Alessandro Masnaghetti was born in 1962 in Milano and currently lives in Faenza, a small town near Bologna. In the late 1980s, Masnaghetti’s passion for wine evolved and became more important than his love for food. In 1994, whilst working for famed Italian wine critic Luigi Veronello, he created his first map, a map of the communes of Barbaresco. Despite printing roughly 3-4000 copies, only 20-30 sold, so mapmaking was put to bed until 2006. Even upon release of his second effort, only a small portion of producers and wine lovers thought the project to be of great importance. Fast forward 14 years and any self-respecting wine lover, or admirer of maps, counts Masnaghetti’s books, predominately his MGA volumes, amongst their must-have resources. Wine regions can be mystifying and Italian regions tend to be the most confusing of all. Masnaghetti’s latest project, Barolo MGA 360, brings all of his work to life in an accessible, easily-digestible digital format. I spoke briefly with Alessandro about this exciting new project.
I had originally intended to speak to Tim Phillips, one-man-band at Charlie Herring wine, about his experience planting Riesling in England. Anybody who knows me knows all too well that I’m a Riesling junkie, so this prospect alone was sufficient cause for excitement. What I got from Tim was so much more. Previously I have discussed the challenge of oversupply in the English wine industry. If it is to maintain long-term viability and achieve truly global appeal, more of the norm simply won’t do. We must push boundaries, we must exploit the opportunity afforded to us as a new world producer not bound by the complexities of intricate regulation. In a tiny 1 acre walled garden in the south of England, aptly named Clos du Paradis, Tim Phillips tends to a petri dish of exciting, exploratory winemaking.
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 …
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.
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.
As consumer interest in wellbeing, sustainability, and environmental impact increases, in turn there exists a rising demand for organic, biodynamic & vegan wines. All of the aforementioned are hot topics in both the popular media and social media, and whilst they are not exclusive to the wine industry, winemakers are most certainly responding to this demand by increasing production and availability of wines in these categories. Andrij Jurkiw joins me this week and contributes his attempt at tackling this topic from the recent MW exam …