NYE Crackers

It’s show-time for sparkling wines! One night in the year when sparkling wines are the toast of the evening. From premium Prosecco, to traditional Champagne, to exciting English – we’ve got all bases covered to make your 2019 events go off with a bang.

 

Carpenè Malvolti ‘1868’ Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore, Prosecco Brut NV

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Carpenè Malvolti, founded in 1868 by Antonio Carpenè, was the first winery to produce a quality Prosecco. A qualified chemist, in contact with Pasteur and Koch, he was convinced that a wine as good as Champagne could be produced in Italy. He applied his knowledge to the Prosecco grape, which is now known as Glera, the majestic variety of the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene zone.

A floral and fruity bouquet with elegant aromas of ripe pear, crisp apple and citrus, layered with subtle herbaceous notes. Smooth on the palate with crisp, refreshing aromatics and an elegant finish.

 

Champagne Collet Brut 1er Cru, Art Déco NV

Champagne Collet is an iconic Champagne brand and its elegant Art Deco packaging is evocative of the Belle Epoque era from when it was established. It is the oldest cooperative in Champagne, dating back to 1921. Since its inception, Collet has been creating Champagnes of character with authenticity, elegance and great finesse. Located in Aÿ, in the heart of the Champagne region, Collet represents some of the finest growers and mainly sources from vineyards which are based on Premier and Grand Cru sites. Each cuvée reflects the diversity of the region’s terroirs and has been masterfully blended to suit gastronomic cuisine.

A swirl of very fine bubbles is reflected in a creamy style of Champagne with developed biscuity notes from extended ageing on the lees and a lovely long and savoury finish. This wine is full of charm.

 

Wiston Estate, Goring Brut, Sussex NV

Dermot Sugrue is not exactly a new name in the English wine industry but he is certainly a winemaker at the top of his game. Born in Ireland in 1974, he studied Viticulture and Oenology at Plumpton Agricultural College before completing two seasons working at Château l’Eglise-Clinet and Château Leoville-Barton. In 2003, he joined Nyetimber and was appointed winemaker in 2004. From Nyetimber he moved to the beautiful, family-run Wiston Estate in 2006, nestled in the heart of England’s rolling South Downs in West Sussex, to work with the Goring Family who has owned the estate since 1743. The Goring Brut, Goring Blanc de Blancs and Goring Rosé are made exclusively for us by Dermot Sugrue and take their name from the Goring family.

An elegant, complex English sparkling wine combining a youthful purity of fruit with subtle toasty, nutty notes.

Winemaker profile: Roberto Echeverria Jnr.

Roberto Echeverria Jnr, Chief Winemaker at Viña Echeverria, heads up production at the family-run Molina based winery with passion and a constant focus on excellence.

Viña Echeverria was established in 1930 but, the family has generations of agricultural heritage dating back to the 1700s. Today, they produce a wide range of elegant, expressive wines in the Curico valley, the country’s oldest wine region, located 200km south of Chile’s capital, Santiago.

Roberto took over as Chief Winemaker in 2001, however it is very much a family affair with Roberto Jnr working alongside his three siblings and father, Viña Echeverria founder, Roberto Snr.

Inspired by their French heritage the wines carefully balance a European style with New World intensity of flavour. Using their family’s combined expertise, traditional techniques, and a passion and respect for the diverse terroir Chile offers are key to Roberto’s approach.

Working with a skilled and enthusiastic team of young winemakers from Chile and Europe, Roberto expertly ensures consistency of quality and flavour from one vintage to the next, whist also innovating and adapting to ensure the creation of very high quality wines.

This all starts in the vineyard where careful pruning, irrigation, canopy management and harvesting ensure grapes reach their full potential allowing the best quality juice can be obtained. This level of attention to detail reflects Viña Echeverria’s sustainable approach – they have been certified sustainable by Wines of Chile – and also the level of precision that goes in to creating the wines.

Roberto Jnr.’s signature style combing Old and New World techniques is  apparent in the vineyard, where a European approach to harvest ensures grapes are not over-ripe, and wines have perfectly balanced flavour and alcohol.

