Producer Profile

BLANK bottle – Good Wine, Real People, Great Stories

10 December 2018 by Richard

For a limited time only, we are offering 6 bottles for the price of 5 on this exclusive Good Wine Shop and BLANK bottle collaboration, click here to buy a case online. Offer ends 31st of December.

Pieter Walser is the brains behind the BLANK bottle concept. He reminds me of the most popular boy at school who effortlessly excels at everything he does. He shines as a cult winemaker, an artist, a marketer, a surfer, an actor, a negociant, a designer, an entrepreneur, a family man, a visionary, a raconteur, a party animal, a leader, a rebel, a genius, a magician… you get my drift. Whilst Pieter comfortably wears all these hats with great aplomb, he says he prefers not to wear a hat at all, not knowing how to label himself. Speaking of labels, it is really hard not judge his wines by their inimitable, ingenious labels, especially as Pieter draws every one himself and they all have an engaging and absorbing story.

New Wines

Some of the newly landed, limited edition wines – from left-to-right Epileptic Inspiration, Jaa-Bru & PhD.

Pieter’s very first, virtually self-taught effort at making wine was in his last year at Uni using a friend’s garage. Clearly he had a golden touch as he quickly sold on all he made, using his tenacity and radiating charm. His impecunious student status must have informed his decision to plough back every rand into buying more barrels and finding more extraordinary vineyards to source grapes.

In 2004, when Pieter was just beginning to bottle his own wines, one of his first customers proclaimed “I don’t do Shiraz”. So, Pieter poured her a glass of straight Shiraz, without telling her what is was. “I love it” she immediately bellowed! It was at that time that Pieter decided not to varietally label his wines, with the idea of breaking down all preconceived ideas about what you find yourself drinking.

Still to this day, Pieter has no land to his name and buys in grapes and rents vineyards, often on short-term contracts. Usually the wine’s provenance is shown as Western Cape, as the grapes that go in to the blends come from different districts. Some wines are repeated year after year, while others are one-off releases. The limitations are what excite him and there are always new parcels and opportunities arising.

In a nutshell, BLANK bottle is a series of limited edition wines, each with its own individual story, made from specially selected parcels of grapes from around the Cape. In terms of winemaking, this is about as boutique as it gets. Pieter’s scale-small winemaking is hands-off with old barrels being used so that the wine expresses a sense of place. They fit perfectly into our GOOD WINE, REAL PEOPLE, GREAT STORIES philosophy.

Pieter and Friends

Pieter, 3rd right, with his ‘party animal’ hat on, at one of our annual tasting events at The Good Wine Shop.

Having built up such a good rapport with Pieter over the last couple of years, we recently asked if he would make a wine exclusively for us. He duly barrel-fermented and blended one barrel of Macabeo with a barrel of Fernão Pires, making just 670 bottles and drew a fetching label featuring members of The Good Wine Shop team. I get a hipster makeover with some dark glasses! It has an alluring stone fruit and tropical fruit nose – peach, guava and pineapple – delicate floral tones and a richly textured palate with bright acidity and a saline mineral finish. It is a perfect match with pan-fried scallops with parsnip purée & pancetta crumbs.

The Good Wine Shop blend by BLANK bottle (yes, Pieter drew us upside down!)

The Good Wine Shop blend by BLANK bottle (yes, Pieter drew us upside down!)

