Category Archives: Wine

WOTM: Zorzal ‘Eggo Tinto de Tiza’, Tupungato, Malbec 2017

Which wine from our portfolio would tie in perfectly to both Malbec World Day, on 17th April, and Easter at the start of the April? Zorzal ‘Eggo Tinto de Tiza’, Tupungato, Malbec 2017 – our Wine of the Month for April, of course!

Follow an in-depth look into the subject of Minerality in 2020, Jane Macquitty described this wine in The Times as: “tart, zingy, inky-black fruit” and “the most full-on” mineral red she had ever tasted.

In a nutshell:

Edgy, mineral and layered, this intensely flavoured wine is marked by flavours of wild herbs and cloves against a background of smoky blackberries.

The producer: 

Zorzal is an Argentinian boutique winery which has been dedicated to the production of high quality wines since 2008 and is located at the highest point of the Uco Valley. Hailed as one of the most exclusive and well-regarded areas for viticulture in Argentina, the terroir is revealed in the Zorzal wines through a respectful, non invasive winemaking process that puts austerity before exuberance and fruit before wood. The wines have rapidly gained international recognition. Founded by the Michelini brothers, who are outstanding in their passionate leadership in the vineyards and winery, this highly regarded winemaking duo have become renowned as the trendsetters of the Argentinian winemaking scene.

The wine:

The grapes were destemmed. Fermentation took place spontaneously with native yeasts in egg-shaped containers made of cement at around 24°C. The wine remained on its skins for two months, followed by pressing and was then returned to the egg. The egg shape helps to keep the liquid constantly in motion, so the temperature is more consistent and the lees remain in suspension. The resulting wine achieves a greater character and volume on the palate. The wine was aged for 12 months in the same container, with a view to conserving its pure, authentic character, without interference from any other influence such oak from another terroir.

WOTM: Johann Donabaum, Spitzer Federspiel, Wachau, Riesling 2019

International Riesling Day is just around the corner (13th March), so we wanted to celebrate with a Riesling from the sandy soils of Wachau – Johann Donabaum, Spitzer Federspiel, Wachau, Riesling 2019.  Riesling is one of the most versatile grapes growing and shows a variety of difference characteristics depending on where in the world it is being grown.

Johann cultivates 7.5 hectares of vineyard, split between Riesling and Grüner Veltliner. For him, terroir is absolutely crucial. His knowledge of his vineyards is extremely detailed and this means he is able to cultivate the vineyards with exceptional care and attention. Understanding all the nuances of the different plots means they can be given individual attention and this enables Johann to truly express the terroir of his vineyards in the resulting wines.

In a nutshell:

An enchanting wine delivering distinctive aromas of peach and apricot. Crisp, with pure varietal character echoed on the palate, this refreshing wine has an excellent structure and a lively finish. Lovely Riesling expression.

The producer:

In 1961, Johann Donabaum’s parents decided to give up mixed agriculture and specialise exclusively on viticulture instead. Although it may have been perceived as a risk at the time, this turned out to be an inspired choice.

Viticulture and winemaking has been a constant throughout the majority of Johann Donabaum’s life. Growing up surrounded by family vineyards, he graduated from Krems School of Viticulture whilst still a teenager. Following his time studying, Johann completed a seven month apprenticeship with F X Pichler. This valuable experience gained him a great deal of new ideas and insight into the practices of a great wine producer, preparing him for his own successful winemaking career.

The wine:

The grapes come from the Spitz vineyard in Western Wachau. The vines are grown on steep hillside terraces which make up several vineyards in the Spitzer Graben. The vines are planted with a south western orientation. Cooling breezes help to keep the climate temperate. The soils are very sandy and have high heat retention properties. The soil’s composition is the result of weathering of the local rocks and it is dominated by pegmatite and calc-silicate gneisses, which have low water retention and help to impart structure to the resulting wine.