Roberto is keen to show the range that Chile can offer, with some of the driest areas on the planet, a moderate climate and Mediterranean climactic influences all making up the country’s complex geography. Roberto continues to get the best from the grapes through skilful winemaking using French barrels and yeasts as well as a variety of blending and longer fermentation and barrel ageing, creating wines that embody his passion for the winemaking process and the terroir of Chile.

The purest juice

So artisanal is the inaptly named Château Grand Pré that we cannot find it! Twenty minutes ago Bev and I left Fleurie’s Place de l’Église on the D68, driving past the Auberge du Cep, heading for the border with Chiroubles. But in spite of Bev jumping out and knocking on various houses, we cannot find it. Eventually she phones our host, Romain Zordan, who laughs and tells us he will pick us up. About thirty seconds later he arrives, we turn the car round and minutes later arrive at an old farmhouse that we have already driven past twice. Duh!

 

Natural wines are the subject of some debate. For some they represent winemaking at its most pure; for some critics the wines are simply undrinkable, some of them, they swear, tasting like cider and smelling of old socks. The choice of not adding sulphur (or to add it only in minute quantities) is what causes a lot of the fuss. Sulphur acts as an oxidant and without it, the critics say, the wine simply turns yellow. Certainly you get a lot of curious flavours in natural wine.

But equally, they can be some of the most exciting wines you will taste, with a purity of fruit that is unrecognisable in more commercial offerings.

There is no question which side Romain is on. He shows us vines which are 80, 90, 100 years old. He prunes by hand. No herbicides are used. He ploughs round the vines throughout the year to limit weed growth, encouraging the vines to dig deep, to reach down to the granite. Yields are low: about 25 hl to 35 hl depending on the vintage. Wild yeasts.

He explains all this with the loud and slightly manic passion of a visionary while the two of us shiver. In twenty years of visiting Burgundy I have never known it so cold, and much as I love the Beaujolais countryside, I am dead glad when he takes us into a renovated cellar where he has laid on a lunch of bread, Munster cheese and saucisson. I normally eschew food during tasting, but I am famished and this just looks so French that I tuck in. As does the Master of Wine.

The Fleurie 2017 has a huge, ripe, sweet fruit nose, with really intense flavours in the mouth. Liquid jelly. They didn’t do carbonic maceration because hail destroyed half the vineyard and they weren’t able to fill the tanks. Half full bunch and half destemmed (although Romain pronounces it “steamed” and for a second I think he’s invented some amazing winemaking technique.) Soft, flowing tannins. A magical bottle of wine.

The Morgan 2017 has a much funkier nose. Lots happening in here, the merest hint of reductiveness on the nose. But in the mouth all traces disappear and you have a rich chocolatey mouthful. Simply gorgeous.

The Cotes de Brouilly 2017 underwent full carbonic maceration and is the chunkier of the three wines, imbued with the flavours of the famous blue granite, which gives it a vibrant violet character. But, unbelievably, it has a “lifted” quality, as if the wine is floating above the ground. I cannot do the quality of this wine justice.

Better still, the vibrant acidity of the wine cuts through the salami and cheese perfectly. We are in picnic heaven.

We then brave the cold again as Romain takes out round the back of his cellar to an old warehouse where he keeps his canary-coloured tanks. And then it is back outside where he opens up an old shipping container in which he keeps a few barrels of white. The sample shows this wine to be good but not in the same class as his reds.

Incongruously, this container is parked on the edge of a house in which Franck Duboeuf and his family live. No-one has done more to promote the wines of this glorious region than Franck’s father, Georges Duboeuf. I know: I used to work for him. And while the differences between Duboeuf’s and Grand Pré’s wines couldn’t be greater, both offer excellence in their own way.

But I have never felt such excitement in Beaujolais as that which feel now, sitting munching my cheese and salami in Romain’s little cellar. These wines are brilliant. They are uncompromisingly brilliant. The purest juice I have tasted on the entire trip.

Shabby Chic

We first came across this producer when we tasted the Domaine Gouffier Aligoté a couple of years ago. It knocked us for six. It was about as far removed from your customary tart and bitter aligoté as was possible.

