All posts by Ben Jackson

Comms & PR Manager. Food and wine enthusiast

Volcanic Campania

The Campanian Volcanic Arc has at its centre the mighty Mount Vesuvius. This is dangerous territory. A devastating earthquake rocked Avellino in 1980; it  was from these ruins that Antonio Capaldi built Feudi di San Gregorio. The  winery champions Avellino’s native grapes – Greco di Tufo, Fiano and  Aglianico, as well as the Falanghina from nearby Benevento.

In less than 30 years it has become a benchmark for the region.

The flagship Serpico Irpinia is produced from centuries-old Aglianico wines and is an unforgettable mouthful of dried cherry, liquorice and leather.

The Aglianico grapes used for producing Serpico are produced in a historic  vineyard named “Dal Re”. This historic region of the Apennine countryside is known as Irpinia and it has a unique terroir and climate in which vineyards  coexist with fruit trees, olives and aromatic herbs. The winds here divert a  beneficial rainfall which creates a microclimate in Irpinia that differs from   Campania, the winters though brief are snowy and cold and the summers can be wet and prolonged.

Recently the winery has begun producing a stunning array of traditional-method sparkling wines under the Dubl label – these are not to be missed! Produced using the traditional method sparkling wine, the end product has a fine and persistent mousse. A fresh and aromatic wine with notes of crisp golden delicious apple, peach and floral hints of camomile, complemented by rounder notes of apricot.

For more information on the wines of Feudi di San Gregorio, please get in touch with your account manager.

Volcanic Soave

The Tessari family began farming on the dark and volcanic land of the Rugate hill, near the centre of Brognoligo, over 100 years ago. The volcanic origin of the land and its limestone and basalt characteristics make the soil generous, capable of giving life and taste to the typical grapes of this region, Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave.

The estate was renamed Ca’Rugate in 1986, taking its name from the volcanic  hills where the vineyards are located. Now run by the fourth generation,  Michele has brought with him a lively, passionate and entrepreneurial spirit.  Considerable expansion has taken place in recent years with investment in a new technologically advanced cellar and expansion into the Valpolicella area  with the purchase of vineyards in the hilly zone of Montecchia di Crosara.

Monte Fiorentine – which lends its name to the Tessari family’s highest cru – is a territory in the Rugate district, in the heart of the Soave Classico,   characterised by hills with an average altitude between 120m and 350m. It is a historic vineyard par excellence, evocative, homogeneous and entirely planted  with Garganega grapes.

Ca’Rugate has been awarded the prestigious ‘Tre Bicchieri’ award rating from Gambero Rosso multiple times, making it one of the most awarded producers in the competition and has been hailed by the New York Times as one of the  ‘Top Five producers of high end Soave’.

For more information on the wines of Ca’Rugate, please get in touch with your account manager.

Volcanic Santorini

At the centre of the most seismically active area in the eastern Mediterranean, Santorini is a unique region for the cultivation of vines. The volcanic, porous soil, the long hours of sunshine, the lack of rainfall throughout the year, the sea mist and the strong winds during summer, the traditional ‘kouloura’ (basket shape) training system, and some of the vineyards dating back almost 3,000 years create rare, precious wines.

This unique combination is most evident in two of Gaia’s wines. The Wild  Ferment Assyrtiko is made from grapes from upland vineyards in Pyrgos. The bigger day/night temperature range up here means longer ripening periods which, combined with some skin contact at cool temperature, helps to extract phenolics, giving you a peachy, minerally, umami-rich and powerful wine.

 

Meanwhile, Gaia’s Thalassitis benefits from sea spray which hits the low-lying vines and confers a stunning, almost indefinable salty character which adds complexity to this steely grape.

One of the pioneers of the modern Greek wine revolution Gaia Wines was established in 1994 by Greek winemakers Leon Karatsalos and Yiannis Paraskevopoulos. Operating two different wineries they make cutting edge  wines in both Nemea and Santorini. Gaia’s main aim is to present the potential of the indigenous Greek grape varieties to wine enthusiasts worldwide.

 

For more information on the wines of Gaia Wines please get in touch with your account manager.

WOTM: Gérard Bertrand ‘Code Rouge’, Crémant de Limoux NV

We have chosen Gérard Bertrand’s Code Rouge as our February Wine of the Month, from the oldest  sparkling producing region in the world, Limoux. A glass of Code Rouge is the perfect sparkling wine to help celebrate Valentine’s Day, which originates from the Western Christian feast day honouring an early saint named Valentinus, often associated with the colour rouge.