WOTM: Tenuta Castelgiocondo, Frescobaldi, Brunello di Montalcino 2015

Our February Wine of the Month is a classic style, from a world-renowned wine region and a family owned winery that dates back over 30 generations. This wine is Tenuta Castelgiocondo, Frescobaldi, Brunello di Montalcino 2015. Made at the producer’s Castelgiocondo estate, which is considered to be one of the most historical estates of Montalcino, as it was one of the first producers of Brunello di Montalcino during the 1800s.

Recently reviewed in Decanter Magazine, Monty Waldin awarded the wine 94 points, writing:
“2015 is Castelgiocondo’s first certified-organic vintage, making it Montalcino’s largest certified-organic estate. Poised red fruits demonstrate underlying power. Savoury and velvety in texture, the fruit is clear and juicy; smooth with inner power.”

In a nutshell:

A dense, warm, full-flavoured and complex Brunello with leather and earthy, savoury notes combined with violets and toasted coffee.

The producer:

A Florentine family with thirty generations dedicated to the production of great wines across six Tuscan estates. The Frescobaldi style brings together tradition and innovation. With the goal of being the most prestigious Tuscan wine producer, Frescobaldi firmly believes in respecting the local land while focusing on the highest quality grapes for its wines. The Frescobaldis own over 1,000 hectares of vineyard, all located in excellent areas for the production of fine wines. Directly managed by its family members, the Frescobaldi name is deeply connected with the history of art, culture, trade, finance and wine in Italy. Gambero Rosso awarded Frescobaldi with the prestigious ‘Tre Bicchieri Winery of the Year Award 2020’, in recognition of its uncompromising commitment to quality and innovation.

The wine:
CastelGiocondo’s unique location in Montalcino, with its varied exposure and terrain, offers infinite nuances to this Brunello. The soils comprise Galestro soils, which are rocky and schistous with a high presence of clay and calcium; and Pleocene sands which have a high presence of calcium. The high density vineyards are planted at between 250 and 400 metres above sea level, with 5,500 vines per hectare. The vines have an average age of 15 years and are Cordon spur and Guyot trained. Meticulous vineyard management takes place by hand, with autumn tilling of the soil, green manure sowing and careful canopy management to ensure good ventilation.

WOTM: Undurraga, Rose Royal, Valle de Leyda, NV

Some people use January as an opportunity to detox and embark on #DryJanuary, however at Hallgarten we are advocates of #TryJanuary – an opportunity look outside the box and give something a taste that you would have previously not gone for.

Our #TryJanuary wine of choice is Undurraga, Rose Royal, Valle de Leyda, NV, a sparkling rosé from multi-award-winning producer Undurraga. Made of 100% Pinot Noir from a vineyard situated in the Valle de Leyda, to the west of the Coastal Mountain range, 14 kilometres from the Pacific Ocean, resulting in a delicate wine with a dry palate, persistent, even bubbles and a wonderful fruit sensation enveloping the creamy texture.

In a nutshell

A delicate and dry sparkling rosé offering abundant notes of red fruits and subtle floral hints through to a creamy texture.

The producer

Undurraga is one of Chile’s most prestigious wineries, consistently receiving high scores from top wine critics. Founded in 1885, Undurraga owns 1,350 hectares of estate vineyard in Chile’s premium wine producing areas such as Leyda, Cauquenes and Itata. Head winemaker Rafael Urrejola has spent a great deal of time understanding the diversity of Chile’s vineyard sites; the result is the emblematic ‘Terroir Hunter’ range. Undurraga cultivates their vineyards with respect for the environment and follow a philosophy of minimal intervention in the cellar in order to showcase the terroir.

The wine

The hand-harvested grapes were destemmed and gently crushed, before undergoing a cold maceration in order to achieve the elegant and attractive pale pink colour. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks lasting for two weeks at temperatures of 16 to 17°C to maximise the varietal aromas and flavours. After fermentation the wine was clarified and stabilised, then the liqueur de tirage was added prior to the secondary fermentation which took place using the Charmat method. The wine remained on its lees for six months, before the liqueur d’expédition was added and the wine was bottled.