So how good to finally visit Frédéric (Fred) Gueugneau and Benoît Pagot at their farmhouse on Fontaine’s Grand Rue, southwest of Rully. Set behind a gravel courtyard, their 19th century farmhouse is filled with a beguiling collection of peeling French farmhouse furnishings, quirky wallpaper, crumbling pargetting, and odd-looking objets d’art, its faded glory complemented by modern low-slung couches, a widescreen TV and a monstrous sound system complete with mixer. You’d pay some fancy interior designer a fortune to come up with such shabby chic. The farmhouse acts as a base for the pickers during harvest, and you get the impression that for the joyeux vendangeurs, it must be one long acid house.

With 5.5-hectares spread across eight appellations, the domaine was in need of a fresh start following the passing of Jerome Gouffier in 2012, and, as we set up the tasting in the kitchen, Fred, who worked at La Chablisienne for eight years, explains what they are looking for. “To reinvigorate the vines, to bring organic practice, to have the wines less in barrel, more in tank.”

The Aligoté En Rateaux which excited us has now moved on to the 2017. While not having the knockout punch of its older brother, it has a vivacious flower and citrus feel to it and simply fills the mouth with flavours and piercing acidity.

The Bouzeron Les Corcelles 2017 reminded me of some our Greek wines, with its volcanic feel and saline quality. A huge mouthful.

The Rully Premier Cru Rabource 2017 has an inviting and open nose of elderflower and apricot. An amazing wine.

We finish with the red Mercurey La Charmée 2017 which lives up to its name with real purity of fruit – blackcurrants, this time – and beautifully integrated oak.

The tasting has been one stunner after another.

Fred and Benoit, now in hoodies and trainers, take us outside to the rustic winery and proudly show off a barrel room housed in a stone-domed cellar which served as a bunker for Napoleon’s army.

Once more, as with so many of our new producers, what we have here is a mixture of reverence for what they have inherited along with a determination to make their own mark on Burgundy’s history. This place is in good hands.

The Power of Quiet

You can spot it from half a mile away, rising eerily out of the mist. Château de Chamilly is the painter, photographer and filmmaker’s dream. It looks as if it belongs on top of a ginormous chocolate cake.

It is just off the D109 between Chassey-le-Camp and Aluze and the hamlet of Chamilly is 200 metres away, but, really, you could be on a different plant. The silence is deafening as you stand back and gawp. It is a wonder, but also slightly spooky.

The other-worldliness is broken by an extravagant welcome from a beaming Arnaud Desfontaine, jogging towards us in modish anorak and trainers. His family has been making wine here for twelve generations. Arnaud’s mother lives in an apartment on the ground floor, but the other two floors are still to be renovated. God, it must be lonely in winter.

We listen to the silence, before pony-tailed Arnaud kicks into action, leading us a merry dance through the winery which lies scattered higgledy-piggledy around the château in various stables and barns. “We bought this from our neighbour last year and we will put in tanks here. This we have already converted. Next we will make a reception area over here…”

With his soft and broken English, and looking forever like he should be wielding a Fender Strat in some sybaritic band, he is a compelling host, blending an antiquarian’s love of tradition with a geek’s desire to experiment. “Here, we could be certified organic if we want to, but I choose not to. I prefer not to be put in – what do you call it? – a straitjacket. The rules of this winery? There are none.”

But for sure, less is more – less stems, less lees stirring, less interventions in the winery (natural yeast, no filtration). “All we give the wines we get them here is quiet.”

In the tasting room we start with the whites, the highlight of which is a stunning Montagny les Reculerons 2017. This is a delicious mouthful of flint and fruit. “People sometimes say, “what barrel do you age this in?” But it is aged in tank. What they are tasting is terroir.” He is right: this is so minerally you can taste the rocks.

But good as the whites are, Arnaud’s heart’s quest is to capture the purity of Pinot Noir. He dismisses richly-coloured Pinot. “That was what we had in the 1970s, the 1980s. I am not looking to make a Syrah. This is not the Rhone.”

And when you come to the Mercurey Premier Cru les Puillets you know exactly what he means. This has a piercing pristine pellucid coolness like it was born on the edge of an iceberg. It is packed full of juicy raspberry and cherry fruit. We all nod approvingly. “You see,” says Arnaud. “If you have ripe grapes, you have balance.”

This is a composer at heart, and we leave him dancing through the vats and tanks to his beautiful melodies.

To Morot!