What I’ll be Drinking this Christmas

1 December 2018 by Richard

The festive spirit only really comes alive in our house in mid-December, the day after my wife’s birthday… but I think I may have snaffled a record this year by consuming my first mince pies as early as September. Does that seem wrong? Listen up: my daughter’s year-round breakfast consists of a HOT CROSS BUN – now that does seem wrong to me. Surely, you should have them for high tea?! But at least you can only buy mince pies for 5 months of the year, not all year round! Like seasonal fruit and vegetables, they are so much tastier and I feel a little bit smug. I am sure I am not alone in thinking Christmas should be like the first unforced asparagus of the season. It should be a special season of indulgence, a once-a-year banquet with exceptional wine in the company of your nearest and dearest, right?
RisleusAt home, we start with some celebratory Champagne, toast our health and happiness and attempt to sing happy birthday to Jesus. This year, we will pop the Hubert Paulet Risleus 1er Cru 2002 – the flavours of ripe baked pears and apples, freshly-baked bread, buttery croissants and crushed sea-shells are super expressive and a joy to sip. All this is topped off with the London Philharmonic playing Handel’s Messiah in the background – Hosanna in the highest.
Sat down, cross-armed, we will all pull crackers, don the hats and read the jokes. Why did the turkey cross the road twice? To prove he wasn’t a chicken! Urggh, the old ones are best, aren’t they?
Speaking of the turkey, it is a misconception that I just grab a number of random bottles when locking-up the shop on Christmas Eve. No, no, my festive wines have been in the planning stage much longer than that. So, about 5 minutes before close, I will line up some options. I pick two for the turkey. What shall I have? Doah, the red Burgundy of course. Pinot Noir works wonderfully with turkey (or goose) and Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux’s Vosne-Romanee Les Chaumes Premier Cru 2008 has dark berry fruit and striking truffle and undergrowth notes. Or, should I really splurge on Roberto Voerzio’s Cerequio Barolo 2009, which is a stunner, having captivating me previously with its generous, inviting fruit and seductive personality. With the hands of the Christmas Eve wine o’clock tick-tocking down, I decide to take both.Vosne
Heading for the door, I remember the fromage wine – Stilton is a must on our cheese board and demands a sweet wine so, without hesitation, I grab Paul Meunier’s Maury with both hands. This lightly fortified, sweet yet fuzzy, port-like wine is made from old Grenache vines organically grown on a remote and windswept vineyard on rocky black schist in the Roussillon. It is a mesmerizing match.
Relieved that I have survived another Christmas in wine retail, I lob the shop keys into the foot well of my car and make a mental note to look out my Zalto Mystique decanter and Zalto Burgundy glasses so that the wines rock, along with Christmas itself.
Maury SmallBy the late afternoon of Christmas Day, replete but with my stomach now bigger than my eyes were, I get to gorge on a luxury, 12-month matured Christmas pudding. I will sneak a glass of ‘Antique’ Pedro Ximenez, aka PX, by Fernando de Castilla and (don’t tell anyone) another, later, with a mince pie. This Sherry is 20 years old and its luscious sweetness is tempered by an amazing array of complex flavours – coffee, fig, liquorice, tea and raisins. I am in heaven as all my Christmas sugar hits have landed in one stupendous smash.
Merry Christmas everyone.

Is This an ‘I Was There’ Moment? The Wines of Alheit

25 November 2018 by Richard

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Is this an ‘I was there’ wine moment? I think so. I was there. I bought the first ever vintage of Alheit Cartology, the 2011. It was revolutionary to me at the time – it had such clarity; a wine with a truly authentic Cape identity. Back then, just 22 barrels were produced of this profound blend of mostly Chenin Blanc with a touch of Semillon. Thankfully, due to a diligent search for special, old vineyards around the Cape, there is a bit more of the Cartology bottling to go around these days! Today, Chris and Suzaan Alheit make a range of single vineyard white wines in addition to Cartology, wines which are already sought-after but threaten with each successive vintage to cross the line into unobtainable… It will no doubt comfort me – a little – to know ‘I was there’ at the beginning when I can no longer find any bottles for my own cellar!