Speak to your account manager to find out more about Undurraga, Rose Royal, Valle de Leyda, NV and the wines of Undurraga.

WOTM: Gérard Bertrand, Château l’Hospitalet Grand Vin Rouge, La Clape 2018

The follow on vintage from Gérard Bertrand’s stand-out 2017 Grand Vin Rouge that took home IWC Champion Red Wine in 2019. The vineyard Gérard Bertrand, Château l’Hospitalet Grand Vin Rouge, La Clape 2018 takes its grapes from boasts exceptional climatic conditions thanks to its position on the coast, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

2018 saw significant rainfall during winter which continued into spring. The summer was hot and dry, but the vines avoided water stress due to the soil’s water reserves from the wet winter. An Indian summer ensured the grapes reached good maturity and the harvests took place under excellent conditions with the promise of a very good vintage.

In a nutshell

Intense spicy aromas are underpinned by rich, red fruits enhanced by rich chocolate and cedar tones, elegant and opulent.

The producer

Gérard Bertrand is one of the most outstanding winemakers in the South of France, owning numerous estates among the most prestigious crus of Languedoc-Roussillon. Formerly the IWC Red Winemaker of the Year and winner of Wine Enthusiast‘s European Winery of the Year, Gérard has been cited as the ‘King of the Languedoc’ among critics. Château l’Hospitalet is the jewel of the Languedoc-Roussillon’s crown. Situated in AOP la Clape, among 1,000 hectares of garrigue, it benefits from an exceptional terroir. The wines are imbued with freshness from sea breezes, mineral depth and texture from the limestone soils and warm southern climate generosity. The vines are cultivated organically and biodynamically

The wine

Only the highest quality fruit was used in this cuvée. The grapes were sorted, destemmed and transferred to temperature controlled vats. Each variety was vinified separately with natural yeasts and maceration lasting between 20 to 25 days. At the end of winter, the wines were racked to new 225 litre casks where they spent 12 to 16 months, with fine bâtonnage from time to time. Only the best barrels were selected and blended for this wine.

Greece Meets Ipswich

Now that parts of the UK have a small amount of freedom to dine in restaurants, socialise (at a socially distant distance) and taste new wines. Our team in the East of England jumped at the opportunity to partner with The Salthouse Harbour Hotel, to bring a taste of Greek wines to the area, paired with a four course menu with a suitably Grecian theme.

When you think of Ipswich, many associate the town with the disappointing football team more so than its food and drink scene, however there are so many hidden gems – one of which, The Salthouse Hotel, on its age old harbour is a beacon of hope!

The restaurant team have often shouted about the iconic Gaia Wild Ferment Assyrtiko and in an effort to push the Eastern Mediterranean boundaries further, they decided to throw a Greek Wine Evening to showcase what the country has to offer to their guests.

And here is how the evening looked, with words from Ed Keith, Sales Executive in Hallgarten’s East Team:

Arrival drink – 2019 Agiorgitiko Rosé ‘4-6H’, Peloponnese, Gaia Wines

“A beautifully balanced and delicate Rosé that would give any usual suspect Southern French Rosé a run for their money. A perfect harmony of fresh red fruit, acidity and a hint of sweetness. Great modern packaging also.”

Pre Starter – 2019 Vidiano, Dafnes, Crete, Idaia Winery
Paired with – Tempura halloumi fritters with pickled carrot and orange salad served with a smoked tomato relish

“The real surprise for most. Incredible minerality, balanced rounded fruit, a touch herbs and a bone dry finish. Like a combination of Chablis and Muscadet. What could go wrong when there is deep fried cheese involved!”