And so to Domaine Albert Morot, on Beaune’s ring road, and a tasting challenge between two of the Beaune Premier Crus heavyweights that Hallgarten ships. It’s Les Bressandes v Les Teurons from vintages 2014 – 2017, Winner Takes All.

2014 vintage…

Domaine Morot, Beaune 1er Cru Les Bressandes


The Bressandes has a lovely soft mushroom feel to it, but with a succulent freshness. This is a Farmers’ Market wine; lovely and soft and clean.  Meanwhile, the Teurons is oxtail soup gamier and bigger, more assertive, with very firm, though not harsh, tannins. This is the masculine to the Bressandes’ feminine.

 

2015 vintage…
The Bressandes nose here is quite closed, but there is a herbal feel to it, with cherry Tunes furtively hanging around in the background. The tannins are languid and seductive. Easy to fall in love with this Mistress. The Teurons has an unusual nose. Where are we here? In the Rhône? This has a touch of the liquorice and anise flavour of the south. This is a real fruit bomb.

Beaune 1er Cru Les Teurons

 

2016 vintage…
But just when you feel everything is going to plan, the 2016 kicks in. Because, while we have a heavenly soft sweet mouthful of Bressandes, with touches of oak, touches of vanilla and touches of crunchy forest fruits, the Teurons decides to go all shy on us. For sure, it is a silky little number, but its parents would be shocked at how it has conceded bragging rights to the usually feminine Bressandes. A real eye-opener, this vintage.

 

2017 vintage…
Intrigued, we move on to the 2017 – a real vintage! The Bressandes cavorts forward and teases us. It has beautiful soft forest fruits lying under the forest floor, a touch of smoke from the covering of soft branches. But – Ta Da! – the Terurons reverts to type, coating itself with a swirling Black Forest Gateaux cape. But, liked any caped magician, it has finesse, a softness. It has learned its lesson. It pays respect to Bresssandes before strutting its funky stuff. Move over, darling!

But hold on – what’s this?

 

They’ve just brought in another wine. Ah, this is the Les Marconnets, another Premier Cru situated on the far right of the commune. An interloper – how exciting. I taste the wine. I pause. I think. Remember when Cameron Diaz walked into the room and Jim Carrey’s jaw hit the floor? Well…

It has got the femininity of the Bressandes, the structure of the Teurons. But it also has something else: a wonderful minerality running through the centre, a saline feel to complement its roundness and structure. Jasper Morris describes it as “probably the best of the northern vineyards” – and recommends Morot as a producer.

Events like this are so good for a buyer. The smack between the eyes. I cannot remember why we have not listed this before. Lack of availability. But that will soon change and we leave the tasting with the thought enticing us: We must list this.

THE first Gevrey-Chambertin winemaker to not use sulphur…

“I will be the first winemaker in Gevrey-Chambertin to make wine without sulphur. I am going to make crazy wines.”

 

We have been working with Pierre Naigeon for a dozen years, but you still feel you’re with a ‘Duracell Bunny’ as he whizzes round the winery with frantic, chopping steps, his arms pumping away like pistons. During the harvest he walks fifteen kilometres every day but you get the impressions his battery never seems to wear out. Bev and I are struggling to keep up.

 

He chatters to you over his shoulder as he jumps from one barrel to the next, flourishing his pipette like an épée. “I aim to be organic by 2019, and then we will look at being biodynamic in the longer term. Meanwhile, we will look to make sixty or seventy percent of our wine sans sulfur. Here, try this, it is from Maladières,” he says, pouring us a ravishing Pinot Noir – all raspberry and red berries – from the vineyard at the base of Chambolle-Musigny.

 

“I don’t like all the concepts behind biodynamics but I do agree with the basic stuff in terms of fertiliser and the movements of the moon, you know. Here, what about this…” as he pours another Pinot, this time from En Champs in Gevrey-Chambertin. This one is a touch heavier, more serious.

 

“Being organic in Burgundy is tricky; don’t forget we are at the extremes of winemaking. Come, come. Where did I put that Fixin? Must be here somewhere.”

 

He dashes from one warehouse to another like an Olympic Racewalker. The last time I visited he was still in his tight, cramped – though romantic – cellar in Gevrey-Chambertin. Now he has moved to a utilitarian complex on the edge of town. He needed to; he had outgrown his former premises. You cannot keep a man like this in a confined space. He needs to grow, to experiment, to be wild.