Suzaan Chris

Chris and Suzaan Alheit

Alheit’s focus remains strongly on dry-farmed heritage vineyards, mostly white grapes, but they are getting very excited about new sites they have found, planting vines in wonderful, often remote, places. Consequently, they have released additional single vineyard wines this year, which are from extreme locations or just produce exceptional fruit. We have secured a minuscule allocation (6 bottles per wine) of some of these, including your last chance ever to get your hands on a bottle of Radio Lazarus:

radio_lazarus_2017 horizThis remarkable Chenin Blanc was originally a single vineyard wine, but since the 2015 vintage comes from two plots planted in 1971 and 1978. Sadly, due to an extremely dry vintage in 2018 these already low-yielding vineyards are no longer viable for wine production (these vineyards only produced 50 litres of wine between them in 2018!) making 2017 the last vintage of Radio Lazarus to be released.

huilkrans_2017 horizThe new Huilkrans bottling (named after a cliff near the vineyard that ‘weeps’ when it rains) is from a vineyard that the Alheits have worked with for some time but has finally matured enough to stand on its own. A richer, deeper style than some in the portfolio due in part to deep red sand soil over a base of red clay, this nonetheless shows great saline minerality and appetising spice notes.

la_colline_vineyard_2017 horizThe La Colline Semillon is from a vineyard planted in 1936 containing a mixture of three Semillon clones: Semillon Blanc, Gris, and Rose. The result is a ripe, citrussy style that retains great freshness and meshes beautifully with some well-judged oak. More delicately textured than the Chenins but no less intense.

So, if you love truly great wines with a sense of place and authenticity, and you’d also like a chance to say ‘I was there’ – I suggest you pick a bottle or two before I do!

Click here to browse our full range of Alheit wines.

All pictures credit Alheit Vineyards www.alheitvineyards.co.za

Domaine Paul Meunier – a New Star is Born

29 October 2018 by Alex

P Meunier Vineyard

I first visited Paul Meunier just after his maiden vintage in 2014 after a tip-off that a bright, young, talented winemaker was breathing life back into former co-operative winery in a village called Centernach, just south of Maury in the Agly Valley in the southern Roussillon region. Such was the excitement during the visit that The Good Wine Shop decided to be the first and sole importer of these wines into the UK.

Over the preceding years Paul had been buying a few small prize plots of ancient vineyards in the hills surrounding Centernach and has been energetically nurturing the vines so that they can produce, fresh, refined, savoury, terroir-driven wines again. Powerful, sun-kissed darkly fruited and spicy, oaky wines are what you might expect from this district but Paul’s wines are light, pure and thrilling – the polar opposite.

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In part, this could be explained by Paul’s upbringing; the son of a Burgundian vintner, so wine must be in his blood. He gained immensely valuable experience making wine across the globe for 5 years, rapidly accelerated by working vintages each year in both northern and southern hemispheres. Having completed his apprenticeship Paul fell in love with the beautiful, wild vineyard landscape in this area, the towering Pyrenes as a backdrop. He also had the freedom and energy, which sometimes only a young, highly-ambitious vigneron has, to expertly express this place in his wines.

Official recordings of vineyard plantings only commenced in 1950, so many of Paul’s vineyards are at least 78 years old and some exceed 100 years. His highest site is 350 meters and whilst the soil types vary, schists, of varying colours, dominate. Very low yields of organically grown and hand harvested Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Macabeu and Grenache Gris are naturally fermented in small, inert concrete vats, concrete eggs and ceramic amphora, all with the purpose of letting the wine & terroir express themselves.

My favourites wine is the 2015 Côtes du Roussillon Blanc made from Macabeu and Grenache Gris planted in, or before, 1950 from a 269 meter high, rugged, black schist site near the neighbouring village of St Paul de Fenouillet. It is bright with generous stone fruit flavours, a stony salinity and perfect poise and presence.