In a nutshell:

An enticing floral aroma with notes of pear and citrus, refreshing and vibrant on the palate.

The producer:

Gérard Bertrand is one of the most outstanding winemakers in the South of France, where he owns numerous estates among the most prestigious crus of Languedoc- Roussillon. Named in 2012 as the IWC Red Winemaker of the Year and Wine Enthusiast’s European Winery of the Year, he is known locally as the “King” of the Languedoc.
Brought up in the Languedoc vineyards, Gérard Bertrand is committed to sharing the characteristics and exceptional diversity of each of the terroirs. Twenty years of know-how ensures that wines bearing Gérard Bertrand’s signature have a unique style driven each day by four fundamental values: excellence, authenticity, conviviality and innovation. We are proud to represent this leading French name in the UK

The wine:

A Crémant, made using the traditional Champagne method. The grapes were
manually harvested and carefully transported in harvesting bins. The juice was  very gently extracted using a pneumatic press, which allowed 30 to 40% of the press juice to be extracted without having to re-press.
The juice was then allowed to settle prior to the alcoholic fermentation, which took place at a controlled temperature of 18°C. Meticulous blending of the various terroirs and grape varieties was then carried out, with bottling throughout January to encourage the secondary bottle fermentation. Aged on its fine lees for a minimum of three years, the Code Rouge was riddled and disgorged according to the Champagne method.
This cuvée has all the traditional features of Gérard Bertrand’s wines: the emblematic red colour of the bottle and the Alpha and Omega symbols, symbolising the endless cycle of nature which inspired its name ‘Brut Eternel

Awards: Silver – IWSC

For further information on the Gérard Bertrand ‘Code Rouge’, Crémant de Limoux NV or any other Gérard Bertrand wines, please contact your account manager. 

Veganuary

If there has been one buzzword in the food and drink world recently, ‘vegan’ is surely it. Veganism has skyrocketed in recent years and with it the demand for vegan wines.

Although wine is made solely from grapes, it would be wrong to assume that  all wines are suitable for vegans. To celebrate Veganuary, the go-vegan month,  we have hand-picked a selection of vegan wines from our portfolio that your customers are sure to love throughout Veganuary and beyond.

 

2015 Sauvignon Blanc ‘Eggo Blanc de Cal’, Zorzal
Mendoza, Argentina

Made by Juan Pablo Michelini, the man with the best beard in Mendoza! Cool climate new world Sauvignon Blanc made in the style of a flinty Pouilly-Fumé with minimal intervention.

Awards: 16.5 Points; Jancis Robinson // 94 Points; Decanter Magazine

 

2017 Smederevka, Tikveš
Tikveš, Macedonia

Smederevka (Smed-er-EV-car) is the most popular white varietal of the Republic of Macedonia. You must try this: while relatively low in alcohol, it is full of flavour with stone fruits, tropical fruits and zest.

2017 ‘Sophia’, Basilisco
Basilicata, Italy

A peachy little number! Luscious organic Fiano from historic Basilicata in Southern Italy, made from vines from a single hectare vineyard on ancient volcanic soils. Wonderful freshness and minerality.

2017 Zibibbo ‘Vitese’, Colomba Bianca
Sicily, Italy

This crisp, fruity Zibibbo shows lifted notes of succulent white peach combined with soft floral aromatics of orange blossom and jasmine. Bright and perfumed with a zesty citrus finish.

Although winemakers may let a wine settle, waiting for the proteins capable of haze formation to clear naturally and leaving it unfiltered, most producers will filter out these impurities through the fining process.

To do this, traditionally, a number of animal products have been used in fining through adding substances like casein (milk), albumin (egg whites), gelatin (meat) and isinglass (fish), which act a bit like a magnet drawing all the smaller particles together so that they can be filtered out. These substances aren’t left in the wine so most
winemakers manage to avoid disclosing this on allergen labelling.

However, for ethical reasons you can understand why vegetarians, and in some cases vegans, might want to steer clear.

2017 Kratoshija, Tikveš
Tikveš, Macedonia

Kratoshija (Krat-oss-SHEE-yah) is a native grape of the Republic of Macedonia and a relative of Primitivo. Sustainably farmed, this is a vibrant red fruit bomb, offering excellent value.

Awards: Top 100; Wine Merchant

2014 ‘Silhouette’, Olifantsberg
Western Cape , South Africa

Naturally fermented in open-top fermenters to encourage a lower alcohol and sulphur content. This handcrafted wine is based on Syrah, with small additions of bush vine Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre.