“Listen to me. What we are doing with sulphur wines is amazing. The wines are so so fresh, very savoury. I am not looking to make wines that smell of shit and look brown. They are disgusting wines. No, we will make amazing wines. This means changing all of our habits. Bottling will be earlier, much less racking, less time in bottle before release, no fining, no filtration” (though his wines have been unfiltered and unfined for years.) His is the passion of a zealot.

 

We pass by one of the numerous tanks on which is written: “Don’t forget, beer is made by men, wine is made by Gods.” Glancing at it, Pierre looks triumphant!

 

He shows Bev and I his new bottling line, unwrapping it like a kid on Christmas morning. But before we can pause to admire it, he rushes us across to his three ceramic – not concrete – vats which are not trendily egg-shaped but round and squat. “Cost seven times the cost of a barrel – but they will last forever!”

 

But before we can admire those, he has dashed back in amongst his tanks, impatient to show off his wares. We start by tasting all of the 2017s in tank, then move on the 2018s in barrel. The 17s are more typical of Burgundy; the 18s are atypical and he is still not sure how they will turn out.

 

The 2017s culminate is a stunning tasting of two specific-site Gevrey-Chambertins. First up: Creux Brouillard. This has dark, tannic notes, sweet violets, forest fruits, great structure, smooth tannins. Pierre thinks this is a perfect example of Gevrey-Chambertin. We contrast this with a Les Crais, which has a riper style, with more minerality cutting through a sweet confiture. It has a lightness of touch. He thinks this is an example of a more mineral style against the more traditional style of the Braillarol. “Comes from the alluvial soil.”

My wine-splashed notes contain superlative after superlative. We go on to Les Corvees (from very high up the slope, so it needs to be kept), Les Marchais (an iconic Gevrey-Chambertin, according to Pierre), Sylvie, from just under the castle of Gevrey-Chambertin (one of the biggest, with spicy oak, liquorice and game), and Meix-Bas, from right at the top of the slope, so not a Premier Cru (and which is almost Rhone-type in its boldness.)

 

We move on to the Mazis-Chambertin (the most mineral of the great Chambertin vineyards), with an incredible herbal nose.

 

The Charmes-Chambertin is powerful and complex, with a hint of vanilla matching the dark intense fruits. The Master of Wine standing to my left does not spit this. It is long long long.

 

His 2018 barrels are mostly marked No Sulphur or Low Sulphur. Any use of sulphur is limited to a very small dose between vineyard and winery. Once in the winery they see no sulphur. Even those wines which see a small amount of sulphur will have this explained on the back label.

 

Tasting the 2018s, I am struggling to describe an amazing Gevrey-Chambertin Creux Brouillard (no sulphur). It has incredible fruit juice but also a wonderful saline flavour. “Iodine,” says Pierre, watching the look of puzzlement on my face. “Ah,” I reply. “This is the Laphroaig of this wine tasting.”

We try a Sylvie from two year old barrel, and then from ceramic. The barrel sample has masses of black fruit and a roundness. The ceramic is completely different, being more forward, with more purity of fruit, more one dimensional – but what a dimension: an arrow straight to the heart.

 

By now – with eighteen pages of tasting notes in the bag, Bev and I are groaning. Pierre senses this and takes pity on us and we trudge wearily back to his small office where he cracks open a bottle of 2017 Creux Brouillard (no sulphur). Again, it has this wonderful lifted, elevated, feel to it.

 

“In Burgundy you have six or seven consultant oenologists who dominate,” says Pierre. “What style they suggest is the one that gets recognised. But you have to find your own style. Who need a consultant? If you are in good health you don’t need a doctor.”

 

We sink back in our chairs and nurse our bodies. It is not the vines who need medical help – it is us!

“I adhere to organic rules, but I don’t want to be certified”

Driving along the A6, my mind is filled with last night’s pictures from Paris showing the burning and rioting in the capital as France’s gilets jaunes try their best to reinvent 1968. Paris is on fire, Macron is on the run. But as we exit the motorway and swing into Beaune, the only evidence of unrest is a bunch of apologetic-looking yellow vests who half-heartedly ask us to stop and then, as I open the window and shout: “Anglais,” wave us through with a shrug.