Starter –  2019 Malagouzia, Single Vineyard Turtles, Florina, Alpha Estate
Paired with – Whole bream “En papilotte” for two to share with lemon, garlic, olive oil and oregano

“Much more refined and elegant than some other Malagousia ‘sur Lie’ gives this an incredible texture to balance with the aromatic style of the wine. Refined stone fruits with a hint of citrus. Beautiful with seafood and stands up to spice brilliantly. It didn’t shout over the dish but you knew it was there.”

Main – 2013 Monemvasios Red, Laconia, Monemvasia Winery
Paired with – “Youvetsi” Braised lamb and tomato stew with orzo pasta, spinach and feta cheese

“Possibly my favourite “lockdown” wine. If a Barolo and Bordeaux had a baby this would be it. Generous but not overpowering fruit with a real feel of freshness. Add to this dry yet supple tannin and you have in my opinion a perfect red wine for winter or anytime to be honest. This is made for lamb, either stewed of grilled and it won the crowd!”

Dessert – 2008 Vin Santo, Santorini, Gaia Wines
Paired with – Honey and rosewater baklava, Pistachio nuts and cinnamon syrup

“I don’t need to convince anyone on this. Rich and luscious toffee, caramel and figs. Much more complexity and knocks spots off most other Vin Santo’s and certainly most dessert wines. It isn’t cheap but we only served this in 50ml measures so the bottle went a long way. A real point of difference on a list!”

WOTM: Ktima Biblia Chora ‘Ovilos’ White, Pangeon, Semillon Assyrtiko 2019

Recently awarded 97 points and a Platinum Medal at the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards, Ktima Biblia Chora ‘Ovilos’ 2019 truly is a world-beating wine. The wine is a 50/50 blend of Semillon and Greek indigenous variety, Assyrtiko, which are grown in the warmest but most barren spot in the vineyard, along the Pangeon hillside.

In a nutshell

The distinctive and characteristic aromas of apricot and honey from the Semillon blend perfectly with the citrus and lemon notes from the Assyrtiko, with nuances of vanilla and nutty hints adding complexity. Elegant, with a creamy texture, this stylish wine is beautifully balanced by refreshing palate which leads to a long finish.

The producer

Ktima Biblia Chora is the innovative creation of Vassilis Tsaktsarlis and Vangelis Gerovassiliou two of the most talented winemakers in Greece. The winery was established in 1998 and the privately owned vineyard lies on the cool climate slopes of Mount Pangeon, at Kokkinochori near Kavala. It has been farmed organically since day one. These exceptional, cutting edge wines are some of the best white wines in Greece, which have similarities to very good white Bordeaux – not surprising as Vassilis Tsaktsarlis studied with Denis Dubourdieu; the king of modern white Graves.

The wine

The Assyrtiko (pronounced Ah-SEER-tee-koe) and Semillon grapes were picked at optimum maturity and then carefully selected. The wine was vinified in the state-ofthe-art winery, using modern techniques to ensure the aromatics and varietal flavours were retained. Each variety was vinified separately in 225 litre French oak barrels, of which 50% were new and 50% were one year old. Maturation lasted for five months, with bâtonnage taking place in the barrel.

Head Start: Part Three, Harvest at Château de Campuget

Now slowly progressing through more parts of the business, Hallgarten’s Head Start Apprentice, Amica Zago, has just returned from working a vintage in the south of France. Château de Campuget borders the Rhone Valley, Provence and Languedoc, marrying traditional elements from all three regions – an ideal opportunity to learn and get hands-on in the winery and the vineyard.

Following on from my fantastic few months spent in the Marketing team, I was able to embark on a once in a lifetime opportunity to work a harvest and gain an insight into the world of winemaking in the South of France. This was to be at the amazing Château de Campuget with Franck-Lin and his wonderful team.

Being able to witness the winemaking process and track the wine from the vineyard, to the tanks to the final product is a chance that Hallgarten has allowed me to undertake as part of the ‘Head Start’ Apprenticeship Scheme, and is an invaluable experience to anyone going into, or already working in the world of wine. Working a harvest gives you a complete understanding and appreciation of the product you are working with. And after a very long train ride, I was about to embark on this winemaking journey.

