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Expectations | Burgundy 2015

2015 has been hailed as an exceptional vintage across France. So far this year it has been touted as one of the best in Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley, with perhaps the latter slightly eclipsing the former in consistency, but both offering some stunning wines. We will be visiting Burgundy next week to get the measure of the vintage but it’s worth taking a moment to evaluate what we think we know.

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Port Ellen

Investing in Whisky

As investors are becoming more and more wine-savvy, there is a natural inclination to look elsewhere for new opportunities. Every class and category of whisk(e)y is seeing unprecedented demand and as a result, sales are soaring globally. Not just in traditional markets such as Europe, North America and Japan, but also elsewhere in Asia, Africa and South America with clamour particularly high for prestige bottles.

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Portugal

Portugal: An Island with Two Sides

I have just returned from my inaugural trip to Portugal, a wine producing country of which I (and most I would imagine) knew relatively little about beyond the sweeties we love to consume with stilton. The general expectation was of tradition over modernity, and this is certainly true, but there are quiet innovations taking place in cellars and vineyards throughout. Though I am no geography expert, I am well aware that Portugal is not an island, but it certainly feels more far removed from the rest of Europe than its 2 firmly landlocked sides would suggest. First of all, the language… most well-travelled individuals can generally muddle their way through the language of another European country, when an announcement comes on in the Gare du Nord or Madrid airport you can usually decipher at least the overall nature of it. Portuguese, however, is halting and furious, sounding more like something from further East. It is disorienting to not leave the time zone and yet be so confounded by what is being said around you.

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caro

The Art of Collaboration

With the recent release of the 2013 vintage of Caro, it is easy to see how successful this collaboration between two of the world’s most famous wineries has been over the years. Consistent high-scores, high-demand and always fast to sell-out, it is proof of the value of cooperation in wine.

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Cellar

How To keep Wine At Home

If you were to do a google image search of wine cellars you’ll see all kinds of grandeur, from modern, bespoke Spiral Cellars to mediaeval-looking dungeons fitted out with cast iron racks. For all this variety there are basic elements that all good cellars share: consistent temperature, darkness and reasonable humidity. As we all know, wine cellars are generally underground because this is the only place these conditions occur naturally. In an urban setting, it’s not so common to have access to an underground cellar and if you’re in a high-rise flat or apartment, there’s no chance. So how do you make sure your prized bottles don’t go off?

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hermitage

Rhone 2015 | Bringing Sexy Back

I’ve just been out to the Rhone to catch a sneaky peek at the highly anticipated 2015 vintage. I can confirm that things are looking good. Bombastic fruit, velvet tannins, electric freshness and best of all, there is plenty of it – yields are at a normal/good level for the first time in years. Producers had very little to report in terms of problems, the grapes had been healthy, harvest conditions were ideal. It was undoubtedly a hot year, but the nights were cool, bringing balance. This heat in the north was quite welcome, bringing levels of concentration not seen since 2009/2010, but many growers think that 2015 exceeds even the stellar 2010 in quality (some said it was the best they had ever seen, in fact).

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Islay

Destination | Islay

The May bank holiday is behind us and many in Britain have had their first taste of Summer travel, whether it was off to Spain, the South of France or any number of classic destinations, it will surely have whetted the appetite for a summer packed with holidays away. As great as it is to spend a sunny day on the beach with a glass of rosé, some people might enjoy a more remote experience. Swapping the sand for green hills and the rose for a peaty dram; those looking for something a bit out of the ordinary should consider a more northerly heading.

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Porto Quay

Destination | Porto

Spring is nearly upon us and we eagerly anticipate the return of the warm days and sunny evenings. Before the full-fledged summer holiday season, the spring provides a wonderful opportunity to visit some wonderful locations and avoid the crowds as well as the summer heat. It is also a nice time to enjoy a bit of wine tourism in the Northern Hemisphere, heading to places like Champagne, Provence and Spain.

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Burgundy-trip-1

Burgundy 2014: The Trip Part I

Just past the halfway point of our trip to Burgundy we have to say that we have been presented with a much clearer, and more exciting picture of this highly anticipated vintage. Last week I wrote about the preconceptions we had and we also previewed some of the producers to be excited about. After three days and (literally) hundreds of wines, we are beginning to add to the previous expectations.