 

Over by their encampment a heap of broken pallets is now burning fiercely and heating up the freezing air. A queue forms behind us, klaxons blaring, as the yellow vests wave down the traffic and, among the artics and four wheels, I see a fire engine and wonder if that has come to put out the bonfire.

 

It seems the “movement” is not so violent in genteel Burgundy; Beaune is not for burning. But you have to admire the French. When they protest, they seriously protest. In the UK we’d probably last half a day before heading down the pub.

Bev and I had stopped off in Chablis for a good tasting at Domaine Grand Roche, which included an excellent 2018 Sauvignon St Bris (an under-rated wine), followed by another with the affable Philippe Goulley (pictured above) at Domaine Jean Goulley. His Montmains and Fourchaume are looking as good as ever, but the surprise was a quite brilliant Mont de Milieu, which has a beautiful salinity running through its limey richness, and which definitely deserves to be considered for a listing. “A good year, but not an easy year,” is Philippe’s verdict on the 2018.

 

Here in Santenay, Antoine Olivier agrees. “Very interesting year quality-wise, very good in parts, but not the easiest for reds in particular.” Antoine is in fine form, dashing from one tank to another to provide us with a massive tasting of wines from four vintages, while giving us his view on his approach. “My father is a Christian, my mother is Jewish, so I cannot stand dogma. I adhere to organic rules but I don’t want to be certified. If I have mildew I want the ability to protect my vines.”

Of the whites, Antoine prefers the 2015s (complex) to the 2016s (ready to drink) and says that the 2017 was an “odd” vintage. Standouts are the 2017 Rully St Jacques (intense and citrus-dominated mouthful), the 2017 Santenay Sous La Roche (full, rich, creamy nose) and the 2015 Sous La Roche (classic nose of lime, cream and hazelnuts.)

 

Of the reds, an unlabelled but just bottled 2017 Bourgogne Pinot Noir has us singing, with its young, heady and vibrant fruit. The two Santenay Beaurepaire wines are showing beautifully (the 2016 has a wonderful depth of plummy flavour while the 2017 has a rasping raspberry palate.) The award-winning Les Charmes has beautiful soft plummy tannins.

 

Antoine is now in expansive mood. “I have been accused of being a lazy winemaker because I prefer to do as little as possible with my grapes. I stand guilty!”

 

And at that point a bunch of the local anti-drug squad Gendarmeries stroll in wearing full metal jacket and we watch incredulously as they sample a selection of wines, nodding approvingly, their fingers hooked into their bullet-proof vests, before making their purchases and walking off with a case of red. Maybe off to have a tasting with the gilets jaunes?

Festive Wine

The festive period is one of the busiest in the on- and off-trade calendars, as businesses look to enhance the guest’s experience and create a memorable visit that will encourage return visits.

In a recent survey from guest experience management experts, HGEM, they discovered that during the Christmas period, 40% of guests like to try somewhere new that offers a unique menu. To help set yourself apart from the crowd we have come up with suggestions on what to pair with traditional festive dishes, from both the New and Old World wine producing regions.

As an aperitif:     

Berton Vineyard, Metal Label, Moscato Firzzante 2018

This wine is fresh, light and sweet with a subtle spritz that tickles the palate and aromas of fresh grapes and orange blossom.

Low in alcohol and perfect as an aperitif to ease guests into a festive banquet.

Champagne Collet Brut 1er Cru, Art Déco NV

A more traditional aperitif to serve guests, this is a broad style of Champagne with developed biscuit notes from extended ageing on the lees and a lovely long and salty finish.

Any leftover is also a perfect partner for a light game starter.

With a warming starter:

Larry Cherubino ‘Ad Hoc Hen and Chicken’ Chardonnay 2017

A complex wine with green apple, melon and citrus aromas enhanced by buttered brioche and a toasty nuttiness.

If you are serving a seafood starter, this is the ideal accompaniment.

Castello Pomino, Frescobaldi, Benefizio Bianco Riserva 2017

This barrique aged white wine is elegant and distinctive with a rich array of aromas and flavours such as apple, pineapple, citrus and honey.

Serve chilled to accompany meat starters, such as guinea fowl, chicken or wild mushrooms and white truffle.