What you think would be the glorious world of making wine soon jolts you back to reality as the alarm goes off at 3:30am and long shifts are the norm – not that I was complaining!

Starting work in the very early hours of the morning, everyone comes into the winery on time and with a smile on their faces; winemaking is a job you do out of love rather than just as a job! The working day starts with the harvesting machine in the vineyard, picking the grapes and filling the tractors’ trailers, ready to be weighed and then dropped into the crusher – step one of the wine making process is now complete.

Before working a month in a winery, I had only made wine in a garage in Hertfordshire in the simplest form! Going to France and working in the winery with a full team and equipment you realise how much more there is to making incredible wines, than in a suburban garage winery. Every morning when you first start, then again at midday, you have to test the density of the wine in the tanks using a hydrometer also checking the temperature of the wine. The results are then passed back to the oenologist.

What did I learn?

There was so much to learn and I was able to put what I had already learnt from my Degree in Wine Business from Plumpton University into practise. Franck-Lin was keen to answer all my questions about winemaking enabling me to increase my knowledge immensely.

Something I didn’t know was why the grapes are picked in the early hours; this is because the grapes are cooler, reducing the risk of oxidation and also means that the grapes don’t have to be cooled while in the press.

I now understand the benefits of pumping over and the correct techniques required to produce good quality wine consistently. It was interesting to learn that different wines require different pumping over times, some require aeration during the pump over and others (for example zero sulphite wines) are not allowed the aeration.

What was my best part of my harvest experience?

Other than working alongside the most fantastic team in the prettiest of settings, my favourite part was definitely analysing the wines. On a daily basis the wines are analysed (sometimes more than once) on the alcohol percentage, pH level and total acidity. This is so that the oenologist can then work out whether any other ingredients (such as Malic Acid, Tartaric Acid or nutrients) need to be added to the juice. Wine analysis was very interesting to me as you were able to see how by adding certain ingredients balances out the wine. It was fascinating to analyse a wine in the morning, mix the ingredients recommended by the oenologist, adding them to wine while pumping over and then re-analysing and seeing and tasting the difference.

I can’t wait to taste the finished wines from the 2020 Chateau de Campuget vintages which I helped to make!

WOTM: Tikveš ‘Cuvee Methodius’, Vranec 2019

The 05th October saw the second edition of the now annual World Vranec Day – a day filled with talks and panel discussions about the grape variety, all to help raise awareness around the world. Vranec is considered to be one of the most important red varieties in Republic of North Macedonia where our Wine of the Month for October – Tikveš ‘Cuvee Methodius’, Vranec 2019 – comes from.

In a nutshell

Aromas of blueberries and blackberries are complemented by roasted hints combined with fresh herbs through to a robust finish.

The producer

Every wine tells a story about the synergy between the soil, sun, grapes and the country of its origin. The Tikveš Winery has been narrating the Republic of North Macedonia’s story as a winemaking country since 1885. However, the Republic of North Macedonia remains one of Europe’s last undiscovered wine countries: it is a natural paradise of vineyards, mountains, lakes and rivers, with a climate perfectly suited to producing quality grapes. Located in the Tikveš region, the Tikveš estate sustainably cultivates indigenous varieties such as Smederevka, Vranec and Kratoshija. The grapes are vinified in the state-of-the-art cellar equipped with the latest technology under the watchful eye of illustrious consultant oenologist Philippe Cambie, resulting in a series of authentic and characterful wines

The wine

The grapes were destemmed, crushed and fermented in stainless steel tanks to retain the purity of fruit. When fermentation was complete, the young wine was pressed off its skins in a pneumatic press, cold stabilised, filtered and bottled with minimal sulphur.

