni are leaders at elite wine brands around the world. Students have access to an unparalleled network of wine industry scholars, practitioners, and classmates. The programs offer experiential learning through an immersive 4-day leadership sailing weekend in San Diego Bay and in-country consulting projects during a 12-day international business trip. Market-responsive courses are held in the Wine Spectator Learning Center, an innovative learning space gilded with advanced technology and flexible learning classrooms. Applications for the 2020 Sonoma Executive MBA in Wine Business cohort are accepted through February 28th. Visit for more information, to speak with an admissions counselor, or to RSVP for an information session. Follow us on social media @sonomasbe.

  • Ep. 240 Danilo Drocco (Nino Negri Winery) on Nebbiolo Chiavennasca and Sforzato di Valtellina
    22 October 2019
    In this podcast, Monty Waldin interviews Danilo Drocco, winemaker at the Nino Negri winery near Sondrio, in the Valtellina valley in Lombardy. Danilo tells Monty all about the Nebbiolo grape, which also goes by the local sobriquet of “Chiavennasca,” and the Valtellina terroir featuring vineyards planted on steep dry-walled terraces which date back to the Roman times (including their single vineyard Sasso Rosso) and winds such as La Breva blowing from Lake Como and contributing to drying the Chiavennasca grapes to make Sforzato. Danilo also talks about the winery which was founded in 1897 and also buys grapes from 200 local small wine growers, thus keeping the local economy alive. Danilo and Monty also discuss Nino Negri’s top wines, Valtellina Superiore and the Sfursat (or Sforzato di Valtellina), as well as the top markets for the winery. Tune in to learn more about local food matches, such as the pizzoccheri pasta and local cheese types Casera and Bitto!
  • Ep 299: Texas Wine Country with the Wineries of Texas Fine Wine
    22 October 2019

    Texas is one of the oldest winegrowing states in the US, with vines predating California by 100+ years. The first vineyard in North America was by Franciscan priests circa 1660 in Texas and the industry grew throughout the 1800s. Texas is important in another way, as horticulturist Thomas Munson contributed greatly to finding the solution to  the phylloxera epidemic, which effectively saved the European wine industry from total ruin. After Prohibition decimated the industry in the 1920s, Texas jump started it's wine industry in the 1970s and today it's roaring back. Texas has 400 producers and it is growing and growing.


    Jennifer McEnnis, General Manager of Bending Branch and Ron Yates, the owner and President of Spicewood Vineyards, are part of a marketing consortium representing five of Texas’ most distinguished wineries: Bending Branch WineryBrennan VineyardsDuchman Family WineryPedernales Cellars and Spicewood Vineyards. Member wineries produce wines from Texas grapes, that try to express the terroir of Texas Hill County and the Texas High Plains.


    Here are the show notes:

    We start off talking about Texas, an area I admittedly (used to) know very little about. We cover:

    1. The breadth and depth of areas. Specifically What are the different areas/are there discreet AVAs? Where are they vis a vis the cities? We talk specifically about Texas Hill Country and the High Plains, which create premium wine in the state.
    2. We discuss the role of elevation and the similarities to other growing regions around the world (specifically the Duero in Spain, which Texas High Plains resembles).
    3. We talk extensively about climate – how it’s extremely erratic and how growing conditions here are unlike anywhere else with extreme heat, thunderstorms, hail, and unpredictable weather events that change each vintage and make winemaking a true challenge.
    4. We talk about the grapes that grow here and how over the last 5-10 years, grapes like Tannat, Tempranillo, and southern Italian varietals that are heat tolerant have thrived. We talk about why many growers in the past bought grapes from Washington State or California.
    5. We discuss some of the challenges that Texas has faced with the anti-alcohol lobby and how that has been overcome.


    Then we discuss the 5 wineries of Texas Fine Wine and their goals of making excellent wine that is known outside of just Texas. Jennifer discusses Bending Branch(if you’re curious, here’s info on cryomaceration (extreme version of cold maceration)and flash détente, that she references!) Ron talks about Spicewoodand then we discuss Duchman,Brennan, and Pedernalesand their styles.  


    We wrap by talking about the bright future of Texas wine!


    Don't forget to order your Wine For Normal People book today!!


    Thanks to our sponsors this week:

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    Last Bottle   

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  • Riesling
    21 October 2019

    Three interviews with producers of Riesling: Chateau Ste. Michelle Winemaker David Rosenthal, Katharina Prüm of Joh. Jos. Prüm, and Jean-Frederic Hugel.

  • NZ Wine Podcast 57: Malcolm Rees-Francis - Rockburn Wines
    21 October 2019

    Malcolm Rees-Francis is the Winemaker at Rockburn Wines in the Central Otago. We chat about being born into a South Canterbury sheep-farming family and his studies and travels that led him to be making wine today.
    Music track featured on this podcast: ‘Kuaz’ – courtesy of Brent Page

  • Podcast #353-Victoria Angove, Angove Family Winemakers, McLaren Vale, Australia
    21 October 2019
    The very best thing any wine lover can do is to taste wines from all over the world. You should never limit your self. A great example of unexplored territory for many people is Australian Wines. It’s not just about Shiraz. These wines are also an exceptional value. We were in Chicago for the “Far [...]
  • Vino Lingo-Victoria Angove, Angove Family Winemakers, McLaren Vale, Australia
    21 October 2019
    Listen to Victoria Angove of Angove Family Winemakers give her definition of the term “Long Game”
  • Ep73: Lovin' Lovino
    20 October 2019

    We love Sangria. Wine combined with fruit…what’s not to love?! So we were tickled when we found out that an awesome Sangria was practically being made in our backyard! This episode we had the pleasure of sitting down with Jennifer Clearwater, owner and CEO of Lovino Sangria which is made right here in our own state of Wisconsin (from California grapes no less). Listen in and learn the background behind Jennifer’s passion project and how Lovino came to be! Trust us, this isn’t your typical bottled Sangria and it isn’t your typical story. Grab a glass with your favorite wine girls (or boys) and drink the Lovino way; that is, shared with friends and preferably around an open fire (listening to DBP of course)!

    As Jennifer says, “Dream big and make the impossible happen!”

    Listen on Apple PodcastsGooglePlay, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and other podcast-listening platforms.

  • Two Guys Talking Wine – Episode 163
    19 October 2019

    We take on another 6 bottles of wine blind with friend of the podcast Thomas Bachelder.

    The post Two Guys Talking Wine – Episode 163 appeared first on Andre Wine Review.

  • Introducing...John Fucking Caldwell
    19 October 2019

    Now a guy who calls himself John Fucking Caldwell is likely to be brash...probably be a risk taker, and likely one of a kind. In John's case, yes, he could be described by each of those descriptors, as well as pleasant, inventive, philanthropic, and one who can make the best of a situation. So it may come as no surprise that he's the kind of person who would consider, and accomplish, smuggling grapevines into the U.S. And that's just half of the story. Join us in his kitchen in south Napa Valley as John shares the compelling tale he's told many times...because it's one worth hearing.