2017 Nero d’Avola ‘Vitese’, Colomba Bianca
Sicily, Italy

A brilliant, deep red organic Nero d’Avola from Sicily with rich, juicy flavours of ripe plum and black cherries interlaced with subtle violet notes.

2016 ‘Le Prieuré’, Château Ksara
Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

A rich and spicy unoaked red made from organically grown grapes at Lebanon’s oldest winery. A blend of Carignan, Cinsault, Syrah and Cab Sauv with supple fruit made for a hearty vegetable stew.

Awards: Silver; IWSC

 

 

For more information on any of the wines above or for our full vegan portfolio, please get in touch with your account manager.

WOTM: Basilisco ‘Sophia’, Basilicata 2017

Kicking off 2019 we have chosen a wine that ticks all the boxes. This vegan wine from award-winning producer, Feudi di San Gregorio, is ideal if you are planning on embarking on Veganuary or even if you are looking for a wine to add some fire to your shelves, from its volcanic soils.

In a nutshell:

A lovely perfume reminiscent of fresh flowers, nectarine and apricot over an opulent texture and a lovely mineral bite on the finish.

The producer:

Basilisco is Feudi di San Gregorio’s winery in Basilicata, located in the  commune  of Barile, in the very heart of the Aglianico del Vulture DOCG. The vineyard sits at altitude and the vines are grown in volcanic soils, surrounded by olive trees and nourished by the warm Italian sunshine, conditions which are ideally suited to southern Italy’s flagship variety, Aglianico.
The vines are farmed organically under the watchful eye of Pierpaolo Sirch and have been certified as organic from the 2015 vintage.

The wine:

The grapes were exclusively harvested by hand at the optimal level of maturity and ripeness for each micro zone in the vineyard. The berries were fermented in stainless steel vats under temperature controlled conditions. Following  fermentation, the wine was rested on its fine lees with regular lees stirring, which added texture and complexity to the resulting wine. The wine was made in an unoaked style, retaining the characteristics of the Fiano grape and expressing the terroir of the vineyard.

The last eruption of the Vulture volcano took place 130,000 years ago and since then nature has restored its balance, creating a terroir with extraordinary features.

For further information on the Basilisco ‘Sophia’, Basilicata 2017
or any other Basilisco wines, please contact your account manager. 

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.

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: Dermot Sugrue

Acclaimed winemaker Dermot Sugrue is passionate about making great English sparkling wines.

Dermot’s passion for winemaking started as a teenager in Ireland, where he experimented with making beer and wine and was inspired to pursue oenology. Dermot’s enthusiasm for winemaking was further fuelled when he was given a copy of Hugh Johnson’s book; Vintage: The Story of Wine. He was so inspired reading it he can still recall whole paragraphs verbatim.

Having previously studied Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia Dermot decided to return to studying and completed a Viticulture and Oenology degree at Plumpton College. He then took this winemaking knowledge forward and gained crucial experience completing vintages in the UK and in Bordeaux at Châteaux including the prestigious Château Leoville-Barton, St Julien.

However, it was his next move that set Dermot on the path to his current success. He joined Nyetimber in 2003, became winemaker a year later and was instrumental in its rise to prominence, competing with the world’s best sparkling wines. A vintage at a Champagne house cemented his skill with fizz and was the final step before Dermot set up Wiston Estate with the Goring family.

Here, Dermot produces his own exciting wine, Sugrue, as well as many other excellent wines produced at Wiston. Dermot focuses on small plots of vines and employs huge attention to detail in both the vineyard and winery to create wines with character and precision. Storrington Priory was planted by Dermot in 2006. The vineyard benefits from the complexity of two soil types and an atypical orientation of the vines.

 

Dermot went on to purchase Mount Harry, a renowned vineyard site, and the two sites provide outstanding grapes for Dermot’s wine, ‘The Trouble with Dreams’, a complex, elegant and award-winning wines which is a culmination of Dermot’s vast winemaking experience and exceptional skill.

WOTM: Château de Rouillac Rouge, Pessac-Leognan 2012

Autumn is upon us and winter is not far around the corner, our November wine of the month is an SWA Silver Medal winner, perfect winter warmer that wouldn’t look out of place served by a warming log fire with a plate of mature cheese or decanted at the table alongside the quintessential Sunday roast.