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Yquem

Nectar of the Gods

Dessert wine, Pudding wine, sticky…no matter what the moniker, the sweet nectar of the gods have always held a special place at the dinner table (and in our gluttonous hearts). Some may have a penchant for the ancient method of air dried grapes, utilized in Vin Santo and Pedro Ximenez, others preferring the thrilling unpredictability of achieving just the right conditions required to produce German or Canadian Eiswein, and still others are loyal to the “noblest” of all sweet wines reached through botrytis (or noble rot), most famously used in Sauternes and Tokaj.

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Ladoucette

Long live the Loire!

The vast majority of the white wine is best consumed within a year of being produced, arguably some even within six months if you think of the quality of mos white wine… Getting in to Fine Wine territory buys you more time. Most will gain weight and complexity after a few years in bottle, but even classic wines like Burgundy are less and less reliable once they shed their youthful fruit. The Loire valley is something of an anomaly, far from losing vibrancy with time, the wines often don’t hit their stride until a decade or more in the bottle.

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Tour of "The other Spain"

Outside the obvious regions of Spain there are hidden gems to be uncovered, ‘The Other Spain.’ The regions of Rueda, Bierzo, Ribera del Duero, Penedes, Priorat and Jumilla are well worth a look. Our buyer, Madeline Mehalko, shares these unique regions (each marked by red circles on the map above).

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Rose

Keepin' the Summer Alive

While cocktails like the Aperol Spritz and the Hugo have had their moments in the spotlight over the past several summers, it is still a crisp, refreshing palest pink glass of Provencal rose that has yet to fall out of favour amongst sun worshippers around the world. This summer even saw the rising popularity of “brosé” officially paving the way for men to proudly brandish their own glass of the pink stuff, even flashing premium labels likeWhispering Angel and Chateau Leoube to show off their new found elite status. There is no shame in adding a few clinking ice cubes to your glass of rosé, this is the time to shed any wine pretension and focus instead on soaking up every bit of summertime joie de vivre. But what then becomes of our go-to summertime fling when the chill of September sets in?

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White Burgundy

Burgundy 2013 Superstars

It is no secret that 2013 was a somewhat challenging year for Burgundy, and while this seemed to put a bit of a pallor over the campaign when it kicked off in January earlier this year, nine months later, these undersung wines are securely in bottle and are arriving in the UK. I for one am loving what has come a-knocking. It only takes opening up a bottle of something like the Domaine Duroché Les Jeunes Rois or the Domaine Taupenot-Merme Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru (both celebrated in Decanter’s recent 30 Burgundy 2013 wines under £25) to be able to appreciate the deliciously drinkable style of these wines and the gorgeous purity of fruit, which is so characteristic of the 2013 vintage.

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Burgundy Corks

The Worth of White Burgundy

Hardly a week goes by where the controversial subject of aged white burgundy is not raised in some form or another, and a lively debate ensues of whether the rewards of one of these feared yet revered bottles is worth the inherent risk. Some devoted Burgundian fanatics swear to have a cellar full of white burgundy and to have never encountered more than the occasional off bottle while others have pledged that they will never again take the risk on a category of wine so plagued with erratic problems. At the crux of this issue is the uncertainty of what exactly is responsible for the heart-breaking premature oxidation of many a cherished bottle of white burgundy made prior to the mid 2000’s. The possible causes have been attributed it to the lowered Sulphur Dioxide levels at this time, poor cork treatments, the extent of batonnage, the vigour of the press, how the wine has been stored or a combination of all of these. Extensive research has been done on the subject with incredibly detailed records of which producers and vintages might be most likely to fall victim to pre-mox, but without knowing for certain why this problem is so prevalent and when it can be expected to strike, there remains a great deal of uncertainty of whether the issue may occur again.

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German Wine Region

The Summer of Riesling

With temperatures in London pushing well past those of our neighbours to the south, the poor unaccustomed souls stranded in the UK are doing what they can to beat the heat and devising a sure-fire strategy to best quench your thirst is as important concern as any. While delicate Provencal Rose, ice-cold Chablis and celebratory bubbles are always popular summertime swigs, my summertime drink of choice is unwavering (if not unsurprising) when the heat wave sets in: German Riesling. Tailor made for the summer, Riesling has succulent stone fruits and zesty citrus freshness that is expertly balanced by mouth-watering acidity and refreshingly low levels of alcohol.