To pair with a festive main course:

Doña Paula ‘Selección de Bodega’, Malbec 2015

Awarded 95 points by Tim Atkin, in his Argentina Special Report. This wine is big with balanced flavours of spicy blackberries, dark chocolate and wild herbs with an opulent and mouthfilling texture – elegant, rich and long.

Best alongside a piece of prime beef fillet, with a bit left over for the hard cheeses in the cheese course.

Château de Cîteaux, Philippe Bouzereau, Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru Les Duresses 2015

Beautiful Pinot Noir expression of ripe black fruits, peppery hints and a touch of violet on the nose. Silky, with rich but delicate fruit and a long finish.

When it comes to a traditional festive turkey dish, you don’t need to look beyond Pinot Noir from Burgundy, and this Premier Cur showcases a premium expression of the grape and the region.


To finish off the event:

Saint Clair, ‘Godfrey’s Creek’ Noble Riesling, Marlborough 2016

 A deliciously complex dessert wine, with a bouquet of poached apricot, candied citrus and white clover honey. Opulent and silky on the palate with rich orange, lemon and cocoa notes leading to a long, smooth finish.

This botrytised Riesling is ideally suited to a fruit-based dessert or blue cheese.

Barros 10 Year Old Tawny Port, Douro

Dried fruit aromas complemented by  delicate vanilla and chocolate notes

This is the multi-award winning fortified wine is the perfect partner to go with your Christmas pudding, its soft and silky texture and subtle nuances of wood are balanced by a refreshing palate which culminates with a long and elegant finish.

Winemaker Profile: Florent Lançon, Domaine de la Solitude

Domaine de la Solitude belongs to one of the oldest families in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and is packed full of history. Wines have been made on this estate for several hundred years, dating back to 1264 when the family arrived from Italy to serve the pope in Avignon. Here we take a look back to the very beginning of how the Domaine started and how current winemaker, Florent Lançon, is taking it forward.

Roman era
The site of Domaine Solitude was occupied as far back as the Gallo-Roman period, as evidenced by the presence of coins from the time.

1264
François Barberini, the first family member to arrive from Italy to the region, is born. He went on to spend time living in Provence as well as the region.

1400s
The Domaine Solitude family made Châteauneuf-du-Pape their home in the 15th century, making them one of the oldest families in the region.

1604
Jean Barberini changes his name to Barberin in order to sound more French. Later, his daughter marries vineyard owner Claude Martin and so the winemaking dynasty begins.

1623-1644
François’ ancestor, Maffeo Barberini, serves as the Pope in Rome under the name Urban VIII. Other family members go on to become Cardinals before settling in Avignon.

La Solitude labels today feature three hats, signifying the two bishops and a Pope in the family’s history.

Middle-Ages
Current wine labels exhibit a number of other links to the family’s history including three bees, a reference to the family in the Middle-Ages.

1815
Another of the family’s ancestors is awarded a medal by Napoleon after the Battle of Waterloo, the medal still features on labels today, giving another nod to the family’s history on current bottles.

1970s
Michel and Jean Lançon begin working at the Domaine under the guidance of their father, Pierre Lançon.

1980s
Following time working under Pierre’s expert instruction, Michel and Jean take over the management of the Domaine.

1999
Jean and Michel begin creating Prestige Cuvee wines to showcase the very best of the vineyards and region.

Today…

Florent Lançon, Michel’s son, now manages the day to day running of La Solitude. His focus is on a perfect balance of tradition and continuous improvement, and he is passionate about innovation. His range of wines includes both traditional styles and more modern interpretations. Careful attention is paid in the vineyard, where the harvest is carried out by hand, and only the best grapes are carefully selected. No fertilisers are used and the vineyards are farmed sustainably.

Florent also balances tradition and innovation in the winery, where tulip-shaped concrete tanks are now used alongside more familiar oak and stainless steel. He believes that using a blend of grapes creates a longer lived wine and expertly utilises the particular strengths of each grape variety to create wines with poise and complexity.

WOTM: Domaine Gouffier, ‘La Charmée’, Mercurey 2016

The festive season is just around the corner and what better wine to serve with a traditional meal than a classic red Burgundy, but with a twist. From the small village of Mercurey in the subregion of Côte Chalonnaise, this is a Pinot Noir with enough rich fruit flavour and texture to delight any table.

