Winemaking is a labour of love. For those on the ground, romantic notions of sniffing barrels and stomping grapes are a stark contrast to their reality. Vintage by Villa Maria is a wine documentary with a difference. The film explores the trials and tribulations of a single harvest from the perspective of Villa Maria’s people. Filmed across 40 days it explores their motivations, passions and the unique challenges they face. In a style attractive to wine lovers and regular folk, Vintage balances new-found admiration with excitement, education and sheer grit.
Selecting a date upon which to begin harvest is arguably the most pressing, influential and troublesome decision required of any vigneron during the annual growing cycle. There is the romantic notion that growers arrive at this decision as a result of intuitive tasting of selected grapes picked randomly from a particular plot or row. Whilst intuition often proves invaluable, particularly in tough vintages, times are changing and the role of technology in tracking optimum grape ripeness is proving increasingly valuable. In no region are they pursuing optimum ripeness quite as comprehensively than in Champagne. I got to grips with just how this pursuit is evolving with Frédéric Panaïotis, Chef de Cave at Ruinart.
There are few more colourful, vivacious and spirited individuals than Ernst Loosen. Those who have spent any amount of time with him will know well the personality of which I speak. Since the 1980’s he has produced world-class Riesling from the Mosel to Washington State, experimented with Pinot Noir in Oregon and shared his knowledge as far afield as New Zealand. Ernie is an innovator, he pushes boundaries, but most of all he rejects defeatism. Despite a host of existential challenges, with an open mind and curious inquisition Ernst has continued to evolve. I spent an evening exploring this refreshing outlook …
As a descriptor, minerality didn’t crop up in the wine industries lexicon until the late 80s. In a recent Decanter article Prof. Alex Maltman recalled writing his first piece on the topic a little over 15 years ago. Maltman posits the term to be of ‘pragmatic usefulness’ despite there being no clear consensus on what it actually means. We wine-lovers are relentless in our indulgent pursuit of translating perception and sensation of wine in to sometimes simplistic terminology. Vast may our parlance be, minerality is arguably amongst the most ubiquitous of its terms. Why is the topic so challenging? Is it helpful? What do we know about it? In this piece I will explore the research and piece together my thoughts.
January has been damp at best. I fear the annual showing of Burgundy en primeur renders any future possibility of a dry month nigh on impossible for me and many alike. This past fortnight the Burgundians, with the help of London’s wine merchants, have offered the wine trade unrivalled access to their 2018 Burgundy vintage offering. In this article I will briefly share my thoughts and feelings on the wines, the vintage and what’s to come for Burgundy.
We’re all familiar with Andersen’s 18th century tale turned popular idiom. The emperors subjects daren’t speak their truth for fear of being branded stupid. It takes the unrestrained tongue of an outspoken child to declare the Emperors obvious nudity. Natural wine can be a funky old place (no pun intended) What started life as a well-intentioned, philosophically-sound approach to holistic viticulture and winemaking may have past its use-by date. Narcissism of small differences, an undertone of pontification, lack of definition and a determination to overlook faults may leave the emperor feeling a little exposed. In this article I explore the issues as I see them.
UK volume sales of both still and sparkling wine are in decline. Analysts predict still wine sales will fall by almost 11% over the next five years. However, consumption, production and planting of English wine are all increasing. 2018 production bottle equivalent is up by circa 180% with hectarage under vine increasing by 83% since 2015. It is predicted there are roughly 7-8 years of U.K. sales currently in stock with around 55% of plantings having no wine currently for sale. Considering market decline, assuming the market is one of monopolistic competition, and noting only 8% of English wine is exported, supply is grossly outstripping demand. How will this excess supply impact the market and how should it react?
We’ve all experienced it, the inevitable barrage of questioning, jovial taunting and understandable confusion upon the expression of revulsion, frustration and dismay toward the choice, or offering, of wine glassware. It’s easy to see how to many this seemingly strange aversion may appear pomp, confusing and unnecessary; however, there’s more to it, stay with me. Anecdotally the majority of us have experienced the enhanced olfactory experience that the ‘right’ glassware can make, but there’s more to this than anecdote. Let’s talk about the science …
Bold and pure with velvety tannins. I asked Katya Kurtbek (Director of Sales and Marketing) to describe PerUS in a few words as possible. After tasting through their 2017 vintage, I can confirm that she hit the nail on the head. This small-production, quality-focused Napa winery is a star in the making. We spent the afternoon with Tatiana Livesey (Brand Ambassador) getting to grips with PerUS …
43,000 acres of planted vineyard, 400 wineries (95% family owned) and 16 sub-AVA’s. Napa Valley is the epitome of diversity. The region sees the annual hosting of the prestigious Premiere Napa Valley. Premiere is a showcase, the ethos is that wineries offer a one-off wine style to trade-only bidders. Each year, prior to Premiere Napa Valley, Napa Vintners hosts a perspective on vintage. This year, Emma Wellings PR, working with Napa Vintners, offered this unique perspective tasting to the UK trade at 67 Pall Mall.