The debut 2014 vintage of the red Cotes du Roussillon Villages is carefully assembled from vineyards in the villages of St-Arnac, Lesquerde, St-Paul and Maury. Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Lladoner Pelut (aka ‘the hairy Grenache’), Macabeu come from 10 to 100 years old vines grown at elevations from 130 to 300 meters. It is delightfully low in alcohol, especially for this part of the world and it has great elegance, refined red fruits, crunchy acidity and a note of schist. Comparisons have been made with Premier Cru Cotes de Nuits Burgundy – high praise indeed.Paul Meunier Grapes

From a single vineyard of 100% Grenache Noir planted in 1981 at 200 meters on a 0.58 hectare plot of windswept black schist is Paul’s Maury, a Vin Doux Naturel, that has a sweet, yet grippy port-like quality with a generous level of alcohol, aided by a light fortification. I believe he is doffing his hat to the vintage port houses as I established that part of it is made like port, part like a traditional Maury. It is my choice as an alternative to port this Christmas and is a more moderate, in terms of both alcohol and price.

Rave reviews from Jancis Robinson have followed but there are absolutely no signs of the dreaded DSAS – ‘difficult second album syndrome’. The opposite in fact as the current releases seem to point to stardom.

Intrigued? Click here to browse the range of wines from this great estate.

As an interesting post script, Napoleon disapproved of the Occitan language, which was widely used then, and renamed Centernach, ‘Saint Arnac’. Amusingly, Paul points out that there is no such Saint and that when spoken in French the word arnaque means a swindle! Paul understandably prefers to use the original spelling…

Furleigh Estate – Sweet Dreams are Made of This

12 October 2018 by Richard

Grapes in VineyardI was lucky enough to visit the green, rolling hills of West Dorset, not far from the Jurassic coast, to experience the bountiful and highly-rated 2018 harvest at Furleigh Estate.

What a back story to Rebecca Hansford and Ian Edwards’s journey into the wine industry!  As former actuaries, owning and running a vineyard in, arguably, one of the most beautiful parts of England is the stuff dreams are made of, right?  But the dream gets sweeter as Rebecca grew up on the family dairy farm at Furleigh.  I guess dairy farming on an 80-acre scale became untenable at some point and the farm had to be sold.  After successful London-based actuary careers, courageously, as at that time the English sparkling wine industry was in its relative infancy, they bought back the farm and planted vines.  Convinced by their thorough research, they had a clear view of producing quality English sparkling wine and, with laser-guided precision, planted 22,000 carefully-chosen vines.  The classic Champagne grape varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – were chosen to be planted on the sunny, south-facing, free-draining, sandy-loam slopes.

BottlesNot only is their experience as actuaries apparent in their fastidious planning but also in their approach to managing the vineyards and making the wine.  Recent awards for the Classic Cuvée, judging it to be the ‘most outstanding UK sparkling wine’ and Ian becoming UK winemaker of the year, are testament to this.

I helped harvest some tasty Pinot Noir grapes on a gloriously sunny early October morning.  In most years it is a little less sunny and warm and the rainfall is more frequent, making organic viticulture almost impossible.  However, a non-interventionist approach informs the winemaking with no adulteration during outstanding harvests, such as 2018.Picking Pinot

Once our hand-harvested grapes arrived in the winery they are very gently, whole-bunch pressed.  Innovation came into play too, as for the first time ever some grapes were foot stomped and our party got to immerse their feet in their own rich pickings.  Such was the high from the foot pressing team that they suggested ‘treading’ could become a therapeutic foot treatment for the ladies and gentlemen of London.  You heard of it here first folks.Treading

The wines are made in the prolonged and labour-intensive traditional method, as practiced in Champagne, and remain on their lees for over two years before bottling and release.  This allows a more rounded and balanced flavour to develop and a small proportion of reserve wine, which is from older vintages and adds complexity, is blended into the carefully assembled final wines.  As most of the wine is from a single vintage, it is dated accordingly and very much reflects the climatic conditions of that year.  Ian rated the current release of the Classic Cuvée, the 2014, as another exceptional year.  Rebecca suggested trying it with the local fresh fish and chips or a creamy seafood gratin, but I loved it with sea bass with sizzled ginger, chilli & spring onions, which I cooked the next day.