In a nutshell:

A concentrated, silky smooth wine with berried fruits enhanced by spicy notes of cloves and subtle truffle flavours. Long and elegant on the finish

The producer:

Based in Pessac Leognan on the left bank of Bordeaux, the elegant and noble Château de Rouillac is imbued with a historic past. In the 19th century Château de Rouillac was owned by Baron Haussmann, who produced a delicious wine which is said to have delighted Napoleon III. The current proprietor Laurent Cisneros and his family took up the reins of this magnificent property in 2009, passionately championing sustainable and environmental practices. The property has had a long association with horses and possesses beautiful stables; Titan their huge and impressive horse is still used today to plough the exceptional gravel soils in the vineyard. Renowned oenologist Eric Boissenot produces wines which are delicately blended with the utmost precision to reveal their optimum expression

The wine:

The grapes were manually harvested. Fermentation and maceration of the skins took place in temperature controlled stainless steel vats, lasting for 20 to 25 days. During vinification daily pump-overs and punching down of the cap took place in order to extract colour and tannins; and impart structure and flavour. 100% of the wine was
transferred to French oak barrels, one third of which was new and the wine underwent malolactic fermentation; two thirds of the wine were aged in barrels of one year.

Serving suggestion:

Grilled duck breast, roast beef or mature cheese. Decanting is recommended.

For further information on the Château de Rouillac Rouge, Pessac-Leognan 2012 or any other Château de Rouillac wines, please contact your account manager. 

Winemaker profile: Matías Riccitelli, Riccitelli Wines

What does the name Matías Riccitelli mean to us, Riccitelli Wines and the wine industry as a whole? We have taken a look at the great man and his back story in our latest Winemaker Profile.

Matías Riccitelli, owner and winemaker of Riccitelli Wines, was born in Cafayate, Salta, a village in Northern Argentina, famous for its wines.

After moving to Mendoza when he was a few years older, he began to study winemaking. The rest is history!

Time spent completing vintages in numerous countries honed Matías’ skills. Following this, he decided that Mendoza was the region for him and decided to focus on exploring the terroir of the region, working as Chief Winemaker for two leading Argentinian wineries.

It’s a family affair! Matías was mentored by his father, Jorge Riccitelli, the first Latin American to win Winemaker of the Year from Wine Enthusiast. Winemaking accolades run in the family with Matías winning Tim Atkin’s Young Winemaker of the Year in 2016.

A keen traveller, he considers himself something of a dreamer and is now fulfilling his dream as Chief Winemaker of his own boutique winery – Riccitelli Wines – which he began in 2009. His vineyards are spread over 50 hectares and three sites within the premium growing region of Lujan de Cuyo, as well as vines in Río Negro, Patagonia. His aim is to use grapes from the most prestigious regions in Argentina and make wines in his own unique style. Matías puts his huge creative energy into creating wines with freshness and vibrancy.

Semillon, Torrontes and Chardonnay are all part of Matías’ exciting range of wines; he is hugely passionate about Argentinian white wines and believes they can retain great freshness and acidity if the grapes come from well-located vineyards.

 

For more information on Riccitelli Wines, speak to your account manager.

WOTM: Domaine Brigitte Cerveau, Chablis 2016

Although the spring of 2016 in Chablis was cold and rainy with spring frost, and the summer experienced hail resulting in reduced yields, August brought warmer, dry weather which enabled the grapes to ripen, encouraging the the fruit to reach full maturity in September. The resulting wines of Domaine Brigitte Cerveau are of high quality, with lively and beautiful balance.

In a nutshell:

A wonderful balance between vibrant citrus and green apple fruit and the characteristic salty minerality. Crisp, dry and textured on the palate with a fresh, mouthwatering finish.

The producer:

In 1975, Jean-Pierre Ellevin established the current domain, which is situated in the village of Clichée, in the heart of the Chablis appellation and decided to specialise in the production of Chablis. Jean-Pierre is the fifth generation of the family to own and run the domain with expertise having been passed from father to son over the years. In the 1980’s Jean-Pierre married his wife, Brigitte Cerveau, also from a winemaking family with a history dating back to the French revolution.

Today, Jean-Pierre and Brigitte cultivate 16 hectares, which is exclusively Chardonnay. Together with their son Alexandre Ellevin, who heads up the winemaking, they are passionate about respecting tradition whilst producing excellent, aromatic wines, which are a true reflection of their origin.

The wine:

Traditional vinification techniques were used to produce this Chablis, while following a philosophy of minimal intervention. The grapes were fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks preserving the primary flavours and characteristics of the terroir. The wine was kept on its fine lees in order to achieve the perfect balance between fruit and a rounded texture. Unoaked in style, the wine was aged in stainless steel for 12 to 15 months.

Serving suggestion:

The classic pairing with oysters or creamy seafood dishes.

For further information on the Domaine Brigitte Cerveau, Chablis 2016 or any other Domaine Brigitte Cerveau wines, please contact your account manager.