In a nutshell:

Great depth of flavour showing chunky plum fruits combined with coffee beans and a peppery finish.

The producer:

Domaine Gouffier owns five and a half hectares of vineyard in the villages of Fontaines and Mercurey in Côte Chalonnaise. The domain has been run by the Gouffier family for generations until Jerome Gouffier handed over the reins to his close friend Frédéric Gueugneau, formerly at La Chablisienne.

Since 2011, Frédéric and oenologist Benoît Pagot have brought about a new style of winemaking to the domain. They follow an organic philosophy to create wines that are modern, approachable and affordable, but with all the style and panache of good Burgundy. They have created a collection of wines of outstanding originality, verve and spirit.

The wine:

The grapes were hand-picked at optimum maturity and carefully selected in the cellar. 30% of the fruit was vinified as whole bunches as the stems help to stabilise the colour and impart structure to the wine. A cool maceration was followed by fermentation in barrels of 228 litres, one third of which was new. 15% of stems were put back into the fermentation barrels to support the fruit and impart structure to this fleshy wine.

Winemaker Frédéric uses oak judiciously, in order not to overpower the purity of the fruit. Domaine Gouffier has been experimenting with using oak from the state forests of Fontaine, just a few miles from the vines, endeavouring to stay true to the local terroir.

 

For further information on the Domaine Gouffier, ‘La Charmée’, Mercurey 2016 or any other Domaine Gouffier wines, please contact your account manager. 

“I don’t want to ever leave Italy”

Hallgarten Marketing Coordinator, Charli Truelove, recently took to the road with Sales Manager, Phil Brodie in the Midlands team, and a group of his customers to experience the culture, cuisine and of course the wine in Emilia Romagna with the team from Cevico.

 

Day one we arrived in Bologna, the home of Bolognese, and were greeted by Alida Sangiorgi, Marketing Manager at Cevico, and our bus driver, Mauro, who took us to our first stop – an incredible visit and lunch, cooked by Chef Paola Cucchi,  at Tenuta La Massellina,  in the Castelbolognese commune of Emillia Romagna. The estate is owned by one of our most important partners, Cevico, and is the source of some of the Emilia-Romagna wines in our portfolio.

Here we were joined by more of the Cevico team who shared so much knowledge with us over the coming days; Cristina Melandri, our guide from the Cevico team and Alberto Medici, co-owner of the family run Medici Ermete.

After the already action-packed first morning and lunch, we took to the road once again to visit Basilica San Vitale one of the most important surviving examples of early Christian Byzantine art and architecture in Europe. The walking tour unveiled of some of Ravenna’s historical monuments including Dante’s Tomb.

To finish the day, more food followed – it’s true what they say about how fantastic the cuisine is in this part of the world! A spectacular 7 course dinner awaited at Furfanti with the Cevico team. Both the food and wine were both unsurprisingly incredible… I am already thinking; “I don’t want to ever leave Italy.”

Day two, we drove along the coast to Rimini to visit Le Rocche Malatestiane, which takes its name from one of Rimini’s oldest noble families, the Malatesta family. We were given a tour by our guides, Elena Piva and Enrico Salvatori, where we were shown and told about its fermentation tanks, grape drying process and barrel cellar, followed by a wine tasting of three whites and three reds each more moreish than the last. Including the Antica Marineria Bianco, an oaked-aged white wine made from 100% Sangiovese. We talked everything from soils, fermentation, ageing and grape varieties – a very interesting tasting and visit.

Following this busy morning, we stopped for lunch at Trattoria Zaghini Santarcangelo where we were treated to a divine array of foods, and probably the best pasta I have even eaten (the wine was pretty good too), all set in a beautiful traditional Italian restaurant surrounding.

We were well in need of a walk after such an indulgent lunch, so stopped off at Santarcangelo, a medieval town 10km north of Rimini which had the atmosphere of a large village rather than a town.

The final evening of our trip of course involved more fantastic cuisine, with dinner on the canal at a seafood restaurant, Cesenatico. Alberto Medici toasted the evening with his Lambrusco – Medici Ermete ‘La Favorita’ Rosso Secco, Lambrusco NV – a chilled sparkling red, nothing like I have tried before, filled with an abundance red fruit flavours with a delicate finish. A truly spectacular wine!