After a 15-hour shift by all the winery team, followed by a wholesome and hearty harvest supper I imagine sweet dreams were indeed had by all.

Bel Air-Marquis d’Aligre

6 October 2018 by Richard

As you probably know if you’re reading this, we’re always on the look out for Good Wine, Real People, and Great Stories to bring to our shelves. Some regions are always easier than others in this regard, and while no wine lover would deny the fact that some of the finest wines in the world hail from Bordeaux, many of these mainly tell a story of huge swathes of vineyard all blended and homogenised into an – often delicious – anonymised whole.

Bel Air-Marquis d’Aligre is different.

Bel Air Marquis

This is a chateau you may not have heard of before, but it could be the most important discovery you will ever make in Bordeaux.  From a bygone era, the owner, Monsieur Boyer’s energy belies his 85 years.  Remarkably, he is currently embarking on his 69th vintage at this property and his methods have remained essentially unchanged over this whole period.

He owns 50 hectares in Margaux which implies he is a large scale producer.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  One parcel remains fallow, as he pulled the vines after the 1956 frost and never got round to replanting them! In fact, he farms less than 15 hectares, highly unusual in a region obsessed with squeezing every last drop of wine out of the vineyards. Other parcels are full of ancient gnarly vines that are over 100 years old – and some may be much older.  These must be some of the oldest vines, not just in Bordeaux, but in the whole country. Unusually too, they grow on their own roots. Yields from these centenarians must be extraordinarily low, no doubt contributing to the wonderful complexity of the wines made at this property.  There is a refreshing aesthetic to these vineyards and they are ill-fitting, surrounded by the neatly manicured rows of vines more commonly found in the Bordeaux establishment.

Put politely, the winery is showing its age; lots of large cement vats, a few very old wooden barrels and some bats, who may well have made their home here for as long as the proprietor!  He treats the current state of Bordeaux with disdain and chooses not to enter the en-primeur market, instead opting to store the wine in his cellar until they are ready to drink.  Those who like their claret with bold oaky flavours should steer clear.  His wines are profound, unadulterated (no oak is used for maturation these days), remarkably pure and sappy in style, which urge you to take another sip.  It is an incredible back story and it all sounds like a massive time warp to me but one I have happily contorted myself into.

Luckily, we have a small allocation of the 2000, a vintage which produced ripe flavours and lush, velvety wines.  Whilst the Bel Air Marquis d’Aligre reflects the warm vintage conditions with good concentration and polish it also retains a beautiful purity, freshness and a gentle grip.  All these gradually open up into something with a timeless class that shares more in common with an elegant Burgundy than most Bordeaux.

South African Wine Bar Takeover in Chiswick and Kew

25 September 2018 by Alex

October sees some of South Africa’s greatest young winemaking stars descend on London for some very special tastings. Any of you who attended our tastings last year will know that we always have an absolute blast at these events. These easy-going, charismatic, irreverent winemakers are some of the most fun guests we have all year, but possibly more importantly they make fantastic wines of arresting intensity, complexity, balance, and authenticity. This is an amazing opportunity to meet these winemakers who have already gone from ‘up-and-coming’ to legitimate stars and who will be talked about as true legends in years to come. Our gorgeous wine bars in Chiswick and Kew will be lovingly invaded by five of these stars for one night only on Thursday the 4th of October from 6pm.

Joining us in Kew will be Duncan Savage of Savage Wines, Craig Wessels of Restless River, and David Cope of Alphabetical Wines:

Duncan SavageDuncan Savage made quite a name for himself as the winemaker at Cape Point Vineyards before establishing his own label in 2011. These wines instantly won critical acclaim and a cult following – produced in very small quantities, they are always highly sought after. He acquired his own winery in time to make the 2017 vintage and this has given him both more control over how the wines are made and the space to make more wine – both extremely positive developments for Duncan’s legions of fans! This, his first visit to us here at The Good Wine Shop is a real treat.