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Rhone Vineyard

Rhone 2013

Our first Rhone 2013s have started to arrive in bond – these Cotes du Rhones Villages, Crozes Hermitages, St Perays and more are perfect for drinking now and many are immediately available. The more serious and age-worthy wines will start to arrive in the Autumn.

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Clos des Fees

A Revelation from the Roussillon

We had heard good things about Clos des Fees. The name Robert Parker, though he himself no longer writes the reviews on his website, has that power – suddenly after years quietly making wine an estate can be catapulted from obscurity to celebrity. We were due to be in the region with a bit of time to spare, and though it was a bank holiday in France, the enigmatic Herve Bizuel agreed to receive us. Time was short, and as we pulled up to the winery near Rivesaltes we felt… apprehensive. A grouping of large, new buildings rose up in front of us, alien and strange in their provincial surroundings. We had visions of endless rows of brand new barrels inside, of showy modern wines, big price tags. We went inside to the reception area, freshly kitted out to receive tourists. It being a bank holiday in France, it was deserted. We gingerly walked around, calling for anyone who might be there. After a not-insignificant amount of time Herve Bizuel walked down the stairs.

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Madeira through the ages

Madeira is one of the few places left on earth where there remains a treasure trove of historic wine, and Pereira d’Oliveira is without a doubt the best source. Founded in 1820, the estate has always been owned and run by the same family, meaning that whether you open a bottle from 1850 or 1993, the wine inside was made by a d’Oliveira. The wines have spent their whole lives slowly maturing in cask, only bottled when required. We have access to a wide range of vintages straight from the cellars near Funchal going back to 1850, all these vintages and all the different varietals maintain the house style of power, structure, richness and a unique tangy freshness. It allows for an incredibly exciting opportunity to not only own a piece of history, but to experience this astoundingly complex wine in a variety of different stages of life.

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Australian Kangaroo

Rise of Australia

When the first wave of Australian wines hit the UK market in the 1980s, they were met with an abundant amount of success from the marketplace who welcomed their super-ripe and uncomplicated style as well as their even easier to understand labels which clearly identified the grape varietal (in English, no less!). With a highly favourable exchange rate and the reliability of trusted and easily identifiable “critter” brands, like Yellow Tail, wine buyers pushed their Australian suppliers for large volumes at lowest possible prices. The flaw in this cheap and cheerful strategy of selling bulk Australian wine was recognised in 2001 when a combination of factors began to deteriorate the strength of the Australian wine export market; including a massive over-production of bulk wine and the increase in value of the Australian dollar.

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Clos des Papes

Guided tasting from Vincent Avril of Clos des Papes

This week we had the pleasure of hosting Vincent Avril, current proprietor of the illustrious family owned Chateauneuf property Clos des Papes. The estate hardly needs much introduction, with a deserving reputation built on the focus of each generation in producing the best single expression of the multitude of terroirs under their stewardship. Indeed Vincent is right in stressing the importance of the scattered nature of their vineyard holdings. These allow him access to the fruit of twenty-four distinct plots; each with their own character from their particular cocktail of galet stones, gravel, sand, clay and limestone.

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Summer Drinking

What we're drinking this Summer…

We are now entering that time that we look forward to all winter… leaving work when it is still light out, long, lazy evenings sitting outside with friends, eating asparagus, strawberries and steaks on the barbie. It’s summer, and we are just so glad it's back. Just as what’s on the menu changes at this time of year, so too should the wine in your glass. Fresh, vibrant, wines that show off the charms of warm-weather cuisine. Here is what we are especially enjoying at the moment…

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Spirits Private Collection

The Connoisseurs' Spirit Collection

One of the most exciting things about the trade of wine & spirits is the capacity of these products to age. A collector may gather wines and spirits for many reasons, but one of them is for the history. Wine, when bottled is a living, breathing thing which changes and develops over time, rarely successful in living beyond 20 years except in the most exceptional cases. With brandy and whisky however, the liquid in the bottle is like a snapshot in history. Virtually unchanged since the day the golden spirit flowed from the cask into the bottle, the oldest and rarest bottlings offer a rare glimpse into the past.