Head Start: Part Two, Marketing Department

As part of Hallgarten’s Head Start Apprenticeship scheme, inaugural recruit, Amica Zago, has just finished her spell with the marketing team before embarking on a vintage in the South of France. Reflecting on her time in the team, Amica has learnt a lot about the marketing function in the business, from PR and communications, to events and awards.

The Head Start scheme is an 18 month long programme to develop the future talent of the wine industry, providing a 360-degree perspective of the wine sector from vineyard to table.

After the three amazing months in the Customer Service Team, I moved over to join the Marketing Department in January and have been working and learning alongside various sub-teams including communications, buying, events and brand management.

During my time in Marketing I had many interesting jobs and tasks to undertake on a daily basis. One of these included writing five blog pieces which have been published on the HN Wines Blog, including an article on Lebanese wines and one on sweet wines.

I was also responsible for writing our internal communications keeping the team updated on wines that had recently featured in press publications. Something I personally found exciting was reading the press releases I had written featured on Harpers Wine and Spirit news website on Hallgarten’s signing of contracts with both Goodwood and Ascot Racecourse, and Hallgarten’s impressive WSET course pass rates.

I was also tasked with several larger projects to work on throughout my secondment. My major project was evaluating press coverage and the influence it has on our trade customers’ purchasing habits. For this project I researched various publications containing mentions of wines from Hallgarten, breaking these down to regional and national newspapers, trade publications and articles sourced from events. Then looking at each individual write-up and seeing if there were spikes in sales after the publications. From doing this, I learnt so much about the world of PR and media, and how a recommendation or comment really can influence purchasing habits.

Another area of the Marketing Department I got to experience first-hand is events. While in the team I was able to attend and assist the team in many events including tastings organised by wine bodies, the Annual Tasting and Minerality: Steve Daniel in Conversation with Dr Jamie Goode, the latter of which was live broadcast on Instagram. At the Hallgarten Annual Tasting I had the role of mentoring the Plumpton College students who were pouring at various producer tables. While at the tasting I also had a recorded conversation with Peter Richards MW about the Head Start Apprenticeship which has been included in Peter Richards’ podcast; Wait, wine can be a career?! (well worth a listen!).

Now, my next adventure as the Hallgarten Head Start Apprentice is taking me to France for the whole of September to work and experience the harvest at Château de Campuget, an exciting producer sitting on the border of three great wine regions – Southern Rhône, Provence and Languedoc.

Are the days of long lists numbered?

Jon Harris, Hallgarten’s Director of Scotland and NW England has pondered the future of long lists and just what a short list would comprise of.

First up, I agree the question is quite ambiguous – the answer really is dependent on the kind of venue you are talking about; however for this piece I am considering a long list being one that is 60 bins or so.

In my opinion there are still some places where a wine list should be a leather bound tome, covering every country, region and producer imaginable – the type of wine list you can happily spend a few hours flicking through. Wine is hugely emotive and romantic for many, and the UK market is one of the most exciting and diverse in the world. It is vital our top sommeliers and buyers keep this tradition alive. 67 Pall Mall is the shining beacon of this.

All that being said, for a huge proportion of the UK On trade it is simply not a sensible option. With a move to a more casual cooking and dining style (just look at Nathan Outlaw’s announcement in June closing his 2-star Michelin flagship restaurant to replace it with a ‘more accessible’ dining option) it is important the modern wine list keeps pace.

I am sure some of the traditionalists even within my own business will disagree, but I believe you can build an exceptional, balanced and exciting list in under 40 bins. Here’s how it could look:

  • 3 or 4 sparkling wines. You can cover entry-level, an interesting upsell or Rosé and a Champagne
  • 10 to 14 whites and reds. Anything less than this and you run out of room for the more esoteric wines, certainly once you include the “must haves” (Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec, etc)
  • 3 Rosé allows a range of styles and regions to suit customer pallets and price points
  • 2 or 3 sweet wines, including fortified – unfortunately a declining category but essential for a quality restaurant. Try adding them to your dessert menu as well as or instead of the wine list.