“I was a bit blown away by this range from Duncan. He is achieving his dream of zoning in on choice parcels of old vine from areas such as Piekenierskloof and Malgas… to create some thrilling, quite cerebral but delicious wines.” Neal Martin, Vinous Media, August 2017.

Craig AnneCraig Wessels is the self-taught winemaker at Restless River wines an estate that continues to go from strength to strength with each new vintage. The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is a wonderful if under-exploited region and Craig’s world class Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon illustrate this perfectly. Only a few thousand bottles are produced each year at this property and they are becoming increasingly hard to find. Craig and his wife Anne (pictured) really brought a festive atmosphere with them last year when they visited Chiswick so we’re really looking forward to seeing him here in Kew.

David CopeDavid Cope is the owner and proprietor of Publik Wine Bar in Cape Town, a contributor to WineMag.co.za, as well as an avid promoter of unusual and interesting wines. In recent years he has turned his hand at winemaking with various ranges of wines using grapes sourced for all over the Cape. When they first hit the shelves this time last year, David’s Alphabetical Red and White were a big hit with all of our customers here for their incredible value and fun drinkability. We’re really looking forward to meeting David and seeing what he has up his sleeve next!

In Chiswick, we look forward to welcoming Peiter Walser of BLANK bottle and Alex Starey of Keermont Vineyards:

 

Peiter CroppedIn his BLANKbottle winery in Somerset West, Pieter Walser makes an ever-changing roster of wines sourced from various growers throughout South Africa. Many wines are one-offs, made thanks to the availability of a singular, special parcel of fruit – he even made us a special cuvee of our own last year! Pieter designs all of his packaging himself to reflect his iconoclastic winemaking approach:

“When I started BLANKbottle, my goal was to create an honest wine brand that had no limitations when it came to style, vintage, area or cultivars in order to break down any preconceived expectations. Having no indication of cultivar on the bottle makes this possible. Not only does it demand complete honesty when it comes to quality, but it allows me the opportunity to introduce once-off limited runs of interesting wines. Its flexibility turned out to be BLANKbottle’s edge. Something for someone with an open mind and an adventurous heart”

Alex StareySince the redevelopment of the farm in 2005, Alex Starey has enjoyed the responsibility of making sure that the vineyards deliver the highest-quality fruit to create the best possible wines. Alex studied Viticulture and Oenology at Stellenbosch University and graduated in 2002. He has travelled and worked in wine regions including Maipo Valley, Chile; Penedes and Priorat, Spain; St-Emillion and Cote Rotie, France.

“Winemaker and surf-addict Alex Starey is certainly talented and has taken the estate to new heights in recent years… these wines come highly recommended” – Neal Martin, Vinous Media, August 2017.

To secure your place at either (or both!) of this year’s wine bar takeovers, tickets can be purchased online here. Tickets cost £25 each and entitle the holder to one full glass of wine, a taste of at least six wines from the producers, some South African grazing plates to nibble on, and a chance to wine a signed magnum of wine in our prize draw! Tickets for this event are limited and are allocated on a first come, first served basis so act quickly to avoid disappointment.

We look forward to seeing you on the night!

New Wave South American Stars

29 August 2018 by Richard

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vinedo-de-los-vientos-tannat_1Let’s start with a bold claim that may surprise some of you: one of the most exciting producers in the world today is Uruguay!  …and to make matters more difficult, the nation has a relatively recent winemaking history and a population of just 3 million. Production is tiny, equivalent to Switzerland’s, and exports are about 5% of production. That is why they are not more widely recognised in the UK.  Like its beef, quality, traceability and value-for-money in Uruguay is arguably the best in South America.  Plus, you have the added bonus that the wines have a very European feel to them, aided by the cool maritime climate in the south. Those cool Antarctic sea breezes and the clay and limestone soils make it comparable to Saint Emilion – before global warming – so lighter, more structured styles result.  One flagship grape has been adopted and is a perfect match for the climate and soils: Tannat (of Madiran fame). Virtually all vineyards are small, family-owned, supporting The Good Wine Shop’s ethos of ‘Good Wine Real People, Great Stories’.