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FXPichler

An Ode to the Wachau

Glorious, wondrous wine, desert-island wine, a cooling drink on a hot day, or a complex, contemplative masterpiece to rival any of the finest Burgundies, or a rich, botrytis-tinged, sticky-sweet number to end a banquet. Madeline Mehalko - Senior Buyer - champions Austrian wines as amongst the finest in the world.

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Dominio del Aguila Jorge

Dominio del Aguila

Madeline Mehalko – Senior Buyer – introduces her discovery Dominio del Aguila and shares the tale of how this Ribera del Duero rising star became the most Exciting Launch of the Year as a UK Cru Exclusive. 

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Sijnn Bt

Sijnn: Fine Wines of Malgas

Abigail Friedman – Senior Buyer’s – second instalment of the phenomenon of new wave wine-making in South Africa. One of their leading wine-makers, David Trafford’s, newest project Sijnn is soon to be launched by Cru.

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st_cosme sign 2

Saint Cosme: 2013s

Newly released Rhone 2013s. Madeline Mehalko – Senior Buyer – shares the excitement of these archetypal Gigondas from Chateau Saint Cosme. One of our favourite Rhone producers.

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Gusbourne Bottle

Gusbourne Estate: A Classic in the Making

Exciting new discovery, Gusbourne Brut Reserve is introduced by Madeline Mehalko – Senior Buyer. English sparking wine full of rich complexity but elegantly dry. A true contender for any Champagne of its level.

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Pichon Baron 3

Bordeaux 2014: En Primeur Week

Abigail Friedman – Senior Buyer – shares the dynamism of tasting in the different Bordeaux Chateaux and explains the beautiful freshness and elegant characteristics of the 2014 vintage.

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Barolo 2011

2011 Barolo

So much to love, no need to wait. Madeline Mehalko - Senior Buyer - shares the excitement of the 2011 Barolo vintage, enjoy these top class wines now.

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Serge Hochar

Chateau Musar

A tribute to Chateau Musar and the exceptional late Serge Hochar, Madeline Mehalko - Senior Buyer - describes the unique character of the wines.

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Tavel (2)

Tavel Rosé

The darker pink wines from Tavel in the Rhone may not be as well known as the pale pink wines from Provence, but they make a versatile wine between the seasons, as Madeleine Mehalko explains. 

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champagne

A User's Guide to Champagne

Outside the major brands, Champagne is a region that can be quite confusing for many. Madeline Mehalko explains the different wines available, and help make it easier to pick a bottle you will love.

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Langmeil

Notes from Australia: South Australian Shiraz

The Shiraz grape may have grown in Australia for over 100 years, but is there a definitive style to South Australian Shiraz? Reporting from on the road in Australia, Abigail Friedman explains the many different styles of Shiraz to be found in South Australia today. 

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cantina

Producer Focus | Cantina Mosparone

With a blank minimalist label, hailing from a relatively new region in Piedmont called Albugnano DOC, Juel Mahoney finds there is a lot more to this red Italian wine than meets the eye. 

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Tasting at La Rioja Alta

The View from La Rioja Alta

When so many wine drinkers do not have home cellars and so much fine wine is drunk too young as a result, it is good to know La Rioja Alta in Spain hold back their wines . Madeline Mehalko reports from their (very large) cellars.

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vietnamese rolls

Notes from Australia: The Rise of Mediterranean Grape Varieties

South Australia is famous for its Chardonnay, Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet, but in the Adelaide Hills winemakers are also working with Mediterranean grape varieties such as Fiano, Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Aglianico. Perfect with the fresh seafood and produce in the region, as Abigail Friedman reports from Australia. 

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Spain

Behind the Wine: Spain Today

What does it take to be a small winemaker in Spain today? Wine buyer, Madeline Mehalko, spent two weeks driving around Spain and found winemakers who are making wine against the odds. 

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Mastroberardino vineyards

The White Wines of Mastroberardino

Since 1750, Mastroberardino have developed a reputation for their long-aging reds. Madeline Mehalko visits Campania and also finds their characterful white wines something to write home about.

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Gouges

Burgundy 2013 Young Guns

The generation shift happening in Burgundy is one of the great trends in wine. The number of producers in this year's Burgundy 2013 en primeur offer under the age of 40 has shot up to over half. This has increased the number of wines we can offer you.

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