There are a number of benefits of a shorter list. Firstly this approach allows a range of list design options, from the more traditional by price or alphabetical by country, to a modern style-based model. I am a big advocate of a list constructed by style/flavour profile: it forces the customer to read the list to find what they actually want to drink, rather than purely selecting by price or grape variety. It also makes sure the list’s creator is offering an even(ish) balance of styles, not simply what they like to drink.

Having a more concise list also allows you to include and give focus to some exciting and esoteric wines at key price points. On a larger list these quirkier wines can often get lost as customers search for something they recognise, or rely on a Sommelier’s recommendation. Here they are front and centre.

The shorter list gives you the opportunity to offer a large majority (or all) of the list by the glass. This not only has margin benefits, as the GP on glasses is usually higher than by the bottle, but offers the customer the chance to experiment and experience the range.

A shorter list by no means removes the need for a Somm or buyer; in fact, it arguably makes their role more important – shorter lists need to be regularly changed, usually seasonally, in line with food menus. This means the link between food and wine is more important than ever, and any decisions must make real commercial sense and not purely be whimsical.

An important financial consideration is stockholding value. A more concise list will automatically help control par levels and stock management. In the On trade where margins and cash are almost always tight (particularly at the moment), it is vital not to tie up too much in stock.

Finally team training. This has become increasingly important over the years and can have a huge impact on wine sales. A couple of years ago, one large national customer of ours was able to attribute a 7% growth in value and volume directly to our training programs. A shorter list makes training easier, and opens it up to all the team, not just a select few wine specialists and Sommeliers. If all your team are selling better wine, it will drive incremental margin.

I understand that for the purists out there having a list with just one or possibly no Bordeaux or Burgundy mentioned will simply not cut it, but for much of the trade I believe an exciting, regularly changing, concise list is absolutely the way forward, not just financially but predominantly to enhance the guest experience.

A Brave New World…

Sometimes we all need the tried, tested and familiar around us, whether that it is our choice of food, drink, fashion or general lifestyle. But sometimes – and social media is a great inspiration here – we need to think outside of our comfort zone. Wine is no exception.

Here at Hallgarten & Novum we are proud of our eclectic offering in terms of wines, whether that be new grape varieties or unfamiliar countries (when it comes to winemaking.)

And it is often the “Old World” which is leading the way.

I remember the first time that Steve Daniel introduced me to our new wines from Armenia; I was so impressed by the lovely perfume of the Karmrahyut grape, vibrantly redolent of rosemary and lavender. Our new range from Vachnadziani is a wake-up call, with refreshing mineral laden whites from those hard to pronounce varieties such as Rkatsiteli, Krakhuna and Mtsvane putting me in mind of good Chablis.

Grape varieties such as Santorini’s Assyrtiko have established themselves in our UK market as go-to wines, and are now spreading their influence to other countries. We have examples of this grape from the Lebanon from Oumsiyat and Australia’s Clare Valley from Jim Barry, all showing the lovely freshness and salinity which has made the grape so popular.

Winemakers are rediscovering old techniques such as fermentation in amphora. Look out for the amphora wines from Rocim from the Alentejo region in Portugal where traditional vinification in ‘tahla’ meets modern winery techniques.

With global warming, some regions are now being forced to rethink the varieties that have traditionally been the mainstay of their vineyards as producers are faced with higher temperatures, less water availability and more weather extremes.  Bordeaux, for example, is looking at different varieties such as Alvarinho, Marselan and Touriga Nacional which are more mildew resistant and can cope with the warmer temperatures which are driving up the alcohol levels of Merlot in particular leading to a change of style compared to 20 years ago.  The traditional wines of Bordeaux may look very different in the future!

With 40 years in the wine trade and 24 years as an MW behind me, one of the pleasures that I continue to have is to discover grape varieties and wines hitherto unknown to me and then to share this enthusiasm and encourage consumers to explore these wines for themselves in this Brave New World of wine.