Uruguay is not just a rising star, it is a stunning meteor shower lighting up the night sky. If you are looking for a celestial introduction Vinedo de los Vientos Tannat 2014 is stellar!

BottleShot_Verum_Malbec Big

Leading the charge with a much younger generation, making wine with more freedom and diversity than ever before is Argentina.  A modern, more evolved winemaking culture is developing there. So, stainless steel fermentation tanks and cultured yeast have been discarded and hipster cement eggs and open bins are the new toys. Combine this with earlier harvesting and the result is wines that are fresher than the Andean snowmelt from a Patagonian ice field.

Malbec has been the king of grapes here for 20 years and continues to reign majestically. Contemporary wines have less oak, more acid structure and a regal poise and are much more in tune with export markets.

Over the last 10 years, some 15,000 hectares of Malbec have been planted above 1,000m and some at altitudes as high as 3,000m – that’s higher than any kite flown in the most parts of the wine world. Additionally, cooler climate regions, such as in Patagonia, are being explored. Awe-inspiring, just like the region, is a Patagonian Malbec, Bodega del Rio Elorza Verum Seleccion 2013.

The dramatic Patagonian landscape

The dramatic Patagonian landscape

GH18-GRUS-14-bottle-shot-2Chile is envied by the rest of the wine-making world for its inexpensive land and low costs, pest and disease-free vines, perfect summers and plentiful snowmelt for irrigation. International investment and an export-lead approach have helped its rapid growth. Now, new regions are being developed, matched with more suitable grape varieties, in Pacific Ocean influenced lands or the higher altitude of the Andes. The clear mountain air and skies of the remote Elqui Valley in the north, which rises to 2,000m, are world-renowned. The Elqui is a sanctuary for Syrah, a grape so well-suited to the terroir there, as demonstrated so masterfully by Vinedos Alcohaz ‘Grus’ 2014.

If your interest has been stoked, why not attend our South American masterclass at either Kew on Thursday 27 September (tickets available here) or Chiswick on Friday 21 September (tickets available here) and get to taste the wines above and more besides.

Salud!

Producer Profile: Markus Huber

14 August 2018 by Alex

Markus HuberThe current incumbent at Huber wines in Austria, Markus Huber, is the family winery’s 10th generation head. Many of the estate’s vineyards are not a lot bigger than an average sized garden and dotted around the Traisental valley in the north-east of Austria. As a keen gardener myself, I can relate to the love and devotion given by the family to these pristine vineyard terraces.

Meteorology alert: Pannonian influences are paired with cool Alpine air and the nearby River Danube has a temperature-moderating effect. In a plain-speaking weather world this means they are blessed with warm days and cool nights, so the grapes develop good varietal flavour whilst retaining a purity and freshness. Additionally, the limestone mix soils ground the wine by providing clarity and spine.

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One of Huber’s all-round best value wines is the Riesling Engelsberg (£19.50/£18.50). The Engelsberg vineyard is a high, east-facing, chalky terrace that is just right for Riesling vines. The 2017 has 4 hours of skin contact, is fermented in stainless steel and kept on the lees for 4 months. The result is a vibrant wine of perfectly ripe peachiness, yet brilliant brightness. Try it with a salmon-en-croute, lobster ceviche or a Thai green curry.

zweigelt_rose-300x1000

 

 

 

The Huber rosé (£15.00/£13.50) is made from Zweigelt grapes, which, did you know, is the most widely planted black grape variety in Austria. It is a newly created cross-bred variety and its recent, rapid growth in plantings means it is very rare to come across a Zweigelt made from such old vines; some used in this wine are up to 50 years old! It has 2 hours skin contact, is fermented in stainless steel and kept on the lees for 3 months. A fitting barbeque rosé that is dry with delicate, freshly-picked, summer red berry sapidity.

So make sure you try a bottle of these great value Austrian gems before Summer is over!

New Arrivals for Summer

27 July 2018 by Alex

Lots of great new bottles have hit the shelves in the last few weeks, so we thought we’d share a selection of our favourites to inspire you during this warm weather!

Huber, Riesling Engelsberg, Traisental, Austria, 2017

Huber Riesling

 

 

 

Our favourite new dry Riesling comes from Traisental in Austria. Showing intense but cool peach and lemon fruit on the nose, the palate has the typical Austrian combination of dense texture and lively acidity. Vinified in stainless steel with 4 hours skin contact and 4 months on the lees.

Ventisei Bianco, Tuscany, Italy, 2017

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Part of a trio of wines from the Ventisei (Italian for twenty-six) brand that have just hit the shelves. The wines are made by Eline Saverys, the daughter of the winemaker at renowned Tuscan estate Avignonesi, who started her own wine bar in Antwerp at the age of 26 – hence the name! Experimenting with her own blends of organic grapes with the aim of creating something vibrant and super-drinkable led Eline to create the Ventisei brand, and we think she has been very successful! The Ventisei bianco is a blend 40.5% Trebbiano, 40.5% Malvasisa Bianca, and 19% Sangiovese, brimming with peachy fruit and white flowers and just generally incredibly summery and moreish!

Bodega Goiania, Txakoli Uno, Spain, 2015

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If you’ve ever been to San Sebastian, you may be familiar with Txakoli: incredibly refreshing in the sun, high in acidity, sometimes slightly fizzy, and free-flowing in every Pintxos bar in town. This Txakoli retains this freshness and thirst-quenching quality but the benefit of 5 months ageing on lees has transformed it into an entirely different animal. Mineral, citrussy, and tense with a rounded texture, this has more than a little in common with a good premier cru Chablis but for a much more friendly price tag!

Huber, Zweigelt Rosé, Traisental, Austria, 2017

huber rose

 

 

 

Although perhaps from a leftfield source, this dry rosé has been one of our favourites this summer. Jam-packed with strawberry, raspberry, and cranberry fruit, some of the Zweigelt vines used for this cuvée are 50 years old giving an extra depth of flavour. Impressive for its creamy texture sitting alongside a very modest 11.5% alcohol, we highly recommend taking a detour from Provence next time you’re thinking pink!

Ventisei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy, 2015

26nobile

 

 

 

Eline Saverys’s red wine from the prestigious Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG is a structured and serious wine from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot. Each plot of Sangiovese grapes is aged separately in various sizes of oak barrels before being assembled into the final blend. Fragrant, with brooding dark fruits, and sweet cinnamon spice.

La Clarine Farm Jambalaia Rouge, Sierra Foothills, California, 2015

Jambalia

 

 

 

Delicious unfiltered red made from a field blend of Mourvedre, Marsanne, Grenache and Syrah. It’s all about the juice, pale red with lovely freshness, herbs and minerals. A full-flavoured red that’s lighter in body than one would expect. Serving this chilled in the sunshine really enhances the juiciness of the fruit and the general vibrancy of this wine.

First Drop, ‘2%’ Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia, 2015

FD 2p

 

 

 

The Shiraz grapes for this wine come from the Seppeltsfield, Greenock and Ebenezer areas of the Barossa. Aged in a mixture of new and old French hogsheads and American barriques for 20-24 months, giving a dark-fruited, earthy style with notes of tobacco and cocoa. So far so delicious, yet relatively conventional, so First Drop decided to add 2% of the fragrant white Moscatel for ‘a splash of funk!’.